Melbourne or Sydney?

Old Jun 15th, 2009, 09:54 AM
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Melbourne or Sydney?

I'm in the early stages of planning a trip to Australia and am wondering which city, Melbourne or Sydney, would be the best to visit. Which one has the most attractions? I'm planning to go in September or October.
PollyR is offline  
Old Jun 15th, 2009, 10:30 AM
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There are some ideas here:

FWIW, my vote is for Sydney, if you must choose only one.
Orlando_Vic is offline  
Old Jun 15th, 2009, 02:14 PM
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Rather than do a count on the number of attractions of each, what is it you are attracted to and do remember that perhaps more so than a lot of countries a city visit alone can still have you missing the best.
Bushranger is offline  
Old Jun 16th, 2009, 03:34 AM
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Depends what you like - Sydney is glitzy, bigger, and has the harbour, Blue Mountains, beaches and older buildings (The Rocks). Melbourne has crappier weather (cold and rain) but is much better at fashion, culture / high culture, comedy (I think because people have to stay indoors). Sydney usually has a rainy season in Sept / Oct - think heavy subtropical storms and come prepared with a good umbrella and appropriate footwear. Melbourne may still be quite cold at that time of year too. Both have a great restaurant scene. In Sydney Cockle Bay has good restaurants, in Melbourne try Lygon St in Carlton.
lavandula is offline  
Old Jun 16th, 2009, 04:17 AM
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Sydneys main advantage over Melbourne is the Harbour and proximity to Ocean beaches but don't know that I'd necessarily describe Sydney as glitzy nor is it so much larger nor is Melbournes weather always so crappier, but usually a tad cooler being further south and changes can be colder but there are many days when because of variability Melbourne may have weather as warm as or warmer than Sydney.

From another thread:

with Sydney and Melbourne only an hour apart by air you could possibly cover both to some extent as they both have their Australiana.

Sydney is the nominal birthplace of British entry upon the land with The Rocks precinct of early buildings being accompanied by the Circular Quay ferry terminal synomonous with the grand harbour and nearby standout structures such as the Sydney Harbour bridge and Opera House all emphasising that harbour which is a great feature of Sydney even if shores are hugely developed but still some wooded parks about headlands.
The total package making it more the tourists city.

Melbourne on the other hand established at the head of a bay has no grand harbour but is often regarded as a more livable if slightly cooler in temperature city, it having a great reputation for dining opportunities and other nightlife, it is also regarded as the sporting capital of Australia, something that runs in the blood of our nation much as it does with the US too.

Though Melbourne also does not have the blue mountains as a backdrop nor national parks on southern and northern doorsteps as Sydney does, it does have many other attractions within easy reach and winery areas in particular you'll find much closer to Melbourne than you do for Sydney.
With most of Australia running from open undulating farmland into barren desert like areas, Melbourne is surrounded by country more akin to that than Sydney is.

A few more highlights of both:

has surf beaches close by and can likely be a tad warmer, great seaside villages down the south coast, more urban on north coast but still some great locations.
Houseboats on the Hawkesbury River just to Sydneys north.
The Blue Mountains can be done as a day trip using public transport though hiring a car for a couple of days may be far more rewarding and south or north coasts would also be best done over at least a couple of days by car.

Both cities have some good walking around interesting landmarks or in Sydneys case an Ocean cliffs walk if you head over Bondi way.
Great Visitors Information Centre in Rocks area, just across from ferry terminal has historical walking trails maps to meander about the city, a loop from the Rocks around to Darling Harbour and then across through City/Hyde Park to Wooloomooloo [Lunch at the finger wharf or Harry's famous Cart de Wheels for a pie] and back around past Mrs Macquaries chair and Botanical Gardens/Opera House, a ferry across to Milsons Point to walk back across the Harbour Bridge will be a good days outing and there are what they call explorer buses to use.

does not have NPs as close of the same ruggedness but Dandenong Ranges NP can be reached by suburban train to the east, a car trip down to the Mornington Peninsula will offer some good walks down around Port Nepean and Hanging Rock/Mt Macedon to the NW likewise, and Lerderberg NP/Gorge out to the west is supposed to be an interesting walk though haven't done it myself.

If you're here in snow season and you're interested, you should be able to pick up a day trip to Mt.Baw Baw for some skiing amongst the snow gums or Mt. Buller [larger snowfields] or drive yourself as far as Mansfield for the latter and get a bus up the mountain.

Another extended day trip would be a drive down to Wilsons Promontory NP for some great walks though there was a large bushfire there this summer just gone and it will not look its best, and on way back you could schedule in the Phillip Island where there is a Koala sanctuary and evening Fairy Penguin parade/surfing ashore before a late night drive back to Melbourne or better still enjoy a B&B overnight out of town and you can make for some interesting loop tours that might have you seeing even more of an overview.

In particular
Ballarat forms part of what has always been known as the Golden Triangle of Victoria, Ballarat to Bendigo to ?, still mine shafts in the heart of Bendigo and gold still to be extracted from some workings or tailings about and a place called Maldon is a kind of historical if touristy place.
Whereas Sydney may be the birthplace it was Ballarat with the Eureka Stockade Miners Rebellion that is often thought of as forming our character.
Sovereign Hill at Ballarat would make an interesting outing, particularly as they have overnight staying in the village that you may be able to couple with the dinner show - "Blood on the Sovereign Cross" - all about Eureka and that rebellion.

