Every city needs some landmarks to put it on the map. Whether it’s ancient ruins, ultra-modern skyscrapers, or a series of Big Things, people love their city to have impressive stuff that you don’t.

At the end of Danny Boyle’s sci-fi thriller “Sunshine”, a film set aboard a spaceship, there is only one scene at the end in which we see earth. The director chose one location to represent our world, Sydney Harbour, as he considered the Opera House to be one of the few monuments that are “universally recognisable“. How many other monuments would qualify for that illustrious title? The Taj Mahal, The Eiffel Tower, The Great Pyramid of Giza, The Statue of Liberty, The Colosseum…but what about Melbourne? Anything there?

                   Aww, yeah! The 8th ugliest building in the world, bitches!

Conclusion: Melbourne has nothing that compares to the Opera House. One point to Sydney.

What about the Harbour bridge?

Beautiful. Such an iconic, original design. Except that it isn’t, which is something this tourism website conspicuously fails to mention. If you’ve been to New York, I’m sure you saw the charming Brooklyn Bridge and the impressive Washington Bridge. But did you notice the Hell Gate Bridge? No? Well, here it is:

                          Look familiar?

Completed 10 years before Sydney’s Harbour Bridge was started, this must be the greatest case of fraud in civil engineering history! And yet the Harbour Bridge is described as “an economic feat as well as an engineering triumph”, which also ignores the inconvenient fact that it took 56 years to pay off. Melbourne’s prefered supplier of suicide, The West Gate Bridge, is more than twice as long…and half as pretty.

“Fuck this whole “looking nice” thing, we’re too busy trying to stop the bastard collapsing again”

*Sigh*…more people died in its construction than care it exists. What about Melbourne’s Bolte bridge? Well, that looks like someone said “Hey! Let’s make a bridge with a couple of unconnected, hollow, useless towers, and splash a bit of ‘Golden Gate Red’ on the bottom”.

          Where’s al-Qaeda when you need them?

Another point to Sydney.

What about Sydney’s 309m Centrepoint Tower? Sure, it’s probably just a ripoff of Seattle’s Space Needle, but it’s the only one in Australia, so it’s reasonably unique. Melbourne’s Art Centre Spire, at 162m, is nice but it’s not particularly noticeable and doesn’t have an observation deck or a revolving restaurant. Another point to Sydney.

“I dunno, sort of make it like the Eiffel Tower or something. Here’s $20.” – note handed to architect, presumably.

Does Melbourne have anything else? Well, yeah, the Shrine of Remembrance, Flinders St Station, St Paul’s Cathedral, Parliament House, Luna Park, The Sidney Myer Music Bowl…and that’s probably it. Attractive, sure. Some of them are even quite impressive. But you’re not going to compare them to, say, Big Ben or the Brandenburg Gate. Sydney for the win, and a monumental one at that.


Gay Culture

According to this poorly-researched fluff piece that references a scholarly work I can’t seem to locate, the more gays in a city, the better it is. The logic goes: gays are less likely to have kids, hence have more disposable income, hence can afford nicer things, hence are more likely to be found in nicer cities.

     Pictured: nice stuff

Now, despite what a lot of you think of me, I’m not gay. Everyone seems to believe that I am some sort of closeted homosexual. Sure, I’m comfortable with blokes. I don’t mind wearing pink. I’m all for gay-rights. And I’m quite partial to Bob Dylan’s “The man in me”. But that doesn’t mean I’m attracted to men.

                       Or this.

Despite this, I couldn’t help but feel a bit gay walking down Oxford St the other day. More than a little bit, in fact. My gaydar was jammed with of the amount of twinks, queens and…”indeterminates” that I saw. And there were so many rainbow flags that I started to question my own wavering sexuality wonder if rainbow parties actually exist.  Also, a quick tip for straight guys: never enter a store called “Tool Shed”; they aren’t necessarily selling tradie’s equipment. Are gay men THAT concerned with leather?

I was so distracted by all the male-to-male anal-rape, I forgot about how GAY this scene is!

This topic is going to be difficult to assess. I’ve spent at least a few minutes on the internet trying to get some stats about gays in Australia, and I can’t find much. Wikipedia, that ever-reliable source, just gives me a list of gay suburbs in Australia. Turns out Sydney has 6 and Melbourne has 5.

