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Lonely Planet Melbourne & Victoria (Travel Guide) Paperback – July 1, 2011
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I do concur with a previous reviewer's feelings that it seems like a compendium of google searches. The reviews do seem a bit removed and makes you wonder if the authors actually visited many of the places, which used to be the big drawcard for LP. However, the google search compendium issue isnt necessarily a negative issue - if you're travelling and have limited time/access to the interwebs its useful to have reviews easily on hand.
Although most of my review seems negative, I do regularly pull this book out to give me ideas for what to do on the weekends so it is still useful. If you are familiar with LP and like what they offer, I think you will be satisfied with this book. Nowadays if Im going on a major trip I bring an LP plus one of its competitors - the positives of each typically outweigh the negatives of each. I'd recommend doing that with this book if you're coming to Melbourne/Victoria for a major trip.
(1) The map of Melbourne covers way too small an area of the city.
(2) There are way to many places in the State of Victoria, including major towns, that are given short shrift, if they are mentioned at all. If you are going to do a guidebook that focuses on one Australian state, IMHO you should have an entry for each town of note (lets say, over 2000 population), but there are many glaring omissions in this book.
(3) Many of the reviews seem superficial, at best. In fact, they seem so superficial and divorced from reality that it seems like the authors just hit Google to see what was what in a given town and cut and paste that into the relevant sections, with certain modifications for the style of LP books.
To be fair, there has been a rather severe and hideous departure from a previous high level of quality for all LP books in recent years, and it seems like the editors have been pushing the authors to cut costs around the board by simply doing internet research instead of actually visiting places for each new edition--it really shows and the new owners of LP (the BBC) should be ashamed of themselves, but it seems that ever since the company was sold to the BBC in 2007 (or 75% of it, anyway), this has been the trend for all of their publications.
After traveling with this book, I would consider it little more (and in many cases, a lot less) than being a conveniently printed and bound compendium of information I could have compiled using Google at home.
One word of advice--do not even read the "Places to stay" section unless you want hostel type accommodation. The "Places To Stay" section is a total joke, worse than a joke--it leaves out the best places to stay almost anywhere. Tripadvisor.com is a much better source of information (and crowd-sourced information, at that) than the LP has been for a good long time.
This will probably be the last LP guidebook I ever buy--it has become a total scam.