Melbourne vs Sydney

An Outsiders Perspective

Note from Ms D: I made a new friend recently, a talented photographer named Ernesto who popped up at a Secret Foodies one night last month. When he returned home to San Francisco he sent out this email. I asked if I could post it to my site. He graciously indulged the idea. Happy reading. xxMs D

For those of you who’ve had the opportunity to visit Australia, you may not be aware of the rivalry between Sydney and Melbourne. For those of you who live there, you are very much aware of the depth of this rivalry. As a first timer to Oz, I didn’t realise the magnitude and intensity of such pride. I spent 2 weeks in Oz, with my first week in Melbourne. When asked by the locals where else I had planned on visiting, I told them “Sydney”. Their response: “I don’t even know why you’re bothering to go there. Melbourne is sooo much better!”
As I checked out of my hotel in Melbourne, the agent asked, “So where are you off to now, Mr. Delfino?”
“Sydney for my last week in Australia.”
“Well you will have a horrible time there since it’s not the best place to visit.”
When I checked in to my hotel in Sydney, I was greeted by the hotel agent with: “Welcome to Sydney, Mr. Delfino. First time in Australia?”
“Yes. I just spent one week in Melbourne and now 1 week here in Sydney.”
“Well I’m not sure why you bothered even visiting Melbourne. Sydney is sooo much better.”
…and that’s just a small taste of that rivalry.
So for all of you dying to know, including those who’ve never been, here’s the final analysis:


Melbourne is more cosmopolitan and I found it to be very culturally rich, and very pedestrian friendly. Though not known for their weather, they make up for it in other ways. It’s easy to get around, public transport is relatively cheap – $7 gets you a day pass to take the bus, train, or tram all throughout the city. It has a café culture and alfresco dining is very common. As a self-proclaimed foodie and freelance food pornographer, I found the food here just absolutely exquisite. The vibe reminds me very much of San Francisco – classy, hip, filled with intellectual fervour, and this subtle desire to party. It reminds me of a cross between Vancouver, Seattle, and Berlin. Likewise, the women here carry the same class. Mostly brunettes and very attractive. Here is a link to the photos I took of this wonderful city. I hope you are able to live vicariously through them:


What Melbourne lacks Sydney makes up for. Hands down a much prettier city, and to me, one of the prettiest cities in the world. People always comment on the Harbour, the Opera House, the Harbour Bridge,  and the beaches. This is reflective of the amount of fotos I took of this city. There is a 4-1 women to men ratio here. And because women seem more abundant, I noticed more attractive women here. A lot of blondes. Sydney is much more laid back. The weather here is almost always perfect. It reminds me of a combo between San Diego and Los Angeles. The vibe, unfortunately, is closer to that of LA where there are heaps of places to “see and be seen,” where “you are what you drive or wear.” Physical appearance seems to be of utmost importance. The beaches here are spectacular HUGE plus, so the combo of “city” and beach gives Sydney an advantage to those who want the best of both worlds. The down side is that Sydney is more expensive and I didn’t find it as easy to get around. Nevertheless, I hope you enjoy the photos I captured:
So after “phoning a friend”, here’s my final answer:

At the end of the day, what makes a city to me is the people. I came to Australia by myself, not knowing a soul. I left Australia meeting some quality people and making some lifelong mates. I found Aussies to be robust, open, forthright, friendly, “live for now, why wait for tomorrow?” kind of people, exhibiting their own aloha spirit. Americans, especially women, need to take a few lessons from their Aussie counterparts. This is what made my trip and makes me want to return. It is because of those people that I fell in love with Australia
Comparing Sydney to Melbourne is not possible, they’re both so different.  If I were to choose a winner, it would be ME. As a self-proclaimed jet-setter and world traveler, I’ve been fortunate enough to have visited 26 different countries across 5 continents. And of all those countries, Australia is the one that left me with one of the biggest impressions. I win because I got to experience something very few people in this great world get to experience. A visit to a land so far away and yet filled with people with so much heart, so much aloha. My only regret is having waited this long to visit.
I also consider the winner to be the people of Australia for having something like Oz to call home and claim their own. It now makes sense to me when they sing the following lyrics:
“I’ve been to cities that never close down
From New York to Rio and old London town
But no matter how far, or how wide I roam
I still call Australia homeI’m always traveling, I love being free
And so I keep leaving the sun and the sea
But my heart lies waiting over the foam
I still call Australia home”

A big thanks to those of you who helped make my trip so amazing. To those of you who have yet to go, life’s short. Get there quick…especially before the US dollar gets any weaker!
All my best….Ernesto




  • Interesting article. I think the rivalry between both cities isn’t as strong as it was 20 years ago. These days it seems more one-sided where militant Melbournites have more to say about it than people in Sydney do. We just don’t care in Sydney.
    Many places in Sydney may be more show than tell but that probably means you’re hanging around the eastern suburbs and inner city a little too much.
    BTW I love Melbourne, I just happened to have got to Sydney first

  • Clark Kent says:

    Hey Ms. D – thanks for posting :)

  • John…thanks for the post and feedback. Fair assessment, especially since you were spot on – most of my time in Sydney was indeed spent in the eastern suburbs and city. I’d be keen to see what my experience would be like in the summer time, including other parts of town. I regret not having visited Newtown. Cheers from San Fran…

  • Jenny says:

    I spend half my time in Melbourne for work but live and grew up in Sydney. I have to say, Sydney, although the traffic and expensive travel costs, Sydney is so much more laid back with gorgeous beaches, pubs and pockets of multiculture in our suburbs. That’s not to say that I don’t love Melbourne, it’s my fav weekend getaway but I wouldn’t be able to live there… where are the beaches!?! :)

  • vini says:

    I’ll be straight to the point in saying I’m from Sydney. From travelling and living all over the world, this ‘rivalry’ only exists within Melbourne folk.Every Sydney person I speek to, they love going to Melbourne.I think it’s a Melbourne ‘small town’ menatlity thing because Sydney gets all the media exposure.
    I haven’t been that far south since I was a kid.From what I hear and see about Melbourne, I would absolutely love to live there one day.In fact, I would die an unhappy man if I didn’t.
    They are two different places.Something we should all feel lucky about. having such 2 great choices !
    The way I see it, geographics and climate rule our lives.Sydney has so many natural wonders and retreats I don’t think anyone in this universe knows what’s on their doorstep.
    Melbourne is a secret diamond in a country which knows only gems.
    Honestly, I’m jealous of the people in Melbourne. I think the people of Melbourne are secretly jealous of what sydney has too.

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