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Top attractions in Melbourne: What you can’t miss on your holiday

(CNN) — Melbourne, the second-largest city in Australia, overflows with first-rate attractions. Whether you’re a tennis fan in the city specifically for the 2019 Australian Open and seek a diversion or you just want it to be part of your Aussie travel itinerary, Melbourne doesn’t disappoint. This is a destination that has it all –…

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Top attractions in Melbourne: What you can’t miss on your holiday
(CNN) — Melbourne, the second-largest city in Australia, overflows with first-rate attractions.
Whether you’re a tennis fan in the city specifically for the 2019 Australian Open and seek a diversion or you just want it to be part of your Aussie travel itinerary, Melbourne doesn’t disappoint.
This is a destination that has it all — from cultural and architectural highlights to amazing outdoor locations. Here’s our subjective list of the top attractions in Melbourne and nearby locations:

City Circle Tram

The City Circle Tram is a great way to see Melbourne.

The City Circle Tram is a great way to see Melbourne.

Thomas Kurmeier/Moment Editorial/Getty Images

The City Circle Tram is a fantastic way for a newcomer to get the lay of the land or for Melbourne veterans to just get around and enjoy the sights.

In the Central Business District, the circular route goes clockwise and counterclockwise, rides past many of the major tourist attractions, has unlimited hop-on, hop-off service — and is free!

Federation Square

Federation Square is relatively new, but it's already become a central  gathering spot for locals and visitors.

Federation Square is relatively new, but it’s already become a central gathering spot for locals and visitors.

Darrian Traynor/Getty Images

New York City has Times Square. Melbourne has Federation Square. It’s only been open since 2002, but it’s already emerged as a key focal point for residents and visitors who are out for sun, fun and food.
Centrally located, you can enjoy cutting-edge art, plenty of restaurants and bars, numerous special events and lots of people-watching. It’s also within walking distance of other key attractions such as Eureka Tower (see below). (Corner of Flinders and Swanston streets, Melbourne, Victoria, 3000; +61 03 9655 1900)

Royal Botanic Gardens

You can enjoy the fountains and greenery of the Royal Botanic Gardens every day from 7.30 a.m. to sunset.

You can enjoy the fountains and greenery of the Royal Botanic Gardens every day from 7.30 a.m. to sunset.

Royal Botanic Gardens Victoria

A gathering spot for tourists and residents alike, you’ll find more than 8,500 types of plants from around the globe at the Royal Botanic Gardens.

Plan your visit and book walking tours of Ornamental Lake, learn about the effects of climate change and more. Or you can just arrive spur of the moment and bask in the beauty.

National Gallery of Victoria

The National Gallery of Victoria has an impressive collection and is the largest art museum in the country.

The National Gallery of Victoria has an impressive collection and is the largest art museum in the country.

Iris/Imaginechina/AP

As its name implies, NGV International (180 St Kilda Road, Melbourne VIC 3006, Australia; +61 3 8620 2222 ) has art from around the world. while the Ian Potter Centre: NGV Australia (Federation Square, Flinders and Russell streets, Melbourne VIC 3000, Australia; +61 3 8620 2222) keeps it all in-country.

Either or both will make for a delightful interlude for art lovers, especially on a rainy day.

State Library Victoria

The La Trobe Reading Room at the State Library Victoria is nothing less than stunning.

The La Trobe Reading Room at the State Library Victoria is nothing less than stunning.

Jeff Greenberg/UIG/Getty Images

This visit isn’t really about checking out books — it’s about checking out the magnificent structure that holds those books.

The library also displays permanent and temporary art exhibits. (328 Swanston St., Melbourne VIC 3000, Australia; +61 3 8664 7000)

Mjølner Melbourne

This isn’t a restaurant list, but sometimes, a place to eat becomes an attraction in itself. And that’s the case with Mjølner Melbourne, which comes with a Thor/Viking theme.

The dark-lit spaces of the restaurant mix traditional Norse elements with a 21st century vibe, and the menu is heavy on meats. (106 Hardware St, Melbourne VIC 3000, Australia; +61 3 8393 9367)

Melbourne Zoo

Eastern barred bandicoots, small noctural members of the marsupial family, are hand-reared at the  Melbourne Zoo.

Eastern barred bandicoots, small noctural members of the marsupial family, are hand-reared at the Melbourne Zoo.

James D. Morgan/Getty Images

It’s hard to top seeing creatures out in the wild, but if a deep trip into the Outback isn’t in the cards for you, the well-regarded Melbourne Zoo can help fill your animal void.

