Melbourne city guide

Melbourne and Sydney have a bit of a rivalry between them. Which one has better food, better wine, a better art scene and attracts more tourists? Or which one is the actual capital of Australia while the much smaller Canberra has been appointed as the official one? I have to say: Melbourne is more up my alley. The city was established in 1835 and became the centre of the Victoria region in 1851. There was one event in time that influenced Melbourne and shaped it into one of the most liveable cities on earth. The Victorian Gold Rush lasted only a couple of years but yielded almost 2,000.000 kg of gold. There’s always trouble where riches are to be had and Melbourne was no exception. The government decided to ship a bunch of convicts from Tasmania to police the miners. Then they decided that taking a cut from their earnings is not enough, so they taxed them even more. Punishing the poor people for the dumbest reasons happened daily. You have to understand that back then £22 per year was an impossible price to pay. These circumstances and an occasional murder finally broke the last straw and miners dug themselves in in the infamous Eureka Stockade. The government forces stormed the place, killed a few people and that was it. Thankfully, the gold deposits dried out soon after. You can witness that part of Australian history in many open-air museums and remnants of Victorian Era architecture.

Some of those small towns have been turned into wineries and vineyards, which the region is also known for. The gold rush attracted a huge wave of immigrants, many of them from Asian countries. Melbourne has one of the oldest and largest Chinatowns in the world. Take a walk around Queen Victoria Market and you’ll see what kind of impact immigrants had on this city’s food scene. Spices, fresh produce, Bánh mì sandwiches, and dumplings are widely available and very popular among locals. During weekend nights “Queen Vic” turns into a night market visited by hundreds of hungry people. Melbourne smells of food and coffee, they even say they had hipster coffee baristas before it was cool.

Webb Bridge in Melbourne`s Dockland area by night

Webb Bridge: part of a public art project in Melbourne`s Dockland area

Melbourne is a true breeding ground for some of mankind’s greatest artists. Like Dannii Minogue, known for the smash hit Who do you love now? All right, I have to confess that cheesy music is my guilty pleasure but her sister Kylie is an internationally recognized superstar, right? Sex symbol, one might add. After this miniature vamp recorded the song Where the Wild Roses Grow with Nick Cave she was even embraced by alternative music lovers. I think it is one the coolest duets I know, although Henry Lee, that he sang together with PJ Harvey is pretty awesome as well. The legendary Nick Cave started also his career in Melbourne, first with The Birthday Party and later on with The Bad Seeds. Same goes for Crowded House, Dead Can Dance, Little River Band, and even Olivia Newton-John is from there. And while these are old renowned acts, Melbourne does lack in the department of contemporary music either. Jet, The Avalanches and Courtney Barnett: to name a few are all rooted in the Melbourne music scene. Music is an integral part of this city, there’s some kind of performance around every corner. Bars and pubs are often enriched by sounds of live music as well.

Not that people needed an incentive to visit those either: Melburnians love their local beers. They also love sports and nothing goes better with a beer than rooting for your favourite team. Australian Open, the most recognizable tennis tournament takes place in Melbourne, they also have their weird kind of football that everyone’s obsessed about. Melbourne is generally more laid back compared to Sydney. Tiny back alleys are hiding fascinating secrets. Artists spraying walls with some of the worlds’ best graffiti bars and speak easy’s waiting to be found by curious explorers. Visit the Luna Park; it’s almost identical to the one in Sydney but better. Somehow.

Colourful beach bathing boxes at Brightone beach in Melbourne

Melbourne icons: 82 picturesque beach cabins at Brightone beach

So you got your museums and exhibitions, concert halls and events in Melbourne. But those are everywhere. What can you do in Melbourne that you will never forget? The first thing is checking out the picturesque Bath Booths, situated on Brighton Beach. Spend a few hours there and when you’re finally sick and tired of the “horrible” hot weather, extend your trip to the Great Ocean Drive. It’s one of the most famous road trips in the world and the sights are unforgettable. People say that you should take around two days off to see all of it, but you can check the best parts of the Drive in a day. The Twelve Apostles, London Bridge, Gibson Steps and many others are just limestone rock formations; do you need to see all of them? Triplet Falls within the Otways National Park or wild koalas roaming around Kennett River are far more interesting sights. Have you ever heard a koala roar? It’s terrifying. There are many beaches along the Road but only Bells Beach can be called the crown jewel of the Australian coast. It’s also known as the Wimbledon of surfing beaches, it even appeared alongside Keanu Reeves and Kurt Russell in Point Break.

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