The cosmopolitan city of Melbourne is a veritable melting pot of nationalities and cultures, has the best shopping in Australia and is thought of by many as the country’s cultural and sporting capital. There is a thriving music and arts scene and the city is famous for a number of festivals including the comedy festival. Melbournians tend to follow sports fanatically, none more so than Australian Rules Football, which was invented here in Victoria. The biggest event in the years sporting calendar is the AFL Grand Final which is held at the MCG. The MCG (Melbourne Cricket Ground) also hosts the famous Boxing Day Test, one of the Australian cricket teams biggest home matches of the year. Melbourne also hosts the Grand Prix annually as well as the Australian Open in tennis.
Melbourne has a major fixation with coffee, and is home to some of the best baristas in the world. The best coffee is often found hidden away down the laneways which are also a big part of the city’s appeal. One of the best is De Graves Street which hosts a multitude of cafes many of which also do a great brunch. Like the coffee, brunch is also a serious matter in Melbourne. Eating out in general is a massive treat, as the range of restaurants and cuisines is as diverse as the multicultural population. With so many specialities and so many restaurants even the locals are constantly finding somewhere new, so for a visitor the choice can be overwhelming. Take recommendations, or just dive in, you are unlikely to be disappointed.
In a huge city like Melbourne, especially when the CBD (central business district) is packed with so many great shops, galleries, museums, restaurants and bars, it would be very easy not to explore beyond the centre. To ignore Melbourne’s suburbs though, is to miss out so much of what makes the city special. Inner suburbs each have their own distinct character, often heavily associated with the immigrant groups that have settled there. Those in search of Italian food and influences head to Melbourne’s little Italy; Carlton. For Vietnamese food Richmond is the place to be (or maybe Footscray which also boasts some great Ethiopian and Eritrean restaurants.) For a taste of the Middle East head up Sydney Road into Brunswick where you will find Turkish, Lebanese and Afghan restaurants and shops. Perhaps the best explored of the inner suburbs though is backpacker friendly St Kilda. This trendy suburb has some great bars (and the infamous backpacker bar the Elephant and Wheelbarrow which hosts Neighbours nights), a number of hostels and Melbourne’s most accessible beach. On a Sunday morning, a popular spot for many Melbournians is Acland Street which is known for its many great cake shops. Another popular suburb with visitors is arty Fitzroy.
Beyond the city, the state of Victoria has many attractions for visitors, all of which can be reached easily from Melbourne. The Yarra Valley vineyards are right on Melbourne’s door step and most wineries offer cellar door tastings. This is a great way to spend a day out; much more fun if you don’t need to drive so think about taking a wine tour. A number of companies offer transportation around the wineries from Melbourne and most include a good lunch in the price. For those heading east from Melbourne there are also the gorgeous beaches of the Mornington Peninsula and the charming little holiday town of Sorrento. Heading west will take you to the stunning Great Ocean Road, this amazing feat of engineering winds its way along the wild coastline from Torquay to Warrnambool passing the impressive, giant rock stacks of the 12 Apostles. Stop off along the way for some great surf beaches, and those of a certain age may be interested in taking a look at the lighthouse from children’s TV series Round the Twist. The impressive Grampians National Park also lies to the west of Melbourne and north of the Great Ocean Road. It’s a fantastic spot for bushwalking, climbing or just chilling out. There is also a fascinating visitor’s centre in Halls Gap where you can learn more about the aboriginal history of the area.
The main airport serving Melbourne is Tullamarine airport. All international flights and most domestic flights arrive into Tullamarine, but budget carrier Jetstar operates some of its Sydney and Brisbane services from out of town airport Avalon. Both airports are easily accessible from the city, but if you are flying Jetstar then make sure you know what airport you are flying to/from.
Last Edit by sarahgev on 20/07/2011 EDIT NOW >>