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Melbourne is a planned city: a tidy, balanced grid of neatly angled streets. The city itself, laid out in a large rectangle and boasting a lively and cosmopolitan pulse, sits on the northern banks of the Yarra River, about 3 miles from the bay. But beneath this sense of everything in its place restraint lies a restless creative energy constantly pushing back at the city’s seeming conservatism.

The city is a major center of commerce, education, tourism, the arts and cultural activities, and also industry. It is consistently ranked one of the most livable cities in the world. The city is recognized as Australia’s ‘sporting and cultural capital’ and it is home to many of the nation’s most significant cultural and sporting events and institutions.

It is a true multicultural city with more than one quarter of Melbourne’s inhabitants born overseas. The city is extremely racially tolerant and very easy to work and live in. Newcomers enjoy a warm and friendly reception.

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    About Melbourne

    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 architec

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    The area of the Yarra Parks and Port Phillip that is now Melbourne was first settled by the British in 1835. These settlers came from Tasmania.  The area was already inhabited by the indigenous Kulin people. A transaction was negotiated for 600,000 acres of land from eight Wurundjeri chiefs; this was later annulled by the New South Wales government (then governing all of eastern mainland Australia), which compensated the settlers.

    In 1836, Governor Bourke declared the city the administrative capital of the Port Phillip District of New South Wales, and commissioned the first plan for the Hoddle Grid in 1837. The settlement was named Melbourne in the same year after the British Prime Minister William Lamb, 2nd Viscount Melbourne, who resided in the village of Melbourne in Derbyshire. Melbourne was declared a city by Queen Victoria on 25 June 1847.

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    Water storage and supply for Melbourne is managed by Melbourne Water, which is owned by the Victorian Government. The organization is also responsible for management of sewerage and the major water catchments in the region. Water is mainly stored in the largest dam, the Thomson River Dam which is capable of holding around 60% of Melbourne’s water capacity, while smaller dams such as the Upper Yarra Dam and the Cardinia Reservoir carry secondary supplies. Like most cities in Australia, Melbourne currently faces a water crisis, with water storages at less than 50% for most of 2006. Water restrictions are in place and the state government has considered water recycling schemes for the city.

    The main natural gas and electricity to Melbourne are Origin Energy, AGL and Energy Australia. Numerous telecommunications companies operate in Melbourne providing terrestrial and mobile telecommunications services. Electricity for Melbourne is primarily sourced from the coal power stations of Latrobe City.


    Melbourne’s climate is notable for its changeable weather conditions. This is due in part to the city’s flat topography, its situation on Port Phillip Bay, and the presence of the Dandenongs to the east, a combination that creates weather systems that often circle the bay. The phrase “four seasons in one day” is part of popular culture and observed by many visitors to the city.

    It is colder than most Australian other capital cities in winter.  During the spring, Melbourne commonly enjoys extended periods of mild weather and clear skies. Melbourne is also known to have hot, dry summers, with maximum temperatures above 40 degrees Celsius. In 2006, Melbourne, like most of Australia, has experienced one of the worst droughts on record. 2006 was among the driest years on record with virtually no rainfall in September and October – usually two of the wettest months of the year.

    Month Avg Hi Avg Lo Avg Precip
    Jan 78°F 59°F 1.90 in.
    Feb 78°F 59°F 1.80 in.
    Mar 75°F 57°F 1.70 in.
    Apr 69°F 53°F 2.10 in.
    May 62°F 49°F 2.70 in.
    Jun 57°F 45°F 1.70 in.
    Jul 56°F 43°F 1.90 in.
    Aug 59°F 45°F 2.30 in.
    Sep 63°F 47°F 2.10 in.
    Oct 67°F 50°F 2.60 in.
    Nov 71°F 53°F 2.20 in.
    Dec 75°F 56°F 2.30 in.


    Melbourne is a large commercial and industrial center. It is home to three of Australia’s largest corporations: Telstra, BHP Billiton and the National Australia Bank, and also to the Business Council of Australia, the Australian Council of Trade Unions and many of the companies listed on the Australian Stock Exchange. Many multinational corporations (approximately one-third of the 100 largest multinationals operating in Australia as of 2002) also have their main Australian office in Melbourne. The demand for office space means that there are many skyscrapers in Melbourne. The tallest office tower, the Rialto Towers (251m above street level) is also the tallest office building in the Southern Hemisphere and houses an observation deck.

