Melbourne Tourist Attractions
Capital of VictoriaMelbourne, Australia's second largest city, lies in the southeast of the continent, straddling the Yarra River at the north end of Port Phillip Bay, which shelters it from the stormy Bass Strait.
It is the most European, or more precisely the most British, of the Australian capitals.The total area of the Melbourne conurbation (Greater Melbourne) is 6110 sq.km, making it one of the world's largest cities in terms of area. To the east it extends into the Dandenong Ranges, in the south on to the Mornington Peninsula. Of its total area, however, just under a third consists of parks, gardens and open spaces, so that Melbourne can truly claim to be a green city.Melbourne was founded in 1835 by John Batman, coming from Tasmania, and named after Viscount Melbourne, then British prime minister. The town's prosperity was based on the introduction of merino sheep and above all - in contrast to Sydney - on the involvement of free settlers rather than convict labor. After it was granted the status of a town in 1842 Robert Hoddle was commissioned to plan its further development. When gold was found at Clunes in 1851, prospectors flocked to the goldfields of western Victoria, and banks and mining companies established themselves in Melbourne, which then enjoyed a tremendous boom. This is reflected in the handsome buildings still to be seen in the city center and in the international exhibition of 1880. In the 1890s, however, the boom collapsed. Melbourne fell into an economic depression and lost ground to Sydney. From 1901 until the move to the new federal capital of Canberra in 1927 it was the official capital of Australia, and until 1965 the Royal Mint in Melbourne produced all Australia's coins.Since the Second World War a large influx of immigrants, mainly from the Mediterranean, has made Melbourne a multi-lingual, multi-cultural city. The number of immigrants from Greece, for example, is so large that Melbourne has been called the third largest Greek city, after Athens and Salonica. The city's population is now around 3.8 million.Melbourne is fully integrated into the Australian transport system. Its airport at Tullamarine is 22km northwest of the city center and is linked by the Skybus service which runs at half-hourly intervals.Long-distance rail services leave from Spencer Street Station to the west of the city center. The main station for local services is Flinders Street Station to the south, while a new underground system serves the east and north sides of the city center.Melbourne's tramway system, which extends out into the suburbs, also plays an important role, and the bus network covers the ground well.The ferries for Tasmania (including MS Abel Tasman) sail from Station Pier.For information about what's on in Melbourne (concerts, theaters, pop and rock) consult the EG (Entertainment Guide) section in the Friday edition of the Melbourne Age. Listings are also to be found in the two free leaflets This Week in Melbourne and Melbourne Events available from tourist offices and hotel reception desks.The city's night life is concentrated mainly in the southern district of St Kilda.AccommodationMelbourne has over 22,000 beds in more than 180 hotels, some three dozen of which are within the central area. Many of them are new, including some luxurious and expensive establishments (Chateau Melbourne, Australia Hotel, The Windsor, Grand Hyatt, Melbourne Hilton, Menzies at Rialto, Noah's Hotel Melbourne, Regent Melbourne). Hotels are listed in the visitors' guide Hello Melbourne and other brochures.The caravan/camping parks are all well outside the city center: Half Moon Park, Geelong Road/Millers Road, Brooklyn, is 11km to the west; the Big 4 Caravan Park, Elizabeth St., Coburg E., and Northside Leisure Village, Ecke Hume Highway/Coopers Rd., Campbellfield, are 14km to the north; Willowbrook Gardens Caravan Village, Mickleham Rd., Westmeadows, is 18km to the northwest; and Hobsons Bay Caravan Park, 158 Kororoit Creek Road, Williamstown, is 17km to the south.The skyline of Melbourne has been altered considerably over the years. Although much of the city's Victorian architecture has been preserved, many handsome bluestone buildings have given place to huge modern high-rise blocks, particularly in the business district. Melbourne's Victorian roots are still visible, however, in the broad streets, the European trees and the 19th C. buildings which have been restored and refurbished in recent years, particularly in the inner suburbs. And a walk in the central area will show that the term Garden State applies also to the capital with its numerous parks and gardens.The central area of Melbourne, on the right bank of the Yarra River, is in the form of a regular rectangle bounded on the south by Flinders Street, which runs parallel to the river, on the west by Spencer Street, on the north by Latrobe Street and on the east by Spring Street. Within this area the surveyor and town planner Robert Hoddle laid out a grid of 30m wide avenues intersecting at right angles every 200m. The governor of the day disliked the great empty spaces between the main streets running southwest/northeast (Bourke Street, Collins Street and Flinders Street) and inserted narrower streets between them (Little Flinders Street, Little Collins Street, Little Bourke Street, Little Lonsdale Street). Swanston Street and Elizabeth Street cut across these streets, and in the area thus marked out is Melbourne's main shopping district.
At least two or three days should be allowed for seeing the sights of Melbourne and surroundings. A convenient way of seeing the principal sights is to take the double-decker City Explorer Bus which leaves Flinders Street Station (Swanston Street side) hourly. Passengers can get off at any one of the seven stops and later continue with the next bus. The ticket also gives reductions on admission charges to museums and the Zoo. There is also the City Circle Tram, a free service with old-time tramcars, introduced in 1994, which runs round the city center every 10 minutes, taking in the main sights. Brochures, city plans and information of all kinds can be obtained from the Melbourne Tourist Information Centre, 230 Collins Street, which also provides information about Victoria.
The Summer Olympics of 1956 were staged in Melbourne. The principal stadium was Melbourne Cricket Ground, southeast of the city center. The great event of Melbourne's sporting year is the final of the Australian football tournament, held annually in September.The National Tennis Centre in Flinders Park is the venue in January of the Australian Open, the first Grand Slam tournament of the year. An event which has all Australia holding its breath is the race for the Melbourne Cup on Flemington Racecourse on the first Tuesday in November. The Australian Formula 1 Grand Prix is to be held in Melbourne each March - until 1995 it was held in Adelaide.
In March Melbourne celebrates the Moomba Festival, which lasts 10 days and nights, with elaborate parades and other events. Also in March the Formula One Australian Grand Prix takes place on the Albert Park circuit. In September there is the Royal Agricultural Show; and in the second half of September there are the many events that make up the Spoleto Melbourne Arts Festival (music, dance, drama, film, literature, art).
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Map of Melbourne Attractions