About us

The Wheeler Centre is Melbourne’s home for smart, passionate and entertaining public talks on every topic. 

Across 180+ events each year, and a unique collection of videos, podcasts and original writing, you’ll find some of our finest local and international writers and thinkers sharing their expertise, their imaginations and their ideas.

Like many great stories, our story began with a blank sheet of paper and an ambitious idea;  an idea that was born from the observation that while every great city has its grand cultural institutions – art galleries, theatres, museums and concert halls – there was a place for a unique institution that would provide a hub for the discussion, debate and practice of writing and ideas. Such a cultural centre would enhance and consolidate our city’s reputation as a world leader in this arena.

From inception, the idea grew with the passion, belief and support of the Victorian State Government, gaining unstoppable momentum. In 2008, Melbourne was designated a UNESCO City of Literature, and this heralded the establishment of the Centre of Books, Writing and Ideas – a vibrant new hub for a diverse range of literary- and ideas-based organisations and activities. The aim: to provide a home and important focal point for the conversations that matter to Victoria, and indeed, Australia. As the Centre itself took its physical shape within a newly renovated and dedicated wing of the State Library of Victoria, our position was secured ahead of the official opening with the commitment of our patrons, Maureen and Tony Wheeler of Lonely Planet. From that day, the Centre of Books, Writing and Ideas became the Wheeler Centre.

Over 2200 speakers have participated in more than 1616 public conversations since 2010.

There’s nothing we’re not interested in: Our events foster conversations on a broad range of topics, including literature, art, social responsibility, politics, ethics, copyright, urban planning, sports, Indigenous storytelling and public affairs.

We want everyone to participate, in whichever way suits them: over seventy percent of our events are free and our digital publishing arm produces original video and audio of our events, plus original writing, whereby seventy percent of the events become available online – reaching regional, national and international audiences.

But if you really want to know more about the centre, browse our past conversations, watch or listen to our recordings, or check out what's coming up. For our latest news, subscribe to our weekly newsletter. Connect on TwitterFacebookInstagram or YouTube.

We are dedicated to being the cornerstone of Australia’s literary activity: by supporting the health and vitality of the writing and ideas ecosystem, we continue to contribute to a deeper thinking society and enable the story-telling and story-making that builds communities around the sharing of ideas and conversations.

Photo of a grey stone building and a glass doorway leading to the Wheeler Centre's reception area, with the text 'The Wheeler Centre' written across the top

Our purpose

The Wheeler Centre supports and amplifies the many voices that make sense of the world through books, writing and storytelling. The Centre is committed to the discussion of ideas to enhance and strengthen the creative connections we share.

Our vision

Our vision is to inspire curiosity, connection and engagement through the transformative power of storytelling.

Our principles

The Conversations to Create Change 2021 – 2024 Strategic Plan represents an exciting next chapter for Melbourne’s iconic Wheeler Centre. Casting our eyes wider to be more outwardly focused, we pledge to be more expansive, collaborative, and innovative.

The new strategy is framed around guiding principles that:

  • Focus on people
  • Build a culture that listens

  • Welcome innovative storytelling

  • Expand the reach of the Centre’s activities to suburban, regional, interstate and international audiences across both live and digital platforms

  • Create engaging conversations to inspire all people

  • Excite diverse audiences
  • Provide a framework for bold, collaborative, and inclusive activities

To read the Conversations to Create Change 2021 – 2024 Strategic Plan click here.

Annual reports

Find out more – download the Wheeler Centre's annual reports (PDF format).