Melbourne Travel Guide


Government House
Government House is the official residence of the Governor of Victoria, located within the Botanical Gardens. The house is built in the style known as Italianate, and is one of the finest examples of this type of architecture in Australia. The house was built during the gold rush and is said to be the grandest house in Victoria. Tours of the state apartments start from La Trobe’s Cottage (home of Victoria’s first Lt Governor, Charles la Trobe) on the corner of Birdwood Avenue and Dallas Brooks Drive, South Yarra.

Rialto Towers Observation Deck
The tallest building in the southern hemisphere, the Rialto Towers Observation Deck offers 360-degree panoramic views of Melbourne and the surrounding areas. The facilities also include a licensed café-bar.

National Gallery of Victoria
The National Gallery collections are divided between the redeveloped gallery at St Kilda Road, which houses Victoria's impressive international collections (including Picasso's Weeping Woman) and the Ian Potter Centre, the spectacular new home for the country's most important Australian collection.

Old Melbourne Gaol
Victoria's oldest surviving remand prison gives visitors a chilling insight into prison life in a model 19th-century gaol. Behind the thick and forbidding walls Ned Kelly, the infamous bushranger, was one of 135 men and women who were hanged on the gaol's scaffold. Visitors can view the Hangman's Box, the Particulars of Execution book and other exhibits relating to this grim period of Victoria's history, as well as the death masks used in the study of phrenology to predict criminal behaviour. The Women in Prison exhibition reveals the fascinating stories of the crimes committed by the female inmates. There are free performances every Saturday of The Real Ned Kelly Story - Such is Life at 12.30pm and 2pm, and night performances on Wednesday, Friday and Sunday with hangman 'Michael Gately' as he recounts stories of the gaol by candlelight (not for the faint hearted or children under 12 years of age).

Federation Square
Designed as an architectural icon in a city that loves modern architecture, Federation Square is a complete new city block bringing together social, cultural and commercial activities. Highlights include NGV: Australian Art (the world's largest collection of Australian art), Federation Pub (a three-level, space-age watering hole), the Australian Centre for the Moving Image and the Atrium.

Royal Botanic Gardens
Established in 1846 by the first Governor of Victoria, Melbourne's Royal Botanic Gardens are considered one of the worlds finest. They contain extensive landscaped gardens covering 35 hectares (86 acres) and are home to more than 51,000 individual plants, representing over 12,000 different species. The gardens have become a natural sanctuary for native wild life including black swans, bell birds, cockatoos and kookaburras, filling the air with their distinctive song. Free guided walks are available.

Melbourne Zoo
Melbourne Zoo is Australia's oldest zoo and over recent years has enjoyed large-scale investment to improve facilities for both the resident animals and visitors. There is an African rainforest with gorillas, orangutans, hippos and big cats; a particularly impressive butterfly house; and a bushland exhibit, which is home to many of Australia's native wildlife species.

Melbourne Aquarium
Immerse yourself in the totally interactive marine experience of the Melbourne Aquarium. Travel through billabongs, mangrove swamps, coral atolls, rock pools and even a transparent tunnel where sharks and giant stingrays surround you as you walk through. For adventurous types, try swimming with the sharks with Shark Dives, but be warned it’s not for the faint-hearted!

Rippon Lea House Museum & Historic Garden
The grounds of Rippon Lea House are as impressive as the grand nineteenth-century Victorian mansion. Built during the gold rush, the interior of the mansion is also very opulent.

Chinese Museum
The Chinese Museum was established in 1985 to preserve and display the history of Chinese Australians since the mid-1800s. It has become a living part of Melbourne’s modern Chinatown, with its five levels of galleries, showcasing artefacts and photographs depicting the life and culture of Chinese Australians. The museum is also the home of Dai Loong, the world’s largest dragon. There are numerous other museums catering to different national cultures in the heart of Melbourne.

St. Kilda
St Kilda is one of Melbourne’s most exciting suburbs. Situated on the edge of Port Phillip Bay, but less than five kilometres out of the city, St Kilda is popular with tourists and locals wanting to eat, drink, visit the beach or party into the small hours. Fitzroy Street is a great place to start exploring St Kilda. Packed with restaurants, bars, clubs, cafés and retail stores, Fitzroy Street also leads straight to the picturesque St Kilda foreshore, complete with pier, Esplanade and more restaurants with stunning bay views. Take a walk along The Esplanade (watch out for rollerbladers and bike-riders flashing past at high speeds), and take in the spectacular view over Port Phillip Bay as the sun sets.

