Black and white photo of an old goods shed with a railway line next to it

Heritage listing may not be enough to save 109-year-old shed from AFL stadium

In short: Tasmania’s government is forging ahead with its plan to build a stadium at Hobart Macquarie Point, a condition for the AFL granting the state a licence for a team in the national competition.
The stadium project has plenty of supporters, but also many who oppose the plan, including some who say a 109-year-old railway shed must be preserved where it stands — in the middle of the site.
What’s next? A provisional heritage listing for the shed was looming as a major hurdle for the stadium project, but key elements, such as it needing to remain where it is built, are not stipulated in the heritage council’s reasoning.

A circa-1915 railway shed located in the middle of the site of the proposed AFL stadium in Hobart has been found to be historically “significant” and “rare” — but its relocation or demolition could still happen to make way for the stadium.

The Tasmanian Heritage Council released its reasons for provisionally listing the 109-year-old Goods Shed for protection on Wednesday, which could have created a new headache for the Rockliff government’s plans for a stadium.

The Macquarie Point Goods Shed was nominated for the state heritage register on three other occasions, but never reached full assessment.(ABC News)

Black and white photo of an old goods shed with a railway line next to it

The shed was built around 1915 as part of Macquarie Point being a railway hub. The precinct has served many purposes in its history.(Supplied: Tasmanian Archives and Heritage Office )

The listing shows the shed meets two out of eight heritage criteria, including that it is a “notable example” of Tasmania’s development of rail transport, and its size and history makes it “rare”.

However, the listing does not mention whether it needs to stay in its exact location, other than a brief discussion of its connection to other nearby historic sites.

It is the last remaining structure from Hobart’s industrial rail history, sitting at 115 metres long, with an additional 12-metre buffer included in the listing.

Interior of a shed with people inside.

The interior of the Goods Shed during use as a trade fair venue.(Facebook: Red Square Hobart and The Goods Shed)

Heritage consultant John Wadsley said moving or demolishing the building should not be an option.

“If you relocate a building or demolish a building of this type, you immediately affect those values, and that significance,” he said.

“This is what Tasmania is built on. There are so many aspects of our history where the place where a building is located are fundamental to its context and understanding of what went on.

“It is rare and significant enough that it not be moved.”

The provisional listing is open for public comment for 60 days, before a decision is made whether to make it permanent.

A map showing how the positioning of the Goods Shed in relation to the new AFL stadium.

The state government says it will consider the Heritage Council’s decision(ABC News: Paul Yeomans)

Relocation or demolition needs ‘detailed justification’

The listing is unlikely to derail the government’s stadium plans.

The stadium is being assessed as a “project of state significance” by the Tasmanian Planning Commission (TPC), with the assessment criteria effectively overriding other planning laws, including heritage.

The TPC will receive a list of all heritage-listed places in the area, and give “consideration” to sites that could be affected by the stadium.

If any “disturbance, relocation or demolition” is proposed, there must be detailed justification provided.


In a submission, Tasmanian Heritage Council chair Brett Torossi said there needed to be more information about how heritage values would be considered.

“The Tasmanian Heritage Council seeks clarification as to how the heritage impact assessment will be integrated with the environmental, social, economic and community impacts assessment,” she wrote.

In its first basic design plans for the stadium, the AFL had relocated the goods shed 110 metres out of the way.

The shed was then removed altogether from the Macquarie Point precinct plan.

Once the TPC has finished its assessment, its recommendations for the stadium — including how the goods shed is managed — will need to be approved by both houses of parliament.

Historic structure relocations done before

It would not be the first time a historically significant structure has been relocated or repurposed in Tasmania.

The Queen Victoria Museum and Art Gallery in Launceston heavily uses the city’s former rail structures.

chandeliers hang from the ceiling. A man is playing on stage and the lights are purple and pink.

The Goods Shed has been used for arts events, including during Dark Mofo in 2023.(Supplied: Dark Lab)

The Hobart Vintage Machinery Society recently relocated a circa-1942 shed from the Hobart showgrounds to Penna, about 30 kilometres away.

Society president Chris Jacobs said they had to take each part section by section, numbering each part, in sizes that could be transported and then reassembled.

“The job can be done, with a bit of thought going into it, and if you’ve got a spot to relocate it to,” he said.

In December, Premier Jeremy Rockliff said his government was “committed, clearly” to the “significant investment of the stadium” but would “take an interest” in the heritage council’s decision.

“We’ll wait for the final outcome and make the appropriate decisions,” he said at the time.

Green corrugated iron shed with windows and white trim

Moving the shed is possible, says one person who has done similar work before.(ABC News: Adam Holmes )




Author: Russell White