Melbourne has been very underwhelming and I’m not sure what I’m missing. You may be wondering if Melbourne is worth visiting and hopefully I can provide an answer.
Canberra took the politics, Sydney took the business and Melbourne held onto the culture.
Melbourne has been described to me as the cultural capital of Australia. Once the actual capital of Australia (handing the title to Canberra in 1927) it is said that Canberra took the politics, Sydney took the business and Melbourne held onto the culture. After hearing this I decided it was worth starting my journey in Australia in Melbourne before going up the coast.
But I just can’t seem to find the culture. Maybe this makes me uncultured – was Melbourne worth visiting after all?
Is Melbourne Worth Visiting?
Let me try to explain in a little more detail. In England I have spent my most recent years living in Preston, a grotty, grimey, city – one that has a fond place in my heart as home.
I left Preston to come to Australia and explore what I had been told was a beautiful country, the friendliest people, a land of wonder and beauty.
So I booked a Working Holiday Visa and here we are in Melbourne, waiting out our first month in an Airbnb in Footscray, Melbourne, because we (Beth and I) were told it can take up to a month for your Tax File Number to arrive (it actually took 2 weeks). We’ve seen everything we wanted to see and are stuck here spending money we don’t have waiting for the other two weeks to tick by.
En-route to Melbourne we visited Wellington, New Zealand, for three weeks to spend time with Beth’s Aunt and Uncle who live out there.
Wellington, the capital city of New Zealand, was beautiful. A city that has one main train station, with 9 platforms, one of which isn’t often used and is mainly a walkway to the Westpac Stadium.
A city where you can walk from one side to the other quite comfortably as it’s not actually that big.
A city that is very clean, hardly any pollution, friendly people, gorgeous harbour with views to die for and an amazing central museum, Te Papa, which for the most part is free!
Wellington was everything, in my eyes, that Melbourne was sold to me as. So although I loved my time in Wellington after nearly three weeks I was ready to move on to see something new.
When we arrived in Melbourne an Uber took us to our apartment in Footscray and on the drive into Footscray we were offered glorious views of the cityscape, skyscrapers shining in the afternoon sun and I was really excited to get out and explore the city.
The reality though was a lot different to what I expected.
On our first day journeying into the CBD I couldn’t help comparing everything to the city we’d just left behind.
Where Wellington was clean, clear, Melbourne was dirty and smoggy.
Where beautiful views across the harbour greeted you from many angles in Wellington, Melbourne feels like skyscraper, after skyscraper.
One of my favourite cities in the world is New York, which is all the things Melbourne is but I expected all of the above from New York. The picture of Melbourne I had conjured up in my head was fulfilled by Wellington.
Therein lies my problem, compared to the dirty, impoverished city of Preston which I call home Melbourne IS full of culture and beauty. It would be the kind of city I’d want to see, the kind of city I was sold.
But compared to Wellington? I’m not sure another city could beat Wellington.
Of course, there are a few things worth noting as to why this is an unfair comparison and why Melbourne may be worth visiting after all.
The entire country of New Zealand has almost the same population as the city of Melbourne, so with more people comes more mess. A bigger strain on services. Higher rates of crime. Higher rates of unsavoury characters. Higher rates of people walking into you because they’re glued to their phones.
I also feel like I’m getting a bit bored with city life. There isn’t a huge of amount of activities that excite us in Melbourne city centre, or are within our budget, and this was true for in Wellington too, even more so as it’s such a smaller city. But in New Zealand we were fortunate to have a car to use and some of our favourite activities were out in the local area, not in the city itself.
To combat this city fatigue we have a few road trips planned soon though and I’m hoping getting out of the city and exploring more of the country will refresh me.
We’ve just been to Phillip Island to see the koalas and the infamous penguin parade and we visited the Dandenong Ranges.
Then at the end of our month here were will be touring the Great Ocean Road for three days before heading off to Sydney for two nights and then onwards up the East coast with our Greyhound Hop On Hop Off passes.
So would I recommend visiting Melbourne?
I would definitely say Melbourne is worth a visit but not for a month. Maybe if you were to work here and you could justify the expensive tourist stuff like the Skydeck etc. A lot of people fly into Sydney and then go up the East Coast and skip Melbourne but I would consider adding it to your list and then moving up the coast from here.