Fun Facts I Discovered in Melbourne

March 15, 2014

Which is better, Sydney or Melbourne? The choice is yours. There's a traditional, petty rivalry between the two cities.

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In my opinion, comparing them is like comparing apples to oranges. Melbourne won my heart when I finally visited. Sorry, Sydney.

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My story begins in July. Despite a rainy and windy weekend, nothing could deter me from visiting my best friend in Melbourne. Like most of my trips, I had no plans; I simply showed up and did what I felt like doing. The nicknames a city earns can often reveal much about its character — for example, "the world's most livable city." One visit is not enough to see everything Melbourne has to offer, and I don't recommend trying. So here's a selection of highlights, in no particular order. If you're unfamiliar with the city, these are some interesting facts I discovered:


Winter is Extremely Cold - This may seem obvious, but Melbourne's winter is a unique kind of cold. Two hours earlier, I was enjoying the weather in Brisbane; two hours later, I was shivering non-stop in Melbourne. Though my time in the city was pleasant, don't be misled into thinking it's always warm and sunny here. The worst experience was being awakened multiple times during the night by the cold. Thankfully, my friend's room had a heater, which was a lifesaver. Interestingly, the best part of the trip was enjoying ice cream at night, as it didn't melt while I walked down the street.

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You Might Get Disoriented - It's not embarrassing for newcomers to get lost, especially when most streets have the ubiquitous "Pie Face." Fortunately, Melbourne's architecture sets it apart. One of the city's most iconic landmarks is Flinders Street Station. Most tourist attractions are in the city center, making it easy to explore and visit places like the Queen Victoria Market and Victoria's State Library. These attractions are all within walking distance, or you can take the free city circle tram.

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Art Galleries Are Not Always Free - They say the best things in life are free, and many city attractions are accessible at no cost. We didn't realize we needed tickets until we reached the exit—or was it the entrance? Regardless, we got to see some contemporary art for free. Culture enthusiasts will find plenty to keep them occupied at Federation Square.

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The Aquarium - This might be the city's least-visited tourist attraction. After all, it's pretty similar to other aquariums worldwide. However, I enjoy watching animals, and this place offers an exploratory journey—penguins spit everywhere. Bile causes the greenish hue. Using satellites, you can estimate the number of emperor penguins based on the spots of their excrement—unless they all have gastroenteritis, of course.

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Chinatown is Everywhere - You don't have to look hard for Chinatown; it's all over Melbourne. The CBD is densely populated, and you're likely to encounter Chinese people. Thanks to this international blend, there's no longer such a thing as a "typical Australian resident." With such diversity, it's not surprising that one can find international cuisine within a few kilometers of each other. One Chinese restaurant sign translates to "Hot and Lust"—and no, it's not a brothel.

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The (Twelve) Apostles - The name is misleading; there are neither twelve stacks nor any biblical connection. The site used to be called "The Sow and Piglets," but was renamed "The Apostles" for tourism purposes. Our driver, Fujiwara Takumi, whom you might recognize from the manga "Initial D," navigated the winding Great Ocean Road beautifully. The views were breathtaking. If you're planning a day trip to Victoria's most popular tourist site, hope for good weather!

So what are you waiting for? Book a plane ticket and fly there right away. There are countless exciting sights to see and memories to make. If you've already visited, go back and see what's new. Remember, different seasons offer varied perspectives on what makes the city enjoyable. In my opinion, Melbourne is a fantastic place to both live and visit.

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Victor Leung, who blog about business, technology and personal development. Happy to connect on LinkedIn