Is Melbourne more “cultured” than Sydney as Melbournians claim? After spending a week there I have no idea but I did feel the rivalry between the two cities. Melbourne is said to produce some of the best art, music, cuisine, fashion, design and ideas in the country. I personally did not notice that the city had more to offer than Sydney and have to wonder if Melbournians might have the “big brother” complex as Sydney is the larger and more well known city. Although I did really like Melbourne, I cannot say that I prefer it to Sydney. Perhaps I am blinded by the sheer beauty of the Sydney Harbor, which I still consider one of the most beautiful sites in Australia.
Melbourne does have its Yarra River, which winds its way through the Yarra Valley east of Warburton, emptying into Port Phillip Bay. Melbourne has a great public transport system with electrically run trams that reminds me of San Francisco’s MUNI buses. It was very easy for me to walk or take a bus to many of the different neighborhoods of Melbourne.
I spent one day relaxing at St. Kilda’s Beach in South Melbourne. A nice beach, but nothing compared to Sydney’s beautiful beaches. I had a great $10 steak dinner on a patio overlooking a beautiful sunset at the beach. A nice Australian man and his son joined me briefly as they took a break from their bike ride home. I always enjoy talking to the locals! St. Kilda was a very lovely place with many good restaurants, cafes and pubs located along Fitzroy Street.
I visited the Queen Victoria Market where I stocked up on fresh chesses, salami, bread and vegetables. I even found and bought a pair of socks that fit your toes like gloves, which my friend Mary swears by as the best socks to wear while hiking!
The International Comedy Festival was in town during my visit and I was able to see one very funny show. I saw Matt vs. Stupid, a stand up act that jokes about stupidity in the world from advertisements, television, world leaders, etc.
I spent one evening with David, a friend of one of my dad’s coworker, who lives in Melbourne. My dad is always surprised by my ability to talk to anyone and make new friends. He says I have never met a stranger and if I have they don’t stay a stranger for long! He claims I use to be shy and wonders what happened to me to make me change and be so different than the rest of my family? He guesses that maybe he or my mom dropped me on my head!?!?
Although David and I had never met before, we had a fun evening involving pints of Carlton Draught (Melbourne men’s beer of choice), kangaroo dinner, and good conversation regarding both American and Australian politics. We discussed the divide of the country regarding the question of whether or not Australia should become a republic.
Republicanism in Australia is a movement to change Australia’s status as a constitutional monarchy to a republican form of government. Currently, the Queen of England does have the power to intervene in the running of the country; however, she has not.
Those in favor of becoming a republic argue that Australia is an independent country and it is inappropriate for the same person (Queen of England) to be both the head of state of more than one country. They argue that a person who is resident primarily in another country cannot adequately represent Australia.
Those opposing Australia becoming a republic fear that in doing so the country would lose valuable ties with England and perhaps part of their heritage that goes with it. They argue that there is no point in becoming a republic, as they currently live without intervention of the Queen and would be a waste of Parliament’s time. Basically…if it isn’t broken then don’t fix it.
The current Prime Minister of Australia, Kevin Rudd, is hinting a new push for the country to become a republic. David believes Australia will become a republic in his lifetime. If the country voted in favor of becoming a republic, there will be many decisions to be made in regards the structure of the government. A typical proposal for an Australian republic provides for the Queen and Governor General to be replaced by a president. There is much debate on the appointment or election process that would be used and what role such an office would have. I am curious how the country will ultimately vote if given the opportunity.
The city’s Royal Botanical Gardens was quite beautiful and I spent an afternoon lying on a blanket recovering from the previous nights pints which left me with a killer headache! It was heavenly to nap in the gardens on a warm afternoon and chill with my book. Later that evening I went to the Telstra Dome for my first Aussie sporting event.
AFL (Australia Football League…A.K.A: Aussie Rules) is the oldest official contact ball sport in Australia. The first match went for 8 days and originated in the state of Victoria. Today the sport is played nationally, although the biggest support comes from the southern states. The sport reminded me of a mix of American football and soccer. The game is played with a leather Sherrin football very similar to the American football and players can kick or pass the ball. There are 17 players per team on the field and the game is played over four 25-minute quarters. The men wear short shorts and tank tops or “singlets” as the Aussies call them. The object is to kick the ball through the four posts at opposing points of the oval. A goal is worth six points if kicked through the middle two posts, while the outer two posts count for one point. To confuse matters worse, there is two more completely different games of “football” played in Australia: Rugby League and Rugby Union; not to mention soccer, which is also called football by many. I may be sporty but I am not going to pretend to be very interested in or understand all of these types of football. One thing I know for sure…the footy guys are hot!
I left Melbourne feeling that the city would be a great place to live and would like to spend more time there in the future. I am excited to be back in Sydney for the next two weeks, as the city feels more like “home” to me at the moment than anywhere else given the unsettled nature of travels. I am staying with Danny at his cool place at Maroubra Beach. I am very grateful for the free place to stay that has an ocean view, is so close to the beach you can hear the sound of the waves off the patio, and the best company I could ask for! Danny had all sorts of surprises waiting for me at his place; he has to be the most thoughtful guy I have ever met! We had a fun weekend hanging at Bondi Beach on Saturday and I got to watch his soccer game on Sunday. He drove me through the suburb of Sydney where he grew up and we briefly stopped by his parents house. I wasn’t sure about “meeting the parents” as I found it a bit scary but I am glad I did as they were so nice. I always feel like less of a tourist/backpacker when hanging with Aussie Danny.
I plan to be very lazy the next two weeks and prepare for my next trip. My good friend Spencer is coming all the way from San Francisco to travel with me up the East Coast of Australia where we will eventually meet up with our friend Stacy. I can’t wait to show Spence around Sydney and to catch up with all that has been going on back home!
To see all my photos Melbourne CLICK HERE.
This post is sponsored by Stansted Airport Parking.