Australia's second largest city, and bisected by the Yarra River, Melbourne outdoes Sydney with its cultural agenda. The Arts Centre in Southbank has concert halls, theatres and the National Gallery of Victoria; the Australian Ballet has its home here. Live music and festivals occur all year round, including the International Comedy Festival, the Big Day Out, the Melbourne Festival and the Royal Melbourne Show. Other Australians travel here for the hip boutiques especially in South Yarra, Prahran and Fitzroy. Shopping fashionistas maintain the cafe culture, before moving on to bar-hopping and dining out in the evenings; those with youthful stamina crowd the clubs later still - this is also the capital of dance music.
Born in 1835, the city mushroomed during the Gold Rush and still boasts many fine Victorian buildings; its CBD is on a grid system (the Golden Mile) to the north of the Yarra, and is extending with the new Docklands project. Many visitors don't expect the city's very modern skyline and large scale developments including the Crown Casino complex and large shopping malls. Travel about on one of the famous trams or take a walking tour through the city. Yarra River cruises can take you as far as Williamstown and St Kilda Pier with its penguin colony. Of Melbourne's many parks and gardens, the King's Domain has a huge war memorial and lovely Royal Botanic Gardens - among the best in the world. The city's sporting obsessions include the Melbourne Cup and the Australian Tennis Open.