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 Melbourne is located in the state of Victoria, latitude 38º 50' South, Melbourne is the second biggest city of Australia. Though smaller in population than Sydney, Melbourne is larger in area. Melbourne has about 4.5 million people and is continually growing due to its enormous job market. The city centre lies in perfect square blocks with tall, modern buildings where big companies and multinationals have their offices. Getting out of the immediate city grid, the city becomes smaller with one or two story buildings. Melbourne doesn't have mountains or any other immediately identifiable reference point, and because of that, it can present a boring and repetitive look. The Yarra River cuts the city into two halves - the eastern half is called Southbank, where you'll find many cafes and restaurants as well as the huge Crown Casino. The western part is downtown itself.


Melbourne is well known in Australia for its crazy climate (4 seasons in one day!) where it is possible for someone to wake up in the morning with 16 degrees Celsius, and by afternoon the temperature can rise to 40 degrees, climbing and dropping like a roller coaster. A beautiful and clear day with fresh winds can be transformed in a matter of hours into a hurricane like experience with cloudy skies, thunder storms, and very cold winds coming directly from the South Pole. The sea water temperature in Port Phillip Bay is also suitable for penguins, and a weekend picnic can easily be turned into a swimming pool. That is the why Melbournians don't do anything without checking the weather report prior to leaving home, and the majority of them will keep an umbrella and a coat in the boots of their car.


Weather chaos out of the way, Melbourne is the most cultural city in Australia. Migrants from every country in the world are present in this great city making it a great multicultural mix.. It creates a healthy combination of languages, religions, life styles, and food singular to Australia. People speak English, Chinglish, Greeklish, Espanglish, Italinglish and even Portuguenglish. For example, in the suburb of Clayton , walking on the streets is a pleasant exercise, in having contact with all cultures at once. Spending 3 weeks in Melbourne I've found only half the people speak English with a pure Australian accent. Everybody else, somehow, carries a little bit of their homeland with them. This characteristic shows in a very positive way the multicultural diversity of the Australian population and their ability to transform a not very attractive panorama into a vibrant and interesting lifestyle. Melbourne as a super Metropolis deliver all the goods and associated problems of big cities, but because it is very organised, in much less proportions.


One of the main hobbies of some Melbournians that I've met, is to work overtime on weekdays, and talk about business over the weekends between Golf games. Melbourne is the New York of Australia, or the Sao Paulo of Brazil, where business, work and money are the main focus. Melbournians love to spend time outdoors and do fun things, but when it come to production, this city is very serious about work. This fact attracts many new migrants to Melbourne, because the city is known as a great place to find employment. The number of companies big, medium and small is huge, and the number of restaurants, cafes and entertainment venues are even bigger. It's always difficult to predict where it's easier to find jobs, but if I have to choose between Sydney and Melbourne, I pick Melbourne. Anyway, everything in Australia has two sides. Melbourne is very spread out, which makes commuting to and from work, sometimes a long journey. The average time Melbournians spend on transport to work is one hour and ten minutes per day round trip, made easier by an excellent transport system that integrates Train, Bus, and Tram to and from anywhere in town. In January 2003 the cost of a day pass was A$ 8.50 and you can move to anywhere, anytime. Taxis are very expensive because of the distances that have to be covered. The public transport is very comfortable and takes you anywhere for a fair price. 


The most practiced sport is golf, followed by eating out (preferably whilst drinking a good local wine). After dinner the Crown Casino is the place to go. Even if you don't like gambling, the Casino is a vibrant and crowded place to visit. The number of people gambling on a Sunday at 8 pm was something that I had never encountered before. The interior is glamorous and huge, with gambling tables, poker machines and people everywhere. There are very good and affordable restaurants inside. Getting out of downtown, St.Kilda (photo) is a nice place to visit and see a little bit of the Coastal areas. St.Kilda is located 25 minutes by Tram from downtown and has a main street with many restaurants and cafes which place their tables outside on the pavement (called al fresco dining) They get really crowded on a Sunday by lunch time, and the beach is right in front. The beach is OK, nothing special, by visited by many Melbournians whose metabolism doesn't understand cold water. (Refer to penguin weather, in previous paragraph!)


Downtown is the best place with many interesting things to do. There are ultra modern buildings contrasting with old Victorian ones. Cinemas, museums, theatres, sport stadiums, churches, can all be found here in a very cosmopolitan atmosphere. One good tip for your first day in Melbourne is to go to the Observatory located at the top of the building known as Melbourne Observation Deck (photo). This building is 260 metres high and has a 360 degree view of all the city and suburbs (the picture on the top of this page was taken from the Deck). The price is A$ 12.00 per person. It is located on the corner of Collins Street and Kings Street. Another fun tour you must do is FREE. You take the red Tram (number 00) that does a round trip circling the city. It stops in many places and you can get on and off as many times as you want. Other Trams are charged and serve the many Melbourne suburbs. You can buy a day or week pass, which is a lot cheaper, or if you pay cash, remember to have change with you, because there is nobody to cash bills inside the trams. The only thing inside the Tram is a machine like a public phone where you deposit the coins and it expels your ticket. If you are caught on a Tram without a ticket you can cop a fine of A$ 200. 

  Tourist Attractions nearby Melbourne.

Great Ocean Road - One of the most beautiful places in Australia, located 3 hours by car Southwest from downtown. It is a road that goes alongside the sea with cliffs, arcs, caves and beautiful rock formations created over the years by storms and high seas. The 12 Apostles are finger like rocks, that emerge from the sea like giant statues. 

Phillip Island - Located about 2 hours by car Southeast of downtown. The island has attractions such as penguin colonies, koalas, kangaroos and seals. Don't miss the penguin parade at the end of the day. 

Bells Beach - One hour South of downtown. It is one of the most famous Surfing beaches in Australia and in the world. The wave is long and perfect but the water is cold. (Because it is in Victoria of course!)

Melbourne Zoo & Botanic Gardens-One of the best in Australia. Cheap and easy to get there.

More about Melbourne...


The work in Melbourne is so hard that some people often turn into statues in the middle of the street
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