Melbourne Accommodation

Melbourne, Australia

Melbourne is the capital of the state of Victoria, in the south-eastern corner of the Australian mainland. A grand city of wide streets, old-world trams and established wealth, Melbourne is a visitor’s dream of eclectic cuisine, innovative theatre, beautiful open spaces and seriously good architecture. Neo-gothic, art deco and classical buildings abound in the city, augmented by internationally-recognised newer buildings such as Federation Square.

With the Yarra River flowing sedately through the centre, English-inspired parks and gardens, and an extensive network of walking and bicycle paths, the city offers plenty of opportunities for al fresco activities to complement the enormous variety of eating and shopping.

Melbourne is justly famous for its art: visual, performing and public. From its early days in the gold rush era, the city has benefited from its citizens’ appreciation of the Arts in all forms, especially architecture, sculpture and the decorative arts, as well as dance and theatre. Melbourne is proud to show off its artists' work, and the city abounds with galleries and public displays. One of the more recent, and perhaps most dramatic, is the row of fire-breathing columns along Southbank.

Built with gold wealth in the mid- to late-nineteenth century, Melbourne shows off grand state buildings, Italianate mansions, ornate arcades and a stately grandeur lacking in other Australian cities. More ‘European’ than Sydney and Perth, and wealthier than Adelaide or Brisbane, it has an established charm belied by its obsession with ‘footy’ (Australian Rules Football www.afl.com.au), its dedication to VB (Victoria Bitter www.fosters.com.au) and the proportion of the state's revenues derived from gambling.

In a sports-mad nation, Melburnians are especially so. Victoria is the home of AFL, which used to be VFL until successfully exported to the other states. It's also home to one of the four Grand Slam tennis tournaments: the Australian Open (www.australianopen.com), held in January at Melbourne Park.

And then there's the famous MCG, the Melbourne Cricket Ground (www.mcg.org.au), which has seen history played on its turf for 150 years. A more recent event is the Foster's Grand Prix (www.grandprix.com.au), a four-day car racing event in late March which hurtles around Albert Park Lake while the city goes mad.

And we haven't yet mentioned one of the world's richest horse races, the fabled Melbourne Cup – “the race that stops the nation” - held on the first Tuesday in November at Flemington. Even though the official public holiday only applies to Melbourne and surrounding areas, the whole country stops to watch the race, conduct office 'sweeps', and compete in millinery finery.

And as if this weren't sufficient, Melbourne is hosting the 2006 Commonwealth Games next March (www.melbourne2006.com.au).

For more sporting information visit our Melbourne Sport page.

A couple of interesting points for trivia-seekers are that Melbourne has the largest population of Greeks of any city outside Athens; and that it has the largest number of surviving Victorian buildings of any city outside London.

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