Victoria has been my home for the past two years.
I’m always keen to learn more about the places I visit, especially somewhere I’ve been for this long, so I decided to do some research and look up some of the most interesting and unusual facts about Victoria.
There were definitely some surprises in there, I hope you enjoy them as much as I did!
If you’ve got any of your own, feel free to add them to the comments at the bottom and I’ll include them in the post.
General Facts About Victoria
The Oldest Civilisation on Earth
Whilst his post contains a lot of facts from after the 1835 European arrival in Australia, I want to start by recognising the Koori community, the traditional custodians of the land of Victoria and extend my respect to their Elders past and present. In particular the Yalukut Weelam clan of the Boon Wurrung people who are the traditional owners of the land I am lucky enough to now live on.
Aboriginal Australians are the world’s oldest civilisation. There is evidence of communities in Victoria having been here for 40,000 years – back in an age when the mountains were continuously covered in snow and there was still a land bridge to Victoria. A cranium found in Keilor has been dated to 15,000 years ago and other digs have revealed hearths as old as 31,000 years.
The Smallest Mainland State
Victoria is the smallest mainland state in Australia at 227,038 square kilometres. The only state smaller is the island of Tasmania. Is is only quarter the size of the next biggest state New South Wales, and incredibly only 9% the size of the largest state, Western Australia.
Named After a Queen
It’s probably an obvious fact that Victoria was named after Queen Victoria, but did you know Queensland was named after her too?
Vs the United Kingdom
Victoria is only very slightly smaller than the UK (227,000 sq. km vs 242,000 sq. km) but has only 10% of the population. Victoria’s population in September 2020 was 6.6 million, whereas the United Kingdom was 66.6 million. In fact, the UK actually has a larger population than the whole of Australia by over double, despite its smaller size.
A Former Capital?
There were many squabbles between Victoria and New South Wales as to whether Melbourne or Sydney should be chosen as the capital city after the Commonwealth of Australia was established in 1901. Neither city was an acceptable choice to the residents of both, so it was decided a new city would be formed halfway between the two, Canberra. Many say that Melbourne was the capital until 1927 when Canberra took over, but in fact it was the ‘temporary seat of government’, it was never officially the capital.
One Huge City
Melbourne dominates Victoria, with 4.1 million (from the 2016 census) of the 6.6 million people in the state living here. Victoria’s second city is Geelong, which only has a population of 157,000.
According to 2016 census data, the ‘typical’ Victorian was 37 years old, female, married and interestingly, had ‘at least one parent born overseas’.
The World’s Longest Tram Network
Melbourne has the world’s longest tram system, with a length of 250km and 1,763 stops.
The highest temperature recorded in Victoria was a stifling 50.7 degrees centigrade, in January 1906 at Mildura.
The Most Urbanised State
Victoria is Australia’s most urbanised state, with nearly 90% of residents living in a town or city and 75% of the population living in Melbourne. The Victorian Government have been running a campaign since 2003 called the ‘Great Regional Lifestyle‘ to encourage people to move out of the cities, but their population continues to grow.
The Mother Tongue
In 2016’s census, the second most spoken language at home (behind English) was Mandarin, spoken by 3.2% of Victorians. 1.9% of Victorians speak Italian and a further 1.9% speak Greek.
The White Stuff
Victoria is the home of Australia’s dairy industry, with nearly a two-thirds of the nation’s milk produce in the state (6.5 billion litres a year).
The Home of Sport
Melbourne is often known as ‘The Sporting Capital of the World’ with Victoria hosting multiple yearly events in a variety of sports. Held in the Victoria is the:
- Formula One Australian Grand Prix
- Australian Open Tennis
- Boxing Day Ashes Test Match
- AFL Grand Final
- Melbourne Spring Racing Carnival (including the $6m Melbourne Cup)
- Bells Beach SurfClassic
- Australian round of the World Superbike Championship (on Phillip Island)
Two public holidays in the state are dedicated to sport (Grand Final Day and Melbourne Cup) and both the Olympics and Commonwealth Games have been held here. A city of 4 million regularly turns out 100,000 at the MCG, 300,000 over a Grand Prix weekend, nearly 750,000 for the two weeks of the Australian Open Tennis and has set a record of 123,738 for the Melbourne Cup. Now that’s a sports-mad city!
