Arriving in Melbourne from sunny Brisbane I was immediately struck by the similarities with London where I lived and worked for a number of years. Partly this was the weather – I arrived on an unseasonal grey Spring day; but more than that, after the weather and the laid-back approach of the Sunshine Coast I was back in a busy city with all that goes with it: noise, people rushing around, and the stations bustling with commuters all taking trains out to the distant suburbs.
Melbourne is growing rapidly. It is a sprawling city – Australians have always preferred a house with a garden rather than apartment style living, and so this has meant that many of the outer suburbs – which were often rural towns until relatively recently, are now over 25km from the CBD (Central Business District) but still comfortably within the city limits.
Melbourne though prides itself on its individuality and its residents are proud that it is regularly voted one of the most liveable cities in the world. Café culture abounds, there is a thriving music scene and the city is sports mad. Hosting the Australian Grand Prix, the Australian Open Tennis and various football (soccer) and rugby teams there is also the iconic Melbourne Cricket Ground, which, unlike sports facilities in London is only a short, walk from downtown.
The mammoth MCG (or simply ‘The G’ to locals) hosts cricket matches – a sport which continues to be a focal point for the nation as well as Australian Rules Football – which itself in Melbourne appears something closer to a religion than a sport. Here you ‘barrack’ for a team rather than just follow one…