History of Melbourne
Before the Gold Rush
Not much of the original settlement of Melbourne still exists to this day, as the original settlement was most tents and huts. Eventually the budding town would be made out of timber, but considering what time and age can do to anything that is not stone it’s understandable that not much remains. In fact the only two surviving structures from that time period are St. James Old Cathedral and St. Francis Catholic Church. Everything else is gone, taken by time and the rapid expansion of the city as it continued to grow.
Located on the Yarra River, Melbourne was at one point in time gripped by a very serious epidemic. People would bathe and drink the same water from the river, and by the 1850’s, when the gold rush hit, the river had become highly polluted. This led to the emergence of typhoid fever, which killed a good many people before the city opened the first public baths. Despite this many people still used the river, but thankfully the baths helped to reduce the illness.
The 1850s were a very prosperous time for Melbourne, and in fact thanks to the infamous gold rush the city began to spread out in nearly every direction. Tens of thousands of settlers arrived in Melbourne on their way to Victoria, and many settled down within the budding town to make their fortune and a new life. For four decades the town continued to grow, stretching out in all directions in order to accommodate the constant influx of settlers that continued to come. A great way to learn about the rich history of the 1800s is on the Melbourne walking tour that begins daily at Federation Square.
After the Gold Rush
Melbourne’s first substantial crash came in 1891 when banks and other businesses finally suffered the overdue bust that had come thanks to the mounting corruption and irresponsible loans that had gone on during the previous decades. Thousands of people were out work, and many people continued their quest for gold and riches elsewhere. Despite this, Melbourne’s population didn’t vary too much over the next decade and a half.
It is safe to say that once the city was declared the capital of the country that the city’s reputation made it possible for Melbourne to continue forward as a superpower within Australia. Since then the city has flourished, becoming one of the most successful cities in the world. To date Melbourne has been labelled as one of the world’s most liveable cities for many different reasons, among them being its vast economic opportunities.