Melbourne facts for kids

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Melbourne
Victoria
Melbourne city montage.jpg
(From top left to bottom right) Melbourne City Centre, Flinders Street Station, Shrine of Remembrance, Federation Square, Melbourne Cricket Ground, Royal Exhibition Building.
Population: 4529500  (2nd)
Density: 453/km² (1,173.3/sq mi)
Elevation: 31 m (102 ft)
Area: 9990.5 km² (3,857.4 sq mi) (GCCSA)
Time zone:

 • Summer (DST)

AEST (UTC+10)

AEDT (UTC+11)

Location:
LGA: 31 Municipalities across Greater Melbourne
County: Grant, Bourke, Mornington
State District: 54 electoral districts and regions
Federal Division: 23 Divisions
Mean Max Temp Mean Min Temp Annual Rainfall
20.4 °C
69 °F
11.4 °C
53 °F
602.6 mm
23.7 in

Melbourne (/ˈmɛlbərn/) is the capital and most populous city of the Australian state of Victoria, and the second-most populous city in Australia. The name "Melbourne" refers to an urban agglomeration spanning 9,900 km2 (3,800 sq mi), which comprises the broader metropolitan area, as well as being the common name for its city centre. The metropolis is located on the large natural bay of Port Phillip and expands into the hinterlands towards the Dandenong and Macedon mountain ranges, Mornington Peninsula and Yarra Valley. Melbourne consists of 31 municipalities. It has a population of 4,529,500 as of 2015, and its inhabitants are called Melburnians.

Founded by free settlers from the British Crown colony of Van Diemen's Land on 30 August 1835, in what was then the colony of New South Wales, it was incorporated as a Crown settlement in 1837. It was named "Melbourne" by the Governor of New South Wales, Sir Richard Bourke, in honour of the British Prime Minister of the day, William Lamb, 2nd Viscount Melbourne. It was officially declared a city by Queen Victoria, to whom Lord Melbourne was close, in 1847, after which it became the capital of the newly founded colony of Victoria in 1851. During the Victorian gold rush of the 1850s, it was transformed into one of the world's largest and wealthiest cities. After the federation of Australia in 1901, it served as the nation's interim seat of government until 1927.

Melbourne rates highly in education, entertainment, health care, research and development, tourism and sport, making it the world's most liveable city—for the sixth year in a row in 2016, according to the Economist Intelligence Unit. It is a leading financial centre in the Asia-Pacific region, and ranks among the top 30 cities in the world in the Global Financial Centres Index. Referred to as Australia's "cultural capital", it is the birthplace of Australian impressionism, Australian rules football, the Australian film and television industries, and Australian contemporary dance. It is recognised as a UNESCO City of Literature and a major centre for street art, music and theatre. It is home to many of Australia's largest and oldest cultural institutions such as the Melbourne Cricket Ground, the National Gallery of Victoria, the State Library of Victoria and the UNESCO World Heritage-listed Royal Exhibition Building. It was the host city of the 1956 Summer Olympics and the 2006 Commonwealth Games.

The main passenger airport serving the metropolis and the state is Melbourne Airport (also called Tullamarine Airport), the second busiest in Australia. The Port of Melbourne is Australia's busiest seaport for containerised and general cargo. Melbourne has an extensive transport network. The main metropolitan train terminus is Flinders Street Station, and the main regional train and coach terminus is Southern Cross Station. Melbourne is also home to Australia's most extensive freeway network and has the world's largest urban tram network.

History

Early history and foundation

Landing at melbourne 1840
Melbourne Landing, 1840; watercolour by W. Liardet (1840)

Before the arrival of white settlers, humans had occupied the area for an estimated 31,000 to 40,000 years. At the time of European settlement, it was inhabited by under 2000 hunter-gatherers from three indigenous regional tribes: the Wurundjeri, Boonwurrung and Wathaurong. The area was an important meeting place for the clans of the Kulin nation alliance and a vital source of food and water.

The first European settlement in Victoria was established by Colonel David Collins in October 1803, at Sullivan Bay, near present-day Sorrento, but this settlement was relocated to what is now Hobart, Tasmania, in February 1804, due to a perceived lack of resources. It would be 30 years before another settlement was attempted.

In May and June 1835, the area which is now central and northern Melbourne was explored by John Batman, a leading member of the Port Phillip Association in Van Diemen's Land (now known as Tasmania), who claimed to have negotiated a purchase of 600,000 acres (2,400 km2) with eight Wurundjeri elders. Batman selected a site on the northern bank of the Yarra River, declaring that "this will be the place for a village". Batman then returned to Launceston in Tasmania. In early August 1835 a different group of settlers, including John Pascoe Fawkner, left Launceston on the ship Enterprize. Fawkner was forced to disembark at Georgetown, Tasmania, because of outstanding debts. The remainder of the party continued and arrived at the mouth of the Yarra River on 15 August 1835. On 30 August 1835 the party disembarked and established a settlement at the site of the current Melbourne Immigration Museum. Batman and his group arrived on 2 September 1835 and the two groups ultimately agreed to share the settlement.

