Significant Dates & Events | Melbourne

The events that shaped the city of Melbourne by year.

1835 - On 20 August* the Enterprize charted by John Pascoe Fawkner and captained by John Lancey entered the Yarra River. After being hauled upstream, she moored at the foot of the present day William Street.

On 30 August 1835 (now Foundation Day or Melbourne Day) the settlers disembarked. Interstingly The Fawkners were not on board. They arrived in the Port Phillip District on Friday 16 October**, on the second trip of the Enterprize. Employees in Fawkner's Party begin clearing the paddock below Pleasant Hill. On 2 September, J H Wedge warns that the new settlers are trespassing on land owned by John Batman. John Batman arrived 3 weeks later on the 9th November 1835.

1836 - The settlers establish their own defacto government on 1 June. On 1 October, Captain William Lonsdale arrives to act as police magistrate and commander of the settlement.

Burial ground established on Flagstaff Hill. Queen's Wharf built. First public library established by John Pascoe Fawkner.

Melbourne's first official church service held on the site of the present St Paul's Cathedral. Bearbrass (Melbourne) consists of 13 buildings, 142 males and 35 females.

1837 - First allotments of land in the settlement put up for sale on 1 June. Governor Bourke names the new settlement, after Viscount Melbourne, the British Prime Minister. Robert Hoddle lays out the street grid. Governor Bourke names the streets after his wife Elizabeth, the Royal Family, earlyexplorers and other eminent people of the era. Cemetery surveyed to the north east of Flagstaff Hill, on what is now part of the Queen Victoria Market. Yarra floods.

1838 - Racecourse established on "beautiful meadow"to the west of Batman's Hill. In April, William Watts establishes a punt service across the Yarra, east of Swanston Street. The first river and bay steamer, the Fire-Fly, begins running. Slaughter yards built immediately west of Batman's Hill. In November, a Police station is established in buildings on Market Square on the corner William Street and Flinders Lane where the first courthouse is built.

1839 - John Batman dies on 6 May. On 3 October, Charles Joseph La Trobe arrives to take up the position of Superintendent of Port Phillip District. Yarra floods.

Creation of a Board of Market Commissioners with eight market commissioners who were elected along with the police magistrate Major H St John. Melbourne is divided into four wards. A watch house of two brick rooms is established in buildings on Market Square on the corner of William Street and Flinders Lane. This becomes the first Melbourne Gaol.

Female Penitentiary is built at the corner of Exhibition and Little Collins Streets. A small wharf is built on the south bank of the Yarra, directly across from Queen Wharfon the North bank of the Yarra. The Parishes of North Melbourne and South Melbourne are created on the 4 April. A tall flagstaff is erected, on what was the city's only vacant hill in sight of port shipping to signal the arrival of ships (Flagstaff Gardens).

1841 - A large sandstone gaol is built in Russell Street, some way north of Latrobe Street. Yarra floods twice. Hoddle marks out 50 acres of Batman's Hill for a proposed botanic garden extending from Spencer Street westwards to the swamp. First meeting of the market commissioners on 15 November.

1842 - On 12 August, Melbourne is declared a municipality when the Melbourne Municipal Corporation Act is passed. Elections, for a council to govern the City, are held for the first time, on 1 December. Henry Condell elected Mayor. The newly elected council took over from the Market Commissioners on 20 December. The first Falls dam built cross the Yarra.

1843 - In July, a new supreme court building is established below Batman's Hill at the corner of Latrobe and Russell Streets. 1093 buildings now exist.

1844 - Yarra floods. 1140 buildings established.

1846 - The Melbourne Bridge Company builds a trestle bridge to replace the punt, near the present Princes Bridge. Council asks the government to make provision for botanical gardens to the south of the Yarra and to reserve 500 acres in the vicinity of the town as parkland. On 22 June, a general market is opened on the eastern public reserve adjoining the Female Penitentiary. (The Southern Cross Hotel later occupies this site) Botanic Gardens site selected.

1847 - On 25 June, Melbourne declared by letters patent of Queen Victoria to be a city. Reverend James Forbes builds the John Knox Church for his Free and Protestant Church of Australia Felix.

1848 - A powder magazine is opened on the west side of Batman's Hill on 22 January. It took ayear to build and cost 2,000 pounds. Yarra floods. Melbourne General Hospital, on the present Queen Victoria Hospital Site in Swanston Street, is built.

1849 - The watch house north of the Town Hall is replaced by a more extensive building containing two cells. Yarra floods.

