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Hotel, Bars & Nightlife
Melbourne is Australia's bar capital and its hub of live music. With the addition of a buzzing clubland, the city covers all styles and caters to all tastes. The central business district not only serves its after-work drinkers but also attracts a young, trendy crowd of inner-city professionals. Many of Melbourne's smarter bars are tucked away in the city's many lanes or across the Yarra River in Southgate, a modern riverside precinct. 
Many of Melbourne's venues function variously as bars, clubs and live-music rooms depending on the night and the hour. The varied nature of the bars and clubs means that the dress code also varies enormously, but generally the trendier the place, the stricter the dress code. Entrance to clubs is free but often at weekends a fee is introduced after 2100. Gay Melbourne has its base in the inner suburb of South Yarra, with numerous pubs, clubs and discos centred around Commercial Road. Other inner-city districts, such as Fitzroy and St Kilda, by Port Philip Bay, feature further options for a city that loves to be out after dark.
Very relaxed licensing hours mean that it is possible to drink through the night. The minimum drinking age is 18 years. The average price for a beer served in a bar is A$10, while in a nightclub it is more likely to be around A$12. 
Melbourne Hotel
Melbourne Travel Tips
Passports and Visas When traveling internationally, carry your passport even if you don't need one (it's always the best form of I.D.) and make two photocopies of the data page (one for someone at home and another for you, carried separately from your passport). If you lose your passport, promptly call the nearest embassy or consulate and the local police. For more information on visas please go to our Australian Visas page.
Customs and Duties Australia has strict laws prohibiting or restricting the import of weapons and firearms. Anti-drug laws are strictly enforced, and penalties are severe. All animals are subject to quarantine. Most canned or preserved food may be imported, but fresh fruit, vegetables, and all food served on board aircraft coming from other countries is forbidden. All food, seeds, and wooden artefacts must be declared on your customs statement. Non-residents over 18 years of age may bring in 250 cigarettes, or 250 grams of cigars or tobacco, and 2 litres of liquor, provided this is carried with you. Other taxable goods to the value of A$400 for adults and A$200 for children may be included in personal baggage duty-free. For more information on arrival regulations etc, please take a look through our Australian Visas page or contact the Australian Customs Service (Regional Director, Box 8, Sydney, NSW 2001, telephone: 02/9213-2000; 1300/363263; 1800/020504 quarantine-inquiry line, Fax: 02/9213-4043 or connect to their web site at: www.customs.gov.au
Taxes Everyone leaving Australia pays a departure tax, known as a Passenger Movement Charge, of $38. This amount is prepaid with your airline ticket. Except for food, all goods and services incur a Goods and Services Tax (GST) of 10%. No sales tax is added to purchases in Australia, but an excise tax is levied on some luxury goods 
When to Go The climate in Melbourne is temperate, with a warm summer and moderate rainfall.  The "official" first day of summer is December 21st, but it doesn't feel like summer until mid January or later. Spring is cool, extremely variable - often windy and rainy - and can last to Christmas or even later.  Summer is warm to hot, with temperatures sometimes topping 100F/10 C in January and February.  Usually autumn is balmy and mild and can last well into June.  Winter - not the best time to visit - is very variable, from mild to cold and rainy.
Physically Challenged Travellers Australia is one country where physically challenged or disabled travellers will be pleased to hear that they are considered a valued part of society and deserve as much respect as their able bodied counterparts. This being so, it makes travel and getting around easy in comparison to many other countries in the world. Here you’ll find most hotels/shops/restaurants/even private homes have ramps, handrails, easy to reach light switches and door knobs etc, virtually everywhere you go. So if you are like many in this position and are seeking a great holiday destination that caters to your needs, Australia is it!
Smartvisit Card Make the most of your trip to Victoria with the new See Melbourne and Beyond Smartvisit Card. The credit card-sized smart card gives cashless admission to over 50 leading attractions across Melbourne and the surrounding regions for one all-inclusive price, providing great value for money and convenience for visitors. For details call: (02) 9906 2711 or fax: 02 9906 4711
Religion 75% Christian; Aboriginal beliefs, Jewish and Islamic religions are in the minority.
