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Royal Exhibition Building



This grand old Victorian dame probably represents Melbourne better than any other building because of the continuous and diverse service it has paid to Melbournians. Erected in 1880 for our first Grand International Exhibition it was built by Nellie Melba’s father. After the exhibitions of 1880 and 1888 it hosted the opening of Federal Parliament, housed our state parliament for twenty-odd years, served as an emergency hospital during the influenza epidemic after World War One, hosted several Olympic sports during the Melbourne Olympic Games and has been the venue for countless exhibitions and trade shows. This wonderful building, unlike some of its more ornate Victorian cousins, is egalitarian and non-judgemental. One week it will be hosting an upmarket society event for the top end of town, and the next week it will be welcoming a throw out sale of remnants and remainders. It does both with equal grace and is a building where Melburnians from all walks of life feel “at home”.

For over a century the Royal Exhibition Building was used for major exhibitions and trade shows. The venue now used for most such events is the Exhibition and Convention Centre in Southbank (known by the locals as Jeff's Shed).

Some forthcoming events at the Royal Exhibition Building:

Melbourne Museum - Free monthly talk - Preparing to Roam the Dome: Stories from the Royal Exhibition Building

Looking out at Melbourne from the Royal Exhibition Building’s dome promenade was an experience enjoyed by thousands of Melburnians in the nineteenth century. Learn about the forthcoming Protection and Promotion project, which will reinstate the dome experience for a new generation.

Hear from one of the project architects and the curator as they reveal the conservation and other works involved in enabling access to the dome. Then journey through the rich and eclectic history of the World Heritage-listed Royal Exhibition Building and Carlton Gardens, with stories from some of the objects that will form part of the interpretative experience for the project.


  • Michelle Stevenson is Senior Curator of Politics & Society at Museums Victoria. She is passionate about history and enjoys exploring new ways of connecting objects, stories and the community.
  • Anne Marie Treweeke is an Associate Director at Lovell Chen Architects and Heritage Consultants. She has over 20 years’ experience as an architect and master planner, delivering award-winning projects in heritage contexts.

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White Night Melbourne

  • Flinders Street Station
  • Forum Theatre

White Night Melbourne uses installations, lighting, exhibitions, street performances, film, music, dance and interactive events in a 12 hour overnight event that transforms the city into a wonderland.

Our rating - 5 Hats

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The Big Design Market

Featuring 230 stallholders across homewares, textiles, fashion, furniture, lighting, stationery, lifestyle & kids products. You can also attend creative workshops, pick up showbags at $25 each, or take advantage of the free kids activities. White Hat suggests that you may find a number of items suitable for Christmas gifts that are not your run-of-the-mill department store fare. Adults $2 - children 12 and under free. Details at The Big Design Market.

You can find a comprehensive guide to markets around Australia at The White Hat Guide to Markets in Australia.