Difference between revisions of "Melbourne"
Revision as of 01:29, 9 October 2011
Melbourne is Australia’s cultural capital, with Victorian-era architecture, extensive shopping, museums, galleries, theatres, and large parks and gardens. Its 4-million residents are both multicultural and sports-mad.
Visit Melbourne are to attend major sporting events, to use it as a base for exploring surrounding regions such as Grampians National Park, The Great Ocean Road, and to visit Phillip Island to view the penguin parade. Many UK visitors come to Melbourne for tours of filming locations of soap opera Neighbours .
Melbourne, Australia's second largest city, spreads southwards along the shoreline of Port Phillip Bay, east towards the Dandenong Ranges, westwards towards the city of Geelong and northwards towards the plains of central Victoria.
Like any large city, Melbourne is divided up into many suburbs - not all will be of interest to travellers.
The Melbourne city centre is a beautiful and interesting mix of the old and the new. You can't miss the Eureka Tower and the Rialto stands out as well but look closely and you will notice some intricate buildings from a bygone era.
Middle and Outer suburbs
It is often said that Melbourne has "four seasons in one day". This is particularly common in late Autumn and early Spring, when the weather is quite changeable, although major extremes are rarely felt in one day. Statistically, Melbourne receives only about half of the average rainfall of Sydney, and generally receives about 600mm (24 inches) of rainfall annually, which is scattered throughout the year - October is usually considered to be statistically the wettest month. You can expect an average summer's day (December, January & February) in Melbourne to be sunny with temperatures hovering around 26-30°C (79-86°F) with the warmest temperatures tending to be in the inland suburban locations and the coast tempered by a refreshing southerly seabreeze. Heatwaves are common during the summer and daytime temperatures can often exceed 40°C (104°F) with hot northerly winds. The highest maximum temperature recorded in Melbourne was 46.4°C (116°F) in 2009 (The 'Black Saturday' bushfires occured on this day). Despite the warm days Melbourne experiences in summer, humidity is rarely a problem and temperatures at night remain mildly comfortable with an average summer low usually about 16°C (61°F). Thunderstorms are more common in summer than winter but usually bring refreshing relief from the occasional stifling daytime temperatures. Winter (June, July & August) is usually cool - with a mix of clear, sunny weather and cold & damp conditions. Temperatures in winter can range from chilly overnight lows as low 2°C (36°F) to daytime highs as high as 19°C (66°F) at times. The coldest temperature recorded in Melbourne was -2.8°C (27°F) all the way back in 1869. Light snow has been recorded in and around Melbourne during the winter months only a couple of times over the last century, the hills east of the city however usually see a snow shower or two every winter. It is best advised to visit Melbourne in the autumn and spring - temperatures during these periods are usually very pleasant, without being unbearably warm and daytime highs are usually in the 20s Celsius (70s Fahrenheit).
The settlement of Melbourne commenced in 1835 when settlers from Tasmania "purchased" land on Port Phillip Bay and the Yarra River from the local Aboriginal tribes. The streets of central Melbourne were carefully laid out in 1837, with some streets 30 metres wide. The first British lieutenant-governor, Charles La Trobe, arrived in 1839 – his Cottage still stands and can be visited in the Kings Domain. The year 1851 was a landmark for Melbourne - the colony of Victoria was separated from New South Wales and very soon after, gold was discovered in Victoria, sparking a huge goldrush. Aspects of the goldrush history can be seen at the Gold Treasury Museum, housed in the Treasury Building built in 1858. Gold was the catalyst for several decades of prosperity lasting through to the late 1880s and examples of the ornate Victorian-era structures built during this time still stand. In 1888, the property boom collapsed and Victoria suffered the depression of the 1890s. Throughout the gold and building booms, Melbourne managed to retain its many spacious parks and gardens and these remain to this day.
In 1901, the British colonies of Australia became an independent federation and Melbourne the temporary capital of Australia, with the Federal Parliament meeting in the Parliament House of Victoria until 1927 when the new Federal capital of Canberra was founded. After World War II, Melbourne grew rapidly, with its mainly Anglo-Celtic population boosted by immigration from Europe, particularly from Greece and Italy. Today Melbourne has the biggest Greek city population (over 800,000) outside Greece and the biggest Italian city population (over 230,000) outside Italy. The significant pre-war Jewish population was also boosted after the war. From the mid-70s, many immigrants came from South-east Asia, particularly Vietnam and Cambodia. Melbourne has had a Chinese population since the goldrush of the 1850s and Chinatown has existed from that time but the population of Chinese and other East Asians has also been boosted by immigration in recent years.
New high-rise buildings replaced many of Melbourne’s interesting old structures in the construction boom of the 1970s and 80s. Melbournians belatedly recognised the loss of their architectural heritage and steps were taken to protect what was left. Construction of the huge Crown Casino (briefly the largest casino in the world) in the 1990s upset some Melbournians with its introduction of a gambling culture. Melbourne’s development continues in the 2000s with the opening of the Melbourne Museum, Federation Square and the Docklands precinct.
Melbourne is often called the cultural capital of Australia, with its many art galleries, film festivals, orchestras, choral and opera productions, vibrant live music scene, and a strong food, wine and coffee culture. People in Melbourne tend to dress up more than in Sydney, partly due to the colder climate. Many bars and clubs have strict dress regulations, such as requiring collars and dress shoes for men.
Particular events to note include the Melbourne International Film Festival in August, the International Art Festival in October, and the Melbourne Comedy Festival in April, as well as individual concerts and exhibitions throughout the year. In addition to the Melbourne Museum, there are special museums dedicated to subjects such as science, immigration, Chinese history, Jewish history, sport, racing, film and moving image, railways, police, fire brigades and banking.
