Flights to Melbourne: Victoria’s cosmopolitan capital
Everyone's a critic when it comes to Melbourne’s fickle climate. Cheeky Kiwi hit makers Crowded House even wrote 'Four Seasons in One Day' about the weather here. Explore the cobbled lanes of Victoria’s European-style capital aboard a rattling tram to avoid the worst of the rain. Wear arty black to stay warm (and to fit in at galleries). Cheer your socks off in blazing sunshine at an Australia Football League game at Docklands Stadium or Melbourne Cricket Ground. Yes, they play cricket here too. Until rain stops play, of course.
Back to nature
After flights to Melbourne, head south to Phillip Island for the sunset Penguin Parade, when Little Penguins waddle up the beach to their tiny sand dune burrows. These 12-inch critters may hold the monopoly on cuteness in this island nature park, but you can get close to wild koalas at the Koala Conservation Centre too. Or hike The Nobbies – rockstack havens that provide shelter for wild sea birds and cuddly Australian fur seals.
Free and cheap
Walk hip Melbourne to discover edgy street art (even Banksy’s been here). Green swathes of parkland – the Royal Botanic Gardens and riverside Birrarung Marr – offer plenty of free fresh air. Look for Ola Cohn's famous Fairies Tree at Fitzroy Gardens and laze on golden sands at windswept Port Phillip Bay. Many museums and galleries are free too. Check out the ornate State Library in Swanston Street, and catch the fine views from level six of the Dome Gallery.
Take a slow boat down the tranquil Yarra River to the maritime village of Williamstown for a different perspective on your Melbourne holiday. For a post-cruise pamper, head to the day spa at historic Werribee Mansion or take high tea in genteel Hotel Windsor, where cucumber sandwiches, scones and trendy cupcakes set you up for another foray into the city.
Population: Australia’s second largest city, cosmopolitan Melbourne has four million residents. At least one quarter were born overseas.
Key dates: Melbourne was transformed by the 1850s gold rush, which precipitated a population explosion and development of the city's most impressive heritage buildings.
Getting about: Burgundy-and-cream City Circle Trams travel a circular route linking major attractions and shopping malls every 12 minutes. And they're free!
Did you know? The vertigo-inducing Eureka Skydeck 88, on the 88th floor of the Eureka Tower, is the highest public vantage point in the Southern Hemisphere.
Our Melbourne accommodation picks span the basic, the boutique and the bold. They’ll even give you a rubber ducky to share your bath at the luxury Como. For rooms big enough to swing a billiard cue head to Hotel Lindrum.
You’ll find plenty of spice in multicultural Melbourne. Sample Spanish tapas or savour classic Peking duck in Chinatown. Head to the beach at St Kilda where the seafood needs no introduction. In fact it's so fresh it will probably introduce itself.
Shopping in Melbourne
Desert art brings The Outback to the city at Aboriginal Galleries of Australia. Don't be fooled by Dinosaur Designs' name: their jewellery is the latest in contemporary hip. If hearty not arty is your thing, get guzzling in David Jones? food hall.
Sink a pint with the painted Chloe at Young & Jackson’s pub or channel Chairman Mao and find Double Happiness in one of the city’s slickest bars. Classical concerts and blockbuster musicals keep The Arts Centre's halls packed to the rafters.
Spooky death masks and hand-hewn armour from the bushranger legends will send chills down your spine at Old Melbourne Gaol. Escape to Melbourne Zoo or funky Fed Square to lighten the mood.