Alternate meanings: Melbourne (disambiguation)

Melbourne is the largest city in Victoria, the state capital, and the second-largest city in Australia, with a population of 3,366,542 (census 2001).

The locals refer to themselves as 'Melburnians', curiously missing the 'o'.

The Melbourne skyline

Melbourne is located in the south-eastern corner of mainland Australia, approximately 800 kilometres southwest of Sydney. It sits looking on to Port Phillip Bay, its suburbs sprawling to the east, following the Yarra River out to the Yarra and Dandenong Ranges, south-east to the mouth of the bay, and west and north to flat farming country. The central business district (the original city) is laid out in a grid, its southern side backing on to the Yarra.

Melbourne is a large commercial and industrial center, with many of Australia's largest companies, and many multinational corporations (approximately one-third of the 100 largest multinationals operating in Australia as of 2002) headquartered there. It is home to Australia's largest port, several prominent universities (including the University of Melbourne, Monash University, and RMIT), and much of Australia's automotive industry (including the engine manufacturing facility of Holden, and the Ford and Toyota manufacturing facilities) amongst many other manufacturing industries.

Melbourne, while having a large and vibrant arts and cultural life (notably including the Melbourne International Comedy Festival each autumn), is perhaps best known as the most sports-obsessed city in the world. Melbourne has nine of the sixteen teams in the Australian Football League, whose five Melbourne games per week attract, on average, about 35,000 people per game. Melbourne hosts the Australian tennis open, one of the four Grand Slam tournaments, the Melbourne Cup (the most prestigious handicap horse race in the world), a hugely-attended cricket test match starting each year on Boxing Day (Mid summer - 26th December)at the Melbourne Cricket Ground (a massive arena that holds 100,000 spectators), a round of the Formula One World Championship, amongst many other events attracted to the city by the readiness of spectators to attend, as well as aggressive attempts by the state government to attract them, the most recent being the 2006 Commonwealth Games. Melbourne has also broken new ground in the event area being the first city outside the U.S. to host the President's Cup golf tournament (in 1999), the first Southern Hemisphere city to host the World Cup Polo Championship (in 2001), the first World Police and Fire Games outside the U.S. (in 1995) and was the only city in the Southern Hemisphere that the Three Tenors (Luciano Pavarotti, Placido Domingo and Jose Carreras) performed on their world tour in 1997.

The Melbourne skyline

Melbourne was founded in 1834 by a group of free settlers (led by John Batman and John Pascoe Fawkner), unlike many of Australia's capital cities which were founded as penal colonies. With the discovery of gold in central Victoria in the 1850s, Melbourne quickly grew as a port to service the necessary trade and by the time of Federation shared pre-eminence with Sydney as Australia's most important cities. Melbourne today is home to the largest number of surviving Victorian Era buildings of any city in the world other than London. Until 1927 and the construction of Canberra, Melbourne served as Australia's centre of government.

Melbourne continued to grow steadily throughout the first half of the 20th century, particularly with the post-WWII influx of migrants and the influence of hosting the Olympic Games in 1956. While continuing to grow, however, Sydney's influence on Australian affairs grew stronger at the expense of Melbourne's. Capitalising on this mood, the Liberal government of Jeff Kennett revitalised the city through the 1990s with aggressive development of new public buildings and publicising Melbourne's merits both to outsiders and Melbournians. Despite a recent change of government, the re-energised city continues to grow rapidly.

Table of contents
1 Public Transport
2 Tourist Information
3 Melbourne in Fiction
4 Media
5 Events

Public Transport

To Do: This section has plenty more scope for enhancement. Also history subpages for Flinders St Stn., Spencer St Stn., the City Loop etc.

Melbourne's public transport is operated by 2 tram companies, 2 train companies, and countless smaller bus companies. The system was government-run until the late 1990s. Currently, the system is being rebranded under the single Metlink name, replacing the slew of different company names covering stations and vehicles. The public transport system is broken up into three ticketing zones: Zone 1 (Yellow), Zone 2 (Blue), and Zone 3 (Red).


All forms of public transport can be accessed by using a single ticket - the Metcard. Metcards come in a variety of forms, ranging from 2 hour tickets to yearly tickets, all using the same tickets by programming the magnetic strip. Metcards are 'validated' when entering or exiting train stations, and getting on trams or buses. However, most suburban train stations are unstaffed and can easily be used without a ticket, and trams no longer have conductors, making it easy to go short distances without a ticket.


