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  Wednesday, 16 October, 2002, 09:59 GMT 10:59 UK
City guide: Melbourne
Melbourne
Melbourne hosts an impressive array of sporting events

Certainly no trip Down Under is complete without visiting Australia's second largest city - especially for sports fans.

As well as being the venue for the traditional Boxing Day Test match in the Ashes series, Melbourne is famous for hosting some world-famous sporting events.

Tennis' first Grand Slam competition of the year, the Australian Open, takes place there, along with the Bells Beach Surf Classic and, of course, the Australia's premier horse-racing event the Melbourne Cup.

Melbourne is also set to host the Commonwealth Games in 2006.

But the capital of Victoria, situated on the banks of the Yarra River where it meets Port Philip Bay, has plenty else to offer besides sport.

  Melbourne factfile
Population: 3.4m
Location: On the south-east corner of Australia in Victoria
Climate: Hot summers and mild winters
Geography: Situated on the banks of the Yarra River where it meets Port Philip Bay
Interesting fact: Melbourne has been voted one of the world's best cities to live in

Home to 3.4 million people, Melbourne is bustling vibrant place, possessing the impressive range of food, architecture, theatres, galleries and gardens that a major international city should offer.

Melbourne, however, is distinctive because of its 19th-century architecture, including buildings, parks and leafy boulevards.

The city is also instantly recognisable by its network of green and yellow trams which carry passengers across the whole metropolitan area.

The area's first white settlement sprang up in 1803, although the Aboriginal people around Victoria resisted it for around 30 years.

Of course, the indigenous population could not hold off the inevitable forever and in May 1835 John Batman bought around 240,000 hectares of land off the local Aborigine clan on behalf of a group of Tasmanian entrepreneurs and Melbourne was born.

But it was not until 1837 that the settlement was named and military surveyor Robert Hoddle designed the city's familiar grid layout.

Melbourne has certainly grown since then, managing to become both a leafy, bayside community on the brown Yarra River and a cosmopolitan, football crazy haven for the avant-garde.

Given its obvious qualities, it's not surprising Melbourne is so popular with tourists and has recently been voted one of the best cities in the world to live in.

All the news ahead of the 2002/03 Ashes tour

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See also:

16 Oct 02 | The Ashes
16 Oct 02 | The Ashes
16 Oct 02 | The Ashes
16 Oct 02 | The Ashes
16 Oct 02 | The Ashes
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