Melbourne is one of Australia’s most vibrant capital cities, full of amazing food, rich multicultural communities, parks, gardens and diverse historical and modern architecture. It is consistently ranked one of the world’s most liveable cities, topping the Economist’s list in 2011 and 2012.
It is very user-friendly, with the simple grid pattern of the Central Business District (CBD) covered by a network of street trams to make exploring the city easy.
The Yarra River runs along the CBD, and the city sits around Port Phillip Bay.
Its population of more than 4 million mostly live in the suburbs surrounding the CBD, but the CBD is the centre of arts, culture, shopping and commerce.
Melbourne was only first declared a city in 1847, and its rapid growth in the following decades was fuelled by the gold rush, which funded many grand Victorian buildings, including Parliament House, the State Library, Government House, the Melbourne Town Hall and the Royal Exhibition Buildings.
Melbourne was the seat of Australia’s first federal government in 1901, until Canberra took over that role in 1927.
Melburnians pride themselves on having Australia’s best food, wine and coffee, with specialist restaurants and wine bars right across the city. Visitors love to explore Melbourne’s historic laneways, the secret home to small cafes, shops, bars and art. Melbourne’s arts and culture precinct is centrally located opposite vast botanic gardens, and includes art galleries, a world-class concert recital hall, theatres and restaurants.
Melbourne is mad about sport. As well as hosting international events such as the Australian Open tennis and Formula One Grand Prix, locals are keen spectators of cricket and football, especially the fast, local code of football known as Australian Rules (‘Aussie Rules’).
Crowds of 100,000 are not uncommon.
Melbourne’s grid-pattern streets and compact CBD make it an ideal walking city, with the option of getting on a tram for longer distances or weary feet. Trams largely travel in predictable straight lines, making them easy to use for visitors.
Assembly delegates will not need to hire cars – all venues and facilities will either be within walking distance or accessible by trams. Express buses and taxis provide a quick journey from the airport. Also – in Australia cars drive on the left hand side of the road, as in England, and special turning rules apply where carts and trams share some roads.