One notable feature of the Melbourne landscape is a mobile one - the tram. Melbourne is the only Australian city to retain its tram system, which services the CBD and inner suburbs. In fact, Melbourne's network is amongst the largest in the world, and is still (albeit slowly) growing. The classic green-and-gold trams are often thought of as the symbol of Melbourne, although many trams today are covered in all-over advertising. The traditional wooden W-class trams have been relegated to just one line, the free "City Circle" tourist loop around the CBD, although there are rumours that they are set to make a comeback. In 2001, the first new Citadis and Combino low-floor trams arrived in the city. These new trams were complemented by a massive development upgrade of key city tram stops in 2002. These new "super stops" significantly improve shelter, accessibility, information and safety for travellers.


The centre of Melbourne's extensive suburban rail network is Flinders Street Station. There are 14 electrified routes, radiating out of the City Loop. The City Loop contains Melbourne's two grand stations, Flinders and Spencer Streets Stations, as well as the underground stations Parliament, Melbourne Central (formerly Museum) and Flagstaff. There are 4 separate subway tunnels connecting these three underground stations, and an elevated viaduct between the two surface stations. Melbourne's train fleet consists of the common Comeng trains, recently refurbished, and the older Hitachi trains, which are not airconditioned and, in the city's summer heat, hated by commuters. However, these trains will progressively be replaced by new X-Trapolis and Nexus trains.

The hub of the Victorian regional rail network, operated by V/Line is Spencer Street Station.

Tourist Information

Whilst perhaps lacking the showy icons of Sydney and the beaches of the Gold Coast, Melbourne attracts large numbers of tourists, particularly young backpackers. It also hosts a disproportionate number of spectator sports.

Popular sites and events include:

  • The MCG. From April to September, there is typically one or two Australian rules football matches there per week; the game can be spectacular, it is unique to Australia, relatively inexpensive to attend, and is safe and enjoyable for all, including children. During the summer, cricket matches are played there - the most important being the Boxing Day test match between Christmas and New Year's Eve, and several one-day international games in January and February which are perhaps more enjoyable for the casual spectator. The MCG is currently being renovated in preparation for the 2006 Commonwealth Games
  • Melbourne Park, home of the Australian Open tennis tournament, one of the four Grand Slam tournaments. Held in January each year.
  • The Melbourne Museum is located on the north-eastern fringe of the CBD, next to the Old Exhibition Building (built in the 1880s for the World's Fair, and one of few such buildings still standing). To many Melburnians, the most significant exhibit is the preserved body of Phar Lap, the famous racehorse of the Depression era. Technically-inclined visitors may be more interested in CSIRAC, the fifth electronic computer built and the only one of its generation to survive intact. The Museum complex is also home to Melbourne's IMAX cinema.
  • The curiously-named National Gallery of Victoria (not to be confused with the National Gallery of Australia in Canberra), hosts an impressive collection of art including both classical and contemporary pieces. The gallery is split over two sites, the Australian collection at the Ian Potter Centre: NGV Australia at Federation Square, and the NGV International collection housed in the recently renovated St. Kilda Road building.
  • Rialto Towers, the tallest reinforced concrete structure in the Southern Hemisphere, gives an excellent view of the city from the observation deck on the 55th floor.
  • The Victorian Arts Centre at Southgate (on the southern banks of the Yarra River, hosts Opera Australia's Melbourne season, the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra, the Melbourne Theatre Company, the Australian Ballet Company, Chunky Move (Australia's best-known contemporary dance company) and other touring productions. A Melbourne landmark, the acoustics of the building are far better than the Sydney Opera House and the tickets are considerably cheaper, so, given a choice, tourists are advised to see operas here rather than in Sydney. Unfortunately, the opera season is rather limited. There are also typically several musicals playing in theatres around the CBD, mostly several years after their production on Broadway or the West End, but usually of good quality and at quite reasonable cost.
  • Crown Casino, a short walk along the Yarra River from the Arts Centre, is a truly gargantuan gambling palace, also containing restaurants, upmarket boutiques, several nightclubs, two hotel towers, a cinema complex, and regular floorshows. Very much Las Vegas in miniature, it is either loved or hated by both residents and tourists.
  • Docklands, Melbourne's newest precinct and largest infrastructure development to date, is also becoming a major attraction, with many restaurants there having won awards and recognition, even though they have only been open since January 2003. The Docklands area opens up the waterfront to the CBD (also nearly doubling its size) and will attract millions of visitors every year.