I wanted to compare the number of gay-bars and such, but I couldn’t find the stats. Ditto for violence against gays. There’s just no readily available info on the first page of results from google.

Interestingly, I found this report on homosexuality, and the only relevant point to us is this:

So, Victoria is the most gay-tolerant state. Queensland and Tassie are the least (surprise!) Also in the report, the three least homophobic city areas in Australia are:

Melbourne – Inner
Perth – Central
Melbourne – Central

However, Sydney does have an entire street dedicated to things that would make the Ancient Greeks blush. Not to mention they have some little party once a-

           Helllllllllooooooooo!!!! (Say it in a gay voice)

Yes, Sydney, with its Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras, has been awarded this year’s International City with the Best Gay Festival. And Sydney is number two in this article from The Independent titled: “The Ten Best Places To Be Gay”.

Well, that’s about it. I think Sydney’s buggered off and won.

While we’re here, I should probably mention that the whole “gay-marriage” thing is a bit of a social issue here in Australia. Even though public support of same-sex marriage is at 64%, both political parties have said they won’t be addressing it, anytime soon. I’d expect that from conservative monastery-trained Tony Abbott, but not from our PM; Julia “Living in sin” Gillard. I find it very convenient for her to accept women’s rights, but not gay rights.

This is WAY more offensive that anything a gay man has ever done.

In case you haven’t heard the arguments against gay marriage, let me sum them up for you quickly: “Men sucking dick is gross”. That’s it. Seriously.

What, you want a more detailed analysis? Done.

“Homosexuality isn’t natural”
Marriage isn’t natural either.

“No, I mean it isn’t biologically natural”
Yes, it is. At least 450 species engage in homosexual behaviour.

“But still, we’re humans, not animals”
Biology is not your strong point. Also, have you not heard of the gay gene?

“God hates fags”
At no point has God ever written or said that he hates anything. The Bible was written 2.5 millenia ago by conservative Jews, NOT by God. These are the same people who thought that the world was flat, and were still amazed by iron.

“Leviticus 18:22, y’all”
Yes, in Leviticus, the Bible does say that you shouldn’t lie with a man as with a woman. It ALSO says you shouldn’t do the following: eat fat from an animal, eat pigs/seafood/rabbit, eat blood (no black pudding for you!); lie, steal, deceive, spread slander, wear clothes with two different materials, get a tattoo, cut your hair on the sides, clip your beard, get your fortune predicted, commit adultery, have sex with a woman on her period, go to church if you are blind/disfigured/have damaged testicles, work on a Sunday, or say the word “God“. If you’ve done any of those things, FAIL!

But you should do the following: get circumcised 8 days after birth, sacrifice a young goat and a young pigeon two weeks after giving birth ; sacrifice more animals if you have a wet dream or your period. If you haven’t done those things…FAIL AGAIN! Yes, Leviticus is insane, and it is FILLED with sacrifical-killing of animals, yet homosexuality is mentioned in only a couple of verses.

“What’s next, a guy marrying a dog?”
Any two consenting, loving, human adults should have the same rights as anyone else, shouldn’t they? No one mentioned another species, or something that can’t consent.

“Now son, you’re not GAY are you? I wouldn’t want this sacred institution to be ruined.”

“This cheapens the institute of marriage”
Britney Spears can marry a dude for 55 hours, Kim Kardashian can get married for tv ratings and 72 days, and these fuckwits can marry video-game characters/The Berlin Wall/dead ex-boyfriends/themselves/The Eiffel Tower. Why can’t two people of the same sex marry?

“How am I going to explain this to my children?”
The same way you’d explain anything; honestly. “Sometimes, boys can like boys, and girls can like girls. Most people don’t do that though, and it is quite complicated. You’ll understand when you’re a bit older, but keep asking questions”. As my favourite comedian, Louis CK, says: “Two guys are in LOVE but they can’t get married because YOU don’t want to talk to your ugly child for five fuckin’ minutes?”

“They can’t have kids, so it’s not right. Also, they’ll produce only gay children”
Gay kids have been produced by heterosexual couples for hundreds of thousands of years, so blame the straight people for that. And a lot of straight couples can’t procreate…so should we ban them from marrying too?