Batman's Treaty with the Aborigines was annulled by the New South Wales governor (who at the time governed all of eastern mainland Australia), with compensation paid to members of the association. In 1836, Governor Bourke declared the city the administrative capital of the Port Phillip District of New South Wales, and commissioned the first plan for the city, the Hoddle Grid, in 1837. The settlement was named Batmania after Batman. However, later that year the settlement was named "Melbourne" after the British Prime Minister, William Lamb, 2nd Viscount Melbourne, whose seat was Melbourne Hall in the market town of Melbourne, Derbyshire. On 13 April 1837 the settlement's general post office officially opened with that name.

Between 1836 and 1842 Victorian Aboriginal groups were largely dispossessed of their land by European settlers. By January 1844, there were said to be 675 Aborigines resident in squalid camps in Melbourne. The British Colonial Office appointed five Aboriginal Protectors for the Aborigines of Victoria, in 1839, however their work was nullified by a land policy that favoured squatters to take possession of Aboriginal lands. By 1845, fewer than 240 wealthy Europeans held all the pastoral licences then issued in Victoria and became a powerful political and economic force in Victoria for generations to come.

Letters patent of Queen Victoria, issued on 25 June 1847, declared Melbourne a city.

On 1 July 1851 the Port Phillip District became the separate Colony of Victoria, with Melbourne as its capital.

Victorian gold rush

Canvas town south melbourne victoria 1850s
"Canvas Town", South Melbourne in the 1850s depicting temporary accommodation for the thousands who poured into Melbourne each week during the gold rush.

The discovery of gold in Victoria in mid-1851 led to a gold rush, and Melbourne, which served as the major port and provided most services for the region, experienced rapid growth. Within months, the city's population had increased from 25,000 to 40,000 inhabitants. Thereafter, growth was exponential and by 1865, Melbourne had overtaken Sydney as Australia's most populous city.

An influx of intercolonial and overseas migrants, particularly Irish, German and Chinese, saw the establishment of slums including a temporary "tent city" on the southern banks of the Yarra. Chinese migrants founded Chinatown in 1851, which remains the longest continuous Chinese settlement outside Asia. In the aftermath of the 1854 Eureka Rebellion, mass public support for the plight of the miners resulted in major political changes to the colony, including improvements in working conditions across mining, agriculture, manufacturing and other local industries. The various nationalities involved in the rebellion give some indication of immigration flows at the time.

With the wealth brought on by the gold rush and the subsequent need for public buildings, a program of grand civic construction soon began. The 1850s and 1860s saw the commencement of Parliament House, the Treasury Building, the Old Melbourne Gaol, Victoria Barracks, the State Library, University, General Post Office, Customs House, the Melbourne Town Hall, St Patrick's cathedral, though many remained uncompleted for decades, with some still not finished.

The layout of the inner suburbs on a largely one-mile grid pattern, cut through by wide radial boulevards and parklands surrounding the central city was largely established in the 1850s and 1860s. These areas were rapidly filled by the ubiquitous terrace house, as well as detached houses and grand mansions, while some of the major roads developed as shopping streets. Melbourne quickly became a major finance centre, home to several banks, the Royal Mint, and Australia's first stock exchange in 1861. In 1855 the Melbourne Cricket Club secured possession of its now famous ground, the MCG. Members of the Melbourne Football Club codified Australian football in 1859, and Yarra rowing clubs and "regattas" became popular about the same time. In 1861 the Melbourne Cup was first run. In 1864 Melbourne acquired its first public monument—the Burke and Wills statue.

With the gold rush largely over by 1860, Melbourne continued to grow on the back of continuing gold mining, as the major port for exporting the agricultural products of Victoria, especially wool, and a developing manufacturing sector protected by high tariffs. An extensive radial railway network spreading into the countryside was established from the late 1850s. Further major public buildings were begun in the 1860s and 1870s such as the Supreme Court, Government House, and the Queen Victoria Market. The central city filled up with shops and offices, workshops, and warehouses. Large banks and hotels faced the main streets, with fine townhouses in the east end of Collins Street, contrasting with tiny cottages down laneways within the blocks. The Aboriginal population continued to decline with an estimated 80% total decrease by 1863, due primarily to introduced diseases, particularly smallpox, frontier violence and dispossession from their lands.

