Melbourne is the second most populous city in Australia, with a metropolitan area population of approximately 3.7 million (2006 estimate). Located in the country’s south-east, Melbourne is the state capital of Victoria and is home to over 70% of all Victorians.
Today, Melbourne is a major centre of commerce, industry and cultural activity. Often referred to as both the “cultural capital of Australia” and the “sporting capital of Australia”, it is home to many of Australia’s major annual sporting and cultural events, and was the host of the 1956 Summer Olympics and the 2006 Commonwealth Games. Melbourne is renowned for its Victorian architecture including the World Heritage Royal Exhibition Building as well as its notable landmarks which include the iconic Flinders Street Station, the Melbourne Cricket Ground, and the extensive tram network, the third largest in the world and the largest in the Southern Hemisphere. Melbourne has been voted the World’s Most Livable City on a number of occasions.
Melbourne is typical of Australian capital cities in that it was built with the underlying notion of a “quarter acre home and garden” for every family, often referred to locally as the Australian Dream. Much of metropolitan Melbourne is accordingly characterized by low density sprawl. The provision of an extensive railway and tram service in the earlier years of development encouraged this low density development, mostly in radial lines along the transport corridors.
Melbourne is often referred to as Australia’s garden city, and the state of Victoria is known as “the garden state”. There is an abundance of parks and gardens in Melbourne, many close to the CBD with a variety of common and rare plant species amid landscaped vistas, pedestrian pathways and tree-lined avenues. There are also many parks in the surrounding suburbs of Melbourne, such as in the municipalities of Stonnington, Boroondara and Port Phillip, south east of the CBD.