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A Guide to the Melbourne Region

People who say that Australia isn't exactly known for refined culture have not been to Melbourne yet. This city along Port Phillip Bay is not only where Australian Rules Football was born, but also the country's film and television industries and the Heidelberg School, an impressionist art movement. Australia's cultural capital is often at the top of the list of the world's most liveable cities and with its stunning architecture and host of cultural events, it's a must for anyone who visits Down Under.

Not a quick lay-over

Covering an area of more than 2,000 km2, the Melbourne metropolitan area is the third largest city in the Southern Hemisphere, after Johannesburg and Buenos Aires. It's not a city you want to explore in a day or two during a quick lay-over: You'll need to spend some time here to really appreciate what Melbourne has to offer.

Things to see and do in the Melbourne region

Central Melbourne - The Melbourne CBD and neighbouring Southbank are a hub of museums, art galleries, restaurants, boutiques, theatres and little lanes just waiting to be discovered. There is so much to see and do here that you'll be spoilt for choice. Flinders Street Station with its row of clocks out front, the Queen Victoria Market, exotic Chinatown and the Eureka Skydeck are just some of the area's attractions.

Inner North - Only about 1 km from the CBD, the suburbs of Inner North are home to the Melbourne Zoo, the Melbourne museum and the country's first man-made UNESCO World Heritage Site, the Royal Exhibition Building.

Fitzroy - The Inner East suburb of Fitzroy is about 2 km from the CBD. This little bohemia is the best place to discover Melbourne's famous street art.

St Kilda - The young and trendy flock to St Kilda, 6 km from the CBD. This is where you'll find the city's most famous beach as well as lively bars, music venues, restaurants and a great flea market. St Kilda is the birthplace of Men At Work, the group that got the whole world singing, 'I come from a land Down Under.'

Williamstown - If you've always wondered what a warship looks like up close, be sure to visit the restored HMAS Castlemaine, moored at Wiliamstown, about 10 km from the CBD. Williamstown was a port even before Melbourne existed and is still a starting point for cruises on the bay or up the Yarra River.

Altona - Altona is one of Melbourne's Western Suburbs and is 13 km from the CBD. Its beach is great for swimming and watersports like kitesurfing. At the start of the pier you'll find bronze sculptures of marine animals like cuttlefish. For great views, head to the Logan Reserve or Truganina Park and if you're into birdwatching, you'll love Cherry Lake and the Altona Coastal Park.

Werribee - Located just over 30 km from the CBD, Werribee is home to the Werribee Open Range Zoo and Werribee Park Mansion, which is best explored during one of the fun night tours.

Mornington Peninsula - About 75 km south of the CBD you'll find the boot-shaped Mornington Peninsula with its many small towns and villages. The landscape here ranges from wide and sandy beaches to dramatic cliffs offering fantastic views. If you want to get in touch with nature, you may want to visit the Mornington Peninsula National Park, the Port Phillips Head Marine National Park or Point Nepean National Park. Some of the beaches in the area have great surfing but take note that not all of them are safe for swimming. It was at Cheviot Beach near Point Nepean that Australian Prime Minister Harold Holt when for a swim in 1967 and disappeared.

Towns located in Melbourne