I write this the day before we leave Sydney for Melbourne. It’s been raining and/or overcast here since Saturday and my Sydney shoes are sitting on the front verandah, damp and cold. Yes, I have Sydney shoes.
For years people would tell me I dressed ‘so Melbourne’. When I moved to Melbourne, I realised how ill-equipped I was for a Melbourne winter. I don’t own a puffy gortex jacket. None of my coats have hoods and the only pair of boots I have are my Doc Martins that I would wear ironically in a Sydney summer in the 90s because I was tragically hip.
It’s cold in Melbourne in winter. It is also invariably and, sometimes spitefully, wet. This used to be my Sydney defence when Melbourne would be, once again, voted best, most liveable, and/or friendliest city in the world.
“But the weather…” I would say.
I moved to Melbourne during the heat wave at the beginning of the year and left to visit Sydney only days after snow fell just an hour’s drive from my new Melbourne home. But ask me about Melbourne and weather doesn’t get a mention.
When people (mostly Sydneysiders) ask why we made the move I don’t really have an answer. I like it there, I say. I mention a few restaurants and shops I like, say something about the public transport and leave it at that. Melbournians don’t really ask. Instead, like Moira from our local dog park, she offers us some champagne and cheesecake and simply says ‘welcome’ with a knowing smile.
Conde Nast Traveller’s readers recently named Melbourne as the world’s friendliest city. Yesterday, the Economist Intelligence Unit’s (EIU) Global Liveability Index found Melbourne to be the world’s most liveable city for the fourth consecutive year.
It’s also home to the world’s best pizza, which can be found at 400 Gradi (although I’m partial to the $4 pizza at Fitzroy’s Bimbo Deluxe). And its food scene means that we rarely eat at the same place twice, barring of course Chef Lagenda in Flemington (eggplant in laksa is awesome).
And the music. Walk down the streets of Melbourne and you can follow a tune as though it were visible. Bennetts Lane Jazz Club, dubbed the best jazz club in the world by Lonely Planet, is, like a lot of things in Melbourne, found at the end of a dead end laneway. There’s also AC/DC Lane (home to Cherry Bar and, I assume, the most pinched street sign in town), Northcote Social Club, Festival Hall, The Forum, The Palais Theatre and the young Japanese guy on Bourke Street who is still looking for a band.
Back when the ads for Melbourne were of a girl chasing a ball of wool, we visited on a long weekend. After a big night out, we stopped for Lord of the Fries (now in Sydney too) and wondered what to do. We decided on a game. We would walk until we hit a curb and take turns in choosing a direction. We found ourselves in a small crowd of people who were sticking wet fallen leaves to an ugly white tiled wall. They used the leaves to spell out messages of love and peace.
If you ask me what makes Melbourne awesome, it’s moments like that.
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