Founded in 1835, Melbourne has a population of approximately 3.5 million residents.
It is the capital of Victoria and the second largest city in Australia after Sydney. It is known for its lovely Victorian parks and gardens, and especially for its rich cosmopolitan atmosphere (its population hails from more than 140 different nations).
The land on which Melbourne stands today was bought by Tasmanian settlers from an Aborigine family in return for flour, tools and clothes. In the 19th century, the city experienced a golden era with the discovery of valuable gold deposits and became Australia’s economic center for an extended period. Today, Melbourne is a world focal point of sports and culture. On its calendar appear the Australian Open Tennis Championship, the Grand Prix of Formula One, and many international festivals. Melbourne is spread over a huge area (17000 km2) that is mostly covered by private homes and large parks.
What is there to do?
In the city center, we recommend visiting the old Flinder’s Train Station and the public library from the mid 19th century. Victoria’s Market has more than one thousand stalls and is a great place for buying cheap items as well as having a good time. Melbourne’s China Town is on Little Brook Street and offers a variety of Chinese restaurants and antique shops.
In the Crown Casino you can gamble 24 hours a day. It is the biggest such institution in the southern hemisphere. In addition to gambling halls, it includes movie theaters, restaurants and coffee shops. The Arts Compound opposite the train station is Melbourne’s main cultural center and includes concert halls and theaters. In the Botanical Gardens, you can stroll among serene lakes and amazing trees, as well as taking time to scan the stars at an observatory. Entrance is free during daytime hours. Melbourne’s Cricket Stadium (MCG) is one of the most impressive in the world, and includes close to 100,000 seats. It was the main stadium at the 1956 Malbourne Olympics, and today, is the site of many of the seasonal Australian Footy Games. Melbourne Zoo is the third oldest in the world, with more than 350 different kinds of animals on display.
Night life – some say that Melbourne’s night life is the best on the continent. There are a huge variety of clubs, pubs and bars, with the main entertainment areas in the city center, the suburb of Fitzroy (Brunswick Street), St. Kilda (Fitzroy and Auckland Street), and South Yarra (Chapel and Turk Street). More information on of all of these places can be found at the MelbournePubs site. Most clubs insist on a dress code, but there are also more alternative places, mostly in Fitzroy east of the city center. During the summer months, many shows are held under the open sky. Tickets for these and other cultural events can be bought at Ticketmaster.
Living in Melbourne – Where to stay
Most backpackers stay at St. Kilda because it is next to the beach, and most of its entertainment establishments are open until the small hours. For years, this was the town’s ‘sinners’ section’, but today, you can find exclusive restaurants there, right alongside the drunks and other dubious characters. Toorak is Melbourne’s most fashionable quarter, with elegant homes along the riverside belonging to locals. In Fitzroy, you can find the artsy crowd and the Sephardic community. Richmond houses most of the Vietnamese refugees who arrived with the last immigration wave.
Melbourne is divided into three areas, each priced differently. You can buy a ticket according to time usage (for two hours, a whole day or a week), which will entitle you to ride the tramway car, train, or bus. It can be bought at stations or on the vehicle itself. The tramway covers the city center and most inner suburbs, while buses serve all other neighborhoods. The train crosses town with several routes, all of which end in the downtown underground station. More information on timetables, prices, and maps can be viewed at the next site.
Use our backpacker job board to find backpacker jobs in Melbourne