Split into two by the Yarra River, which flows through the city centre, Melbourne is a true multicultural mecca with a vibrant restaurant culture and hundreds of exciting shopping districts. Melbourne's hub is the spectacular Victorian Arts Centre, home to The Australian Ballet and Opera Australia. Nearby at Federation Square, there is always plenty to see at the National Gallery of Victoria, with a full programme of guided tours and cultural events. Melbourne's Royal Botanic Garden, on the banks of the Yarra, makes for a pleasant change of pace, with lovely gardens, scenic walks and native wildlife, or head to the historic Queen Victoria Markets to browse for shopping bargains.

The multi-million dollar Melbourne Museum, in Carlton Gardens, is packed with interesting memorabilia from Victoria's history. The Immigration Museum in Old Customs House in Flinders Street offers a cultural tour of Australia’s immigration history or visit the Melbourne Maritime Museum on the south bank to see the 1885 sailing ship, Polly Woodside. On the north bank of the Yarra River,  the Melbourne Aquarium takes visitors on a fascinating underwater journey through Australia’s southern oceans. Crown Entertainment Complex houses Australia's largest casino, if you fancy a flutter.

Geographic Location

The city sits on the banks of the Yarra River where it meets Port Phillip Bay. The central area of Melbourne is laid out in a formal grid plan.

Population

3.4 million

Climate

Melbourne has a temperate climate with four distinct seasons. In summer the average maximum temperature is 25°C and in winter 14°C.

History

European settlement dates back to 1835, and the colony of Victoria was established in 1851 - the same year gold was discovered in the area. This brought a huge influx of migrants from around the world who stamped their individual cultures and traditions on this metropolitan city. Melbourne became Australia's first capital city after Federation in 1901 until 1927, when the status was transferred to the purpose-built city of Canberra.

Major Attractions

Victorian Arts Centre, National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne Museum, Melbourne Aquarium, Queen Victoria Market, Shopping districts of Toorak and Richmond, St Kilda precinct, Royal Botanic Gardens.