Besides the popular native kangaroos, koalas, kangaroos and emus you’d expect from an Australian zoo, you can see elephants from Asia, lemurs from Madagascar and Sumatran tigers along with other far-flung animals. (Elliott Ave, Parkville VIC 3052, Australia; +61 1300 966 784)

Eureka Tower

The Eureka Tower (seen in center) opened in 2006 and gives visitors a bird's-eye view of Melbourne.

The Eureka Tower (seen in center) opened in 2006 and gives visitors a bird’s-eye view of Melbourne.

Mark Dadswell/Getty Images

Many “best of” attractions lists will include a bird’s-eye observation post. Melbourne’s entry in that category is Eureka Tower, which affords its visitors the highest building view not just in Melbourne, not just in Australia, but in all of the Southern Hemisphere.

For the bravest of your travel party, there’s The Edge, a glass cube that extends out from the 88th floor to offer a moving view you’ll never forget. If you like your horizon-scanning more tame, stick with the more traditional Skydeck. It’s open 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. every day. (7 Riverside Quay, Southbank VIC 3006, Australia; +61 3 9693 8888)

Melbourne Museum and Royal Exhibition Building

Selfie opportunity! The Royal Exhibition Building is one of the finest examples of late 1800s architecture in Australia and makes a stunning backdrop for a photo.

Selfie opportunity! The Royal Exhibition Building is one of the finest examples of late 1800s architecture in Australia and makes a stunning backdrop for a photo.

Museums Victoria

This is another one of Melbourne’s fabulous combo experiences.

The Melbourne Museum covers a wide range of natural and cultural interests. You’ll discover everything from bugs and dinosaur skeletons to an in-depth history of the city. (11 Nicholson St., Carlton VIC 3053, Australia; +61 3 8341 7777)
The Royal Exhibition Building is a must-see for architecture fans. Built in the late 1800s, its eye-catching dome and fanciful paintwork provide a special atmosphere for trade shows and fairs. (9 Nicholson St, Carlton VIC 3053, Australia; +61 3 9270 5000)

Yarra River

You can take a cruise on the Yarra River or enjoy a stroll along its banks. It runs right through the middle of the city before emptying into Port Phillip Bay.

You can take a cruise on the Yarra River or enjoy a stroll along its banks. It runs right through the middle of the city before emptying into Port Phillip Bay.

WILLIAM WEST/AFP/Getty Images

Melbourne rests along the banks of the Yarra River, and one of the best ways to see the city is from the waterway.

Not into paying for a boat ride? The banks of the river are great for walking and biking for free. (Southbank Promenade at Berth 5, Melbourne, Victoria 3000, Australia; +61 3 8610 2600)

Abbotsford Convent

Abbotsford Convent is a haven for arts and nature lovers.

Abbotsford Convent is a haven for arts and nature lovers.

Nina Dermawan/Moment Editorial/Getty Images

Art lovers and religious history buffs converge at Abbotsford Convent. This former convent of the Sisters of the Good Shepherd, an order of the Roman Catholic Church, has 11 historic building and gardens devoted to the arts and nature.
Along the banks of the Yarra, Abbotsford holds studios, galleries, cafes, plenty of green open space and even a radio station. You’ll find all manner of special events at Abbotsford — music, art and even a Brewers Feast. (1 St Heliers St, Abbotsford VIC 3067, Australia; +61 3 9415 3600)

St. Paul’s Anglican Cathedral

Melbourne's beautiful St Paul's Cathedral is open for tours.

Melbourne’s beautiful St Paul’s Cathedral is open for tours.

Scott Barbour/Getty Images

Visitors are welcome to take a tour or join a worship service.

For an interesting cultural experience, you can witness a Mandarin service on Saturday mornings. (Flinders Lane and Swanston St, Melbourne VIC 3000, Australia; +61 3 9653 4220)

Southbank and South Wharf

Areas such as Southbank explain why Melbourne appears on so many high-quality-of-life lists.

Areas such as Southbank explain why Melbourne appears on so many high-quality-of-life lists.

Scott Barbour/Getty Images

While individual attractions are great, you really get to know the soul of a city by visiting its neighborhoods. A great place to start is the upscale Southbank. This area is for the visitor up for some fine dining and nightlife, too. This entertainment district is chock full of restaurants, galleries and clubs.
And at South Wharf, you’ll find restored sheds housing waterfront bars and restaurants. Be sure to check out the permanently docked Polly Woodside. Built in Belfast, Ireland, in 1885, you’ll see how goods were transported around the world in the last years of the sailing ships. (21 South Wharf Promenade; South Wharf 3006 VIC; +61 3 9699 9760)

Fitzroy neighborhood and Brunswick Street

Mural-spotting is just one of the fun things you can do in the Fitzroy neighborhood.

