Melbourne is dubbed marvellous for a reason. Healthy hedonism masquerades as high art: Melburnians are equally passionate about football and ballet, fashion and restaurants. They are ravenous for music and hot for theatre.
It's a smorgasbord of a city that you'll want to sink your teeth into. A leafy bayside community on the 'upside-down' Yarra River, Melbourne is, by turns, cosmopolitan, suburban, cultivated, conservative and an avant-garde haven.
Visitors come for its shopping, restaurants, nightlife and sporting calendar; most agree that it's one of the world's most liveable cities.
Melbourne's climate has an unfortunate reputation: wet, windy, unpredictable and liable to extremes - very hot or very cold and often both on the same day!
On the plus side, Melbourne's multitude of parks makes it a beautiful place to witness the changing seasons. It is rarely unbearably chilly - in winter the average temperature ranges between 6°C (43°F) and 13°C (55°F), the mercury rises above 35°C (95°F) only a few times each year and Melbourne's soggy reputation outstrips the reality - it receives only half the average rainfall of Sydney or Brisbane.
GETTING THERE AND AWAY
Most of the major airlines have direct international flights to Melbourne Airport (www.melbourneairport.com.au) in Tullamarine, 22km northwest of the city centre. Jetstar also has flights to and from Avalon Airport (www.avalonairport.com.au), which is 22km north of Geelong and 56km southwest of Melbourne.
The long-distance bus terminal in the city centre is at the Southern Cross Station; long-distance trains also operate from here. Buses and trains go to regional Victorian towns, and major cities around Australia.
Melbourne's an easy city to navigate unless you need to be in the suburbs, which can get confusing. It's designed in the classic mould: the thoroughfares fan out like the spokes of a wheel from the central business district.
Public transport consists of trams, trains and buses and tends to be efficient and useful - as long as your trip is along one of the spokes of the wheel. Public transport across suburbs can be a problem.
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