Despite its skyscrapers, Melbourne's architecture and mood is imbued with the intrinsic magic of a town in Old Europe located right in the middle of Oceania. Seen from the suspended glass cube of Eureka Skydeck 88, Melbourne stretches out beyond the port to the mouth of the Yarra River, which crosses the city, crying out to the State’s immense expanses of wilderness. However, it is from the open sea that boats arrived from around the world, sailing in to Port Phillip Bay, attracted by the call of the gold rush. As you can learn within the fantastic Melbourne Museum, this precious ore helped to build Victoria’s capital city. Still today, for many, Melbourne epitomises the essence of the Australian legend.
Melbourne is also home to a rich and diverse gastronomic melting pot, where you can find an abundance of delicious seafood, fresh produce and delicacies sold in local markets such as the Queen Victoria Market. Melbourne chefs, including Ben Shewry and Shannon Bennett, are some of the most talented in the world, exalting Australian cuisine with true flair in the city’s fancy eateries, chic restaurants and secret coffee bars, hidden away in the labyrinth of famous laneways, the city’s typical narrow alleyways. The old façades of the city’s most famous laneways, Hosier Lane and Flinders Lane, boast stunning frescos of urban art, demonstrating the intense artistic life that can be found in Melbourne, Sydney’s rival for the coveted title of the capital of culture. Southbank is the epicentre of this spirit, brought to life by concerts, plays and exhibitions at the National Gallery of Victoria. On the other side of the Yarra, there’s the Australian Centre for Moving Image (ACMI), then Fitzroy. The former working-class district is now fashionable, with its buzzing nightlife and bohemian culture, which runs through the designer shops on Brunswick Street, its main thoroughfare. Locals really know how to live here, as you can see from the chic style of its malls, such as the Chadstone Shopping Centre or the Emporium Melbourne, the new temple of luxury.
Melburnians celebrate their food, cinema, art and music at every opportunity, including at the White Night, one of the city’s many festivals. Melbourne also hosts major sporting events, including the Melbourne Cup, the Australian Tennis Open and the Australian Grand Prix. But in the stands of the Docklands or MCG stadium, it’s cricket and football that gets the blood pumping and the cheers going at the Boxing Day Test and AFL matches.
Despite all of this buzz, Melbourne also knows how to relax and take it easy, living up to its reputation as the nicest city in the world, where it’s all about outdoor living. Large urban parks, such as the Birrarung Marr, the renowned Royal Botanic Gardens, Melbourne Zoo, with its koalas and kangaroos, or St Kilda Beach remind you that the vibrant and fascinating great outdoors is right on your doorstep in Melbourne.