It is the core central activities district (CAD) of Melbourne's inner suburbs and the major central business district (CBD) of Greater Melbourne's metropolitan area, and is a major financial centre in Australia and the Asia-Pacific region. The Hoddle Grid in the City Centre is home to Melbourne's famed alleyways and arcades and is renowned for its distinct blend of contemporary and Victorian architecture as well as expansive parks and gardens which surround its edges. The City Centre is home to five of the six tallest buildings in Australia. In recent times, it has been placed alongside New York City and Berlin as one of the world's great street art meccas, and designated a "City of Literature" by UNESCO in its Creative Cities Network.
In April 1835, John Batman, a prominent grazier and a member of the Geelong and Dutigalla Association (later Port Phillip Association), sailed from Launceston on the island of Van Diemen's Land (now the State of Tasmania), aboard the schooner Rebecca, in search of fresh grazing land in the south-east of the Colony of New South Wales (the mainland Australian continent). He sailed across Bass Strait, into the bay of Port Phillip, and arrived at the mouth of the Yarra River in May. After exploring the surrounding area, he met with the elders of the indigenous Aboriginal group, the Wurundjeri of the Kulin nation alliance, and negotiated a transaction for 600,000 acres (2,400 km²; 940 mi²) which later became known as Batman's Treaty. The transaction, which is believed to have taken place on the bank of Merri Creek (near the modern day suburb of Northcote), consisted of an offering of: blankets, knives, mirrors, sugar, and other such items; to be also tributed annually to the Wurundjeri. The last sentence of Batman's journal entry on this day became famous as the founding charter of the settlement.
So the boat went up the large river. And, I am glad to state about six miles up found the river all good water and very deep. This will be the place for a village.
— Journal of John Batman (8 June 1835).
Upon returning to Van Diemen's Land, Batman's treaty was deemed invalid by the Governor of New South Wales, Sir Richard Bourke, under the Proclamation of Governor Bourke in August 1835. It was the belief of Governor Bourke, as well as the Governor of Van Diemen's Land, Sir George Arthur, that the Aboriginal people did not have any official claims to the lands of the Australian continent. The proclamation formally declared, under the doctrine of terra nullius, that The Crown owned the whole of the Australian continent and that only it alone could sell and distribute land. It therefore voided any contracts or treaties made without the consent of the government, and declared any person attempting to rely on such a treaty to be trespassing. However, at the time the proclamation was being drawn up, a prominent businessman from Van Diemen's Land, John Pascoe Fawkner, had also funded an expedition to the area; which sailed from George Town aboard the schooner Enterprize. At the same time, the Port Phillip Association had also funded a second expedition; which sailed from Launceston aboard the Rebecca.
The settlement party aboard the Enterprize entered the Yarra River, and anchored close to the site chosen by Batman, on 29 August. The party went ashore the following day (near what is today William Street; and is now celebrated as Melbourne Day) and landed their stores, livestock and began to construct the settlement. The Association party aboard the Rebecca arrived in September after spending time at a temporary camp at Indented Head, where they encountered William Buckley – an escaped convict, believed dead, who had been living for 32 years with the indigenous Aboriginal group, the Wathaurong of the Kulin nation alliance. Batman was dismayed to discover the settlers of the Enterprize had established a settlement in the area and informed the settlers that they were trespassing on the Association's land. However, according to the Proclamation of Governor Bourke, both the parties were in fact trespassing on Crown land. When Fawkner (who was noted for his democratic nature) arrived in October, and following tense arguments between the two parties, negotiation were made for land to be shared equally.