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Melbourne History, Australia

The history of Melbourne can be traced back to 1835 when a British settlement was established on the banks of the Yarra River in Victoria, Australia. The settlement was initially named Batmania (because it was established by the English entrepreneur John Batman) but was re-named Melbourne two years later in 1837 (after the then Prime Minister of Britain, Lord Melbourne).

History of Melbourne – Initial Years

Being a part of New South Wales, Melbourne was administered from Sydney (which was first settled in 1788) in the initial years. However, owing to the region’s fertile lands and rich pastures, the population of the region started increasing rapidly. By 1839, Melbourne became a political and administrative hub of Port Phillip District under New South Wales when Charles La Trobe was appointed the Superintendent (and stationed at Melbourne) with the intent of establishing an independent police force and lands office. When in 1851 Victoria was proclaimed an independent colony, Melbourne was made its capital and Charles La Trobe was declared its first Lieutenant Governor.

History of Melbourne – The Gold-Rush Years

When in July 1851 Victoria was given the status of an independent settlement, the population of the colony was about 80000 (and 1/4th of the population lived in Melbourne); but the discovery of alluvial gold from sites close to Melbourne in November 1851 changed the entire scenario. People arrived in hordes from all over the world to mine gold and by 1854, the population of Melbourne rose to 300000. By 1856, Victoria was granted its own constitution and had its first voted government by the next year.

For the next forty years, gold continued to be extracted from the many Victoria mines and it became one of the wealthiest colonies. This was the golden period in the Melbourne history. Melbourne underwent immense development culturally, financially and socially; the city also saw expansion of its territories and became the largest city in Australia (remaining so for the better part of the 19th century).

History of Melbourne – The 20th Century

The economic depression of the 1890s had slowed down the progress of Melbourne a bit but when the new Commonwealth of Australia was formed in 1901, Melbourne became the temporary seat of the government.

Even after the capital was shifted to Canberra and Sydney replaced it as the largest city in Australia, Melbourne retained its importance. The two World Wars could not destabilize it and it continued on its path of progress. Following the WWII, when the Australian government tried attracting migrants across Europe, a whole lot of non-English speaking people made Melbourne their home. Today, Melbourne is one of the most advanced and culturally diverse cities of Australia, famous for its infrastructure and industries.

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