Melbourne is a city full of art, from council-commissioned, outdoor sculptures to graffiti in the inner city lanes. Melbourne is not blessed with the strikingly beautiful situation Sydney has, and it doesn't have a single iconic building comparable to Sydney's Opera House and Harbour Bridge, but it is a beautiful city, one of the most attractive urban organisms I have ever visited, and possibly the most visually appealing of all New World cities I have visited in our journey through Canada, Australia and New Zealand.
One of my favourite parts of Melbourne was the Southbank, across the Yarra river from Melbourne's Central Business District, full of confident, modern architecture and a big-city buzz at times, but at others rather delightfully chilled out, with cafes, unique shops, public art dotted about and the showcase of Melbourne's cultural credentials, the Arts' Precinct.
The area referred to as Arts' Precinct spreads around city's main boulevard, St Kilda Road and includes many educational and administrative bodies for city's arts as well as major galleries and performing arts venues.
Even if you are not planning to attend any shows in the performing arts venues, many of them are strikingly attractive and architecturally interesting buildings and are worth at least a look at from outside as works of visual arts.
National Gallery of Victoria International, reviewed more extensively elsewhere, is a welcoming modern building housing Victoria's large collection of international art.
The Arts Centre, a complex of theatres and concert halls topped with Roy Ground's iconic spire, a modern steel structure illuminated by four miles of optic fibre tubing and inspired by the Eiffel Tower and ballerinas' tutus.
Australian Centre for Contemporary Art or ACCA, an unashamedly modern, sharp-edged, monolithic, sculptural building constructed from weathering steel. It looks like a rusty, twisted box, and it looks absolutely amazing. Inside you will find cutting edge stuff indeed, in vast spaces devoted to celebration and promotion of art of the moment. Next to ACCA sits in a striking contrast the Malthouse Theatre, as a name suggests a converted malthouse and home to several performing companies.
MTC theatre, a stunning new building for Melbourne's oldest theatre company has its facade clad with white steel tubing which projects optical illusions and is best appreciated after dark.
In the same block, the Recital Theatre repeats a honey-comb pattern of windows and walls as well as wood panelled walls and ceiling inside.
On the other side of St Kilda Road in King's Domain parkland, Sydney Meyer Music Bowl, a grassy amphitheatre in front of a stage with a sound shell roof which is designed to project the sound and shelter the front rows of the audience (though it's those on the grass that get the best acoustics).
You can spend days exploring and sampling the cultural delights offered by the various venues and spaces in Melbourne's Arts' Precinct, but even if you have no time and inclination to delve in depth, a walk around the area should impress or at least stimulate anybody with a even a minimal interest in architecture, urban design, visual, stage or musical arts.