Victoria's elegant capital, is truly
one of the world's most varied cities, with a lifestyle envied by many.
The city is not only the financial focal point of Australia; it is equally
renowned for its tree-lined streets and for the delightful parklands and
gardens that hug the Yarra River. With beaches and bayside suburbs lining
Port Phillip Bay, and the Dandenong Ranges providing a backdrop to the
north-east, this picturesque city has much to offer both residents and
visitors. Visitors can book a Melbourne backpackers in the city centre or in St Kilda, Melbourne’s seaside suburb.
The city is set out following a typical
nineteenth-century pattern -there is a grid system of streets, all named
after early settlers and dignitaries. The main streets leading away from
the main railway station, Spencer Street Station, are King, William,
Queen, and Elizabeth, then you reach the main shopping area of Swanston
The architecture of Melbourne retains a mix of
styles -the ANZ Bank building is in the Gothic style, the Town Hall is art
deco, and there are many modern skyscrapers. There are several fine
buildings in the city, many of which were financed by the gold rush of the
mid- to late 1800s. Examples of such buildings include the Magistrates
Court, the Town Hall, the State Library and the Exhibition Buildings,
which have been restored and are surrounded by magnificent gardens. There
are also some impressive churches, including St Paul's and St Patrick's
cathedrals, both of which have undergone extensive renovations. Como House
in Toorak is an elegant Victorian mansion surrounded by superb gardens,
and the Block Arcade, built in the 1890s and fully restored, is a
wonderful centre for shoppers. One of the more unusual buildings of
Melbourne is the Adelphi Hotel, which has a swimming pool that juts out
over Flinders Lane, offering swimmers a view of the busy streetscape
A great way to get to most of Melbourne's
attractions is by taking a free Circle Tram ride. The Circle Trams are a distinctive burgundy colour, not the traditional green of other Melbourne
trams, and they circle the city along Flinders, Spencer, LaTrobe and
Spring Streets. For visitors, the numerous attractions in the city of
Melbourne are perhaps best appreciated on a guided tour, which can be
organised through the tourist office in the city. The Yarra River is an
integral part of the city and a cruise along the waterway is another
lovely way to view the city. For views of the city, try the Rialto Towers
Observation Deck, Melbourne's tallest building, which offers a superb
360-degree view of the city and the surrounding area.
The original Government House, which occupied
LaTrobe Cottage, and the present-day Government House can both be toured.
The Melbourne Stock Exchange also offers tours, and the Bureau of
Meteorology's self-guided tour presents an impressive display, which
includes interactive television screens. The Old Melbourne Gaol depicts
life in a nineteenth-century Australian prison. It is here that Victorian
hangings took place, 135 in total, including the infamous bushranger Ned
Kelly -death masks made of those hanged can be viewed.
The Old Treasury building, one of the more
significant nineteenth-century buildings in Melbourne, underwent a
significant restoration in 1994. It features changing exhibitions
representing various aspects of Australian history. Built in 1872, the
Royal Mint hosts two major displays, one pertaining to the Royal Mint, the
other set up by the Royal Historical Society of Melbourne, and providing a
comprehensive history of Melbourne.
Melbourne has many parks, used by city dwellers
and workers for relaxation, picnicking, or jogging in beautiful
surroundings. The Royal Botanic Gardens, established in 1846, are world
famous. With large exotic trees and some plants that are now 150 years
old, these gardens are among Melbourne's finest. Set on the banks of the
Yarra River, they are also home to a number of majestic black swans and
flying foxes, or fruit bats. In the 32-ha (79-acre) Fitzroy and Treasury
Gardens is a stone building that once stood in Great Ayrton, England.
Built in 1755, it was Captain Cook's childhood home. The building was
bought in 1933 by Sir Russell Grimwade and rebuilt in the gardens as a
monument to the great explorer. Other beautiful parklands include the
Queen Victoria Gardens, which feature a magnificent floral clock 9 m (30
feet) in diameter -more than 7000 plants are used to create this intricate
floral display. The clock actually tells the time and is synchronised to
chime with the clock on the Town Hall.