Unusual & Weird Facts About Victoria
Early Closing Time
Up until 1966, all hotel bars (pubs) in Victoria closed at 6pm. This last-minute rush to buy drinks became know as ‘the six o’clock swill’, with those finishing work at 5pm trying to get as many drinks as possible before closing time.
It’s hard to believe, but the Melbourne almost ended up being called Batmania, named after the explorer John Batman who founded the city.
A World First for Safety
In 1970 the State of Victoria became the first in the ‘western’ world to introduce compulsory legislation for wearing a seatbelt. By 1977 90% of Victorians were wearing a seat belt.
The Friendly Games
in 1956 Melbourne, Victoria became the first city in the Southern Hemisphere to host the Olympics Games, known as ‘The Friendly Games’, it is still the most Southerly city in the world to host the games. It was also the first that wasn’t in either Europe or North America, though, a weird fact attached to these games is that part of it did take place in Europe. The equestrian events were held in Stockholm in Sweden, as strict Australian quarantine laws meant the horses were not allowed into the country.
The First International Match
The first-ever international cricket match took place at the Melbourne Cricket Ground in March 1877 between Australia and England. Until 2021 it was also the cricket ground with the largest capacity in the world (1000,024) but has been superseded by the incredible 132,000 capacity Narendra Modi Stadium in Ahmedabad, India.
The world’s first feature film was recorded in Victoria. The Story of the Kelly Gang was released in 1906, and filmed in locations across Victoria before the first screening at the Athenaeum Theatre in Melbourne.
A Massive Drain
Between 1936 and 1954 the third-largest drain on Victoria’s electricity network was a 2,142-ton floating mining dredge. The only two bigger drains were the cities of Melbourne and Geelong.
The term ‘call girl’ originates in Melbourne. The brothels in the city were the first in the world to install telephones, which led to the phrase.
The Fifth Beetle
The Southern Cross Hotel in Melbourne is the only hotel in the world to have hosted five Beetles. How? On their 1964 tour, Ringo Starr was ill, so a replacement drummer – Jimmy Nicol was called up. Ringo joined the band in Melbourne, so that night the band had five members.
A Line Up of Stars
There are a lots of celebrities born in Victoria, including some you might not expect. They include:
- Rupert Murdoch
- Chris and Liam Hemsworth
- Kyrie Irvin
- Flea from Red Hot Chili Peppers
- Germain Greer
- Vance Joy
- Jason Donovan
- Mark Viduka
- Phil Rudd
There have been some unusual things invented in Victoria including Vegemite, the black box flight recorder, AFL footie, dim sims, latex gloves and ice-making machines. That’s a pretty diverse list!
Travel Facts About Victoria
The Third-Largest Greek City
Melbourne is the city with the highest population of Greeks outside of Greece. With over 400,000 Greek Australians living here, it is said to be the third-largest Greek city in the world behind Athens and Thessaloniki. The suburb of Oakleigh is known as ‘the Greekest place outside of Greece!”. One of Melbourne’s biggest cultural draws is its food scene, with large populations from Italy, the Lebanon and Southeast Asia adding to the authentic cuisine from around the world.
The Longest Continuous Chinese Settlement
Chinatown in Melbourne is the longest continuous Chinese settlement in the western world. Little Bourke Street has had a Chinese community since the 1860s, where it became a stop-off for immigrants from Hong Kong on the way to the newly discovered Victorian goldfields.
In the book Ultimate Travelist: The 500 Best Places on Earth… Ranked Victoria’s Twelve Apostles were voted by Lonely Planet writers as the 12th best place in the world to visit.
The Largest Market
The Queen Victoria Market in Melbourne is the largest open-air market in the Southern Hemisphere.
Victoria is a state filled with iconic buildings, landmarks and National Parks. You can drive the world-famous Great Ocean Road, sip wine in the Yarra Valley, catch a game at the MCG, see the penguin parade at Philip Island, go hiking in the Grampians or ski up in the High Country.
Of World Importance
There are two UNESCO Heritage sites in Victoria, which are given a status of world importance designed to protect them for future generations. The first is the Royal Exhibition Building in Carlton Gardens, Melbourne. It was designated a UNESCO site due to being the only example of a nineteenth-century palace that was used for a world fair. The second is Budj Bim, which was given this status due to the unique aboriginal aquaculture system, used to catch fish which is over 6,500 years old.
Learn More About Victoria:
Browse through all my Victoria posts below: