Melbourne is the capital of Victoria and the state's largest city with a population approaching 4 million within its urban area.
Melbourne sits on the Yarra River at the northern end of Port Phillip, with its suburbs spreading out in all directions. The Melbourne & Suburbs region covers most of Melbourne's urban areas and some of its outskirts, but excludes those areas which extend into the bushy and mountainous Dandenong Ranges in the east and the Mornington Peninsula with its beautiful beaches to the south. Melbourne's central location ensures that many of the state's key attractions are within a few hours drive away, making it the ideal base for a holiday or sightseeing trip, particularly with its abundance of inner-city accommodation.
Melbourne was first settled in 1835. The city experienced rapid growth thanks to the Victorian gold rush which began in the 1850s, resulting in the construction of many of Melbourne's iconic buildings such as Parliament House, Government House, the State Library, General Post Office, Melbourne University, St Paul's Cathedral and St Patrick's Cathedral. At the time of Australia's federation in 1901, Melbourne was Australia's largest city and served as the country's seat of parliament and therefore its capital until 1927 when the purpose-built city of Canberra took over that role. Immigration after World War 2 provided a population boost to the city resulting in significant outwards suburban growth.
Melbourne is a multicultural city due to the influx of overseas immigrants and this is reflected in its dining precincts such as the Italian influenced Lygon Street in Carlton, the oriental cuisine of the city's Chinatown and Victoria Street in Richmond, and Coburg's Middle Eastern eateries.
Great shopping can be enjoyed along the streets in Melbourne's city centre, the Bourke Street Mall and Melbourne Central shopping centre. Large shopping strips in Melbourne's inner city suburbs include Chapel Street (South Yarra), Bridge Road (Richmond), Smith Street (Collingwood & Fitzroy) and Sydney Road (Brunswick). For under cover shopping centres in the surrounding suburbs, the largest are Chadstone, Doncaster, Fountain Gate, Highpoint (Maribyrnong), Knox City (Wantirna) and Southland (Cheltenham).
Melbourne is recognised as the sporting capital of Australia, having hosted the Olympic Games in 1956 and the Commonwealth Games in 2006. It is the spiritual home of Australian rules football and cricket, and the city hosts three major annual international sporting events - the Australian Open tennis tournament, the Melbourne Cup horse race and the Australian Grand Prix automobile race.
Great beaches are right on Melbourne's doorstep. Within a few minutes from the city centre are the beautiful sandy bay beaches of Albert Park, St Kilda and Elwood. Boating and fishing can be enjoyed within Port Phillip or along the city's Yarra River and Maribyrnong River.
An abundance of parks and gardens can be found close to the city centre and include the Royal Botanic Gardens, the Flagstaff Gardens (one of Melbourne's oldest parks), Carlton Gardens and the Fitzroy Gardens.
Melbourne is the only Australian city to have retained its extensive network of electric trams which provides public transport to regions up to 20 kilometres from the city centre. Railway services radiate outwards from the city centre and there is an extensive public bus network in operation.
Melbourne's location near the geographical centre of Victoria makes it the perfect base to explore all that Victoria has to offer.
Visitor Information Centres in this region.
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