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).
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 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
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.
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 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.
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 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
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
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.