I'm a Victorian freelance writer & photographer living in the Macedon Ranges north of Melbourne.
Published January 31st 2020
There's far more to Melbourne than meets the eye, hundreds if not thousands of little known facts about the early history and development of the city. Here are just twelve of those facts to spur your interest.
The RSPCA tells us that Melbourne is the fox capital of the world with anything from 6 to 23 foxes per square kilometre in the urban area. Typically the European or Red Fox they are one of the most invasive species ever introduced into Australia.
You've every chance of spotting a fox in your suburb, particularly on bin night. Photo: www.pexels.com
Melbourne's tramway system is the world's 4th largest and the largest outside Europe with 493 trams servicing 24 routes with 1,763 tram stops on 250-Kilometres of track.
A Melbourne Z-Class tram at Docklands. Photo: Copyright Ian Gill / Footloose Media
The world's first feature film was made in Melbourne in 1906. The film was the Story of the Ned Kelly Gang. It opened on Boxing Day 1906 at Melbourne's Athenaeum Theatre. The Victorian Government tried to censor the film because it portrayed the Kelly Gang sympathetically but the public flocked to screenings both around Australia and internationally.
Ned's notoriety had sympathetic fans flocking to cinemas. Photo: Copyright Ian Gill / Footloose Media
It was originally planned to name Melbourne 'Batmania' after John Batman – in fact, the settlement was known as Batmania for two years from 1835 to 1837 prior to being officially being named Melbourne.
The Batmania city skyline? Just doesn't have the same ring to it. Photo: Copyright Ian Gill / Footloose Media
At the 2016 Census Melbourne exceeded the national average for the proportion of residents born overseas – 34.8% compared to the national average of 23.1%.
Migrants make Melbourne the multi-cultural city it is. Photo: Copyright Ian Gill / Footloose Media
In 1956 Melbourne hosted the first Olympic Games ever staged outside Europe and North America.
The Melbourne games were staged at the MCG but it didn't look like this in 1956. Photo: Copyright Ian Gill / Footloose Media
Melbourne's most popular restaurant is, or was a tram – The Colonial Tramcar Restaurant. At the time of writing the Colonial Tramcar Restaurant is off the rails with legal action pending after Yarra Trams took all three of the companies vintage restaurant trams out of service raising safety concerns about the older vehicles.
Many Melbournians and visitors will be hoping the Colonial Tramcar Restaurant is back on the rails soon. Photo: Copyright Ian Gill / Footloose Media
Melbourne was the Capital of Australia from Federation in 1901 until 1927. Parliament House in Spring Street became the Parliament of Australia while the Victorian Parliament sat in the Royal Exhibition Building.
The Royal Exhibition Building was home to the Victorian Parliament from 1901 to 1927. Photo: Copyright Ian Gill / Footloose Media
Australia's first traffic lights were installed in Melbourne in 1928 at the corner of Collins and Swanston Streets. They were manually operated by a Policeman standing on the adjacent footpath.
Sydney likes to claim that it had the nation's first traffic lights but theirs were the first automated lights to enter service in the 1930's. Photo: www.pexels.com
Melbourne's Doctor David Warren invented the Black Box flight recorder in 1958. The Black Box has proven invaluable in investigations into countless worldwide aviation disasters since.
Normally finished in high-vis orange the Black Box flight recorder is one of the most significant inventions in the history of aviation. Photo: Wiki Creative Commons
In 1880 Melbourne was identified as the richest city in the world in the boom period following the Victorian gold rush. In that year the cities population reached 280,000. At the same time, it was the second-largest city in the British Empire after London.
Melbourne's prosperity undoubtedly rode on the back of Victoria's 1850's gold rush. Photo: Copyright Ian Gill / Footloose Media
Until 1966 Melbourne was home to the '6 O'clock Swill', the rush to buy last drinks before pubs were forced to close at 6 PM. Six o'clock closing was introduced in 1917 as a temporary measure, both as a wartime austerity measure and to improve public morality. The 'temporary measure' lasted for 50-years.
Last drinks please! Melbourne's 6 O'Clock swill. Photo: Wiki Creative Commons
Why? There's far to Melbourne than meets the eye, hundreds of not thousands of little known facts about the early history and development of the city. Here are just twelve of those facts to spur your interest.