A history of Victoria's infrastructure

Victoria is a forward-looking state. We take opportunities, tackle challenges and have ridden the waves of global change to be a prosperous economy and a resilient and cohesive society. At key points in our history we've had to transition our economy to raise living standards for future generations.

A history of Victoria's infrastructure

This is a long-term view of economic transition and adaptation. We recognise that this commenced prior to European settlement with Aboriginal communities who participated in sustainable agrarian and land management practices and trade.

These periods of economic transition have been achieved through the ability and adaptability of the Victorian worker and the new skills that have come with waves of migration. Investment in infrastructure has set the foundations for businesses and entrepreneurs to invest, grow and become more productive.

Today we are at a similar point in our history, where we need to maximise the benefits of our transition to a knowledge economy while protecting and strengthening our agricultural sectors and developing new industries. The Victorian Infrastructure Plan is one essential element of our economic transition, identifying the long-term policy and investment directions that Victoria requires.

1800: Pastoral age

Our early beginnings focussed on the production of wool and other commodities for Britain. By the turn of the 20th century, Victoria was responsible for a third of Australia's crop production.

1851: Gold rush

From 1851, Victoria rapidly transformed into an exporting economy, generating one third of global gold output. This period of growth drove investment in our first railways and telegraphs, to connect Victorians with each other and the world. In just a decade, the Victorian population exploded, to nearly 700% of pre-gold level.

1900: Industrialisation

Following the gold rush population boom, industry grew to satisfy demand and new factory workforces emerged. Import tariffs, first introduced in 1867, further encouraged manufacturing. For decades, Melbourne was Australia’s manufacturing capital.

1950: Low cost energy

Discoveries of coal resources in the Latrobe Valley provided an alternative, low-cost energy source for Victorians, and a new industry emerged. Energy production supported further growth and jobs for regional Victorians.

1990: Services economy

As the manufacturing sector transformed, a professional and services economy burgeoned to dominate the economy of Melbourne, and become its major source of employment. At the turn of the century, financial and professional services overtook manufacturing as our biggest industry sector.

2000: 21st century

A booming population and sustained economic growth has changed the face of the Victorian economy. In 2016, financial and professional services contributed $66.3 billion to the economy. Education is now our biggest export, earning $43 billion for Victoria over the past decade.