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About Melbourne's History & heritage

History and heritage Victoria  Australia
History & heritage

Find reminders of Melbourne's rich history in the numerous historical buildings and monuments around the city. Originally the home of the Kulin nation and made up of five Aboriginal language groups, Melbourne began as a tent city of 50 settlers but quickly grew to a population of 700,000 by 1869.

Aboriginal heritage
Bunjil, the spiritual creator, taking the form of a wedge-tail eagle, gave life to the first people, the rivers, the mountains, the animals and trees - all living and natural things in the Kulin Nation. Today, the Kulin Nation continues to live, practise and strengthen its customs in urban Melbourne through the Boonwurrung and Woiwurrung people. Visit the Koorie Heritage Trust and the multi-award-winning Bunjilaka at the Melbourne Museum. Journey into the ancestral lands of the Kulin nation and explore their rich and thriving culture on a heritage walk in the Royal Botanic Gardens Melbourne.

The first settlers
The first white settlers sailed up Port Phillip Bay in 1835 and decided upon a site for a trading post. See the striking interiors of the World heritage listed Royal Exhibition Buildings and explore horrifying tales of prison life in the Old Melbourne Gaol. Discover Melbourne's maritime past then stop by the beautiful Fitzroy Gardens to see the reconstructed Cook's Cottage - the childhood home of Captain James Cook, one of the first European navigators to chart the east coast of Australia.

Gold rush boom
The rapid population growth was down to the gold rush of the 1850s, which saw Melbourne take off as a true international city. Those lucrative years and the ensuing land boom left Victoria with an outstanding legacy of fine architecture, examples of which ca be found around the city today. Visitors to the region in the late nineteenth century labelled the city 'the jewel of the southern hemisphere'.

Houses and homesteads
Melbourne is home to a number of outstanding and architecturally significant National Trust homes and museums, as well as historically significant parks and gardens. Among the best are the lavish French Rennaisance-inspired Como house, a colonial mansion set in five acres of garden at Toorak, and Rippon Lea Estate, the last of Australia's great privately owned nineteenth century suburban estates.

Aboriginal Victoria
Melbourne has a strong and close-knit Aboriginal community. Visit the Koorie Heritage Trust and the multi-award-winning Bunjilaka at the Melbourne Museum. Take a different look at the Royal Botanic Gardens with an Aboriginal guide and taste bush foods, prepared with a modern influence, at Tjanabi restaurant. Or, for a truly Melbourne experience, don't miss an Australian Rules football match and cheer our great Aboriginal athletes.

Just a short distance from Melbourne CBD you'll find the Burrinja Gallery in the Dandenong Ranges. Travel further to Wathaurang country and visit the cultural centres Kirrit Barreet at Ballarat and Narana Creations at Geelong. Further afield the Barmah State Park and Barmah State Forest are on the Murray River flood plain between Echuca and Tocumwal, about 225 km north of Melbourne. Part of the world's largest River Red Gum forest, the area has a rich and continuing Indigenous heritage. Descendants of the original people still live in this area, share their heritage and manage the natural environment.
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