Melbourne, Australia, the capital of the state of Victoria. It lies along Port Phillip Bay in the southeastern part of the country. The Yarra River, which empties into the bay, bisects the city. Melbourne's seaport is one of Australia's busiest'. The city is also an important rail center. Domestic and international airlines serve Melbourne's airport at Tullamarine, about 14 miles (23 km) northwest of downtown.
Melbourne is the second largest city in Australia. It is one of its leading commercial and industrial centers. Many mining, manufacturing, and financial services companies have their headquarters here. Among the many products made in Melbourne are automobiles, aircraft, farm machinery, electrical equipment, and processed foods. Melbourne's climate, similar to that of southern California, and its fine beaches attract many tourists.
Melbourne is noted for its broad tree-lined boulevards and its many parks and gardens. With 530 acres (214 hectares), King's Domain is one of the city's largest parks. Nearby are the Royal Botanic Gardens and the Queen Victoria Gardens. Along Collins and Bourke streets are some of Melbourne's most fashionable shops.
The Victorian Arts Center, which includes an art gallery, a theater, and a concert hall, is a major cultural attraction. Groups that perform here include the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra, the Australian Ballet, and the Victoria State Opera. Federation Square, another major attraction, hosts numerous events and incorporates the Ian Potter Centre: NGV Australia, a gallery that features Australian art. The University of Melbourne (founded in 1853) is the city's oldest and largest institution of higher learning. Near the university is Australia's oldest zoo—the Royal Melbourne Zoological Gardens, founded in 1857.
Among Melbourne's many notable structures are the Victoria Houses of Parliament, St. Patrick's Cathedral, and the Old Treasury Building, all of which were built in the mid-19th century. The Melbourne Cup, Australia's most famous horse race, is run each November at Flemington Racecourse. The Moomba, a city-wide art fair and music festival, is an annual event occurring in March. Melbourne has an excellent public transportation system that includes streetcar lines, bus service, and a subway.
In 1802 a party of British explorers became the first Europeans to reach Port Phillip Bay. A permanent settlement on the site of Melbourne was established in 1835. In 1837 it was named Melbourne, after the British prime minister, William Lamb, Lord Melbourne. The town grew slowly until 1851, when the discovery of gold brought a rush of people to the area. The same year, Melbourne became the capital of the newly formed colony of Victoria. After the Commonwealth of Australia was formed in 1901, the city served as the national capital until 1927. Melbourne was the site of the 1956 Summer Olympic Games.
Population (the Melbourne urban center): 2,865,329.