MelbourneAustralia.org - Travel and tourist guide for the city of Melbourne.

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Melbourne Australia • Melbourne Travel Guide

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Melbourne, Victoria, Australia

The settlement of Melbourne commenced in 1835 when newly wealthy settlers from Tasmania, purchased land on both Port Phillip Bay and along the Yarra River from the local Aborigines. Only two years later in 1837 the streets of central Melbourne were carefully surveyed then laid out, some streets were deemed of such importance that they were purposefully built with a width, wide enough to turn a team of bullocks or oxen, 30 meters wide. The first govenor of the newly formed colony of Melbourne arrived another two years along in 1839. Charles La Trobe resided in the Govenor’s Cottage which he sailed from England to the Great Southern Land, aboard the same ship as the rest of his luggage and belongings and which has now been painstakingly preserved for posterity and may be visited in King’s Domain, today serving as both a history lesson and a nostalgic reminder of Melbourne’s humbler beginnings.

The early 1850’s were golden years for Melbourne on many levels, during 1851 Melbourne and the colony of Victoria broke away and became independent from the state of New South Wales. Then soon after the rush was on, gold was first discovered in Victoria, sparking one of the greatest gold rushes the world has ever known, rivaling similar worldwide rushes in California, the Yukon valley in Alaska and the Kimberly gold and diamond rushes of South Africa. The life and times of Melbourne’s gold rush history has been replicated at the Gold Treasury Building, built in 1858 to service the burgening goldfields industry. Gold formed the catalyst for several decades of growth and prosperity for Melbourne, lasting through to the late 1880s. Examples of the ornate Victorian-era structures built during these halcyon times still stand. In 1888 the gold boom collapsed, Melbourne property prices nose dived and Victoria suffered the global depression of the 1890s.

In 1901 Melbourne was elected the temorary capital of Australia, Australia had gained nationhood, becoming simultaneously both independent and an ex-british colony. Australia’s Federal Parliament was conducted in the Parliament House of Victoria from Australia’s inauguation in 1901 until 1927 when Canberra was founded and installed as the nations new, impartial and more centralised capital. After World War II Melbourne’s population grew rapidly, its till-then dominantly Anglo-Celtic population was quickly boosted by immigration from war torn Europe, in particularly Greece (800,000+) and Italy (230,000 +). Today Melbourne is the second largest greek city in the world, only Athens the Greek capital is called home by more Greek people. Melbourne also claims to be have the largest Italian population of any city, outside of Italy. Melbourne’s significant pre-war Jewish population was further expanded upon, after the war. From the mid-70s many immigrants came from South-east Asia, particularly displaced persons brought about again by wars in Vietnam, Cambodia, Thailand and Laos. Melbourne like all former gold rush communities has always enjoyed a strong Chinese population, Melbourne’s Chinatown thriving since the gold rush era.

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