Don’t worry, Sydney still holds the treasured position of my favourite Australian city.
I may be a tad biased as I’ve spent two years living in Sydney, but I must admit that Melbourne sure has a lot going for it too. It’s the kind of place that I want to hate but can’t, because who am I kidding? Melbourne is great.
Australia has always had a raging rivalry between Melbourne and Sydney (there’s even a Wiki article on it). Both were competitors for becoming the capital city back in 1901, before some idiots decided that neither of them should take the title.
Both have similar populations between 4-5 million, and are at a similar level of awesomeness… but for very different reasons.
So during my last visit to Melbourne, I decided it’s time to seek out these differences and show the world the ways in which I believe Melbourne is better than Sydney.
1. It’s an alternative paradise
There are areas of Sydney that are hipster havens, but as a visitor, you’re going to have to actively seek them out.
Melbourne is basically an entire hipster city, and everywhere you look you’ll see bearded skateboarders, tattooed baristas, and hobo-looking musicians busking on the street. There’s insanely good coffee throughout the city, and boutique stores for everything imaginable.
And the fact that there are trams, trains, buses and bike lanes in many parts of the CBD make us hipsters ever-so-happy that we don’t need a car to get around.
2. It’s artsy as f*ck
Sorry to be blunt, but it’s true. On the drive from the airport you’ll see some funky coloured steel beams lining the side of the freeway, and this effort to be artsy continues throughout the city.
Federation Square (which is not really a square, by the way) is lined with buildings featuring all sorts of weird angles and colours. Statues of something-that-looks-vaguely-like-an-object appear on street corners and along the riverfront.
And street art is everywhere. Hosier Lane in the CBD is a classic example of how Melbourne has embraced the fact that they want to be the most artsy city in the world by allowing street art to be plastered over every possible blank wall space.
3. It has a crackin’ music scene
Yes, some great music comes out of Sydney and Perth and other parts of Australia, but Melbourne has really got it going.
Some of my faves are Gotye, The Temper Trap, Architecture in Helsinki, and Midnight Juggernauts. I’ve also taken to Courtney Barnett recently, who I think does the perfect job of explaining the local vibe in a nutshell. Check out this list of musicians from Melbourne for a comprehensive list.
And the live music scene in Melbourne tops many other cities – Wikipedia even claims that Melbourne has more live music than Austin, Texas, the home of South by South West. Big claim!
4. The locals look great, all of the time
One of the things I like most about Melbourne is that everyone is dressed in either trendy hipster garb or designer wear. This isn’t to say that Sydneysiders don’t dress nicely, they just have a few more dorky looking tourists thrown in the mix.
You won’t see any track pants, fanny packs, or visors in Melbourne; only good-looking people dressed in their best and most beautiful clothing.
No matter what sub-culture they classify themselves in, Melbournites make sure they do it well.
5. The veggie food is totally on point.
Melbourne was actually the origin of Lord of the Fries. What’s that, you ask? Well, most vegetarians would know that there comes a time when you’re hungover as hell and just want to eat something terrible, but have to settle for hot chips because greasy shit isn’t usually vegetarian friendly.
Well, Lord of the Fries is the answer to this problem. I swear to god, their cheeseburger tastes exactly like one from McDonalds, and therefore makes me feel as though I’m cheating on my vegetarianism every time I consume one.
And it’s not just Lord of the Fries that Melbourne has going for it. Veggie food is in abundance, and the brunch scene is like nothing I’ve encountered anywhere else. It’s like visiting the vegetarian equivalent of heaven.
Melbourne does have some downsides too:
- It’s bloody cold and windy (I took to naming it ‘Coldbourne‘ on my last visit. Hilarious, I know).
- The airport is pretty far out and there’s no easy way of getting there unless you’re willing to fork out $18pp for a Skybus ticket.
- Having to paying $10 for a public transit Myki card, even if you’re visiting for just one day, is totally ridiculous.
But even with all of these, Melbourne is pretty damn cool. And you know what? Even though I’ve visited over a dozen times, I’ll keep going back again and again.