Land boom and bust

Melbourne international exhibition 1880
Lithograph of the Royal Exhibition Building, built to host the Melbourne International Exhibition of 1880

The decade of the 1880s was one of extraordinary growth, when consumer confidence, easy access to credit, and steep increases in the price of land, led to an enormous amount of construction. This 'land boom' was followed by a severe economic crash in the early 1890s which lasted until the end of the century. During the boom, Melbourne had reputedly become the richest city in the world, and the largest after London in the British Empire.

The decade began with the Melbourne International Exhibition in 1880, held in the large purpose-built Exhibition Building. In 1880 a telephone exchange was established and in the same year the foundations of St Paul's, were laid; in 1881 electric light was installed in the Eastern Market, and in the following year a generating station capable of supplying 2,000 incandescent lamps was in operation. In 1885 the first line of the Melbourne cable tramway system was built, becoming one of the worlds most extensive systems by 1890.

Federal Coffee Palace Melbourne
Federal Coffee Palace, one of many grand hotels erected during the boom

During a visit in 1885 English journalist George Augustus Henry Sala coined the phrase "Marvellous Melbourne", which stuck long into the twentieth century and is still used today by Melburnians. Growing building activity culminated in a "land boom" which, in 1888, reached a peak of speculative development fuelled by consumer confidence and escalating land value. As a result of the boom, large commercial buildings, coffee palaces, terrace housing and palatial mansions proliferated in the city. The establishment of a hydraulic facility in 1887 allowed for the local manufacture of elevators, resulting in the first construction of high-rise buildings; most notably the APA Building, amongst the world's tallest commercial buildings upon completion in 1889. This period also saw the expansion of a major radial rail-based transport network.

In 1888, the Exhibition Building hosted a second event even larger than the first, the Melbourne Centennial Exhibition, spurring construction of numerous hotels including the 500 room Federal Hotel, The Palace Hotel in Bourke Street (both since demolished), and the doubling in size of the Grand (Windsor).

A brash boosterism that had typified Melbourne during this time ended in the early 1890s with a severe depression of the city's economy, sending the local finance and property industries into a period of chaos during which 16 small "land banks" and building societies collapsed, and 133 limited companies went into liquidation. The Melbourne financial crisis was a contributing factor in the Australian economic depression of the 1890s and the Australian banking crisis of 1893. The effects of the depression on the city were profound, with virtually no new construction until the late 1890s.

Capital of Australia

Further information: Federation of Australia
Opening of the first parliament
The Big Picture, the opening of the first Parliament of Australia on 9 May 1901, painted by Tom Roberts.

At the time of Australia's federation on 1 January 1901, Melbourne became the seat of government of the federation. The first federal parliament was convened on 9 May 1901 in the Royal Exhibition Building, subsequently moving to the Victorian Parliament House where it was located until 1927, when it was moved to Canberra. The Governor-General of Australia resided at Government House in Melbourne until 1930 and many major national institutions remained in Melbourne well into the twentieth century.

Post-war period

In the immediate years after World War II, Melbourne expanded rapidly, its growth boosted by post-war immigration to Australia, primarily from Southern Europe and the Mediterranean. While the "Paris End" of Collins Street began Melbourne's boutique shopping and open air cafe cultures, the city centre was seen by many as stale—the dreary domain of office workers—something expressed by John Brack in his famous painting Collins St., 5 pm (1955).

Orica House
ICI House, a symbol of progress and modernity in post-war Melbourne

Height limits in the Melbourne CBD were lifted in 1958, after the construction of ICI House, transforming the city's skyline with the introduction of skyscrapers. Suburban expansion then intensified, served by new indoor malls beginning with Chadstone Shopping Centre. The post-war period also saw a major renewal of the CBD and St Kilda Road which significantly modernised the city. New fire regulations and redevelopment saw most of the taller pre-war CBD buildings either demolished or partially retained through a policy of facadism. Many of the larger suburban mansions from the boom era were also either demolished or subdivided.

To counter the trend towards low-density suburban residential growth, the government began a series of controversial public housing projects in the inner city by the Housing Commission of Victoria, which resulted in demolition of many neighbourhoods and a proliferation of high-rise towers. In later years, with the rapid rise of motor vehicle ownership, the investment in freeway and highway developments greatly accelerated the outward suburban sprawl and declining inner city population. The Bolte government sought to rapidly accelerate the modernisation of Melbourne. Major road projects including the remodelling of St Kilda Junction, the widening of Hoddle Street and then the extensive 1969 Melbourne Transportation Plan changed the face of the city into a car-dominated environment.

Australia's financial and mining booms during 1969 and 1970 resulted in establishment of the headquarters of many major companies (BHP Billiton and Rio Tinto, among others) in the city. Nauru's then booming economy resulted in several ambitious investments in Melbourne, such as Nauru House. Melbourne remained Australia's main business and financial centre until the late 1970s, when it began to lose this primacy to Sydney.