“Something, something, something…TRADITION”
You wanna talk about marriage and tradition? How about the banning of inter-faith or inter-racial marriages? Your biblical tradition says that men are supposed to “love your wives”, but women are told to “submit yourselves to your husbands” (Ephesians 5:22-33). And sorry rapists, if you rape a woman, you’ve gotta marry her (Deuteronomy 22:28-30). Also, if you have slaves (because tradition, that’s why) then you’re allowed to sexually exploit them. To summarise tradition: slavery, rape, female submission, racism, all ok. Same-sex marriage, not ok.

Anyone against gay marriage is anti-human-rights, and thus, can eat a bag of dicks. If you don’t like that, consider the following map. Dark blue is gay-friendly, and dark red is “Death to fags”. Tell me; where would you rather live?

“Why, oh why, didn’t I choose the BLUE countries?”                        – Everyone in the red countries.

The weather

I’m going to assume you’ve seen any shit comedian’s routine and that you know the stereotypes.

“…and have you ever noticed how boys have penises and girls have vaginas?!”

How does one judge the weather? I think most people would agree that sunny days are a good indicator, whether it’s for going to the beach, playing sport, or just cultivating melanomas. According to the Bureau of Meteorology, Melbourne has 49 clear days per year, while Sydney has 104. That’s an emphatic win for Sydney. How about gloomy, cloudy days? Melbourne has 180 (yes, that’s half the year – the worst capital city in Australia!), compared to Sydney’s 133 (About a third of the year).

Just for reference, New York has 107 days of sun, and London has no data available, so I’m forced to assume they have 0.

Which is good, because according to this study, Londoners equate warmth to suicide.

Oddly enough, Sydney and Melbourne have the EXACT same number of days with 1mm or greater of rainfall, at 100.3 per year! But when it rains in Sydney, it pours. The average rainfall is twice that of Melbourne. So what would you prefer: hot and wet, or cold and dry? Of course, with climate change more of a “thing” than sceptics would have you believe, we might have to have another look at these figures in a couple of years, when our hoverboards and flying cars arrive.

“‘Global warming’? Sorry sir, that’s just scientist talk” – Kenneth Parcell, 30 Rock.

Sydney also has slightly greater humidity compared to Melbourne, which has two bonuses: making the weather seem warmer, and keeping my cigars fresh.

But not as fresh as some.

As for other factors, the two cities are more similar than you’d believe. Average daily maximum? 22c to 20c, Sydney’s way. Foggy days? 18 to 15, Melbourne’s way. Average wind speed? 11.6 to 11.7km.

But it does feel different. As a warm-bodied person, I’m struggling to adjust to this weather. Basic meteorology tells me that no clothing is needed, but society says otherwise. I hate society. Luckily, I live near the beach, so I’m subjected to lovely ocean breezes and I do have the ability to jump into the cool water if my nether-regions are too hot.

“Testes, cancel sperm production in 3…2..1…”

Ok, ok, I’m padding; Sydney does have a better, warmer, climate. Whether I like it or not. If you want to investigate this topic further, but with actual research and professionalism, click here. Sydney wins.


Most people love the beach[citation needed].Whether it’s the surf, sunbaking, or the occasional spot of nudity, we Aussies clamour for the chance to be near a body of salt-water. With 83% of Australia’s population living within 50 kilometres of the coast, and one of the longest coastlines in the world, we certainly have ample opportunities to enjoy some sun at the beach. Oh, and get skin cancer while we’re at it.
Living in Sydney’s south-east, I am privileged to be approximately 4.5 minutes drive from both Coogee and Clovelly beaches. Coogee is quite nice, but everyone knows that, which is why it’s always busy. As for Clovelly beach…well, it’s too narrow, the water is a bit dirty, and the slabs of concrete on either side really clash with the natural beauty.

                “Concrete. Because fuck you, nature.”