Melbourne's restaurants are numerous, and are generally of reasonable quality and good value (particularly for foreign tourists who can take advantage of the low value of the Australian dollar). Below are some of the major restaurant strips, however there are many other restaurants not in these locations which offer similar or better-quality food and usually at lower cost. The Age newspaper produces two "Good restaurant" guides - one for low-cost eating and another for more elaborate restaurants.

  • Chinatown, on Little Bourke St. and now spreading out onto Russell St. in the CBD, offers numerous restaurants, mainly but not exclusively offering Cantonese cuisine, at the lower end offering Hong-Kong style noodle restaurants up to Flower Drum, renowned for its peking duck and generally regarded as Melbourne's best restaurant. There are many other restaurants throughout the CBD.
  • Lygon St, in the inner-northern suburb of Carlton, offers a selection of mainly Italian-influenced food. To some extent a tourist strip, the quality is variable with some restaurants with decent reputations and others avoided by locals. The nearby Melbourne University means that students throng to the better-value places; tourists may consider following their lead.
  • Brunswick St in inner-suburban Fitzroy used to be a grungy hotbed of students, musicians, actors, and the like, and still retains some remnant of that edginess with the presence of several live music venues, all manner of eclectic stores, accompanied by restaurants and cafes, many of which serve varied and contemporary menus (though prices have crept up with the growing gentrification of the area). Brunswick St went through a growth phase and rapidly became a casual place to eat. The rise in number and income level of people living within walking and hearing distance are changing the feel. Several chain companies targeting the upwardly mobile post-university crowd saw the trends (late!) and opened branches on Brunswick Street, putting further rent pressure on the interesting, but low turn-over stores. Almost all buildings in the once light industrial surrounding area have been converted into apartments. This puts parking pressure on the area and noise restrictions over the previously vibrant musical scene. People have started dressing in the over-trendy, have-I-made-it-yet style, previously reserved for the "Chapel St" area of Melbourne. Luckily there are still plenty of people wearing alternative or comfortable sloppy clothes. However because there are fewer unexpected things to do on the street, you almost need a reason to visit. Lunch and a couple of second hand book stores are two choices. Brunswick St is more vibrant at night than during the day.
  • Chapel St, south of the city is a popular destination for fashionable clothes shopping, eating and entertainment. The long street contains commercial areas providing goods and services for local residents. This variety makes the street arguably more interesting than Lygon and Brunswick Streets which have a higher proportion of eating establishments. Chapel St intersects with Toorak Rd, itself offering entertainment, food and shops. Both streets are full of people dressed in Melbourne's current fashion.

As one would expect from a city its size, Melbourne contains all manner of pubs, bars, and nightclubs. The CBD contains a wide variety of venues, from the ubquititous faux-Irish pubs proliferating around the world, to some very upmarket establishments (such as the Supper Club, which offers all manner of exclusive wines at exclusive prices), serious jazz venues (Bennetts Lane), trendoid dance venues, and massive pickup joints (of which The Metro on Bourke St is perhaps the biggest). The restaurant strips, particularly Brunswick St. have their own bars, some of which are the best rock venues in Melbourne. King St, on the southern side of the CBD, was traditionally a nightclub strip and still hosts several, but many are now exotic dancing venues (a final note in this topic, small brothels are legal in Victoria and are found discreetly dotted throughout the suburbs). Chapel St. Prahran, is perhaps the trendiest, most upmarket (and most expensive) nightlife strip. The final area of note is St Kilda, background for the TV show The Secret Life of Us, which is the home of several huge music venues including the famous Esplanade Hotel, the Prince of Wales, and The Palace Complex. On its beachside setting, it also combines the upmarket with the grungy.