Mural-spotting is just one of the fun things you can do in the Fitzroy neighborhood.

Michael Dodge/Getty Images

North of the Central Business District, Fitzroy has seen some gentrification but for now still holds onto its edge. Find art galleries, shops selling vintage items and bookshops of all kinds of genres.

You may want to go bar hopping along Brunswick Street. The cozy Black Pearl is a favorite with its comfortable sofas and specialty cocktails. (304 Brunswick St, Fitzroy VIC 3065, Australia; +61 3 9417 0455)

St. Kilda

Luna Park in St. Kilda is just 15 minutes or so  outside of Melbourne's Central Business District.

Luna Park in St. Kilda is just 15 minutes or so outside of Melbourne’s Central Business District.

Marianna Massey/Corbis/Getty Images

St. Kilda is a bohemian seaside neighborhood that holds an amusement park with a definite Coney Island feel. So what can you do here?
— Climb aboard the Great Scenic Railway, the world’s oldest continually operating roller coaster, at Luna Park — or choose one of its calmer rides. (18 Lower Esplanade, St Kilda VIC 3182, Australia; +61 3 9525 5033)

— Stroll, cycle or skate under the neighborhood’s palms.

— Catch live music at the Palais Theatre. (Lower Esplanade, St Kilda VIC 3182, Australia; +61 3 8537 7677)

Port Campbell National Park

The Twelve Apostles, a collection of limestone stacks off the shore of the Port Campbell National Park, is one of Australia's most memorable sights.

The Twelve Apostles, a collection of limestone stacks off the shore of the Port Campbell National Park, is one of Australia’s most memorable sights.

Iris/Imaginechina/AP

Now we head out of Melbourne to some nearby spectacular wonders of nature.

Along with the hiking and spectacular views at the park, you can go fishing, canoeing, swimming and diving. (Great Ocean Road, Port Campbell VIC 3269, Australia; +61 3 131963)

Phillip Island Nature Parks

Phillip Island is a gorgeous and easy getaway.

Phillip Island is a gorgeous and easy getaway.

National Parks Australia

Let’s sum up Phillip Island Nature Parks, about 90 minutes from Melbourne, in one word: penguins. This is one of the places to view them, and the website features a penguin arrival clock. But actually, these curious birds are only the start of your sightings at this scenic getaway.

You can also take an EcoBoat Tour where you may spot seals or visit cuddly koalas in treetop boardwalks at a conservation center. Or you could visit a heritage farm on nearby Churchill Island where you can milk cows, shear sheep and even crack some whips! (Penguin Parade: 1019 Ventnor Road, Summerlands, Victoria 3922; + 61 3 5951 2800)

Peninsula Hot Springs

We've walked you around enough. How about a relaxing visit to the Peninsula Hot Springs?

We’ve walked you around enough. How about a relaxing visit to the Peninsula Hot Springs?

Peninsula Hot Springs

All this touring can make a tourist tired, right? That’s where Peninsula Hot Springs comes into play. You can come relax in thermal spring waters in a pretty natural setting.

If you want to do more than soak, you can enjoy spa treatments, join exercise groups, take an indigenous cultural walk and even dine there. (140 Springs Lane, Fingal VIC 3939, Australia; +61 3 5950 8777)

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Barbadians celebrate the birth of a republic and bid farewell to the Queen

Official festivities marking the island’s historic transition from realm to republic took place in National Heroes Square in the heart of the capital of Bridgetown. Prince Charles, heir to the British throne, had come from London for the occasion and watched as the Royal Standard flag was lowered from the flagpole and the new Presidential…

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Barbadians celebrate the birth of a republic and bid farewell to the Queen

Official festivities marking the island’s historic transition from realm to republic took place in National Heroes Square in the heart of the capital of Bridgetown. Prince Charles, heir to the British throne, had come from London for the occasion and watched as the Royal Standard flag was lowered from the flagpole and the new Presidential Standard raised in its place.

Moments later, the Queen’s own former representative, Governor-General Sandra Mason — a well-respected 73-year-old former jurist — was sworn in as President by the Chief Justice. It was exactly 55 years to the day since Barbados declared independence from Britain.

After taking in a 21-gun salute to mark the historic switch, Mason later bestowed the country’s highest-ranking honor, the Order of Freedom, upon the Prince of Wales — a move designed to highlight the continued close relationship between Barbados and the United Kingdom.

