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Victoria Barracks

Peter Maltezos's picture

Text mainly from wikipedia


Victoria Barracks

St Kilda Road

Original bluestone buildings constructed 1856-72

Renaissance Revival

Architect is unknown


Located on St Kilda Road, Victoria Barracks is of architectural and historical significance as one of the most impressive 19th Century government buildings in Victoria.


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 continues concrete pour in Australia. The Barracks were named in honour of Queen Victoria. There are also Victoria Barracks in Sydney and Brisbane.


During World War 2, Victoria Barracks Melbourne housed the Australian War Cabinet Room. 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 Menziesand later John Curtin) also had offices near the War Cabinet Room throughout the War. 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 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.

Victoria Barracks Melbourne currently accommodates the corporate headquarters and ten Systems Program Offices (business units) of the Defence Material Organisation's Land Systems Division, as well as elements of Joint Logistics Command and the Defence Service Group.


A couple of Edwardian postcards.


Below, a few of my own shots.


Significant war trophies on show in front of the Victoria Barracks are two muzzle-loading guns captured from the Russians in 1854 during the Crimean War at the entry, and two German guns captured in World War I during 1918, one taken on the Western Front, the other in Palestine on the lawns.

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