RBA was engaged to identify the heritage values of the showgrounds, and prepared a Conservation Management Plan as part of a master plan undertaken by Urban Initiatives.

We designed, documented and oversaw the relocation of the 400-seat timber grandstand within the site, to enhance performance and viewing opportunities, restoration of the Cattlemens Bar and livestock display shed, and construction of a new 1000 square metre multipurpose addition to the latter building. This new addition now hosts year round agricultural industry events, while the grandstand facilitates outdoor performances. Both interventions have played a pivotal role in recapturing the site’s economic viability and long term sustainability, as well as conserving its heritage significance.

Once key sites of cultural exchange between city and country at the heart of thriving agricultural communities, many regional showgrounds have since fallen into dis-use as their relevance has declined. These places are subject to increasing development pressures, as they typically occupy large areas of valuable land within towns, while existing primarily to accommodate a single annual use. The annual show remains integral to the cultural values of the Shepparton community, and as such, it was critical that this use be retained, however the site was to be redeveloped to accommodate additional uses.

Limited information was available about the significance of country showgrounds to the community, however we quickly discovered that these sites resonate strongly with local groups and individuals, celebrating many aspects of country living, with connections to an annual circuit of regional shows throughout Victoria, farming and Australian identity itself.