Melbourne is the capital and largest city of the State of Victoria, and the second most populous city in Australia. The Melbourne city centre is the anchor of the larger geographic region and statistical division known as the Greater Melbourne metropolitan area – of which Melbourne is the common name. In 2008, it had a population of approximately 3.9 million (Wikipedia). Melbourne is one of the city most sought after by new migrants. Lifestyles in Melbourne attracted people from all over the world, especially those from Asia. It’s top class facilities, education, public services, cleanliness, and environment are still among the best in the world. Melbourne is set to transform itself into the vibrant modern city with new cultures, while still keeping the old western traditions.
The first European settlers in Melbourne were British and Irish. These two groups accounted for nearly all arrivals before the gold rush, and supplied the predominant number of immigrants to the city until the Second World War. Melbourne was transformed by the 1850s gold rush; within months of the discovery of gold in August 1852, the city’s population had increased by nearly three-quarters, from 25,000 to 40,000 inhabitants. Large numbers of Chinese, German and United States nationals were to be found on the goldfields and subsequently in Melbourne. The various nationalities involved in the Eureka Stockade revolt nearby give some indication of the migration flows in the second half of the nineteenth century.
Migration to Melbourne, particularly from overseas including Ireland and China, caused a massive population increase. Slums developed including a temporary “tent city” established on the southern banks of the Yarra, the Little Lonsdale district and at Chinatown (Wikipedia).
The population growth and flow of gold into the city helped stimulate a program of grand civic building beginning with the design and construction of many of Melbourne’s surviving institutional buildings including Parliament House, the Treasury Building and Treasury Reserve, the Old Melbourne Gaol, Victoria Barracks, the State Library, Supreme Court, University, General Post Office, and Government House, the Melbourne Town Hall, St Paul’s, St Patrick’s cathedrals and several major markets including the surviving Queen Victoria Market. The city’s inner suburbs were planned, to be linked by boulevards and gardens. Melbourne had become a major finance centre, home to several banks, the Royal Mint to Australia’s first stock exchange in 1861.
Today, Melbourne is a diverse and multicultural city and melting pot. Almost a quarter of Victoria’s population was born overseas, and the city is home to residents from 233 countries, who speak over 180 languages and dialects and follow 116 religious faiths. Melbourne has the second largest Asian population in Australia (Wikipedia).
While I was in Melbourne, I took the opportunity to explore the eastern suburbs. I visited Doncaster, Box Hill, Watsonia, Mount Waverley and Springvale. Most Chinese live around Doncaster, Mount Waverley, and Box Hill areas; while Vietnamese descendants gather around Springvale. Clearly people like to live among their ethnic groups. This characteristic has not change since human started to migrate from one place to another. Assimilation can only take place after many generations later. Global village formation is a slow process indeed.
One must applause the efforts made by the Australians in conserving the environment around the city while striving for development. Take Great Ocean Road for instance, the place is well preserved despite its reputation and tourist attractions. According to Wikipedia, the Great Ocean Road is a 243 km stretch of road along the south-eastern coast of Australia between the Victorian cities of Torquay and Warrnambool. The road was constructed to provide work for returning soldiers and dedicated as a Memorial to those killed in the First World War. It is one of Australia’s great scenic coastline drives.
Phillip Island is a tourist destination visited by 3.5 million people annually. The Penguin Parade at Phillip Island Nature Park, in which Little Penguins come ashore in groups, attracts visitors from all over the world. They come to see one of the few areas where this species of penguin can be seen. Another popular tourist attraction is the Seal Rocks, which host the largest colony of fur seals in Australia (up to 16,000).
In addition to the Penguin Parade, there is also a Wild Life Park where wallabies and kangaroos roam freely amongst the visitors and can be fed by hand. The Wild Life Park hosts over 300 animals (mostly native Australian species). These include Wombats, Koalas, Kangaroos, Tasmanian Devils, various parrots and birds of prey, snakes and reptiles (Wikipedia).
Melbourne has been voted so many times as one of the most liveable city in the world. However, things have changed. Recently, influxes of emigrants have intensified, which caused the populations in the city to increase. The infrastructures were unable to cater for the increase needs. In addition to that, the city also faced with pro-longed drought and bush fire.
I can imagine how a Melbunian must have felt. The infrastructures that used to shared by smaller population is now open to everyone from outside. There could be mixed feelings among the Melburnians, as they generously welcome new comers to their city, some of them may feel the pressure of losing the advantage that they used to have over people from the other parts of the world. However, as the world moves into globalisation, it is inevitable that people share with one another. The events occurred at one corner of the earth can be felt miles across. We are increasingly able to share the joys and sorrows of our fellow human. Perhaps that is the process that we need to go through to eliminate inequalities and diffferences across the globe.
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Date visited: April 2009.