Melburnians are sports enthusiasts and particularly passionate about Australian Rules football , a sport invented in Melbourne. In fact the Australian Football League (AFL) is not so much a sport as a religion in Melbourne with 9 of the 10 Victorian teams being based in Melbourne. As a guide, the entire national competition only has 17 teams, meaning over half the league is based in Melbourne alone. Horseracing is another passion, and the majority of the state has a public holiday on the first Tuesday of November for the racing of the Melbourne Cup , one of the world’s famous horse races. Cricket is the big summer sport and the Melbourne Cricket Ground (the 'MCG')  is one of the world's leading grounds. The National Sports Museum (NSM) (including the Racing Museum) Australia’s only truly dedicated multi-sports museum is also located at the MCG.
Each January, Melbourne hosts tennis' Australian Open , one of the world’s four Grand Slam championships. In March, Melbourne hosts the first race of the Formula One season, the Formula One Grand Prix. The race is held in Albert Park in South Melbourne. Melbournians have also taken football (soccer) to their hearts in recent times. The Melbourne Victory, playing in Australia's premier competition, the A-League, enjoy enormous crowds and colourful, boistrous support at their home ground, Etihad Stadium (previously known as the Telstra Dome). Melbourne is the unquestioned sporting capital of Australia with the largest arenas and two of the major sporting administrations basing their operation in Melbourne: Cricket Australia is a stone's throw from the MCG, and the AFL games are played at both the MCG and Etihad Stadium.
Melbourne is served by two airports, Melbourne Airport (International and Domestic) 22 km (14 mi) north of the city centre, and Avalon Airport (Domestic), about 60 km (37 mi) southwest of Melbourne towards Geelong.
Melbourne Airport (MEL)
Melbourne Airport  (IATA: MEL) is 22km north-west of the city centre, adjacent to the industrial suburb of Tullamarine. There are regular flights from all major Australian and New Zealand cities, and there are direct international flights to many Asian hubs, and onwards connections to Europe. There are direct flights to the west coast of the U.S. and Canada, Santiago, Fiji and Hawaii. It is practical to fly direct to Melbourne from most international points. There is long term car parking available at Melbourne Airport  if you're keen on leaving your car here during your holiday, however, as parking charges can be relatively high at the airport it may be wise to thoroughly explore alternative options.
The airport has four terminals. T1, T2 T3 are in the same building, and it is easy to walk to T4, however each terminal has separate security screening, and access between terminals is not available once in the sterile area.
All arrivals are on the lower level of the terminals, with departures from the upper level.
Taxis between the airport and the city centre cost around $40-45 and take about 25 minutes in clear traffic.
Skybus , tel +61 3 9670 7992, runs a 24/7 shuttle to and from the Southern Cross Station Coach Terminal on Spencer Street at the west end of the Central Business District, just north of Lonsdale Street. There are two airport pickup locations. One is outside the Virgin Australia/REX terminal (T3), 50 m (55 yd) from the international terminal (T2). The other is outside the Qantas/Jetstar domestic terminal (T1). There are ticket desks at both T1 and T3, and if unattended, tickets can be purchased electronically or from the driver.
The trip takes around 20 minutes (in good traffic) and runs directly using the freeway with no stops. It costs $16/26 adult one-way/return, $6 child one-way (between 4 and 14 years of age). There are also several family ticket options available. Frequency ranges from hourly during the wee hours to quarter hourly from about 6:30AM-7:30PM (always on the quarter hour). They also run a connection service between the terminal and central hotels/hostels during the day (M-F 6AM-8PM, Sa Su 8AM-6PM), and this is included in your fare. Otherwise, you can board any train at Southern Cross, or take a tram down Collins St through the city centre. Bookings are not needed for travel from the airport to hotels, but on the way back, book hotel pick-up at least 3 hours ahead.
Alternatively, if heading to southern Melbourne (St Kilda and points beyond), the Frankston and Peninsula Airport Shuttle (FAPAS)  runs roughly-hourly minibus services, advance bookings required either online or at +61 3-97831199. Full adult fares from $18, but there are group discounts and some hostels even offer free rides if you stay for three or more nights.
The airport recently got a new SmartBus service, which offers long operating hours, and high frequencies (minimum 15 minutes during the daytime). If you are economising, a 2-hour 2-zone Metcard gets you into the city for $5.80. Catch bus 901 to Broadmeadows (sign will read "FRANKSTON"), and switch to a train. A bus towards Moonee Ponds (Essendon) will also get you to a railway station, however, operates much less frequently.
From Melbourne CBD to MEL Airport direction. Get a 2-hour zone-1/2 ticket at Flinders Street station for $5.80 to Broadmeadows Station (Craigieburn line). From Broadmeadows Station, you can catch either bus 500 to Melbourne Airport, or bus 901 to Melbourne Airport (which is a SmartBus service). The journey from Flinders Street Station to Broadmeadows station takes about 25~30 minutes. The route 901 operates from 4:54AM till 12:01AM, and has a minimum frequency of 15 minutes during the daytime. The bus from Broadmeadows to MEL airport takes 15 minutes.
Avalon Airport (AVV)
Avalon Airport,  (IATA: AVV), is situated in the Geelong outer suburb of Lara. The airport is located 55 km to the south-west of Melbourne, and is considerably further from Melbourne CBD than the Melbourne airport at Tullamarine. However, a shuttle to Southern Cross costs only $4 more than a shuttle from Tullamarine, and fares from Avalon are sometimes considerably cheaper. The terminal itself is about as simple as it gets, with just an ATM, car hire desks and baggage carousels in what looks like an old hanger at arrivals. The departure facilities are a little better, with a cafe and a bar, and a video arcade room.
Avalon Airport is serviced only by low-cost airlines Jetstar and Tiger. Both airlines also fly from Tullamarine, so be sure to double-check which one your flight departs from!