The recent influx of city-dwellers have given rise to the numerous underground bars and sidewalk cafes in the alleys between Flinders St - Flinders Lane and Bourke St - Lonsdale St. As such, the nightlife in these areas is none too shabby. Notable alleys include Block Arcade/Block Place (off Little Collins), Degraves St (off Flinders Lane), and Hardware Lane (between Bourke & Lonsdale).

Melbourne is a reasonably cheap and easy place to shop. There are large numbers of souvenir shops on Swanston Street in the central business district selling the usual array of t-shirts, didgeridoos, boomerangs, and the like. There are innumerable clothing shops for every budget, though bargain hunters may wish to try the outlet stores in Bridge Road, Richmond.

Outside Melbourne proper, there are a variety of interesting things to see within a day trip of Melbourne:

  • The Yarra valley region, producer of high-quality wine and with beautiful rainforest scenery nearby.
  • The "Surf coast" near Geelong, with excellent surf beaches and the spectacular views Great Ocean Road.
  • Bendigo.
  • Ballarat.
  • Phillip Island, home of the Australian Motorcycle Grand Prix, also has one of the few easily-accessible colonies of little penguins.
  • Gippsland region, home of the Gourment Deli Tours, the Gippsland Lakes, Wilson's Promentory, and many picturesque towns such as Walhalla, Lakes Entrance, and Warragul- centre of one of the richest dairy farming districts in Australia.

To do: finish dining and nightlife areas, mention some of the day trips (Surf Coast, Phillip Island, Yarra Ranges, Winery Tours)

see also: Urban walks in Melbourne

Melbourne in Fiction

Melbourne has been the setting for many novels, television dramas, and films. Perhaps the best-known internationally is the novel On the Beach. In 1959, it was made into a film starring Gregory Peck, Ava Gardner and directed by Stanley Kramer. The film depicted the denizens of Melbourne quietly slipping off into eternity as the last victims of a global nuclear holocaust. Filmed on location in and around Melbourne (a huge novelty for Melbourne at the time), it is perhaps best remembered for a comment Ms. Gardner never made - describing Melbourne as 'the perfect place to make a film about the end of the world', commenting on the dreary conservatism of Melbourne in the late 1950s. The purported quote was invented by journalist Neil Jillett.

Perhaps better known to a contemporary audience is the daily teen soap opera Neighbours, which presents a whitewashed microcosm of suburban Australian life. Other contemporary television shows set in Melbourne include Stingers, a police drama, and The Secret Life of Us.

Singer Paul Kelly has written several well-known songs about aspects of the city close to the heart of many Melburnians, notably Leaps and Bounds and Saint Kilda to Kings Cross.


Melbourne's daily newspapers include the "small-l liberal" broadsheet The Age, and the Murdoch tabloid Herald-Sun.

The three commercial television channels and the ABC produce a nightly news bulletin in Melbourne, and the Seven network produces its (downmarket) current affairs show Today Tonight there. The ABC also produces a weekly state-based current affairs show, Stateline, in Melbourne.

Melbourne has a wide range of radio stations. In terms of current affairs radio, the most notable locally-produced stations are ABC Local Radio (774 3LO) and 1278 3AW, both featuring extensive local news coverage and talkback. Both are notably more sedate and far more liberal than the raucous Sydney talkback stations 2UE and 2GB. Australia's most successful community radio station, 3RRR, is a Melbourne institution.

The outer suburb of Tullamarine hosts Melbourne Airport, which serves Melbourne and the wider state.


1854 - Melbourne Exhibition (1854) (in conjunction with Exposition Universelle (1855))
1861 - Victorian Exhibition (1861)
1866 - Intercolonial Exhibition of Australasia (1866)
1875 - Victorian Intercolonial Exhibition (1875)
1877 - First ever Test Cricket Match (1877)
1880 - Melbourne International Exhibition (1880)
1884 - Victorian International Exhibition 1884 of Wine, Fruit, Grain & other products of the soil of Australasia with machinery, plant and tools employed
1885 - Victorians' Jubilee Exhibition (1885) (Jubilee of Victoria Exhibition)
1886 -
1888 - Victorian Juvenile Industrial Exhibition (1888), Centennial International Exhibition
1897 - Victorian Football League - First Season
1956 - The Olympic Games
1970 - On October 15, 35 construction workers were killed when a section of the new West Gate Bridge collapsed into the river below.