Melbourne is a very nice city, where even the graffitied back alleys are a point of pride. A few months ago it was named as the Most Livable City in the world, bumping Vancouver down the list as I discussed in a post at the time. Vancouverites were annoyed at the invalid reasons for the demotion, but too embarassed about the June riots to complain. I am here to report (maybe a bit smugly) that Melbourne had some riots the day before I arrived.

Melbourne has 4 million people in the metropolitan area, while Sydney has 4.5 million. Melbourne claims the cultural and artistic edge. There is lots of architectural art (or should that be artistic architecture) and there are galleries and events galore. Here is some modern Aboriginal art in the National Gallery of Victoria in the Ian Potter Centre.

I visited the Immigration Museum, looking for clues about my ancestors (my grandmother and a prior generation were born there) and went to the State Library of Victoria for vital statistics and a view of its grand interior. Then I met some 4th cousins for coffee! This all makes me feel that I have something of a legitimate claim to the city and country. Only my considerable disgust with Vegemite stands in the way of adopting Australia as a second home.

Libraries are good places to observe life in a city, they are free and often have free wifi. (Free wifi anything is something of a recurrent theme here.)

Public markets are another important way to get to know a city. At the Queen Victoria Market, you can find everything from farmer’s produce, fresh fish, wine (bottled while you wait), arts and crafts, to cheap trinkets and souvenirs from China.

On a final note for today, people in Melbourne love to get dressed up – particularly for special horse races and cricket matches, but it seems that any excuse will do. The market had a big selection of fascinators for the upcoming Melbourne Cup races.

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