The Royal Melbourne Zoological Gardens are on the
edge of the city, and with over 3500 animals, the zoo is considered one of
the world's finest. During the summer months Melbourne Zoo holds a
Twilight Jazz Festival, and patrons bring picnic hampers and enjoy the
music in very unusual surroundings. Within an hour's drive of the city
there are two other excellent wildlife parks: the Werribee Zoo and the
Healesville Sanctuary. Life is never boring in this city -if there isn't a
major sporting event scheduled, then there is probably a festival. Often
there are both! A diverse mix of races and cultures sees Melbourne come
alive with a variety of exciting and unusual carnivals year round.
The Melbourne Food and Wine Festival runs for
approximately three weeks from mid-March, celebrating the diversity of
Melbourne, Australia's culinary capital, through 120 outstanding events.
This feast of a festival includes the internationally acclaimed Master
Class, the Hawkers' Market and the World's Longest Lunch, plus Breakfast
Week, Restaurant Week, Chocolate Week and many more delicious events. The
Formula One Grand Prix and the Melbourne International Motor Show, both
huge and exhilarating events in their own right, coincide with this
There are more festivals in March, including the
Yarra Valley Grape Grazing Festival, which involves a number of wineries
in the Yarra Valley Region. This region produces some of Australia's best
wine, and during the festival food from a selection of restaurants is
matched up with wines from the local wineries to create gastronomic
delights. Jazz adds to the festival feel of this event.
Festivities head indoors during the winter months,
with the Melbourne International Film Festival and Victoria State Opera
season. Spring brings Melburnians outside again for the Royal Melbourne
Show and a range of horticultural shows in September. The outdoor
tradition flows through to Christmas, and thousands of Melburnians head to
the Myer Music Bowl on Christmas Eve for the ever-popular 'Carols By
Melbourne people's love of sport, whether it be
football, tennis, car racing or a sport totally foreign to
as rugby, is well documented. Many large sporting events are held in
Melbourne is the home of Australian Rules
Football, and a visit to Melbourne should include a trip to the Melbourne
Cricket Ground (MCG). As well as cricket being played in summer -notably
the Boxing Day Test -the Aussie Rules Grand Final is held here on the
third Saturday of every September. Tours of the venue are available and
include a walk on the hallowed turf of the MCG. During Grand Final week
the whole city has football fever; it is a great time to visit and there
are a number of celebrations in the city.
Every January, Melbourne Park is the venue for the
Australian Open, the first Grand Slam tennis event of the year. The main
feature of this impressive tennis venue is the centre court roof, which
can be opened or closed. With Melbourne's reputation for having four
seasons in one day, this has proved very useful. Melbourne Park is also
the venue for concerts and productions all through the year, and the
outside courts are available for hire.
Melbourne also hosts the first round of the
Formula One Grand Prix season each year, in March, and this is another
really exciting time to be in Melbourne -the Albert Park Lake area is
transformed into an award-winning racetrack and thousands of people join
in the festivities, which run over four days. Grand Prix ticket holders
have free travel on the Melbourne trams, and after the racing each day the
city comes alive as race-goers head towards the restaurants, clubs or the
Melbourne International Motor Show.
Horseracing is very popular in Melbourne, and
there is excellent racing at the Autumn and Spring Racing carnivals. The
Spring Carnival features the Melbourne Cup, Australia's most famous horse
race -it is run on the first Tuesday in November, which is a public
holiday for Victorians. The festivities that have developed around this
horse race are fabulous, and it is an Australian tradition to have a bet
on the race, even if you are not a regular punter. Thousands of
Melburnians go along on race day and have some fun, with many dressing up
in either their Sunday best -including, most importantly, a hat or fancy
The annual 500cc Motorcycle Grand Prix is held at
Phillip Island, to the south of Melbourne. The Australian International
Airshow is an exciting biennial event held in
Victoria, and features
aircraft from all around the world, demonstrating the latest innovations
in aviation and aerospace technology. The Airshow is held at the Avalon
Airport near Geelong during February.
Melbourne is an ideal destination for shoppers,
and has its own fashion festival in summer. In the centre of Melbourne
there are a couple of splendid arcades where you can shop in beautiful and
historic surroundings: the Block Arcade and the Royal Arcade. Large
shopping complexes include Melbourne Central, which features a number of
retail outlets, including the Japanese-owned department store Daimaru.
This magnificent building has a large glass pyramid roof and shot tower.
