Australia Post commissioned NBRS to prepare an updated Heritage Management Plan (HMP) for the Perth General Post Office (GPO), in Western Australia. The place has cultural heritage significance for its historic, architectural, aesthetic, technical, social and associative values, demonstrated at local, state and Commonwealth levels. The updated Heritage Management Plan is intended to provide practical guidelines for the appropriate management of Perth GPO and its setting, so that any proposed changes to the site’s fabric or use may be carried out in a manner which conserves its heritage significance.
A place of social and civic importance
The Perth GPO was built between 1914–1923 to the design of John Smith Murdoch (architect, Commonwealth Department of Works), Hillson Beasley, and William Hardwick (architects, Public Works Department of Western Australia). Its protracted construction was owing to lengthy delays caused by war time conditions and materials shortages.
Within its formal Forrest Place setting, Perth GPO provides evidence of major public investment and civic planning within Perth’s early twentieth century development. The monumental scale and formal character of the building reflects the emerging sense of civic pride and importance in Perth. as the Commonwealth extended its reach to Western Australia
Telecommunications have played a critical role in shaping the Commonwealth’s history, influencing everything from administration and governance to domestic and international communication, military operations, and employment. Perth GPO building has importance as a place that provided essential services for over 90 years and as a local landmark and as a place for people to meet and socialise.
Aesthetically, Perth GPO is one of Australia’s earliest and most accomplished examples of the Beaux-Arts architectural style. Consistent with the principles of Beaux-Arts, the design places a strong emphasis on the use of high-quality, local materials. While this may have been partly influenced by materials shortages during World War I, there was also a desire for the building to showcase Western Australia’s high quality natural resources. Almost all of the materials used in its construction were locally sourced, including Donnybrook freestone and Mahogany Creek granite, Armadale and Beenup bricks, and Jarrah (Eucalyptus marginata) timberwork.
As a purpose-built structure, special consideration was given to the operational requirements of the Post Office, including the receipt and despatch of mail and the public’s use and access to the space. Surviving internal features reflect the historic functions of these spaces.
Protecting heritage significance
In December 2022 NBRS undertook a detailed site survey to confirm the integrity and intactness of the Perth GPO building, including its external walls and internal spaces. Our team conducted historical research and engaged with stakeholders to deepen our understanding of the GPO building within its historical and operational contexts. This understanding formed the basis for an assessment of significance from which a revised Statement of Significance was prepared. The Heritage Management Plan concludes with a comprehensive set of policies to guide the management, conservation, and interpretation of the place.
Perth General Post Office, 3 Forest Place Perth is included is included on the Commonwealth Heritage List for its historical, technical, architectural and social values. The place’s established heritage values are protected and administered under the federal Environmental Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (‘the Act’).
A Heritage Management Plan is being prepared for the site to guide its ongoing use and management and to ensure that any changes to the place are carried out in a manner which retains and supports its heritage values.
Under paragraphs 324S(6)(a) and 341S(6)(b) of the Act, comments are invited on the draft Heritage Management Plan from members of the public, stakeholders and community groups with rights and interests in the place.
The closing date for public comment is 5:00pm AEDT on Monday, 27 November 2023.
Submissions can be made via email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Level 4 1/325 Flinders Lane, Melbourne VIC 3000.
Download a draft copy of the Perth GPO Heritage Management Plan here.