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Overview to Melbourne: Travel Guide and Tourist Information

Melbourne's Spectacular Skyline

Melbourne boasts everything you might expect when thinking of Australia: sun, sea and sand – and all in great supply. But with dozens of galleries and museums and a cosmopolitan atmosphere, it’s also held to be the country's bohemian capital.

The Central Business District is a combination of Victorian-era buildings, such as those that line Collins St, interspersed with grand modern developments like the Rialto Towers (once the southern hemisphere's tallest structure).

Although the action in Melbourne is by no means confined to the center of the city, pedestrianized Bourke St is the busy heart of the city. To the far south of the CBD (just off Flinders St), the lively Federation Square, meanwhile, competes for this title.

For some of the best shopping in Melbourne, the 19th century Block Arcade (dissecting Collins St and Elizabeth St) and the even older Royal Arcade stand out. The city’s food market, Queen Victoria Market (off Elizabeth St), is also a wonderfully atmospheric place.

But as with everything else in this city of districts, there are plenty of other options elsewhere: there’s alternative clothes shopping out on Prahran’s vibrant Greville St and Chapel St (between South Yarra and Toorag) is smarter, while Richmond’s Bridge Rd has still more choice.

And in terms of the city’s highly-acclaimed cultural offerings, the Melbourne Museum in the middle of Carlton Gardens, the Australian Centre for Contemporary Art (ACCA) and the Ian Potter Centre of Australian Art are all excellent.

Down on the south side of the Yarra lie Southbank and the ‘Arts Precinct’ of St Kilda Road. Here, there’s a tempting mixture of culture – the Victorian Arts Centre, the National Gallery of Victoria and the Performing Arts Museum – along with great walks by the river.

Sitting adjacent to Southbank on the other side of the St Kilda Road are the open green spaces of Alexandra Gardens, Queen Victoria Gardens, the Kings Domain and the fantastic Royal Botanic Gardens. Not for nothing is Victoria known as the ‘Garden State’!

Still further south and the city gives way to its many miles of stunning coastline, with St Kilda Beach as popular for its rash of trendy shops and cafés as for its golden sands and surf. Elsewhere, the western suburb of Williamstown has similarly attractive beaches.

Slightly more surprising, perhaps, is the proximity of a number of good ski resorts. The High Country, a popular alpine resort in northeastern Victoria, is around four hours’ drive from Melbourne while Mount Buller (a little nearer) is where the locals tend to go.

Sports fans, too, will love Melbourne: from the Rod Laver Arena in Melbourne Park (which holds the Australian Open Tennis Championships) and the massive Telstra Stadium to the near 100,000 capacity of the MCG, for sporting events, Melbourne is the place bar none.

But the city is all this… and more. Somehow, Melbourne manages to pack in culture, top beaches, outdoor activities, sports, great nightlife and shopping, without ever losing that quintessential laid-back Aussie feel.

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