    Melbourne is home to Australia’s largest seaport and much of Australia’s automotive industry, which include Ford and Toyota manufacturing facilities, and the engine manufacturing facility of Holden. It is also home to many other manufacturing industries.  Melbourne is also a major technology hub, with a strong ICT industry that employs over 60,000 people, one third of Australia’s ICT workforce.  Tourism also plays an important role in Melbourne’s economy, with approximately 7.6 million domestic visitors and 1.88 million international visitors in 2004.


    The City of Melbourne is made up of the city centre and a number of inner-city suburbs.  Each suburb has its own distinctive flavor, with different businesses, dwellings and groups of people living and working there.


    Carlton is one of the most dynamic and diverse suburbs the City of Melbourne’s, as well as its largest residential area. It provides for a range of activities including residential, education, cultural activities, retailing, entertainment and leisure. Carlton is the traditional home of Melbourne’s Italian community and is famous for the bustling restaurants and cafes that spill on to bustling Lygon Street.

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    Fast Facts

    Population: 3,689,700

    Area: 8,694 km²

    Time Zone:  AEST (UTC+10)

    Daylight Savings Time: Yes

    By Car

    Melbourne is an easy city to drive in due to its wide thoroughfares and simple grid city plan that is well sign-posted. As well, Melbourne’s three major freeways: the West Gate, the Monash and the Tullamarine; are conveniently linked by CityLink, a non-stop expressway. Keep a street directory on hand if you are unfamiliar with Melbourne.

    The most important rule for travelers in Australia is that you drive on the left-hand side of the road. You must also wear a seatbelt and have your license with you when you’re driving (you’ll be fined if you don’t).

    If you want to drive a car in Australia you may do so the first 12 months with your overseas driver’s license. After 12 months you have to apply for an Australian driver’s license.

    Public Transportation


    Melbourne’s efficient train system covers city and suburban destinations. Flinders Street Station, on the corner of Flinders and Swanston streets, is the hub of Melbourne’s train system, and all metropolitan trains begin or end their journey there. The city’s famous trams travel along most of Melbourne’s major thoroughfares, extending out to about 15 kilometers into the suburbs. Visitors can also use the burgundy and gold City Circle Tram, which does a free 30-minute circuit around the city centre, linking major attractions and other transport routes. Melbourne’s bus network links with trains and trams, as well as services destinations overlooked by either train or tram.


    Melbourne’s trams and light rail service give the city a distinctive character and provide a scenic way to explore the city and inner suburbs like Richmond, St Kilda and South Yarra. Traveling along most of Melbourne’s major thoroughfares, trams run down the centre of the road, stopping at every CBD intersection and then every two or three blocks once in the suburbs.

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    Air Transportation

    Melbourne Airport

    Airport Drive

    VIC 3045

    (03) 9297 1600

    Melbourne Airport is served by more than 25 carriers, operating international flights and a broad array of domestic destinations. The airport, which is open 24 hours every day, has a number of facilities, and offers various transportation options, including a shuttle bus service to the city, taxi hire and car rentals.

    Airport Taxis

    Taxis are available from the ground floor level of Melbourne Airport, outside the International Terminal both domestic Terminals. Expect to pay around A$80 to A$85 for a return trip between the CBD (central business district) and Melbourne Airport.

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    Local Phone Numbers

    11 is the international prefix used to dial somewhere outside of U.S.A., when placing the call in the US.
    61 is the international code used to dial to Australia.
    3 is the international code used to dial to Melbourne.
    0011 is the international prefix used to dial somewhere outside of Australia, when placing the call in Australia
    1 is the international prefix to dial the U.S.A.

    Local calls from public telephones in Australia cost a fixed 40 cents, regardless of the time spent on the call. Calls to interstate, international and mobile numbers are charged by time. Most public telephones accept coins and Telstra pre-paid phone cards, which can be purchased in post offices, newsagents, gift shops and other outlets in denominations of $5 to $20. They can be used for local, interstate and international calls. Pre-paid cards are also produced by a range of other companies, offering competitive rates within Australia and overseas.

    Important Phone Numbers
    Emergency services 000
    Directory assistance 1223
    Reverse charge calls 12550

    US Embassy
    U.S. Consulate General
    553 St Kilda Road
    Melbourne, VIC 3004
    (03) 9526-5900

    Time Zone
    The definition for time zones can be written in short form as UTC±n (or GMT±n), where n is the offset in hours. Here is an example given the local time in Melbourne and New York City at 1:00pm UTC when daylight saving time is not in effect:

    Melbourne Standard Time Zone: GMT/UTC + 10:00 hour = 12:00pm (next day)

    NYC Standard Time Zone: GMT/UTC – 05:00 hour = 8:00am

    Melbourne is on Australian Eastern Time and does observe Daylight Savings time.


