Sydney and Melbourne are the two biggest cities in Australia, and they are by far the most popular ones to visit as well: Sydney has more than five million inhabitants and Melbourne has a good four and a half. Each claims to be the cultural and commercial capital of Australia. They compete in food, weather, living costs, attractions, sports and so much more. As the Chamber has an office in each of the cities, we thought that now is the time to compare them ourselves. To avoid this article turning into a book, we cut it down to three categories: food, weekend and public transport. Here are some thoughts about those fields, according to our Melbourne intern, Stephanie, and our Sydney intern, Elena.
Elena (Sydney): Sydney has some of the top-rated restaurants in the country and if you have the money, you will get high-end dining experiences with fancy food that you have not seen before. But as an intern, you can’t really afford that. The food and coffee culture is huge in Sydney. There are great cafes and restaurant everywhere you go. Even on my way to work, I have to resist six Brekkie places and need to turn down over 10 take away coffees. My favourite thing about food in Sydney is the places where you can get it. Speaking of the Grounds of Alexandria, Balmoral Beach or Circular Quay for example, you definitely get good views and a great atmosphere with your order. The last awesome thing about food in Sydney: markets! Every Saturday, there a markets all around the city. Nearly every suburb has one and you can find a great variety of delicious, affordable street food.
Stephanie (Melbourne): Food – that’s what Melbourne is famous for! And I can totally agree, pretty much everywhere you can find very diverse and delicious food. From little alleys with food from all over the world to food courts to innumerable restaurants of all sorts. I love walking through the alleys just to marvel at all the different food in these cute, little shops. The people here not only love to go out for breakfast, lunch and dinner, but also enjoy their many cafés with desserts, cupcakes and danishes. Melbourne is known for its food scene – maybe even the best in the world?
Stephanie: Melbourne and its surroundings offer a wide range of activities, sightseeing, night life, nature and wildlife. You will never get bored here as there is so much to explore. Especially in the summertime, I love to visit a new beach every day, go to open-air concerts or food truck festivals, as well as explore the beautiful nature close and far away from Melbourne. One example is the Wilson Promontory and the world-famous Great Ocean Road. Australia is known for surfing, but unfortunately only a few beaches around Melbourne are really good for surfing. In winter, however, there are opportunities for sports in the snow of the Australian Alps, which are only a three-hours drive from Melbourne (yes, three hours is a short trip in Australia). My personal favourites are the Mornington Peninsula (with its wineries and ocean views), the many wildlife parks and the penguin parade on Phillip Island (a little surfer island and the only area without McDonald’s, Hungry Jacks (Burger King) or KFC).
Elena: This city offers a huge variety of weekend activities. To begin with the obvious, there are well over 70 beaches around the city and no matter where you are, it does not take long to get to one of them. The most famous ones are undoubtedly Manly and Bondi, which are also the surf hotspots of the city. If you don’t feel like lying in the sun, there are plenty of beautiful walks to do along the coast as well. Other than that, it takes quite a while to see all the sights in Sydney and there is always another suburb to explore. If the weather is not good (it usually is), there are plenty of other options like visiting a museum (especially the free ones), doing any kind of indoor sport, going to the cinema, the theatre or see an opera in the most famous opera house in the world. For going out, you need to know the right places and you can have awesome nights in great bars with live music. Furthermore, Sydney has a lot to offer when it comes to special events. One example would be a silent disco in the aquarium that we went to or the Vivid Festival that is on right now.
One thing is clear: it doesn’t get boring in either of the cities. For every taste and for every time of the year, there is something going on and the weekends always go by way too quickly.
Elena: This is a sensitive topic in most big cities I know. Sydney is trying, but I guess five million people are just too many too handle without trouble. The trains are not bad; they are quick and on time. However, they are absolutely packed at rush hour. The bus service offers a wide range of lines that operate frequently throughout the day, but the traffic in Sydney hinders their efficiency. A tram system is supposed to solve those problems, but for the moment this means that there are massive construction sites in the CBD and the major part of George Street is closed for some time. Two really good aspects about Sydney’s transport system are the ferry network and a special Sunday rule. You can catch a ferry from circular quay to many different places. No traffic, most of the time not as many people as on the busses and on top of that, a beautiful view of Sydney’s skyline. The second thing is the $2.50 rule on Sundays. No matter where you go on a Sunday, with an Opal card it will only cost you $2.50. Even if you are doing a longer trip to the Blue Mountains or Palm Beach, it is only $2.50. Considering all the pros and cons of Sydney’s transport, my best way to get to work is still walking.
Stephanie: I think the public transport is absolutely great in Melbourne. By public transport you can reach pretty much everything in and around the city. Even along the Great Ocean Road are opportunities to catch a train. Due to expensive parking, the trains are very busy especially in the mornings and after work time, but the government is even planning two new city stations which will reduce crowding at all ‘City Loop Stations’. Towns far away from the cities can be reached by buses. And the greatest thing… within the city there is a zone in which travellers don’t have to pay for their rides and even tourists have the opportunity to discover the city by a free city circle.
Sydney and Melbourne are both great in many different aspects. Two cities that are definitely liveable and we both enjoy being in one of them for our six-month internships. The question which is the better city probably will never be answered. As it is the case with Düsseldorf-Cologne, Warsaw-Krakow or Barcelona-Madrid, this rivalry will continue to split the Australian population and you are either a Melbournian or a Sydneysider in heart – or maybe both?
Writen by Elena Bergmann and Stephanie Welzel