Department of the Environment, Water, Heritage and the Arts home page

About us | Contact us | Publications | What's new

Header imagesHeader imagesHeader images

Commonwealth Heritage

Commonwealth heritage places in Victoria

For more detailed information about each place, the Commonwealth Heritage List can be searched using the Australian Heritage Database.

Point Cook Air Base, Point Cook

Australia's oldest operating airfield and the birthplace of the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF), Point Cook Air Base includes the airfield, runways, jetty, hangars, parade ground, headquarters building, Aeronautics School and training buildings, staff housing and landscaping.

Point Wilson Defence Natural Area (Commonwealth ), Lara

This is an internationally significant wetland and waterfowl habitat on the central-western coast of Port Phillip Bay near Geelong. It is an important part of the Western Port Phillip Bay Ramsar Area and has Indigenous significance for the local Wathaurong people. It is currently used by the Department of Defence to store armaments.

Fort Queenscliff, Queenscliff

Fort Queenscliff has been used as a defence site for more than 140 years. It was the first and primary defence site for Port Phillip Bay and was a key element in making the bay the most heavily defended British port in the southern hemisphere. Among its many buildings and structures is Victoria's second oldest telegraph station.

Swan Island Defence Precinct, Queenscliff

This 140ha island fort is an outstanding example of the fortifications designed as part of the Victorian Colonial Coastal Defence System which contributed to making Port Phillip Bay reputedly the most heavily defended harbor in the southern hemisphere. The fort was developed from the 1870s in response to fears of Russian Invasion of British colonies in the late 19th century. Its features include fortification earthworks, battery emplacements, an underground command centre and tunnel network, jetties and buildings.

Swan Island and Naval Waters, Queenscliff

The Swan Island Defence Precinct is part of a larger 1000ha of island and its surrounding waters. It is an internationally significant wetland and water bird habitat for 46 waterbird species, 26 of which are listed under the Japan-Australia and China-Australia migratory bird agreements. Six known historic shipwrecks lie within Swan Island's naval waters, as a result of incidents that took place between 1856 and 1923 and contribute to the Bay's maritime heritage.

Customs House, Portland

Built around 1850, this bluestone Georgian style building is an important and rare example of an early colonial customs house. More than 150 years after its construction, it has become Australia's oldest purpose-built customs house still being used as originally intended. Prominent colonial architect, Henry Ginn, designed the building along with the Castlemaine Courthouse, the former Geelong Prison and the Williamstown lighthouse.

Stawell Post Office, Stawell

Built in 1874-75, this graceful two-storey building is one of the Stawell's most significant historic buildings. From the 1870s it played a crucial role in providing communications for the community, in the form of mail services and, from 1905, also offered telephone services. The size and quality of the building reflects Stawell's status as a prosperous central goldfields town and as an important regional centre.

Puckapunyal Military Area, Puckapunyal

Covering some 42 800ha, the Puckapunyal Military area has a rich natural and cultural heritage. It contains some of the largest remnants of Box-Ironbark Forest in the state. Eighty-five per cent of this ecosystem in Victoria has been cleared. It supports an exceptionally diverse range of native fauna including 25 mammal, 182 bird, 11 frog and 7 native fish species. This area also contains the Puckapunyal Army Camp.

Fortuna, Golden Square, Bendigo West

This sprawling mansion with coach house, greenhouse, lake and gardens was started in 1861 and grew to its present size over 75 years. It is inextricably linked with the history of gold mining in Bendigo, being the home and passion of Australia's first gold mining millionaire, George Lansell. In 1942 the property was acquired as a base for the mapping activities of the Survey Corp during World War II. It remains today as the headquarters of the Army Survey Regiment.

Gabo Island Lighthouse, Gabo Island, east of Mallacoota

Built in 1863, the curved profile of this elegant red granite lighthouse, makes it an outstanding example of the stonemason's craft. It was built from stone hewn from this isolated site. Its design was replicated at all subsequent lighthouses in Victoria.

Puckapunyal Army Camp, Puckapunyal

The Puckapunyal Army Camp was established in 1939 in the lead-up to World War II. It played a vital role in preparing troops for battle in three major conflicts, World War II, the Korean War and the Vietnam War. It was also where Victoria's participants in National Service were trained following their Conscription in the 1960s and early 1970s.

Wilsons Promontory Lightstation

This rock-faced granite lighthouse was built in 1859 on the southern-most tip of the Australian mainland. The station buildings, included keepers' quarters, washroom, garages, explosives store, storeroom, and engine house formed a tightly knit cluster on the tip of the rock promontory.

Leongatha Post and Telegraph Office, Leongatha

Built in 1907 by the Victorian Government, this building was one of a small group of post offices, along with those in Terang (1903), Sorrento (1904), Korumburra (1904) and Woodend (1905), to be constructed for the Commonwealth by the Victorian government in the early years after Federation. Post offices were among the few physical manifestations of Federation to be seen in local areas.

Melbourne General Post Office, Melbourne

The General Post Office is one of Victoria's most important public buildings. Built in three stages from 1859 to 1907, it reflects the growth of Melbourne and the state of Victoria especially during the gold rush period and the land boom of the mid to late 19th century. Several noted architects, including Arthur Ebden Johnson, Walter Burley Griffin and John Smith Murdoch, all contributed ideas to the building's design.

Commonwealth Offices Building, East Melbourne

This is the first office building constructed by the Commonwealth and reflects Melbourne's role as the seat of the Commonwealth Government until the opening of the Federal Parliament in Canberra in 1927. It has been used as the Melbourne offices of the Prime Minister and Cabinet and the Governor General since 1912. It is also a major work of noted architect J S Murdoch.

Artillery Orderly Room / Drill Hall, St Kilda East

Fears of foreign aggression in the 1800s led to the formation of a number of voluntary military units in Melbourne. This building was constructed in 1859 to enable citizen or voluntary military units to train for possible military action. It is the largest surviving 19th century timber drill hall in the metropolitan area.

Victoria Barracks Precinct, Southbank

Up until the 1830s there had been various, mostly temporary, military barracks in different locations in Melbourne. From 1851 the gold rush put great strain on Victoria's administration and the colony needed more Imperial troops. In 1854 Britain's military headquarters in Australia moved from Sydney to Melbourne. The colonial government was responsible for providing accommodation for the British forces, and so the decision was made to build a new barracks complex - Victoria Barracks at Southbank.

Following Federation, the Barracks housed the office of the first federal Minister for Defence, and was also the base for the Secretary of the Department of Defence. Victoria Barracks played a very significant administrative role during the World War I as this was where the major Defence decision-making took place. Sites of significance within the precinct include:

A Block

Built in the 1860-70s, A Block is one of the earliest buildings erected in the precinct. It was the site of major wartime decisions by the War Cabinet and Advisory War Council during World War II. Constructed from basalt, it shows highly skilled craftsmanship and is an outstanding example of the Victorian Public Works Department during this period.

G Block

Built by soldiers of the 40th Regiment between 1856 and 1859, G Block is the earliest substantial building constructed in the complex and was the soldiers' barracks. For a time, late in the 19th century, the bluestone building was used to accommodate destitute children as the Victorian government trialed industrial schools to deal with child welfare issues. It was later used for several decades by the Victoria Police Force.

The Keep

The basalt Keep, with well-crafted walling, slit windows and a parapet, was built in 1859. It has symbolic importance as part of original defensive wall around the Barracks.

Victoria Barracks F Block

F Block was built in 1856-7 as the military hospital when British troops served in the colonies and is now the earliest surviving hospital building in Victoria. It has a long association with military history.

Victoria Barracks J Block

Built in 1858 as the Staff Sergeant's Quarters and Mess Establishment J Block has been used variously as a police hospital, army records office and RAAF office. Its history reflects the changing function of the Victoria Barracks over time.

Victoria Barracks Guardhouse (former)

Also known as B Block, the Guardhouse was built in 1862 to incarcerate soldiers who had disobeyed various military rules and laws. Its role has changed over the years, being used as an ammunition store, the Department of Defence's first laboratory, a library, staff accommodation, and since 1999, a museum.

