Melbourne Express (2 of 2): Victoria’s Gem

The first images people usually associate with Australia are those of the Sydney Opera House’s distinctive white shells reflecting off the water in the city’s beautiful harbor, the towering red sandstone of Uluru (Ayers Rock) set against a rugged outback landscape or the Great Barrier Reef. These iconic sites are certainly captivating, but represent only a fraction of the country’s unique cultural offerings.

While Canberra serves as Australia’s political capital, the distinctions of cultural capital and financial center belong to Melbourne, located in the southeastern state of Victoria. Birthplace of the nation’s most cherished pastime, Australian Rules Football, and home to the Australian Open, a Formula 1 track and the fabled Melbourne Cricket Ground, Melbourne also makes a strong case for being Australia’s premiere sports city.

Melbourne’s temperate coastal climate, cosmopolitan setting and world-class cuisine, along with numerous sports venues and a flourishing arts scene make it one of the country’s most sought-after places to live, but also one of the most expensive. The city’s extensive, easy to use tram system is the world’s largest, and makes getting around a breeze. I spent the better part of a week exploring Australia’s second largest city and the surrounding Victorian communities and discovered why it is consistently rated by various media sources as one of the world’s most livable locales; Melbourne is truly a gem.

A boat passes under Princes Bridge as it travels down the Yarra River. The bridge connects Melbourne’s Central Business District (CBD) to the South Bank.

Princes Bridge
5-frame HDR @ 24mm, f/5.6, ISO 100

No Melbourne visit is complete without a trip to one of the city’s famous laneway cafes for bite to eat or a creamy flat white (Australia’s better version of a latte).

Laneway Coffee
24mm @ 1/30, f/2.8, ISO 400

Hallowed ground for Australian sports fans, Melbourne Cricket Ground can accommodate more than 100,000 spectators during test matches for cricket and Aussie rules football.

300mm @ 1/320, f/3.5, ISO 640

Bethanie Mattek-Sands smashes a serve during a tennis doubles match at the Australian Open, which Melbourne hosts each year in January.

Bethanie Mattek-Sands
300mm @ 1/1000, f/4, ISO 200

The Shrine of Remembrance, which honors Australia’s fallen service members, is one of Melbourne’s best known landmarks.

Shrine of Remembrance
50mm @ 1/125, f/5, ISO 100

Coop’s Shot Tower, located inside the oversize atrium of a shopping mall in downtown Melbourne, was once used for production of lead shot. The mall was built around the historic tower, which dates back to 1888.

Coop's Shot Tower
5-frame HDR @ 38mm, f/5.6, ISO 200

Pedestrians crowd the sidewalk along Swanston Avenue in Melbourne’s Central Business District.

Downtown Crowd
200mm @ 1/100, f/2.8, ISO 100

Patron’s read, study and surf the web in the State Library of Victoria’s La Trobe reading room.

State Library of Victoria
5-frame HDR @ 14mm, f/7.1, ISO 100

A street artist spray paints a mural on a portion of the wall lining Hosier Lane, one of several streets in Melbourne where graffiti is legal and actively promoted.

Melbourne Street Artist
85mm @ 1/320, f/4.5, ISO 100

A colorful paifang straddles Little Bourke Street in Melbourne’s Chinatown neighborhood, the longest continuous Chinese settlement in the Western World and one of the oldest Chinatowns in the Southern Hemisphere.

Melbourne Chinatown
70mm @ 1/1000, f/2.8, ISO 100

A man marvels at the extensive graffiti covering the walls along Hosier Lane.

Melbourne's Graffiti
85mm @ 1/15, f/4.5, ISO 100

As a way of demonstrating their commitment to one another some couples secure padlocks with their names inscribed on them to the support cables of a pedestrian bridge spanning the Yarra River.

Melbourne Love Bridge
70mm @ 1/1600, f/3.5, ISO 640

Flinders Street Station is one of Melbourne’s busiest train terminals, and a popular rendezvous destination.

Flinders Street Station
26mm @ 1/2000, f/4, ISO 200

A wild koala eats eucalyptus leaves while a joey clings to her back in Victoria’s Great Otway National Park 162 km southwest of Melbourne.

Koala Mother with Joey
300mm @ 1/400, f/3.5, ISO 1250

As dusk falls over the CBD, Rod Laver arena (far right) glows during an Australian Open semi-final match.

Melbourne CBD
5-frame HDR @ 17mm, f/2.8, ISO 1600

A large glowing mouth greets visitors to Luna Park, a historic surfside amusement park in Melbourne’s St. Kilda neighborhood that has operated since 1912.

Luna Park
14mm @ 1/15, f/2.8, ISO 800

Check all the high-resolution shots from my trip to Australia in my album on Flickr.

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