1902 Encyclopedia > Melbourne, Victoria

Melbourne, Victoria

MELBOURNE, the capital of the colony of Victoria, and the most populous city in Australia, is situated at the head of the large bay of Port Phillip, on its northern bend known as Hobson's Bay, about 500 miles S.W. of Sydney by land and 770 by sea, the position of the observatory being 37° 49' 53" S. lat. and 144° 58' 42" E. long. Along the shores of the bay the suburbs


extend for a distance of over 10 miles, but the part distinctively known as the " city " occupies a site about 3 miles inland on the north bank of the Yarra river.

The appearance of Melbourne from the sea is by no means picturesque. The shipping suburbs of Sandridge and Williamstown occupy the alluvial land at the mouth of the Yarra, and, as the district is low and flat, and covered with factories, the prospect is not ;nviting. But the city itself has a very different aspect: its situation is relieved by numerous gentle hills, which show off to great advantage its fine public buildings; its streets are wide and well kept; and the universal appearance of prosperity, activity, and comfort under its usually clear blue sky impresses the visitor favourably.

That part specially known as the "city" had a population in 1881 of 65,800. It occupies the two hills of East Melbourne and West Melbourne; the valley that separates them, once occupied by a densely wooded little stream, is now partly filled in, and forms the busy thoroughfare of Elizabeth Street; parallel to this runs Swanston Street, and at right angles to these, and parallel to the river, are Bourke Street, Collins Street, and Flinders Street,—the first being the busiest in Melbourne, the second containing the most fashionable shops, and the third, which faces the river, being given over to maritime pursuits. These streets are the eighth of a mile apart; between them are narrower streets occupied by warehouses and business premises.

Bound the " city" lies a circle of populous suburbs. North-east is Fitzroy with 23,000 inhabitants ; farther east, Collingwood, 24,000 ; east of Melbourne, Richmond, 23,400; south-east, Prahran, 21,000; south, Emerald Hill, 25,300; south-west, Sandridge, 8700; north-west, Hotham, 17,800. These all lie within three miles of the general


post-office in Elizabeth Street; but outside of them, and within a radius of 5 miles, there is a circle of less populous suburbs: to the north, Brunswick, 6200; east, Kew, 4200, and Hawthorn, 6000 ; south-east, St Kilda, 11,600, and Brighton, 4700 ; south-west, Williamstown, 9000, and Footscray, 6000 ; north-west, Essenden and Flemington, 5000. Numerous smaller suburbs fill up the spaces between these,—the principal being Northcote, Preston, Camberwell, Toorak, Caulfield, Elsternwick, and Coburg, with a united population of 19,000.

Fifteen of these suburbs rank as independent municipalities, and many of them have streets which for importance rival the main streets of the city.
The following table shows the growth of the population since 1851:—

== TABLE ==

The land on which the city now stands was sold in allotments of half an acre, the prices realized being in June 1837 about £34 each, in November 1837 about £42, and in September 1838 about £120 each. These allotments are now (1882) sold at prices ranging from £20,000 to £40,000. But, though land has thus increased in value, Melbourne is by no means a crowded city; the streets are all 99 feet wide, and the parks, squares, and gardens are so numerous that with only one-thirteenth of the population of London it occupies very nearly half as great an area.

The public buildings are generally situated on positions from which they are seen to advantage. The Parliament Houses form a great pile of brickwork with four fronts in freestone, of which the main front is not yet com-pleted ; the interior decorations are highly elaborate. The Treasury is a well-proportioned building in free-stone ; behind it stands a vast building known as the Government offices. On the hill of West Melbourne there is a large structure, newly erected, for the law courts; it has four very handsome fronts, each about 300 feet in length, and the whole is surmounted by a lofty cupola, in the manner of the Capitol at Washington. The public library in Swanston Street forms one of four fronts of a building which was projected on a grand scale, but has never been completed. Much of the interior has been erected, but of the fronts only the main one is yet in existence, its cost having been =£111,000. The lower story is devoted to sculpture; on one side there are casts of all the most famous statues; on the other there is a small collection of original works by modern sculptors, together with a gallery containing 8000 engravings and photographs; to the rear is the picture gallery, a very handsome hall, with oil paintings, chosen from the works of living artists. Another of the interior portions of the building is occupied by the technological museum, in which are arranged about 30,000 specimens illustrative of the industrial arts. The upper story of the front is devoted to the library, which occupies a chamber 240 feet long; 22 recesses contain each its own special branch of literature, the total number of volumes being 112,000. The book shelves rise to a height of 20 feet, but they are divided by a narrow gallery which runs all round the room, and gives access to the upper tiers. The library is open to the public; and every visitor ranges at will, being bound by the two conditions only that he is to replace each book where he found it, and that he is to preserve strict silence. During 1881 there were 261,886 visits made to the room.

