Melbourne's residents are fuelled by the best coffee in Australia, yet the city still runs at a slow pace. Trams travel back and forth along the city's grid, and cycling is a common way to travel between suburbs. It's also becoming increasingly fashionable to get about town on a scooter.

The natural geographic feature of the Yarra River meant that the area was prime settling land for Europeans in the 1830s, and the ornate Victorian-era architecture and leafy, established boulevards reflect this history. Cutting-edge, futuristic developments such as Federation Square – the city's new meeting place – and the waterfront development of the Docklands provide a striking contrast. The city centre is bordered by the Yarra to the south, Fitzroy Gardens to the east, Victoria St to the north and Spencer St to the west (although the Docklands has extended the western border). The main streets running east-west in the city's block-shaped grid are Collins and Bourke Sts, crossed by Swanston and Elizabeth Sts. The heart of the city is Bourke St Mall and Chinatown along Little Bourke St.

Character-filled neighbourhoods, such as Fitzroy, St Kilda and Carlton, hum with life and the city produces some of the most innovative art, music, cuisine, fashion, performance, design and ideas in the country. Melburnians love to shop, eat and attend the many festivals the city offers. They are also a sporty bunch who go crazy during the Australian Football League (AFL) finals in September, and the Spring Racing Carnival in November, when the whole country stops to watch the Melbourne Cup.


Melbourne's climate has an unfortunate reputation: wet, windy, unpredictable and liable to extremes – very hot or very cold and often both on the same day! On the plus side, Melbourne's multitude of parks makes it a beautiful place to witness the changing seasons. It is rarely unbearably chilly – in winter the average temperature ranges between 6°C and 13°C – and temperatures reach above 35°C only a few times each year. Despite its reputation for being wet, Melbourne actually receives only half the average rainfall of Sydney or Brisbane.


Melbourne's most defining characteristic is its cultural diversity. Around 40% of the city's population was born outside Australia, with over 130 countries recorded as Melburnians' places of birth. This ethnic mix greatly influences the way people live and play. There's an outlet, celebration and activity for every taste and preference – in one night in Melbourne you could see butoh (modern Japanese performance art) and take a salsa lesson before heading to a late-night jazz club.

The city has dozens of excellent galleries and probably the healthiest theatre scene in the country, with beautifully renovated venues such as the Princess and Regent theatres. As Melbourne prides itself on being Australia's most 'highbrow' city, it should come as no surprise that the more traditional musical and dance art forms are well represented – classical music buffs will love the Melbourne Chorale and the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra. The Australian Ballet also calls Melbourne home. To top it all off, Melbourne is widely acknowledged as the country's rock capital, and has long enjoyed a thriving pub-rock scene, from which bands such as AC/DC, Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds and Jet emerged.


Melbourne's easy-going pace is perfect for enjoying its gracious Victorian architecture, its wealth of parks and gardens, and its many cultural highlights. Most of the city's main sights are just a short walk or tram stop apart, with plenty of coffee pick-me-up opportunities along the way. Following is just a tiny taste of what's on offer in marvellous Melbourne.

Get your bearings and enjoy a birds-eye view of new developments such as Docklands from the Melbourne Observation Deck at the Rialto Towers.

Take a book, a picnic or a Frisbee; most importantly, take your time at the Royal Botanic Gardens, certainly the finest botanic gardens in Australia. During summer, don't miss the divine experience of a Moonlight Cinema session.

Find out what makes Australians who they are at the inspiring and architecturally magnificent Immigration Museum.

Eat a bratwurst (German sausage) on a Saturday morning while listening to musicians busking outside the deli at the Queen Victoria Market (QVM). The QVM's bustling night market (Wednesday evenings, late November to mid-February) is also well worth a visit.

Head to the lively seaside suburb of St Kilda (think fun, food, cakes and sea breezes). Highlights include Luna Park, an old-fashioned amusement park; the Esplanade Sunday Market (10am-5pm); and catching a ferry (weekends & public holidays) from St Kilda pier across the bay to charming Williamstown.


Melbourne's love of festivals has earned it the nickname 'Events Capital'. Its festival calendar is overflowing, with city streets and venues turned over to the public to celebrate everything from fashion to anti-fashion, film and food. Following is a small selection; for more, pick up a copy of Melbourne Events from the Melbourne Visitor Information Centre in Federation Square.

Australian Open – In January, Melbourne's National Tennis Centre hosts Australia's Grand Slam tennis championship. It attracts the world's top players and provides occasion for adult spectators to paint their faces – in national colours.

Antipodes Festival – March sees the city's Greek quarter in Lonsdale St (between Swanston and Russell Sts) celebrate film, music and visual art, finishing with a street festival on the weekend nearest 25 March.

International Comedy Festival – One of the three largest comedy festivals in the world, this event brings together Australia's finest comedians and some first-rate international performers. It's held at various venues across the city from late March to mid-April.

Melbourne International Film Festival – This celebration of cinema showcases some of the best in international and local film making. It's held over two weeks in July at various cinemas across the city. The programme includes guests, forums and the ever-popular Festival Club for discussions after film screenings.

Royal Melbourne Show – The country comes to town for this large and very popular agricultural fair, held at the showgrounds in Flemington in September. There are dog shows, a rodeo, showjumping, amusement park rides and lots more.

Formula 1 Australian Grand Prix – The Australian Grand Prix dates back to 1928 and was one of the most iconic features of Australian motor sport. In 1985, the race was added to the Formula 1 calendar, putting this Australian classic on an international stage. It is held in Melbourne since 1996

Source of information: Study in Australia