By Sean Car
Melbourne’s iconic Queen Victoria Market (QVM) will be considered for Australia’s National Heritage List as part of the City of Melbourne’s $250 million QVM renewal project.
Appearing alongside Lord Mayor Robert Doyle at a press conference on Friday June 12, Federal Environment
Minister Greg Hunt announced that he had asked the Australian Heritage Council to consider QVM for the nation’s peak register of heritage sites.
Mr Hunt said the process would take two years and that, if successful, the Government would push for QVM to be included on UNESCO’s list of world heritage sites.
“The possibility is that we take it forward to the world heritage committee and I am hopeful that they will include this one day, it might take a few years, as one of the great 19th century continuing market sites,” Mr Hunt said.
“It’s about the mix of architectural sites and cultural practices here, the indigenous heritage, the first cemetery but also that it’s a continuing market site.”
“The great thing about it is that this is living history. It’s something, which would add to Melbourne’s lustre in the eyes of the world.”
If successfully added to the World Heritage List, QVM would join the Royal Exhibition and Carlton Gardens as Melbourne’s second world heritage site.
Cr Doyle praised the environment minister for the nomination and said QVM was more than worthy of being added to the list along with the likes of the Taj Mahal and the Statue of Liberty.
“If you think about those other structures, magnificent though they are, they are a little different and separated from everyday life,” he said.
“The beauty of this market is that it’s woven into the everyday fabric of Melbourne life and has been since 1878 and that’s why this is a different and a living world heritage site.”
“QVM has traded continually as a market since 1878 and predates Melbourne’s only current UNESCO World Heritage Site, the Royal Exhibition Building and Carlton Gardens.”
Before it became a market, the site was home to Melbourne’s first cemetery, a place where an estimated 8000 to 10,000 people were buried from 1837 to 1917. The then Melbourne Town Council approved a small adjacent site for a market in 1859.
The Lord Mayor said heritage was central to the City of Melbourne’s plans for the QVM renewal project in order to protect it from inappropriate development in the future.
“It’s also protection of one of the great treasures of Melbourne. This site becomes sacrosanct,” he said.
“We’re planning an appropriate and respectful acknowledgement of the market’s history as our city’s first cemetery and as a site that is significant to Melbourne’s indigenous people, including the Wurundjeri.”