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Melbourne History

Waves of immigration have made Melbourne a cosmopolitan success story.

Melbourne sits on the ancestral homeland of the indigenous Boonerwrung and Wurundjeri peoples of the Kulin Nation, who occupied the land for between 31,000 to 40,000 years prior to European arrival.

The Yarra River attracted British settlers, who founded the Port Phillip Settlement of the Colony of New South Wales in 1835.

John Batman explored the area in 1835, and in 1837 military surveyor Robert Hoddle started planning the city that would become Melbourne.

A separate colony was carved out of New South Wales and named Victoria in 1851. That same year gold was discovered near Ballarat and Bendigo, to the west of Melbourne, and the ensuing gold rush turned the city into a powerful financial centre.

Australia's first rail line opened here in 1854. Within 30 years, Melbourne had evolved from its early agricultural pastoral beginnings to a city thriving off the back of a gold rush.

The city was regarded as the 'Paris of the Antipodes', becoming the financial and cultural centre of Australia and hosting two huge International Exhibitions in the 1880s.

As Australia's first political capital, until Canberra became the national capital in 1927, Melbourne hosted the Federation of Australia in 1901. The first parliament was held at the Royal Exhibition building that same year.

Melbourne's fortunes otherwise dwindled in the late 19th and early 20th century when economic depression followed a fall in property prices.

The gold rush era brought thousands of Chinese migrants to Melbourne. Post-WWII immigration transformed Melbourne into a thriving cultural melting pot, with a million people emigrating from countries such as Italy, Greece, and Britain.

The fall of the White Australia policy in the 1970s saw a strong rise in the number of migrants from Southeast Asia.

Today, the city's property market is strong and so is the job market, making Melbourne one of the world's most liveable cities.

Did you know?
• Melbourne was named after the British Prime Minister Lord Melbourne.
• Vegemite was created in Melbourne in 1923.
• Melbourne hosted the 1956 summer Olympics and the 2006 Commonwealth Games.

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Featured Hotels


Grand Hyatt Melbourne

This central and luxurious hotel has spacious rooms with inviting king-size beds and cool Italian marble bathrooms. Each room sports a sterling city or river view. The top floors are set aside for Executive Suites, which have superior views and allow guests to access the relaxing Grand Club Lounge. Amenities include a swimming pool, fitness club, cafe, food court, bar and round-the-clock business centre.

Grand Hotel Melbourne

True to its name, this whisper-quiet hotel is housed in a magnificent former railway building. The first bricks of the building were laid in 1887 and it served as the railway department headquarters for donkey's years. Located near Spencer Street station, these days it has plush red Pullman carpets in the suites and corridors long enough to drive a train down. This heritage-listed building is one of the most impressive hotels in Melbourne.

Miami Hotel, Melbourne

Located in West Melbourne, with the North Melbourne shopping village close by, Miami Hotel has great facilities for the budget conscious traveller, including wireless broadband, internet kiosks, and free off-street parking. The hotel specialises in group bookings and is described as clean, basic, warm and comfortable through several user reviews.

The Langham

Elegant refined warm and welcoming describes the ambience and room decor in this five star SouthBank Promenade located hotel. The Langham is ideally located on the banks of the Yarra (with stunning views across the river) and features all the best Melbourne has to offer right on its doorstep. With a Chuan Spa exercise facilities and a noteworthy restaurant – The Melba – there is much to savour at The Langham.

Claremont Guest House

On the doorstep of trendy Chapel Street, the Claremont Guest House is one of the best cheap hotels in Melbourne. With 24-hour reception, bright and airy rooms, guest laundry facilities, and TVs and phones in each room, you're sure to enjoy your stay. Just 10 minutes from the CBD, and with public transport near the front door, you're never far from the action. It's perfect for the budget traveller with dormitory rooms and shared bathrooms.

The Larwill Studio

A part of the Art Series group, this boutique hotel is dedicated to the Australian artist David Larwill. Located in North Melbourne, just a short walk from the CBD, the Larwill comes complete with eclectic artworks and parkland views. The contemporary rooms boast modern fittings, iPod docks, espresso makers, minibars, microwaves and yoga mats for the health conscious. Some of the hotel's highlights include a chic café that serves stellar international fare, as well as a bar and a gym.