20+ Facts About Melbourne You (Probably) Didn’t Know

A compilation of interesting and funny facts about Melbourne that will most likely surprise you.

Whether you’re writing a project on Australia’s most populous city or you just want to get to grips with the Victorian capital’s past, reading some fun facts about Melbourne is a great way to allay boredom and bolster your geographical trivia bank.

As one of our fan-favourite cities, Melbourne holds a special place in CityDays’ hearts. That’s why we’ve rummaged around the internet, buried our noses in history books and trawled through hours of podcasts to bring you 20+ facts about Melbourne that you (probably) don’t already know. Read on to see what we found out...

Interesting Facts about Melbourne

Here are 10 interesting facts about Melbourne you can tell people about when you don’t know what else to say. Or to impress your teacher, friend, or colleague!


Melbourne’s Chinatown is the Longest Continuous Chinese Settlement in the Western World

Mass immigration from China to Victoria coincided with the Gold Rush of 1851. For the majority of those arriving in Australia from China, there was only one destination: Melbourne, Victoria.

During the Gold Rush, an Asian community grew in Little Bourke Street (nestled between Swanston Street and Spring Street) and over time, it became a well-established centre for trading Asian food and wares.

By the 1940s, Melbourne’s Chinatown was in rough shape and had been partially neglected. Renovations and multi-million dollar investments have since returned Chinatown to its former glory, however, and today it's just about the best place to get your hands on another Melbourne invention, Dim Sims.

McCafés Started in Melbourne After An Owner Realised People Brought Their Own Coffees to McDonalds

The world’s first McCafé opened in Swanston Street, Melbourne in 1993 when the owner allegedly noticed his customers would bring their own cups of coffee with them when they dined in for breakfast.

Maccas and McCafés have since become intrinsically linked and popular the world over, with over 1,026 McCafés across Australia and 4,000 McCafés in 60 countries around the world.

Melbourne Had The Longest Cumulative Days in Lockdown in The World During The Covid19 Pandemic

From March 2020 until October 2021, Melbourne spent a cumulative 262 days in lockdown during the Covid19 Pandemic. 

Initially, lockdowns were specific to postcode areas, but borders between Australian states were also closed at various times to avoid the spread of the virus. 

The longest consecutive stint Melbournians spent in lockdown was 111 days, from July 8th until October 27th.

In the 1920s, East End Melbourne Was Home to Brothels and Bootleggers with Lolly Shop Fronts

Melbourne’s criminal underbelly in the early 1900s was really something to behold - especially if you were an innocent visitor on the hunt for sweet treats. 

According to contemporary reports, Spring Street, Lonsdale Street and Latrobe Street were packed with slum housing estates and, bizarrely, lolly shop fronts. However, these places didn’t contain any Cadbury’s or Allen’s Snakes. 

Numerous reports state that sex workers hung around the doorways of these establishments, hoping to entice passing men into their premises. Police raids frequently found beer and other alcoholic beverages tucked away inside the establishments and the area was known to locals as a place of vice, crime and poverty.

Only 9 of Melbourne’s 580 Statues Are of Women

They include Betty Cuthbert, who won 3 gold medals at the 1956 Melbourne Summer Olympics, Queen Victoria, Joan of  Arc, Mary MacKillop, who was the first Australian to be recognised as a Saint, and Lady Gladys, an aboriginal feminist and indigenous rights campaigner.

Melbourne Pubs Once Had a Curfew of 6pm

The “Six O’Clock Swill” was once well-known to residents of Australia and New Zealand: pubs were legally obliged to close their doors at 6pm on the dot to prevent drunk and disorderly behaviour spilling out onto the streets.

The policy was adopted in Victoria in 1916 and lasted until the 1st of February, 1966. 

Melbourne Was the First City Outside of Europe and North America to Host The Olympics

The first time the Summer Olympics was held outside of Europe and North America was the Summer Olympics in Melbourne of 1956. It remains the most southerly city to have ever hosted the Olympics.

It was also the second Olympics where a nation shared responsibility for hosting with another: due to its strict quarantine restrictions, Stockholm, Sweden held the Olympic Equestrian Events on Melbourne’s behalf.

Lastly, eight countries in total boycotted the Melbourne Summer Olympics: Egypt, Iraq, Cambodia and Lebanon because of the Suez Crisis; Netherlands, Spain and Switzerland due to the Soviet Union’s invasion of Hungary; and China, who was in a dispute with Taiwan about sending representatives to the events. 

Batmania Wasn’t The Only Proposed Name Before “Melbourne”

Many people already know that modern Melbourne was founded by John Batman in 1835 and that he wanted the city to be named after him. What many people don’t realise is that “Batmania” was just one of many names used to describe Melbourne.

Before European settlement, the area now known as Melbourne was referred to as “Birrarung” by the local Wurundjeri people, meaning “River of Mists”. Another aboriginal name for the area was “Dutergulla” (meaning “tribe”). 

White settlers misinterpreted “Birrarung” and began calling the area everything from “Barebrass” to “Bearport” - even somehow transforming the name to “Bearburp”. 

The first official European name for the settlement was “Glenelg”, after an area of the western Highland in Scotland. 

