Melbourne's major cultural institutions reflect the yearnings and myths of an antipodean city which has sought to see itself as a capital of the world and nation. Established as harbingers of civilisation and a bulwark against the mob, these institutions' century and a half of existence chart the ebb and flow of institutional power and knowledge in the city and state.
The creative imagining of Melbourne began when John Batman sailed up the Yarra River on 8 June 1835 and wrote in his journal 'This will be the place for a village'. Since its foundation, Melbourne has also vied with Sydney as Australia's leading art city. Melbourne's first theatre was a ramshackle timber structure adjacent to the Eagle Tavern, a Bourke Street pub. The Royal Victoria Theatre, otherwise known as the Pavilion, the Theatre Royal and the Victoria Saloon, opened in February 1842, with a series of 'amateur' performances led by the professional actor George Buckingham. The Colonial Secretary in Sydney would not license a professional company until July 1842. Music-making began immediately the colony was established, but the formation and development of a classical music culture was assisted greatly by the discovery of gold.