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Large office buildings aside, Melbourne's centre is a bustling combination of cozy cafés, fine restaurants, hip bars, theatres, museums, sports venues and sprawling gardens. It's easily navigated by hopping on one of the numerous trams that service the area.
Melbourne's Royal Botanic Gardens are an ideal place to escape a hot day and enjoy some of the rare plant specimens inside. Over 10,000 individual species of native and non-native plants can be found in the 87 acres landscaped garden. You can find the gardens on St Kilda Road on the south bank of the Yarra.
The Tan is one of Melbourne's most frequented jogging tracks and runs for 3.8 kilometres along the perimeter of the gardens.
The gardens are open daily from 7:30am. They close at 5:30pm from May-August, 6:00pm during April, September & October and at 8:30pm from November to March. The Gardens Visitor Center is open on weekdays from 9:00am-5:00pm and on weekends from 9:30am-5:00pm.
Transport to the gardens is a 15 minute walk from Flinders Street Station across the bridge. Alternatively, you could catch a tram down St Kilda Road. Routes 3, 5, 8, 16, 64 and 67 will do. Two and four hour parking spots are available directly around the gardens.
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All the metropolitan train routes lead into Melbourne's centre. At the heart of the network are the stations located on the City Loop. Stations in the City Loop are (in "clockwise" order):
All the stations in the City Loop are in Zone 1. See Melbourne#Getting Around for more information on tickets.
If you are going to be driving in Melbourne's CBD, take particular note of a rare road rule that is used on quite a few of the major intersections; the "hook turn". Essentially, it involves making a right turn from the left lane, which helps improve the flow of traffic in the right hand lane.
1. When the light goes green, right turning traffic queues up in front of the waiting cross-traffic, pulled over as far as possible to the left, essentially joining their lane.
2. When the cross traffic's lane turns green, queued right-turners can make their turn
3. The cross traffic should wait until all the right turns have been made.
Further detail can be read on Wikipedia's article describing the Hook Turn
Another road rule to take particular note of is to stop for trams when they are unloading passengers. Older trams actually have a stop sign that pops out when the doors open, but newer trams only indicate this with a blinking orange light. Nonetheless, it is a requirement to stop for trams and let the passengers make their way to the footpath.
Melbourne's inner city is well served by public transport. Trams are the main ways to get around, although depending on where you're heading, the City Loop (described in the Getting There section) is also a good option.
The free City Circle tram service is the cheapest option combined with walking. It operates every 12 minutes from 10am - 6pm Sunday to Wednesday and runs till 9pm on Thursday, Friday and Saturday. It runs in both directions, but here are the stops in clockwise order: Flinders Street - Harbour Esplanade - Docklands Drive - La Trobe Street - Victoria Street - Nicholson Street - Spring Street - Flinders Street .
Most of Melbourne's tram routes also pass through the centre at some point, you can also hop on any one of them. Railmaps.com.au has a detailed map of Melbourne's train and tram routes.
If you are feeling energetic, the inner city can quite easily be explored by just walking. Walking from one end of the inner city to the other (Spring Street to Spencer Street) would take you about 25 minutes.
Bicycle access is generally pretty good in the inner city. The main route cyclists use is along Swanston Street, as it is car free. It is the busiest cycling stretch in Australia. There are also some nice dedicated walking/cycling tracks along the Yarra River that can take you to nearby suburbs as well.
Once you are in the CBD there is probably little reason to drive around. See the By Car section in the getting there section for important information about driving in the CBD.
The food options in Melbourne's inner city are simply too numerous to contain in one article. Below is a list of some favourites that rarely disappoint. For many of these places, particularly in the Mid-Range and Upscale categories, it is a good idea to book ahead to avoid disappointment.
Melbourne's café culture has been going strong since the 1950's when Pellegrini's Espresso Bar (66 Bourke St) opened. Try some of these if you are in need of a good fix.
Melbourne's numerous bars are never far if you are in need of something alcoholic. Try some of these popular options.
|All Nations City Backpackers||2 Spencer Street||Hostel||72|
|City Centre Budget Hotel||22-30 Little Collins St||Hostel||78|
|Elephant Backpackers||250 Flinders Street||Hostel||-|
|Elizabeth Hostel||1/490-494 Elizabeth St||Hostel||-|
|Exford Hotel||199 Russell Street||Hostel||77|
|Flinders Station Backpackers||35 Elizabeth St||Hostel||79|
|Hotel Discovery||167 Franklin Street||Hostel||72|
|King Street Backpackers||197-199 King Street||Hostel||70|
|Melbourne Connection Travellers Hostel||205 King Street||Hostel||69|
|Melbourne International Backpackers||450 Elizabeth Street||Hostel||9662 4066||-|
|Miami Hotel Melbourne||13 Hawke Street||Hostel||76|
|Nomads Industry||196-198 A'Beckett St.||Hostel||75|
|Spencer - City Central||475 Spencer Street||Hostel||69|
|Urban Central||334 City Road, Southbank||Hostel||79|
|Victoria Hall||380 Russell Street||Hostel||82|
|The Greenhouse Backpacker||Level 6, 228 Flinders Lane||Hostel||9639 6400||-|
|Grand Hyatt Melbourne||123 Collins St||Hotel||-|
|Crown Towers||8 Whiteman St, Southbank||Hotel||-|
|Adelphi||187 Flinders Lane||Hotel||-|
There are a large number of internet cafés scattered around Melbourne. A good number of regular cafés also offer free wifi access to their customers. If you have your own laptop with you another option could be to buy prepaid mobile broadband. They usually start at around $49 for about 1GB of data.
See also: International Telephone Calls
Australia is on a GSM 900/1800 network, so if you have an unlocked phone that works on those frequencies, you will be able to buy a prepaid SIM-card and stick into your phone when you're in Melbourne. You will receive a new Australian phone number with the SIM-card.
To dial out of Australia use the prefix 0011, followed by the calling code of the country you are trying to reach, followed by the area code of the city/town (without the 0!) and finally the phone number.
Within Australia, it is necessary to add an area code to the phone numbers if you are calling from outside the area.
Melbourne's area code is 03, which is the same for all of Victoria and Tasmania. If dialling interstate, use one of the following area codes.
02 - New South Wales & Australian Capital Territory (Sydney, Canberra)
07 - Queensland (Brisbane)
08 - Western Australia, South Australia & Northern Territory (Perth, Adelaide, Darwin)
000 is the emergency telephone number in Australia, but the international GSM mobile emergency telephone number 112 also works on mobile phones.
Australia Post is the government's postal service. Most suburbs will have at least one post office. A standard letter or postcard sent within Australia will cost $0.60. Internationally, it costs $1.70 to send postcards anywhere in the world. Letters cost $1.85 to send within the Asia Pacific region and $2.60 to anywhere else in the world.. It is also possible to send things as parcels or by express mail.
Melbourne's General Post Office, located on the corner of Elizabeth and Bourke St, was gutted by a fire in 2001. It was eventually decided to turn it into an up-market shopping arcade, known as Melbourne's GPO. The new main post office is located directly next to it on Elizabeth Street.
Small post offices can be found scattered throughout the city, and are often linked to a newsagent.
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