Tourism in Melbourne, Australia, is an important industry with approximately 7.6 million domestic visitors and 1.88 million international visitors in 2004. Melbourne attracts a large numbers of tourists, particularly young backpackers. Among popular sites and events in Melbourne are:
- The Melbourne Cricket Ground, known as “the MCG” or simply the “G”. From April to September, there are typically one or two Australian rules football matches there per week; the game can be spectacular, it is unique to Australia, relatively inexpensive to attend, and is safe and enjoyable for all, including children. It has also hosted two Bledisloe Cup rugby matches. During the summer, cricket matches are played there – the most important being the Boxing Day test match between December 26th and December 30th, and several one-day international games in January and February which are perhaps more enjoyable for the casual spectator. The MCG was renovated in preparation for the 2006 Commonwealth Games, creating a maximum capacity of 103,000.
- The Melbourne Observation Deck, located some 237 metres above the city streets on the 55th floor of the Rialto Towers, offers spectacular views of the central business district and beyond. The Rialto Towers is the second tallest building in Melbourne after the newly constructed Eureka Tower.
- Melbourne Park, home of the Australian Open tennis tournament, one of the four Grand Slam tournaments (held in January each year).
- The Melbourne Exhibition and Convention Centre is located in Southbank and was built in the 1990s as a replacement for the Royal Exhibition Building. It has hosted thousands of conventions and exhibitions since its opening.
- The Melbourne Museum is located on the north-eastern fringe of the CBD, next to the Royal Exhibition Building. To many Melburnians, the most significant exhibit is the preserved body of Phar Lap, the famous racehorse of the Depression era. For those who cannot visit the nearby forested ranges, the Forest Gallery is a living internal facsimile. Technically-inclined visitors may be more interested in CSIRAC, the fifth electronic computer built and the only one of its generation to survive intact. The Museum complex is also home to Melbourne’s IMAX cinema.
- The Royal Exhibition Building located in the Carlton Gardens was built in the 1880s for the World’s Fair and is only one of a few such buildings that still exist. The building and gardens was granted World Heritage listing on 2 July 2004. It is the first building in Australia to be granted this status. The building also held the first sitting of the Australian Parliament on 9 May 1901. Subsequent federal parliamentary sittings were then moved to the Victorian Parliament building located in Spring Street and the Victorian government moved to the Exhibition Building.
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