Deutsche Turnverein Melbourne was based on the Turnverein society model originated in Prussia by Friedrich Ludwig Jahn. The first Turnverein hall was built in 1811 near Berlin. The organisation emphasized gymnastic exercises, and also served important social and patriotic functions. Initially it was effective in organizing opposition to French domination of Germany, and was officially santioned. Similar societies were soon organised throughout Germany. After the fall of Napoleon in 1814, German governments became suspicious of the Turnvereins as centres of liberal thought. The Turnvereins were supported loyally by their members, however, and new groups were organised in other countries, including Australia, by members who migrated to those countries. Today the word Turnverein is used in German-speaking countries to refer to any gymnasium or similar site of physical recreation. The Turnvereins combine gymnastic exercises with discussion and social pleasures.

In the 1850s several German-language groups and clubs operated in Melbourne. On the 1 May 1860 the Deutsche Turnverein Melbourne was founded. The already existing 'Liedertafel Harmonia' (male choir) joined the new club on the same day. In 1885 the choir changed its name from 'Harmonia' to 'Arion'.

On 1 May 1921 the Deutsche Turnverein Melbourne and the Club Tivoli amalgamated under the name Club Tivoli Deutscher Verein Melbourne. The club bought its present club rooms in Dandenong Road Windsor in 1989. In the early 21st century the Club has more than 1,000 members. The Liedertafel Arion and the Liederkranz Tivoli (a mixed choir) continue to be active singing groups. The Club is dedicated to the preservation of German culture through song, dance and the development of German language skills. Since 1983 the Club, together with the Austrian Club and the Swiss Club, has also played an important role in the organisation of Melbourne's Oktoberfest.

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