The 108-degree heat wave at last month’s Australian Open didn’t help Melbourne’s less-than-flattering reputation as a land of sunburn and sprawl. (See also cult sitcoms like Kath & Kim, whose Peg and Kelly Bundy–esque protagonists live in a fictional Melbourne suburb.) But while big sister Sydney is typically considered the urbane one, Melbourne is in fact among the world’s most culturally diverse cities, with residents’ roots in more than a hundred different countries—and an explosion of ethnic restaurants to prove it (from Italian trattorias serving slow-roasted suckling pig to nouveau-Chinese spots specializing in candied-pork-stuffed milk buns). Long labeled as “empty and useless” (in the words of one local architect), Melbourne is now marked by a spectacular juxtaposition of old and new architecture: Victorian landmarks like the garden-flanked Royal Exhibition Building contrast with the kaleidoscopic façade of the new RMIT University monolith, which is part of a sweeping urban-center makeover. And with the city expanding at a rate of about 1,500 people per week—plenty of whom, incidentally, partake in the thriving art and music scenes—Melbourne is Australia’s fastest-growing municipality, poised to outpopulate Sydney by 2037.