Nearby are the Myer and David Jones department stores. The Crown
Entertainment Complex and Southgate also have an enormous range of
exclusive shops, many of them outlets for overseas designer products. In
the suburbs, you will find streets which are considered the places to shop
for particular things -Chapel Street in South Yarra for fashion, Bridge
Road, Richmond, for seconds outlets, High Street, Armadale, for exclusive
boutiques and Maling Road, Canterbury, for antiques.
Queen Victoria Market is the place to go for fresh
produce and a bargain. It has over 1000 traders offering everything from
fresh fruit and seafood through to clothing and leather goods. This
historic complex was established in 1878 and is the largest outdoor market
in the world.
The city of Melbourne has a large migrant
population, and the food and restaurants are influenced by this diversity
of cultures: almost any international cuisine is available, and many
innovative mixtures are created as well.
Though the central business district of Melbourne
features many fine restaurants, the city is traditionally split into
cultural sectors: Lygon Street in Carlton for Italian and Richmond for
Vietnamese or Greek food, to name just two. Little Bourke Street is the
home of Little China, where you will find superb Chinese cuisine.
Melbourne loves to celebrate the Chinese New Year in February, and
thousands of people head to the Chinatown precinct to bring in the new
year. Large dragons wind their way through the crowd, with firecrackers
popping and drums beating in the background.
The suburb of Southgate, an area situated on the
banks of the Yarra, features restaurants and the Crown Entertainment
Complex. This enormous complex includes the Crown Casino, theatres, a
hotel and many shops, clubs and restaurants. On a sunny day in Melbourne
you will see people sitting at restaurants on the edge of the Yarra from
St Kilda Road all the way to Spencer Street. In the evenings, this part of
town comes alive again, with clubs and restaurants open until the early
Melbourne also boasts many fine art galleries,
covering a range of styles and types of exhibitions. The main art gallery
to see here is the National Gallery of
Victoria on St Kilda Road. The
gallery's magnificent art collection is made up of paintings, sculptures,
drawings and photographs from Australia and overseas. The National Gallery
Victoria is also opening its NGV: Australian Art museum at Federation
Square, a magnificent building showcasing the country's finest collection
of Australian art.
Also on St Kilda Road is the Victorian Arts
Centre, which includes a number of venues for the performing arts. A
feature of this centre is the tall spire on the rooftop, which changes
colours at night.
The Aboriginal Gallery of Dreamings, in Bourke
Street, offers Melburnians and visitors alike the chance to view works of
art created by Australia's Indigenous peoples, including dot paintings,
boomerangs and didgeridoos. The centre has more than 2500 paintings.
The new Melbourne Museum, next to the Royal
Exhibition Buildings, is Australia's largest and the world's most
technologically advanced museum -the stunning modern $300 million building
is an architectural feat in itself. The Museum's priceless collections,
which include Aboriginal displays, the famous racehorse Phar Lap, and
dinosaur displays, combined with performance, technology and interactive
exhibitions, will surely inspire delight and wonder in its visitors.
The Immigration Museum, in the Old Customs House
building on Flinders Street, is a contemporary museum that brings
Victoria's immigration history to life through voices, images, memories
The Shrine of Remembrance, which stands proudly
between Domain and St Kilda Roads, is, a memorial to the people who served
Australia in the wars of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. It
features 42 books of remembrance, which contain the names of 116,000
Victorians who served overseas during World War I. A fascinating feature
of the Shrine of Remembrance is the inner sanctuary and the stone of
remembrance, which is lit by sunlight precisely at 11 am on 11 November
-Remembrance Day- every year.
Scienceworks is a science and technology centre
with interactive displays which are very popular with both children and
adults alike. This centre is built around an old pumping station in
Spotswood and is open every day. The Melbourne Planetarium is also to be
found here -it is the only planetarium in the Southern Hemisphere with a
state-of-the-art computer system that simulates the experience of moving
through the universe.
The Melbourne Maritime Museum has, as its central
exhibit, the tall ship Polly Woodside, which was built in Belfast in 1885.
When all the sights, sounds, smells and tastes of
Melbourne are combined and added to the sheer excitement of its many
sporting and arts events and festivals, it's easy to see why Melbourne is
such a popular holiday destination for Australian and overseas visitors
-and why it is so much loved and enjoyed by those who live there.