was meticulously planned. It began as a barely legal, speculative settlement
that broke away from New South Wales, and was fortunate to be blessed with
farsighted founders who envisioned a great 19th century city with an abundance
of parks and wide roads and boulevards.
Today the former gold-digger
city has around three and a half million inhabitants and in its older districts
is reminiscent of the Victorian and Edwardian architectural style of
London in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, even if no-frills
new tower blocks are gradually stepping into the foreground.
Farmers, cattle breeders and
gold-diggers were among the founding generations of Melbourne, the second
largest Australian city and eter¬nal rival of Sydney. Judging by their
history the two coastal resorts could be called sisters, with Melbourne
the younger, although it looks older. For decades the two fought for the
honor of becoming Australia's capital city, until in 1913 neither of these
two, but Canberra, became the seat of government.
Fifteen years after the
arrival of the first settlers in Sydney, in 1802 landowners from England
established themselves 435 miles (700 km) further south at Phillips Bay,
where Melbourne later developed. But tilling of the land did not go as
well as anticipated and it was difficult to engender any enthusiasm for
field work in the curly-haired, dark-skinned aboriginal people, so many
farmers went on to try their luck in the interior of the continent. It
was not until 1835 that cattle breeders made their homes in the fertile
Melbourne region and soon brought hordes of further settlers in their wake.
Around 1850 a real race of strong men started when gold was discovered
in the area. This was the start of the unstoppable ascent of the city of
In an effort to create tradition
in a place without tradition, in 1840 Melbourne imported the residence
for the governor of the region of Victoria straight from England and rebuilt
the country house, which had been split up into individual sections, stone
by stone. It is known as "La Trobes Cottage" and is open for tours. In
1934 the parental home of the famous seafarer and discoverer James Cook
was brought across the waters from the British county of Yorkshire to Melbourne,
where, as "Captain Cook's Cottage", it now adorns a car park.
||Diverse cultural influences
Other cultures also left
their mark on Melbourne. Incomers from the Middle Kingdom enriched the
city with a colorful Chinese quarter and the "See Yup loss House" temple
of 1856. The Little Italy area with its many pizza bakeries, ice-cream
parlors and pasta shops offers a Mediterranean way of life. Melbourne's
Richmond area has such a large
Greek Population that it
is regarded as the third large Greek city, after Athens
and Thessaloniki. Here too
Is Little Saigon, Richmond
Street, dominated by Vietnamese shops, restaurants and sub cultural pubs.
It is these strong ethnic
influences that give Melbourne its liveli¬ness and its endearing character.
The city center with its pedestrian precincts and shopping arcades, its
large squares and numerous green areas is the showplace of a thriving urban
Entertainment for all
In City Square refreshing
decorative fountains splash, acrobats and mime artists perform and a colorful
ethnic mix enjoys itself in tavernas and outdoor restaurants. Young people,
in particular, are attracted by the free entertainment, the rock concerts,
dance and theater performances taking place in the open-air with free entry.
Adding to the charm of the
city are the trams, threatened with extinction in western Europe, though
not so much the smart modern ones as the old rattling ones with their hard
wooden seats, constant draught and - in most cases - green paint. When
visiting Melbourne, the pop star Elton John fell so much in love with a
hundred-year-old tram that he bought it on the spot, shipped it to San
Francisco and had it installed there in the garden of his house.
Works by Australian painters,
including Aborigines and members of a group known as the Heidelberg School
are exhibited in the Victorian Arts Center. Among the museum treasures
of the city are veteran airplanes, the stuffed miracle racehorse Phar Lap
and the sailing ship Polly Woodside built in Belfast, Ireland, in 1885.
Each year in March Melbourne
celebrates its popular Moomba Festival with street processions, compe¬titions,
theater and music. The word "Moomba" originates from the language of the
Aborigines and means "come and have fun!" The native in- habitants have
virtually disappeared from the streets of the city, though. The diseases
and liquor of the white people have decimated their numbers. The Aborigines
came to Aus¬tralia about 40,000 years ago on rafts or over long submerged
land bridges and were the real lords of the continent