The Melbourne University is a picturesque, but by no means imposing mass of buildings, buried among the trees of extensive and well-kept grounds about a mile from the heart of the city. In front of it stands the " Wilson Hall," erected at a cost of £40,000. Behind is the National Museum, containing collections of specimens of natural history. The museum, like all public places in Melbourne, "is freely open to the people. About 98,000 visitors entered it in 1881. The university has a staff of 10 professors and 12 lecturers, with about 400 students. There are four courses open to students : arts, law, medi-cine, and civil engineering. Affiliated to the Melbourne University are the two denominational colleges, Trinity and Ormond, in which about 80 students reside, and where provision is made for instruction in theology.

The Exhibition building consists of a nave 500 feet long and 160 feet broad, surmounted by a dome, with two annexes each 460 feet long. These are built in brick with cement facings. The mint is a very handsome quadrangle, erected in 1872. In the year 1881 there were three millions of sovereigns coined in it, making a total of sixteen millions since its erection. The governor's residence is a large building on a hill overlooking the Yarra. The general post-office forms only half of a magnificent pile of buildings which will, when completed, include the central telegraph office.

The town-hall, at the corner of Swanston Street and Collins Street, contains, besides the usual apartments for municipal offices, a hall seated for nearly 3000 persons, and fitted with a colossal organ, on which the city organist performs two afternoons a week, the public being admitted at a nominal charge. Hotham, Bichmond, Emerald Hill, Prahran, and Fitzroy have their own town-halls, all costly and somewhat pretentious buildings.

The markets, erected at a cost of £80,000, stand in Bourke Street. They are handsome in external appear-ance, and ingeniously contrived for convenience within. The observatory is a humble-looking building on the St Kilda Boad; it contains an equatorial telescope, which had for some years the distinction of being the largest in the world.

There are two railway stations, one being the terminus of all the country lines, and the other devoted to sub-urban traffic. The suburbs of Williamstown, Sandridge, Footscray, St Kilda, Emerald Hill, Brighton, Elsternwick, Hawthorn, Bichmond, and Essendon are connected by rail with the city.

The Melbourne Hospital is in the form of an extensive series of brick buildings, situated close to the public library. There are beds for about 300 patients. The Alfred Hospital, on the St Kilda Road, was built in commemoration of the visit of Prince Alfred : it has beds for nearly 100 patients. The lying-in hospital can accommodate 62 persons. The blind asylum has over 100 inmates; and there are a deaf and dumb asylum, an im-migrants' home, and other charitable institutions.

Melbourne contains many churches, but few of them will compare wjith the public buildings in appearance. The Roman Catholic cathedral of St Patrick, when com-pleted, will, however, be a conspicuous ornament to the city. The Anglican cathedral, now (1882) in the course of erection, is to cost about £100,000. The most striking ecclesiastical building is the Scotch church in Collins Street, which divides with Ormond College and the Wilson Hall the honour of being the finest specimen of architecture in the city.

There are in Melbourne, among its numerous state schools, about thirty whose size and proportions entitle them to rank with the architectural ornaments of the city. They have each accommodation for from 600 to 2000 scholars. Abundant provision has been made for secondary in-struction by the denominations and by private enterprise. The Scotch College and the Presbyterian Ladies' College, the Wesley College and the Wesleyan Ladies' College, the Church of England Grammar School, St Patrick's College and St Francis Xavier's College, are all connected with the churches ; and there are besides between twenty and thirty good private grammar schools.

Melbourne contains the offices of numerous banks, savings banks, and building societies.
The parks and public gardens of Melbourne are exten-sive and handsome. Within the city proper there are four gardens, which have been decorated with a lavish expenditure. The Fitzroy Gardens are one dense network of avenues of oak, elm, and plane, with a " fern-tree gully " in the middle. Casts of famous statues abound; and ponds, fountains, rustic houses, and small buildings after the design of Greek temples give a variety to the scene. The Treasury, Flagstaff, and Carlton Gardens are of the same class, but less costly in their decorations. Around the central city there lie five great parks. The Royal Park, of about 600 acres, is lightly timbered with the original gum trees; some portions of open land are used for recreation. About 30 acres in the centre are beauti-fully laid out to accommodate a very superior zoological collection. The Yarra Park, of about 300 acres, contains the leading cricket grounds; of these the " Melbourne " is the chief, distinguished by its very large stand and the excellence of its pitch. The Botanic Cirdens occupy about 200 acres of land, sloping down to the banks of the river, and laid out with great taste and skill. Albert Park, about 500 acres in extent, is not so elaborately laid out, but contains a small lake, which is much used for boating purposes, as the bay is stormy and exposed. Studley Park, a favourite place for picnics, is a romantic corner on a bend of the upper Yarra, of about 200 acres extent, left entirely in a state of nature.

