Melbourne City

Overview

by mugley/Flickr

Melbourne Summary

Melbourne is often considered the cultural capital of Australia, and it certainly lives up to the label. There is much to see, do, and experience in this cosmopolitan city on the banks of the Yarra. With beachside casual and inner city sophistication, Melbourne offers it all, and this travel eGuide provides full information for Melbourne tourism.

Melbourne attractions are extensive, with museums, art galleries, and many places to visit close to the city, which is easy do as part of a Melbourne tour. Melbourne transport is well organised, making it easy for visitors to move around in and explore all that Melbourne has to offer.

If you are travelling outside of Melbourne, then car rental is a good way to go. There are many car rental companies located around the city and also at the airport.

Melbourne is on the Yarra river and runs inland from Port Philip Bay to the south. The central area is an oblong with Flinders Street to the south, Latrobe Street to the north, Spring Street to the east, and Spencer street to the west. Running north to South are Swanston and Elizabeth streets. The main Melbourne shopping street is Collins Street

Melbourne offers a line of pleasant beaches stretching around the bay. Melbourne is a good base for day trips to the Mornington Peninsula, Great Ocean Road and the Yarra Valley.

Melbourne is internationally famous for its comedy festival, which is held every year around Easter, but there are laughs to be had in the city every night of the week at the Comics Lounge. Catch a show after an early dinner in the city and see some of the funniest people in Australia performing their acts.

If you are not in the mood for comedy, there are plenty of other nightly theatre pieces, shows, and events that are held throughout the city. If you fancy your luck, then a shot at cards or dice may be in order across the river at the Crown Casino at Southbank. Even if you don’t fancy playing your luck, wandering along the river bank by night is a charming experience, and you are often entertained by impromptu buskers and performances too.

Evening brings plenty of entertainment, with bars, restaurants, theatres, and cinemas in abundance. Choosing where to eat in Melbourne is not an easy task with so many different bars, restaurants, and cafes offering fare from every corner of the globe. If you want to catch a bite to eat before the show, a safe and scrumptious bet is to head to Lygon Street, where some of the city’s best Italian restaurants are nestled.

Melbourne continuously surprises, and you might find a performing artist down a side street or a juggler in the park. That relaxed culture factor is one of the reasons we think the city is “uber” cool. There are plenty of museums, art galleries, or show houses offering unique shows that will be sure to “blow your mind”. There are the obvious attractions and events for different types of people, like a tour around the MCG for sports fans, galleries for art lovers, and the parks for the strollers. But with a city like Melbourne, the sports fan will never be disappointed! The Australian Tennis Open and the Grand Prix, does it get much better than that?

The city of Melbourne enjoys a temperate climate with warm to hot summers and cool winters. Spring and Autumn both tend to be mild and sometimes balmy. Melbourne weather, though, suffers extremes, with some unbearably hot days—the record high is 46.4C (in February 2009)—and some really cold ones.

This is the result of Melbourne City standing on the edge of a hot land mass, bordered by a cool southern ocean. The city has been dubbed a rainy city, but the records show that not to be the case. Melbourne receives only half of the average rainfall of Sydney.

Melbourne weather is distinct in that it does have four very clear seasons, although summer starts later than many other cities—often not until mid January.

Australia’s second city is a must see when you are in the land down under, as it boasts many first rate attractions. It is commonly paired up with big sister city Sydney by many travellers who only have a limited amount of time on their visit to Australia. There are so many interesting attractions to see and activities to do in Melbourne that you could make an entire trip out of the city by itself.

If you are travelling with your family, then you should definitely take in Luna Park. This attraction is practically a hundred years old. Found along St. Kilda Beach, this theme park is still wonderful and well worth your time with the kids.

Melbourne’s attractions include a mild and lovely year round climate. Nature lovers will want to spend some time at the very worthwhile Royal Botanic Gardens. These beautifully built English style Botanical gardens feature winding paths, tiny lakes, and enormous lawns. Plants from all around the earth grow here alongside numerous types of Eucalyptus trees from all over Australia. Favourite sections of the park include the Oak Lawn, the Rose Garden, and a large cactus section. Every week, a few free guided tours are offered throughout the gardens.

Another fine outdoors attraction that you should take in is the Melbourne Zoo. It may surprise you to learn that the oldest zoo in the continent is also the third oldest zoo on the globe. This zoo is regarded today as among the finest zoos anywhere, dating back to the year 1862. Not to be missed is the Lowland Gorilla breeding in captivity program here.

Another world class attraction in Melbourne for you to visit is the Melbourne Aquarium. This highly popular tourist spot draws visitors from all around the world. As with the Melbourne Zoo, it is considered to be among the best aquariums on earth.

Melbourne beckons you to check out its impressive two cathedrals that are open to visitors. The older of the two is St. Paul’s Anglican Cathedral. The beautiful building was actually built in 1836 on the site of the very first church service held in Melbourne. St. Patrick’s Roman Catholic Cathedral is also worth going to see.

