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If you want to fit in and speak like a local, then learn to master the correct pronunciation of the word Melbourne. Instead of saying Mel-borne, try saying Mel-buhn or Mel-ben. By learning how to pronounce it properly, you’ll impress the locals, and you’ll seem less like a tourist.
Melbourne is a city where everyone drinks as much coffee as one of the Gilmore Girls, and if you’re not addicted to caffeine by the time you leave, then you haven’t lived like a local. Preferring local cafes over chain brands, Melbournians appreciate the art of coffee making and favourite varieties include the flat white, latte and espresso.
Having originated in Victoria in 1896, AFL is a massive part of Melbourne’s culture. Not only is the Grand Final held at the MCG every year, but the Friday beforehand is celebrated with a parade and was declared a public holiday in 2015. When spending an extended period of time in Melbourne, be sure to choose a team, buy a footy jumper and see a game.
To ride the train, tram or bus in Melbourne you are required to pre-purchase a Myki Card from a ticket office or selected retailer. Keep in mind that smartcards are not available for purchase onboard trams or buses. While the system can be confusing to use, Melbourne’s public transport network is the easiest way to navigate through the city and surrounding suburbs.
When driving in the city there is one thing that terrifies motorists; the dreaded hook turn. Melbourne is one of the only cities in the world to have this rare maneuver, which involves performing a right-hand turn from the left-hand lane. Foreign drivers who have performed the turn successfully should pat themselves on the back.
Immortalised in songs from Crowded House and the Beatles, Melbourne’s temperamental weather is one of the main talking points between locals. The seasons are fashionably late, unpredictable and you always have to be prepared for anything, including hail in summer and mild days in winter. To do this keep an umbrella, a jumper, and sunscreen in the boot of your car all year round.
Melbournians have been riding trams since 1884 and the city now boasts the longest urban tramway in the world, with 250 kilometres of track and 25 routes, making it the easiest and most convenient way to explore Melbourne. There is also a free, burgundy City Circle Tram which travels through Melbourne’s central business district.
For over a hundred years, people have been meeting under the clocks at Flinders Street Station and the stairs have often been a congregation point for subcultures. Trains from all corners of Melbourne arrive at the station, making it the ideal place to meet up with friends.
In 2002, Australia’s largest vintage store opened their warehouse to the public and had a sale. RetroStar Vintage now holds regular warehouse events and with nothing over $10, it’s never been easier to look like you’ve walked straight out of a John Hughes film. The sale brings out Melbourne’s most stylish scavengers and has become a part of the city’s fashion culture.
Since 1956, Melbournians have lined up in Bourke Street Mall throughout the holiday season to see the Myer Christmas Windows. The tradition brings to life popular stories in a series of innovative window displays which delight the young and old. No trip to Melbourne during Christmas would be complete without visiting the display.
One of the most popular attractions in Victoria’s Philip Island’s Penguin Parade is the only commercial venue in the world where you can see penguins in their natural environment. Rug up and watch as Little Penguins wobble up Summerland Beach and into their burrows each day at sunset.
Pick up a coffee from Market Lane before roaming through the historic sheds of the Queen Victoria Market. Covering 17 acres, it ‘is the largest open-air market in the southern hemisphere’ and holds stalls packed with fresh produce, gourmet delights, souvenirs and more. Don’t forget to treat yourself to a jam donut on the way out.
The Australian tradition of Carols by Candlelight was popularized in Melbourne in 1938, and today the Christmas Eve event attracts thousands of spectators, with over two million more TV viewers. The event includes celebrity performances, Christmas carols and an appearance from Santa. Profits support Vision Australia.
Every Labour Day long weekend since 1955, Melbourne has celebrated its diversity and traditions at the Moomba Festival. Events include the Moomba parade, the crowning of the Moomba monarchs, live music, watersports, nightly fireworks and the birdman rally. The event has since become Australia’s largest free community festival, attracting more than a million people each year.
Every Melbourne driver has experienced the frustrating traffic on Punt Road, which only gets worse whenever there’s a football game, concert or sporting event on. Despite the 40 kilometre speed limit, cars crawl across the stretch at rush hour with speeds dropping to under 10 kilometres.
The Race That Stops a Nation really does bring Melbourne to a halt, as millions tune in at 3pm on the first Tuesday in November to watch the ‘richest two-mile handicap’ thoroughbred horse race in the world. A public holiday since 1873, race day includes ten events as well as Fashions on the Field.
Weaving through Melbourne is a tangle of narrow laneways splashed with colour and art from some the most talented street artists in the world. Roam through the vibrant urban canvases of Hosier, Union, AC/DC and Duckboard Lanes to get a true sense of the city. There are also quaint boutiques and hole in the wall cafes down Degraves Street and Centre Place.