    Australia uses the VHF/UHF PAL  B/G television system. In many regional areas, networks broadcast only in the UHF band (PAL G). In capital cities, most networks broadcast in both the VHF band (PAL B) and the UHF band (PAL G). Full teletext information services are available on the Seven network which is available nationwide. Subtitles are available for selected programs on all channels by selecting Teletext page 801. All 5 nationwide free-to-air channels now broadcast in FM-FM Stereo.

    The PAL (Phase Alternating Line) system was introduced in the 1960’s and was implemented in Australia, New Zealand and most European countries with the notable exception of France who developed their own system known as SECAM. The PAL system utilizes a wider channel bandwidth than America’s NTSC and therefore delivers higher quality pictures than NTSC.


    The Age

    The Herald Sun

    McGills Newsagency
    187 Elizabeth Street
    For international newspapers and magazines, has the city center’s widest selection. Papers are air-freighted in from countries including the United States.


    Australian cuisine has the most diverse range, quality, and inventiveness than many others in the world. However, it took Australia some time to evolve from the scenes of meat pies, Vegemite sandwiches, and sausage rolls to the scene of dishes such as “seared kangaroo fillet with wilted beetroot greens and roasted onions”. The culinary art of Australia only luxuriated in the 1990s. But at that time, it was already considered the most adventurous in the world. Each capital city has seen a swarm of new restaurants within the genre ‘Modern Australia’ cuisine, with inventive chefs at the helm and an audience of willing hedonists at the ready. This culinary reawakening is due to two factors: the wealth of superlative Australian produce, including native food, and the plethora of international cuisine brought to Australia by its immigrants from all over the world.

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    In a country that is often labeled ‘sports mad’, Melbourne has a reputation among Australians for being the national sporting capital.  The city hosts many major sporting events including the Melbourne Spring Racing Carnival (featuring the ‘race that stops the nation’, the Melbourne Cup), the Australian Formula One Grand Prix, the Australian round of the MotoGP, the Australian Open Tennis Championship and the AFL Grand Final. Melbourne hosted the first Olympic Games in the southern hemisphere in 1956, as well as the 2006 Commonwealth Games.

    Melbourne is where Australian rules football originated – the most popular sport in Australia. The city is home to nine of the sixteen teams that constitute the Australian Football League (AFL), whose five Melbourne games per week attract an average 35,000 people per game.

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    Cooks’ Cottage

    Fitzroy Gardens, Wellington Parade

    East Melbourne VIC 3002

    (03)  9419 4677

    Built in Yorkshire, England in 1755 by the parents of Captain James Cook, Cooks’ Cottage was transported to Melbourne in crates and barrels, re-assembled and officially opened in 1934. Cooks Cottage combines modern interpretations of the life and adventures of Captain James Cook with a unique insight into family life in 18th century England.

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    Melbourne has long been recognized as Australia’s shopping and fashion capital. If it’s fashion you’re seeking then Melbourne has it covered. The city’s funky laneways and tree-lined streets are a haven for small boutiques specializing in Australian designers, jeweler, accessories and international fashion.

    Those seeking out leading international fashion labels can stroll down Collins Street, home to Chanel, Hermes, Gucci, Bvlgari and Louis Vuitton, as well as Melbourne icons Miss Louise and Le Louvre. Nearby, Little Collins Street has a great selection of cutting-edge and sartorial menswear including Kenzo, Declic, Chiodo, Roy, Arthur Galan and D. Inc.

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    Camera Museum

    Cnr Elizabeth & Lonsdale Street

    Melbourne VIC 3000

    (03)  9672 2222

    Experience a unique journey through time, with an inspiring self tour of Michael’s world-famous camera museum! Cameras and photographic equipment have been part of the Michaels family business since 1928. The museum consists of some 8000 pieces (there are approximately 2,000 on rotating display), including cameras ranging from sub miniature to 12×15 inches in size. Many of the cameras date back to the late 1880’s through to recent times.

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    Zoo & Gardens

    Melbourne Aquarium

    Cnr King & Flinders Street

    Melbourne VIC 3000

    (03)  9923 5999

    Melbourne Aquarium is marine wonderland that seduces the senses of visitors with an experience that is engaging, educative and entertaining. Located on the banks of the Yarra River, Melbourne Aquarium is home to over 10,000 aquatic animals, and is the world’s foremost exhibit of the Southern Ocean. The journey takes you over four thrilling and interactive levels. Highlights include a 2.2 million liter Oceanarium, daily feeds and presentations, and a high-energy simulator rides.

