The whole city...teems with wealth, even as it does with humanity.
– George Augustus Sala
By the 1880s, Melbourne had developed an international reputation as one of the greatest cities in the world. It was remarked upon by writers such as Mark Twain and Anthony Trollope, and was dubbed 'Marvellous Melbourne' by British journalist George Augustus Sala when he visited in 1885.
Melbourne was in the grip of a land and property boom, which had been building since the 1850s gold rush. Cable trams ferried crowds through the streets, and the young and fashionable 'did the Block', promenading the footpaths and arcades of Collins Street. Telephones and electric light were novelties, and Melbourne’s first 'skyscrapers' appeared.
In 1880–81 and 1888, Melbourne showed itself off to the world by hosting major international exhibitions of industrial, scientific and artistic progress from all corners of the globe.
Less than a decade later, the land speculation bubble burst and the city was plunged into economic gloom. When Melbourne recovered ten years later, the city was poised to become the first capital of a new nation.
This image gallery presents an overview of items reflecting the theme of Marvellous Melbourne that have been on display in The Changing Face of Victoria exhibition since it opened in 2004.
Visit our other online galleries that explore The changing face of Victoria: