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20 Facts you did not know about Melbourne

Updated: Mar 6, 2021

Melbourne is the capital and most populous city of the Australian state of Victoria, and the second-most populous city in Australia and Oceania. Though many may think they know plenty about this spectacular city, there are still many interesting features of Melbourne you might not have discovered yet!

1. Exposure to a wide range of temperatures

The maximum temperature ever recorded in Melbourne was 46.4 degrees Celsius in 2009, and the minimum was -2.8 degrees Celsius in 1869. This is due to the city’s geographical position at the intersection of a vast hot continent and the Southern Ocean. For instance, when there is a cold southern front, there would usually be strong northerly wind ahead of it bringing down that hot air.


2. Fox Capital of the World

Melbourne has between 6 and 23 foxes per square kilometre within its urban sprawl. Red Foxes were introduced to Australia in the 1870s. By the 1890s they had become widespread feral pests. They thrive in fragmented urban habitats and introduce disease to native wildlife, such as wombats and dingoes.


3. Melbourne has the highest number of cafes per number of people than any other city in the world.

It was back in 1788 that coffee first came to this lovely country with the First Fleet sailing from Britain. Due to the 1820s Temperance Movement which banned alcohol, coffee cafés began to spring up in the 1830s. However, the Australian coffee revolution took off in the 1950s, when European immigrants who emigrated to Australia missed authentic European coffee.


4. Sporting pioneer

In 1956 Melbourne became the first host of the Olympic Games outside of Europe and North America. Additionally, Melbourne is the sporting capital of the world, hosting the Australian Open, the Australian Formula 1 Grand Prix among others. Furthermore, Melbourne is the only city in the world with five international standard sporting facilities on the fringes of the CBD, with the likes of Hisense Arena.


5. Lots of trams

Melbourne’s tramway system is the largest outside Europe and the fourth largest in the world, stretching along 244km of track and boasting 450 trams. In addition, the Colonial Tramcar Restaurant, a top restaurant, – is a tram taking you around the city circle route, passing by most major spots, while you eat delicious meals.


6. Lots of immigrants

38% of the population in Melbourne were born overseas as of 2013. In addition, Melbourne is home to the highest Italian and Greek populations in the world outside their own countries. This stems from the fact that there was a massive wave of migrants emigrating from Europe to Australia in search of a better life after World War II.


7. Architectural mix-up

Reportedly, Flinders Street Station was actually intended for Mumbai and the Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus in Mumbai was meant for Melbourne, but the plans from the same firm were accidentally switched, resulting in a Gothic style station in India and an East-Indian inspired station in Melbourne.


8. Vegemite

Fisherman’s Bend, Port Melbourne is the only place in the world that makes Vegemite, a thick, dark brown food spread made from leftover brewers' yeast extract with various vegetable and spice additives. It was developed by Cyril Callister in Melbourne in 1922.


9. Pioneers of safety

In 1970, Victoria became the first place in the world to enforce seat belt legislation. Additionally, Melbournian Dr David Warren invented the Black Box flight recorder in 1958, inspired by his father’s death in a plane crash. Furthermore, Australia’s first traffic lights were installed in Melbourne in 1912.


10. No drinking!

Until 1966, it was illegal for pubs in Melbourne to be open after 6pm. This was implemented during the First World War partly as an attempt to improve public morality and partly as a war austerity measure. The institution of this policy was the culmination of efforts by the Temperance movement beginning from the 1870s.


11. Lots of Dog Waste

Around 90 tonnes of dog poo are left on the streets of Melbourne every day. Fortunately, through Poo Power!, plans were drawn up for a biogas energy generator in Melbourne to process dog waste and create biogas, which could then be used as a renewable energy source.


12. Wacky

According to the Crimes Act of 1958, if you meet up with a Pirate in Melbourne, you must not trade with them. If one fails to comply, a decade in jail awaits the individual.


13. Avant Garde Work-Life Balance

On 21 April 1856 stonemasons in Melbourne put down their tools and went on strike in protest over their employers’ refusal to accept their demands for reduced working hours. This brought the employers to the negotiating table and led to an agreement whereby stonemasons worked no more than an eight-hour day.


14. Melbourne's Luna Park is the oldest privately-owned theme park in the world

Luna Park was built by American showmen J D Williams together with the Phillips brothers Harold, Leon and Herman. They were involved in the building of picture theatres in Washington and Vancouver before coming to Australia in 1909. They then took the lease of the Dreamland site, a failed amusement park and from there Luna Park was born, opening to huge fanfare on 13 December 1912.


15. The world's largest stained-glass ceiling is located in Melbourne's National Gallery of Victoria

The National Gallery of Victoria’s Great Hall is home to the largest stained-glass ceiling in the world, measuring 51 meters long and 15 meters wide.


16. Home to the world's first feature film

The world’s first feature film The Story of the Kelly Gang (1906) was filmed in Melbourne and has a real length of about 1,200 meters and a running time of over an hour.


17. The first ute

The first ute (a utility vehicle with a cargo tray) was invented and built by Melbournian James Freeland Leacock in 1929. The ute is a vehicle with the cabin of a sedan and the back of a small truck and remains a firm favourite among Australian farmers and tradesmen across the nation.


18. Lots of chocolate

Fitzroy chocolate makers, MacRobertson’s Steam Confectionery Works invented the Cherry Ripe in 1924, Crunchie in 1929 and the Freddo Frog in 1930 before the company was sold to Cadbury in 1967.


19. Melbourne's humble beginnings

Melbourne was originally named Batmania, derived from John Batman’s name, who discovered central Melbourne saying, ‘This will be the place for a village.’ It was later renamed Melbourne in 1837 in honour of British Prime Minister William Lamb, 2nd Viscount Melbourne of Kilmore.


20. Melbourne was once the capital in Australia

Between 1901 and 1927 Melbourne was Australia’s capital city. This was due to revived optimism after a severe economic depression in the 1890s, where the economic bustle from the 1870s went out with a bang due to a severe financial crisis and the collapse of numerous firms.


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