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    Business Hours

    The domestic mains power supply in Australia is 240V AC, 50Hz. Standard 3-pin earthed power outlets are rated at 10Amps and are usually switched. The 3-flat-pin plug is used in all states of Australia (including its external territories), New Zealand, Papua New Guinea and the Solomon Islands.  Although the configuration is similar to mains plugs used in mainland China, dimensional differences to the plug body may be incompatible with recessed cord socket and prevent Chinese-compliant CPCS/CCC (CCEE) plugs from being legally sold/used in Australia.

    Currency & Banking

    Branches of national, state, and some foreign banks can be found in the central business districts of Australia’s state capitals. Most small towns will often have at least one branch of a major Australian bank. Banks generally offer the best exchange rates but money can also be changed at bureaux de changes, large departmental stores, and hotels.

    Banking trading hours are from 9:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. Mondays to Thursdays and from 9:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Fridays. Major city banks are often open from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. on weekdays.

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    Embassy & Visa

    Embassy of Australia

    United States of America

    1601 Massachusetts Ave, NW

    Washington DC 20036

    (202) 797-3000

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    Australia has one of the best health care systems in the world. It is widely accessible to all who reside in the country.  All permanent Australian residents pay a Medicare levy (an additional tax) to fund the public health system. This entitles them to free or subsidized services by medical practitioners and public hospital care.  There is also an extensive private health system, for those wishing to pay an additional fee to receive extra benefits for optical, physiotherapy and dental treatment when they use private health care services.

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    Being punctual is critical.

    Maintain good eye contact during meetings and conversations.

    A single, male passenger using a taxi should sit in the front seat.

    Gift giving is not a common practice in business.

    You may bring a small gift of chocolate, wine or flowers if invited to someone’s home.

    When paying for a round of drinks, do not pick up the tab out of turn, and make sure to pay when it is your turn.

    Should you approach a line/queue, go to the end/back and wait your turn.

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    If you’re staying only short term (say, less than three years), you may be better off renting. For those staying longer than three years, buying is usually the better option, particularly as paying a mortgage on a house or apartment is generally no more expensive (and often cheaper) than renting. It’s also more difficult to rent than buy a good property in most cities. All proposed acquisitions of urban property by non-resident foreigners must be approved by the:

    Foreign Investment Review Board
    c/o Department of the Treasury
    Langton Crescent, ACT 2600
    (02) 6263-3795

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    U.S. Tax Information

    Internal Revenue Service

    P.O. Box 920

    Bensalem, PA 19020

    (215) 516-2000 (not toll-free)

    The IRS has also put together a package of forms and instructions (Publication 776) for U.S. citizens living abroad.  The package is also available through to the Forms Distribution Center.  During the filing period, you can usually obtain the necessary Federal income tax forms from the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate. Most tax forms are also available on the IRS’s Web site.

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    Australia Post

    Australia Post is government-owned and has a monopoly over standard letter delivery (addressed letters less than 250 grams and less than 4 times the standard letter rate), the organization’s activities outside standard letter delivery have become steadily more entrepreneurial, selling a wide range of nominally postal-related goods such as cards, gifts, and stationery as well as Money Orders and Travellers Cheques. However, perhaps its biggest non-traditional business has been its bill payments service, where a large selection of financial institutions, insurance companies, government departments, utility companies, and others support transactions through Australia Post’s extensive branch network.

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    Australia Quarantine and Inspection Service

    +61 2 6272-4454

    Australia has very strict rules on the importation of animals, controlling the types of animals that can come in and the countries they come from. The rules are set by the Australian Quarantine and inspection Service (AQIS).

    As a general guide – dogs, cats and horses may be brought in from the United States, subject to quarantine controls, at least 30 days after arrival. Other household pets, such as hamsters, guinea pigs, caged birds, etc are prohibited.

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    Primary Education

    Although non-tertiary public education is free, 35% of students attend a private primary or secondary school. The most numerous private schools are Catholic, and the rest are independent.  The most prestigious independent schools are members of the Associated Public Schools of Victoria (APS) or the Associated Grammar Schools of Victoria (AGSV). The main purpose of these two groups is sporting competition. Private schools achieve better results on average in the VCE (the final year certificate) than public schools. The exceptions to this rule are the two academically selective public high schools, Melbourne High School and MacRobertson Girls High School. Because of this, private school students dominate admissions into tertiary institutions.

    Higher Education

    The age of admission to university is usually 18 (although most admit exceptional students at a younger age) and courses are usually for three years, although some last for four. This is seen as a big advantage for foreign students from countries where courses often last much longer and helps Australian universities attract a large number of overseas students. Most Australian universities have between 10,000 and 30,000 students, although they’re usually dispersed over a number of campuses.

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