Melbourne Needs Hills

“Ding Ding”. I smiled when I heard the familiar sound of a tram. After a long absence, light rail (trams) will soon return more prominently to the streets of Sydney. Although we’ve had them for a while around the casino and the Inner West, they’ve been absent for decades from the main CBD, and around the neighbourhood where I live, Surry Hills. I’m within a few metres of the new tram, so I’m getting to know the familiar “ding ding” sound very well. Getting trams back is an important lesson Sydney has learned from Melbourne.

Melbourne Tram

The lesson Melbourne needs to learn from Sydney? Get yourself a few hills! What? Melbourne needs some hills, or at least a few high level landmarks to aid navigation. I’ve mentioned this to a number of people also visiting from Sydney, and with a smile and a laugh, they’ve agreed. “Melbourne people say it’s all on a grid, so it should be easy, but it’s not” one person said to me. In Sydney, where many of the roads are built on hills and gullies, it’s easy to navigate. You’re either heading down to the harbour, or upwards to the mountains. With that knowledge, you can pretty much find your way around,

But in Melbourne CBD, it’s all quite flat. For me, the consequence has been that I keep getting lost, heading one way when I should be heading another. This happens every time I come here. Eve with Google Maps, my inclination is to head one way, only to discover it’s the wrong way. A few hills or prominent tall buildings might help!! Ah well, it’s not such a great deal, since it’s lovely being here.

Chinatown in Melbourne

There’s a terrific saying I once heard that, “In Melbourne, there’s a strong case of Melbourne-Sydney rivalry, but in Sydney, it’s a case of New York/London/Tokyo rivalry”. Though I’ve lived in Sydney for half my life, I’m not imbued with any of that rivalry bullshit. Phrases like “cultural capital” and “most liveable city” and “gateway to Australia” mean nothing to me. I mean “who cares”?

Both cities are terrific in their own individual ways, though you would have to say Sydney definitely has the better climate, and for the last few years (due to the broader impact of the lock-out laws), Melbourne seems to have been doing better in the area of nightlife. As I walked around the inner-city last night, there was a genuine buzz on the streets, that you often find lacking in Sydney. Perhaps because Sydney is so spread out?

Some terrific laneway art, located off Little Bourke Street.

Though I’m here for work, it’s also great, because I really do love travelling. If I had a million dollars (or realistically a lot more), I’d spend my whole life travelling from town to town.

I’m a fairly “organised” traveller. I have a standard packing check-list, and so I generally don’t have to worry about purchases for “forgotten items”. I always go online and book the bus to and from the airport. Though I have public transport passes for most Australian (and some overseas) cities, I’ve never before needed a Myki, as I’ve mostly stayed within walking distance of most things I’ve needed to be. This time around though, I’m staying a little further away. Still within the city, but far enough away to make hopping on a tram an easy thing to do. (You might call it “practice” for the upcoming launch of the light rail near my home in Sydney).

To my delight, I discovered the Google Pay app on my phone, allows you to purchase a “virtual” Myki. On arrival, I usually visit the closest supermarket and bottle-shop to pick up the “necessities” which can otherwise be quite expensive when staying in a hotel. Being that organised can sometimes frustrate me at the airport, when you see people ahead of you in the queue who arrive at security, and spend far too much time unpacking and repacking their bags. Sometimes, I’m sure my mumblings about “Why didn’t you start to unpack your laptop while you were standing in the queue” are a little too loud.

Chinese sausage, which I enjoyed at a terrific restaurant called Dragon Boat on Little Bourke Street.
Dinner with my old school friend, Anthony.

4 thoughts on “Melbourne Needs Hills

  • The grid is so easy to navigate and there are a few landmarks around to assist, if you know what to look for (Town Hall, Old GPO Clock Tower, Shrine, Parliament, and several prominent building towers). It sounds like our Sydney cousins need someone to hold their hand while crossing the street, so that they don’t get lost ;-)

    Also, the main city streets West – East are a joy for Royalists (of which, I am not one)..in order; Spencer, King, William, Queen, Elizabeth.

    I hadn’t heard of the Melbourne/New York/London/Tokyo rivalry, but I guess your lot are right and that feels about right!

    ;-)

    Matthew, from Melbourne.

  • Melbourne doesn’t need more hills. Sydney needs less. While the city area of Sydney is not too bad, the inner suburbs are so confusing, with barely one street straight.

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