As the centre of Australia's "rust belt", Melbourne experienced an economic downturn between 1989 and 1992, following the collapse of several local financial institutions. In 1992, the newly elected Kennett government began a campaign to revive the economy with an aggressive development campaign of public works coupled with the promotion of the city as a tourist destination with a focus on major events and sports tourism. During this period the Australian Grand Prix moved to Melbourne from Adelaide. Major projects included the construction of a new facility for the Melbourne Museum, Federation Square, the Melbourne Exhibition and Convention Centre, Crown Casino and the CityLink tollway. Other strategies included the privatisation of some of Melbourne's services, including power and public transport, and a reduction in funding to public services such as health, education and public transport infrastructure.

Contemporary Melbourne

Since the mid-1990s, Melbourne has maintained significant population and employment growth. There has been substantial international investment in the city's industries and property market. Major inner-city urban renewal has occurred in areas such as Southbank, Port Melbourne, Melbourne Docklands and more recently, South Wharf. According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, Melbourne sustained the highest population increase and economic growth rate of any Australian capital city in the three years ended June 2004. These factors have led to population growth and further suburban expansion through the 2000s.

A panoramic view of the Melbourne Docklands and the city skyline from Waterfront City looking across Victoria Harbour.

From 2006, the growth of the city extended into "green wedges" and beyond the city's urban growth boundary. Predictions of the city's population reaching 5 million people pushed the state government to review the growth boundary in 2008 as part of its Melbourne @ Five Million strategy. In 2009, Melbourne was less affected by the late-2000s financial crisis in comparison to other Australian cities. At this time, more new jobs were created in Melbourne than any other Australian city—almost as many as the next two fastest growing cities, Brisbane and Perth, combined, and Melbourne's property market remained highly priced, resulting in historically high property prices and widespread rent increases.

Geography

Greater Melbourne Map 4 - May 2008
Map of Melbourne and Geelong urban areas

Melbourne is located in the south-eastern part of mainland Australia, within the state of Victoria. Geologically, it is built on the confluence of Quaternary lava flows to the west, Silurian mudstones to the east, and Holocene sand accumulation to the southeast along Port Phillip. The southeastern suburbs are situated on the Selwyn fault which transects Mount Martha and Cranbourne.

Melbourne extends along the Yarra River towards the Yarra Valley and the Dandenong Ranges to the east. It extends northward through the undulating bushland valleys of the Yarra's tributaries—Moonee Ponds Creek (toward Tullamarine Airport), Merri Creek, Darebin Creek and Plenty River—to the outer suburban growth corridors of Craigieburn and Whittlesea.

The city reaches south-east through Dandenong to the growth corridor of Pakenham towards West Gippsland, and southward through the Dandenong Creek valley, the Mornington Peninsula and the city of Frankston taking in the peaks of Olivers Hill, Mount Martha and Arthurs Seat, extending along the shores of Port Phillip as a single conurbation to reach the exclusive suburb of Portsea and Point Nepean. In the west, it extends along the Maribyrnong River and its tributaries north towards Sunbury and the foothills of the Macedon Ranges, and along the flat volcanic plain country towards Melton in the west, Werribee at the foothills of the You Yangs granite ridge south west of the CBD. The Little River, and the township of the same name, marks the border between Melbourne and neighbouring Geelong city.

Melbourne's major bayside beaches are located in the various suburbs along the shores of Port Phillip Bay, in areas like Port Melbourne, Albert Park, St Kilda, Elwood, Brighton, Sandringham, Mentone, Frankston, Altona, Williamstown and Werribee South. The nearest surf beaches are located 85 kilometres (53 mi) south-east of the Melbourne CBD in the back-beaches of Rye, Sorrento and Portsea.

Climate

Carlton Gardens in autumn
Carlton Gardens in autumn

Melbourne has a temperate oceanic climate (Köppen climate classification Cfb) with warm summers and cool winters. and is well known for its changeable weather conditions. This is mainly due to Melbourne's location situated on the boundary of the very hot inland areas and the cool southern ocean. This temperature differential is most pronounced in the spring and summer months and can cause very strong cold fronts to form. These cold fronts can be responsible for all sorts of severe weather from gales to severe thunderstorms and hail, large temperature drops and heavy rain. Winters, on the other hand, are usually very stable, but rather damp and often cloudy.

