This is a city of style, art, architecture, and theatres. Known as a style-setter, Melbourne is home to some of the best shopping and nightlife in Australia, a non-stop program of film and food festivals, cutting edge design and architecture, and major art exhibitions and musical extravaganzas.
The city is famous for its crowd-pleasing events – from the Melbourne International Comedy Festival to the Melbourne International Flower and Garden Show, the Melbourne Fashion Festival and Spring Racing Carnival.
Melbourne loves its sport and every year plays host to international tournaments and grand prix events at world-class venues around the city. And in 2006 Melbourne will take its turn to host the Commonwealth Games, an event that is set to be the largest sporting and community event ever staged in the city.
With more than 3,000 restaurants, cafés and bars representing about 75 different ethnic cuisines, Melbourne is always at the forefront of food fashion. Head out in any direction for a meal and you will come across distinctive dining precincts and award-winning epicurean icons.
The wide Yarra River runs through the city, connecting parks and gardens with sports and entertainment venues and arriving at Port Phillip Bay where, at Station Pier, the Spirit of Tasmania berths between trips across Bass Strait.
Food and Wine
Famous for award-winning epicurean icons as well as newer venues, Melbourne is always at the forefront of food fashion. Head out in any direction for a meal and you will come across a dining precinct with a distinctive culinary offering. Dining alfresco is popular at Southbank, where a diverse choice of restaurants fronts the Yarra. Cross the river to the bars and award-winning restaurants of the striking Federation Square, including Jacque Reymond’s Arintji.
Head to the central Chinatown precinct to Australia’s most awarded restaurant, Flower Drum, and the iconic Mask of China and Bamboo House. And Victoria Street in Richmond is the place for pho and all things Vietnamese.
Two Italian restaurants in the CBD are the venerable Grossi Florentino and Becco. Lebanese cuisine is the specialty of Greg Malouf’s MoMo, and Teague Ezard conjures original fare at adelphi. The NewQuay precinct at Docklands has outstanding new restaurants such as Live Bait.
On Fitzroy Street in St Kilda, Café Di Stasio is a haven for pasta lovers, while the Melbourne Wine Room serves fine food at the George Hotel. Around the corner in Acland Street, Circa’s classic food reflects the interests of its British chefs, hopeful diners wait to be retrieved from the bar by the friendly staff at the ever-popular Cicciolina, and Donovans offers Italian fare beside the beach.
Carlton’s Lygon Street area is famed for kerbside Italian dining, including Jimmy Watson’s and Brunetti. Vibrant Brunswick Street, Fitzroy, has the acclaimed Piraeus Blue, while Antipodes is a gem in the Greek precinct of Lonsdale Street. Alfresco eating at Williamstown, cafés in South Yarra and Prahran, and intriguing bars in city laneways make the options endless.
Melbourne is home to many markets, including the legendary Queen Victoria Market, an institution since 1878. Choose from fresh produce, seafood, jewelery, clothing and authentic Australian souvenirs.
Victoria’s calendar is packed with bumper celebrations, from international sporting events to Australia’s biggest cultural festival and 15 major annual and biennial events.
Melbourne is famous for its innovative event venues and is the only city in the world with five world-class sporting facilities on the fringe of its CBD. All are linked to a comprehensive public transport network. And if tickets are scarce, make your way to Federation Square in the city centre to catch all the action of major events on the live site big screen.
Melbourne International Flower and Garden Show - Melbourne blooms each year at this event staged at the historic Royal Exhibition Building and Carlton Gardens. See over 300 exhibits created by the best of the horticulture industry. (March–April)
Melbourne is regarded as the fashion capital of Australia. Stylish and innovative creations by local designers are sold in unique boutiques, worn on the streets by well-dressed Melbournites, and are celebrated at the annual Melbourne Fashion Festival.
Melbourne has something for any budget or fashion inclination. For international couture, head to the 'Paris end' of Collins Street, Toorak and South Yarra or the boutiques at Crown Entertainment Complex. The outlets along Bridge Road draw bargain hunters, and the young and funky head to treasure trove retro clothes shops around Fitzroy, the hub of the student and art communities.
Melbourne CBD has recently undergone a renaissance and is no longer the domain of department and chain stores. Three exciting new shopping precincts have opened their doors to the discerning. Explore the renovated Melbourne Central, home to over 300 outlets offering a mix of leading Australian and international labels and cutting-edge street wear. QV is Melbourne's new inner city laneway shopping precinct featuring a diverse mix of high end fashion and lifestyle retailers, and the refurbished former GPO building in the heart of the city is a fashion, food and shopping precinct of serious sophistication. Covering an entire city block it houses more than 60 stores that span the spectrum of the Melbourne shopping experience.
For an undeniably Melbourne experience, explore historic arcades and hidden laneways where unique meets exotic and quirky. Small boutiques sell everything from fashion by Melbourne designers, to Russian dolls and hand-rolled lollipops.
A World-Class Arts Scene
From cutting-edge architecture and blockbuster musicals to art exhibitions and popular festivals, Melbourne is a city where cultural pursuits are woven into the fabric of everyday life.
A 'corridor' of exciting arts and culture institutions extends across the city, from the Yarra River to the world-heritage Royal Exhibition building and Melbourne Museum in the historic Carlton Gardens. Explore on foot, starting your tour near Southbank at the Australian Centre for Contemporary Art in its striking building that resembles Uluru. Nearby is NGV International - the National Gallery of Victoria's headquarters,and the Victorian Arts Centre, home to theatre, opera, contemporary and classical music, ballet and visual arts.
Across the Yarra River, Federation Square is a unique and controversial public space that fuses art with architecture, exhibitions and events. It houses Australia's first major gallery devoted to Australian art, including an impressive collection of Aboriginal art - The Ian Potter Centre: NGV Australia - and the Australian Centre for the Moving Image, the world's first gallery dedicated to the moving image in all its forms.
Melbourne also has an array of fine theatres that host leading national and international arts companies.
Melbourne laneways and precincts are filled with commercial galleries, craft and design outlets, and fashion boutiques showcasing the innovation and skill of Melbourne-based artists and designers. Small theatre companies produce edgy and innovative theatre, contemporary dance and physical theatre. And the city streets are alive with buskers and public art.
Each year Melbourne hosts a range of arts and cultural festivals and events, including the annual fashion and film festivals, the Melbourne International Comedy Festival, the Melbourne Fringe Festival, the Melbourne International Arts Festival, youth events and more.
Content provided by Tourism Australia