Melbourne has a Visitors Information Centre right in heart, downstairs at Federation Square where you'll see some extraordinary looking buildings, extraordinarily ugly to some but sort of growing on you with the full effect there now and distant parklands/government house/MCG/Tennis centre sporting precincts backdrop about the Yarra all having a great impact.

In Melbourne you ought to catch a free city circle tram for about a 45 minute circuit of the CBD and rebuilt docklands area to get a feel for what's about and then as with Sydney, you can spend a good day on foot if you wish, there being a good belt of parklands on eastern edge of CBD from Carlton Park with old Royal Exhibition Building and down over to Fitzroy Gardens, across to MCG, across the footbridge to Tennis Centre and then across the Yarra to Botanical Gardens, through them to near Government House and back through adjacent Kings Domain and parklands about the Myer Music Bowl, take care crossing road to Yarra walk and head down stream to Southbank precinct, Casino, new exhibition centre and developing area
and on if you wish to Polly Woodside/dry dock and a footbridege over to docklands for some lets say unusual sculptures about and often something of interest on at docklands.
A further 1-2 km. walk back towards the city up Latrobe Street will get you close to Victoria Market or use the free city circle tram if feeling weary, but another good days outing.

If you're hiring a car, getting out of Sydney could be fun![not], and Melbourne not so bad, more of an open feel with wider streets to it, though probably a good idea to be walking rather than driving to get you time adjusted whichever city you fly into first. .

Another option you may want to consider after a few days is to hire yourself a car and drive between the two cities as there are some great routes you can take over about three days and perhaps even combine with a couple about Melbourne to do a Ballarat and Great Ocean Road loop - a great way to see more about Australia than what just either of the two major cities offers.
Can provide greater insight if that appeals.

Meanwhile a site like might help with getting a feel for distances/times more so than a guidebook.
Bushranger is offline  
Old Jun 16th, 2009, 09:09 AM
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I have been to Melbourne twice and Sydney three times. My vote would be for Sydney. The beauty of it's harbor rivals Hong Kong. I can never get enough of Sydney. It has culture, history and a great transportation system. Ultimately, your decison will be based on what you want to see and do. You will love Australia!
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Old Jun 16th, 2009, 06:28 PM
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kerikeri is offline  
Old Jun 17th, 2009, 04:03 AM
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Two completely different cities about which much has been written on this board if you search . Both are excellent but for different things.A good start is look at what Fodors has to say in it guide on this site .

I must correct lavandula re weather . In the last 10 years Melbourne has had less rain than any other Australian city and especially Sydney .It is still in the midst of the worst drought since the turn of the 19th to 20th century .

What you get in Melbourne are showers whilst in Sydney it is rain - drenching , traffic stopping and heavy which even with an umbrella and coat manages to soak your legs in my experience .But that harbour is gorgeous at any time .

Syd. is lovely in July - September with winter sun and Melb is windy .But in March /April it is delightful sunny Autumn weather aPRIL IT IS LOVELY aUTUMN SUNNY WEATHER / ugust kly
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Old Jun 17th, 2009, 07:31 AM
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excellent comment JohnFitz re Melbourne weather. The argument about the weather in Mel. is old, tired and misguided.
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Old Jun 17th, 2009, 07:52 AM
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I have visited both of them

Sydney is the most beautiful town in the world !!!
Fabio is offline  
Old Jun 18th, 2009, 02:57 PM
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Sydney hands down for everything!
ivenotbeeneverywhere is offline  
Old Jun 18th, 2009, 03:52 PM
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Sydney-October is probably the best time to visit Sydney - though our weather is anything but predictable. However, as it's been a very wet Autumn-Winter, perhaps it will be a dry Spring!
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Old Jun 18th, 2009, 10:19 PM
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Another vote for Sydney - Although I agree with an earlier poster who suggested a flight between the two... as long as it's not school holidays you can often get one under A$100.

October in Sydney is Good Food Month and there are lots of great food related events.

This October Sydney will host the World Masters Games so you might want to check accommodation prices - I imagine this event will push up hotel prices. There is also a long weekend the first weekend and school holidays are usually around the last week in Sept and first week of Oct... prices for domestic flights and acommodation both go up during this time.
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Old Jun 19th, 2009, 01:15 AM
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pat is offline  
Old Jun 20th, 2009, 10:25 PM
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My apologies for my failure to edit my earlier response .

I am writing this from the Qantas lounge in Sydney having just spent 3 days here and as always I have had a lovely time .

But the rain has been torrential . On Saturday morning when we were leaving the city for Bowral the roads were awash . But even then the temperature has been mild .

As a Melbournian we have similar temperatures but the difference is that we get wind across Bass Strait that is arctic so whilst the temp is 16 celsius the chill factor makes it feel like 10 degrees .

And today Sydney - siders are able to celebrate a significant change to their water restrictions - sprinklers on anytime without limit before 10am and after 4pm 7 days a week . That's how much rain they have had .Melbourne looks like ours will stay and be further toughened up unless there are prolonged heavy rains over Winter and Spring . J
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