1850 - Batman's Hill reserved as parkland. The suburb of Newton is renamed Fitzroy when it becomes a ward. Building of first Town Hall commenced. News of separation reaches Melbourne. 40 acres of Crown land reserved for Melbourne General Cemetery. Pentridge Stockade (prison) established.

1851 - A new watch house is built in Little Bourke Street near Elizabeth Street. Lennox Bridge (Princes Bridge) is opened, replacing the trestle bridge built in 1844.

The Port Phillip District separates from the colony of New South Wales and the colony with its boundary set at the Murray River is renamed Victoria, in honour of the Queen of Victoria.

1852 - Hoddle replaced by Andrew Clark. A new watch house is built in Little Bourke Street near Elizabeth Street. Buckley and Nunna small drapery and haberdashery was opened. First Post Office built on current site. 200 oil lamps erected.

1853 - 1,027 buildings were constructed in the first half of the year. 4,094 buildings present. New Victorian Police Force established. Melbourne General Cemetery at Carlton is established. Lowther Arcade opened. Melbourne Cricket Ground proclaimed.

1854 - On 12 September, the first locomotive railway in Australia is opened to connect Sandridgeto Melbourne. Town Hall built. Replaced thirteen years later. 9,175 buildings present. Old Melbourne Cemetery, on what is now the Queen Victoria Market site, is closed. First exhibition held in Melbourne. Building, in William Street, constructed for the event The foundation stone laid for the State Library.

1855 - On 24 October, new Gasworks to be run by The Melbourne Gas and Coke Company, areopened. They are on 2 hectares at the old racecourse site and cost 66,000 pounds to build. Emerald Hill (later renamed South Melbourne) is incorporated as the first suburban municipality.

Prahran becomes a municipal district. Hotham Ward, lying north of Victoria Street is formed. Richmond becomes a municipality. Collingwood becomes a municipality. First 4 professors arrive to start the University of Melbourne.

1856 - Edmund Fitz Gibbon becomes the town clerk. Public Library of Victoria opened. First 8 Hour's Day Procession.

1857 - St Kilda becomes a separate municipal district. Yan Yean Reservoir water system is opened on 31 December. 174 gas lamps erected. Zoological Society founded.

1858 - Fitzroy becomes a municipal district based on the old Fitzroy Ward, created in1850. First public toilet opened in Bourke Street (men only).

1859 - Batman's Hill Station officially opened. Hotham Ward becomes a separate municipality and is later renamed North Melbourne.Later reabsorbed into Melbourne proper.
Construction begins on the current GPO.

1860 - Burke and Wills set out on their journey of exploration. Bathhouse established on the present site of the City Baths.

1861 - Princes Bridge Hotel, known affectionately as Young and Jackson's, is built. Victorian Exhibition. City Abattoirs commenced. Formation of Victorian Acclimatization Society. First Melbourne Cup at Flemington.
1862 - Treasury building completed.

1863 - The Old Melbourne Cemetery, which had been closed in 1854, is re-opened. The Yarra River floods. The Flood Board was established to control the floods. They recommended completely re-routing the Yarra from the level of the gasworks right down to a point near its mouth. The Victoria Hotel established. John Knox Church replaces first church in Swanston Street. State funeral for Burke and Wills, with a crowd estimated between 40,000 100,000.

1864 - The Yarra River floods.

1865 - Statue of Burke and Wills placed in the intersection of Russell and Collins Streets.

1866 - The Yarra River floods. Melbourne Intercolonial Exhibition.

1867 - The Old Melbourne Cemetery is closed. Treasury Gardens created out of a former swamp and stone from the quarry is used for the Government offices. Construction begins on the main building of the Town Hall.

1869 - Royal Arcade opened. After three attempts, Melbourne is connected to Tasmania by submarine telegraph cable...

1870 - Main building of the Town Hall completed. The State Library is completed.

1872 - Royal Mint in William Street completed. First overseas telegraph message received.

1873 - Government Offices in Treasury Place are opened.

1874 - Town Hall clock installed.1875 First trees planted in Collins Street.

1876 - The Yarra River floods. Customs House completed.

1877 - The Melbourne General Market Site Act transferred to Council control the north end of the Old Melbourne Cemetery formerly reserved for the burial of Jews, Aboriginals and Quakers. The graves in this section were removed from there and taken to the Melbourne General Cemetery.

1878 - The Queen Victoria Market is opened on 20 March. The main facade is built. The first Melbourne telephone exchange is opened. The Yarra River floods.

1879 - Electricity used to light a football match at the Melbourne Cricket Ground. Eastern Market is built.

