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Melbourne - Sports, Culture and Class
It may be Australia's second largest city, but Melbourne is seen as leading the country in many other departments. Its sports-mad residents refer to it as the sporting capital of Australia, and the large amount of world class stadiums, tournaments and teams based in the city justify this claim. This sports fever contrasts with, yet is enhanced by, the vibrant arts and crafts scene in the city that has made it the centre of all cultural activity in Australia.

This strong sense of culture is evident in the heritage buildings, the galleries and the museums of Melbourne and has given it a reputation as a city of creative expression, which is reflected in the music, theatre and festival scene. An interesting, diverse and very cosmopolitan city, any holiday here is going to be an intriguing mix of history, art, sport and beaches thrown in with all the attractions of a modern and cutting edge city.

At the forefront of the arts and culture scene is the Melbourne Museum, the largest of its kind in the southern hemisphere. Located in the Carlton Gardens, no visit to Melbourne is complete without stopping in here and checking out its seven galleries, the Discovery Centre or the incredible IMAX theatre which shows movies in 3-D format. The kids will be completely enthralled as they browse through Egyptian mummies and dinosaur bones from China!

World Class travelling exhibitions find temporary homes here, and it also promotes the local arts scene and the history of the area. Another similar establishment is the National Gallery of Victoria, which is the oldest and largest public art gallery in Australia, having being established in 1861. It holds 63 000 pieces of work from arts masters of yesteryear and modern times, and is worth visiting to see these permanent exhibitions and the diverse range of travelling ones that it hosts.

The strong emphasis on culture and creativity in Melbourne has resulted in a vibrant and electric night life. It is a stronghold for live music and performances, and on any given night musicians will be filling the pubs and clubs with their smooth sounds. The seaside suburb of St. Kilda is seen as leading the way in this sense, and its bohemian atmosphere and creative reputation is enhanced by the performers, whether they be busking in the street or playing in the pubs.

The pubs and the restaurants throughout the whole city also reflect the cultural diversity of Melbourne, and you can sample foods from a dazzling array of world cuisines, from classic English fare to truly exotic island-style dishes. Melburnians are big on their fine dining, and hand in hand with this goes there appreciation for a good drop of wine. The regions surrounding the city produce some of the finest wines in the country, and nothing beats a good meal with a bottle of the local red or white... Its the Melbourne thing to do!

To fully appreciate the sporting fever in this city you need to go to a live match, and there are lots to choose from. The Australian Tennis Open takes place at the Rod Laver Arena here every year, and is a huge drawcard for tourists. Perhaps the best atmosphere at a match can be found at one of the AFL (Australian Football League) matches. The sport was born in this part of Australia before spreading to the rest of the country, and it holds a special place in the heart of the city. The atmosphere at the fiercely fought matches confirms all this. Perhaps the most renowned stadium in the city is the MCG (Melbourne Cricket Ground), and a cricket match or an athletics meet here should not be missed. If there is nothing on then you are still able to take a tour of the inner workings of the ground, where you pass through the Cricketers Hall of Fame.

A city as large as Melbourne has countless accommodation options, ranging from the cheap backpacker variety to luxurious five star hotels. Regardless of what your budget is, the perfect place for you to stay is out there, you just need to find it. That may seem like a daunting task, but thanks to accommodationinmelbourne.com.au it doesn't have to be. The people at Accommodation in Melbourne have compiled comprehensive lists of all the hotels and apartments in the city, divided up into their various suburbs. All you need to do is log onto the website, choose the suburb you are staying in and then view the information provided on the accommodation venues in that area. Its as easy as that! If its centrally located backpacker accommodation you are after then look no further than urbancentral.com.au, an upmarket hostel situated right in the heart of Melbourne. They specialise in group bookings and tour organisation, and the very reasonable prices are complemented by the friendly staff!

The great thing about a holiday to Melbourne is that if you tire of the attractions of the city or feel like some fresh country air then there is plenty to choose form in the surrounding regions. Head west to drive along the Great Ocean Road and enjoy the spectacular views and bizarre geological features. The Mediterranean delights of the Mornington Peninsula are just a short drive away, as are the rugged mountains and lush valleys of the Dandenong Ranges. Whatever your age group or whatever your interests, the city of Melbourne and its beautiful surrounds will have something to make your holiday special. A hire car from Discovery will give you the freedom to explore the diversity of attractions on offer.
About the Author
Gavin Wyatt is a journalist with a passion for travel. originally from Zambia he has traveled around the world to end up on the sunny shores of Australia. For more of his articles visit Car Hire in Victoria.
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