Options to get to the Melbourne CBD:
All intercity rail services from interstate and intrastate destinations operate to and from Southern Cross Station (formerly Spencer Street Station), located on the western edge of Melbourne's central business district. The station has recently been renovated and has excellent links to the rest of the city's public transport network as it is part of the City Loop. Some services enter stop at Flinders St station immediately prior to Southern Cross, which is usually a better gateway to the city centre.
Services from cities within Victoria are operated by V/Line. These services operate from regional centres such as Geelong, Ballarat, Albury, Bendigo, Bairnsdale. V/Line also operates bus services connecting with these trains.
From Sydney, the quickest route is the Hume Highway, which takes about 10-11 hours. A less popular, longer route is along the coast on the Princes Highway (National Route 1). This adds many hours to the journey as it is longer in distance, speeds are lower, and there are fewer passing lanes.
Adelaide is slightly closer, and can be reached in 8.5-9 hours. Once again, it is possible to go inland or along the coast - the coast is very scenic, but will add a couple of hours to the journey.
A direct journey from Brisbane takes around 21 hours (non-stop) and takes you further inland along the Newell Highway). This makes an interesting alternative to the more common Brisbane-Sydney-Melbourne coastal route.
Bus services within Victoria are operated by V/Line, and operate from most major and many minor Victorian towns.
Melbourne can be reached from Devonport, Tasmania by car/passenger ferries run by Spirit of Tasmania . The journey takes 10 hours and runs every night (in both directions), departing at 9PM and arriving at 7AM. During the peak of summer, there are also day sailings (departing 9AM, arriving 7PM) on many days - check in advance.
Ticket prices depend on time of year and your sleeping accommodation. A seat (no bed) is the cheapest, starting (in off-peak season) from $108 for adults and $82 for children. Bear in mind, the seat is most uncomfortable, equivalent to a cinema seat. Cabins with bunk beds start from $187 adults, $97 children. Peak season costs are about 25% higher. Cars cost $59 all year round.
Melbourne is also served by several cruise ships throughout the year (mostly in the summer cruise season). Check operators for further details.
All passenger ships serving Melbourne arrive at and depart from Station Pier in Port Melbourne which is located a short distance from the CBD. For those without private transport, the 109 tram departs from the old railway station across the road from the Pier and goes right into the heart of Melbourne (continuing to Box Hill in the north-east of the city).
Melbourne has a very large metropolitan area, but most sights of interest are within the city centre and the rest can for most part be reached within about 20 min from the centre on the train or tram. Metlink's Journey Planner  can suggest the best way to get from point A to point B, with schedules, maps and connections. Melbourne has a reputation for a well-planned road system.
By public transport
The public transport system is known as Metlink ,and consists of trams, trains and buses: trams service the central city and inner suburbs, trains service the city and the suburbs, and buses where there are no tram or train tracks. There are connections to most of the major attractions of the city, and it is quite possible to spend time in Melbourne without a car.
Melbourne's trains have been known to be dirty and run-down, but in recent years, a large public transport overhaul means that clean modern trains have replaced most of the fleet. Unfortunately signalling is still not up to snuff, so delays of 10-15 min happen near-daily and cancellations are all too common--if time is critical, catch the train before the one you need.
A single ticket called a Metcard allows travel on all three modes of transport. These are old-fashioned magnetic cards that are slowly being replaced by a smartcard system called Myki, which works on trains, trams and buses within Melbourne but if you are in for a short stay, there is no real advantage of using a Myki, as it costs $10 to buy one (non-refundable).
The city is divided into zones, with Zone 1 covering the central city and inner suburbs (and, consequently, most of the tram network) and Zone 2 covering the middle and outer suburbs. Almost all tickets are time-based; that is, they can be used only for the given period of time within the specified zone(s) from the first time you use it.
There are many kinds of tickets. The basic one-zone, two-hour ticket costs $3.70. Depending on your plans it could be more economical to use of these options:
Children 16 years and under, as well as Australian pensioners with suitable identification such as a Senior's Card, can use half-price concession fares. Note though that students are not eligible for concession fares unless they are Australian citizens undertaking full-time study in Victoria *and* in possession of a valid Victorian Public Transport Concession Card. Children under 4 travel for free.
Metcards are available from:
The "Met Shop" in the Melbourne Town Hall, on the corner of Swanston St and Little Collins St provides timetables and brochures, and sells tickets, maps and travel merchandise (M-F 8:30AM-5PM, Sa 9AM-1PM). The Metlink Information Centre, ph 131638 (131MET), every day 7AM-9PM, provides information and the Metlink website  also provides information including maps, fares and zones and all timetables. A recently released application for iPhones provides up to date timetables for trains and trams in metropolitan Melbourne.
Before each journey, and sometimes to gain access to the station platforms, a Metcard must be "validated" by inserting it into a validation machine. On trams, the Metcard must be validated after boarding the tram; however, tickets purchased on the tram (from the machine) are already validated. The expiry time is printed on the back of the card on validation. You will not be allowed to leave a station with fare gates if you did not validate your ticket before you first got on the train.
If you are caught using a concession ticket without a concession card, you will be fined. The ticket barriers have a light on the top that flashes if you are using a concession ticket. It has now been written into law that your ticket can be inspected even after you have left your train, tram or bus. Fines start at $158 and can be as high as $500.
Be aware of certain regulations surrounding behaviour on the trains. Having your feet against the seat opposite you for example may result in a fine of $180, with similar fines applicable for swearing or drinking whilst on public transport. These fines are generally enforced strictly and discretion is rarely shown. This is due largely to the fact that the transit officers are hired by the train company, and although the fines are paid to the government, the company receives a significant portion of each fine.