Port Phillip is often warmer than the surrounding oceans and/or the land mass, particularly in spring and autumn; this can set up a "bay effect" similar to the "lake effect" seen in colder climates where showers are intensified leeward of the bay. Relatively narrow streams of heavy showers can often affect the same places (usually the eastern suburbs) for an extended period, while the rest of Melbourne and surrounds stays dry. Overall, Melbourne is, owing to the rain shadow of the Otway Ranges, nonetheless drier than average for southern Victoria. Within the city and surrounds, however, rainfall varies widely, from around 425 millimetres (17 in) at Little River to 1,250 millimetres (49 in) on the eastern fringe at Gembrook. Melbourne receives 48.6 clear days annually. Dewpoint temperatures in the summer range from 9.5 °C (49.1 °F) to 11.7 °C (53.1 °F).

Melbourne is also prone to isolated convective showers forming when a cold pool crosses the state, especially if there is considerable daytime heating. These showers are often heavy and can contain hail and squalls and significant drops in temperature, but they pass through very quickly at times with a rapid clearing trend to sunny and relatively calm weather and the temperature rising back to what it was before the shower. This often occurs in the space of minutes and can be repeated many times in a day, giving Melbourne a reputation for having "four seasons in one day", a phrase that is part of local popular culture and familiar to many visitors to the city. The lowest temperature on record is −2.8 °C (27.0 °F), on 21 July 1869. The highest temperature recorded in Melbourne city was 46.4 °C (115.5 °F), on 7 February 2009. While snow is occasionally seen at higher elevations in the outskirts of the city, it has not been recorded in the Central Business District since 1986.

Climate data for Melbourne Regional Office
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Record high °C (°F) 45.6
(114.1)
46.4
(115.5)
41.7
(107.1)
34.9
(94.8)
28.7
(83.7)
22.4
(72.3)
23.3
(73.9)
26.5
(79.7)
31.4
(88.5)
36.9
(98.4)
40.9
(105.6)
43.7
(110.7)
46.4
Average high °C (°F) 26.3
(79.3)
26.6
(79.9)
24.4
(75.9)
21.0
(69.8)
17.5
(63.5)
14.8
(58.6)
14.2
(57.6)
15.7
(60.3)
17.7
(63.9)
20.1
(68.2)
22.6
(72.7)
24.4
(75.9)
20.4
(68.7)
Average low °C (°F) 15.6
(60.1)
16.0
(60.8)
14.5
(58.1)
11.8
(53.2)
9.8
(49.6)
7.9
(46.2)
7.1
(44.8)
7.8
(46)
9.2
(48.6)
10.6
(51.1)
12.6
(54.7)
14.1
(57.4)
11.4
(52.5)
Record low °C (°F) 5.5
(41.9)
4.5
(40.1)
2.8
(37)
1.5
(34.7)
−1.1
(30)
−2.2
(28)
−2.8
(27)
−2.1
(28.2)
−0.5
(31.1)
0.1
(32.2)
2.5
(36.5)
4.4
(39.9)
-17.8
Rainfall mm (inches) 45.1
(1.776)
39.9
(1.571)
40.7
(1.602)
50.2
(1.976)
46.5
(1.831)
46.5
(1.831)
44.7
(1.76)
50.5
(1.988)
52.9
(2.083)
58.5
(2.303)
63.1
(2.484)
64.1
(2.524)
602.6
(23.724)
Humidity 47 47 49 51 58 62 60 54 51 48 48 47 52
Avg. rainy days (≥ 0.2mm) 8.7 6.6 9.3 10.5 12.2 13.5 14.4 15.3 14.0 13.3 11.3 10.0 139.1
Sunshine hours 266.6 228.8 223.2 186.0 142.6 120.0 136.4 164.3 183.0 223.2 225.0 263.5 2,362.6
Source #1: Bureau of Meteorology 1981-2010 averages, records 1855-2016
Source #2: Sunshine hours taken from Melbourne Airport, 1999-2016

Environment and pollution

Melbourne's air quality is generally good and has improved significantly since the 1980s. Like many urban environments, the city faces significant environmental issues, many of them relating to the city's large urban footprint and urban sprawl and the demand for infrastructure and services. One such issue is the impact of drought on water supply. Periodic droughts and consistently high summer temperatures deplete Melbourne water supplies, and climate change may exacerbate the long-term impact of these factors on Melbourne's water supplies. During the Millennium drought, the Bracks Government implemented water restrictions and a range of other options including water recycling, incentives for household water tanks, greywater systems, water consumption awareness initiatives, and other water saving and reuse initiatives. However, as water storages continued to fall further measures were required; in June 2007 the Bracks Government announced the construction of the $3.1 billion Wonthaggi desalination plant, and the so-called North-South Pipeline from the Goulburn Valley in Victoria's north to Melbourne. Neither project was used extensively before the drought broke during 2010, and therefore both have been criticised as 'white elephants'.

