European history has left tangible remains in many of Victoria’s cities and towns. In 1803 a party of convicts, soldiers and settlers arrived at Sorrento (on Port Phillip Bay), but the settlement was soon abandoned. The first permanent European settlement in Victoria was established in 1834 at Portland (in the Western District) by the Henty family from Van Diemen’s Land (Tasmania), some 46 years after Sydney was colonised. In 1851 Victoria won separation from New South Wales (NSW), and in that same year, the rich Victorian goldfields were discovered, attracting immigrants from around the world. Towns like Beechworth and Ballarat boomed during the gold rush, and are veritable museum pieces today. Melbourne was founded in 1835 by other enterprising Tasmanians and it retains much Victorian-era charm and gold-boom 1880s architecture to this day.
The latter-half of the 20th century saw a huge influx of immigrants into Victoria, particularly Melbourne, and the city is now widely regarded as Australia’s most multicultural city. It has one of the largest Greek populations per capita in the world and is heavily influenced by Italian, Eastern European and Southeast Asian cultures.
The 1990s saw a period of ferocious development begin – a process that continues today, and the face of the CBD (central business district) has changed and spread markedly with the boom of the Docklands, and new architectural landmarks, such as Federation Sq.