Subscribe      List an Event or Business      Invite a Writer      Write for WN      Writers      Other Locations
list an event      1 million Australian readers every month      facebook

Maps of Melbourne's Past, Present and Future

Home > Melbourne > Trivia
by Geoff Edlund (subscribe)
Always on the hunt for creative, fun, and interesting places, events, and experiences.
Published June 9th 2018
The growth of a world-class city
Melbourne is a city growing and expanding swiftly. There were less than 3 million people in 1970 and the population is now almost 5 million. Growth forecasts by ABS show the potential for 8 million residents by 2050. How did Melbourne expand, what are the opportunities and challenges, and how big could Melbourne actually get?

Melbourne's growth in the last century or so

Melbourne grew steadily until the 1970s and then experienced a prosperous expansion through immigration, economic development, and population growth. The borders of Greater Melbourne now extend far into the peninsula, toward the ranges and recent land releases continue to grow the western corridor toward Melton.

Melbourne History
The dramatic growth of Melbourne, particularly in the last few decades. Credits

Melbourne's current extended growth boundary

The State Government plan toward 2050 shows the large areas covered by councils in the outer metropolitan areas and the potential for the footprint of the city to exceed far beyond original expectations, as population growth continues to outstrip forecasts.

Melbourne 2050
Current Melbourne boundary (in blue), potential to expand toward Green areas to 2050. Credits:

Hazards faced by the City

As the city expands, there is an opportunity to retain the green belts that are vital for air quality, water security, food production, heritage preservation, and native flora and fauna. However, as suburbs move further into rural areas, the risk of bushfires increases. Areas expanding around the bay and along major waterways also face the increasing risk of flooding, as the climate changes, as low-lying land is cleared and built upon.

Hazards Melbourne Fire Flood
Flood and Fire (in red) hazards facing Melbourne as it grows. Credits

Physical Barriers to Growth

The infrastructure, transport, and housing problems are significant, to ensure that urban centres remain connected. Suburbs and areas in the foothills and elevated areas of Greater Melbourne provide further challenges in the construction of roads and railway extensions. The Dandenong and Yarra Ranges, and mountainous areas create a ring around the north and east of Melbourne that will eventually curtail growth, with the bays toward the South acting as a barrier. However, plains, towns, and arable farmland in the outer West are yet to be fully urbanised, and development of these areas is likely to continue for several decades.

Topography Melbourne
Melbourne's expansion has some geographical barriers (areas in warm colours are over 500 metres high). Credits

The potential for a Victorian megalopolis in 2100?

Melbourne currently covers 10000 square kilometres (imagine a 100 kilometre by 100 kilometre square), and although this seems huge, there are other cities with tens of millions of people, that will continue to grow well into the century. A megalopolis is the joining of major cities in a zone, and this is already underway in parts of Europe and Asia. Although there are no specific plans, Victoria already has a major city, and two smaller cities within 100 kilometres of each other - the Melbourne-Ballarat-Geelong hybrid of 2100 is not beyond possibility. Will our grandchildren live in "Mel-Bal-Long" ...

For fun, here's what Greater Tokyo looks like in terms of relative size to another global city, and it's a bit mind-blowing:

Japan UK Melbourne
A megalopolis (Greater Tokyo) compared to the global city of Greater London in the UK. Credits: Buzzfeed site

For the original image, click here.

If you think getting to work on the train or tram is a challenge in Melbourne now, here's what the residents of Tokyo face each morning!

Japan Subway Melbourne
Good Luck getting around the middle of a huge city - here's a simplified map of transport in Tokyo as an example. Credits: Buzzfeed

Fo the original image, click here.

References: (includes ABS data)

Help us improve  Click here if you liked this article  13
Share: email  facebook  twitter
Why? The history and future of Melbourne through maps
Where: Melbourne and surrounds
Your Comment
by Geoff Edlund on 23/05/2018
Top Events
Popular Articles