In response to attribution of recent climate change, the City of Melbourne, in 2002, set a target to reduce carbon emissions to net zero by 2020 and Moreland City Council established the Zero Moreland program, however not all metropolitan municipalities have followed, with the City of Glen Eira notably deciding in 2009 not to become carbon neutral. Melbourne has one of the largest urban footprints in the world due to its low density housing, resulting in a vast suburban sprawl, with a high level of car dependence and minimal public transport outside of inner areas. Much of the vegetation within the city are non-native species, most of European origin, and in many cases plays host to invasive species and noxious weeds. Significant introduced urban pests include the common myna, feral pigeon, brown rat, European wasp, common starling and red fox. Many outlying suburbs, particularly towards the Yarra Valley and the hills to the north-east and east, have gone for extended periods without regenerative fires leading to a lack of saplings and undergrowth in urbanised native bushland. The Department of Sustainability and Environment partially addresses this problem by regularly burning off. Several national parks have been designated around the urban area of Melbourne, including the Mornington Peninsula National Park, Port Phillip Heads Marine National Park and Point Nepean National Park in the south east, Organ Pipes National Park to the north and Dandenong Ranges National Park to the east. There are also a number of significant state parks just outside Melbourne. Responsibility for regulating pollution falls under the jurisdiction of the EPA Victoria and several local councils. Air pollution, by world standards, is classified as being good. Summer and autumn are the worst times of year for atmospheric haze in the urban area.

Another recent environmental issue in Melbourne was the Victorian government project of channel deepening Melbourne Ports by dredging Port Phillip Bay—the Port Phillip Channel Deepening Project. It was subject to controversy and strict regulations among fears that beaches and marine wildlife could be affected by the disturbance of heavy metals and other industrial sediments. Other major pollution problems in Melbourne include levels of bacteria including E. coli in the Yarra River and its tributaries caused by septic systems, as well as litter. Up to 350,000 cigarette butts enter the storm water runoff every day. Several programs are being implemented to minimise beach and river pollution. In February 2010, The Transition Decade, an initiative to transition human society, economics and environment towards sustainability, was launched in Melbourne.

Culture

Melbourne lane 2010
The inner city is home to an extensive network of lively laneways and arcades. (Pictured: Centre Place).

Melbourne is an international cultural centre, with cultural endeavours spanning major events and festivals, drama, musicals, comedy, music, art, architecture, literature, film and television. The climate, waterfront location and nightlife make it one of the most vibrant destinations in Australia. For five years in a row (as of 2015) it has held the top position in a survey by The Economist Intelligence Unit of the world's most liveable cities on the basis of a number of attributes which include its broad cultural offerings. The city celebrates a wide variety of annual cultural events and festivals of all types, including Australia's largest free community festival—Moomba, the Melbourne International Arts Festival, Melbourne International Film Festival, Melbourne International Comedy Festival and the Melbourne Fringe Festival. The culture of the city is an important drawcard for tourists, of which just under two million international overnight visitors and 57.7 million domestic overnight visited during the year ending March 2014.

State Library of Victoria La Trobe Reading room 5th floor view
The State Library of Victoria's La Trobe Reading Room

Melbourne's rich and diverse literary history was recognised in 2008 when it became the second UNESCO City of Literature. The State Library of Victoria is one of Australia's oldest cultural institutions and one of many public and university libraries across the city. Melbourne also has Australia's widest range of bookstores, as well the nation's largest publishing sector. The city is home to significant writers' festivals, most notably the Melbourne Writers Festival. Several major literary prizes are open to local writers including the Melbourne Prize for Literature and the Victorian Premier's Literary Awards. Significant novels set in Melbourne include Fergus Hume's The Mystery of a Hansom Cab, Helen Garner's Monkey Grip and Christos Tsiolkas' The Slap. Notable writers and poets from Melbourne include Thomas Browne, C. J. Dennis, Germaine Greer and Peter Carey.

National gallery victoria international
The National Gallery of Victoria is Australia's, and one of the world's, most visited art museums.
Princess Theatre, Melbourne, Australia
Princess Theatre

Established in 1861, the National Gallery of Victoria is Australia's oldest public art museum. The Heidelberg School, also known as Australian Impressionism, grew out of Melbourne's rural suburbs in the 1880s. The city is also home to the Australian Centre for Contemporary Art. Melbourne is regarded as one of the world's major street art centres; readers of Lonely Planet voted the city's street art and laneways as Australia's most popular cultural attraction.

