While the iconic sights of Sydney come first on a lot of Australian travel itineraries, many regard the nation’s second city, Melbourne, as a better place to visit, study and live.
Home to around 4.1 million people and 160,000 international students, Melbourne has a vibrant nightlife, a renowned restaurant scene, excellent outdoor activities and beautiful beaches, without the hustle and bustle of the bigger and busier Sydney.
Quirky shops, local sounds and even a buzzing food truck culture thrive on Melbourne’s streets, making it a fun and dynamic place for tourists, students and locals.
Before Melbourne was given its current name, the city was named Batmania after John Batman, a colonist farmer from Tasmania who landed in Port Phillip Bay in May 1835. Since then, the Victorian capital has been home to many weird and wonderful happenings. A meltingpot of indigenous and European cultures, cricket and culinary creations, read to find out more about the exciting happenings which await you in Australia’s second city:
An international outlook
Melbourne is a melting pot of cultures and nationalities. Students can enjoy a variety of cultural areas, from Middle Eastern to Greek to Chinese, and all the culinary delights that go with them. Melbourne is one of Australia’s more multicultural cities, serving as a true home away from home for many international students.
Bag a bargain
Melbourne is an excellent city for thrift store fans in search of a bargain. From bohemian Brunswick to the hidden gems of the CBD, Melbourne is home to a huge variety of charity and second hand shops, ideal for vintage vultures and thrift store queens. This neighbourhood is also home to a vibrant Middle Eastern community, making it the perfect place to explore authentic eateries and quirky shops.
Close to the beach
A row of colorfully painted and personalized beach boxes (cabanas) line the beach at Brighton Beach, Melbourne. Image via Flickr – Udey Ismail
Yes, Melbourne’s inner city areas might be a must see for students, but believe or not, the stunning long sandy beaches at the start of Australia’s Great Ocean road are only a tram ride away. Students can enjoy a cheap day out by hopping on a tram up to Brighton Beach – famed for its iconic bathing boxes and crystal clear waters.
From roses to geraniums, orchids to chrysanthemums, Melbourne is home to several amazing fresh cut flower markets. As Australia is home to 24,000 species of native plants, students can even pick up some blooms from the variety of markets close to the RMIT campus. Melbourne also boasts a fruit and vegetable market and farmers market, meaning that students can purchase some of the best fresh produce that Victoria has to offer.
Time at the bar
Whereas until 1966, all Melbourne pubs had to close by early evening – adding a new meaning to the term “a quick pint”, nowadays Melbourne’s nightlife is much more cosmopolitan, with a whole range of bars, music venues and restaurants open until late, ideal for students willing to explore more of this vibrant city. In fact, world-famous “Aussie” beer Fosters was first brewed in Melbourne in 1888 by two brothers from the U.S. – William and Ralph Foster. Nightlife fans need not worry, however, as Melbourne’s live music and bar scene has something of a reputation. Check out clubs in St. Kilda and just north of downtown, where the likes of local talent Skyhooks, Hunters & Collectors and Nick Cave found their sound.
Leave your goat at home
Under local Melbourne by-laws, it considered an offense to drive your goat (or dog) harnessed or attached to a vehicle in a public place. While it’s unlikely that students are going to drive any goats during their time in Melbourne, Victoria is an ideal state to get out into the countryside and explore be it by bike or even on horseback! It’s also worth bearing in mind that it is illegal to sing a rude or bawdy song within earshot of another person – so that’s Eminem or Snoop Dogg uncut off your playlist.
One for sports fans
Melbourne is not just famous for cricket, the city is sometimes even described as the most sports obsessed city on Earth. Home to the Australian Open tennis tournament, the Grand Prix and even the Ashes cricket tournament, Melbourne ticks all the boxes for sports fans. In fact, it is the only city in the world with no less than five international sports facilities on the edge of its Central Business District: Melbourne Cricket Ground, Docklands Stadium, Rod Laver Arena, Hisense Arena and Olympic Park in Melbourne Park. It even hosted Australia’s first Olympic games in 1956, the first to be held in the southern hemisphere.
Anyone for cricket?
Melbourne Cricket Ground (MCG) is a huge 100,000-seat venue that has played host to the biggest football and cricket matches in Australian history, as well as performers like Madonna and Michael Jackson. The MCG also holds the world record for the greatest attendance at a cricket match, with a total of 91,092 spectators watching the first day of The Ashes test against England in 2013.
In 1846, the hallowed grounds of the MCG were first located further downriver at present day Southbank, but had to move due to the fact that the grounds were in the way of Victoria’s first steam train track and the pitches kept flooding!
Something for everyone
Melbourne is famed for its open, accepting environment. It has been ranked the world’s most liveable city since 2011 (and among the top three since 2002), according to the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) in addition to being ranked the 2nd most student-friendly city in the QS Best Student City Rankings in 2016.
As well as enjoying and exploring the city, students can also benefit from the numerous clubs, societies and activities on offer on university campus. From Latino dance to volunteering, dragon boat to American football, students will be able to pursue and enjoy a whole host of leisure and sports activities at their chosen institution. In combination with the vibrant lifestyle which Melbourne has to offer, international students will have their own unique experience from studying and living in Australia.
This article was sponsored by RMIT University. Set in beautiful Melbourne, RMIT offers students high calibre teaching and learning in addition to an all-round Australian university experience. At RMIT, most of the courses on offer provide students with unique pathways into work experience placements or career support, meaning that students are constantly one step ahead and prepared for life on graduation. RMIT’s modern Melbourne campus provides a welcoming and warm environment for students, meaning that they instantly feel at home. Design, enterprise and technology are just some of the exciting openings on offer at RMIT, challenging and inspiring students through the University’s dynamic and vibrant courses.