Melbourne Travel Guide

Melbourne is the capital and largest city of the state of Victoria, and the second largest city in Australia. People are equally passionate about football and ballet, nuts for fashion, munchy for restaurants, ravenous for music and hot for theatre. It's a smorgasbord of a city that invites you to take a bite. In the last 10 years the city has undergone a renaissance. Restaurants and bars crowd the alleys and Victorian-era arcades off the main streets. Its riverbanks and docklands have been tranformed into spruced-up sites for swanky waterside socialising.

Facts in a glance

Area: 2,025 sq km
Population: 3.2 million
Country: Australia
Time Zone: GMT/UTC +10 (Eastern Standard Time)
Telephone Area Code: 03


Australian indigenous culture stretches back more than 40,000 years while Europeans first settled Melbourne on the banks of the Yarra River in 1835 when it was part of the British colony New South Wales.

Through the 1810s and 1820s Port Phillip was regularly visited by whalers and sealers who worked the coast from Van Diemen's Land to South Australia.

1835: Melbourne was founded on 10 May, by a group of free settlers led by John Batman and John Pascoe Fawkner, unlike some of Australia's capital cities which were founded as penal colonies (Adelaide and Perth are other notable exceptions).

1850: The discovery of gold in central Victoria, leading to the Victorian gold rush, Melbourne quickly grew as a port to service the necessary trade. During the 1880s, Melbourne was the second largest city in the British Empire, and came to be known as "Marvellous Melbourne". Melbourne today is home to the largest number of surviving Victorian Era buildings of any city in the world other than London.

1851: When the colony of Victoria was officially proclaimed, there were already more than 80 000 people living south of the Murray-Murrumbidgee and over six million sheep were being grazed on well-established properties.

1901: Melbourne became Australia's national capital at Federation on 1 January . The first Federal parliament was opened on 9 May 1901 in the Royal Exhibition Building. The seat of government and the national capital remained in Melbourne until 9 May 1927 when the provisional Parliament House was opened in the new capital city of Canberra.

20th century: Melbourne continued to expand, particularly with the post-World War II influx of immigrants and the prestige of hosting the Olympic Games in 1956. This was the first time the Olympic Games had ever been held in the Southern Hemisphere (the only other time was when Sydney hosted the Games in 2000). T

1990: the Victorian state government of Premier Jeff Kennett (Liberal) began a campaign with aggressive development of new public buildings (such as the Crown Casino, the Melbourne Museum, and the Melbourne Exhibition and Convention Centre) and publicising Melbourne's merits both to outsiders and Melburnians. This has continued under the government of current Premier Steve Bracks (Labor).

Melbourne is built on the land of the Kulin nation, the original Aboriginal inhabitants of the area. Melbourne is split into various Local Government Areas each with their own Councils. One of these is the City of Melbourne - covering the central business district.

2001: The City's current Lord Mayor is John So, who was inaugurated, after the first direct election of a Lord Mayor for the city.

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