Victoria Barracks, Melbourne
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|Architectural style||Renaissance Revival|
|Town or city||Melbourne|
Located on St Kilda Road in Melbourne, Australia, Victoria Barracks Melbourne is of architectural and historical significance as one of the most impressive 19th century government buildings in Victoria, Australia.
Pre-World War II
Originally built, as accommodation for British Imperial Garrison troops, including the 12th and 40th Regiment of Foot who were involved in putting down the armed Eureka Stockade rebellion in Ballarat Victoria, and later the Colony of Victoria's colonial forces. The Barracks housed the Department of Defence from the creation of the Commonwealth of Australia (Federation) in 1901 until 1958 when the Department of Defence moved to the new Russell Offices in Canberra. The earliest building (G Block) at Victoria Barracks were built by soldiers on the 40th Regiment, under the supervision of a Royal Engineer officer, from 1856 to 1858, while the remaining buildings were built by civil contractors with the original bluestone buildings being constructed between 1856 and 1872. A large extension (A Block New Wing) was added to accommodate HQ Department of Defence in 1917 and while it looked like the original A Block building the construction method and interior was completely modern for the time. Another modern, for the time, art deco building (M Block) was added in 1939 and the floor was the first continuous concrete pour in Australia. The Barracks were named in honour of Queen Victoria. There are also Victoria Barracks in Sydney and Brisbane.
World War II
During World War II, Victoria Barracks Melbourne housed the Australian War Cabinet. The War Cabinet comprised senior MP's from the Government and Opposition parties. The Defence Secretariat occupied the second floor of 'A Block New Wing' which also contained the office of senior military staff, the Secretary of the Department Defence (Sir Frederick Shedden), visiting Ministers of State and their secretaries and support staff, and the War Cabinet room. The wartime Prime Ministers (Robert Menzies and later John Curtin) also had offices near the War Cabinet Room throughout the War. Eric Nave's Navy cryptographic unit was at Victoria Barracks until it moved to FRUMEL.
Myth has it that the US General Douglas MacArthur had an office at the barracks however this is not true as his HQ was at the Hotel Australia in the Melbourne CBD. It was in fact General Sir Thomas Blamey who had his HQ at the Barracks while serving as Commander-in-Chief, Australian Military Forces, and simultaneously in international command as Commander-in-Chief Allied Land Forces in the South-West Pacific Area under MacArthur.
Post-World War II
Victoria Barracks Melbourne currently accommodates the corporate headquarters and ten Systems Program Offices (business units) of the Defence Materiel Organisation's Land Systems Division, as well as elements of Joint Logistics Command and the Defence Service Group.
A number of facilities within Victoria Barracks are named after notable military events, people or places. These include:
- The Shedden Auditorium (after Sir Frederick Shedden)
- The War Cabinet Room (used as the main conference room for the World War II War Cabinet)
- The Blamey Room (after Field Marshal Sir Thomas Blamey)
- The Tresco Room (after the Tresco Estate, the Royal Australian Navy's premier residence in Sydney)
- "Heritage Homes of the Australian Defence Force - New South Wales" (pdf). Defence Housing Australia. Retrieved 7 May 2011.
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