20 Trivia, Fun Facts & Vintage Pics of Melbourne

Melbourne is a historical treasure trove of interesting events, people, and architecture. Here are a few fascinating facts, and pictures of this fabulous coastal city.

Melbourne centenary map, 1834–1835

1. The Rise of Melbourne

In 1880, Melbourne became the wealthiest city in the world after the Victorian Gold Rush with the motto of "Vires acquirit eundo," or “We gather strength as we go.”

5 Patricks
St Patrick's Cathedral Melbourne with scaffolding at front, 1 January 1866

2. The Olympics

In 1956, Melbourne was the first city in Australia -- outside of North America and the UK -- to host the Summer Olympics. Though, due to a quarantine, certain events had to be held in Sweden. 

3. Royal Exhibition

The UNESCO World Heritage site in Melbourne is called the Royal Exhibition Building where they held the inaugural Australian parliament in 1901.

10 Exhibition
Main Exhibition Building from Corner of Nicholson & Victoria Streets, Carlton, 1880–1881

4. An Important Corner

The Melbourne Town Hall is at the corner of Swanston Street and Collins Street, where the first traffic lights in Australia were installed in 1912.

Yeoman & Co. "Chloe." State Library Victoria. 1883

5. The Lovely Chloe

"Chloe" is the name of the world-famous painting that hangs in the Young and Jacksons hotel. 

6. Piracy

Up until 1985, it was legal to trade with a pirate. But the Crimes Act of that year outlawed it for Melbourne.

7. Movies in Melbourne

The world’s first feature film, "The Story of the Kelly Gang," was shot and created in Melbourne in 1906.

9 55Collins
Bank of New South Wales, 55 Collins Street, circa 1870

8. Christmas Down Under

'Carols by Candlelight' is held at the Sidney Myer Music Bowl in Melbourne every Christmas.

9. Great Big Bridge

The Bolte Bridge is the name of the large twin Cantilever structure that stretches over the Yarra River and Victoria Harbor. It is named after Victoria’s 38th and longest-serving PremierSir Henry Bolte.

10. The Doll Rooms

The Doll Hospital, a place where dolls and teddy bears are taken for repair, opened for business in 1882 at the Royal Arcade in Melbourne. It still exists today, and the two mythical creatures on either side of the clock are named Gog and Magog.

11. Ute-Guessed It

A Melbourne native named James Freeland Leacock invented the first ute in 1929, a utility vehicle with a flatbed in the back. 

12. Garden Watch

The floral clock is in one of Melbourne's gardens called the Queen Victoria garden. This topiary timepiece is has moving hands surrounded by well-cultivated blossoms. 

13. World Sports Capital

Melbourne has five international standard sporting facilities and hosts a variety of international games. AAMI Park is a sports stadium in Melbourne that has been nicknamed the 'Caterpillar,' and the Melbourne Cricket Ground is widely known as the most famous sports arena in Melbourne.

Melbourne Cricket Ground during football matches, circa 1914–1916 and circa 1900 –1949

14. All Aboard!

The Southern Cross Station used to be called the Spencer Street Station. There's also the original Flinders Street Station opened in 1854. The current building that's still stands was opened in 1910.

Flinders B & A
Old Flinders Street Station, circa 1890 & Flinders Street Station, 1927

15. To Market, to Market

Queen Victoria Market has been operating in Melbourne since 1878. It's known as one of the biggest open-air markets in the world.

16. The Gallery

Check out the National Gallery of Victoria, founded in 1861. It's the oldest art museum in Australia. It's Great Hall has the most substantial stained glass ceiling in the world! It is 51m by 15m.

2 Queen St
Queen Street, Melbourne, looking north from Flinders Street, 1900

17. Call Girls

The term ‘call girl’ was actually coined in Melbourne in 1891. The city's brothels were some of the first to use a telephone system for ordering prostitutes.

1 Tram
c/o Collins & King Street, circa 1890–1900

18. Bird Man

The Birdman Rally, a competition where people fling themselves off the Swan Street Bridge in homemade flying apparatus, has been part of the Moomba Festival in Melbourne since 1976.

19. Entertainment Waves

Melbourne is famous for giving a voice to those who need it. Did you know that Melbourne had the first-ever female Television host? Yup! The incredible Toni Lamond. Also, the first and only LGBT community radio station in Australia has been broadcasting since 1993 from Melbourne.

20. Horses of Melbourne

The first tram in Melbourne was actually a horse tram in Fairfield in 1884. It began the world's largest urban tramway network. And who can forget about the exciting Melbourne Cup race that started in 1861!

Melbourne Fun Facts

4 Library
Melbourne Public Library (later State Library Victoria), circa 1860
  • The first pizza restaurant in Australia, Toto’s, opened in 1961 and is still serving pizzas today.
  • Melbourne was once named Batmania, after one of the city’s founding fathers, John Batman. 
  • The census done in 2011 revealed that Melbourne had the largest population of Greeks of any other city outside of Greece.
  • The longest continuous Chinese settlement in the Western world is Melbourne's Chinatown in Little Bourke Street.
  • The factory Fitzroy chocolate makers invented the Cherry Ripe in 1924.
  • There is an "Eternal flame" that is constantly burning at the Shrine of Remembrance. 
  • There was a 6 PM curfew on pubs in Melbourne in place until 1966.
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