Australian Heritage Festival: a nationwide celebration of Australia’s built and cultural past

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The Boyd Foundation’s 2013 Summer School at Robin Boyd’s Walsh Street house.

The Boyd Foundation’s 2013 Summer School at Robin Boyd’s Walsh Street house. Image: Robert Deutscher

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Australia Square Tower by Harry Seidler.

Australia Square Tower by Harry Seidler. Image: Max Dupain. Copyright Harry Seidler and Associates.

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Jack’s Magazine, Maribyrnong, Melbourne.

Jack’s Magazine, Maribyrnong, Melbourne. Image: Working Heritage

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The National Trust’s Australian Heritage Festival, which celebrates Australia’s built and cultural heritage across hundreds of events in every state and territory, kicks off on 18 April.

The start of the festival will be marked by a keynote speech from columnist and author Elizabeth Farrelly in Sydney.

The festival has run annually since 1980. Last year’s festival featured over a thousand events, marking the first year where all of the individual state and territory trusts committed to running events as part of a national festival.

While dozens of architecture-flavoured events will take place over the course of the festival, we’ve assembled a few of our top picks below:

Australia Square Tower by Harry Seidler. Image:  Max Dupain. Copyright Harry Seidler and Associates.

Max’s Modernism: A Walking Tour in Sydney’s CBD

5 May, Sydney

Heritage consultant Emma McGirr of GML will lead a walking tour that takes in the architectural sites in central Sydney that caught the attention of photographer Max Dupain’s camera. 

Dupain is known both for his modernist photography and for his work as a photographer of modernist architecture, particularly that of Australian architect Harry Seidler.

The walk will end at the State Library of NSW, where attendees will be given a rare viewing of the library’s collection of Dupain’s work.

Walsh Street Tours

19, 26 April, South Yarra

Designed by Robin Boyd, one of Australia’s most prominent residential designers and architectural thinkers, the Walsh Street House was the home of Boyd and his family. 

The event comprises a tour of the house and an introduction to Boyd’s influence, both as a social commentator via his work as a newspaper columnist and his authoring of The Australian Ugliness in 1960, and his influencial work at the Small Homes Service.

The tour is organized by the Robin Boyd Foundation, a not-for-profit organization committed to the continuation of Boyd’s socially conscious legacy. The foundation is now headquartered in the Walsh Street house.

Digital Technology and Heritage Conservation through the Africa Hall project

26 April, Brisbane

Built in 1961, Africa Hall in the Ethiopian capital of Addis Ababa is one of the most important buildings in the city and now houses the United Nations Conference Centre.

Originally designed by Italian architect Arturo Mezzedimi, the United Nations General Assembly approved a $57 million renovation of the modernist hall in 2016. Brisbane-based architecture practice Conrad Gargett was appointed to provide architecture and engineering services for the first two stages of the project.

Using the project as a case study, heritage architects and engineers from the practice will share how new digital technology is transforming heritage practice and “has enabled more accurate design and documentation, advocacy, client confidence and the capability to work on projects remotely.”

Architecture of Melbourne’s Migrants

5 May, Melbourne

Led by architects, landscape architects and urban designers, attendees will explore architecture designed by immigrant architects across Melbourne.

The tour is organized by Melbourne Architours, and aims to show guests “how our story has been shaped by the various cultures that have designed buildings [in Melbourne] from as early as settlement through to current day.

“Furthermore, your architect guides will discuss the impact on our future narrative in a globalised world.”

Jack’s Magazine, Maribyrnong, Melbourne. Image:  Working Heritage

Explore Jack’s Magazine

22 April, Maribyrnong

Usually closed to the public, this 19th century gunpowder storage facility, in the Melbourne suburb of Maribyrnong five kilometres from the CBD, will open to the public for one day in April as part of the festival. In 2017, the site’s custodians announced plans to reactivate the dormant facility with “interesting adaptive re-use” propositions or new architectural interventions.

Known as Jack’s Magazine, the facility was constructed in 1878 and contains tunnels, blast mounds and more than a dozen different buildings constructed between the 1870s and 1920s.

The site is inscribed on the Victorian Heritage Register for its architectural, historical and scientific significance. Designed by Victorian Public Works Department under William Wardell, the complex is an “extraordinary and essentially intact example” of a kind of facility that is “extremely rare in Victoria.”

The tour will be led by Working Heritage, a self-funded Victorian government body in charge of revitalizing heritage properties across the state “to ensure they have a purpose now and in the future.” 

Green Bans Walking Tour – heritage fought and won

20, 27 April, Melbourne

While the Green Ban movement is often associated with Sydney and the Sirius building, Melbourne also played a part in the development of the movement, which linked the preservation of built heritage with the trade union movement. 

In Melbourne, members of the Builders’ Labourers Federation (BLF, a precursor to the Construction, Forestry, Maritime, Mining and Energy Union (CFMEU) refused to destroy socially or environmentally significant sites.

Green Ban activist Dave Kerin will lead a tour that begins at the Trades Hall and takes in some of the city’s most valued buildings, which owe their continued existence in part to the Green Ban movement, including the Princess and Regent Theatres, the City Baths and the Queen Victoria Market.


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