In spite of this, the waterside views In Sydney are quite remarkable. And I can see the ocean from my apartment, but only if I’m not currently in it

“Charming 2bdr with awkward ocean glimpses”

Having been to Bondi, and (the very-gay-and-desperately-macho-sounding) “Manly” beaches before, I can confirm that they are excellent. They are never going to be as good as a small-town beach, but for a place to swim that’s only minutes from the CBD and a stone’s throw away from heroin-addled hobos, these might be the best in Australia. Also, I’m told that Tamarama is the beach to go to for surfing. I’ll just have to learn how to surf first, so I don’t get into a fight with a Sydney’s version of Anthony Kiedis.

Like this, but with a Southern Cross tatt.

If you like beaches, but don’t like sand because your cleanliness borders on OCD, consider the Bondi to Coogee walk. All the fun of being at the beach and then walking away. I’m underselling it; the views on this walk are outstanding. I can’t think of another major city in the world that has access to a nature walk of this beauty.

“…and just past that bend is The Gap, kids. Nothing to see there. Nope, nothing. Seriously, though, don’t ever go there.”

And Bondi even has a reality show based around its beach. Perfect if you want to see English and Japanese tourists drown and then get resuscitated. Terrible if you like good television. I’m taking one point off Sydney for that.

    Because this is not entertainment.

Melbourne’s beaches range all the way from “filthy” to “bummer, dude”. In the bay, there is not one beach that is plungeworthy, especially after storms on Christmas Day in 2011 deposited a whole bunch of E. coli there. This caused almost every beach to be listed as “unacceptable” for swimming. And this is an ongoing thing: the EPA has advised Melburnians not to swim at beaches for 48 hours after any storm!

                           “Shitter’s full!”

To find a decent beach in Victoria, you really need to get down to Bell’s Beach, Torquay or further down the Great Ocean Rd. Otherwise, there’s Portsea, Sorrento, or Phillip Island  south-east of Melbourne. These aren’t really Melbourne beaches, though. These are day trips. And with Melbourne’s weather not known for its kindness (blog post coming!), I’m awarding this contest to Sydney, scoring 9 out of 10. Melbourne, on the other hand, gets a 4. When it comes to beaches, Sydney is a bikini-clad blonde, and Melbourne is a streetwalker with questionable STD results. Sydney for the win.

AFL vs. NRL – Part 2

This is it: the finale. As a quick recap, we’re trying to figure out if AFL or NRL is the best football code in Australia, and how they both compare to other countries’ codes. So far, we’ve covered foot skills, hand skills, and tackling. Here are the current standings:

NFL:      20
AFL:      20
NRL:     19
Soccer: 11

As you can see, it’s closer than an Austrian and his daughter at the moment. Let’s delve into the next category!


Speed is exciting, whether it’s motorsport or the organic kind. Not just player speed, but speed of the game. NRL does have bursts of speed, when the opposing line is broken, and the guy with the ball has to outrun his opponents like he’s trying out for Apocalypto 2. But the disadvantage of NRL players being so big and strong is that they’re not particularly fast.It’s just not their thing. The average NRL player runs between 5-8 kms per game, whereas AFL players are basically doing twice that distance. AFL seems to be one of the fastest team sports in the world, maybe second only to hurling. NFL has the fastest specialised runners, but the slowest gameplay outside of nursing home bingo. Soccer players have brief flashes of speed, and probably the greatest endurance. Too often, though, the gameplay is just about setting up an opportunity. I want action, dammit! Like 4 goals in 3 minutes, for example:

Speed scores:
AFL: 9/10
NRL: 7/10
Soccer: 5/10
NFL: 3/10

 ‘Wow’ moments.

What does that mean? Well, in every sport, there are rare occasions when you just go “WOW!”, like a crazy touchdown in NFL, a scissor-kick goal in soccer, or maybe a Jordan-esque dunk in NBA. In NRL, I think those moments are when someone gets tackled heavily or maybe a field-long try. However, this might just seem more impressive because the rest of game is as boring as NFL. In AFL, it might be a near-impossible goal to win a grand final, a heavy bump, a spectacular mark, or even this. What I’m trying to say is: AFL for the win.

Wow! scores:
AFL: 10
Soccer: 9
NRL: 8
NFL: 7


NRL is a structured game, with heavy emphasis on forwards holding the line, and backs doing the running. For some reason, NRL supporters think this is a good thing. I know another game that has plenty of structure and involves lining up against each other…

          Not present: excitement.