Language The official language of Australia is English. However you would probably be forgiven for calling it Australian, for Australians have evolved many of their own colloquialisms and phrases, and tend to speak in a very heavy twanging accent. It also varies slightly from state to state. Local colloquial and slang terms are becoming less common due to the global influence of television and film, although most visitors will come into contact with some. One peculiar use of the language, however, can be disturbing to the unaware. Australians often use terms of abuse, such a "bastard" and "bloody Pom," as a sign of acceptance, indeed affection. If you find an Australian abusing you in an otherwise friendly conversation, it probably means he likes you. Smile, or even better, give as good as you get.
Tipping Advice In general it is not customary to tip in Australia though this is slowly changing, particularly in larger cities. In some restaurants it is standard practice to leave a gratuity. The usual amount is between ten and fifteen percent. Discretionary tips to hotel staff, taxi drivers and other service personnel are also on the increase. It is certainly a friendly gesture to pay a little on top of the bill if the service has reached the required standard.
Melbourne Transportation As well as the international Melbourne Airport, the city has excellent road and rail links to other Australian cities. There are also good coach services that run between Australian cities. For more on transport in this city please take a look at our Transport page.
Business Hours As a rule, business hours in Australia are weekdays 9-5. This applies to post offices as well. When a holiday falls on a weekend, businesses are usually closed the following Monday. Shops are normally open weekdays 8:30-5:30, with late closing at 9 PM on either Thursday or Friday. On Saturday shops are open from 8:30 to between noon and 4. Some stores, particularly those in tourist areas, may be open a few hours on Sunday and and may have extended weekday hours. Some supermarkets are now open 24 hours.
Bank and Government Office Hours Banks are open Monday-Thursday 9:30-4, Friday 9:30-5. A few banks are open on Saturday mornings. Hours for government offices vary depending on the state, but most have staff on hand to answer questions weekdays 8:30-5.
Local Time 10 hours from GMT (15 hours from Eastern Standard Time or 18 hours from Pacific Standard Time.) Australia has three time zones. Eastern Standard Time (GMT/UTC plus 10 hours) operates in Queensland, New South Wales, Victoria, Tasmania, and Australian Capital Territory. Central Standard Time (GMT/UTC plus 9.5 hours) operates in South Australia and the Northern Territory. 
Western Australia operates on Western Standard Time (GMT/UTC plus 8 hours). Daylight-saving time of one hour is observed in all states except Queensland and Western Australia. It runs from the end of October (the beginning of October in Tasmania) until the end of March.
Electricity The electrical current in Australia is 240 volts, 50 cycles alternating current (AC). Wall outlets take slanted three-prong plugs (but not the U.K. three-prong) and plugs with two flat prongs set in a V. If your appliances are dual-voltage, you'll need an adapter. Don't use 110-volt outlets marked "For Shavers Only" for high-wattage appliances such as blow-dryers. Most laptops operate equally well on 110 and 220 volts and so require only an adapter.

Embassies and Consulates Most embassies are in Canberra, but many countries also have consulates or honorary consuls in Melbourne, including the American Consulate-generic and the British Consulate-generic. Others are usually listed in the telephone directory under the specific country.
Emergencies In an emergency, dial 000 to reach an ambulance, the fire station, or the police. 
Health Hygiene standards in Australia are high and well monitored, so don't worry about drinking the water or eating fresh produce. The primary health hazard is sunburn or sunstroke. Australians suffer the world's highest incidences of skin cancer from overdoses of sun. Even if you're not normally bothered by strong sun you should cover up with a long-sleeve shirt, a hat, and long pants or a beach wrap. Keep in mind that at higher altitudes you will burn more easily. Apply sunscreen liberally before you go out - even for a half hour - and wear a peaked cap and sunglasses.
Insect Pests Apply a reliable insect repellent to protect yourself from mosquito bites during summer. Although Australia is free of malaria, several cases of Ross River fever and dengue fever, both mosquito-transmitted viruses, have been reported in recent years. The mosquitoes that transmit these viruses are active in daylight hours.
Dehydration is a serious danger that can be easily avoided, so be sure to carry water and drink often. Above all, limit the amount of time you spend in the sun for the first few days until you are acclimatized, and always avoid sunbathing in the middle of the day.