Services generally operate between 5AM and midnight Monday to Saturday and after 8AM Sunday morning. After midnight on Saturday and Sunday mornings only, there are NightRider buses which run defined routes to the suburbs (generally following closest road to the railway line). Metcards are now valid on Nightrider services, but you should keep in mind that daily and 2-hourly Metcards expire at 3AM: if you board a bus after this time, you'll need to buy or validate a new ticket. If you board a bus scheduled to depart before the expiry time on your ticket, it will be considered valid for your entire journey, even if you alight after it expires.
Although Melbourne is a reasonably safe city, crime can and does occur on public transport. If you're waiting at a station at night, it would be wise to stand in the designated 'safety area'. These areas are well lit and provide easy access to the emergency intercom, and have CCTV as a deterrent to crime. Some outer suburban stations are known to be 'hang-outs' for youths and louts. Generally the stations are still safe and you will not be hassled if you mind your own business and ignore any illegal behaviour that may be occurring. It is particularly safe following sporting events at night when there are lots of people using public transport, in particular families. Police presence on the network has generally increased, and Police are legally authorised to search anyone, anywhere, anytime, for weapons: this is more prevalent at night, and in the inner suburbs area.
The free City Circle  (Number 35) trams run around the CBD perimeter, covering Flinders St, Spring St, Nicholson St, Victoria St, La Trobe St and Harbour Esplanade along with the new Docklands Precinct. It is a vintage style tram, easily recognisable by its maroon colour. The tram stops along the route are sign posted with City Circle. They run in both directions every 12 minutes every day except Good Friday and Christmas Day from 10AM-6PM, and until 9PM Thursday-Saturday during daylight savings. Several of the trams on this service are equipped with recorded commentary about attractions passed. Tourist information is often available on board either from brochures or from a city guide person. These trams are geared to visitors and provide access to sites of interest to the tourist. They are a fun introduction to central Melbourne and a free way to have a tram experience, but they tend to be painfully slow. View the number 35 tram route  .
The free Melbourne City Tourist Shuttle  bus service stops at key tourist destinations in and around the city. The buses run at 15 minute intervals between 9:30AM and 4:30PM daily. A complete circuit takes 45 minutes, and there is on-board commentary.
Melbourne has an excellent network of bike paths, plus a generally flat terrain, making pedal-power a great way to take in the city. Most paths are "shared footways" under the law, although the majority of users in most places are cyclists. This means cyclists should expect to share the path with pedestrians, dog-walkers, rollerbladers, joggers, prams and tricycles. Some trails contain on-road sections (in marked bike lanes). It is legal to cycle on footpaths only when supervising cycling children or when the path is marked or signposted as allowing bikes. Helmets are required by law, and care should be taken when cycling near slippery tram tracks, particularly on Swanston Street in the morning, as this area is dominated by large, tour coaches before 8:30AM, which has proven to be fatal. When you cross tram track on your bike make sure you cross at an acute angle. Not doing so has caused many an injury, take care especially if you are riding with skinny tyres. Lights and/or high visibility clothing is a smart idea for nocturnal rides.
The main paths of interest to travellers are:
Detailed maps of the bike path network can be found online .
Bikes can be hired from several operators:
A folding bike of 20" wheel base is very convenient when travelling in the city. In addition when in folded condition it can be carried on bus, train and CountryLink without any additional charges. Just tell the driver that it will be folded and hand carried as baggage. As for inter-city train, always take train outside heavy traffic hours usually between 7AM-9AM and 5PM-6PM. If the wheelchair area is not occupied then the bike can be parked in this area safely without folding.
The major car rental chains are well-represented and include Avis, Budget, Europcar, Hertz & Thrifty. Independent car rental companies are also plentiful and can offer good value for money. If you are looking to cover a long distance by car, ensure your rental policy includes unlimited mileage - most economy to standard sized car rental include this already.
There are a handful of intersections in the city centre where you must do a Hook turn to turn right due to tram tracks running down the centre of the road. Follow the signs, pull to the left of the intersection if you are turning right, as far forward as possible, and when the light for the street you are turning into turns green (the traffic on the street you are on stops) make the turn.
Check out CityLink's  site for details of Melbourne's T-shaped tollway which links the Westgate, Tullamarine and Monash (formerly South-Eastern) freeways. It is a fully electronic road with no manual tollgates. You can buy a day pass in advance, or within 3 days of having driven down it, giving your registration and car details. You can do this by phone, Internet, or at some Shell petrol stations. The registered owner of the car will get a fine in the mail if you do not buy a pass within 3 days. The tolled sections are indicated with blue and yellow signs, rather than the standard green and white. CityLink can cut a worthwhile amount of time from your journey, especially if you are driving from, say, the south-eastern suburbs to Melbourne Airport. Motorcycles are free, cars are around $11/day. Larger vehicles are more.
The EastLink tollway has recently been completed. Formerly called the Scoresby, then the Mitcham-Frankston freeway, it links the Eastern, Monash, Frankston and Mornington Peninsula freeways. Like the CityLink, it is a fully electronic road with no toll gates. If you have a tag or account, tolls range from 28c for short trips on some segments, to a toll cap of $5.15. Weekends are 20% off, and motorcycles are half price. If you don't have a tag or account, passes are available for the cost of the trip cap (e.g. travelling one way will cost you $5.15 in a car). Passes are available online at  and can be purchased before or up to 3 days after the trip.
Tags from other Australian cities work on CityLink and the EastLink tollway, but passes do not.
One option for travel on both CityLink and EastLink is the Melbourne Pass. It costs $5.50 to start up an account, and tolls are debited from your credit card automatically once the accumulated tolls and fees reach $10, or when the pass expires (after 30 days, but can be extended once for another 30 days). No tag is required. The pass can be purchased online at 
In the centre, parking at meters and ticket machines can be as much as $3.50 per hour.
