Melbourne, Australia

By Roger Allnutt, Travel Writer

Although Sydney is undoubtedly the most recognizable city in Australia no visit down under would be complete with including the nation’s second city Melbourne.

Compared with brash Sydney with its great location on Sydney Harbour, Melbourne is more refined offering delights ranging from great shopping to world leading sporting venues, arts and culture mixed with fantastic open spaces and gardens.

Click for Options

The Central Business District is set out in a grid pattern with the River Yarra forming a boundary on its south-eastern edge.  Within the CBD are numerous shopping complexes – many boutiques are found in the arcades joining the main streets – mixed in with high rise office blocks and a number of classy hotels.  The CBD is best explored on foot but if you tire catch the free ‘purple’ tram that circles the area during business hours. Actually one of Melbourne’s enduring symbols is the trams – be aware when crossing the road as they can creep up on you remarkably silently.

One of the most popular areas of the CBD is around Federation Square at the junction of Swanston and Flinders Streets and opposite bustling Flinders Street Station. Incorporating the Melbourne Visitors Centre (a great source of information) Federation Square includes a branch of the National Gallery of Victoria showing Australian art, the Victorian Wine Precinct, the Australian Racing (horses) Museum together with restaurants and bars.  At times the large screen in the square shows local sporting events.

Click for Options

On the opposite side of Flinders Street you can take in the cool charm of St Paul’s Cathedral the main Anglican church in the city or drop into the iconic Young and Jackson’s Hotel with its famous painting of Chloe.

There are plenty of points of interest around the CBD area.  At the top end of Collins St the imposing State Houses of Parliament date from 1856 and were used as the National Parliament from Federation of the Australian states in 1900 until the first National Parliament House was opened in Canberra in 1927.  Opposite is the wonderfully elegant Hotel Windsor which has been hosting important dignitaries for decades. Indulge in the scrumptious traditional afternoon tea which has been served since 1883 – check with hotel for serving times and to make a booking.

Kangaroos, Anglesea Golf Course, Great Ocean Road, Victoria, Australia

In a city area with many churches St Michael’s on Collins at 120 Collins St is most unusual with the interior seating arranged like a theatre auditorium.  At the other end of Collins Street at no 525 the Melbourne Observation Deck on the 55th floor provides a great view of the city, along the Yarra River and beyond.  Another great viewpoint is Eureka Skydeck 88 in the Southgate Prcinct.

At the other end of Swanston St from Flinders St you can visit the stately State Library of Victoria and the Old Melbourne Gaol, both of which have connections to Australia’s most famous bushranger Ned Kelly who was hanged at the gaol in 1880.  The library houses his famous armour. Only a short walk further on you can explore Queen Victoria Market for some of the freshest produce and wonderful snacks.

City skyline, Melbourne, Australia

Melbourne has had regular inflows of migrants from many parts of the world dating back to the Chinese who came during the gold rush days.  Little Bourke St in the centre of the CBD is Melbourne’s Chinatown and there are numerous excellent Chinese restaurants to choose from.  The surrounding streets contain many other restaurants featuring cuisines from all round the world.

For years the Yarra was a rather muddy coloured stretch of water especially through the city area but the development of the Southgate Precinct created a vibrant area of shops, bars and restaurants and is a great place for watching the passing parade.  Crown Casino is usually a hive of activity while for something different a visit to the Melbourne Aquarium opposite Crown Casino is recommended.

Great Ocean Walk, Great Ocean Road, Victoria, Australia

Melbourne is internationally known for its fantastic sporting facilities and Victorians are passionate followers of all sports and turn up in great numbers.  Apart from the legendary Melbourne Cricket Ground used as the main venue for the 1956 Olympic Games and major cricket and football matches the area close to the Yarra just east of the CBD also contains the superb Melbourne Park tennis complex – three courts with retractable roofs – and other swimming and sporting facilities.  Not far away in Albert Park is the Grand Prix motor racing circuit home of the Australian Formula One Grand Prix.

The area along the Yarra and bounded by St Kilda Road is also home to cultural facilities and wonderful gardens and these are readily accessible by walking or if necessary a quick ride on a local tram.

Melbourne Cricket Ground, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia

Just across the river from the CBD the Victorian Arts Centre is a landmark complex and venue for ballets, opera and symphony concerts (Hamer Hall).  The newer Elisabeth Murdoch Hall is mainly used for recitals and is becoming renowned for its wonderful acoustics.  Within the CBD area are a number of theatres and you should take the opportunity to take in at least one. A short distance further along St Kilda Road is the lovely Art Gallery which hosts many outstanding exhibitions as well as its more permanent collection.

Melbourne is superbly endowed with gardens throughout the city area from the Treasury and Fitzroy Gardens behind the State Parliament Buildings (don’t miss Captain Cook’s Cottage in the Fitzroy Gardens) to the Alexandra and Queen Victoria Gardens in the King’s Domain.  At the end of the King’s Domain is the Shrine of Remembrance and then you come to the Royal Botanic Gardens over 12,000 species of native and imported plants and trees interspersed with sweeping lawns and ornamental lakes – wonderfully relaxing just to stroll around within a short distance of the city centre.

Melbourne has a huge choice of hotels and many of these are located within the CBD.  In addition to the Hotel Windsor top hotels include Sofitel Melbourne on Collins, Grand Hyatt, Langham Hotel, The Westin, Crown Towers and Grand Mercure Flinders Lane Apartments. There are also plenty of boutique hotels such as Hotel Lindrum, Hotel Causeway and Ovolo (right in Chinatown).

For more information check the website

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *