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Melbourne Overview : Where To Go : What To Do

Melbourne, with a population of more than three million, is Australia's second largest city. It is regarded as the cultural and fashion capital of Australia and renowned for its fine restaurants. It is a true multicultural city with more than one quarter of Melbourne's inhabitants born overseas. The city is extremely racially tolerant and very easy to work and live in. Visitors enjoy a warm and friendly reception.

Whereas Sydney is bold and brassy, Melbourne is conservative and refined and has an elegance that appeals to most visitors. The American actess Ava Gardner, while visiting Melbourne in the '60s to make the film On the Beach, pronounced Melbourne as a great place to film the end of the world, but much has changed and Melbourne is now arguably one of the great cities of the world. Its unparalleled attractions are its gardens and parklands, food precincts, arcades, and great sporting facilities, including the Melbourne Cricket Ground and Flemington Racecourse. Most of these attractions are situated around the Central Business District or within an easy tram or train ride. There are a number of easy day walks within a few kilometres of the CBD.

Melbourne is undergoing a lifestyle revolution whereby more and more people are electing to live within a few kilometres of the CBD. This is resulting in the transformation of docklands and older inner-city areas into brash new residential areas.

Although Melbourne sprawls around much of Port Phillip, the main focus for visitors is the Yarra River, which, with its resplendent Victorian bridges, forms the southern parameter of the CBD. The river separates the city from the Southbank development and the parklands that surround the Royal Botanic Gardens.

The Crown Entertainment Complex, accommodating the Southern Hemisphere's largest casino, is situated on the banks of the Yarra.

South of the Yarra River is St Kilda Road, a nine-kilometre boulevarde lined with office buildings and English plane trees. To the west of St Kilda Road is Albert Park Lake, which hosts the Australian Grand Prix. The boulevarde runs up to St Kilda, a bayside suburb once the haunt of prostitutes and drug addicts. St Kilda, famous for its Acland Street cake shops, has seen a remarkable resurgence over the past 20 years and is now one of Melbourne's most fashionable areas to live and visit.

North of the CBD are the Queen Victoria Victoria Market and a host of parklands and gardens, including Fitzroy Gardens, Flagstaff Gardens and Treasury Gardens.

Although Melbourne has a good metropolitan train system, it is envied by city administrators the world over for its excellently laid out tramway system. A mix of new and old trams grace a network of tram tracks that stretch far out into the suburbs. The city even has a commercially run tramcar restaurant that runs along the more interesting tram routes.

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