Here’s eleven interesting facts about Melbourne that you may not know. Including tips for visiting Australia’s second largest city.
Melbourne, Australia is a fantastic city to visit. The streets and laneways are alive with art, cafes, shopping and passionate people who make the city what it is today. However, like many cities, there are some interesting facts that you may not know. Hopefully these facts will inspire you to visit Melbourne, and maybe even take a day trip from the city when you are here!
11 Interesting Facts About Melbourne
Liveability at its best in Melbourne
For seven years in a row Melbourne was named the “Most Liveable City In The World”. It took the number one spot in 10 out of 18 years. Melbourne achieved this incredible ranking because healthcare is ranked among the best in the world. In addition, education is the same with schools and universities throughout the whole city. The arts, culture, sports and food scene contributes to the ranking as well.
The Sports Capital of Australia
Melbourne is considered the sporting capital of Australia. It hosts major sporting events and competitions every year. Events like the Australian Open tennis, the Formula 1 Grand Prix, the MotoGP, and the AFL Grand Final attract large crowds and a lot of attention. Melbourne is also due to host the Commonwealth Games, again, in 2026. Melbourne’s sporting precinct is located alongside the Yarra River and includes the Melbourne Cricket Ground, Melbourne Arena and the Olympic Park.
Melbourne’s Food Scene
Melbourne holds the impressive title of most restaurants and cafes per capita in the world. With a multicultural population and a love of food, it’s therefore no surprise that there’s an incredible array of restaurants and cafes around Melbourne. In addition to the sheer number of eateries, there are some fantastic dining precincts where you can find Italian, Greek, Chinese, Vietnamese foods – and many more cuisines.
You may have heard of Melbourne’s laneways. They are the place to discover the passion and heart of the city. You’ll come across cafes, street art, shops and bars in Melbourne’s laneways. However, what you may not know is that these laneways used to be the dumping point for shops in the city centre. The shop fronts were on the larger main street and the laneways were where the trash was dumped.
Melbourne Trams and Dining
Trams are one of the best ways to get around the city, but they are not just transport. They have been part of the city landscape since the 1920’s and one of the early tramcars has been restored. It is now the Colonial Tramcar Restaurant. Colonial Tramcar Restaurant Company converted their first tramcar in 1981 and it began operating in 1982. Today you can still take a ride on the tram – with a meal that matches the standard of this great city.
Was Melbourne meant to be called Batmania?
A man considered one of the founders of Melbourne, was John Batman. He proposed to set up a farm village on the banks of the river, where Indigenous Australians had lived for many years. Due to his role in the beginnings of this town, when it came time to later officially name the city he put a suggestion forward. Batmania. Which could have been a wonderful name for the city, but perhaps would have brought a totally different tone to the city today – who knows?
What is a hook turn?
Something strange, that you will want to take note of if driving in Melbourne, is the hook turn. This happens at major intersections that have tram lines running through them. In order to not block the trams, cars that are making a right turn must pull over to the left, then wait for the lights to change before turning right. Called a ‘hook turn’ it prevents cars blocking the flow of trams – but only in the city centre.
Expensive Beach Real Estate
One of the popular tourist attractions around Melbourne are the colourful Bathing Boxes at Brighton Beach. The beachside huts were first constructed in the 1800’s, as privately owned changing rooms for ‘bathing’ at the beach. Today the largest collection is on Brighton Beach and they are still privately owned. There is no electricity or running water and you can;t sleep in them, so they are mainly used for storage of beach gear. However, these Bathing Boxes are very expensive real estate, with one being sold in recent years for more than $300,000.
Captain Cook’s Cottage
Fitzroy Gardens in the central areas of Melbourne city, has one unique attraction. It is Captain Cook’s Cottage. Cook was the explorer who discovered Australia in the 1700’s and proclaimed it to be a new territory of England. the cottage in Fitzroy Gardens however is not a replica – it s actually the cottage Cook lived in, in Yorkshire England. In the 1930’s it was transported to Australia and rebuilt in Fitzroy Gardens.
Race For The Bar
In the early 1900’s the Victorian government – that led the state where Melbourne is located – introduced a new law. It was determined that bars must close at 6pm every evening. This was introduced to improve public morality, as many cases of violence and disturbances came after this tme from people leaving bars late into the night. However, this new law just introduced a new movement which was the “Six O’Clock Swill”. It was a rush of people flooding the bars to buy a last drink before closing time.
A Piece Of Cinema History
In December 1906, Melbourne hosted the premier of a ground-breaking film. The Story of the Kelly Gang was the world’s first feature-length film. It was a story based on the lives of infamous bushrangers in Australia. Previously films were quite short, however this one ran for over an hour. The now-iconic piece of movie history premiered in Melbourne’s Athenaeum Hall.
Join us on a day tour from Melbourne to experience more of the city and surrounds.
Written by: Leah Furey – Digital Content Coordinator @gowest.com.au