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For other uses, see Melbourne (disambiguation).
City flag City coat of arms
(City of Melbourne flag) (City of Melbourne arms)
Location of Melbourne
City of Melbourne
Local Government Area
State Victoria
Lord Mayor John So
(since 2001)
Area 36 km²
Population (2001) 57,960
Density 1,601/km² (1999)
Greater Melbourne
Subdivisions Local Government Areas
Area 7,694 km² (1999)
2001 census
(2nd in Australia)
Density 462.1/km² (1999)
Time Zone
Daylight Savings Time
37°49′ S 144°58′ E

Melbourne is the capital and largest city of the state of Victoria, and the second largest city in Australia (after Sydney), with a population of approximately 3.6 million (2001 census) in the Melbourne metropolitan area and 69,670 in the City of Melbourne (which covers only the central city area). The city's name is pronounced as either /ˈmel.bən/ or /ˈmæl.bən/. The city's motto is "Vires acquirit eundo" which means "we gather strength as we go." Melbourne was the capital city of Australia from 1901 until 1927.

The city was named after the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, William Lamb, 2nd Viscount Melbourne, whose home was near the village of Melbourne in Derbyshire. Melbourne in Derbyshire derives its name from the Old English for Mill Stream (Mylla Burne).

Melbourne has twice ranked first in a survey by The Economist of The World's Most Livable Cities on the basis of its cultural attributes, climate, cost of living, and social conditions, once in 2002 [1], and again in 2004. In 2005, however, it was ranked 2nd, behind Vancouver, Canada. The US's Utne Reader puts it thus: "Add a long tradition of civic pride, communities of new immigrants from around the world, and the best food in Australia, and you have a recipe for what many claim is the hippest city in the Southern Hemisphere" (Nov/Dec 2001).

Melbourne has undergone a major urban 'revival', such that it is sometimes classed as being in a second tier of "world cities"; the GaWC study group in the UK ranks Melbourne, on the basis of relative availability of specialised "advanced services" as a "minor world city" comparable to cities such as Montreal, Osaka, and Prague. It has one of the highest numbers of international students studying in its universities, after London, New York, and Paris.

A resident of Melbourne is referred to as a Melburnian.



Map of greater Melbourne
Map of greater Melbourne

Melbourne is located in the south-eastern corner of mainland Australia, and is the southernmost mainland capital city. 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, its suburbs sprawling to the east, following the Yarra River out to the Yarra and Dandenong Ranges, south-east to the mouth of the bay, and following the Maribyrnong River and its tributaries west and north to flat farming country. The central business district (the original city) is laid out in the famous mile-by-half-a-mile Hoddle Grid, its southern edge fronting on to the Yarra.


Main article: History of Melbourne

Melbourne was founded in 1835 by settlers from Van Diemen's Land (Tasmania). It is built on the land of the Kulin people, the Indigenous inhabitants of the area. It was the capital first of the Port Phillip District of New South Wales and then of the separate colony of Victoria. With the discovery of gold in Victoria in the 1850s, leading to the Victorian gold rush, Melbourne quickly grew as a port and service centre. Later it became Australia's leading manufacturing centre. During the 1880s, Melbourne was the second largest city in the British Empire, and came to be known as "Marvellous Melbourne". Victorian Architecture abounds in Melbourne and today the city is home to the largest number of surviving Victorian Era buildings of any city in the world other than London.

Melbourne became Australia's national capital at Federation on 1 January 1901. 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 1927 when it moved to the new capital city of Canberra. Melbourne continued to expand steadily throughout the first half of the 20th century, particularly with the post-World War II influx of immigrants and the prestige of hosting the Olympic Games in 1956. Even after the political capital moved to Canberra, Melbourne remained Australia's business and finance capital until the 1970s, when it began to lose this primacy to Sydney. Melbourne also developed as a centre of the arts.

In the 1980s Melbourne experienced a slump, with a loss of employment and a drain of population to New South Wales and Queensland. In the 1990s, the Victorian state government of Premier Jeff Kennett (Liberal) sought to reverse this trend with the aggressive development of new public buildings (such as the Melbourne Museum, and the Melbourne Exhibition and Convention Centre), the Crown Casino, and publicising Melbourne's merits both to outsiders and Melburnians. This has continued under the government of current Premier Steve Bracks (Labor).