Motorcycles and scooters are well catered for as footpath parking is both free and legal (providing the footpath is not obstructed). Scooters are becoming very common, however for all size scooters a motorcycle license must be held.
Melbourne is an excellent city for walking and you should have no problems navigating the CBD grid. A brisk walk may even see you keeping up with the trams, as they crawl through the city centre.
Yellow Melbourne taxis are ubiquitous in the centre but less often spotted in the suburbs. The largest companies are Black Cabs  (tel. 13-CABS/132227) and Silver Top  (tel. 131008), both of which — despite the names — are also yellow in color. Fares are standardized so that the meter starts ticking at $3.20 and clocks up $1.617/km, meaning that short hops within the centre can go for under $10 but longer hauls get pretty expensive pretty fast. Midnight-5AM is 20% more, booking by phone or taking a taxi from the airport costs $2 extra and sitting in traffic is $0.56/min. Between 10PM and 5AM, taxi fares are prepaid: you pay an estimated sum to the driver in advance and the fare is corrected on arrival.
Some taxi companies do not provide a lost property service. Lost items by law must be forwarded to the police if they are not claimed. Melbourne's taxi network is fairly safe, although waiting for a taxi at a rank can sometimes become violent due to the lack of taxi's compared to demand (particularly outside Flinders Street, but there is a police box next to the rank which generally operates at night).
Melbourne attractions are here listed according to their respective districts. See the district pages for full details.
The City Centre probably has the most to attract the traveller, including cafes, boutiques, department stores, and Victorian architecture, which can all be sampled on foot.
The attractions in Carlton are mostly historical as it houses the Melbourne museum, and cultural with its strong Italian heritage.
St Kilda is Melbourne's beachside nightlife precinct and is tremendously popular area for beachcombers and those looking to grab a bite or sip on a latte by the sea.
Greenery and high-end living are the main draws to South Yarra.
Prahran lies to the south of the city and shopping is the main draw.
Tullamarine— Home to Melbourne's International airport.
Brighton— Melbourne's prime bayside suburb featuring excellent upmarket cafes and boutique shops.
Fitzroy/Collingwood - Trendy 'bohemian' suburbs north of the CBD, filled with eclectic cafes and stores.
The most popular industry for a working holiday is to work in hospitality jobs around the St. Kilda area. The wages in all other industries are usually much better than working in hospitality but require more specific skills. At the moment there are a lot of job offers for nurses and craftsmen.
Fruit picking is a possible source of income but in the greater Melbourne area there are not many jobs are offered. You will find better chances are in the dairy business but you should have some basic experience. Grape vine tending is another possibility in the near by Yarra Valley.
Shopping hours in metro Melbourne are typically 7 days a week, 9AM-5:30PM weekdays and 9AM (maybe later)- 5PM weekends. Most suburban shopping centres such as Chadstone have later closing hours on Thursdays and Fridays - mostly up to 9PM. Supermarkets have extended hours 7 days, most opening at 7AM and closing at midnight. There are a lot of 24 hour supermarkets around. Alcohol in Victoria can only be purchased at licensed shops/venues and supermarkets often have an adjacent bottle shop, which close earlier than supermarket hours. You need to be over 18 years old to purchase alcohol. Most bottleshops close by 10PM or so (even on weekends), but there is a bottleshop open until 3AM on Riversdale road in Hawthorn, and 24-hour bottleshops on both Chapel and Lygon streets, in Windsor and Carlton respectively.
Melbourne is known as the fashion capital of Australia with numerous malls and boutique lined streets.
In the CBD itself, Little Collins Street is home to some of the world's top designers and fashion houses; Collins Street also boasts other high end shops such as Louis Vuitton. Brunswick Street (Fitzroy), and the southern end of Chapel Street in Prahran/Windsor, have clusters of stores selling an eclectic mix of vintage, rave, retro and alternative gear such as Shag, Fat Helen's and Beaut Vintage to shop around.
Melbourne Central is another shopping mall based in the city, adjacent to the underground station of the same name. The Bourke Street Mall with the department stores Myer and David Jones is another city-central shopping hub.
For the bargain shopper, there is a DFO Outlet Malls located on Spencer Street, Melbourne city, just north of Southern Cross Railway station.
It is also worth noting, for Backpackers, that Elizabeth Street has plenty of Bargain backpackers stores, for example Mitchell's Adventure (255-257 Elizabeth Street), which can offer outdoor products for bargain prices.
Bridge Road  in Richmond is a strip where warehouse direct outlets rule and no one pays recommended retail price. Chapel Street in South Yarra is a favourite among the locals, with its spread of exclusive boutiques, cafes and well established chain stores. There are also several huge shopping complexes in the outer suburbs, such as Chadstone and Southland (Cheltenham) in the South-East. Doncaster Shoppingtown, Eastland (Ringwood) and Knox City are in the outer East. Northland in the north, Highpoint in the west.
Melbourne is also home to many of Australia's largest shopping centres; including Chadstone (the largest shopping centre in the Southern Hemisphere) which has over 530 stores, Knox City Shopping Centre which has 350 stores, and Fountain Gate Shopping Centre which includes approximately 330 stores.
Looking for something in particular?
For those in the bridal market, High Street in Armadale and Sydney Road in Brunswick are the two main clusters for bridal apparel and accessories. For those who are looking for local, aspiring designer creations, try Greville Street in South Yarra or Smith Street and surrounds in Fitzroy.
For the culinary traveller, Melbourne is one of the best destinations in the world. There is an abundance of affordable, high quality restaurants representing almost every cuisine. Eating out is cheaper than in Western Europe but not as affordable as North America. The service in Australian restaurants may be more discreet than many North Americans may be used to. Although service staff in Australia are paid considerably more than their North American counterparts and tipping is not compulsory, it is customary to give a 10% tip for good service in high-end restaurants.