On the other hand, AFL is free from things like the offside rules and such, so they can invent things like flooding, pressing and other creative moves. Games can be scrappy, defensive, attacking, free-flowing, high-pressure, zoned, etc. I think that means a more interesting game, but NRL supporters can’t seem to grasp anything other than two brick shithouses crashing into each other, gaining “yardage”. Soccer also has a lot of structure and can be very difficult to score, or even attempt to score, which means a lot of frustration. NFL is all about creating and executing complicated and innovative plays, but they work so rarely and there is too much time in between them. Boooring.

Gameplay scores:
AFL: 9
NRL: 7
Soccer: 6
NFL: 5


Important elements for atmosphere include number of supporters, crowd-noise, stadium size, and general behaviour. Some of these are difficult to quantify, but not attendance figures! (Click on image to enlarge)

                                     Even the Canadians beat NRL!

I’m not saying that popularity equates to game quality, just atmosphere quality. Popularity is actually in NRL’s favour, as it involves Australia’s three most populous states (and heavily dominant in two of them), one territory, and a little country called “New Zullund, broo”. But if popularity means good tv, then apparently MasterChef and The Voice are the pinnacle of entertainment (spoiler alert: they’re not).

“I will never understand why they cook on TV. I can’t smell it. Can’t eat it. Can’t taste it. The end of the show they hold it up to the camera, ‘Well, here it is. You can’t have any. Thanks for watching. Goodbye.'”—Jerry Seinfeld,

I digress. Back to the atmosphere. NFL, in addition to its massive crowds, also features other cool things like Tailgating (where you bbq dead animals and drink beer out the back of your truck before the game), and reasonably thought-out post-match events. Despite all this, soccer wins as I believe it’s the only sport in which supporters have to be segregated, or everyone dies. Win to the AFL

Atmosphere scores:
Soccer: 10
NFL: 9
AFL: 8
NRL: 5


NRL features the biggest, angriest men in Australia. When you put these guys together in competition, with all their ego and (human growth) hormones, emotions are bound to erupt. So, what do the fights look like?

Whereas NRL fights feature super-heavyweights, the average AFL combatants are more of your light-heavyweights, but they are much more feral. AFL players also seem to love the melee, and there seems to be a greater collection of AFL fights on YouTube. NFL has some ok fights, but they could really learn from NHL. Soccer fights are a joke, except for occasionally when 74 people die in a riot. Win to the NRL.
NHL: 10* (disqualified: we don’t have one half of the needed ingredients for “Ice” Hockey).
Soccer 3 (unless you count riots, then it’s a 10)


Final scores:

AFL:        64
NRL:       55
NFL:        50
Soccer:   47

I think that’s a clear victory for AFL, unless you value tackling or…or…well, that’s pretty much it. Also, AFL is the only sport actually invented in Australia. See you in the comments!

AFL vs. NRL – Part 1.

You knew this was coming.

I’m not sure what’s it’s like for a Sydneysider coming to Melbourne, but as a newly-arrived Melburnian in Sydney, this is the predominant part of my culture-shock. Just for the benefit of any international visitors, the states of New South Wales and Queensland follow rugby league (like the cities of Sydney and Brisbane), while the rest of the country follows Australian Rules Football (originating in Melbourne). Let me preface this post by stating that in AFL I barrack for the Melbourne Demons, which is a polite way of saying “I don’t give much of a shit about AFL”. Sure, it’s great to watch a game with some mates over a couple of beers, but I don’t live and breathe it. A lot of Melburnians do, including my girlfriend who is an unhealthily-addicted Carlton supporter. There are claims that footy shows “passion”, “spirit”, and other such nonsense. In all definitions, it is merely a game. I just think there’s more to life than screaming at grown men chasing a ball. Shouldn’t we be doing something about the world’s financial and environmental crises at the moment?

“Fuck the carbon tax, I wanna watch rich guys fight over nothing!”

However, I might be in the minority here. Each day, countless newspaper pages are glazed with poorly-worded articles from former athletes. And a lot of people really do enjoy their sports, and who am I to challenge them? It turns grown men into emotional teenagers, and emotional teenagers into this:


I think that explains that I’m reasonably impartial here. Let the judgement begin!