Melbourne's live performance institutions date from the foundation of the city, with the first theatre, the Pavilion, opening in 1841. The city's East End Theatre District includes theatres that similarly date from the 1850s to the 1920s, including the Princess Theatre, Regent Theatre, Her Majesty's Theatre, Forum Theatre, Comedy Theatre, and the Athenaeum Theatre. The Melbourne Arts Precinct in Southbank is home to Arts Centre Melbourne, which includes the State Theatre, Hamer Hall, the Playhouse and the Fairfax Studio. The Melbourne Recital Centre and Southbank Theatre (principal home of the MTC, which includes the Sumner and Lawler performance spaces) are also located in Southbank. The Sidney Myer Music Bowl, which dates from 1955, is located in the gardens of Kings Domain; and the Palais Theatre is a feature of the St Kilda Beach foreshore.

The national ballet company, the Australian Ballet is based in Melbourne, as are the state based companies, the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra, the Melbourne Theatre Company (MTC), and the Victorian Opera. Melbourne is also the second home of the national Opera Australia after it merged with the defunct Victoria State Opera in 1996.

The Story of the Kelly Gang, the world's first feature film, was shot in Melbourne in 1906. Melbourne filmmakers continued to produce bushranger films until they were banned by Victorian politicians in 1912 for the perceived promotion of crime, thus contributing to the decline of one of the silent film era's most productive industries. A notable film shot and set in Melbourne during Australia's cinematic lull is On the Beach (1959). The 1970s saw the rise of the Australian New Wave and its Ozploitation offshoot, instigated by Melbourne-based productions Stork and Alvin Purple. Picnic at Hanging Rock and Mad Max, both shot in and around Melbourne, achieved worldwide acclaim. 2004 saw the construction of Melbourne's largest film and television studio complex, Docklands Studios Melbourne, which has hosted many domestic productions, as well as international features. Melbourne is also home to the headquarters of Village Roadshow Pictures, Australia's largest film production company. Famous modern day actors from Melbourne include Cate Blanchett, Rachel Griffiths, Guy Pearce, Geoffrey Rush and Eric Bana.

As of 2013, Melbourne is home to at least 460 music venues, and its live music industry contributes A$1 billion per annum to the Victorian economy. Bands and musicians that have emerged from the Melbourne music scene include Clare Bowditch, Adalita, Vika & Linda Bull, Emma Donovan, The Wolfgramm Sisters, Kimbra, Kate Ceberano, Kylie Auldist, Missy Higgins, Deborah Conway, Ruby Hunter, Kylie Minogue, Tina Arena, Courtney Barnett, Marcie Jones, Meg Mac, Pikelet, Jen Cloher, Paul Kelly, Gotye, Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds, Hiatus Kaiyote, Crowded House, TISM, The Living End, Augie March, Men at Work and The Temper Trap. Melbourne was named as a top music city in the world by IFPI.com in a white paper it released in conjunction with Music Canada.

Architecture

Melbourne Collins Street Architecture
Modern skyscrapers are set back from the street in order to preserve Victorian era buildings on Collins Street.

The city is recognised for its mix of modern architecture which intersects with an extensive range of nineteenth and early twentieth century buildings. Some of the most architecturally noteworthy historic buildings include the World Heritage Site-listed Royal Exhibition Building, constructed over a two-year period for the Melbourne International Exhibition in 1880, A.C. Goode House, a Neo Gothic building located on Collins Street designed by Wright, Reed & Beaver (1891), William Pitt's Venetian Gothic style Old Stock Exchange (1888), William Wardell's Gothic Bank (1883) which features some of Melbourne's finest interiors, the incomplete Parliament House, St Paul's Cathedral (1891) and Flinders Street Station (1909), which was the busiest commuter railway station in the world in the mid-1920s.

Eureka Tower covered in low clouds at night
Eureka Tower, Melbourne's tallest building, reaching the clouds at night

The city also features the Shrine of Remembrance, which was built as a memorial to the men and women of Victoria who served in World War I and is now a memorial to all Australians who have served in war. The now demolished Queen Anne style APA Australian Building (1889), the world's 3rd tallest building at the time of completion, is said to have anticipated the skyscraper race in New York City and Chicago.

In 2012, the city contained a total of 594 high-rise buildings, with 8 under construction, 71 planned and 39 at proposal stage making the city's skyline the second largest in Australia. The CBD is dominated by modern office buildings including the Rialto Towers (1986), built on the site of several grand classical Victorian buildings, two of which — the Rialto Building (1889) designed by William Pitt and the Winfield Building (1890) designed by Charles D'Ebro and Richard Speight — still remain today and more recently high-rise apartment buildings including Eureka Tower (2006), which is listed as the 13th tallest residential building in the world in January 2014.

Residential architecture is not defined by a single architectural style, but rather an eclectic mix of houses, townhouses, condominiums, and apartment buildings in the metropolitan area (particularly in areas of urban sprawl). Free standing dwellings with relatively large gardens are perhaps the most common type of housing outside inner city Melbourne. Victorian terrace housing, townhouses and historic Italianate, Tudor revival and Neo-Georgian mansions are all common in neighbourhoods such as Toorak.

