Melbourne is a younger city than Sydney. It was settled in the 1830’s by John Batman and John Pascoe Fawkner. They traveled from Launceston (in Tasmania) to establish a colony on the Yarra River, at the head of Port Phillip Bay on the southern tip of Mainland Australia. The Gold rushes of the 1850’s gave impetus to the growth of the city and it quickly became the commercial centre of the southeast.
Today it is a commercial centre, while enjoying a vibrant downtown revival with the development of Docklands at the mouth of the Yarra River.
As a suggested itinerary for 4 days, be sure to concentrate on the wonderful Healesville Wildlife Sanctuary and exploring the Yarra Valley Wineries on any one of the tours that leave downtown daily. The nightly return of the Fairy Penguins at Phillip Island is not to be missed if you are a nature lover, but be aware that it takes about 2 hours to drive down to the viewing point. Then there is the Great Ocean Road to the west of Melbourne. Take a full day tour to fully appreciate the area.
If you have more time, the old mining Town of Ballarat is worth a visit and the Grampians National Park just to the East of Ballarat provides a dramatic backdrop to the flatter, sheep and wine growing areas around the township of Ararat.
Melbourne is considered the shopping capital of Australia (especially if you are from Melbourne) and you can enjoy time exploring the arcades and alleyways of the downtown area. There are a lot of weekend craft markets in the St Kilda Area and very good shopping at Prahran and South Yarra, just to the east of the City.
The Trams (streetcars) provide the backbone of the public transport system and there is a good suburban railway system hubbing out of the Flinders Street Railway Station.
Melbourne is a great city to explore on foot, so put aside some time to discover it at your own pace.