Medication Allowances You may take a four weeks' supply of prescribed medication into Australia (more with a doctor's certificate). Medical professionals are highly trained and hospitals are well equipped. 
Divers' Alert Do not fly within 24 hours of scuba diving as your blood pressure may sky-rocket.
Doctors and Dentists Melbourne’s medical facilities are of international standing and if you get sick or suffer chronic tooth ache, you will find help close at hand. The following list will help:
• Heritage Medical Clinic 61 Brighton Rd., Elwood, telephone: 03/9531-9811. 
• Royal Dental Hospital, Elizabeth St. and Flemington Rd., Parkville, telephone:  03/9341-0222. 
• Surrey Hills Medical Clinic 174 Union Rd., Surrey Hills, telephone:  03/9836-1366. 
Hospitals
• Alfred Hospital Commercial Rd., Prahran, telephone: 03/9276-2000. 
• Royal Women's Hospital 132 Grattan St., Carlton, telephone: 03/9344-2000. 
• St. Vincent's Hospital Victoria Parade, Fitzroy, telephone: 03/9288-2211. 
Etiquette & Behaviour Australians are typically relaxed and informal in their social relationships, and visitors from most other cultures will have little trouble fitting in. Social behaviour broadly follows the same patterns as those of North America and the British Isles. Upon introduction, men will shake hands, but this will not usually be repeated on later encounters. A kiss on the cheek is a common greeting and farewell between the sexes, but only once the relationship has moved to a comfortable level of familiarity. Drinking remains an integral part of Australian culture, and drunkenness generally does not incur the same social stigma as in some cultures, provided the behaviour remains within reasonable bounds.
Business Etiquette Business executives from North America and Britain will find a familiar business environment in terms of business language, cultural background, dress, business practices, legislation, and expectations. Planning, promptness, punctuality, and follow-through are all important. Australians are personally gracious, yet informal and direct in their business dealings. Australian business contacts will exchange business cards but without ceremony and quickly move to a first-name basis, regardless of any differences in status. Token gift exchange is not common. 
Luncheon meetings are frequent, but Australians do not commonly allow business to overlap their private lives. Evenings and weekends are reserved for family and friends. If you are invited out to dinner by a business colleague, it will usually be a social rather than a business occasion. In that case spouses will usually be welcome.
Communications
Mail Service in Australia is efficient. Allow a week for letters and postcards to reach the United States and the United Kingdom. Letters to New Zealand generally take four-five days. All mail travels by air. You can send mail and pick up post restante letters at the general Post Office, Bourke St. and Elizabeth St., City Center, telephone: 03/9203-3076; it's open from 8:15 to 5:30 weekdays and 10 to 3 on Saturday. The post office's Express Post can send mail overnight within Australia.
Federal Express 3 Barry Rd., Tullamarine, telephone: 13-2610 can send 24-hour overseas packages.
Receiving Mail You can receive mail care of general Delivery (known as Poste Restante in Australia) at the general Post Office or any post office branch. The service is free and mail is held for one month. It is advisable to know the correct Australian postal code (zip code) of the area you are visiting. These are available from the Australian Consulate general. The zip code will allow you to receive mail care of Poste Restante (generic Delivery) at the area's general Post Office. You will need identification to pick up mail. Alternatively, American Express offers free mail collection at its main city offices for its cardholders.
Shipping Parcels Rates for large parcels shipped to other countries from Australia depend on their weight and shape. Some companies provide boxes, and any materials you can fit inside weighing up to 25 kilograms (about 55 pounds) will cost about $215, excluding any U.S. import charges. You can also consult your airline to find the rates for unaccompanied luggage. Overnight courier services like DHL and Federal Express will deliver packages of any size - for a price. If you're shipping items in excess of 50 kilograms (110 pounds), it's less expensive to send goods by sea via a shipping agent. Shipping time to the United States and Europe is 10-12 weeks.
Telephones Australia's telephone system is efficient and reliable. You can make long-distance and international calls from any phone in the country. Australian phone numbers have eight digits. Hotels impose surcharges that can double or even triple the cost of making calls from your room. Get around this by making calls from a public phone, or by charging to a local account (contact your local telephone service for details). Australia's cellular phones operate on either a GSM (Global System for Mobiles) or CDMA (Code Division Multiple Access) system. All compatible cellular phones will operate in Australia, but check first with your carrier to make sure that your particular phone has been cleared for international access. Some functions - such as message bank call-back - will not work outside your home country. Your pager will not work in Australia either.
