According to Tourism Australia, there are many reasons to visit Melbourne. Here are ten of the best:
The Melbourne Food and Wine Festival 2012 celebrates its 20th anniversary this year. Extended to last 20 days between 2 - 21 March, 2012, the celebration starts with a Riverside Opening Weekend with activities such as city street feasts; 80 events under $50, and the world's longest lunch. 100 of the world's top chefs and winemakers from 14 different countries will converge on Melbourne for the festival's famous Langham Masterclass in order to share their culinary secrets and the newest gastronomic trends. Beer lovers are also in for a treat as the festival will showcase its very own 20th anniversary brew at the Great Melbourne Beer Breakfast. There will also be over 100 events across regional Victoria, giving visitors the chance to explore Victoria's harvest-ready wine and river country.
Melbourne Airport's $330 million expansion is complete with new gates 18 and 20 and the aerobridge upgrades. New airside retail offerings include Little Ludlow, Dreamtime Journey, Think Sport, WH Smith, Discover Victoria and Hudsons has also launched their rebranded concept store. Opening soon will be Melbourne's only Victoria's Secret store, Bar Pulpo by Movida, Happy Lab, Wok on Air and Hungry Jack's.
So many exciting restaurant openings from the Shannon Bennett's new Vue de Monde at the top of the Rialto to Donovan Cooke's Atlantic in Crown and Andrew McConnell's Golden Fields in St Kilda. Then there was the amazing Chin Chin by Chris Lucas of Pearl fame, not to mention Geoff Lindsay's Dandelion in trendy Elwood. We are already looking forward to seeing what Andrew McConnell does with Fitzroy stalwart, The Builders Arms, in the New Year.
The Wonders of Ancient Mesopotamia, a major new exhibition showcasing stunning artifacts from one of the world's great ancient civilizations will open with 2011 RACV Victorian Tourism Award winner, Melbourne Museum on May 4, 2012. Presented in collaboration with The British Museum, The Wonders of Ancient Mesopotamia explores an era of extraordinary invention and innovation. The exhibition will focus on three of the great centres of ancient civilization, Sumer, Assyria and Babylon, bringing their rich history to life through objects and multimedia. Themes in the exhibition include palaces and royal power, religious beliefs and rituals, burial practices and royal tombs, and the myths and legends that surround ancient Mesopotamia.
Music lovers visiting the Australian live music capital, Melbourne, now have a free guide to help them find venues, music stores and other music resources with the release of Melbourne Music City. The guide maps Melbourne's main metropolitan entertainment hubs as well as venues in regional Victoria. The guide also includes a Victorian music festival timeline, a plotted history of key music events in the state plus information on gig guides, media, public transport and music-friendly accommodation. The guide is available in hard copy at various tourist hotspots around the city, and will be distributed internationally via international embassies and consulates. The guide is also available to download.
One of the newest international events on the sports calendar is billed as 'probably the toughest event on the planet'. Tough Mudder at Phillip Island, 31 March - 1 April, 2012 encourages participants to 'get dirty' while tackling the world's most extreme obstacle courses. It's a physical and mental endurance challenge designed by ex military men and Phillip Island is set to welcome some very extreme participants and amused spectators as they travel to the island for the event. Visitors will also be able to get their hands dirty in a very different way next year with the extension of
Panny's Amazing World of Chocolate. The new chocolate kitchen, set to open on 26 December, 2011, will have visitors making their own chocolate in an interactive exhibition that is sure to delight chocolate lovers of all ages.
Renowned for being Victoria's premier wine region, the Yarra Valley has recently seen an infiltration of a different kind of drop. A handful of brewers and cider makers are producing unique local beers and cider, giving the wine makers a run for their money. So great is the interest, that the region's seven brewers and cider makers have joined together to launch the Yarra Valley Cider and Ale Trail. From December 2011, visitors to the Yarra Valley will be able to grab a copy of the new Cider and Ale Trail brochure and explore these innovative businesses including an eco-friendly brewery, a winery producing the golden drop and a brewery shipped in all the way from New Zealand.
Want to tick off wild kangaroos, wallabies, emus and wombats in one bush walk? Well now you can with Wilsons Promontory National Park's new Woodland Walk. Located in the northern part of the park, the walk is 7.6km or two and a half hours return and will almost guarantee native wildlife spotting. Wilsons Promontory is in the Gippsland region of Victoria; about a three and a half hour drive from Melbourne. Visitors wanting to explore more of this extensive and extraordinary region will be excited to hear about Inspiring Gippsland Rides - a guide to 35 rides that take in the best of Gippsland by bike, to be launched in February 2012.
A new boutique hotel will open for guests visiting the stunning Mornington Peninsula region of Victoria next year. Construction has begun to turn 120-year old Flinders Hotel into a forty guestroom boutique accommodation slated for completion mid-2012. The hotel's restaurant will be the first to open. Getting ready for completion this month, Terminus will be a fine-dining Mediterranean restaurant headed up by Chef Pierre Khodja (ex Canvas restaurant) and Food & Beverage Manager Clinton Trevisi (ex Royal Mail Hotel). This destination restaurant will add another feature in the cap of the culinary hub of Mornington Peninsula - only an hour's drive from the centre of Melbourne.