The vibrant character of the Melbourne suburbs and precincts has contributed to Melbournes status as one of the most liveable cities in the world.
Like New York, London and Paris, Melbourne is made of colourfully diverse precincts.
Various Melbourne cultures and subcultures make up a diverse Melbourne CBD.
The areas around this are cool and hip suburbs that have attracted artists and alternative communities, the coffee and music scene.
And there are the upmarket and conservative suburbs, the working class suburbs and a sliding range of places in between.
There are also the Melbourne suburbs that have become ethnic precincts, where people of one culture or the other have concentrated.
These bring restaurants of a particular ethnic flavour to one area - each of them giving you different foods, flavours, shopping and life style options.
However, as nothing stays the same even in the conservative parts of Melbourne - the demographics of Melbourne are continually changing. The hip and cool suburbs are becoming expensive artists are moving further out into affordable Melbourne suburbs the gentrified areas are taken over by the new middle class
and new migrants are tending into newly created suburbs.
One of the oldest Melbourne CBD precincts is Chinatown, which developed in the 1860s after the Chinese came to Australia looking for gold. It is located around Little Bourke Street. There you find Chinese arches and an abundance of authentic Asian restaurants and shops, some very cheap as well!
The other ethnic area in the city is the Lornsdale Street Greek quarter. However, this is easily overlooked as it is part of the busy city life, traffic and shops. Nevertheless, there are great Greek restaurants, cafes, souvlaki, and an annual Greek festival.
The rest of the CBD is divided into hip laneways,which really are the one feature Melburnians love. Then there is the affluent Collins Street and elegant Paris end, and the banking and business district. The main city shopping area is between Bourke Street, the QV and Melbourne Central.
Federation Square has become a hub for Melbourne events and works well as a meeting ground in the picturesque setting along the Yarra.
Along Southbank, the area stretching along the south side of the Yarra, is the Melbourne Arts precinct, as well as modern bars, restaurants, clothes and gift shops, the Crown Casino Melbourne and superb hotels that attract many tourists.
Across St Kilda Road are the Royal Botanic Gardens Melbourne, with magnificent landscapes and plants from around the world - an island of tranquillity. At its south-eastern corner is the landmark of the Shrine of Remembrance, the Melbourne War Memorial and peaceful place to visit.
At the west-end of the city, behind Spencer St station is the precinct of the Docklands. This is the newest Melbourne precinct with glass and concrete developments along the old dock areas.
It is a somewhat artificial suburb that has struggled to find its feet - but tries to woo with many stylish restaurants, kids activities and shopping opportunities.
Just north of the CBD is Lygon Street, Carlton. This is the original Italian area, with outdoor Italian dining, cafes, gelato bars, pizzerias and all sorts of shops. This is where Melbournes famous café culture was born.
The Bohemian Fitzroy along Brunswick Street is one of the renowned Melbourne places. It is cool, hip, creative, arty and alternative. It is a meeting point and hub where you find the Melbourne coffee culture, unique boutiques, bookshops and bistros, an artists market and many great ideas.
Closer to the city is Gertrude Street, Fitzroy which has more of a creative focus with many fashion designer, art shops and galleries. Both of these are well know as insiders Melbourne shopping areas.
Just around the corner is Smith Street, Collingwood, which continues the theme of original shops, bars, cafes as well as factory outlet stores.
Richmond is one of the interesting inner-city Melbourne suburbs.Around Bridge Road you get the cafes as well as factory outlets of brand designer labels.
Richmond, around Swan Street is also a hub for bars, pubs and live music venues.
Victoria Street, in the Abbotsford end of Richmond, is an area fondly known as Little Saigon, and is the heart of Melbourne's Vietnamese community. It is a stretch of traditional Vietnamese eateries, bakers, butchers, fishmongers and grocers definitely the place to go for a Vietnamese meal.
South Melbourne and Albert Park are more grandiose than the northern Melbourne precincts. There are many independent retailers, the South Melbourne market, cafes, gourmet food as well as the Gasworks Arts Park. Very attractive.
Acland Street is the centre of the cool cosmopolitan seaside St Kilda. It is artesian, alternative and quirky,
with independent clothing, book and record stores as well as great eateries. It attracts many backpackers and tourists.
It also has the beach sun-baking and water sports and a beachside promenade a favourite of cyclists, runners, walkers and rollerbladers. The live-music scene in the local pubs is pumping most nights of the week.
Chapel Street, South Yarra is sophisticated and modern. It has a range of exclusive fashion boutiques, as well as street-wear. You will find the big brand outlets and small quirky Melbourne fashion designer boutiques, and many great restaurants. This is where celebrities shop - it is the place to be seen.
The way the Melbourne suburbs had worked themselves out in the early Melbourne days was that money and wealth went to the eastern suburbs and the working classes moved into the small cottages to the north and west of the city.
Just past the hip and cool areas in the east, you find the most conservative and established Melbourne. Toorak, south of the Yarra is the most posh, expensive and British suburb. Home there are mansions, serviced by many exclusive boutiques along Toorak Rd.
In High Street, Armadale are many antique stores and art galleries central to these Melbourne suburbs. Along Glenferry Road, Hawthorn and in Bourke Road, Camberwell, you will also find many tasteful and established shops and restaurants.
However, as older generations are gradually being replaced, younger professionals and affluent Asian families have been moving into these established suburbs. This is reflected in many Asian eateries and restaurants in the area.
The west was traditionally the area where the conservative Melburnians would not really set foot on. It was working class cottages, cheap, and regarded as inferior.
In the last few years, however, the value of those close to the city western suburbs has been discovered, and more and more people have been moving into these affordable suburbs across town.
Kensington, Flemington, Ascot Vale and Moonee Ponds are rapidly developing and no longer even insider tips. They are rapidly catching up with attractive coffee shops, eateries, restaurants and fashion shops, while still maintaining their original ethnic community atmosphere.
What is considered cool is steadily advancing into the North. Traditionally, the northern Melbourne suburbs from Carlton and Fitzroy to Coburg and Preston and beyond were working class suburbs, with primarily small cottages.
However, these have become the areas to live in (as close to the city as you can afford). The small cottages and terrace houses are now family homes - families who want to live in the middle of it all, enjoy the inner-city life styles, and place more value on community than on the quarter acre block.
Affordability is widening the circle of these desirable suburbs. They now not only include Carlton North, Brunswick, Fitzroy North and Northcote, but are growing and stretching into Coburg, Thornbury and Preston.
Sydney Road and Lygon Street in Brunswick are lively shopping areas with a mix of hip, alternative, cheap, ethnic and local designer shops. High Street Northcote is famous for its community feel with many music venues, restaurants and unique shops. And so it goes, expanding
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