Dame Nellie Melba
Helen Porter Mitchell was born in Richmond, Melbourne on the 19th of May 1861, and went on to become the world’s finest operatic soprano of her time – with a vocal range spanning nearly three octaves. In 1886, her teacher, Mathilde Marchesi introduced her to several famous French and Italian composers, including Puccini, to give a boost to her operatic career and then persuaded the young singer to take a stage name that would easily remembered by the international audiences. Helen (nicknamed ‘Nellie’) chose a name that would always remind her of her home city of Melbourne in Australia – and that name was Melba.She died in Sydney at the age of 69, on 23rd of February 1931, and was buried at Lilydale in Victoria. The New York Times wrote in their epitaph to this great Australian soprano : “Fortunate the generation that heard her, for we shall never hear her like again”.
John Monash was born in West Melbourne on the 27th of June 1865, and went on to become one of Australia’s greatest military commanders. On the 12th of August 1918, Monash was knighted on the battlefield by King George V, the first time a British monarch had honoured a commander in such a way in 200 years. He was one of the principal organisers of the annual observance of ANZAC Day.He died on 8th of October 1931, and it is estimated that 250,000 people attended his state funeral. Out of respect for his services to education, Monash University in Melbourne was named after him in 1958. A fitting tribute for the soldier who preferred to be remembered as a scholar and a builder. In a final sign of humility, despite his achievements, honours and titles, he instructed that his tombstone simply bear the words “John Monash”.