City Centre

The Melbourne City Centre is the hub of the greater metropolitan area. The metropolis is located on Port Phillip, a large natural bay, with the city centre positioned on the estuary of the Yarra River at the northernmost point of the bay. The City Centre is situated in the municipality known as the City of Melbourne, and the metropolitan area consists of a further 30 municipalities.

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Shopping in The City


Melbourne is synonymous with shopping, and for decades the city has had the reputation of being Australia s shopping capital. While choice is a huge attraction, the joy of shopping in Melbourne is also about atmosphere. The web of tree-lined boulevards, narrow streets, enticing laneways and gorgeous arcades make shopping in the city an absolute pleasure. Leading international fashion labels can be found on Collins Street, while nearby Little Collins Street has a great selection of cutting-edge designers. Funky streets and laneways are a haven for small boutiques specialising in Australian designers, jewellery and accessories.

Melbourne Shopping Guides >>

The Bridges of Melbourne

Princes Bridge

From its source in the Yarra Ranges, the Yarra River flows 242 kilometres west through the Yarra Valley which opens out into plains as it winds its way through Greater Melbourne before emptying into Hobsons Bay in northernmost Port Phillip. The lower stretches of the river is where the city of Melbourne was established in 1835 and today Greater Melbourne dominates and influences the landscape of its lower reaches. Like any city that has a river flowing through it, the river divides the city into two distinct sections, and as a result, bridges are an important component of Melbourne's intensely used rail and road networks. As the city centre is on a flat plain, cost factors as well as the lack of space to built ramps and approaches has resulted in the bridges in and around the city centre not being high. This has forced industry to be congregate downstream from the city, and has limited the size and height of boats such as cruise vessels that are able to pass under the city's bridges.

The Bridges of Melbourne >>

City Parks and Gardens


The picturesque backgrounds of inner Melbourne parklands are perfect for wedding photography, sporting activities and picnics. Towering trees, sprawling lawns, along with the many lakes and rivers, form a framework within which both native and cultivated vegetation flourish, while providing a home to many birds and an impressive variety of wildlife. The facilities offered at each of the parklands are extensive but varied. Ranging from rowing at Albert Park, horticulture lessons at the Royal Botanical Gardens to a civilised stroll in the sylvan avenues of the Carlton Gardens. Flagstaff Gardens allow us to stand at the highest point of City settlement, while the Treasury Gardens include a Japanese garden and Fitzroy Gardens, the Fairy Tree.

Go There >>

City Walks


If you are visiting Melbourne and only have a limited amount of time to explore the central business district, numerous themed walks are suggested to help you get the most out of your time in the city.

Go There >>

Place of Interest
Besides shopping, there is plenty to see and do around the city centre. This is our pick of them.

Flinders Street Station
The story of one of Australia's busiest railway stations, and Melbourne's most recognisable building.


Federation Square
Another iconic building that every visitor to Melbourne should visit, if only because it is the home of the excellent Victorian (and Melbourne) Visitor Information Centre.

Forum Theatre
Since the atmospheric Forum Theatre opened in 1929 as the State Theatre, it has been a fabulous creation of fantasy both inside and out. It was built during the boom years of cinema construction and boasted an unprecedented 3371 seats.

ANZ Banking Museum
Housed in a magnificent gothic building, ANZ Banking Museum illustrates the history of Australian banking and financial services. It displays banking equipment, manuscripts and illustrations from the ANZ bank s substantial archive.

Chinese Museum
A living part of Melbourne's modern Chinatown, the Chinese Museum is a national museum, brought into being in 1985 to document, preserve and display the history of Australians of Chinese descent who have helped shape and develop what it means to be Australian today.

Cooks Cottage
This cottage was constructed in 1755 in the English village of Great Ayton, North Yorkshire, by the parents of Lieut. James Cook, James and Grace Cook. It is a point of conjecture whether James Cook, the famous navigator, ever lived in the house, but almost certainly he visited his parents there.

Coops Shot Tower
A preserved historic building in the heart of Melbourne. Shot towers were built for the production of shot balls by free falling lumps of molten lead, which was then caught in a water basin. The shot was used for projectiles in firearms.

Fire Services Museum
Fire Services Museum of Victoria is home to more than 10,000 Australian and international items relating to fire have been collected and are housed in the original headquarters of the Metropolitan Fire Brigade.

Flagstaff Gardens
A small but well-kept gardens in the middle of the Melbourne CBD. If you are in the city centre, and feel the need for a few moments of quiet solitude, Flagstaff Gardens is the place to go.

Fitzroy Gardens
Melbourne is blessed with a number of beautifully maintained gardens and parks, Fitzroy Gardens being the city's most popular. For most of their existence the Gardens have been considered to be a showpiece rivalled only by the Royal Botanic Gardens.
Immigration Museum
Located in the Old Customs House in the heart of the city, the museum re-creates the real-life stories of coming to Australia with a rich mix of moving images, personal and community voices, memories and memorabilia.

Lanes and Arcades
The Melbourne central business district's numerous lanes mostly date to the Victorian era. The city has several festivals which celebrate the laneways, they are major tourist attractions and frequently feature in tourism promotions, film and television.
Architectural Highlights
The City of Melbourne is recognised for its mix of modern architecture which intersects with an extensive range of nineteenth and early twentieth century buildings. Some of the most architecturally noteworthy historic buildings.

SEA LIFE Melbourne Aquarium
Australia's only Southern Ocean Aquarium, Melbourne Aquarium is situated on the banks of the Yarra River opposite the Crown Casino complex, is the only Southern Ocean Aquarium in Australia.

Museum Victoria
Museum Victoria operates four very different museums situated at three separate locations. Museum Victoria is the State Museum for Victoria, responsible for the care of the state's collections, conducting research, and providing public access.

