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Melbourne is a sprawled, modern, cosmopolitan city. The inhabitants think their city is way superior to their eternal rival, Sydney, but inhabitants of that city think the complete opposite. In any case, there is an awful lot to see and do in the capital of the Australian state of Victoria.
Although the city center is dominated by skyscrapers (a beautiful skyline by the way), you can still find some legacies of colonialism in Melbourne. The most striking examples can be found along Collins Street, where for example the Victorian shopping center Block Arcade is located. The Old Royal Mint on William Street is also a nice example of colonial architecture. And what about the old prison, the Old Melbourne Gaol, which you can visit and where you can for example see the death mask of the illustrious gang leader Ned Kelly.
The green landscape of Melbourne is a reminder of the city's British history. This is nowhere more visible than in Fitzroy Gardens that are landscaped in the form of the British flag, the Union Jack. The Melbourne Museum, Australia's largest museum, is situated in the Carlton Gardens. It consists of several parts. They have for example copied a rainforest and the museum also has a beautiful collection of insects and butterflies. The Children's Gallery includes an enormous Rubik's Cube. The museum also displays Melbourne's history and there's even a mounted horse: Phar Lap, the country's most famous racehorse.
The Chinese played a particularly important role in the development of Melbourne. They came in large numbers when the city was gripped by the gold rush. As nearly anywhere around the world, they created their own neighborhood. Chinatown is situated east of the center and here you will obviously find many Chinese shops and restaurants. It also houses a museum dedicated to the history of the Chinese community in Melbourne.
The ultramodern Federation Square is something quite different. It forms the social, cultural and also commercial heart of the city. Guided tours are given that explain the architecture of the complex. Highlights are the Ian Potter Centre of the National Gallery of Victoria which displays work by Australian artists (including art by Aboriginals) as well as the Australian Centre for the Moving Image. Opposite Federation Square stands St Paul's Cathedral which was built at the end of the nineteenth century; quite a contrast with the modern architecture of Fed Square.
From the Skydeck on the 88th floor of the Eureka Tower you have a wonderful view of Melbourne. It even has a bulge (The Edge) with a glass floor that makes you 'float' 300 meters above Melbourne. Not recommended for people who fear heights!
The Melbourne Zoo is Australia's oldest zoo. They have even imitated an African rainforest with gorillas, hippos and lions. Obviously part of the zoo is bushland with typical Australian animals and a butterfly house.
The Heide Museum of Modern Art offers a nice collection of modern Australian art. In particular the sculpture park in the garden is extremely interesting.
Melbourne has the second largest botanical garden in the world (after Kew Gardens in London). The Royal Botanic Gardens cover over 40 hectares and are located two kilometers south of the city center.
The Aboriginal sculptures in a forest east of Melbourne are something special. The statues are surrounded by rocks and giant ferns in the William Ricketts Sanctuary. You can easily reach this sculpture park in your rental car via the scenic road C-415, which is called the Mount Dandenong Tourist Road for a reason.
At about a one and half hour drive from Melbourne lies Phillip Island, a nature park. One of the highlights is The Penguin Parade. No, these are not trained penguins, but animals that waddle up the beach at the end of the day to return to their sleeping place on the island. The species living on and around Phillip Island, is one of the smallest penguin species in the world. The island also houses the Koala Conservation Centre and the Seal Rocks Sea Life Centre, home to Australia's largest colony of seals. From Melbourne you reach Phillip Island via the M1, the South Gippsland Highway and then the A420 that runs to the bridge to the island.
The journey from Melbourne to Adelaide, west of Melbourne, is spectacular. You drive along the coast on the Great Ocean Road through nature parks (Otway and Port Campbell) and past a rock formation that is known as The Twelve Apostles (although currently only eight are still standing).
Finding parking space in Melbourne is not hard. Parking in the street is only allowed for a limited amount of time, but the city offers many parking garages. There are 140 parking lots and garages with a total of 70,000 parking spaces. According to the City Council you are never more than 200 meters away from a parking facility.