In recent years, Melbourne has been making a name for itself both domestically and overseas. Despite the unpredictable Melbourne weather, the City by the Bay is still ranked as Australia’s most livable city, seen as the nation’s coffee capital, and was recently named the #1 city to invest in property in the Asia Pacific region.
With so much buzz in the media, you may think you know all there is to know about things to do in Melbourne. However, there are still plenty of secrets to uncover in Victoria’s capital: here are some facts about Melbourne’s most loved suburbs that may surprise you.
1. Cate Blanchett was born and raised in Ivanhoe
Although she spent the past years living in Sydney, Cate Blanchett was originally from a quiet, leafy suburb in Melbourne’s north-east. The two-time Oscar winner was born in 1969 in Ivanhoe, located just 10km from Melbourne’s CBD, and spent her younger school years at Ivanhoe East Primary School before attending high school at Ivanhoe Girls’ Grammar School.
With a population of just over 12,000 and a prime position location alongside the banks of the Yarra, it’s no surprise that Blanchett’s family chose to call Ivanhoe home. And, while she’s currently furthering her career in the Northern Hemisphere, the names Cate Blanchett and Ivanhoe, Melbourne will always be linked with one-another.
2. Port Melbourne is the only place in the world that makes Vegemite
It’s an Aussie icon, but here’s one of our favourite fun facts about Melbourne: every jar of Vegemite comes from a factory in Fisherman’s Bend, Port Melbourne. The Vegemite Factory is located at 1 Vegemite Way, and the signature yeast ingredient used in Vegemite is sourced from Carlton & United Breweries in Abbotsford.
With its ideal proximity just 5km from the centre of Melbourne, the Vegemite factory produces over 23 million jars per year. Guests can take tours of the Vegemite Factory and learn how the spread is made, and the canteen serves everything Vegemite from sandwiches to scones, pasta, and even cheesecake.
3. Parkville is home to some weird and wacky museums
Melbourne is home to plenty of quirky suburbs, but Parkville is definitely a contender for the suburb with the weirdest museums. This inner-city suburb is known for its heritage housing and the University of Melbourne campus, but did you know that Parkville has Australia’s oldest and largest medical history museum?
The Medical History Museum at the University of Melbourne has an extensive collection of over 9,000 items including displays from pharmaceutical history, aboriginal medicine, scientific equipment, and old medical and surgical instruments.
If that isn’t enough, Parkville also has an Elvis Presley Memorial Garden in Melbourne Cemetery, even though The King never actually visited Australia.
4. The Hemsworth brothers lived on Phillip Island
Many Aussie celebrities call Victoria home, but few are as well-known as the Hemsworth brothers. Chris, Liam, and Luke Hemsworth were born in Melbourne, but spent part of their childhood in Bulman in the Australian Outback before moving to Phillip Island.
“I love how rugged and raw the ocean is there. There are so many different surf breaks and places to dive and swim and explore in such a small area, it's amazing,” said Chris Hemsworth about Phillip Island, Victoria.
While the Hemsworth brothers have made a name for themselves in Hollywood, they still love to come back and visit: their parents still live on the island: the brothers return to play rounds of golf or to surf the iconic waves.
5. St Kilda’s Luna Park is world famous for more reasons than one
While Sydney has its own Luna Park, there’s something very special about the original Luna Park located in the seaside suburb of St Kilda.
Opened in 1912, St Kilda’s Luna Park is Australia’s oldest theme park - and it’s also the world's oldest continuously run theme park, and the only one in the world that’s completely enclosed by a roller coaster.
Coincidentally, the Great Scenic Railway roller coaster is also the oldest of its type that’s still running in the world, and is also one of only two theme parks in the world that still employs a brakesman (the other is the Tivoli in Copenhagen, Denmark).
6. Australia’s first community driven YouTube network started in Frankston
There are plenty of reasons to live and visit “Franga”: this suburb in Melbourne’s south-east plays host to the Sand Sculpting Australia exhibition, Victoria’s most popular beach, and a beautiful Christmas display every December. However, on top of this, Frankston also has its own YouTube channel that became so successful, it was turned into a weekly TV show.
Frankston TV was Australia’s first community driven YouTube channel, showcasing stories from the suburb’s 36,000 residents. Since it was launched in 2011, the channel has reached over 250,000 video views.
7. Australia’s first pizzeria was opened in Carlton
Melbourne’s suburbs have always been influenced by European culture and architecture, so it should come as no surprise that one of Melbourne’s suburbs was the first to serve pizza to Aussies back in the 1960s.
Toto’s opened in 1966 in the inner city suburb (and AFL hotspot) of Carlton, and can claim to be the first pizza house in the country. The founder, Salvatore Della Bruna, was from Italy’s south near Naples, where his family ran a pizzeria, and started by serving Neapolitan pizza to Melbourne’s students at the nearby university.
Although Toto’s was sold to the Mazloum family from Lebanon in the 1980s, it still continues to serve up traditional pizza that’s faithful to Della Bruna’s vision. Today, Toto’s has three locations across Melbourne, including the original pizzeria in Carlton, as well as one in South Melbourne and Richmond.
8. Footscray hosts an annual rickshaw run
Footscray is a multicultural mecca that’s renowned for its annual Laneway Festival, but this suburb has plenty more to do all year round that pay homage to the area’s vibrant Vietnamese culture.
On top of the annual East Meets West Lunar New Year Festival, Footscray also offers rickshaw runs powered by Victoria University students. Guests ride on hand-pulled rickshaws around the suburb’s different restaurants to taste the different flavours of Vietnam and get a sense of the country’s sights and sounds.
9. Kylie Minogue went to Camberwell High School
Adding to the list of famous Australian celebrities who call Victoria home, Kylie Minogue was born in Melbourne in 1968. The iconic pop star attended Camberwell High School and during this time dabbled in acting on The Henderson Kids, before landing her big break as Charlene Mitchell on the TV show Neighbours.
Minogue’s childhood home in Camberwell went on the market in 2016, but her parents still live in the nearby suburb of Canterbury, and Kylie and Dannii own homes in Melbourne’s suburbs.
10. Some of Australia’s most expensive real estate is in Brighton
Sydney is typically known as the nation’s priciest city for real estate, but some of Australia’s most expensive properties per square metre can be found on Brighton beach. One of the 82 infamous Brighton beach boxes, located on the Dendy Street foreshore, sold for over $330,000 in late 2017.
At most, only one or two boxes are listed every year and can only be purchased by Bayside ratepayers. While the local council has added new boxes in the past, typically the Brighton boxes are passed down from generation to generation, which means the opportunity to buy one is extremely rare.
Brighton box owners have to pay more than $1600 in fees and rates, and the local council has strict rules around what the boxes can and cannot be used for. For example, the boxes can’t be connected to service amenities like electricity and water, and also can’t be used for accommodation - meaning for owners, their sole purpose is to provide shade from the sun, store fishing gear and beach chairs, or serve as a sentimental (and pricy) piece of art and history.
If you’re thinking of buying or selling property in Melbourne’s suburbs, take a look at the 7 hottest suburbs for capital growth here.