1880 - Melbourne International Exhibition is held in newly completed Royal Exhibition Building. Stephen Street renamed Exhibition Street and the brothels are removed.

Many relocate to Fitzroy. Ned Kelly hanged at Old Melbourne Gaol on the 11 November. Victorian Electric Light Company formed and builds a small power station in Russell Place off Bourke Street. The Yarra River floods.

1881 - Melbourne Electric Company installs an arc electric lamp in Swanston Street. Railway line to Mordialloc opened. Church of Christ buys the John Knox Church in Swanston Street. Paving of roads with red gum is introduced.

1882 - Railway line to Box Hill is opened.

1883 - First underground drain constructed in Carlton.

1884 - Railway line to Coburg is opened. William Street Law Courts are completed.

1885 - Burke and Wills statue is moved to Spring Street. First cable tram operates between Melbourne and Richmond.

1886 - The Australian Electric Light Company acquires a piece of land at Richmond and starts building a power station. On 11 August, Coode Canal opened. Princess Theatre opened with a performance of Mikado.

1887 - Railway lines to Sandringham and Kew are opened. The portico of the Town Hall is completed.

1888 - Railway line to Heidelberg is opened. The Melbourne City Council buys the old Police Court building next to the Town Hall for140,000 pounds from the Government.

This becomes the site for future Town Halloffices. On 4 October, Princes Bridge, which was started in 1886 to replace Lennox's Bridge, was opened. The Australian Building at 49 Elizabeth Street at the corner of Flinders Lane was completed. Centennial Exhibition is held at the Exhibition Buildings.

1889 - 31,247 public servants are recorded as working in Melbourne. A new railway viaduct between Spencer Street railway station and Flinders St Station, built above street level, is begun. Police, court and the watch house adjoining the Town Hall are moved to the old Supreme Court and gaol in Russell Street.

1890 - Railway line to Glen Iris is opened. On 18 April, Queen Street Bridge is opened.

1891 - In July, the new Melbourne and Metropolitan Board of Works (MMBW) took over the responsibility for the supply of water to Melbourne and the building of a sewerage system. Edmund FitzGibbon the town clerk resigns to chair the Melbourne and Metropolitan Boards of Works (MMBW). The Yarra River floods. St Paul's Cathedral on the corner of Swanston Street and Flinders Street (begun in 1886) iscompleted.

1892 - Block Arcade is opened. Melbourne is first lighted by electricity from its own power station in Spencer Street.

1893 - On 5 February, the central city of Melbourne is connected to a sewerage system.

1894 - St Vincent's Hospital is built.

1897 - St Patrick's Cathedral is completed.

1899 - Bath house closes.

1897-1901 - Yarra straightened near Botanical Gardens to prevent flooding.

1901 - Opening of Federal Parliament in Melbourne at the Royal Exhibition Building. Melbourneis the seat of Federal Government until 1927.

1902 - First public toilets for women, in Russell Street. Position of Mayor becomes known as Lord Mayor.

1904 - First Henley-on-the-Yarra rowing regatta is held. New City Baths opened.

1905 - Flinders Street Station commenced.

1908 - The Council Chambers and Administration building adjacent to the Town Hall wascompleted. The Dome Reading Room of the State Library was completed.

1909 - Late night shopping introduced for Friday nights, and half-day.

1910 - Flinders Street Station domed building completed. Myer Emporium is founded.

1911 - A crowd of 35,000 attends the Eight Hour's Day march.

1915 - State Government orders the closure of all German clubs, due to Great War.

1916 - Carlton Baths opened.

1917 Permission was given to remove 10,000 remains from the Old to the Melbourne General Cemetery so the Queen Victoria Market could expand. This was done by 1930.

1918 - Melbourne Metropolitan Tramways Board is established.

1919 - Influenza epidemic. First electric train ran from Flinders Street to Essendon.

1920 - Visit of the Prince of Wales.

1922 - Bitumen roads first laid.

1923 - Electrification of cable trams.

1924 - Capitol Building in Swanston Street is completed, designed by Walter Burley Griffin. Yellow Taxi Cab Co Ltd introduces a taxi cab service. Police go on strike.

1925 - Town Hall fire.

1926 - New auditorium at Town Hall completed.

1927 - Visit by Duke and Duchess of York.

1928 - Traffic lights installed at the corner of Collins and Swanston Streets. After boundary changes, the Melbourne population is one million.

1930 - Spencer Street bridge is opened. The State Government closes city shelters for unemployed, establishing camps inBroadmeadows.

