Melbourne, with approximately 3 million people, is the second largest city of Australia. It has a modern and sophisticated downtown with the usual international retailers and glossy skyscrapers - but as you move out from the center, quickly falls off to mostly one and two story Victorian buildings and then to neat sprawl. The Yarra River runs through it, as does a user-friendly tram system. It has a sophisticated multi-theater arts complex; a National Art Gallery; excellent restaurants; cafes and coffee shops; stylish boutiques; small, ethnic pockets; a large waterfront (from which ships sail for foreign ports, local islands and Tasmania); a Royal Botanic Garden and two huge football stadiums. (The safest generalization one can make of Australians is that they are a sports loving nation.) The people, including most immigrants, exhibit the usual Aussie humor and hospitality. But Melbourne also suffers from some typical big-city problems; e.g., crime and graffiti. Still, this is a beautiful town with wonderful history, food and culture and is well worth visiting. Bring a camera, your appetite and your wallet.
Other Bits (including the Red Centre and Alice Springs)
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