If you love history, science, and natural history, then you should go see the Museum of Victoria. This museum features something for everyone, with a children’s museum, a planetarium, a technology and science section, and anthropology and natural history exhibits. Another interesting museum here is the Polly Woodside Maritime Museum, which is actually a renovated old baroque ship featuring exhibits on the era of sailing ships.

For fans of classical architecture, there are two sites to investigate. The Parliament House is the state government’s seat. Rippon Lea is a later Victorian era building that visitors can access now.

Flights are offered by a number of important international airlines. Air China, Qantas Air, Cathay Pacific, Emirates Air, Malaysia Air, Qatar Airways, Thai Airways, and United Airlines are some of the bigger names that fly to Melbourne. Because there are a number of choices in airlines travelling here, you can count on finding cheap flights to Melbourne.

History

In 1803, Lt. David Collins attempted, but failed, to found a settlement in Port Phillip Bay, where Melbourne now lies, and it was to be more than three decades before a further attempt was made.

In fact, the first permanent settlement in Victoria was not in Port Phillip Bay, but at Portland in the extreme west of the state. Portland dates from 1834. Port Phillip Bay was settled in the following year, 1835, by John Batman and John Fawkner, who crossed Bass Strait from Van Diemen’s Land (Tasmania) in order to found the city that is now Melbourne.

Unlike previous settlers, Batman and Fawkner made an attempt to purchase the land from the local aborigines. At the time, the government of New South Wales was trying to discourage settlement in outlying areas, but it was soon forced to recognise the existence of a community in Port Phillip Bay and to send administrators.

The new settlement strongly resisted the introduction of convicts, although in the end some convict labour was used in the area. The settlers also requested, from an early stage, independence from New South Wales, and this was granted in 1851 when the new colony of Victoria was established.

It was at this point that gold was discovered in Bendigo, Ballarat, and several other locations in Victoria, and the finds included the largest known nuggets in history. Suddenly, Victoria became rich. The population of the state trebled and the new-found prosperity endured for a period of thirty years, manifesting itself even now in the form of some magnificent public buildings, both in Melbourne itself and in the gold towns.

When the gold ran out in the 1890s a period of economic depression followed, but Victoria was already so well established that Melbourne was chosen in 1901 as the venue for the temporary capital of the new Commonwealth of Australia.

In the 1950s, Victoria became a great centre for immigration, particularly for those from Italy and Greece, and Melbourne was hailed as the third largest Greek city in the world. The city still retains a great cosmopolitan flavour reflected particularly in its cuisine and in its corner shops.

Melbourne, with a population of three and a quarter million, is the second largest city in Australia, and it maintains a long-standing rivalry with Sydney as to which is the superior location. It was named after the Prime Minister of Britain at the time of its foundation, Lord Melbourne. By 1847 it had been proclaimed as a city, and by 1861 it had become the largest city in Australia. From 1901 until 1927, it served as the capital of the country.

Weather

Melbourne weather is unpredictable! The warmest months tend to be January and February. Days are often dry and you can expect hot spells. The annual average rainfall for Melbourne is around 600mm, which is a lot less rain than Sydney gets on average.

In summer the sun can be very, very strong. The problem with Melbourne is that you really can never predict the weather. Good advice would be to take lots of water with you at all times, as well as a hat—although, this could be to protect you from either the sun or the rain!

When summer does arrive it’s usually warm and sunny, with a freshening sea breeze in the afternoon. The average maximum daily temperature is 25.9C, although it can regularly climb into the 30s and beyond. Two or three days of hot weather are followed by a southerly wind and temperatures can drop by as much as 10 degrees in 30 minutes.

Autumn will normally see temperatures cool; although, early March has been known to see highs in the mid-30s centigrade.

When Winter does arrive, the city’s weather patterns turn to regular cold and foggy mornings with occasional frosts in outer suburbs. Many days are cloudy and there is little real sunshine. Rain fall also increases. In saying this, though, the city rarely experiences heavy downpours at this time of year. The record minimum for this time of year is minus 2.8C, on July 4, 1901.

The windiest time of year in Melbourne is July and August, with strong, cold north to northwest winds. Southerlies often bring snow to higher ground—the hills within 35km of the CBD. In July 1986 it snowed, albeit very lightly, in the city centre.

After the darkness of winter, Melbourne comes alive in September with the arrival of spring; but the winds usually still persist and it can be cold, with showery, miserable days. Temperatures steadily climb back in to the 20s, and the fog disappears at last.

By October it is not uncommon to see temperatures reaching 25C. And whilst winds continue into November, they steadily turn to northerlies as a false Summer appears. The record temperature for this time of year is 34C, although it can also get as low as 16C.

November and early December can see severe storms and gales, and by late December thunderstorms are not uncommon.