An age old debate. Sydney technically discovered first, Melbourne technically the capital for 30 years. Sydney has the harbour, Melbourne has the Yarra. Sydney has the beaches, Melbourne has the bay. I could wax poetic for pages! Let’s be honest, I should have aptly named this post: A tale of two cities. Initially I was nervous about writing this post, the ongoing debate between the two cities has never really subsided since European settlement, but I feel somewhat confident having experienced life in both, with perhaps just a dash of bias.
Having just returned from Melbourne a few weeks back, it hit me. Holy shit! Melbourne is bloody fantastic. Maybe it’s because there’s just not that much to do in Sydney’s winter (for a salt seeker like me) or maybe I’ve been away from Victoria for too long. But the question has been posed: Is Melbourne truly more interesting than Sydney? I wanted to investigate.
Let’s talk about ethnicity
Melbourne has the largest Greek speaking population outside of Greece and the Vietnamese surname Nguyen is the second most common in Melbourne’s phone book after Smith (thanks Wiki!) Meaning: outside of a great multicultural environment, gastronomically speaking there is scope for more exceptional eateries, more adaptations and more fusion foods.
Sydney in comparison, whilst being the most populous city in Australia, the suburbs within the inner east are some of the most affluent and advantaged areas… it’s essentially the least disadvantaged area in the country. The 2011 Australian census found the Northern Beaches to be the most white and mono-ethnic district in Australia… which makes me really sad (because that’s where I live). But that’s a discussion for another day.
Sure, Sydney has culture (and great food!), but it’s spread far and wide. The nightlife has been coaxed out of all hiding holes and is now an endangered species. It was eradicated by introduced lock out laws back in 2014 and has never quite been the same. The atmosphere of Sydney CBD past eleven in the evening is something out of a John Marsden novel.
So while we could travel far and wide for the ‘best Vietnamese in Sydney’ all that sea salt has gone straight to our heads and we’re put out if asked to leave our suburb for the night. What, take a thirty-minute ferry, a train and a bus to Cabramatta? Nah, I’ll stay put. Despite how good the food is!
Let’s talk public transport
For us, the last ferry leaves at midnight, so while Sydney’s licensing laws are pushing us to leave the house earlier, we’d still need to clock-watch regardless. I do often feel like Cinderella though and that’s somewhat ‘fun’.
In my opinion, Melbourne is a little more expressive than Sydney. Fashion, flavour and flare are at your fingertips as you arrive and a simple walk through Collingwood’s Smith Street or Northcote’s High Street or Balaclava’s Carlisle Road and you’ll be hit in the face with a feeling that makes you want to be apart of it all. In Melbourne I find the public transport is widely spread, frequent and reliable.
For me the thing holding me back from moving to Melbourne a second time was and always will be the chilly weather, I couldn’t cope with four seasons in one day and the long winters, oh wow! And that trying to find a surf beach is a long drive away. Never the less, I’ll always love it and always enjoy visiting. However, Sydney has my heart for now.
So, read on below for my sweet cheat sheet of Melbourne VS Sydney, because if you liked it in one city, you might like this in the other:
Sydney: Indu in the heart of Sydney’s CBD.
Melbourne: Tonka amongst the many laneways of Melbourne’s CBD.
Dinner (A little bit fancy)
Sydney: Pilu by the lapping shores of Freshwater Beach.
Melbourne: Dinner by Heston near the docks of Southbank, within the labyrinth of the Crown complex.
Sydney: Shuk in the soul of infamous Bondi Beach.
Melbourne: Industry Beans down the backstreet and to the left of Fitzroy’s hubbub.
Sydney: Iggy’s the best damn sourdough you have ever tried, Bronte.
Melbourne: Lune down the backstreet and to the right of Fitzroy’s hubbub.
Sydney: The Baxter Inn a sophisticated swill house in the CBD.
Melbourne: The Everleigh (despite my odd experience) the cocktail purists of Fitzroy.
So there you have it. Do you agree? Do you disagree? It may be a little bias as we stayed in Fitzroy but don’t hold that against me! Let me know your thoughts by commenting below.
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Still thinking about Melbourne? Here’s how to nail a weekend in Melbourne!