Melbourne as seen from south-east side along the Yarra River, home of many rowers and active crew teams
Melbourne as seen from south-east side along the Yarra River, home of many rowers and active crew teams

Melbourne's population grew dramatically during the gold rush. Nearly 125,000 people arrived within a year from many countries around the world. In the following decades of the 1870s and 1880s, Melbourne was Australia's most populous city. During the 1890s, severe economic depression hit Melbourne. Much of Melbourne's population loss during the 1890s was the result of the unemployed moving west to seek gold or employment in the burgeoning industries stimulated by gold.

The need for a population increase and a labour force saw many British, Yugoslav, Dutch, German, Arab and Maltese migrants arrive after 1945. Large numbers from Italy and Greece arrived in the 1950s and 1960s, to become the largest groups after those from Britain and Ireland. Melbourne has one of the world's largest population of people with Greek ancestry outside Greece. Refugees from Cambodia and Vietnam made Melbourne their home in the 1970s and 1980s and were joined by people from India, the Philippines and Malaysia. The latest wave of immigrants comes from North Africa.

Although Brisbane and Perth are faster growing cities (but only in percentage terms), and Victoria's net interstate migration has fluctuated, the Melbourne statistical division has grown by approximately 50,000 people a year since 2003, more than any other Australian city. Attraction of a large proportion of overseas immigrants and interstate migration from Sydney due to more affordable housing are two recent key factors. In recent years, Melton, Wyndham and Casey, part of the Melbourne statistical division has recorded the highest growth rate of all local government areas in Australia.

Melbourne Population by Year

Population Density

Melbourne is a sprawling metropolis. Melbourne's population density declined following World War II, with the private motor car and the lure of house and land extending the suburbs, mainly to the east. After much discussion (often energetic, both at general public and planning levels) in the 1980s the decline has actually been reversed since the early 1990s (when Melbourne was hit by a devastating property market collapse), and the city has seen increased density in the inner and western suburbs.

Year Overall urban density (people/ha)

  • 1951 23.4 Melb. Metro. Planning Scheme 1954, p. 23
  • 1961 21.4 Australian Bureau of Statistics
  • 1971 18.1 A.B.S.
  • 1976 16.75 Melbourne Social Atlas, 1976 (A.B.S.)
  • 1981 15.9 Social Atlas, 1981
  • 1986 16.05 Soc. Atlas/"Supermap" Census Data, 1986
  • 1991 16.8 Social Atlas/Supermap, 1991
  • 1996 17.9 Department of Infrastructure, 1998

See also: Timeline of Melbourne history.


There is no overall governing body for the Melbourne metropolitan area. There is a directly elected Lord Mayor of Melbourne, currently Lord Mayor John So, and an elected Melbourne City Council, but these are responsible only for the City of Melbourne, which takes in the central business area and a few adjoining inner suburbs. The Lord Mayor, however, is frequently treated as a representative of the whole city.

The rest of the metropolitan area is divided into 30 municipalities, all of which are styled as cities except for five on the city's outer fringes which are styled as shires (see a list of these at Local Government Areas of Victoria). These municipalities all have elected councils and are responsible for a range of functions delegated to them by the Victorian state government. These include planning, rubbish collection, beaches, parks and gardens, child-care and preschool facilities, local festivals and cultural activities, services to the elderly, supervision of public health, sanitation and similar matters. Councils levy rates from their residents to pay for these services. The councils are collectively represented by the Local Government Association of Victoria.

Most citywide government activities are controlled by the state government. These include public transport, main roads, traffic control, policing, education above preschool level, and planning of major infrastructure projects. Because three quarters of Victoria's population lives in Melbourne, state governments have traditionally been reluctant to allow the development of citywide governmental bodies, which would tend to rival the state government. For this reason the Melbourne and Metropolitan Board of Works, which had become a powerful semi-autonomous authority, was abolished in 1992.


The central business district of Melbourne, viewed from the north
The central business district of Melbourne, viewed from the north

Melbourne is a large commercial and industrial centre. Many of Australia's largest companies, and many multinational corporations (approximately one-third of the 100 largest multinationals operating in Australia as of 2002), are headquartered there. The peak body representing workers in Australia, the Australian Council of Trade Unions, is also headquartered in Melbourne.

