A Tale Of Two Cities

The rivalry between Melbourne and Sydney has existed as long as both cities; it was so contentious that when Australia became increasingly independent from the UK and had to decide on a capital city, the two couldn’t agree and so a third city – Canberra – was planned and built almost exactly between the two.

It’s no surprise, then, that amongst backpackers, the question of which one prefers is hotly contested. Commonly, the answer is Melbourne – deemed the “cultural capital” of Australia, its overcast “European” weather probably doesn’t hurt its reputation amongst the heat-intolerant tourists. But it is Sydney that stole my affections; iconic Sydney with its opera house (an interesting story unto itself) and harbour bridge. And no, my opinion definitely wasn’t affected by the blue, cloudless skies experienced there…

I suspect Melbourne, with its hipster little cafes and restaurants and entertainment options, scores high for residents. But as a tourist, it feels bland; a city with no landmarks (at least not yet; the Eureka tower is the tallest building in the Southern Hemisphere, but it isn’t’ exactly iconic) and a city centre that feels too new, too uniform. Where Melbourne really shines is as a basecamp: the Great Ocean Road is a stone’s throw away, as is the quaint historic port of Echuca, frequented by colonial paddlesteamers.

Sydney, on the other hand, is a tourist’s dream; apart from the better weather, it is the city associated with this great country. Taking a selfie against its famous harbour leaves no one in any doubt as to where you are – the same cannot be said for its sister city. Older buildings are nestled amongst the high rises of (what I assume to be) the financial district. A spectacular coastal walk between Coogee and the infamous Bondi beach is a stone’s throw away…

In real terms, there’s small change between the two. I enjoyed my stay in both, and marginally preferred Sydney. If I were to live there though…I’d probably choose Melbourne.

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