Melbourne, Australia

Hugging the tip of the Australian east coast, Victoria is Australia's second-smallest state, covering 227,600 square kilometres - roughly the size of the British Isles. Packed into such a compact area is a wealth of diverse regional areas and attractions, from national parks and forests teeming with wildlife to wineries, lakes and mountains offering skiing, climbing and hiking. Best of all, many of Victoria's unique and varied landscapes are easily accessible as day trips from Melbourne. Victoria's capital, Melbourne is located around the shores of Port Phillip Bay. The city itself sits beside the Yarra River, about five kilometres from the bay. Renowned 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. Great vestiges of nineteenth-century architecture, built following the discovery of gold, are heady reminders of a prosperous age, while beautifully tended parks and gardens present a therapeutic respite from the pace of city life.

From cutting-edge architecture and blockbuster musicals to art exhibitions and popular festivals, Melbourne is a city where cultural pursuits are woven into the fabric of everyday life. Regional Victoria also boasts a flourishing arts scene, with impressive galleries, museums, and heritage buildings. Melbourne has a well-deserved reputation for offering a superb food and wine experience. Chic restaurants serving a variety of cuisine types, inspirational chefs and a lively café scene, not to mention an array of boutique wineries circling the city, are just some of the reasons why Melbourne is considered the height of gastronomic excellence. Shopping in Melbourne, walking is the best way to shop, especially along Melbourne's delightful arcades and laneways. Outside the city centre, visit shopping precincts like Chapel Street in South Yarra, Acland Street in St Kilda and Brunswick Street in Fitzroy, especially on weekends. Here you'll find everything from retro homewares to funky shops selling cult-in-the-making jewellery. These strips also have stacks of streetside cafes, where you can re-fuel between sprees. Travelling between Melbourne's suburbs is best done by tram, although you'll need a car or taxi to visit larger suburban malls like Chadstone, where many of the major retailers are found.

Scenic Highlights:

Yarra Valley: The Yarra Valley, on Melbourne's northeastern outskirts, is one of Australia's most respected wine-growing regions, with more than 30 wineries scattered among these beautiful hills and valleys. The region is particularly noted for its pinot noir, chardonnay, cabernet sauvignon and sparkling wines.

Phillip Island: Phillip Island is home to an astounding array of wildlife, including Australia's largest fur seal colony, penguins, kangaroos, wallabies and the famous koala. Get close to these furry nocturnal marsupials as they lazily chew and snooze away the afternoon.

The Great Ocean Road: With spectacular vistas from start to finish, and the famous Twelve Apostles along the way, the Great Ocean Road region has some of the most impressive coastal scenery in Australia.

Activities:

- Melbourne Observation Deck, enjoy spectacular 360 degree views of Melbourne and its surrounds.
- Melbourne Zoo experience the wonders of wildlife at the award-winning Melbourne Zoo.
- The Royal Botanic Gardens Melbourne is considered to be one of the most significant botanical gardens in Australia.
- Melbourne Museum's stunning modernist architecture is an Australian icon.
- Chinatown is a bustling street with people, sounds and smells to entice you. Chinese medicine, music, restaurants, gold and jewellery, unique and exotic gifts, cinema, events and festivals, the museum and karaoke are major features of Chinatown.
- City River Cruises enjoy a Yarra river cruise for either lunch, dinner or general sightseeing.
- Melbourne’s Arts Centre is a ‘must-see’ for visitors interested in the classical arts.
- The Melbourne Aquarium, a journey into the Southern Ocean.
- Melbourne Cricket Ground (MCG) one of the worlds great stadiums, offering sporting events and guided tours.
- Enjoy Melbournes fine dining in Richmond, Carlton or Fitzroy.
- Visit one of the many wineries, Yarra Valley, Mornington Peninsula, Geelong, Sunbury or Macedon Ranges.