Area and Country Codes The country code for Australia is 61. From the United States, dial 011, then 61, then the local area code. From the United Kingdom, dial 00, then 61. When dialing an Australian number from abroad, drop the initial 0 from the local area code. Area codes for the major cities are: Sydney and Canberra, 02; Melbourne and Hobart, 03; Brisbane and Cairns, 07; Adelaide, Darwin, and Perth, 08.
Directory & Operator Information For local directory assistance, call 1223. For international directory assistance, call 1225. For information on international call costs, call 1800/113011.
Local Calls Australian numbers with a 13 prefix can be dialed countrywide for the cost of a local call. For example, dialing a 13-number for a company in Melbourne when you are in Sydney will be billed as a local call. You can dial 1300 numbers countrywide for the cost of a local call. Toll-free numbers in Australia have an 1800 prefix. Unless otherwise noted, toll-free numbers are accessible only within Australia. 
Long-Distance Calls Long-distance calls can be dialed directly using the city code or area code. Rates are divided into two time periods: Day (weekdays 7 AM-7 PM) and Economy (weekdays 7 PM-7 AM and Friday 7 PM-Monday 7 AM). Area codes are listed in the white pages of local telephone directories.
Public Phones There are public telephones throughout the city, suburbs, and regional towns. Most accept coins as well as phone cards that can be purchased in certain denominations from newsagents and post offices. 
Tip: All telephone numbers in Australia have eight digits. Exceptions are toll-free numbers and numbers with the prefix 13. The latter are countrywide and thus carry no area code at all. When you are calling long-distance numbers within Australia, remember to include the area code, even when you are calling from a number with the same area code. For example, if you are making a call from Sydney to Canberra, you need to include the area code even though both have the same 02 prefix.
Money Matters 
Currency Australia's currency operates on a decimal system, with the dollar (A$) as the basic unit and 100 cents (¢) equaling $1. Bills come in $100, $50, $20, $10, and $5 denominations, which are differentiated by color and size. Coins are minted in $2, $1, 50¢, 20¢, 10¢, and 5¢ denominations. 
ATMs are plentiful throughout Victoria and accept CIRRUS, Maestro, PLUS, and credit cards. Cards that do not use a four-digit PIN may not be accepted at Australia's ATMs. Even if your bank says you'll have access to your account via ATMs while overseas, glitches can occur. Don't rely on ATMs as your sole source of cash. 
Exchanging Money Money changers in Melbourne are not as common as in other major international cities - try along Collins, Elizabeth, or Swanston streets. Other places to get and change money include large hotels, American Express, and Thomas Cook. If heading into regional Victoria, it's wise to cash up beforehand rather than relying on regional banking outlets, which may or may not cater to international travellers.
Safety Given Australia's relaxed ways, it's easy to be seduced into believing that crime is practically nonexistent. In fact, Australia has its share of poverty, drugs, and crime. If you encounter anything it will most likely be theft, and although crime rates are not high by world standards, you need to exercise caution. In major tourist areas, the risk increases. When you park your vehicle, hide any valuables. Don't leave anything of value on the beach when you go for a swim. Under no conditions should you hitchhike. Always be cautious with your money and documents. Be particularly careful when withdrawing money from an ATM, where a number of locals and travellers have been robbed. If you need to withdraw funds, do so during daylight hours, in the company of family or friends, or in a safe location.
Visitor Information The Melbourne Information Centre, Federation Square, Flinders and Swanston Streets., City Center, telephone: 03/9658-9658 at Federation Square provides information in six languages with large-screen videos, touch screens, permanent displays, and daily newspapers, and there is access to the Melbourne Web site as well. There's also an ATM and a ticket outlet for local events. The following lists some, but certainly not all information outlets in the area which may prove useful:
• Melbourne Greeters located at Federation Square, Flinders and Swanston Sts., City Center, telephone: 03/9658-9524 or fax: 03/9654-1054 service pairs you with a local volunteer who shares your interests. You can spend two to four hours with the volunteer touring relevant parts of the city and talking about subjects such as Aboriginal culture, Australian film, parks and gardens, shopping, gay culture, history, theatre and sports. To book a Melbourne Greeter you must give at least three days' notice, preferably more. The Centre is open weekdays 9-6 and weekends 9-5. 