Melbourne is home to Australia's largest seaport and much of Australia's automotive industry (including the engine manufacturing facility of Holden and the Ford and Toyota manufacturing facilities), in addition to many other manufacturing industries.

Most current major infrastructure projects are generally centred on the upcoming 2006 Commonwealth Games, which are to be held in the city. Such projects include the $AUD700 million Spencer Street Station redevelopment, including a $350 million world-class transport interchange facility with $350 million also set aside for office accommodation, residential towers and hotel and also a retail plaza. The project is set for completion in early 2006, before the start of the Games. At the centrepiece of the Commonwealth Games projects is the redevelopment project for the MCG, the stadium set for the opening and closing ceremonies of the Games. At a cost of $434 million the project involves reconstructing the old Olympic and Ponsford stands.

Several universities are also located in Melbourne, including Deakin University, La Trobe University, Monash University, RMIT University, Swinburne University of Technology, the University of Melbourne, and Victoria University of Technology.

A view of the Yarra River at twilight, with Melbourne's central business district on the left and Southbank on the right
A view of the Yarra River at twilight, with Melbourne's central business district on the left and Southbank on the right


Main article: Transport in Melbourne
The south-west skyline of Melbourne from Yarra's Edge, Docklands
The south-west skyline of Melbourne from Yarra's Edge, Docklands

Melbourne is served with a robust public transportation network. It has one of the world's most extensive tram networks, almost 300 bus routes and a train system with more than 15 lines. Like many major cities in the world, Melbourne has an integrated public transport system, however some of its outlying suburbs still face transport difficulties. The Port of Melbourne is Australia's largest container and general cargo port. Melbourne Airport is the nation's second busiest.


Main article: Melbourne media

Melbourne has two major and one minor newspapers. There are three commercial television channels and three public channels. Melbourne has a wide range of radio stations and is the base for the Australia-wide Austereo network.

Melbourne in culture

The City of Melbourne
The City of Melbourne

Melbourne was strongly associated with the establishment of Australia's visual arts. The Heidelberg School, arguably the first distinctly Australian art movement (in the Western canon, at least), was largely the work of Melbourne-based artists, and many of its most significant works hang in the National Gallery of Victoria.

Melbourne has been the setting for many novels, television dramas, and films. Fergus Hume's internatinal best-seller Mystery of a Hansom Cab, which outsold the Sherlock Holmes stories at the time, was set in Gold Rush era Melbourne. Frank Hardy's Power Without Glory tells the story of Melbourne businessman John West and is set in a thinly-disguised Collingwood, a Melbourne working-class suburb. Perhaps the best-known internationally is Nevil Shute's novel On the Beach. In 1959, it was made into a film starring Gregory Peck, Ava Gardner and directed by Stanley Kramer. The film depicted the denizens of Melbourne quietly slipping off into eternity as the last victims of a global nuclear holocaust. Filmed on location in and around Melbourne (a huge novelty for Melbourne at the time), it is perhaps best remembered for a comment Ms Gardner never made - describing Melbourne as 'the perfect place to make a film about the end of the world', commenting on the dreary conservatism of Melbourne in the late 1950s. The purported quote was invented by journalist Neil Jillett. Similar filming was undertaken when a 2000 television movie remake was produced.

In recent years, many more films have been made in Melbourne. Some of the more famous include Mad Max, Chopper, Romper Stomper, featuring a young Russell Crowe as a terrifying Melburnian skinhead; Jackie Chan's Mr. Nice Guy and The Castle.

Perhaps better known to a contemporary audience is the daily soap opera Neighbours, set in the fictional eastern suburb of Erinsborough, which presents a 'whitebread' microcosm of suburban Australian life. Other contemporary television shows set in Melbourne include Stingers (a police drama), The Secret Life Of Us, and MDA.

Singer Paul Kelly has written several well-known songs about aspects of the city close to the heart of many Melburnians, notably "Leaps And Bounds" and "From St Kilda To King's Cross".

Melbourne-born satirist Barry Humphries created his main character Dame Edna Everage as a comedic version of a suburban homemaker. Through her he has performed cutting odes to Melbourne mores and the middle class suburbs of Moonee Ponds and Highett, among others.

Although not set in Melbourne, the film Queen Of The Damned was filmed in and around the city.

Carols by Candlelight, first held in 1938, is a Christmas tradition held annually at the Sidney Myer Music Bowl.

