The city of Melbourne was founded in 1835 by a successful Tasmanian farmer, John Batman and it was temporarily called, Batmania. In 1850, Melbourne was declared a city by Queen Victoria and the discovery of gold in 1851 created a large influx of migrants. The following boom years from the gold rush saw the population of Melbourne increase enormously.However, by 1890, most of the mines had been depleted and the boom came to an abrupt end.
Melbourne, Victoria’s coastal capital, is now a city of stately 19th-century buildings yet at its center is the strikingly modern Federation Square development, with plazas, bars, restaurants and cultural events along the Yarra River. The climate, waterfront location, and nightlife make it one of the most vibrant destinations in Australia. As your journey to becoming an Aussie begins, here is some information to start you on your way.
Meandering in Melbourne
Melbourne is a city rooted in its love of the arts. The city celebrates a wide variety of annual cultural events and festivals of all types, including Australia’s largest free community festival Moomba, as well as the Melbourne International Arts Festival,Melbourne International Film Festival, Melbourne International Comedy Festival, the Underground Film Festival, the International Animation Festival, the Melbourne Fringe Festival, and the list goes on and on. Music is also deeply loved by Melbournians. The city is home to at least 460 music venues city wide.
If you enjoy something more classical you will have no trouble finding it. The national ballet company, the Australian Ballet is based in Melbourne as are the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra, the Melbourne Theatre Company, and the Victorian Opera. Melbourne is also the second home of the National Australian Opera. The Melbourne Arts Precinct is the site of Arts Centre Melbourne, a performing arts complex and National Gallery of Victoria, displaying Australian and Indigenous art.
Founded in the mid-1800s, the Royal Botanic Gardens encompass 89 acres of greenery. Some of its highlights include the rose and cacti gardens, the picturesque lakes, and the children’s garden with enormous vegetables. Queen Victoria Market, known by the locals as “Vic Market”, is a major hot spot and landmark in Melbourne. At 130 years old, is the largest open-air market in the southern hemisphere at an impressive 17 acres.
In the heart of Melbourne is Carlton Gardens. The gardens are quite beautiful and include the Royal Exhibition building, the Melbourne Museum, the Carlton Gardens tennis courts, a children’s playground and a collection of fig trees where local aboriginals have traditionally met and socialized.
You will find gardens and galleries along St Kilda Road. The Yarra Precinct and Docklands deliver waterside views by the boatload. If you are into sports and in the Docklands, make sure you catch a cricket or rugby match at Etihad Stadium or check out the Australian Open at the Rod Laver Arena.
Melbourne is a vibrant city that is excellent for exploring: the Yarra Valley wineries, the Great Ocean Road, Phillip Island, the Mornington Peninsula and the Dandenong Range, are all places that those in the know recommend.
Talking the Talk
The majority of Australians speak English. The indigenous Aboriginal languages of Australia, are now extinct. Two English-based Creole languages are also used in certain areas of Australia. However, as with many countries, they have over time developed their own lingo and Australia is no exception. When you are out and about, here are some words to learn so you look like a local!
What in the World is a Laneway?
A laneway is simply a charming, cobblestoned road. Melbourne’s lively laneways wind unpredictably between the ordered streets and are quite an effective way for you to escape Melbourne’s modern-day traffic.You never know what you will discover on a stroll down a laneway. Beyond the buildings, Melbourne’s laneways have increasingly become spaces for artistic expression. You will find an abundance of street art along your stroll among stores, coffee shops, and pubs that line the way to adventure and fun.
Knowing the Neighborhoods
Melbourne has lots of great neighborhoods to explore. St Kilda is extremely popular with backpackers. It is also where you will find the famous Luna Park. Williamstown is also worth visiting as it is a great place to catch sunsets as well as shots of the skyline overlooking the water. As Melbourne is thought the be the most fashionable city in Australia, if you like to go shopping, then you need to explore CBD which stands for Central Business District, in the heart of Melbourne’s Chinatown. And in particular, check out the area around the Burke Street Mall. Another neighborhood you should check out is South Yarra which is where you will find one of the city’s best-known streets, Chapel Street, which is great for shopping.
Australia is well known for wildlife, particularly poisonous spiders, snakes and various large insects. However, it has a soft, cuddly side as well! Make a stop at the Melbourne Zoo and see over 250 species all within bushland and rainforest environments. Or you can take a short jaunt to the Werribee Open Range Zoo and partake in your very own Australian safari seeing everything from Rhinos, Cheetahs to Giraffes. If sea life is more your fancy, there is the Melbourne Aquarium where you can dive deep and discover life beneath the Southern Sea. Make sure you get to walk through the tunnels filled with sharks and rays before you leave.
Of course, the Australian outback is well known for its dangerous inhabitants like the Redback Spider, Bull Ant, Mulga Snake, Common Death Adder, Australian Paralysis Tick, among quite a few more. It would definitely be recommended to invest in some nature guide books before you venture out into the vast Australian landscape to avoid any potential scary encounters.
Your Money in Melbourne
If you are going to be living in Melbourne, you will find that the costs are similar to that in the US. Although the cost of living is on the rise. To rent a furnished 1 bedroom or studio, you can expect to pay around $1,600 USD a month with your normal utilities running around $200 a month. Your entertainment is also very similar to that in the states. A dinner for two will set you back close to $40 and if you want to enjoy a cold, frosty beer, add another $7 to your bill. All in all, the prices are fairly reasonable.
