The Royal Exhibition Building

MELBOURNE'S Royal Exhibition Building beat the Sydney Opera House to become the first Australian building on the World Heritage List.

The Exhibition Building and surrounding Carlton Gardens were added to the list in June 2004.

Premier Steve Bracks said the building is on par with some of the world's best-loved landmarks.

"The listing puts Victoria's Royal Exhibition Building on a pedestal with Athens' Parthenon, the Eiffel Tower, Tower of London and the Taj Mahal," Mr Bracks said.

"No other Australian building has achieved this recognition. It is a rare and outstanding example of Victoria's cultural heritage."



Environment Minister David Kemp said until the exhibition building our only entries on the list were for natural heritage.

"This remarkable building, listed for its importance as the last great survivor of the international exhibition movement of the late 19th century, joins 15 other Australian places so important they must be preserved for the benefit of all the people in the world," Dr Kemp said.

He said he hoped the Royal Exhibition Building would be the first in a series of Australian buildings to be recognised.

"The Sydney Opera House is in the queue . . . along with Australian convict sites," Dr Kemp said.

Melbourne Lord Mayor John So said the move had secured global recognition for Melbourne's most historic building -- site of Australia's first Parliament -- and gardens.

It came after seven years of lobbying by supporters.

"It's been a long road and one worth pursuing," Cr So said.

"The Exhibition Building, which sparked the beginning of the Marvellous Melbourne era in 1880, put this city on the world map during the 19th century.

"It symbolises Melbourne's emergence from a colonial backwater into a key centre for industry and commerce and a world leader in innovation."

The ALP made the initial approach for the listing to the Federal Government in 1996.

The World Heritage Committee meeting in China, said the Exhibition building was a prime example of mankind's industrial and technological skill.

"The Royal Exhibition Building . . . stands as an exceptional testimony to this interchange of human values and developments in technology and industrialisation fundamental to the international exhibition movement," it said.

The Royal Exhibition building is the second largest entirely wooden building in the world, second only to another similarly constructed building in Wellington, New Zealand.