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Melbourne Cruises

About Melbourne, Australia

Capital of the Australian state of Victoria, Melbourne has been called one of the world’s most livable cities. It enjoys a scenic setting on the large bay of Port Phillip. The Kulin Nation, made up of a handful of tribes, is estimated to have inhabited the region for the last 3,000 years. A great respect is paid to these ancient ancestors, and much can be learned about them at the Bunjilaka Aboriginal Cultural Center.

Europeans settled here in 1835, but Melbourne’s indigenous heritage remains strong. Soon after Queen Victoria declared it a city of the Crown in 1847, the rush to find gold in its rivers and streams made it one of the world’s largest and wealthiest cities. Today, it is celebrated as the country’s cultural capital of the arts and exudes a rich and lively British flair, from its narrow shopping lanes in the city center to the fanciful Victorian buildings along Collins Street. A literal slice of England can be found in Fitzroy Gardens, 64 acres of beautifully designed topiary and blooms.

Melbourne Lifestyle and Culture

As the cultural hub of Australia, Melbourne hosts many museums. Yet art can also be found on the sides of buildings, part of the edgy street art scene. The Arts Center Melbourne is the premier destination for performing arts, attracting top talent in theater, symphony, opera, ballet and more. Architecturally, Melbourne is an amalgamation of old and new with Victorian-style construction, stately gold-rush buildings from the mid-to-late 1800s and 21st-century skyscrapers. Stroll the esplanade in St. Kilda or admire the beautiful homes of East Melbourne.

With hundreds of sports fields, swimming pools, golf courses and other athletic complexes, it’s no secret that Melburians (don’t call them Melbournites) are sports fanatics, and Australian Rules Football, or “footy” as it’s commonly called, reigns supreme. Docklands Stadium is home of the Australian Football League (AFL) and a number of local teams. Horse racing is another favorite; the Melbourne Cup Carnival is four days of world-class racing.

Festivals are a huge part of life in this cosmopolitan city, and can find one happening at almost any time of year. Topping the list are the Melbourne International Comedy Festival (one of the largest cultural events in all of Australia), the Melbourne International Jazz Festival and the Melbourne Food and Wine Festival.

Melbourne Sights and Landmarks

The Arts Center Melbourne, with its iconic metal spire, is the city’s most important cultural landmark. The complex includes Hamer Hall, the Arts Center complex, the National Gallery of Victoria (NGV) and the Sidney Myer Music Bowl. The NGV itself is the oldest and most visited gallery in Australia, displaying a wide range of local and international artists, exhibits, programs and events—the most significant collection in the region. The Ian Potter Center is the branch of the NGV that focuses on Australian works, with both permanent and temporary exhibitions. It sits across the river on Federation Square, a large plaza originally conceived as the city’s official meeting spot.

The impressive Melbourne Museum provides an overview of the region’s natural and cultural history, complete with dinosaur fossils, and houses the Bunjilaka Aboriginal Cultural Center. For a glorious example of gold-rush architecture, head to the State Library of Victoria, which opened in 1854. Australia’s oldest public library boasts a grand staircase and a domed reading room with ornate plasterwork. More than two million volumes are here. To experience some of the city’s English heritage, stroll the picturesque pathways of Fitzroy Gardens, 64 acres of beautifully designed topiary and blooms, and see Cook’s Cottage within, the reconstructed small house of the famed explorer relocated here from his native North Yorkshire.

Melbourne Entertainment and Activities

With so many urban parks to choose from, a leisurely walk is never far away. The Royal Botanic Gardens and its sprawling lawns tempt visitors to stroll, while miniature ecosystems and a large range of flora from around the world will satisfy everyone’s inner botanist. A different view of nature can be found at the Melbourne Observatory, also within the Royal Botanic Gardens.

For more urban adventure, walk down Chapel Street with its local boutiques, collectible shops, restaurants and bars in the trendy South Yarra-Prahran neighborhood. Or stroll along Hosier Lane, Melbourne’s artsy cobblestone lane filled with all forms of ephemeral street art, from stencils to temporary installations. If you want to see more but need a respite from walking, the free City Circle Tram stops at many sights and attractions around the city center.

Melbourne Restaurants and Shopping

Heralded by some as Australia’s food capital, Melbourne has a vast and varied culinary scene. Whether your dining style is elegant or casual, eight-course tasting menu or small plates, one thing you’ll always find is delicious regional cusine.

For special occasion dining with a view, try Vue de Monde on the 55th floor of the iconic Rialto building. The modern Australian menu complements the locally inspired decor and sweeping city vistas. For something more rustic, Añada in the hip Fitzroy district serves up beautifully crafted tapas from southern Spain and delightful sherries. For delicious food try Charcoal Lane; dishes have an Aboriginal influence—for example, the pan-seared emu filet and seasonal vegetable plate with rainforest herbs.

Queen Victoria Market is a site in and of itself as the largest open air market in the southern hemisphere, with hundreds of vendors. While food is the main attraction, you can also browse clothing, art and locally made goods. Chapel Street boasts many interesting boutiques.