Since nearly its inception, Australia, and Melbourne in particular, has served as a melting pot, particularly among Asian immigrants. Beginning with the Gold Rush, proceeding through two world wars, and into the modern era, this city has attracted a diversity of immigrants who, in turn, have transformed the city. During our 3-hour Melbourne History Tour, following the city's immigration history with a local historian, we’ll trace and savor Melbourne’s immigrant identities, be it by nibbling our way through Chinatown or discovering a hidden synagogue. Along the way we'll uncover the keys to understanding this city—through the eyes of its people.
(Note: This tour does not include Melbourne's Immigration Museum. That is a part of a our Melbourne Laneways Tour).
Melbourne History Tour
Our tour will begin on Little Lonsdale Street where, after World War II, Syrian and Greek immigrants located. Though much has changed since then, we will uncover vestiges of this history, including an early 19th century synagogue now converted into a restaurant. We will also visit a typical terrace house, as well as the archaeological remains uncovered during recent building that paint a vivid image of the social history of Melbourne.
As we travel along what has come to be known affectionately as ‘Little Lon’, we will discover the private lives of boarding houses, warehouses, and factories, and the personal, romantic, and political challenges faced by migrants from India and Syria who lived and worked in them. Moving along we may also stop by Cumberland Place to observe one of the last remaining Victorian terrace houses, located near what was formerly the infamous Madame Brussell’s brothel.
We will continue on Little Bourke Street, where Chinese immigrants and civil institutions were centralized. We’ll step into a dumpling shop and discuss the different waves of Chinese immigrants, from the gold rush in the 19th century to today’s diaspora. We will also observe how the Taiwanese, Vietnamese, and other Asian groups have settled here, and the differences in the streetscape. We may pass by the headquarters of the Chinese Nationalist Party, which will prompt us to consider the political activities in this part of Melbourne.
We will finish with a visit to the Chinese Museum, located in the midst of this hubbub, which features an excellent collection of memorabilia relating to Melbourne’s immigrant history. We will also learn about contemporary trends, specifically in education, that have lured the newest wave of immigrants from China, transforming this part of the city into a young, exciting college town.
At the end of our time together, perhaps nibbling on some dumplings from one of the great Xiaolongbao houses on Little Bourke, we'll consider the face of Melbourne—and Australia at large—and how much immigration has defined this city and country from the start. (Note, those very interested in Asian cuisine in Australia and visiting Sydney should try our Sydney Food Tour
, visiting a superb Vietnamese market).
Are any museums or other sites included on this walk?
We generally include the Chinese Museum on this walk, but not the Immigration Museum. That is a part of a our Gold Rush and Laneways tour
.. If you have any special requests, feel free to add these to your trip notes when booking.