Australia is generally an open and friendly destination. People immensely value their relationships and it is commonly practiced and held in high regard to be loyal to friends and family. That said, locals do not feel the need to display this in a formal manner, but rather in an informal and easy-going way. People will introduce themselves and greet on a first name basis. Politeness also holds high importance and expats will find that the concept of fairness makes its way into basic everyday etiquette in many ways.Some expats may struggle with the Australian tendency to communicate in a direct and open manner, but in Oz, this is not taken as rude and is actually seen as more deserving of respect.
Though the pointed Australian emphasis on freedom, equality and the egalitarian spirit will not be a source of much culture shock for some expats, it may be a bit surprising to others. As a nation that prides itself on its high levels of cultural diversity, Australia is also conscious that there needs to be a cohesive force uniting its people and a devotion to shared values. As a result, the idea of a “fair go” (the belief that everyone deserves a fair opportunity to achieve through talent, hard work and effort, and not favoritism or social hierarchy) has become, arguably, the most pervasive underlying cultural current in the country.
A Meal in the Outback
Meat is a key component of meals in Australia. The Australian meat pie and fish and chips remain staples around Melbourne. You cannot tell anyone you are a true Australian unless you have eaten a meat pie, or sometimes called, “dog’s eye”, more than once. The flaky package that contains this guilty pleasure is the epitome of Australian food. A good leg of lamb roast is also eaten frequently by the Aussies.
Something you may have seen but never tried, Vegemite, is an acquired taste and most, have never acquired it. So what is it you may ask? Well, Vegemite is a dark brown paste made from various vegetables, a yeast extract and spices. It does not sound too bad, right? Unless you have grown up with it, it honestly is hard to become a fan of. And take that coming from someone who has tried it.
If you would like to try more local cuisine, there is emu and kangaroo. Australians have been eating these meats for decades. Australia also has an export market for these meats with a great deal of it being shipped to the US and Europe. If you are feeling brave, you can also partake in any of the edible bugs like grubs, crickets, mealworms, pupa, scorpions, even ants. All of these can be found at your local edible bug shops for your dining pleasure. You read that right, bug shops. There are several of these establishments located throughout Australia.
Although the British put fish and chips on the map, the Aussies could very well give them a run for their money. Australia has some of the best seafood in the world and that means you are almost guaranteed fresh fish and if fish and chips are on your menu, you will have it served with salt and lemon, and traditionally wrapped in yesterday’s newspaper or white paper wrapping.
Another Australian staple is the Tim Tam. These cookies have developed a cult following and also can be found in some stores around the US. But while you are at the source, you might as well indulge. Another dessert, Lamington, is often referred to as the “National Cake of Australia.” This square-shaped sponge cake is coated with a layer of chocolate icing and desiccated coconut and sometimes comes with a layer of cream or jam in the middle.Much tastier than Vegemite.
There’s the Chiko Roll. This Australian food icon was inspired by Chinese spring rolls. It is deep-fried and contains beef (despite its name, there’s no chicken), celery, cabbage, barley, carrot, onion, green beans and spices.
Wine is also quite popular, of course. The Australian wine industry is actually the 4thlargest exporter of wine in the world. Even with all the wine around, Australians also love their beer! You will have no trouble finding local beers at any of the local pubs.What better than an afternoon of fresh fish and chips with a cold mug of Australian beer while watching some rugby. Sign us up!
Musings about Melbourne
Did you know that Melbourne has its own dance move? It does! The Melbourne Shuffle, also known as Rocking, is a rave and club dance style that evolved in the 1980s and involves fast heel-and-toe action.
Melbourne loves and encourages street art. All art for that matter. Its cobblestone laneways are plastered with graffiti and stencil art. World-renowned British street artist Banksy loves Melbourne and has contributed many works over the years.
World-famous “Aussie” beer, Fosters, was first brewed in Melbourne in 1888 bybrothers from the USA, William and Ralph Foster.
Melbourne’s famous tramway system is the fourth largest in the world.
Melbourne has been ranked the world’s most livable city since 2011 (and among the top three since 2002), according to surveys by the Economist Intelligence Unit.
Know Before You Go
Before you pack and prepare for your trip down under, you should know that Australia has some strict rules regarding what you can import into the country. If you are planning on bringing your things from home with you, you might want to check into their quarantine and biosecurity rules. Especially if you are planning on relocating with a pet.
A couple sites you can visit prior to your trip are:
These sites will you get started in finding information and other resources to help answer any questions and assist you with obtaining the necessary paperwork that might be required for your trip.
Bristol’s Mobility Advisors will also help you with understanding and to prepare for these regulations and help you get settled in so you can start enjoying everything Melbourne has to offer.
Enjoy the fun as you start your journey. Do not just live in the land down under, let it become a part of you. Let it get under your skin. It oozes charm. Sophisticated and hip without pretense, Melbourne appeals to all who are interested in an authentic slice of Australian urban life. You are living in Oz and there are so many exciting adventures it can take you on. Go along for the ride mate!
For more information about Melbourne: