All that land and all that water
For that one sweet promenade.”
‑ Australian folk legend Paul Kelly, pining for his beloved Melbourne
A woeful lack of international flights means too many visitors leave Melbourne off their itinerary in favour of the well-worn tourist path of Sydney, Uluru (also known as Ayers Rock), Kakadu National Park and the Great Barrier Reef. But if you’re willing, you won’t be disappointed.
Aussie-rules football: Melbourne is home to the Australian game, and Melburnians are fanatical about it. And ladies … the BODIES on these guys must be seen to be believed.
· Cafe society: Sydney is tourist-heavy and in-your-face. Melbourne, on the other hand, is subtle, refined and quietly cool. Melburnians don't have to try that hard. They know their coffee and their alcohol ‑ and they know how to enjoy it right.
· Fashion: Even the world’s top dogs decided Melbourne was the place to set up shop, including haute couture stars Donna Karan, Armani and Versace. Homegrown designers are becoming big names, and the Melbourne Fashion Festival, on next month, is a huge draw.
· Sport: Melbourne's got the tennis (Australian Open), the Formula One (Grand Prix), the best two-mile gallopers in the world (Melbourne Cup), a burgeoning soccer and rugby league scene, international cricket and, of course, Aussie rules.
· Food: Melbourne is the undisputed champion here. The restaurants are world leaders and you can eat your way around the globe without ever leaving the city.
· Old money versus new: Melburnians prefer the understated elegance of suburbs like Toorak and Brighton. Sydney's brash harboursiders look at life from way up on high.
· Culture: Melbourne is definitely Australia's cultural capital. It's got the best art gallery in the Southern Hemisphere and more performance venues than any similar-sized city outside New York.
· Weather: Melbourne may have brisk winters and a reputation for four seasons in one day. But the truth is, Sydney generally gets more rain.
· Festivals: Melbourne's got the hugely popular International Comedy Festival, Melbourne Food & Wine Festival, Moomba (a sort of mishmash that's very popular with the locals) and the International Film Festival and the Queer Festival.
· The look: OK, OK, so Sydney Harbour is hard to beat for looks. But get to Melbourne for views of another sort: watch the sun go down in St. Kilda, wander the brilliant Royal Botanical Gardens (among the world's best), stroll around Albert Park (a city park with a man-made lake and a great round-trip drive that doubles as the F1 race track), get out on Port Phillip Bay (where dolphins delight), float down the Yarra River, catch some rays on Brighton Beach (with its photogenic bathing boxes), and ply the city streets by old-fashioned tram.