Chinatown - New Year Festivities 2009

Melbourne’s Chinatown is the oldest continuous Chinese precinct across the Western world. Chinatown, the place, is a Melbourne tradition – a destination of exotic, culinary delights where you meet friends for yum cha, dinner before the theatre or a late night supper. The variety of food is endless from cheap eats to world standard Chinese cuisine. It has an international reputation.

Precinct Boundaries

The Chinatown activities heart is focused on Lt Bourke Street and its intersecting laneways, particularly between Swanston Street and Exhibition Street. This core area has the highest concentration of retail activities and is a popular pedestrian thoroughfare.


Chinese first arrived in Victoria during the gold rush of the 1850s, and Melbourne's Chinatown quickly became a cultural, commercial and residential centre, and a staging post on the journey to the goldfields. By the late 1850s, Lt Bourke St included lodging houses, provision stores, Chinese butchers, candle makers, and opium manufacturers. Many of the buildings in Chinatown date from the mid – late 19th century, and ownership and business patterns have typically remained in Chinese hands.

Around 97 per cent of all Chinese Australians have arrived here since the 1950s, and less than three percent of Chinese Australians are descended from the original gold rush immigration boom. Prominent among the more recent arrivals are large numbers of students who sought political asylum after Tiananmen Square, Chinese immigrants from Cambodia, Vietnam, Indonesia and Malaysia, and currently large numbers of Chinese students studying at Australian universities. RMIT is notable for its large Chinese student population, many of whom live within or close to the CBD. The continued influx of Chinese people into Melbourne has played a large part in the continued vitality and innovation in Chinese retail and restaurant formats, and the overall success of Chinatown as a precinct.

Events Calendar

  • 19 Nov

    Australian Songbook

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  • 23 Nov

    Opportunities, Choice & Change - A Future Leaders Summit

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  • 23 Nov

    Consultation with Victorian Government - Draft Victorian African Communities Action Plan

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  • 24 Nov

    SalamFest 2017 - Festival of Peace

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