Australia is a huge, sprawling continent, but most of the action and excitement is centered around it’s city hubs dotted sporadically along the vast coastline. It’s a debate that has raged for years, usually the fiercest rivalry being waged between the two biggest concrete jungles – Melbourne and Sydney. But now the little guys are weighing in too. With Lonely Planet recently naming Hobart as one of it’s “must visit in 2013” destinations and Adelaide being named above Sydney in the countries most liveable city awards, the competition for the countries top urban playground is heating up. We take a look at what makes each city special and the reasons why you should spend your hard earned dollars visiting them.
The Harbour. Need I say more? Yes. While it is the Harbour and it’s natural and man-made wonders that draw tourists from all over the world each year, there is so much more to Sydney! Spend a weekend in Sydney and visit the throng of markets that take place in great locations all over the city for weird and wonderful finds not to mention the people. The proximity to beautiful beaches is unrivaled by any city in Australia and arguably the world and cafe culture is alive and well and making damn good coffee.
Brisbane is an outsider, an underdog. And being from Queensland I always held the belief that it wasn’t a “nice” city. Well I can now say that that belief has gone by the wayside. The more time I spend in Brisbane the more I fall in love. Brisbane has really come into it’s own – sitting somewhere between the laid-back-surfer vibe of Sydney and the Indie-Grunge -Hipster vibe of Melbourne. From great museums, a man-made beach for the kiddies and a giant ferris wheel at Southbank to some of the best restaurants this side of New York in Fortitude Valley and at Eagle Street Pier. Meander along the river on one of the free city-hoppers for the best views of the city and the cliffs at Kangaroo Point or shop up a storm in Queen Street Mall.
Melbourne is definitely the “coolest” of all the cities in Australia and I don’t just mean that in the temperature sense. Arriving in Melbourne you immediately feel as though your outfit is outdated, your hair’s the wrong colour and that you’re in dire need of double espresso. Melbourne is all about atmosphere, it’s got bounds of it. From wandering the old-worldly lanes of the city to coffee-crawling your way along the main street of vibrant St Kilda, you can feel the atmosphere oozing from the heritage listed buildings. Great museums and not to mention some of the world’s best shopping, cap off what is consistently voted one of Australia’s most liveable cities – if you can put up with the four-seasons-in-one-day weather.
Rad-elaide, as those in the know call it, is a city most certainly on the up and up. This year named as the second most desirable city to live in in Australia. It’s a city where they take their wine very seriously and so a winery tour is a must for any visitor to the region; try Penfolds, Jacobs Creek or Rockfords to name-drop a few. Adelaide has more restaurants and cafes per capita then any other Australian city and for good reason they love their food. While you are here sample some of the freshest seafood around or experience a revolving restaurant with stunning 360 degree views. Adelaide is a foodie heaven.
The sunniest of all the Australian capitals, Perth is characterised by it’s Victorian architecture, fantastic beaches, street cafes and laid back lifestyle. Things in Perth move at a different pace, a slower pace – possibly due to the sub-tropical climate climate and 3,200 hours of sunlight it receives annually. Kings Park and Botanic Garden – one of the biggest inner-city parks in the world. Larger than New York’s Central Park, there are plenty of ways to enjoy its 400-plus hectares of sculpted gardens and natural bushland. The Port of Fremantle is just a short drive from the CBD and home to an ecclectiv array of arty shops and quirky cafes.
The hottest and most humid of all the Australian capitals, Darwin is only just now coming to the forefront as an appealing Australian holiday destination and quite right! The city has plenty to offer any discerning visitor if they can hack the heat and humidity. The Mindil Beach Markets are not to be missed. Held every Thursday and Sunday evening from April till October, the markets offer over 1200 different food items to try along with 300 stall holders and one of the best sunsets in Australia. Probably the only place in the world where you can eyeball a crocodile in the ‘cage of death’. Life is lived outdoors in Darwin, with a year-round average temperature of 32 degrees, staying cool is paramount.
Our nations capital is often overlooked as a city-break destination. There’s actually a lot more to Canberra then meets the eye, it’s had a sort of coming of age in recent years and for those that once complained that it lacked atmosphere and vibrancy, they should visit again. As everyone always says, Canberra is a city in a park. That means there’s ample space for families to picnic and play sport and generally frolic. For those that love a good museum or exhibition, Canberra is certainly the place for you. Celebrate Australia’s proud sporting achievements, delve into our political history, Indigenous culture and reflect on our young nation’s experience on the international stage. Or for those more adventurous types, Canberra is the gateway to the famed Snowy Mountains.
So that’s the lowdown on our Nation’s capitals, but which is fairer I hear you ask? Now that’s a toughy, personally I think we’re all much better off visiting and enjoying them all. Each has it’s own charms and quirks so i’ll let you, the traveller, be the judge of that…