Culture and sport

Old and new can be found in close proximity in Melbourne
Old and new can be found in close proximity in Melbourne

While having a large and vibrant arts and cultural life (notably including the yearly Melbourne International Comedy Festival and Melbourne International Film Festival), Melbourne is perhaps best known as one of the most sports-obsessed cities in the world.


Melbourne is the home of the Australian Ballet, and the second home of Opera Australia. The Melbourne Symphony Orchestra is very highly regarded both at home and internationally. Melbourne was also (arguably) the birthplace of Western art in Australia through the Heidelberg School. The National Gallery of Victoria has Australia's best collection of visual art, particularly early Australian western-tradition art. Several professional theatre companies operate in Melbourne, of which the Melbourne Theatre Company is the best institutionally-supported, and there is a wide range of smaller companies.

Melbourne's rock and pop music scene is regarded (particularly by Melburnians) as the liveliest in the country, and has fostered many internationally renowned artists and musicians, with links to AC/DC, Nick Cave, Crowded House, John Farnham, Graeme Bell, Kylie Minogue, and Jet.

Melbourne is also home to the largest Australian Hip Hop scene, generally known as "Melburn" or "The Burn" throughout the unique sub-culture. Obese Records, the leading Australian Hip Hop recording label, was founded in 1995 in Melbourne and is located in Prahran, just off the famous Chapel Street. Melbourne is home to a gritty style of home grown Hip Hop and is home to artists such as Lyrical Commission, Muphin, Reason and Pegz. Live shows constantly occur in the city with open-mic contests and performances by up-and-coming artists held throughout the week at different locations.

The dance music scene in Melbourne is the biggest and most lively in Australia. There are dance parties happening almost every night of the year, frequently attracting some of the world's best DJs to the city. The Melbourne Shuffle had its birth here, and has been evolving ever since.


Melbourne is home to ten of the sixteen teams in the Australian Football League, whose five Melbourne games per week attract an average 35,000 people per game. Melbourne is where Australian Football originated and it still the most popular sport in Victoria. The grand final (one of the biggest sporting events in Australia) is played on the last weekend in September at the Melbourne Cricket Ground (a massive arena that can hold up to 100,000 spectators). Melbourne hosts the Australian Open tennis tournament, one of the four Grand Slam tournaments; the Melbourne Cup – the most prestigious handicap horse race in the world; the hugely popular 'Boxing Day' cricket test match held each year from 26-30 December at the Melbourne Cricket Ground; and the Australian Grand Prix Formula One championship.

Melbourne Storm, who play in the National Rugby League are based at Olympic Park. Olympic Park is also the home of Melbourne Victory, who play in the newly formed Australian soccer competition, the A-League.

Melbourne also co-hosted the 2003 Rugby Union World Cup, including many pool matches as well as a quarter final – all of which were played at the Telstra Dome. Melbourne has also broken new ground in the major events industry being the first city outside the United States to host the World Police and Fire Games 1995), and the President's Cup golf tournament (1999); and the first city in the Southern Hemisphere to host the World Cup Polo Championship (2001). The newest major sporting event to be brought to the city will be the 2006 Commonwealth Games.

In 2007, Melbourne will be the host of the FINA World Aquatics Championships.

Parks and gardens

Main article: Melbourne parks and gardens

Melbourne is often referred to as Australia's garden city, and Victoria as the Garden State, for good reason. There is an abundance of parks and gardens close to the CBD with a variety of common and rare plant species amid landscaped vistas, pedestrian pathways, and majestic tree lined avenues that help make Melbourne one of the world's most livable cities. There are also many parks in the surrounding suburbs of Melbourne such as in the in the bouroughs of Stonnington and Booroondara, south east of the CBD. Victoria - Garden State, was used on Victorian car number plates up to 1995 and many regional towns have well tended botanic gardens, parks and tree lined avenues.

Landmarks and tourist information

Main article: Melbourne tourism

Melbourne attracts large numbers of tourists, particularly young backpackers. It also hosts a disproportionately large number of spectator sports. Melbourne's restaurants are numerous, and are generally of reasonable quality and good value. As one would expect from a city its size, Melbourne contains all manner of pubs, bars, and nightclubs. There are a variety of interesting things to see outside Melbourne proper but still within a day trip of Melbourne.

Sister cities

Melbourne has a number of sister cities. They are:

See also

External links

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