Melbourne is in an eternal struggle with Sydney to be the ‘it’ city. The capital of the ‘southern state’ of Victoria, Melbourne likes to think of itself as the capital of all things fine – shopping, food, cafes, and entertainment. Indeed, it does boast of many sporting and entertainment coups, among them being the first Olympic games to ever be held in Australia and the first cricket test match in the world (played on the largest cricket pitch in the world). Melbourne is also home to the Melbourne Cup (bit of a coincidence, the name and all) and the Australian Open. The downside (apart from it being Melbourne, the Sydney-siders would say) is that the temperatures tend to be a little warmer. On court, in the Australian Open each January, it can reach over 48 degrees.
When in Melbourne, no holiday is complete without a trip on the free tram. Doing a loop around the city, it’s the perfect way to see the city before you delve in. If you prefer to walk, it’s easy as Melbourne is well laid out. And if you get lost the trams mostly terminate in town.
Flinders Street Station is the main train station and a historic one at that. Stop off and take a few photos before crossing the Yarra River to Southbank for a coffee in a trendy cafe, or a lush dinner at the Crown Casino. Spend a few hours – and more than a few pennies – at the tables inside, and be sure to watch the spectacular fires outside of an evening.
Melbourne Zoo is not to be missed, nor is the Aquarium and beautiful parks that are dotted around the city. Visit the Queen Victoria Markets and pick up some cheeses and cold meats for a picnic on the banks of the Yarra, or some leather goods.
For the foodies amongst us, Lygon Street in Carlton should be on the top of your lists of things to do before you leave for home. Littered with Italian restaurants and one or two gelato bars, Lygon Street is the place to be if you love anything gastronomic.
Care needs to be taken when driving around Melbourne as they’re a great fan of the ‘hook turn’. This is where you pull in to the left (the gutter) in order to turn right. It goes against all common sense, but it seems to work. Another thing to watch for while driving are the trams – they stop in the middle of the road to take on or let off passengers. You can’t purchase tickets on board, so if you want to head off on a day trip to St Kilda via tram, buy a ticket from one of the signposted outlets.
Melbourne does have similarities to Sydney, among them great shopping and scenery that can all be had in a walk. But unlike Sydney, the footpaths are wide and pedestrian-friendly, so you could easily spend day upon day wandering the city, looking at the street art and quirky performers.