Melbourne is one of the most incredible cities in Australia, but it’s also somewhat of a mystery to those who have never been. Australia’s second largest city is home to beautiful architecture, wondrous art and delicious food. All over Melbourne you’ll find culture, and hidden gems just waiting to be discovered. To help you out a little, here are 10 facts about Melbourne you should know before going!
1. Melbourne is capital of a state called Victoria
One of the first things to know about Melbourne is that it is capital of a state called Victoria and is home to approximately 4 million people. Its city centre is known as the Central Business District, but better known as the CBD. It’s here that you’ll find Flinders St Station which is the city’s best-known landmark, along with the river which flos through it, the River Yarra. But by far the best place for a view of Melbourne is Eureka Skydeck 88 (entrance at 7 Riverside Quay, Southbank) which right now, at 285 metres high, is the highest observation deck in the Southern Hemisphere.
2. There are two main modes of public transport
There are two main modes of public transport in Melbourne. First of all you’ve got trains which serve both inner and outer suburbs. Secondly, and more famously, are the city’s trams which can be seen transporting people all over the city. By far the most popular tram though, is the free City Circle tram. This tram, which is route number 35, loops the CBD stopping at or close to many of the city’s best known attractions. Along with this free tram there is also a free shuttle bus in operation.
3. It’s the unofficial sporting capital of Australia
Third on our list of 10 facts about Melbourne, the city is the unofficial sporting capital of Australia. And unquestionably the most famous venue here is called the Melbourne Cricket Ground, better known as the MCG. When it’s full it fits over 100,000 people and while it’s called the Melbourne Cricket Ground, as well as cricket you can also see Aussie Rules Football here. Other well-known sporting grounds include the Rod Laver Arena where the Australian Open tennis final is played, and Flemington Racecourse where the famous Melbourne Cup horse race is held.
4. Devote some time to ‘Fed Square’
Located right across the road from Flinders St Station in Central Melbourne is Federation Square, better known as Fed Square. It’s an entertainment and cultural centre which you should make sure to visit. The main attraction here is the Australian Centre for the Moving Image which is full of hands on exhibits and is definitely worth spending a couple of hours in. Fed Square is also where you’ll encounter a part of the National Gallery of Victoria called the Ian Potter Centre which is the world’s first major gallery dedicated exclusively to Australian art. When you’re here you might even be lucky enough to be treated to some free entertainment. It’s also good to note that free WiFi is available throughout the entire square.
5. It’s home to some beautiful parks
One of our favourite things about Melbourne is that it’s home to some great parks and gardens to explore. Close to the CBD are the Queen Victoria Gardens which are popular with walkers, while beside it are the Royal Botanic Gardens which covers 38 hectares and are home to over 10,000 species of plant as well as the imposing Government House. Carlton Gardens in front of the Royal Exhibition Building are also worth checking out. Albert Park in the neighbourhood of the same name is one of the city’s best-loved parks. It’s built around Albert Park Lake and, among other things, boasts amazing views of Melbourne’s skyline.
6. There are lots of alleys, lanes, arcades and more to explore
Melbourne is full of alleys, lanes and arcades to explore such as Degraves St here in Central Melbourne which is a great place to stop off for a coffee. Others worth checking out are Centre Place which is just across the road from it, the Block Arcade which is full of specialist shops, and Howey Place which is good for fashion. And you can pick up a map of these alleys and laneways from the Visitors Centre in Fed Square.
7. It’s got some great museums
Those who like culture will be in their element in Melbourne as the city is home to a host of fascinating museums and galleries. These include the National Gallery of Victoria which has over 65,000 artworks spanning thousands of years, the Immigration Museum which explores the stories of people who migrated to Victoria, and the National Sports Museum at the MCG which is home to Australia’s finest collection of sporting heritage. The city’s flagship museum is Melbourne Museum which is in the Carlton neighbourhood north of the city centre. This award-winning museum has 8 galleries which focus on everything from natural environment to culture and history.
8. It’s right beside one of the world’s best coastal drives
One of the most popular things to do when in Melbourne is go on a trip down the Great Ocean Road. It is one of the world’s most famous coastal drives, passing by the famous Bells Beach as well as through seaside towns such as Lorne and Apollo Bay. But by far the highlight of the Great Ocean Road is a collection of limestone stacks known as the 12 Apostles which are one of Australia’s most iconic landmarks.
9. Make sure to check out its neighbourhoods
Melbourne has lots of great neighbourhoods to explore. St Kilda is extremely popular with backpackers which is largely due to its golden beach. It’s also where you’ll find the famous Luna Park. Williamstown is also worth visiting as it’s a great place to catch sunsets as well as shots of the skyline overlooking the water. If you like to go shopping then you need to explore Central Melbourne known locally as the CBD which stands for Central Business District. And in particular, check out the area around the Burke St Mall. Another neighbourhood you should check out is South Yarra which is where you’ll find one of the city’s best known streets, Chapel St which is great for shopping.
10. Certain streets are well known when it comes to eating out
Rounding out our list of 10 facts about Melbourne, it’s famous for its restaurants and there are certain streets that are well known when it comes to eating out. Such as Lygon St up here in the Carlton neighbourhood which is lined with Italian restaurants. Other streets well known for their restaurants include Little Bourke St in the CBD which is the heart of the city’s Chinatown, Ackland St in St Kilda which is lined with places serving all types of cuisine, Victoria St in Richmond is where to head if you’re looking for Vietnamese food, and Brunswick St in Fitzroy where is also where you’ll find a great selection of bars. And remember wherever you see BYO it means you can bring your own alcohol.
If you’re planning a trip to Australia, you’d be insane to miss out on Melbourne. The city is one of the Southern Hemisphere’s brightest sparks, so make sure it’s close to the top of your Australia bucket list!