Firstly,  to the actual sports. If you’re unfamiliar with Australian Football or Rugby League, I’ll try to explain them as best I can for a guy who’s never played a full game of either. AFL, or ‘footy’, is a full-contact game where 18 men per side attempt to kick a football through large goalposts. If you kick a ball and it is caught, or ‘marked’ by a team-mate, they get to kick the ball from that location without being tackled; a ‘free kick’. Passing the ball is done by kicking or handpassing (holding the ball with one hand and hitting it with the other). Also, you must bounce the ball if you’re running with it, like dribbling in basketball. You can only tackle an opponent while they have the ball, and if they can’t dispose of the ball whilst being tackled, you are awarded a free kick. There are other rules, but that’s all you need to know for now. Look, just watch this video:

Now for NRL, or rugby league. Or, somewhat bizarrely, “league”, from the name of its governing body; National Rugby League. By that logic, one could call AFL “league” too. Please leave your rational responses to this statement in the “comments” section.

I don’t know enough about this game to explain it, but that won’t stop me from trying. A team of 13 heavy men take turns holding a ball and barging their way through the other team, so they can place a ball on the ground behind a white line; a ‘try’, similar to an NFL touchdown. Except without padding, of course. You can only pass by throwing the ball backwards, and the teams line up against each other like NFL, as opposed to being spread all over the ground like AFL or soccer.  If you score a try, you get a chance to kick a field goal, again, like NFL. In fact, rugby is pretty much like NFL, except that you have to stomp your way through unprotected man-flesh (no homo). I’m sure there are more rules to the game than that, but I’ll let Anna Mae Bullock elaborate:

So, what have we learned?  For one thing, this might have to be a two-part entry. It’ll take time to get to the heart of these games, to forever determine which code of football is the best. And while we’re at it, we’ll compare Australia’s best to two other versions of football: NFL and Soccer.

Before we do that, let’s quickly explore an issue of semantics:

I propose we rename NRL to Tackleball and NFL to Padded Tackleball to avoid any claims of false advertising.

Ok, ok. Let’s start the in-depth analysis.

Hand skills

In NRL, a fumble can be extremely costly, so the backwards pass and catching it are essential. Also, holding on to the ball with one hand while shoving 110 kilograms of anger out of your way is impressive, but not skillful. NFL is similar to rugby, but with greater speed, distance, accuracy and cute gloves. In AFL, you need to be able to handpass a slippery (real) leather ball in every direction. Marking the ball, often while contested, is also a big part of the game, and can be done like this…

Hand skills scores:
AFL: 8/10
NFL: 7/10
NRL: 6/10
Soccer: DNF

Foot skills

This is where soccer shines. Obviously the best foot skills in the football world, by a large margin. In NRL, you need to be able to…run? Rarely, you need to kick the ball. The NFL is similar, but with black guys running, and even less kicking. In AFL, you need to be able to run while bouncing an oval-shaped ball and evading opponents. Also, you need to precisely kick the ball, often more than 50 metres, to your teammate or through a (large) goal. It can’t really compete with this, though:

Foot skills scores:
Soccer 10/10
AFL 7/10
NFL 4/10
Rugby 3/10


There is some absolutely insane tackling in NFL. I know they have their pads and their helmets, but it also seems like they have no rules about almost paralysing blokes. Despite this, it feels like I’m watching UFC with sumo-suits, or a Ferrari with training wheels (patents pending on both these ideas). AFL does have some good tackles, but they are nowhere near as ferocious, as the emphasis is on avoiding the penalty for being tackled. Soccer has the slide-tackle. Hardly worth mentioning. NRL, however, is where you need to be able to surrender your physical well-being and to the biggest, hardest dudes in sport. No question. This is what they’re all about. NRL win.

Tackling scores:
NRL: 10/10
NFL: 9/10
AFL: 5/10
Soccer: 1/10

Well, that’s it for this post. I’ve got another 5 categories for you next time, so we can finally decide which game is crowned “King of Aussie Football”. Here are the standings so far:
NFL:      20
AFL:      20
NRL:     19
Soccer: 11

Stay tuned for the thrilling conclusion!

