Not only voted the most liveable city in Australia and around the globe, Melbourne is much more than just good food, great culture and the world’s best coffee (in our biased opinion). It is also the only city in Australia that has a public holiday for a horse race, and for those with an appetite for trivia, here are 10 other quirky characteristics and unique facts found within its recorded history.

  1. Melbourne has been known in the past by one official and one unofficial name. In May 1835, an Australian-born colonist from Tasmania landed in Port Phillip and was part of a syndicate that bought up 600,000 acres of land. John Batman gave his name to the city, which became known as Batmania (some Joker he turned out to be!).
  2. The second and somewhat unofficial name for the city was “Smellbourne” because in the 1880’s the Yarra River was a cesspool. Several outbreaks of typhoid finally forced the Melbourne Metropolitan Board of Works to build a proper sewerage system. The resulting system transported wastewater to Werribee, over 30km away, and the residents of Melbourne could finally breathe easy once more.
  3. In 1837 the streets in Melbourne were formally laid out but city planners had an interesting view on the width. Some streets in central Melbourne were up to 30 metres across, although all that extra space could have been due to our next fact?
  4. It is illegal to sing bawdy or rude songs within earshot of another person in Melbourne. If you must, sing it quietly or stand 30 metres away so they cannot hear you! Melbourne bylaws still exist regarding this offence, along with that of tethering or attaching your goat or dog to a vehicle in a public place.
  5. The next time you go shopping in the Queen Vic market, spare a thought for an estimated 9,000 souls, whose remains are underneath the tarmac of the parking lot. A grave thought indeed! The Queen Vic market was actually the site of the original Melbourne cemetery, but when the market was built, only 900 marked graves were moved in 1917 to Fawkner and elsewhere.
  6. Did you know? The popular Kiwi boot polish was invented in Melbourne.
  7. The birth of an icon: Vegemite was also invented in Melbourne, in 1922, and to this day, is still produced in the only Vegemite factory – in Fisherman’s Bend, Port Melbourne.
  8. Love your “ute”? Remember James Freeland Leacock, who invented and built this unique vehicle in Melbourne in 1929.
  9. The world’s largest gathering of tall people actually took place in Melbourne on 29 January 2009. It featured a total of 136 people, all with a minimum height of 178cm (5ft 10in) for women and 188cm (6ft 2in) for men.
  10. Melbourne scientists were pivotal in the breakthrough development of the bionic ear, which has helped over 20,000 profoundly deaf people from over 55 countries.