Melbourne is a pretty cool place – pretty much everyone I met attested to that.
Like other major cities – and I can only really compare it to my own experiences of living in London, with that allure there are of course always tensions. The city is growing at a massive rate and this of course brings many challenges. During my stay there were editorials in the newspaper about the same things that affect people in London: the lack of affordable housing, the significant time spent commuting, the need for greater public transport. But despite these generic issues, it was clear that Melbourne and Melbournians have a real pride about the area and very much celebrate the individuality of the place. If there is an Australian version of Crap Towns I really do not think this would place would feature prominently.
I did meet some people who were frustrated by some of the changes that were taking place – notably people who felt it had changed a lot since they were younger, but despite this I didn’t really find anyone who didn’t think Melbourne was a great place to be. Similarly, although I met a number of young people who were a little disengaged in school and what they were doing right now, they were fiercely loyal to Melbourne and saw it as a place where they could really do something.
And so that was my overriding perception of Melbourne; people wanted to be there, even with some of the challenges it brought. The young people I met were generally ambitious in the things they wanted to do; the adults in Melbourne (more than anywhere so far) were particularly adamant that young people should follow their own passions and interests, and thus recognised their individuality.
But then perhaps we should expect that, it’s an individual kind of place.