Defining Melbourne

Melbourne is like that friend who is cool without trying. You know the type: the stylish one who everyone fancies, who sets trends on a daily basis and always looks good, even first thing on a Monday morning. Yes, that one. You know you should hate them, but honestly, you can’t help but take your place in the long queue of besotted admirers.

Well that’s how the other Australian cities feel about Melbourne, or so I imagine.

What is it that makes Melbourne so unique? Wander through its streets for just an hour and you’ll get a sense for it. For those who are yet to grace the city with their presence, here’s a breakdown of what makes Melbourne so uhh… Melbournesque:

Shopping

Melbourne shopping
Image by Kaspars Grinvalds / Shutterstock.com

Melbourne is arguably the most fashion-forward city in Australia (although I know some Sydneysiders who would deny it). Home to the annual Melbourne Spring Fashion Week, Melbourne has numerous areas of shopping significance. Whether you want to splash some cash at the boutiques on Chapel Street or save pennies in the op-shopping (UK translation: charity store shopping) district in Fitzroy, even the most insatiable of shopaholics should be satisfied. Also, as you can see in the picture, the city’s arcades are a gorgeous setting for some relaxed window shopping!

Street Art

Melbourne Street Art
Image by Neale Cousland

The graffiti lanes of Melbourne have been around for years, becoming a veritable hotspot for photo-snapping tourists and an expression of the city’s artistic leanings. From the zany to the beautiful to the disturbing, graffiti artwork covers the walls of laneway alleys with not a brick left bare, and you can spot contributions from many renowned international street artists. Union Lane in Melbourne’s city centre is just one example to check out.

Trams

Melbourne Tram in Flinders Street
Image by Neale Cousland / Shutterstock.com

Being from the non-tram city of Brisbane, I remember my excitement at seeing a real-life tram plodding along the Melbourne streets, much like the one above (that’s Flinders Street Station in the background). The trusty tram is well and truly a part of Melbourne; since beginning operations in 1885, the tram network has become a major source of public transport. Word of warning if you are planning to drive in Melbourne: learn how to do a hook turn!

Food and Drink

Drink
Image by Minerva Studio

Any Melbournian will proceed to positively rave about the chilled cafes, latest restaurants and brimming bars of Melbourne, never mind that you only stopped them to ask for the time. Sorry, that’s the bitter Brisbanite in me talking (we have the beaches I tell you!). It’s true though, you know, Melbourne has it going on when it comes to food and drink. Shout outs go to the Rooftop Bar on Swanston Street, for great ambience, views and cocktails, as well as Porgie + Mr Jones in Hawthorn for freshly baked banana bread with pistachios, berries and mascarpone!

Nearby Places

Melbourne’s attractiveness is only strengthened by its proximity to some of the most superb examples of Australia’s natural beauty. These are all non-negotiable must-see areas to visit, so make sure you set aside some precious travel time for them!

Great Ocean Road

Great Ocean Road
Image by GeorgeMPhotography

To see this stunning view of the famous Twelve Apostles, take a trip down the Great Ocean Road, a National Heritage listed section of coastal road about two hours from Melbourne. Along the way, stop at scenic viewing points and marvel at the beauty of the coastline or pay a visit to one of the national parks and sanctuaries in the area.

Dandenong Ranges

Dandenong Ranges
Image by MelBrackenstone

Under an hour’s drive away from the heart of Melbourne, the Dandenong Ranges is the city’s bush backyard. Explore the rainforest tracks in the National Park and experience the still and quiet of the luscious surroundings; you’ll immediately feel at peace. Or you can hop aboard the Puffing Billy Steam Railway for a more sedentary way of appreciating the picturesque scenery; the train departs from the suburb of Belgrave.

 Yarra Valley

Yarra Valley
Image by evantravels

Wine lovers rejoice! Not far from the Dandenong Ranges is Yarra Valley, otherwise known as Victoria’s wine country. With resplendent views (the picture speaks for itself) of the surrounding mountains and acres of vineyards, the Yarra Valley has a lot to shout about. A visit to the area just wouldn’t be complete without a wine-tasting tour, so prepare your palate for some tasty fermented grape juice!

Weather

Melbourne Raining
Image by Reinis Traidas

Melbourne has the notorious reputation of being a bit of a weather fusspot. It just can’t make its mind up between rain, hail, sunshine, heatwave or cold snap, but perhaps that will make you Brits feel right at home? Okay, so I am exaggerating a little. But seriously, be sure to always pack an umbrella and master the art of layering, pronto.

Hopefully now you feel as though you have a pretty good sense for this very unique city and can see why Melbourne is a proud owner of labels such as ‘funky’,’cool’ and ‘cultured’. You could go one better though: research flights to Melbourne and check out this vibrant city for yourself!

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