Victoria Barracks C Block

C Block was built between 1860 and 1861 and was the Armoury and Ordnance building. In 1912 substantial alterations and additions were made to convert the Ordnance section to office accommodation for the headquarters for the new Royal Australian Navy. The Armoury wing was converted to ordnance use, and subsequently was used to accommodate naval offices.

Defence Explosive Factory Maribyrnong

The newly formed Commonwealth Government formed its first munitions factory - the Cordite Factory at Maribyrnong in 1910. Seminal example of design and development of a cordite factory and all later factories and production methods in Australia were based on its design. The factory developed into large cultural landscape, with more than 500 densely built structures including magazines, processing plants and support systems. The combined efforts of this factory and the Lithgow Small Arms Factory marked the end of the use of black powder propellants by Australian troops and placed them on a par with other modern defence forces.

Officers Mess - RAAF Williams Laverton Base, Laverton

The mess was built in 1939 at the RAAF's Laverton Base and has played a central role in the life of many military personnel for more than 60 years. The Laverton base developed quickly during the late 1930s, accommodating a number of new squadrons and a training depot. and becoming the RAAF's largest establishment at this time.

Fort Gellibrand Commonwealth Area, Williamstown

Fears of Russian and also French attack led to the construction of the first defensive works on Port Phillip Bay, which were the genesis of Fort Gellibrand. From the 1860s onward buildings erected on this site include a gun battery built on a breakwater in Hobsons Bay, an artillery store, a drill hall, and an infantry parapet. Fort Gellibrand, is the only substantial surviving remnant of the original Hobsons Bay defence system, constructed as part of the scheme to defend Melbourne during the 19th Century.

Metropolitan Fire Brigade Station (former), Elsternwick

The Elsternwick station was built in 1895 and was one of 36 stations established across metropolitan Melbourne between 1892 and 1896 as part of a wide fire-fighting network across Melbourne. It reflects the development of fire-fighting services in Melbourne, especially the expansion of the newly-formed Metropolitan Fire Brigade in the 1890s.

Sorrento Post Office, Sorrento

Built in 1904, the Sorrento Post Office is one of oldest Commonwealth post offices still owned by the Commonwealth. It reflects the role of post offices as early symbols of federation at the local context.

Limestone Building (Shepherds Hut), Portsea

The Shepherd's Hut was built in 1854 on the site of the former Point Nepean Quarantine Station (now Norris Barracks). It has an underground section which is thought to date back to 1844 and would have been used as a dairy. The building is a reminder of pastoral and lime-burning industries, related to Point Nepean Quarantine Station and the earliest phase of settlement in Port Phillip Bay.

Point Nepean Commonwealth Area, Portsea

This is a broad historic landscape, featuring a considerable array of historic values, in particular those relating to national quarantine and defence history, and the local region's maritime and European settlement history. The 294ha site includes mid 19th Century archaeological remains, over 100 years' worth of evidence of quarantine processes, World War II defensive sites and mid to late 20th Century military training ranges. Sites of significance within this area include:

Point Nepean Quarantine Station (former)

The former Point Nepean Quarantine Station, which incorporates the former Army Officer Cadet School, is a place of outstanding historic significance. Established in 1852, it is the second oldest quarantine station in Australia, after North Head in Sydney. It was used for quarantine purposes until 1980 and reflects the development of quarantine philosophy and practice over more than 120 years. The station also played an important role in Australia's post World War II military history, being used to train career Army officers between 1951 and 1985.

HMAS Cerberus Marine and Coastal Area

Covering around 2400ha this area has high geomorphological, botanical and zoological significance. Sandy Point is one of the largest spit systems on the Victorian coast and one of the state's most dynamic shorelines. Western Port is an internationally-significant wetland which is listed under the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands. The area as a whole contains a diverse range of marine and coastal habitats, including tidal channels, fast tidal currents, tidal mudflats, mangroves, saltmarshes and sand beaches and is rich with invertebrate fauna.

HMAS Cerberus Central Area Group

This complex is the largest, most significant and longest continuously functioning training facility held by the Royal Australian Navy and is associated with the development of Australia's naval forces. The place is of monumental scale, having one of the largest military ceremonial grounds in Australia.

© Commonwealth of Australia