Short History of Melbourne

A short version of the history of the city of Melbourne, Victoria, Australia.

Before 1835

The first people to live around the area which is now Melbourne were the Aboriginal people. There were five different groups which belonged to the Kulin Nation. They were hunter-gatherers.



John Batman and a group of businessmen bought 243,000 ha of land from the local Aborigines for some trinkets (just like Peter Menhuit bought Manhattan from the Indians).

John Batman thought he was buying the land from the Aborigines. The Aborigines thought they were only granting him the right to pass through their land. This purchase was later declared illegal by the government.



About the same time another expedition led by John Pascoe Fawkner made camp on the other side of the river not far from John Batman.

The first building in the new settlement was Fawkner's grog shop. (Near the present day Southern Cross railway station.).

John Fawkner also brought the first settlers in his schooner the Enterprise.



Captain William Lonsdale arrived to become the police magistrate for the new settlement.

First Census: Population of the new settlement 145 men and 35 women.



The new settlement was named Melbourne (after the British Prime Minister at the time: Lord Melbourne).

The rectangular street grids were laid out.

Before being officially named, the town had several interim names - including Batmania, Bearbrass, Bareport, Bareheep, Barehurp and Bareberp (in June 1835).

Some of these names were probably derived from the Aboriginal name for the area which was Berren or Bararing.



The first public building, the customs house, was started. You can see it in the centre of this painting from 1848. (It is still there at the corner of Flinder's Street and Williams Street)


Melbourne was created a town. It had a population of about 10, 000 people.



Melbourne was proclaimed a city.



Gold was discovered in Ballarat. The whole city emptied as almost one third of its people rushed off to seek their fortune in the gold fields.



Melbourne became the largest city in Australia.

During the gold rush it was the fastest growing city in the British Empire. With the discovery of gold came great wealth . Many fine buildings and houses were built at this time.

By 1881 the boom was over and a devastating depression started. Many businesses closed down.



The opening of the first session of the Commonwealth Parliament was held in the Exhibition Building.

The Exhibition Building was built in 1879 . The dome was higher than St Paul's Cathedral in London. The first international exhibition was held in 1880.

The population of Melbourne reaches half a million.


1901 - 1927

While Canberra was being built Melbourne was the capital of Australia.

The federal parliament met in the Victorian Parliament House. The Victorian Parliament moved to the Exhibition Buildings.

Unfortunately, site disappeared.

Also see Long History of Melbourne

Good Reading

Melbourne Foundation of Melbourne

Melbourne History of Melbourne [Long]

Melbourne History of Melbourne [Short]

Melbourne John Batman

Melbourne Batman's Treaty of Melbourne

Melbourne John Pascoe Fawkner

Melbourne Enterprize | Tall Ship

Melbourne Enterprize Wharf

Melbourne Melbourne Day | 30th August

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History of Melbourne

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