• City Ambassadors provided by the City of Melbourne rove the central retail area providing directions and information for anyone who needs their assistance (Monday-Saturday 10-5). 
• Department of Natural Resources and Environment 240 Victoria Parade, East Melbourne, telephone: 03/9412-4011, www.parkweb.vic.gov.au  provides information on Victoria's national parks. For a list of all walks and parks in the state, visit the related Web site. 
• Victorian Tourism Information Service located at Swanston and Little Collins Sts., City Center, telephone: (03) 9658 9955 or (03) 9790 333313-2842, www.tourism.vic.gov.au , open daily 8-6, provides tourism information about Victoria for the cost of a local call. 
• Dandenong Ranges & Knox Visitor Information Centre 1211 Burwood Highway, Ferntree Gully can be contacted by calling: (03) 9758 7522 
• Phillip Island Information Centre is worth getting in touch with if planning on visiting the island on: (03) 5956 7447 
• Mornington Peninsula Vistor Information Centre
Point Nepean Road, Dromana can be contacted via: (03) 5987 3078 
• Melbourne's Valley of the Arts Tourism Association Inc. also offers good tourist info on the area and are worth calling on: (03) 9844 0380 
Tip: For general information the Australian Tourist Commission's Aussie Help Line, available from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. can answer specific questions about the country.
Guided Tours There are many ways to see the sights of Melbourne - you can walk, cruise, bus, or bike. If you're a sports fan, you can even take a sports-theme tour. For more on this and other wonderful activities in and around this cosmopolitan city take a look through our Sightseeing guides, our Sport and Entertainment guides and our Children’s Activity guides as well as our Top Ten Things to Do guide.
Museums and Sights Most museums and major sights are open seven days a week, including public holidays. Outside metropolitan areas, opening hours for museums and sights may vary considerably. Be sure to check hours in advance.  For more information on Sightseeing or things to do please go to our sightseeing and sport and entertainment  pages.
Point Lonsdale Beach, Bellarine Peninsula Tip The best time to visit the Point Lonsdale beach, at the base of Point Lonsdale light house is at low tide, when all the rock is exposed. This leaves many exciting rock pools to explore and is much safer because it eliminates the chances of falling into unseen holes. 
Melbourne Attractions The best way to see all of the inner city attractions is to take a trip on the free city circle tram. It stops within walking distance of all the major city attractions.
Melbourne's Restaurants About 1/3 of Melbourne's restaurants are not licensed to sell alcohol but may serve alcohol you brought elsewhere. Look for the B.Y.O. Signs (Bring Your Own).
Rest Rooms Australian rest rooms are usually very clean. In major cities, there may be a nominal charge to use them. Railway and bus stations are good places to find public rest rooms. In country towns and at roadside rest areas, rest rooms are usually free. There are fewer facilities in remote areas. Long-distance buses have rest rooms on board.
Shoe Sizes Australia's clothing and shoe sizes vary from those used in Europe, Japan and North America. Naturally there are slight variations, so try before purchasing. 
Smoking Australia, its attractions and culture is sensitive to both people who smoke and those who do not. For example, most restaurants in Australia have both smoking and non-smoking areas with some operating a complete no-smoking policy as do many other centres/hotels and businesses. Do take note, as you could ace a stiff fine if caught smoking in a non-smoking zone.

Melbourne Markets

Melbourne's weather and climate
Melbourne has a well-deserved reputation for its changing weather.  Over the course of a day it can be possible to experience a little something of the four seasons.  A tip for any visitor to Melbourne is to be prepared for anything – take an umbrella and wear shorts!
As a general rule, Melbourne enjoys a temperate climate with warm to hot summers, mild and sometimes balmy spring and autumns, and cool winters.
While Melbourne has a reputation for rain, the city actually receives less rainfall than either Brisbane or Sydney.