Demographics

Chinese-new-year-melbourne
Chinese New Year celebrations in Chinatown

In Greater Melbourne (Greater Capital City Statistical Areas), 63.3% of residents were born in Australia. The other most common countries of birth were the United Kingdom (3.4%), India (2.7%), China (excludes SARs and Taiwan) (2.3%), Italy (1.7%) and New Zealand (1.7%). In 2011 the most common cited ancestries in Greater Melbourne (Greater Capital City Statistical Areas) were English (21.1%), Australian (20.7%), Irish (6.9%), Scottish (5.7%), and Italian (5.5%).

Melbourne has the largest Greek-speaking population outside of Europe, a population comparable to some larger Greek cities like Larissa and Volos. Thessaloniki is Melbourne's Greek sister city. The Vietnamese surname Nguyen is the second most common in Melbourne's phone book after Smith. The city also features substantial Indian, Sri Lankan, and Malaysian-born communities, in addition to recent South African and Sudanese influxes. The cultural diversity is reflected in the city's restaurants that serve international cuisines.

Largest overseas born populations
Country of birth Population (2011)
United Kingdom United Kingdom 150,015
India India 104,975
People's Republic of China China 90,420
Vietnam Vietnam 66,691
New Zealand New Zealand 62,627
Italy Italy 66,556
Greece Greece 47,666
Sri Lanka Sri Lanka 41,938
Malaysia Malaysia 37,642
Philippines Philippines 32,814
South Africa South Africa 20,968
Germany Germany 19,738

Over two-thirds of Melburnians speak only English at home (68.1%). Chinese (mainly Cantonese and Mandarin) is the second-most-common language spoken at home (3.6%), with Greek third, Italian fourth and Vietnamese fifth, each with more than 100,000 speakers. Although Victoria's net interstate migration has fluctuated, the population of the Melbourne statistical division has grown by about 70,000 people a year since 2005. Melbourne has now attracted the largest proportion of international overseas immigrants (48,000) finding it outpacing Sydney's international migrant intake on percentage, along with having strong interstate migration from Sydney and other capitals due to more affordable housing and cost of living.

In recent years, Melton, Wyndham and Casey, part of the Melbourne statistical division, have recorded the highest growth rate of all local government areas in Australia. Melbourne could overtake Sydney in population by 2028, The ABS has projected in two scenarios that Sydney will remain larger than Melbourne beyond 2056, albeit by a margin of less than 3% compared to a margin of 12% today. Melbourne's population could overtake that of Sydney by 2037 or 2039, according to the first scenario projected by the ABS; primarily due to larger levels of internal migration losses assumed for Sydney. Another study claims that Melbourne will surpass Sydney in population by 2040.

After a trend of declining population density since World War II, the city has seen increased density in the inner and western suburbs, aided in part by Victorian Government planning, such as Postcode 3000 and Melbourne 2030 which have aimed to curtail urban sprawl. According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics as of June 2013, inner city Melbourne had the highest population density with 12,400 people per km2. Surrounding inner city suburbs experienced an increase in population density between 2012 and 2013; Carlton (9,000 people per km2) and Fitzroy (7,900).

Religion

St Paul's Cathedral, Melbourne, AU
St Paul's Cathedral

Melbourne has a wide range of religious faiths, the most widely held of which is Christianity. This is signified by the city's two large cathedrals—St Patrick's (Roman Catholic), and St Paul's (Anglican). Both were built in the Victorian era and are of considerable heritage significance as major landmarks of the city.

According to the 2011 Census, the largest responses on religious belief in Melbourne were Roman Catholic (27.2%), no religion (23.5%), Anglican (10.8%), Eastern Orthodox (5.5%), Buddhist (4.0%), Muslim (3.5%), Jewish (2.5%) and Hindu (2.0%).

Nearly 150,000 Muslims live in Melbourne. Muslim religious life in Melbourne is centred on more than 25 mosques and a large number of prayer rooms at university campuses, workplaces and other venues.

As of 2000, Melbourne had the largest population of Polish Jews in Australia. The city was also home to the largest number of Holocaust survivors of any Australian city, indeed the highest per capita outside Israel itself. Reflecting this vibrant and growing community, Melbourne has a plethora of Jewish cultural, religious and educational institutions, including over 40 synagogues and 7 full-time parochial day schools, along with a local Jewish newspaper.

Sister cities

Melbourne has six international sister cities. According to the City of Melbourne council, "the city as a whole has been nourished by their influence, which extends from educational, cultural and sporting exchanges to unparalleled business networking opportunities." The recognised cities are:

Thessaloniki stele, Melbourne
Commemorative stele in Melbourne

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