Excellent eateries can be found sprinkled throughout all of the inner (and some outer) suburbs, while certain neighbourhoods have become magnets for residents and restaurants of particular countries. A large range of restaurants and cafes offering high quality food, and representating various cultures and countries, are scattered through the central city, Southbank, Carlton (mostly Italian and touristy), Victoria Street in Richmond (many low cost popular Vietnamese and South East Asian restaurants), Docklands, South Yarra and Prahran. Sydney Road in Brunswick and Coburg is known for its many Middle Eastern, Lebanese, Greek and Turkish restaurants. The popular tourist area of St Kilda offers a large range of good quality restaurants and cafes, especially on Acland Street, and Fitzroy Street.
English-style fish and chip shops are scattered through the suburbs - particularly in bayside areas. Souvlaki and gyros are very popular in Melbourne and outlets are plentiful through the inner and outer suburbs. Japanese nori rolls and sushi is very popular and many stores through the city and suburbs sell these items.
There is a concentration of African cafes in Nicholson St, Footscray and Racecourse Road, Flemington. Most serve a small range of Ethiopian cuisine and coffee, and are frequented by the local African residents. The Abyssinian (www.theabyssinian.com.au)is a well-regarded Eritrean/Ethiopian restaurant popular for locals and tourists for a more elaborate dinner. The stewed foods are served on a large pancake in the middle of the table. Everyone eats with their hands which is messy but fun.
"Australian cuisine" is a nebulous concept that may include traditional native foodstuffs and more modern cafe infusions of international influences. Items such a emu and kangaroo meat are unusual, and are most likely to be found only at the high-end fine dining restaurants as a speciality item. You can however, find great kangaroo steaks at the Napier Hotel (Napier St, Fitzroy) for around $20, or at the Edinburgh Castle pub on Sydney Rd, Brunswick for around $10.
Meat pies are available from bakeries and convenience stores.
High quality delicatessen style eating available in many of a cafes in the small lanes of central Melbourne. Many high quality deli style diners can be found outside the city, in Acland Street, St Kilda.
Chinese cuisine has a long tradition in Melbourne and a large number and range of quality restaurants exist. Many are in Chinatown in Little Bourke Street, City centre. They are also dotted through the inner and outer suburbs, with concentrations in Richmond, Footscray, and suburban Box Hill, Glen Waverley and Springvale.
Most of the food is from the Southern (Cantonese) school of cooking, although Northern favourites like dumplings are also available. Eating dim sum, which is consumed either during breakfast or lunch (called yum cha or "drinking tea" in Cantonese) is an extremely popular Sunday pastime for Australians of all ethnic backgrounds.
If you're after a budget option (meals $5-$10), try Camy's dumpling house (Shanghai style dumplings) on Tattersalls Lane in the CBD. In the evening, the easiest - and most amusing - option is the all-you-can eat service for $12 per person. Service is dicey, but always exciting.
Lonsdale Street in the City Centre is Melbourne's Greek precinct with bars, cafes and restaurants, and cake shops. Greek restaurants and food outlets can be found in Sydney Road in Brunswick, Swan Street, Richmond, Coburg and Oakleigh in the south eastern suburbs which have many Greek cafes specialising in frappe, cakes and good souvlaki.
Indian restaurants can be found throughout Melbourne, particularly in the city, North Melbourne, and inner eastern suburbs such as Richmond and Hawthorn. There are also numerous Indian snack bars in the city that serve cheap but tasty curries and samosas, cafeteria-style.
Nepalese food is also popular in Melbourne, and some restaurants feature both Nepalese and Indian cuisine on their menus. An increasing number of Indian restaurants offer home delivery.
Befitting its large number of Indonesian students, Melbourne has many Indonesian restaurants. One of the most famous is Blok M on Commercial Road, Prahran, which many famous Indonesians have visited. Another popular restaurant is Nelayan with two restaurants on Swanston Street and Glenferrie Road, Agung on Glenferrie Road, Bali Bagus on Franklin Street, Es Teler 77 on Swanston Street, Nusantara in Caulfield and Bali Bowl on Flinders Lane. There is also Warung Gudeg, specialising in Jogjakartan local cuisine in Clayton. Warung Agus in West Melbourne serves Balinese cuisine on a rather upscale atmosphere.
With its large Italian population Melbourne has countless Italian restaurants, mostly offering food from the southern regions of the Italian peninsular.
Italian cafes and restaurants are plentiful throughout Melbourne but are in the greatest concentration in Lygon Street, Carlton, just north of the city centre. Lygon Street is where Melbourne's coffee culture originated. Suburban Italian restaurants are often large and family orientated and tend towards the pizza, pasta, seafood and steak formula.
Pizza outlets are very much part of the Melbourne landscape. These include Piazza 51 in Sydney Road, Brunswick, Spiga in Melbourne Central, Pizza Meine Liebe in Northcote, and countless options in Lygon Street.
A quick "sushi" take away lunch can be bought on almost every block where there is food. In and out of Chinatown there are also plenty of places that have good bento, udon and donburi as well.
For dinner, many of the inner city suburbs have Japanese restaurants, but in the city itself there is a long an interesting Japanese restaurant history that continues to this day. Both Melbourne's oldest, Kuni's (which has been around since 1978) and it's sister restaurant Kenzans are known for a very authentic, if expensive, meal. There are a plethora of choices for those on stricter budgets as well.
St. Kilda East and Caulfield are home to vibrant Jewish communities and kosher bakeries and cafes abound most situated on Carlisle Street in Balaclava, Kooyong Road in Caulfield North and Glenhuntly Road in Elsternwick.