Old Melbourne Gaol
Most of Australia's infamous characters, including iconic bushranger, Ned Kelly and notorious gangster Squizzy Taylor have spent time within the walls of this bluestone precinct.

Old Treasury Museum
Sitting at the top end of Collins Street in the Melbourne CBD, the Old Treasury Building is widely regarded as one of the finest 19th century buildings in Australia.


Royal Exhibition Building
Government House, Melbourne is the office and official residence of the Governor of Victoria. It is set next to the Royal Botanic Gardens and surrounded by Kings Domain in Melbourne.

Street Art
Melbourne city centre has some of the best street art in the world, with many international visitors coming to see and participate in the street art culture.


Three Businesmen Sculpture
In 1993, artists Alison Weaver and Paul Quinn made their mark on the corner of Bourke and Swanston Streets, with their distinctive bronze sculpture entitled Three Businessmen Who Brought Their Own Lunch: Batman, Swanston and Hoddle.
Victoria Police Museum
Victoria Police Museum is home to a darker side of Victorian history, the museum's collection reflects Victoria Police's role in almost every major incident in Victoria.

Windsor Hotel
Built in 1883-88, this is recognised as the grandest of Australia's great 19th century hotels. Its bygone features including the facade, restaurant, staircase, lifts and wide corridors.

Melbourne In The Beginning

Melbourne in 1835

On 1st October 1836 Colonel William Lonsdale arrived in Melbourne in HMS Rattlesnake to take up his appointment of Police Magistrate at 'Bearbrass on Yarro Yarro', the early name of the settlement that would become the City of Melbourne. At that time, it consisted of 43 dwellings, 224 European inhabitants and pastures accommodating 40,000 sheep.

Within five years the colony had grown in size to 5,000 people and land speculation was rife. Lonsdale predicted the rush soon after arrival and commissioned surveyor Robert Hoddle to lay out a townsite. The town plan was a standard one approved by the British Colonial Office for new settlements overseas - an uncomplicated grid of streets crossing one another at right angles. In the case of Melbourne it was slightly varied to provide service lanes (named after their corresponding thoroughfares, but with the prefix 'Little') running parallel to the main east-west thoroughfares.

The plan provided thoroughfares with a width of 99 feet (30.8 metres) which suited Melbourne's topography and was repeated in subdivisions of land for subsequent suburban development for decades to come. Governor Bourke named the new settlement, after Viscount Melbourne, the British Prime Minister, and named the streets after his wife Elizabeth, the Royal Family, early explorers and other eminent people of the era. It is also worth noting that Governor Bourke named Melbourne after the British Prime Minister of the time whereas Williamstown was named after the king. This would seem to indicate that he thought of Williamstown as the more important settlement.

The Streets of Melbourne

Melbourne in 1864

Soon after his arrival on 1st October 1836, Colonel William Lonsdale predicted a rush of new settlers and commissioned surveyor Robert Hoddle to lay out a townsite. The town plan was a standard one approved by the British Colonial Office for new settlements overseas - an uncomplicated grid of streets crossing one another at right angles. In the case of Melbourne it was slightly varied to provide service lanes (named after their corresponding thoroughfares, but with the prefix 'Little') running parallel to the main east-west thoroughfares. The plan provided thoroughfares with a width of 99 feet (30.8 metres) which suited Melbourne's topography and was repeated in subdivisions of land for subsequent suburban development for decades to come.

Governor Bourke named the new settlement after Viscount Melbourne, the British Prime Minister at the time, and named the streets after his wife Elizabeth, the Royal Family, early explorers and other eminent people of the era. It is also worth noting that Governor Bourke named Melbourne after the British Prime Minister but named Williamstown was named after the king. This would seem to indicate that he texpected Williamstown would be the more important settlement, perhaps because he had earmarked it as the port for the port Phillip Colony.

Naming The Streets of Melbourne >>

About Melbourne

Melbourne was founded in 1835 (47 years after the European settlement of Australia) by settlers from Launceston in Van Diemen's Land. It was named by Governor of New South Wales Sir Richard Bourke in 1837, in honour of the British Prime Minister of the day, William Lamb, 2nd Viscount Melbourne. Melbourne was officially declared a city by Queen Victoria in 1847. In 1851, it became the capital city of the newly created colony of Victoria. During the Victorian gold rush of the 1850s, it was transformed into one of the world s largest and wealthiest cities. After the federation of Australia in 1901, it served as the interim seat of government of the newly created nation of Australia until 1927.

The centre of Melbourne's central business district is formed by the Hoddle Grid (see From The Beginning  below). The grid's southern edge fronts onto the Yarra River. Office, commercial and public developments in the adjoining districts of Southbank and Docklands have made these redeveloped areas into extensions of the CBD in all but name. The city centre is well known for its historic and prominent lanes and arcades (the most notable of which are Block Place and Royal Arcade) which contain a variety of shops and cafes and are a byproduct of the city s layout.

Melbourne's CBD, compared with other Australian cities, has comparatively unrestricted height limits and as a result of waves of post-war development contains five of the six tallest buildings in Australia, the tallest of which is the Eureka Tower, situated in Southbank. It has an observation deck near the top from where you can see above all of Melbourne's structures. The Rialto tower, the city's second tallest, remains the tallest building in the old CBD; its observation deck for visitors is now closed.

The CBD and its immediate surrounds also contain many significant historic buildings such as the Royal Exhibition Building, the Melbourne Town Hall and Parliament House. Although the area is described as the centre, it is not actually the demographic centre of Melbourne at all, due to an urban sprawl to the south east, the demographic centre being located at Glen Iris.





Elizabeth Street


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