Barbados’s decision marks the first time in nearly three decades that a realm has opted to remove the British monarch as head of state. The last nation to do so was the island of Mauritius in 1992. Like that country, Barbados intends to remain part of the Commonwealth — a 54-member organization of mostly former British territories designed to foster international cooperation and trade.

Prince Charles, who had arrived late on Sunday as Prime Minister Mia Mottley’s guest of honor, told the people of Barbados it was “important” to him to witness the ceremonial changeover.

He also reaffirmed “the close and trusted partnership between Barbados and the UK as vital members of the Commonwealth.”

Some in Bridgetown, however, questioned why the Queen’s son had come at all, pointing out that the island’s historical relationship with the crown was rooted in slavery.

“No member of the royal family should participate in our major freedom day,” activist David Denny told CNN.

“The royal family benefited from slavery financially and many of our African brothers and sisters died in battle for change,” added Denny, general secretary of the Caribbean Movement for Peace and Integration.

An expedition for King James I of England claimed Barbados when his ships first arrived on its shores in 1625. A settlement was established two years later.

“It was the first laboratory for English colonialism in the tropics,” Richard Drayton, professor of imperial and global history at Kings College London, told CNN.

“Barbados also provided an important source of private wealth in 17th and 18th-century England,” he added, noting that many English families made substantial fortunes from sugar and slavery.

Entertainers perform during the Presidential Inauguration Ceremony at Heroes Square on November 29, 2021 in Bridgetown, Barbados.

Citing that history, Denny described Prince Charles’ participation as “an insult to our people” and called for financial reparations from the royal family, as well as the British government and other institutions that profited from transporting people from Africa and enslaving them on plantations across the Caribbean.

Denny said the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis last year “created a consciousness across the world” and sparked solidarity protests on the island. One outcome of the demonstrations: an empty plinth now sits in Bridgetown’s main square where a bronze statue of British Admiral Lord Horatio Nelson — a defender of the island’s slave trade — once stood.

A stone’s throw away from the site of the ceremony in Swan Street, a popular shopping area among locals in downtown Bridgetown, many Barbadians also welcomed the change .

Roger Goodridge, a 59-year-old toy seller, described the move to a republic as “a long time coming” and said he was unsurprised by Charles’ visit.

“The time has passed for ‘Little England.’ We are now on our own and on to our biggest success — breaking the waters and moving onto another stage in our life.”

Victoria Norvill, a 16-year-old student enjoying the public holiday with some girlfriends told CNN: “I feel very good about Barbados becoming a republic because we get to be free and independent.”

Others expressed support but wondered if transition had been “a bit too fast.” The government created its 10-member group tasked with helping manage the transition from a monarchical system to a republic in May this year.

“It’s too hasty. Everyone hasn’t think about it yet and there’s so many people that don’t even know what is a republic,” said Andre Moore, 36.

“I think they should at least have taken a whole year to deal with this or at least two years. I think two years to really think about it, get the mind settled for what they have prepared for this whole republic thing.

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Tropical cyclones in Asia could have double the destructive power by the end of century, study finds

Using data from nearly four decades from 1979 to 2016, researchers found that the destructive power of tropical cyclones had dramatically increased, with stronger landfalling cyclones lasting longer and tracking further inland.The study, by researchers at the Shenzhen Institute of Meteorological Innovation and the Chinese University of Hong Kong and published in Frontiers in Earth…

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Tropical cyclones in Asia could have double the destructive power by the end of century, study finds

Using data from nearly four decades from 1979 to 2016, researchers found that the destructive power of tropical cyclones had dramatically increased, with stronger landfalling cyclones lasting longer and tracking further inland.

The study, by researchers at the Shenzhen Institute of Meteorological Innovation and the Chinese University of Hong Kong and published in Frontiers in Earth Science, said that tropical cyclones now last between two and nine hours longer and traveled an average of 100 km (62 miles) further inland than they did four decades ago.

The study looked at cyclones over east and southeast Asia and found the Vietnamese capital of Hanoi and the southern China region were hardest hit between 1979 and 2016.

Researchers also found that by the end of the century, the average landfall wind speed over Asian inland regions could increase by two meters per second, or 5 miles per hour. Small increases in top wind speeds of a cyclone can bring much higher levels of destruction.

The study suggests an average cyclone by then will last around 5 hours longer and will travel 92 kilometers (57 miles) farther inland, nearly doubling their destructive power.

Tropical cyclones are among the most dangerous natural disasters, with flooding rainfall, damaging winds and storm surge. Over the past 50 years, these cyclones have led to nearly 780,000 deaths and around $1.4 billion worth of economic losses globally.

