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Things To Do In Melbourne CBD

There are many reasons to stay, explore and enjoy Melbourne’s CBD. Of course, ‘CBD’ stands for Central Business District but there is much more to this CBD than business – there’s stunning architecture, history, shopping, theatre and dining out plus something that is hard to define – ‘atmosphere’. Without even venturing across the Yarra River or to the many attractions on the city fringe there is plenty to reward… and all just a walk from Rydges Melbourne.

Let’s begin with the iconic Flinders Street Railway Station. Built in 1854, its main platform is the longest in the country. It’s a wonderful spot just to hang about and observe and absorb the passing parade. Across the road (corner of Swanston and Flinders) is St Paul’s Anglican Cathedral. It’s Gothic with a 96-metre spire, one of the best cathedral organs in Australia and the choir sings an evensong daily.

Livelier evensong might be heard from within Young & Jacksons hotel. This is an excellent pub and home to Chloe, the famous nude painted by 19th century French artist, J.J. Lefevre. Chloe is there in all her glory (modest by today’s standards), upstairs, during pub hours.

Diagonally opposite is Federation Square, the contemporary focus for the city with its open spaces and modern art galleries. Further along Swanston is the Melbourne Town Hall and Collins Street. Turn left to the ANZ Banking Museum for the history of banking in Australia.

Don’t miss the Block Arcade (Collins Street) for stylish shopping in the country’s oldest arcade – or just enjoy a stroll to soak in the old world charm and perhaps indulge in a little Haig’s chocolate? Little Bourke Street is home to Chinatown and, arguably, by far the best selection of Chinese cuisine in the country. The Chinese Museum in Cohen Place (just behind Her Majesty’s Theatre), traces the history of the Chinese who arrived in the wake of the 1850s gold rush and established Chinatown.

Little Lonsdale Street is home to Melbourne Central, a spectacular blend of ultra-modern architecture with a huge glass cone, the largest freestanding glass structure in the world, enveloping an historic shot tower. Across Swanston Street, the State Library of Victoria has the largest collection of reference material in the State, historical and current, from newspapers to books.

The Old Melbourne Gaol (where Russell turns into Lygon Street) once dominated the Melbourne skyline. Between 1842 and its closure in 1929 it was the scene of 133 hangings, including bushranger Ned Kelly. This is the main reason that ghost tours of the gaol are popular.  Displays include death masks and histories of famous bushrangers and convicts.

To the east of the city, Parliament House (Spring Street) is an imposing building with a wide sweep of stairs leading to the street. Tours run several times a day on weekdays and the public galleries open when parliament is in session. Behind, St Patrick’s Cathedral, built between 1858 and 1897, is a fine example of Gothic Revival architecture and the largest church in Australia. From here you can visit Fitzroy Gardens and Captain Cook’s Cottage.

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