Melbourne is an excellent place to see the seasons change.  In summer, most people head out to visit our golden beaches.  In autumn it is possible to experience the glorious foliage of the many nineteenth century European-style parks that fringe the CBD.  In winter, Melburnians enjoy the warmth of cosy cafes and bars.  Spring is a time for renewal – a great time to head back into our parks and marvel at our fantastic range of flora and fauna.
Melbourne is located in the southern hemisphere and experiences opposite seasons to those in Europe, North America, and most of Asia.
Melbourne enjoys manageable summers, glorious springs, mild autumns and crisp winters.
With its variable climate, Melbourne is warm to hot in summer (December to February), mild in autumn (March to May), cold and damp in winter (June to August), and cool in spring (September to November). For the city as a whole, the warmest months are generally January and February, which are often dry and prone to hot spells, although some respite is provided by the cooling sea breezes of Port Phillip Bay. June and July are the coldest months, while October is the wettest. The annual average rainfall for Melbourne is around 600mm, which is substantially less rain than Sydney receives.

Average temperatures by month:
Month Temperature
January 25.8C
February 25.8C
March 23.8C
April 20.2C
May 16.6C
June 14C
July 13.4C
August 14.9C
September 17.2C
October 19.6C
November 21.8C
December 24.1C

Melbourne

Melbourne Top 10 Things to Do
Carlton, in the north of the city, is known as Melbourne’s ‘Little Italy’ and is the centre for great food and shopping. The proximity of Melbourne University also adds to the fashionable, energetic feel of the area. The heart of it all is Lygon Street, where you can find a wide variety of specialty shops, bookstores and galleries as well as an abundance of quality cafes and restaurants. Melbourne’s main other trendy areas are St Kilda and Fitzroy.
Federation Square, opened in October 2002, is one of the most ambitious and complex projects ever undertaken in Victoria. Standing in the heart of central Melbourne and linking the city centre with the Yarra River, Federation Square fuses art, architecture, events, culture, hospitality and promenading into a distinct and striking public space.
Melbourne Aquarium is a ‘must-see’ attraction for any visitor to Melbourne. Conveniently located on the banks of the Yarra River in the city centre, the state-of-the-art Melbourne Aquarium harbours thousands of creatures from the Southern Ocean.
Melbourne Museum The modernist Melbourne Museum is the largest museum complex in the southern hemisphere. Spread over six huge levels, half of which are below ground level, the museum draws on the latest technology to give an insight into Australia’s flora, fauna and culture.
Melbourne Zoo Opened in 1862, Melbourne Zoo is the oldest in Australia. More than 350 animal species from around the world are on display in the zoo’s attractive enclosures and botanical settings.
Mornington Peninsula The beautiful Mornington Peninsula curves lazily southwards, from Melbourne along Port Phillip Bay to a patchwork of bushland, pastures, hills, vineyards, national parks and beautiful beaches. The area is a scenic region rich in wineries, restaurants and art galleries.
Old Melbourne Gaol Ned Kelly, the infamous bushranger, is one of 135 men and women who were hanged on the gaol’s scaffold. See the Hangman’s Box, The Particulars of Execution Book and other exhibitions about this grim period of Victoria’s history. View the death masks used in the study of phrenology to predict criminal behaviour and discover the fascinating stories of the crimes of the female prisoners in the Women in Prison exhibition.
The Queen Victoria Market is more than just Melbourne’s shopping Mecca. This 19th century market is a historic landmark, a tourist attraction and an institution for all Melbournians. The ‘Queen Vic’ was opened in 1878, but the meat market building (except the Victorian facade) operated from 1866.
St Kilda Pier Providing panoramic views of the Melbourne skyline and Port Phillip Bay, the pier is a popular destination for strolling, cycling, roller blading and fishing. Catch a ferry to Williamstown, enjoy a snack at the kiosk or try to spot the penguins and native water rats from the breakwater. Whatever your preference, St Kilda Pier provides an unforgettable experience right in the heart of Melbourne.
Yarra River Cruise No visit to Melbourne would be complete without an award-winning trip on the Yarra with fantastic views and informative commentary in the comfort of a Melbourne River Cruiser. Choose from the 'Scenic River Gardens' upriver cruise or the 'Port and Docklands' downriver cruise
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