Melbourne, often called the Garden City and "cultural capital of Australia", is the capital and most populous city in the state of Victoria, and the second most populous city in Australia. The Melbourne City Centre is the hub of the greater metropolitan area and the Census statistical division—of which "Melbourne" is the common name. As of June 2011, the greater geographical area had a population of 4.1 million.
The metropolis is located on the large natural bay known as Port Phillip, with the city centre positioned on the estuary of the Yarra River (at the northernmost point of the bay). The metropolitan area then extends south from the city centre, along the eastern and western shorelines of Port Phillip, and expands into the hinterland. The city centre is situated in the municipality known as the City of Melbourne. The metropolitan area consists of a further 30 municipalities.
Driving in Melbourne can be challenging. Roads can be confusing, there are trams everywhere, and there is a rule about turning right from the left lane at major intersections in the downtown centre (which leaves the left-hand lane free for trams and through traffic). Here, you must wait for the lights to turn amber before turning. Also, you must always stop behind a tram if it stops, because passengers usually step directly into the road. Add to this the general lack of parking and you'll know why it's better to get on a tram instead. Melbourne has the oldest tram network in the world. Trams are an essential part of the city, and a major cultural icon. Several hundred trams run over 325km (202 miles) of track or so one our guidebooks told us.
And the three Ts are: top up to put money on the card, touch on to have a valid ticket, touch off to pay the lowest fee.
The centre of Melbourne has so much to offer sight wise. Since we chose to spend only ONE day in the CBD, we had to limit our visits to the places we most wanted to see. We decided to skip Royal Botanic Gardens because we wanted to see Australian flora and were taken for a personal guided tour by our hostess to Royal Botanic Gardens Cranbourne, which is an absolute must for all garden enthusiasts and a feast for the eyes for anybody. For the same reason we gave Melbourne Zoo a miss and went to Healesville Sanctuary, which specializes in Australian animals, instead. More about both these places later.
Brighton beach, Bayside
An article published in Sunday Herald Sun, May 29, 2011
I hope to be able to post again in the first week of January of 2013, towards the end of the week. Watch this space!