Besides these parks each suburb has its own " gardens " of moderate extent. At Flemington a large reserve is devoted to racing purposes, where in November the race for the Melbourne Cup is held, the great racing carnival of Australia, attended by about 100,000 persons.

The shipping of Melbourne is very considerable. In 1880 about 1500 vessels entered and cleared again, their tonnage being 960,000. Nearly all the intercolonial and a small proportion of the foreign vessels ascend the Yarra and unload in the heart of the city. The river was originally navigable for vessels of only 9 feet draught; but of late years the channel has been deepened so much that vessels drawing 16 feet can ascend with safety. Great works are now in operation by which the course is to be straightened and further deepened; and the quays which line the river banks will be made accessible to the large vessels which now have to lie in the bay off the Sandridge and Williamstown piers.

Shipbuilding is a comparatively unimportant industry, but a great deal of repairing is done; the graving dock at Williamstown is able to hold the largest vessels which enter the port.
The total values of the imports of Melbourne for 1879 and 1880 were respectively £15,035,000 and £14,557,000, and of the exports £12,454,000 and £15,954,000.

In 1881 Melbourne contained 2469 factories, employ-ing 38,141 hands, and converting £8,012,745 worth of raw material into £13,384,836 worth of finished articles. The leading products are leather, flour, clothing, furniture, boots, carriages, preserved meats, ales, soap, candles, cigars, ironwork, jewellery, jams, confectionery, biscuits, and woollens.

The city is abundantly supplied with newspapers, includ-ing three morning and three evening dailies. Two reviews are published.

The climate of Melbourne is exceptionally fine, the only drawback being the occasional hot winds which blow from the north for two or three days at a time, and raise the temperature to an uncomfortable extent. But the propor-tion of days when the sky is clear and the air dry and mild is large. The mean annual temperature is 57°, which would make the climate of Melbourne analogous to that of Madrid, Marseilles, or Verona, but without the extremes experienced in those places. Snow falls every year in Italy, while it is unknown in Melbourne; and the highest temperature reached there in summer is below that of the cities mentioned.
As a field for emigration from European countries, Mel-bourne offers many advantages to the industrious mechanic or labourer.

The cost of living is about the same as in London. Rents are higher, and furniture and utensils dearer; but butcher meat, bread, and clothes are cheaper.

There is no city where more has been done for the working-classes or where they have made so good a use of their advantages. Many of their efforts at government (for they have all the power in their hands) have been ill-advised, but individually they have exhibited a prudence of which the community reaps the fruits. It is one of the peculiar features of Melbourne that about three out of every four mechanics who have reached middle life own the neat cottages they occupy.

History.—The city of Melbourne is without exception the most striking instance of the aptitude of the Anglo-Saxon race for colonization. It was not till the opening years of the present century that the first European sailed through the narrow entrance to Port Phillip, and it was only in 1835 that the white man made his habitation there. In that year John Fawkner sailed up the Yarra in his little vessel the " Enterprise," laden with materials for a settlement; he was stopped by a slight waterfall in a valley where dense groves of wattle trees all in bloom loaded the air with perfume, and where flocks of white cockatoos whirled aloft when the first stroke of the axe resounded in the forest. This spot is now the centre of a great city 10 miles in length, 6 in breadth, covering an area of 45,000 acres, and peopled by 283,000 persons. So rapid and solid a growth, at a distance from the mother country of the whole extent of the earth, is an example of colonizing enter-prise altogether without parallel.

The settlement was at first called by the native name " Dootigala," but a desire for distinguished patronage caused the portion on the sea-shore, which was then esteemed the more important, to be called " "Williamstown," after King William IV., while the little collection of huts some 3 or 4 miles inland was named "Melbourne," in honour of the prime minister Lord Melbourne.

For two years a constant stream of squatters with their sheep flowed in from Tasmania; then numerous " overlanders" drove their flocks from the Sydney side across the Murray and settled near Port Phillip. Captain Lonsdale was sent by the Sydney Government to act as police magistrate, but in 1838 Mr Latrobe was placed in charge with the title of superintendent. As the squatters prospered Melbourne increased in size, so that in 1841 it contained 11,000 inhabitants. A period of depression occurred in 1843, followed by several years of the greatest prosperity, till, in 1851, gold was discovered in New South Wales. The district of Port Phillip became infected by the excitement ; many parties scoured that part of the country in search of the precious metal, and six weeks after the first discovery of it there the great riches of Ballarat were made known. Within a year from that time a hun-dred thousand men had landed in the colony in order to proceed to the diggings; for several years after the same number landed every twelve months; and Melbourne increased in population from 30,000 to 100,000 in the course of two or three years.

During the year of the gold discoveries, the Port Phillip district was separated from New South Wales, and formed into a separate colony with the name Victoria. In 1855 the British Government granted to it a complete autonomy ; Melbourne became the capital of the new colony. (A. SU.)

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