Melbourne: World's most livable city marries old and new

Joel Guinto, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Aug 18 2018 07:47 PM | Updated as of Aug 18 2018 08:10 PM

 

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MELBOURNE -- On Flinders Street Station, Australia's answer to New York's Grand Central, traffic stops for old and new trams, a must for everyone in this metropolis where the old effortlessly blends with the new.

Visitors in this city of 5 million people get glimpses of Australia's colonial heritage, while surrounded by the diverse cultures that now make up the world's smallest continent. 

Melbourne was named the world's most livable city by The Economist Intelligence Unit for 7 straight years. Federation Square is the city center where mass transport, museums, churches, shops and an Instagrammable grafitti alley converge. 

A waterfall door welcomes visitors to the international wing of the National Gallery Victoria. From June 9 to Oct 7, 2 halls are filled with pieces from New York's Museum of Modern Art. 

Prized displays include Andy Warhol's portrait of Marilyn Monroe, a self-portrait of Frida Kahlo, Van Gogh's portrait of Joseph Roulin, and Picasso's The Architect's Table.

Promotional material are adorned with Roy Lichtenstein's Drowning Girl, based on DC Comics' Sacred Hearts from 1962.

Andy Warhol's Marilyn Monroe on display at the National Gallery Victoria in Melbourne. ABS-CBN News 
Roy Liechtenstein's Drowning Girl on display at the National Gallery Victoria in Melbourne. 

Across the square, on Hosier Lane, tourists, some with selfie sticks jostle for selfies against a maze of grafitti. The side alleys are just as packed with colorful street art as the main street.

 

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On St. Paul's Cathedral, a giant banner urges the faithful to aid immigrants, a touchy issue in Australia as in the rest of the world. 

A lawmaker, Fraser Anning, was on most newscasts last week for calling for a "final solution" to immigration concerns, which critics saw as a reference to a Nazi campaign.

 

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Getting around the city is very easy. There's a subway and stops for commuter and tourist buses are clearly marked. The tram is free for everyone as long as travel is within the central business district.

The city is also walkable if you can stand winter temperatures that can go below 10 degrees Celsius and feel even colder with occasional rain.

Melburnians also pay without cash, with tap to pay terminals available in most establishments. Starbucks stores are far between as Australia has its own coffee culture.

Outside the city proper, the colorful beach boxes on Brighton are also popular picture spots. The locals use these as lockers for their surfboards and other gear. 

 

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Australia is home to many celebrities including Oscar winner Cate Blanchett, the Marvel Cinematic Universe's Chris Hemsworth, and pop rocket Kylie Minogue, who recently turned 50.

Cebu Pacific, the Philippines' largest airline, launched direct flights to Melbourne last week, its second Australian destination after Sydney.