"Marvellous Melbourne", the capital of the Australian state of Victoria, is known for its Australian Rules football, great cultural events and multicultural restaurants.
Located on the slow-moving brown Yarra River, Melbourne is a city of great old bluestone buildings built in the nineteenth century in the heyday of Queen Victoria. But it is also a modern metropolis with loads of boutiques, bars and brasseries.
Some of Melbourne's important tourist attractions:
Yarra River: great to wander along on a sunny day. Take or bike ride or take a river tour.
Rialto Towers Observation Deck: You can have a great view of the metropolis from the 55th floor of the Rialto Towers is Melbourne's tallest building.
Old Melbourne Gaol: this bluestone edifice built in 1841 is the place where the bushranger Ned Kelly mounted the scaffold.
Polly Woodside Maritime Museum: The Polly Woodside is an old sailing ship built in in 1885 and is open daily for inspection.
Queen Victoria Market: This huge market contains hundreds of stallholders selling everything from jeans and books to fruit and vegetables.
Myer Christmas Window Displays: At Christmas, both adults and children enjoy viewing the elaborate and beautiful window displays in the Myers department stores.
Historic Houses: A number of wonderful architectural gems maintained by the National Trust, including Como (1840-59), built on the banks of the Yarra River, and Rippon Lea, with its large gardens enlivened by resident peacocks.
St Kilda: Originally a seaside resort and later a place where the wealthy built their mansions, these days the residents are a mixture of migrants and bohemians. Visit the St Kilda Pier, Luna Park, the Palais Theatre and the St Kilda Esplanade Art and Craft Market.
Opinions about Melbourne
Melbourne, unlike Sydney whose city area was never properly planned and whose streets ended up following the original bullock tracks, was carefully laid out on a grid plan. Sometimes this leads to a little joke at Melbourne's expense, as the following comment by Francis Adams in his book, The Australians (1893):
"Imagine a huge chessboard thrown on to the earth, and you have what is the true and characteristic Melbourne."
Other writers and visitors have been kinder. Take, for example, this summing up of Melbourne by Maurice Baring in his book, Round the World in any Number of Days (1913):
"But these large, tall, black, square buildings were set in a soft, tepid, luminous air: pearly pink and gray... unlike anything in modern Europe - a dreamlike contrast.
When the fancy creates a place it forgets the necessary changes in background: air, sky and light. This is true of dreams..."
Later writers -- and Sydneysiders -- have been quick to make mock of the brown waters of the River Yarra. Elspeth Huxley in her book, Their Shining Eldorado (1967), relates:
"The Yarra... The Melbournians will tell you it is the only river in the world that runs upside down -- it looks so brown and muddy."
Free Activities for Families in Melbourne