If I were to compare Sydney and Melbourne to people, I’d say that Sydney is one of those naturally beautiful but vacuous people who just sits there expecting everyone to adore them just for how they look and Melbourne is one of those plain looking people, who has been forced to develop an interesting personality to attract people.
I not only live in Sydney, I love Sydney, but I also have to say that during my recent visit to Melbourne, I was left with the feeling that Sydney is somewhat lacking. Sydney just seems to be relying on its natural beauty, which comes from being located on a spectacular harbour. Although Sydney has the world-famous Opera house, and the clunky Sydney Harbour Bridge, it’s not a particularly nice city, to walk around. Once one gets away from the harbour, most of Sydney is merely functional rather than beautiful.
There have been articles in the Sydney Morning Herald describing a recent visit by a Danish urban planner, Jan Gehl and his comments about Sydney. Gehl was quoted as saying that Sydney “is a doughnut, because it has nothing in the centre.” I couldn’t agree more.
Melbourne on the other hand has instituted changes suggested by Prof Gehl after studies his team conducted in 1994 and 2004, that have completely transformed that city into a much more liveable place.
Melbourne has many kilometres of cycleways that encourage people to get exercise, and reduce the amount of cars on the road. There is also much more public art in Melbourne. I really enjoyed seeing Duncan Stemler’s “Blowhole”,
a 15 metre (50ft) high wind powered sculpture set in a children’s playground, and John Kelly’s joyously quirky “Cow up a tree”, not only put a smile on my face, it brightened up the rest of my day.
As a matter of fact, many public structures in Melbourne exhibit beauty in their design, more than mere functionality.
When I told my friend that I was going to Melbourne, she recommended that my wife and I take our bicycles. Luckily, I took that advice and spent a few days cycling around Melbourne’s beautiful art filled streets. We’ll be going back to Melbourne again, we loved the place.
As for Sydney… get your act together, Melbourne’s kicking our collective butts!
This post was first posted on the 29th of January 2008