Other more photogenic cities may claim more of the attention (we’re looking at you Sydney) but Melbourne is widely considered to be the cultural heart of the country. It’s cosmopolitan elegance, incredible food and of course the coffee, have made it famous the world over. Melbourne’s diverse multicultural population has created a richness to the culture of the city and the very soul of Melbourne comes from the many moving and entertaining stories of its Indigenous, colonial and immigrant populations.
It can be difficult to decide about relocating to Melbourne if you don’t know much about the city. So, we have put together 20 spectacular facts that will get you up to speed and have you showing off to the locals in no time.
The History and the Culture
Melbourne has a rich Indigenous history, with local peoples inhabiting the coastal areas of Port Phillip Bay as far back as 40,000 years ago. The recognition of its first peoples can be experienced all over the city through Aboriginal street names, parklands and historical markers.
The bulk of today’s Melburnians came from far and wide and the city is home to a large migrant population of around 4.2 million people. Almost 40% of residents come from the UK, Asia and Europe and Melbourne has the largest number of Greek-speaking residents outside of Greece.
Melbourne has a wonderful selection of museums and cultural instructions that document its history – including the Indigenous art collection at the Ian Potter Centre, the Immigrant Museum, the Chinese Museum and the Hellenic Museum.
Melbourne may not have the glorious weather of the cities to its north, but it does have an enviable lifestyle that revolves around food and entertainment. Australia’s most famous food item – vegemite – was Melbourne born and from those humble beginnings, the city has shaped for itself a reputation for excellent food and wine. Some of the world’s greatest chefs have not only flown across the globe to cook here, but set up their own restaurants as well, securing Melbourne’s place on the global fine food map.
There’s more to life than just eating though and Melburnians are equally happy with a pie and a beer at the MCG watching the football, as they are at the National Gallery soaking in the latest exhibition. From theatre to live music, soccer to cricket, street art to sculpture, Melbourne is without question Australia’s artistic and cultural capital.
Melbourne’s iconic treasures may be less widely known but they are no less spectacular than some of Australia’s great attractions. There are many heritages listed properties in the city, the greatest of which is the oldest exhibition pavilion in the word – the UNESCO world heritage listed Royal Exhibition Building. Staying with the theme of ‘world’s greatest’, Melbourne is also home to the largest tram network in the world, the oldest privately-owned amusement park in the world (Luna park in St Kilda) and the world’s largest stained-glass ceiling, which can be found above you in the National Gallery of Victoria.
The Great Outdoors
Victoria is not called ‘the garden state’ for nothing and Melbourne certainly showcases that with its stunning public parklands and gardens. The Royal Exhibition Building sits in the middle of the Carlton Gardens (which share its UNESCO World Heritage listing) and each corner of the city is flanked by elegant open spaces and parks including Flagstaff Gardens to the west, Fitzroy Gardens to the east and the spectacular Kings Domain and Royal Botanic Gardens just south of the Yarra River from the CBD.
So if you’re thinking about moving to Melbourne, why not check out 20 amazing facts about the city and download our Melbourne City guide for a comprehensive overview of what to do, where to go and how the real Melburnians live.