5 Things We Love About MelbourneJune 25, 2014

Melbourne was declared a city by Queen Victoria on June 25, 1847. Located in Port Phillip, settlement dated back to 31,000 - 40,000 years ago, with hunter gatherers from Wurundjeri, Boonwurrung, and Wathaurong tribes occupying the area. All three saw the place as a vital source of food and water, which the first settlers from the continent didn't. For this reason, the community was relocated to Hobart, what was now the state capital of Tasmania. Then the gold rush of 1851 came.

The discovery of gold result to a sudden increase in population, turning Melbourne and Sydney into the biggest communities during the nineteenth century. On the same year, Victoria separated from New South Wales. When the Commonwealth of Australia was formed in 1901, Melbourne was declared the national capital. They held on this title for nearly three decades, until Federal Parliament was moved to Canberra. Sydney, on the other hand, became the most populous city in Australia. It's also a must-see. This doesn't mean that Melbourne was left behind.

As the metropolis celebrates its 167th year of cityhood, Melburnians think of five things that make their hometown special. These are what they love:

The Australian Open. Held in Melbourne Park, what is unique about this tennis tourney is it's the only major event being played in the Southern Hemisphere. It is dubbed the Grand Slam of the Asia/Pacific, its popularity partly due to legendary Aussie players like Rod Laver. Unlike the Wimbledown Championships, which markets itself as being traditional, the Australian Open projects itself as hip. It's also full of surprises, as witnessed by fans this year. (Switzerland's Stanislas Wawrinka won the men's singles title, beating Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal, the pre-tournament favourites, along the way.)

Victorian Era buildings. The later part of Queen Victoria's reign became notable for the rise of structures that mixed eclectic styles with Asian and Middle East influences. One mustn't need to travel to London to see the National History Museum and the likes, as Victorian era buildings can be seen in Collins Street, old, stylish buildings set against a backdrop of skycrapers. There are more, such as Rialto Building.

Melbourne Docklands and Victoria Harbour. Photography enthusiasts can't get enough shots of this part of Melbourne. So there may be no local counterpart of the Sydney Opera House, one of the top tourist destinations in Australia, but Melbourne Docklands is eye candy any time of the day. Victoria Harbour, on the other hand, turns magical by dusk, the metropolis becoming an urban paradise.

Canterbury. This suburb of Melbourne is about eleven kilometers east of the Central Business District. One must visit Victoria Avenue every autumn to witness the transformation of this neighbourhood into a fairy-tale like place. Branches turn bare, red leaves all over the sidewalks, sun setting in. The panorama couldn't be better.

Cultural endeavours. Melbourne is a cultural institution, with more events to offer than the other major cities in Australia. There's always to look forward to in film, literature, and theatre, to name a few.

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