Freddo Chocolate Bars Were Invented in Melbourne in 1930 by a Man Whose Surname Was “Melbourne”

The globally-beloved Freddo chocolate bar was invented by the aptly-named Harry Melbourne when he was just 18 years old. 

In the UK, Freddos are frequently used as an example of inflation. When Freddos launched in the 1990s, they cost just 10 pence (almost ¢20 AUD) - in 2023, during the Cost of Living Crisis, the most expensive Freddo in England was discovered at a W H Smith where a Freddo cost as much as 49p (just over $1 AUD). 

The World’s First Memorial to Elvis Presley is in Melbourne Cemetery

- ©John Hewitt

Despite the fact that Elvis never visited Australia, his premature death hit fans Down Under especially hard.

Just three weeks after Elvis Presley’s death, The Elvis Presley Fan Club of Victoria had secured the funds and permission from Elvis’ father, Vernon, to erect a memorial to their beloved musician in Melbourne Cemetery. It was the first in the world (including the US) to dedicate a monument to The King.

Funny Facts about Melbourne

We can’t promise that these funny facts about Melbourne will split your sides but they might make you - or someone else - smile. 

10,000 People Broke The Kazoo Playing World Record in Melbourne

One weekend in June 2023, the city of Melbourne added a new World Record to its name.

10,000 people attended the Rising Festival event at Federation Square, which lasted from 4 pm to 5 pm. Attendees were equipped with a kazoo and a setlist which they were encouraged to “play along to”, including hits from Celine Dion, Rick Astley and Billie Eilish.

It is an “Unreasonable Offence” To Use a Vacuum Cleaner Before 7 am and After 10 pm in Victoria

This law is in effect to help reduce neighbourhood noise. However, it doesn’t seem to affect overall sleep quality in Melbourne. 

According to Compare The Market Australia, research shows that out of Australia’s 10 major cities, Melbourne ranks 5th for average number of sleeping hours. 

While Melbournites are getting just under 7 hours sleep a night, below the recommended, they are at least getting more than their biggest competitors’ in Sydney, Brisbane and Perth.

You Can Be Imprisoned For 10 Years in Victoria For Speaking to Pirates

You can find the particulars relating to the law in the Crimes Act of 1958 under Section 70C.

In 1926, A Committee Tried and Failed to Introduce Ostrich Racing to The City For Three Consecutive Days

Another interesting fact about Victoria and its fauna - it has two state animals, the Helmeted Honeyeater, a black and yellow bird, and the Leadbeater Possum, which exhibits co-parenting behaviours and likes to keep its family members close.

There is A Batman Themed Brothel in Melbourne

Continuing on from the Batmania theme, the Gotham ‘House of Sin’ in Melbourne is, according to its website, Australia’s only 8 star Establishment for sex work. 

Inside, you’ll find what looks like a life-sized statue of Batman himself, though needless to say, he is probably not who most patrons are most willing to visit.

As of May 2022, street-based sex work is legal in Victoria except in some circumstances and locations (for instance, sex work cannot be carried out near schools or places of worship between 6am and 7pm, or on “holy days”). 

3 Bonus Facts about Melbourne

Some additional trivia that might come in handy for a pub quiz. 

There’s A Swimming Pool Named After Australia’s Prime Minister, Harold Holt

The Harold Holt Memorial Swimming Centre is a public swimming pool just southeast of the City of Melbourne that was named after the Australian Prime Minister who is believed to have died from drowning.

The pool was originally built in the 1920s, but underwent renovations the same year that Holt is believed to have died. Holt had been the local Member of Parliament for Higgins, Victoria, and was Prime Minister of Australia from 1966 until his death in 1967.

Seven Nation Army by The White Stripes was Written at The Corner Hotel

Lead singer Jack White was playing around with his guitar during a soundcheck before a gig at The Corner Hotel in Melbourne when he stumbled across the iconic riff that the song is best known for. 

Melbourne also has a huge musical pedigree, boasting several chart-topping acts both nationally and internationally, including Olivia Newton-John, John Farnham, Kylie Minogue, Vance Joy, Nick Cave and Gotye

Staffordshire Terriers Are Melbourne’s Most Popular Dog Breed

Dogs far outnumber cats as pets in Melbourne apart from the district of Brunswick, where pet owners are more likely to have feline friends.

The Knox Council, which governs a municipality in the city of Melbourne, has also introduced a 24-hour cat curfew, where cats must remain inside on the owner’s property or risk being fined. This law was implemented in order to curb wildlife destruction.

So there you have it - 20+ facts about Melbourne that you (now) definitely know! We hope you found these facts interesting and amusing, but before you go - here's a quick reminder about us.

Discover More about Melbourne with CityDays

What good are facts without some context? We know there’s no replacing exploring a city yourself to really get to grips with what makes it tick. 

That’s why you’ll find our treasure hunts, walking tours, outdoor escape rooms and urban adventure games across 3 continents, 6 countries and 33 cities all over the world.

Ready to discover more of what Melbourne has to offer?

CityDays have FOUR treasure and scavenger hunts in Melbourne to choose from, all of which combine the fun of an escape room with the historic facts and whimsical trivia of a walking tour!

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