Australia’s sports-mad, cultural capital is one of the most popular cities in the country. Millions flock here every year for sporting events, art galleries, festivals, fashion events and live music. Headed to the country’s second city? You might want to brush up on a few facts first. From Freddo the Chocolate Bar to the world’s largest tram network, here are a few interesting facts about Melbourne that might just surprise you.
Interesting facts about Melbourne
1. Melbourne has more skyscrapers than any other city in Australia
Melbourne has the most skyscrapers in Australia, with 47 buildings over 20 storeys high. Sydney has 36 and Brisbane has 16. Two of the tallest buildings in Australia are in Melbourne too: the Australia 108 (316.7 metres) and the Eureka Tower (297.3 metres). Both of these buildings are in South Bank.
If that isn’t enough, Cliftonhill Shot Tower is also the tallest shot tower in Australia. At 80 metres tall, it only vies with Taroona Shot Tower as the tallest in the world. It was built in 1882 and is the oldest of the two remaining towers, used to produce ammunition, in the city.
2. It was originally called Batmania
Melbourne was founded in 1835 by a fellow called John Batman. He decided to name the lovely new city after himself, and it retained the name for two whole years. Then, in April 1837 the Governor of New South Wales decided to re-name the city after the then British Prime Minister, William Lamb or Lord Melbourne.
Beady-eyed travellers may have noticed that the main street in CBD is named Bourke Street and, yes, it is named after the governor.
3. Melbourne boasts the largest operating tram network in the world
Melbourne’s tram network is pretty extensive, boasting more than 250 km (160 miles) of tracks. There are currently 1,700 tram stops, 493 trams and 24 routes on the network. In the next few years, most of those trams will be solar-powered too. Travelling by tram is one of the most affordable ways to get around the city. In fact, travelling in the city’s ‘Free Tram Zone’, which runs from Queen Victoria Market to Docklands, Spring Street, Flinders Street Station and Federation Square, won’t cost you a penny.
4. Melbourne invented Freddo the Frog chocolate bar
Fitzroy Chocolate at MacRobertson’s Steam Confectionery Works invented the Freddo Frog in 1930. The chocolate company was looking for a new product to add to their children’s range and initially created a chocolate mouse. Harry Melbourne, an employee, felt a mouse might terrify meek women and children, so he replaced it with the frog.
It also gifted the world the Cherry Ripe in 1924 and the Crunchie in 1929. It sold the rights to Cadbury in 1967.
5. The Black Box was invented in Melbourne
While other nations had been working on a mechanism similar to the black box during World War Two, an Australian called David Warren invented the first-ever version of it in 1953. The research scientist was investigating the world’s first jet-powered commercial aircraft crash. It occurred to him that it would be useful if there was a recording of what had happened immediately before the crash.
6. The National Gallery of Victoria is the most-visited museum in the southern hemisphere
With a total visitation of 3 million visitors in 2019, NGV is the most visited gallery in Australia and one of the top 20 most visited museums in the world.
We recently voted Melbourne one of the top 25 best cities in the world for arts and culture thanks to its 162 art galleries and 2,765 historic and heritage sites. The State Library of Victoria, which opened in 1856, is the oldest free Public Library in Australia and the Palais Theatre in St. Kilda is the largest theatre in Australia too. If theme parks are more your bag, The Lunar Park opened in 1912 and is the oldest theme park in Australia. It’s also home to one of the oldest roller coasters in the world – The Great Scenic Railway.
7. ‘Under the Clocks’ is an actual place
Ever visited Melbourne and been baffled by someone shouting ‘meet you under the clocks’? Well, it’s an actual place. The clocks sit on the facade of Flinders Street Station. There’s even a plaque marking the spot. It’s one of the most recognisable meeting spots in the city.