Malaysians and Singaporeans feeling homesick will find host of restaurants and foodcourt outlets offering items like roti canai/paratha, nasi lemak, prawn noodles, laksa. Many are in the City Centre; there are Malaysian restaurants scattered throughout Melbourne. Little Bourke Street has a few Malaysian run eateries as well as QV's Kopitiam (corner of Lonsdale and Swanston St, CBD), Boxhill has a new Malaysian run (with Malaysian cooks - most Malaysian run eateries employ cooks from China) eatery called Petaling Street which has provided the most authentic fare so far.
Arab, Lebanese, Moroccan and Turkish restaurants tend to be concentrated in Sydney Road in Brunswick and Coburg to the north of the city centre. These restaurants can also be found in the outer suburbs that are home to those communities, including Dandenong.
Thai restaurants are ubiquitous in Melbourne: even dining precincts mostly known for Italian or Vietnamese food boast Thai restaurants.
Vegetarian food is widely available in Melbourne, and you can expect every restaurant or cafe to have a few vegetarian or vegan options. There are also many vegetarian restaurants: Vegie Bar in Brunswick St, Fitzroy, Gopals in Swanston St and Shakahari in Lygon St, Carlton are just some of the options. Crossways at 123 Swanston St. serves a very popular $5 all you can eat vegetarian lunch, Mon-Sat.
Melbourne's Little Vietnams are in Footscray, North Richmond and Springvale out in the far eastern suburbs. The streets in these areas are lined with pho (noodle) shops and restaurants offering other Vietnamese favourites. Many outlets have also appeared along Swanston Street in the City Centre.
Spanish, Argentinian, Burmese and Polish restaurants can be found in the Richmond/Collingwood/Prahran area.
Melbourne has some Cajun/Creole restaurants and one or two American style diners, but US cuisine is otherwise absent: Foods like Southern-style barbecue and clam chowder are nearly impossible to find.
There are several Korean restaurants in the city centre.
Melbourne has a long and rich coffee culture beginning with Victorian era coffee palaces and further enhanced by Italian migrants arriving in the aftermath of World War II.
Perhaps the most famous Italian style cafe is Pellegrini's, 66 Bourke St, Melbourne city. Fitzroy is known for funky, bohemian-style cafes. Collins Street features many elegant cafes. Many Italian style cafes are found in Carlton; Brunetti's is open late and always packed.
Serious espresso connoisseurs would enjoy visiting St Ali cafe/roastery in South Melbourne, Auction Rooms (Errol St) in North Melbourne, or the Maling Room café in Canterbury.
Bars and Clubs
Melbourne nightlife is 24 hours, loud, colourful and anything goes. Door policies can be strict but once inside high quality entertainment is guaranteed. DJ's, live music, artists, beautiful people and so much more can be found. There truly is something for everyone and every taste.
Alongside it's many clubs, Melbourne is also a fast-rising festival city. Global event companies such as ID&T, Global Gathering, Ministry of Sound and Trance Energy have begun taking notice of the city and bringing their events. Upcoming electronic music events are well catalogued on www.inthemix.com.au
Gay, lesbian and transgendered party goers are welcome everywhere as Melburnians are on the whole very tolerant and welcoming people. Perhaps the one bad thing is that nothing really starts happening until midnight!
The city centre has a number of pubs, the most famous being the Young and Jackson. Melbourne is also famous for its many trendy bars in the CBD. Most of these, however, are down narrow alleys and streets, and are therefore hard to find unless you know where you are going.
The inner northern suburbs, such as Collingwood and Fitzroy cater for the young, laid-back, and bohemian crowd. Here you will find lots of live music, cheaper prices, and a relaxed atmosphere. Head for Brunswick and Gertrude Streets in Fitzroy and Smith Street, Collingwood for cafes, bars and live music, while Lygon Street, Carlton has a range of Italian restaurants and cafes with a student vibe, as it's located near the University of Melbourne. Victoria Street, North Richmond is the heart of Melbourne's Vietnamese community, with many cheap and cheerful restaurants serving good food.
Chapel Street/ Toorak Road in South Yarra and Prahran has the most glamourous bars and clubs. Here, expect high prices, strict dress codes, and beautiful people who want to be seen partying with the best. St. Kilda has a little bit of everything. With it's proximity to the beach, it is often regarded as the Melbourne suburb that feels most like Sydney.
The past decade has seen a revival of Melbourne's inner-city bar scene, with dozens of weird and wonderful watering holes opening up within forgotten alleyways and anonymous lanes of the City Centre (CBD). Melbourne also has its fair share of stylish places to drink, although the better ones can be hard to find. The theory seems to be: the harder your bar is to find, the more people will talk about it. Secrets are tucked around areas like Prahran, South Yarra and many other areas. However there are plenty of alleyway bars, once you find one they seem to pop up everywhere you look. Melbourne's clubs often market a members only rule which can upset your more upmarket traveler. The rule is in place to prevent fighting and unappealing groups of men entering a nice club and destroying the atmosphere.
Australian licensing laws are very similar to those in the UK, i.e. you are not allowed to be drunk on licensed premises. In practice though, Melbourne venues and bouncers draw the line very low. Ejection from a premises can be expected for fighting, vomiting, or frequent falling over. Some pubs and clubs are quicker to eject patrons than others, but it's only ever a short walk to another. Licensing is more liberal then what one may be used to, as you can still expect to find a drink past 2AM. This has lead to a culture of late night drinking where some venues won't get busy until some time after 11PM, especially true during summer.
Melburnians often draw a distinction between 'bars', meaning the small watering holes described above, and 'pubs' which are larger establishments in the usual Australian or British sense of the word. Melbourne's pubs, particularly those in the city and inner suburbs, usually serve restaurant-standard food and a wide range of local and imported beers. Pubs usually offer lunch from approximately midday to 2PM, and reopen their kitchens for dinner from approximately 6PM to 9PM.
