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Melbourne, Australia

Melbourne

Great Destination:

4.5

Value for Money:

3.5

Total Stars:

8.0

Personality Types that Like it Best

Best liked by Mid and Centric-Venturers and Centric-Authentics

Did you know … ?

  • Melbourne originated as a tent city of 50 settlers in 1835.
  • Little Penguins are about 12 inches tall, the world’s smallest penguin species.
  • Melbourne is the only city with five international-standard sports facilities near downtown.
  • From 1901 to 1927, Melbourne was the capital of Australia.
  • The city’s 92-story Eureka Tower is the world’s tallest residential building (984 feet).

Second city?

The country’s second-largest city, Melbourne is deemed Australia’s culture capital because of the breadth of visual and performing arts on offer, ranging from traditional fare to the edgy kind. It is the place for the hottest dining spots, and even Sydney-siders come to Melbourne to shop for fashions.  Besides, it sits on a broad bay which offers numerous water-based activities and compelling marine life, including the endearing Little Penguins.

The capital of Victoria state, Melbourne — with a population of more than 4 million — sits in the far southeast of Australia. When gold was found some miles inland in 1851, Melbourne became an entry point to Victoria’s booming Goldfields area and experienced its own boom. That’s why the city boasts many examples of beautiful 1850s architecture.

As counterpoint to that, it is a modern city, with very forward-leaning sensibilities, which are apparent in recent architecture — Federation Square is a must-explore example — as well as the arts and design scenes.

The city also is noted for fine foods and wines. Victoria is called the fresh-ingredient state because of its quality produce. The state also is home to numerous wineries; several dozen line the Yarra, the same river Melbourne sits on.

For a different take on Melbourne, consider the range of sporting events on tap. Key events include the Australian Open in January, the FINA World Swimming Championships in March, the Australian Grand Prix also in March and the Rip Curl Pro in April, a surfing competition. November sees the Melbourne Cup, Australia’s premier equestrian event. Also, there is a full season of Australian Rules Football.

For tourists, Melbourne is the gateway to the rest of the state, and they don’t have to wander far to see the area’s variety, epitomized by the Daylesford spa country, the Goldfields, Mornington Peninsula for diving, sailing and other water-based activities, Phillip Island for koalas and Little Penguins, Yarra Valley’s wineries and more.

North Americans come looking for a pretty city, with hip dining and culture scenes plus access to exotic and uniquely Australian animal life. They also give it high marks because it is friendly, safe and clean.

Things to do for Venturers

  • For unique housing, head a ways out of town to sleep over at the Cape Otway Lightstation, in the keeper’s quarters. Or, overnight in a former cell at the Castlemaine Gaol, now a B&B.  Or, stay in town: Join Ghostseekers Australia in a nighttime ghost hunt at the Old Melbourne Gaol said to be Australia’s most haunted building.
  • Take the opportunity to eat uniquely Australian foods, whether emu or kangaroo. Or, how about a crocodile fillet?
  • Scuba dive in Port Phillip Bay, where — besides coral and other abundant marine life — you may see some of more than 60 19th century shipwrecks or one of the World War I submarines.  Tip: If you have not dived in Victoria, it is recommended you do so with an organized tour or with a guide.
  • Kayak on the Yarra River, or try sea kayaking along the bay coastline. Take note, the boathouses along the Yarra offer afternoon tea as part of their services.
  • See the city from a hot-air balloon. Or, board a seaplane, with a water take-off and landing, for your up-in-the-air sightseeing over Melbourne and the bay areas. You don’t have to fly at all to view the city from Skydeck 88, 935 feet above ground at the Eureka Tower. Walk into The Edge, an all-glass cube that projects almost 10 feet out from the building.
  • Observe surgery in progress at the Healesville Sanctuary, located in the Yarra Valley and home to the world’s largest collection of Australian wildlife. You can also view the recovery area.

Things to do for Centrics

  • Go where the gold is — Ballarat, 68 miles away — and pan for gold at Sovereign Hill, an open-air museum on the site of a once-active gold mine, and see a show at Her Majesty’s Theatre, Australia’s oldest purpose-built theater, or the Theatre Royal, where Lola Montez performed her spider dance for miners nearly 150 years ago. Overnight on site at Sovereign Hill Lodge.
  • Make a night of in a city where choices include plenty of bars, music venues, nightclubs and pubs. Melbourne bills itself as the top jazz destination in the Southern Hemisphere.
  • Hear Dreamtime stories at Narana Creations, an Aboriginal cultural tourism and educational facility in nearby Geelong.
  • Go dolphin watching, or better yet, don snorkeler’s gear and swim with them in Port Phillip Bay.
  • Attend one of the area’s several food and wine festivals, then, plan a wine-tasting tour in Yarra Valley. To be well-rounded, also consider the Foster’s brewery tour which includes its own tasting.
  • Play tennis in Melbourne Park, where tennis greats compete in the Australian Open. Or, time your visit to attend some of the matches.

Things to do for Authentics

  • Shop in a city where choices range from the elegant Collins Street, funky Little Collins Street and distinctly Melbournian boutiques on Flinders Lane to bargain hunting on Bridge Road in Richmond, home to outlets and second-hand stores. Shop for opals and Aboriginal art, too.  If you are really into this, on another day, join an escorted shopping excursion to factories and warehouses, with lunch.
  • Have coffee at Mr. Tulk, a cafe located inside the State Library of Victoria. It is one of many such comfort zones in a city that calls itself the coffee capital of Australia.
  • Take a sightseeing cruise on the city’s Yarra River. Or, take a Champagne cruise along the Yarra River in a luxury Venetian-style gondola.
  • Ride the Puffing Billy Steam Railway through the Dandenong Ranges from Belgrave, an hour east of Melbourne, to Emerald Lake Park and Gembrook. Wine and dine options are available in luxury dining carriages.
  • Drop out for a day — at a day spa. This isn’t just for women; one business, called ZIPT, caters to men only, with a staff that is mostly female.  For a more ambitious approach, get thee to Daylesford, an hour’s drive away in the Macedon Ranges; it is the site of Australia’s largest number of naturally occurring mineral springs and probably the highest concentration of masseurs and therapists. Organized day trips to Daylesford are available.
  • Enjoy an eclectic collection of dining choices, from some of Australia’s hottest fine dining establishments to pub food, or lively cafes tucked away in the maze of popular laneways in the center of the city.

Additional Resources

For more information, consult Tourism Victoria’s Melbourne site at www.visitmelbourne.com