Guidebook “Before I travelled to Melbourne, I pressed friends who lived there for suggestions and advice … ‘You’re going to want to move here,’ one warned.”


“Before I travelled to Melbourne, I pressed friends who lived there for suggestions and advice … ‘You’re going to want to move here,’ one warned.”

Melbourne is a supremely livable city, writes Annie Fitzsimmons in National Geographic. It has:

  • An outstanding cafe culture: “Though the coffee tasted great no matter where I went, it was the local approach to drinking it—the unhurried pace, joie de vivre, and enthusiasm for connecting with other people”.

  • Friendly inhabitants: “Melburnians are some of the nicest and most hospitable people I know,” says a local.

  • Diverse cultural offerings: “Beyond its ‘thriving hospitality and food scene,’ local chef Scott Pickett cites sporting events like the Australian Open and the Australian Football League’s Grand Final as major draws.”

  • Gorgeous landscapes: “The bayside city is located a short driving distance from idyllic escapes like the Yarra Valley wine region and Mornington Peninsula, while Yarra Bend Park provides a swath of natural bushland near the heart of Melbourne.”

“I still find it terribly exciting to arrive in Melbourne,” writes Bill Bryson in Down Under, his beautifully readable book about Australia. “Driving now through the glossy high-rises of its central business district had something of a feeling of homecoming,” writes Bryson. “Over there was the first Australian hotel I’d stayed in, there the first coffee shop I’d tried, there the celebrated Melbourne Cricket Ground, where I once spent three hours happily bewildered by an Australian Rules Football match and dined on my first (and last) four-and-twenty pie (‘made with real blackbirds,’ I was drolly assured). Insofar as such a statement could have meaning, this was my home in Australia.”

“If Australia has anything approximating a European city, then Melbourne is it,” says Emma Sloley in the upmarket US glossy Travel & Leisure. It’s a city with “the charm of a small town and the hedonism of a modern metropolis.” While growing up there, she recalls, “I took for granted all the things that it offers in spades: fashion-forward boutiques, markets, lively bars, and a certain gentility that gets into the bones. Melbournians know that the very best places are where you least expect them: down cobbled alleyways, in dimly lit basements, and above tiny shops.”

It’s a place that is often likened to Paris, according to the Huffington Post, “no doubt because the padlocked footbridges over the Yarra River resemble the Pont de l’Archevêché … the city feels European thanks to its open-air cafés (and serious coffee culture), tree-lined boulevards, and tram system.”

What Makes Melbourne the world's most liveable city?

It’s a city with distinctive sights and sounds, as observed by Nick Gadd in The Guardian:

  • The sights: “Cyclists with spikes on their helmets to deter swooping magpies; possums in the lemon trees, and lost cat signs taped to telegraph poles; it’s African cafes in Footscray, Vietnamese soup in Richmond, and shisha in Brunswick; cake decoration competitions and overpriced showbags at the Royal Melbourne Show; footy scarves fluttering out of car windows … ”

  • The sounds: “The soundtrack of Melbourne includes the clanging of tram bells, the hiss of espresso machines, traders calling the prices at Victoria Market, and the Japanese bluesman George performing a kick-arse version of Shake Your Money Maker in Bourke Street mall. The suburbs are about shouts of players at footy and netball training on frosty nights; wattle birds and parrots brawling in the trees in spring; dogs going nuts in parks; water sprinklers hissing on parched lawns; pub bands every night of the week; unexpected beauties like the chiming of bells from Buddhist temples; and the annoying bleep of electronic devices – like that bloody iPhone whistle – substituting for conversation in eerily silent commuter trains.”

A stately city architecturally as well as in magnitude,” wrote Mark Twain after visiting Melbourne in 1895. He described a metropolis which, more than a century later, retains many of the same ingredients:

“It has an elaborate system of cable-car service; it has museums, and colleges, and schools, and public gardens, and electricity, and gas, and libraries, and theatres, and mining centres and wool centres, and centres of the arts and sciences, and boards of trade, and ships, and railroads, and a harbour, and social clubs, and journalistic clubs and racing clubs, and a squatter club sumptuously housed and appointed, and as many churches and banks as can make a living. In a word, it is equipped with everything that goes to make the modern great city.” Insight Guides Melbourne

Melbourne's changing architecture

Melbourne is a city that “munches lovingly upon itself,” observes the well-known local writer Kate Holden in the city’s only quality daily newspaper, The Age. “We Melburnians love to notice our habitat, comment on it, gloat over it, complain about and caress it. We nestle in its nooks, stride its streets. Melbourne is more than a city: it's a consciousness. It's a city of some inscrutability to outsiders and we are its jealous owners.”

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