Melbourne's budget accommodation options can be found in two main areas, namely in the City Centre and in the seaside suburb of St Kilda. However, outside these two areas, there are also several popular budget options in bohemian Fitzroy, South Melbourne, and Windsor.
Please note that around the Melbourne F1 Grand Prix (late March) and other international events, hostel accommodation is booked out and some hostels raise their prices. Be sure to book ahead.
Accommodation in this price bracket can mostly be found in the city centre. There are however options scattered throughout the suburbs.
The City Centre remains the main area for this category of accommodation.
The Blackman - An Art Series Hotel, 452 St.Kilda Rd, +61 3 "9039 1444. The Blackman Hotel is a five-star luxury boutique with 207 rooms. The hotel was named for Artist Charles Blackman and was built within and above the historic Airlie Mansion.
After a fire gutted the original building in 2001, most of Melbourne's grand General Post Office (250 Elizabeth St; Phone: 13 13 18; Fax: 9203 3078; M-F 8:30AM-5:30PM, Sa 9AM-4PM, Su 10AM-4PM; ) has now been turned into an upmarket retail precinct. The main post office in the Melbourne CBD is situated at the corner of Elizabeth and Little Bourke Streets. Post restante services are also located here.
Payphones are easily found through the city, but many are being phased out due to growing mobile phone ownership. These phones are coin-operated or use prepaid Phonecards, which are available from most convenience stores or newsagents. International calling cards are also available at these outlets. Using a payphone to make a local call will cost you $0.50 (untimed, although some phones limit your call to 15 minutes).
Mobile phone coverage within the CBD and surrounds is usually good-to-excellent. All mobile carriers in Melbourne use GSM 850/1900, and UMTS 2100 is offered by all carriers except Telstra, who instead offer UMTS 850. By law, you will require some identification to purchase a prepaid (PAYG) SIM card which are sold at most convenience stores, newsagents and supermarkets. This may be requested at time of purchase, and/or time of activation.
Melbourne's area code for landline telephones is 03 (internationally dial +613). To make an international direct dial call, the trunk line access code is generally 0011.
Internet cafes are dotted throughout the city, especially near the backpacker enclaves of St Kilda and Flinders Street. Speeds are usually excellent and rates range from $2.50 - $12 per hour, the cheapest usually found in combination market/internet cafes in the Asian parts of town. Some of the best include:
While Melbourne is a very safe city for its size, the usual precautions still apply as for any large city, including keeping valuables hidden, and travelling with a friend or companion on the street or a train late at night, if possible.
Certain areas fine during the day can be unsafe at night if you are alone, including the Collingwood and Footscray areas. However, these areas are also heavily patrolled by the Victorian Police Force, so, provided you stick to main streets (such as, for Collingwood, Smith Street), you should be fine. This police presence does not apply to the outer-suburban areas like Dandenong, Sunshine and Ringwood, and though it is unlikely a tourist would ever want to go to any of these places, one should remain vigilant at night in these areas as violence is "part of the culture".
Melbourne's red-light districts include King Street in the centre, known for its concentration of strip clubs, and certain parts of St Kilda (in particular Grey Street, Inkerman Street and Greeves Street)where there is some illegal street prostitution, but you are more likely to face drunken revellers and approaches from street walkers than any major threat. Melbourne City Council has also recently established all-night "Safe City" taxi ranks with security guards on King Street, outside Flinders Street Station and on Bourke Street.
If you travel by train at night, stay in the front carriage close to the driver's area and note emergency buttons. If a problem occurs, push emergency buttons on the train or railway station to attract attention. Stay in Safety Zones while on stations at night. These are marked with yellow lines and are usually well lit and have emergency buttons as well as about 4 cameras pointed at the area. Robbery does happen on the train system, especially at night, though, this kind of occurance is rare. Railway police patrol most services. In early 2010, there were attacks on Indian students, sometimes claimed to be racially motivated.
If you are driving your own car or rented automobile beware of car theft or break-in. Avoid temptation by hiding valuables out of sight, and always lock the car and leave the windows up before you leave. If you are waiting in your car, lock the car as well. A police officer will always show ID before asking you to open your door or window.
Pickpocketing is rare in Melbourne, but be aware of your belongings out the front of Flinders Street Station and the first block of Swanston Street (between Flinders and Collins Streets).
Beggars frequent the southern ends of Elizabeth and Swanston Streets, Bourke Street Mall, and the intersection of Bourke with Exhibition and Russell Streets. You can also expect to be persistently targeted if seated outdoors at a pub or cafe in the city. Verbal abuse and intimidation by beggars is uncommon but by no means unknown.
Although scams are rare in Melbourne, be wary of real estate agents (especially if you have newly arrived and plan to stay only for the short term). There have been many cases of real estate agents preying upon overseas students in particular. Common scams include charging tenants for costs that don't exist (such as charges for 'advertising' when tenants move out) and deducting costs for non-existent reparations and cleaning from the bond. Be sure to consult the Tenants Union of Victoria  and know your rights when you are charged for anything and move in and out.
Intensive solicitation of pedestrians by corporations and activist groups ('chuggers') has become common in the city. Many resort to intrusive tactics such as blocking your path or occupying all four corners of a street intersection. They are not after a one-off donation, but to sign you up to a regular contribution plan from your credit card or bank account (from which they receive a substantial percentage).
The infamous Melbourne gangland war that claimed many lives is now over and despite anything you see on the media having to do with it, violent criminal ocurrences are very rare and isolated. As long you are not involved with Melbourne's underworld, you will not have anything to worry about.
Melbourne is more-or-less centrally located on the coast of Victoria, and there are many natural and manmade attractions close enough to easily visit in a day's return drive. Another way to visit regional Victoria is utilising the VicLink public transport system. Regular train journeys leave from Southern Cross station. Regional attractions include:
Melbourne Area (less than an hour's drive each way)