The Rivalry Between Melbourne and Sydney

aerial view from your flight window of Botany Bay in Sydney

Window view of Botany Bay in Sydney on board your flight from Melbourne.

Some topics just should not be discussed in polite company: politics, religion, or whether Sydney or Melbourne is the better city. The rivalry between Melbourne and Sydney began in the 19th century, when gold was discovered near Melbourne, and their population quickly outpaced that of Sydney’s.

Of course, Sydney has caught up with and even surpassed Melbourne population-wise, and it is now the largest city in Australia. “The Economist” has ranked it as one of the top 10 most livable cities in the world.

Sydney has a pleasant climate, plenty of open spaces, easy access to waterways, and a number of gardens, including the Royal National Park and the Royal Botanic Gardens.

Sydneysiders are a metropolitan people, hailing from such diverse locales as the United Kingdom, China, Italy, and India. Nearly a third were born overseas. Cultural diversity is celebrated through the Sydney Festival, the musical Big Day Out, and the Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras. The Sydney Opera House is one of the most distinctive and recognizable structures in the world.

That’s not to say Sydney is superior to Melbourne, however, and there are plenty of Melbournians who would be quick to point out their own city’s numerous highlights. Melbourne may be only the second largest city in Australia in terms of population, but its numbers are growing every year.

The climate is moderate and changeable, offering plenty of variety to those who become easily bored. Like Sydney, Melbourne has received the honor of being named one of “The Economist’s” most livable cities. Also like Sydney, Melbourne once hosted the summer Olympics, back in 1956. They are even hoping to bring the Olympics back in 2028.

Melbourne is home to the Australian Ballet, The Victorian Arts Centre, and numerous theatres and galleries, including the National Gallery of Victoria, the oldest in Australia. Melbourne has a large immigrant population, a comparatively low cost of living, and affordable housing that has made it a popular place for transplanted Sydneysiders.

In the end, which city wins the long-standing rivalry: Sydney with its metropolitan flair and comfortable climate or Melbourne with its artistic bent and indisputable ambitions? Is it time for this ancient animosity to come to an agreement that each city has plenty to offer its inhabitants?

It has been said that iron sharpens iron, and if anything is obvious from a comparison of these two spectacular cities, it is that their friendly competition is only making each of them better and keeping them at the top of their game.