1931 - Broadcasting began from 3AW.

1932 - The Manchester Unity Building, in Swanston Street, is completed. It was the first buildingto include escalators.

1934 - Shrine of Remembrance is completed. Cooks' Cottage is re-erected in the Fitzroy Gardens, as a gift to Victorians from Russell Grimwade.

1938 - Century Building in Swanston Street (at the corner of Little Collins Street) is completed.

1939 - First multi storey car park constructed on the corner of Russell and Little Collins Streets.

1940 - Last cable tram.

1941 - Foundation stone laid for the construction of new Royal Melbourne Hospital in Parkville.

1942 - Centenary of City Council. Trenches dug in city parks and gardens in preparation for air raids. American troops begin to arrive.

1946 - The Royal Melbourne Hospital in Swanston Street moves to Parkville, with the Hospital inSwanston Street becoming known as the Queen Victoria Hospital.

1947 - Open mixed bathing introduced at the City Baths.

1954 - First Moomba parade. First visit of Queen Elizabeth 2. Degraves Street subway beneath Flinders Street constructed.

1955 - Parking metres introduced. Brian King born (aka Mr Mel Bourne)

1956 - Olympic Games,16th Olympiad, held in Melbourne. ICI building is completed. This was the first building to exceed 132 feet in height. Television transmissions commence.

1959 - Sidney Myer Music Bowl opened in Kings Domain. State Government approves plans for an underground railway.

1960 - The Eastern Market is demolished; replaced by the Southern Cross.

1961 - Control of Royal Park reverts to the Council after the Military move out. Kings Street Bridge opened.

1963 - Spencer Street Station is completed (Now named Southern Cross Station). The pedestrian bridge over Little Bourke Street between the Myer stores is opened.

1964 - A civic reception for the Beatles is held in the Town Hall.

1966 - Lyndon Baines Johnson, President of the United States, visits Melbourne. Floral Clock, a gift from watchmakers of Switzerland, unveiled by Councillor Beaurepaire.

1967 - Clare Cascarret is the first female councillor.

1968 - National Gallery opened by Sir Henry Bolte, Premier of Victoria. Work commences on the West Gate Bridge.

1970 - A section of West Gate collapses, killing 15 men. 70,000 people march in an anti-Vietnam war march.

1971 - Women attended Lord Mayor's dinner for the first time.

1972 - Commencement of Free Entertainment in the Park. Freak storm floods the city.

1978 - Section of Bourke Street closed for the development of Bourke Street Mall. West Gate Bridge opened to traffic.

1979 - The Sculpture, "The Vault", placed in the City Square knicknamed the Yellow Peril and later moved to Batman Park in 1981, and later again to Southbank.

1980 - City Square opened by Queen Elizabeth. City Council was dismissed by the State Government and replaced with Commissioners.

1982 - Concert Hall opened. First underground rail loop opened. New Council elected.

1983 - Bourke Street Mall officially opened by Their Royal Highnesses, The Prince and Princess of Wales. Restored City Baths opens.

1984 - State Theatre, Playhouse, and George Fairfax Theatres opened.

1985 - 150th anniversary of Victoria.

1986 - The Rialto Building is completed.1987 National Tennis Centre opened. Lecki Ord becomes the first female elected Lord Mayor.

1988 - Queen Victoria Hospital in Swanston Street closed. Lynch's Bridge Housing development commences, on the former Newmarket Sale yards site.

1991 - Melbourne Central opens with its flagship Daimaru store. The shot tower in the middle of the building was built in 1870.

1992 - Swanston Street is closed to traffic. Southgate opened on the south bank of the Yarra.

1993 - A chief Commissioner is appointed to run the city.

1994 - City Circle tram commenced. The Rialto Tower Observation Deck is opened.

1996 - First Formula 1 Grand Prix held at Albert Park. Council elections for a new city council.

1997 - State Library expands. Turning Basin on the Yarra River is opened. Work commences for Federation Square.

1998 - State Government and City Council announce the creation of a new riverside park,adjacent to Federation Square.

1999 - Melbourne Aquarium opens.

2000 - New Museum Victoria opens. New City Square is opened. The Domain Tunnel, part of City Link, is opened to traffic.

* We've found various dates for this landing. W. H. Newnham says it was the 20th August, but inaccurately maintains Fawkner was onboard. C.P Billot also says 20th.

** Again, various dates have been found for Fawkner's arrival. W. H. Newnham says it was the 11th October whereas C.P Billot says 16th.

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Significant Dates & Events | Melbourne 

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