People cross the street in the wind and rain in Ningbo on July 25, as Typhoon In-Fa lashes the east coast of China.
In June, Typhoon In-fa and Typhoon Cempaka brought extreme rain of more than 150mm per hour to China’s Henan province, breaking a record in the city of Zhengzhou. More than 300 people were killed in the floods that ravaged central China, officials said.

And in September 2021, the remnants of Hurricane Ida caused torrential rain and flash flooding in New York, leaving at least 50 people dead.

“Both disasters caused huge economic and human losses,” the study’s lead author, Dr Chi-Yung Tam of the Chinese University of Hong Kong said.

Tam and his colleagues are calling for more action to reduce planet-warming greenhouse gas emissions and increase disaster preparedness in Asia.

Intensifying storms

Several studies suggest that warmer ocean temperatures are intensifying tropical cyclones.

One of those studies, from researchers at the University of Wisconsin in Madison and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), looked at nearly 40 years of satellite data of global storms. The study, published last year, found that global warming has increased sea surface temperature in regions where tropical cyclones form. The combination of these warm temperatures, along with changes in atmospheric conditions, have allowed storms to more easily reach higher intensities.
La Niña to batter Australia with rain over the summer in a wet and windy holiday period

If a cyclone intensifies in strength at landfall, it will travel further inland, amplifying its destructive power.

While human-caused global warming is likely fueling the increase in the severity of the storms, natural weather cycles and events can also strengthen — or weaken — the intensity and frequency of cyclones.

Tam said numerical models predict the climate crisis “will likely continue the increasing trend in landfalling typhoons and their impacts on inland regions.”

“More Asian inland regions may be exposed to more severe storm-related disasters in the future as a result of the climate crisis,” he said.

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Travel to Japan during Covid-19: What you need to know before you go

Editor’s Note — Coronavirus cases remain high across the globe. Health officials caution that travel increases your chances of getting and spreading the virus. Staying home is the best way to stem transmission. Below is information on what to know if you still plan to travel, last updated on November 29.(CNN) — If you’re planning…

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Travel to Japan during Covid-19: What you need to know before you go

Editor’s Note — Coronavirus cases remain high across the globe. Health officials caution that travel increases your chances of getting and spreading the virus. Staying home is the best way to stem transmission. Below is information on what to know if you still plan to travel, last updated on November 29.

(CNN) — If you’re planning to travel to Japan, here’s what you’ll need to know and expect if you want to visit during the Covid-19 pandemic.

The basics

Japan was initially lauded for containing the virus during the first wave but has since seen several surges in cases.

Following the identification of the new Omicron variant of the coronavirus, Japan shut its borders to all foreigners except those visiting the country on humanitarian grounds, effective November 30.

Currently there are no exceptions for students or for people visiting family members. The government will revisit these rules if and when the new variant is contained.

What’s on offer

A heady mix of the cutting edge and deeply traditional, Japan remains a major draw for travelers from all over the globe. Whether participating in a traditional tea ceremony in Kyoto, scouring Tokyo’s Akihabara district for tech bargains or soaking in a hot onsen in the forests of Tohoku, this is a country that leaves its mark on all who visit.

Who can go

Japan has some of the most stringent travel restrictions in the world.

Consult MOFA for the latest information.

What are the restrictions?

Those traveling under Japan’s revised business travel rules will need to provide proof of a negative PCR test taken within 72 hours of departure, signed and stamped by the laboratory where it was taken. While they will not need to self-isolate, they will need to provide details of their movements for the following two weeks and not use public transport.

Japan is entirely free of the “state of emergency” or “quasi-state of emergency” designations as of October 1. That is the first time since April that not a single prefecture will be in one of the categories.

Under these states and quasi-states, prefecture governments were allowed to make restrictions about things like crowd sizes and restaurant hours. With those designations lifted, it is possible for venues like bars, malls and cinemas to reopen.

What’s the Covid situation?

As of November 22, Japan had reported 1,725,850 confirmed cases of the virus and 18,343 deaths. These numbers don’t include any positive cases connected to the Olympics or Paralympics. More than 76% of the population is fully vaccinated.

Chief Cabinet Secretary Katsunobu Kato confirmed to local media that his team is exploring options for “vaccine passports.” Business travelers would be prioritized for these at first.

What can visitors expect?

While much of Japan remains open for business, cities are far quieter than usual and the government has the right to request the closure of businesses in areas of high transmission. Masks must be worn in public.

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Joe Minihane, Julia Buckley and Lilit Marcus contributed to this story

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