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 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
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.
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
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.
• 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
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
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
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
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
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
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
• 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
• 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
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
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.
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
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'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
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:
Melbourne Top 10 Things to
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
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