In the 1880s Melbourne was a study in contrasts. It was the fastest growing city in the British Empire and one of the most prosperous, writes John Legge in The Age.
It was also the smelliest, with an appalling infant mortality rate and up to 3 per cent of the rest of the population dying of typhoid every year. Melbourne has a superb public transport infrastructure - for 1935. The economists and the germ theory deniers said that this was the way things were, and the best thing to do was to do nothing.
People in the wealthy suburbs south of the Yarra weren't worried by the smells since they could pay to have their sewage carted to the river and dumped in it. The poor would have to put up with the smell, which served them right for not being rich.
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