We made the 900 kilometer (525 mile) drive from Sydney to Melbourne in three rather leisurely days, stopping only in Glenrowan, scene of the capture of Ned Kelly, the Australian equivalent to Butch Cassidy, who in spite of his full suit of iron armor was wounded, jailed, taken to Melbourne and hung in the prison we passed each day as we rode the trolley from the campground into the center of the city and back. The countryside was surprisingly consistent over the entire distance, resembling almost perfectly the golden rolling hills and occasional oak trees of Northern California in midsummer.

A rough and squalid town in its late 19th century early years, Melbourne is now a graceful Victorian city and was long the largest and most important in Australia, founded on the gold discovered in those same California-like foothills. Until perhaps the last thirty years it was Australia’s premier city, hosting the Olympics in 1956. In 2000 it was Sydney that hosted the Olympics and this transition perhaps best illustrates the shift of power within the country itself.

While not large, the Central Business District (CBD) has its share of tall buildings, as seen here from the Yarra River.

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More typically, here is the classically Victorian Flinders Street Railway Station, perhaps the most anchoring structure of the CBD and across the street from Federation Square, considered the very center of the city. Built in 1909, it occupies two city blocks and in the 1920’s it was the busiest train station in the world.

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Note the antique trolley in the foreground as well. We rode them all over the city and like in San Francisco, they have been collected and restored from all over the world.

Melbourne also has wonderful ‘lanes’ and ‘arcades’ that are the remnants of older narrow streets. They have been transformed into pedestrian walkways and lined with boutiques and restaurants, some of them with pastries to travel half way around the world for.

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Not that we are obsessive about food, but the other famous source of marvelous edibles in Melbourne is the Queen Victoria Market, opened in the 1870’s. In addition to a rather enormous and raucous general market for nearly everything housed in sheds, its heart is the historical structure which holds what seems like hundreds of shops selling every variety of food.

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Outside in a number of courtyards are other cafes and restaurants, including one where we enjoyed a couple of mid morning coffees.

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Paella

There were some wonderful food carts in a courtyard as well.

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But perhaps Melbourne’s most famous claim to fame for the last decade or so has been the profusion of street art that lines the alleyways of the central city. It is overwhelmingly colorful and and seems to be utterly without end. There is little that words can convey of its intensity. Better to just give you a look at some of its best.  Click on any of the images below and roll through them all with the arrows.