Roads and Traffic

I don’t mind traffic. If you can avoid it by using backstreets, then wonderful. If you can’t do anything about it, why worry? Just crank up the Belinda Carlisle and keep singing. As a former sales rep back in Melbourne, I used to do a lot of driving (up to 50,000 kms a year), and I got used to thinking of traffic as one of those minor annoyances in life. The strange thing is, no-one considers themselves as part of the traffic, they’re just… trying to get somewhere. It’s all the OTHER cars that get in the way. This can lead to frustration, anger, and yes, road-rage. (Definitely worth the click, but NSFW)

So, in this post I will attempt to judge whether Melbourne or Sydney has the better road transportation.

                 Since Melbourne in 1970…

The first day I moved to Sydney, I noticed how bad the traffic was. I was merging on to the M5 freeway, and the cars with which I was trying to merge had ground to a halt. At 2:30pm. On a Sunday.

I couldn’t believe it. Where were all these idiots going?! Is everyone moving to Coogee like me? I waited, waited, waited and finally merged. At some point, we, the idiots, crawled into forward motion. It didn’t get much better. The roads in the Sydney-metro area were rough and patchy, which unfortunately is one of the weaknesses of the 15-year-old BMW I was juggernauting. It felt about as smooth as a conversation with Russell Crowe.

                Not pictured: sanity.

Upon arriving to Coogee, I kinda liked the feel of the place. It has this coastal-town vibe about it, with art deco bricked apartments, charming shopping villages, and hilly, laissez-faire streets. Perfect for houses and villages, not so good for medium density residential areas. Too many people, not enough roads. If this were SimCity, you’d see the little blue cars all over the place, looping to infinity.

Kinda like this, but with more Lebanese gun-crime.

I’ve driven through the inner city, too, and I don’t like it. I’ve already gone through one red light in my time here; I don’t want to add “Attempting to drive the wrong way down a one-way street whilst furrowing brow at GPS” to the list of offences. In Melbourne, one-way streets are limited to some CBD laneways and very few suburban streets. Here in Sydney, they’re almost as common as the two-way streets.

If you understand this image, you’re not a true Sydneysider.

Sydney looks to cover a much larger physical area than Melbourne, so it will take me a while to thoroughly assess the transport situation, but it doesn’t look good. At least they don’t have the never-ending road works that have plagued Melbourne (Western Ring Rd, Monash Freeway, Westgate Freeway).

       One more lane should do it…

But maybe that’s not a good thing, because a lot of roads I’ve driven on really do need some attention. I was driving from Double Bay back to Coogee along some road (I can’t promise all my posts will be this thoroughly researched), and I couldn’t help but notice how bad it was. I felt like I was driving on the back of Madonna’s right hand. I mean, really. Immigrants from developing nations must get homesick whilst driving along this alleged “road”.

“Ah, memories!” – overheard from a nostalgic Afghani refugee.

It occurs to me that Sydney isn’t designed for cars at all. For one thing, there is a gigantic harbour that cuts right through the middle of it. The city is too densely populated.  Sydneysiders turn into grandmas as soon as it rains (which seems to be all the time – see my upcoming post on “The Weather”!) Almost every useful road has a toll. Yes, even the iconic Harbour Bridge. Parking is a nightmare; you have to pay for it everywhere. Even when you do pay, you’re only allowed to park for a very short time. A friend of mine told me that when he was working near Circular Quay, he had to pay $7 an hour for 1 hour parking…and had to move his car to a different park every hour! Also, the maximum speed you can travel anywhere seems to be 80 km/h, and you’d be lucky to get anywhere near that velocity during the day.

“It is as if someone said, ‘Let’s see how many cars we can put in here.'” – Professor Jan Gehl on Sydney’s traffic.

Then, when I do end up accidentally cutting someone off, I hear the usual “FUCK OFF BACK TO VICTORIA!!!” from some charming local. I should probably get the rego transferred to NSW, so I can swap the elegant green and white plates for a set of goes-with-anything bright yellow.

Meanwhile, I award Melbourne 8 traffic jams out of 10, while Sydney achieves 9.5 out of 10, winning the prestigious “Places To Avoid Driving” trophy. And don’t get me started on the Sydney-Newcastle Freeway…

           Warning: multi-coloured roads next 150kms