There was a time when Melbourne was considered Australia’s premiere city, but its acclaim was lost when a battle with Sydney to be titled capital ended with the creation of Canberra. Whilst Sydney went on to be known for the beauty of Sydney Harbour, Melbourne sunk from note on many a tourist’s trail. However, from the hustle and bustle of the CBD through to its notoriety as the spiritual home of Australian Arts – Melbourne is busy city that never rushes but equally never sleeps – which has no doubt lead to it ranking as one of the world’s top three most liveable cities!
Worlds largest Tram network
Though the chance to see the world’s largest tram network is hardly a major pulling factor, Melbourne’s bustling laneways must prove something of a pull. The tiny alleys are bustling with small businesses and equate to graffiti heaven!
However, if urban jungle isn’t your scene – why not lose yourself in one of Melbourne’s many parks? There is a reason for the state of Victoria being known as the garden state, and its state capital sees no reason to be an exception to the rule. Whilst Melbourne is packed to the brim with parks, the most impressive lies just a five minute walk from the CBD. The Royal Botanic Gardens boast plant species both common and rare alongside beautiful birds – be careful as you may end up feeling like Alice in Wonderland!
And for those sports fans – don’t forget that Melbourne has been home to both the Olympics (1956) and Commonwealth Games (1996) and also hosts everything from the Australian Open (tennis) to the F1 (motor sports) and of course, the Melbourne Cup (horse racing). This leads to a plentitude of stadium tours and exercise opportunities.
Last, but of course not least, before we take a closer look at some of Melbourne’s suburbs, a moment has to be taken to celebrate Melbourne’s most famous street – Ramsay Street. Whilst Erinsborough may only exist in the land of TV, pop down to Pinoak Court in Vermouth South and you may just recognise a house or two…
A few key places:
Melbourne’s CBD is as bustling as you would expect any business district to be. Take a look from Albert Park at 5am to see the perfect sunrise form over what could easily double as a New York skyline. However, the beauty of the CBD lies in the laneways. Whilst the main streets could easily be anywhere in the world, the laneways hold the key to Melbourne’s independent streak (Block Place is not to be missed!). For the perfect night-time view, make sure you drop by the Rooftop Cinema on Swanston after a Thai meal and a quick drink, or maybe even both!
Fitzroy/Collingwood (Smith St and Brunswick St)
As with any area known to be the artist’s haven, Fitzroy and Collingwood have a heavy coffee culture, which is by no means a bad thing. Where galleries and cafes rule during the day, the night time bars bring the kids out to play. While Gertrude Contemporary Art Space and Sutton Gallery rule the roost on the arts front, there’s other bars that provide an insight into the upcoming band scene.
Given that Paris Hilton pops by everytime she hits Melbourne, Chapel St is without doubt the shopper’s paradise. Chapel Street is as diverse as it is long. We’d recommend starting at the Toorak end for some window shopping before hittting the Windsor side for something a bit more affordable. For an area known as the Tourist’s Parade, Chapel Street is pleasingly devoid of tacky tourist tat. Whilst the Belgium Beer Gardens and Bridie O’Reilly’s may provide a few home comforts, there’s more than enough places to dance the night away at!
Though St Kilda Beach is not the most impressive beach you will ever see, Melbourne’s temperate conditions make it perfect for late night beach walks. The fact it is positioned perfectly aside the glorious Albert Park and Acland Street, home to Melbourne’s finest continental cakes, makes St Kilda a real haven. Rarely too busy, St Kilda is a relaxing retreat. That is of course unless you visit the famous Luna Park, a fab old school theme park. A visit to The Esplanade Hotel (or the Espy) is essential, never has there been a finer music venue. For those seeking an adrenaline rush, why not try a little kiteboarding!
Whilst the Docklands may be known by locals for its real tourist pull – the area is worth a visit nonetheless. Though Chapel Street is seen to be the shopping parade, Docklands puts up a strong fight. But it is not all shops… Given its prime waterside location, the Docklands is known for its abundance of good food, with a particular focus on the seafood variety, with Livebait’s waterside location proving a real pull. Yet it is the Etihad Stadium Tours and the Olympic sized rinks at The Icehouse that really set the Docklands apart.
Whilst Melbourne may have more than enough to keep you buzzing, the lush green surroundings warrant more than a little exploration. Though penguins may occasionally be spotted in St Kilda, Philip Island Nature Park will get you up close and personal. Equally, a drive out of the city will no doubt allow you to bump into kangaroos of the wild variety, but for those not opposed, Healesville Sanctuary is haven for all animals Australian. Who can resist the grumpy old man charms of the fluffy koala?
Whilst en route to the Healesville Sanctuary, why not stop off at a few of the wineries that the Yarra Valley has to offer. With Australian wine getting a great global reputation, why not see where the juice comes from? Whilst it may be a little of the beaten track, the intimacy of the smaller Long Gully is not to be beaten whilst their Ice Riesling is a must taste.
Whilst you are on the road, why not head south and hit the Great Ocean Road, Australia’s answer to Route 66. Built between 1919 and 1932 by returned soldiers, the 151 mile stretch is the world’s largest war memorial and without doubt the only one to offer such stunning views. Make sure you watch out for The Twelve Apostles, London Arch, The Blowhole and The Grotto along the way.
As you can see Melbourne has more than a little to offer, so best get moving or else you won’t get anything done!