Melbourne History

An Intriguing History Of Melbourne

The city of Melbourne is truly a jewel to Australians and the world at large. This is because the city boasts of a rich historical culture that spans through generations of the native communities and the European settlers that later came into the picture. It is no surprise then to see how such a humble and shy settlement has transformed to be the second largest city in the country and a major financial and commercial center hosting people from all corners of the world.

In this article, we make an attempt at tracing the history of this great city. It will be more than interesting to figure out just how far back Melbourne goes. Well, let’s start off with clans of the Kulin that inhabited the land on which the city of Melbourne now sits on. The Kulin people were the first known inhabitants of what is now Port Philip and the Yarra Valley. They, together with several other indigenous groups of Australians lived in this region for nearly 40,000 years.

The Kulin population survived mainly on fishing, hunting, and gathering. They stayed isolated from the rest of the world until the year 1797 when George Bass and his crew of six other Europeans set foot in the area. This paved the way for other Europeans and in 1803, the then British Governor sent Colonel David Collins together with a party of 300 or so convicts to the Port of Phillip where they established the first European settlements in the region.

But it was until the year 1842 when Melbourne was officially declared as a town by the Welsh Governor and legislative council. And on June 1847, under letters patent of Queen Victoria, the city of Melbourne was finally declared. This attracted more Europeans and in December 1842, Frederick Dalgety arrived at this newly crowned city to become the most successful merchant of that time.


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The city began as a collection of huts and tents along the banks of the Yarra River. The river provided the inhabitants with the most strategic location to start off the early modern civilizations due to the availability of clean water for drinking and cleaning. But by the year 1850, the Yarra River suffered one of the worst cases of pollution at that time. Consequently, there was an outbreak of typhoid fever that caused the demise of most of the townsfolk.

A lot of the structures back then were constructed of timber. Of all the timber structures from that time only two have survived; the St James Old Cathedral that was built in 1839 and the St Francis Catholic Church that was built two years later. The first non-wooden structure was created in 1850 when the Yarra bridge was replaced by a government-built sandstone free bridge.

The population of Melbourne was about 490,000 in the year 1890. This, surprisingly, made it the second most populous British Empire. But in terms of the area covered, the city was one of the largest cities in the world. Throughout the 20th century, the city’s population was on a steady upward trend and by the end of the century the population had hit the 3.8 million mark.

In conclusion, due to the brevity of this article we could only cover that much. For more fun historical facts of Melbourne and other cities in Australia, I would urge you to read more articles like this one.