Victoria's capital, Melbourne, sits on the Yarra River and around the shores of Port Phillip Bay. Lauded for its sense of style and elegance, Melbourne boasts glamorous festivals and events, Australia's best shopping, a lively passion for eating and drinking, and a flourishing interest in the arts. Restored and preserved nineteenth-century architecture, built following the discovery of gold, provides a heady reminder of a prosperous age, while beautifully tended parks and gardens present a therapeutic respite from the pace of city life.

What to See

Melbourne and Victoria host some of Australia's most prestigious events throughout the year, including the Spring Racing Carnival culminating in the Melbourne Cup in November, the Australian Open Tennis Championships in January, the Formula 1 Australian Grand Prix in March, the Melbourne International Arts Festival in October, the Melbourne International Comedy Festival and the Melbourne International Flower and Garden Show in March and April. Your taste buds will be rewarded with a number of food and wine events around the state.

Things to do

Enjoy a cruise along the Yarra River, re-live some great sporting memories on a tour of the MCG or see some spectacular 360-degree views from the Melbourne Observation Deck. Explore the animal kingdom at the Melbourne Zoo or dive with the sharks at the Melbourne Aquarium. Join in some interactive footy action at the AFL Hall of Fame & Sensation or enjoy the international art on offer at NGV International and Australian art at The Ian Potter Centre: NGV Australia.

To find out how Melbourne became the city it is today, spend a day or two at one of the many local museums. The Melbourne Museum houses the state collection in an imposing modern building. The Immigration Museum and Maritime Museum- home of the Polly Woodside, highlight key events in the growth of Melbourne, while the Gold Treasury Museum shows how Melbourne became a city built on gold.

Other histories include the stomach-turning tales of the Old Melbourne Gaol, Ned Kellys armour at the State Library of Victoria and Cooks Cottage the parental home of Captain James Cook. Kids will love the hands on workshops and new playground at ArtPlay, and the Champions Australian Racing Museum & Hall of Fame at Federation Square. As well as an endless number of attractions, the city plays host to a range of cinemas and entertainment centres including the Australian Centre for the Moving Image and IMAX Theatre. Whether you want to see the latest Hollywood blockbuster, an art-house movie, a classic or foreign language film or even the latest moving image technology, Melbourne has it all.

Where to eat

Eating in Melbourne is a joy, and you will be pleasantly surprised by the bill. A culinary mix of European, Mediterranean and Asian flavours and a stable of imaginative chefs have resulted in a modern Australian style with a flair all of its own.

370 Brunswick Street
Fitzroy 3065
Telephone: 9417 5379
Hours: 12-11pm, restricted hours in winter
Price range: AU$5-10

Melting Moment
Charmaine's is a Melbourne byword for ice-cream quality. The old-fashioned 'faceful of cream' style is not to everyone's taste, but the rich textures and deep flavours are undeniably fine. Flavours vary from the traditional - lovingly rendered versions of strawberry, chocolate and honey - to wilder creations like red bean, plum pudding and lemon cheesecake.

De Los Santos
175 Brunswick Street
Fitzroy 3065
Telephone: 9417 1567
Hours: Tuesday-Sunday 6pm-late
Price range: AU$10 - 25

Bluestone Tapas

Eating tapas in front of the fire at De Los Santos is one of Melbourne's finest winter pleasures. The bluestone walls, wooden floors and convivial chatter make it sometimes noisy, but the food is both authentic and sublime. Be sure to try the fried cheese balls with dill - people drive clear across town for these little delights.

Where to party

Head to Federation Square on a hot summer day and seek refuge at Riverland, where you will find a good selection of beers on tap and a beautiful vista of the Yarra River. Federation Wharf, Melbourne
Ph 03 9662 1771
The Melbourne Super Club

Bar hopping in Melbourne can sometimes feel like a test of endurance. Head to this local favourite for a well deserved late night feed that will see you through until dawn.
161 Spring Street, Melbourne
Ph 03 9654 6300

Are you a fan of live music? Yes? If so, you can't miss the ESPY formerly known as the the Esplanade hotel. Wow. The best place in town where you can listen to some great live music.
St Kilda

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