Port Melbourne
For decades Port Melbourne was an industrial suburb, frequented mainly by sailers and dock workers and generally scorned by most Melburnians. It was also where the majority of Melbourne’s immigrants arrived during the early to mid-1900s. A trip to Port Melbourne in 2004 reveals the amazing transformation which has occurred in this historic suburb. With more and more people wanting to live bayside, suburbs like Port Melbourne which are close to the city and provide scenic views over the bay have become immensely popular (and expensive). The factories and warehouses have now been replaced or converted into trendy apartment blocks and townhouses and the rough pubs and drinking houses have become cafés and nightclubs.

South Yarra
South Yarra is the heart of cosmopolitan Melbourne. This exclusive suburb is the location of some of Melbourne’s most valuable real estate and is packed with restaurants, bars and fashion, fashion and more fashion. South Yarra’s major shopping precincts play host to a range of famous designers including Helmut Lang, Collette Dinnigan, Carla Zampatti and Bettina Liano.

Yarra River
A visit to Melbourne would not be complete without a good look at its main river system – the Yarra River. Often the centre of many jokes due to its brownish colour, it is actually not dirty – just muddy. The Yarra has become the focus of much development in the central business district, with many new buildings, walks and parks having been created along its banks in recent years, including the relatively new Riverside Park. For the best view of the Yarra River walk to Princes Bridge, St Kilda Road, or take a cruise along the river from Princes Walk (below Princes Bridge).

Richmond is another one of Melbourne’s inner-city suburbs which has enjoyed a renaissance during the last decade. Throughout most of the 20th century, Richmond was a working-class, industrial suburb filled with factories and warehouses. Now, visitors to Richmond would find it hard to believe the suburb had such modest origins. Many of the warehouses and factories have been converted into modern apartments and studios and as more and more people have moved into the area, the quality of shops and businesses has rapidly improved. During the mid-1990s, many Australian and international retail chains decided to open stores to clear their slightly defective or over-produced stock and picked Bridge Road as the location for their outlets. Now Bridge Road is crammed with a mix of franchise chains selling their ‘seconds’ and standalone businesses selling the most up-to-date fashion labels.

Carlton is officially known as Victoria’s ‘little Italy’. Heavily populated by Italian migrants after WWII, Carlton and its famous dining precinct, Lygon Street, is the place to go for fine food, friendly people and quality fashion boutiques. A stroll along Lygon Street can be overwhelming – the street is literally packed with restaurants. But with Greek, Egyption and Caribbean food among many other cuisines also available, deciding where to go can be difficult. A drink and some great food on Lygon Street is a true Melbourne experience, especially when it’s summer and the footpath is packed with people eating, drinking and laughing under the shade of the oak trees.

Situated north of Melbourne’s CBD, Fitzroy has blossomed during the past decade and become a fashionable place to go for shopping or a meal and a highly sought-after place to live. Less than five minutes from the city, Fitzroy is alive with colour and art, it streets lined with an unusual combination of Victorian-era terrace houses and the eclectic range of shops and restaurants which attract Melburnians and tourists alike. The most famous street in Fitzroy is Brunswick Street – a veritable mishmash of Melbourne’s most bohemian stores selling everything you could possible imagine from t-shirts and tie-die scarfs to adult books and Asian jewellery.

Williamstown is the oldest, continuous post-colonial settlement on the shores of Port Phillip Bay, named in honour of King William IV in 1837. For most of its 150-year history, Williamstown has thrived primarily as a working seaport. Today however, food, art, gardens, a touch of shopping and weekend tourists lend Williamstown the laid-back ambience of a holiday village. According to local resident Jan Winter, “Williamstown is steeped in history. The discovery of gold in the 1850s suddenly rendered Melbourne the wealthiest city in the world on the stock exchange.” Strolling along the foreshore boulevard today, it doesn’t take much to imagine the optimism and excitement of this port during the Victorian gold rush era.

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