Blog & Insights
The widely acknowledged capital of cool, Melbourne really does stand out from the crowd. It boasts a clear and proud identity that sets it apart from other Australian cities with a unique personality that has emerged and developed over time. This particular Melbourne culture has continued to thrive simply by finding commonalities and drawing people together – whether that’s over coffee, in sport, or through music and comedy. The true secret to understanding what makes Melbourne tick is to jump right in, get involved and be part of the collective. Did I mention the sport?
If you’re living in Melbourne and you haven’t heard of AFL, enjoy that pause because you soon will. Hardwired into the Victorian DNA, AFL is akin to religion in these parts. No conversation is complete without a full rundown of the latest scores, prospective wins and detailed player assessment. If you’re not fully up to speed with the game (other than realising the ball has to get from one end of the pitch to the other), then prep up on a dummy’s guide ASAP. Popular teams include Collingwood, Richmond, Hawthorn, Carlton and Essendon with rivalries running hot and fast. Think Democrats and Republicans – it’s in your blood, it’s a family thing and you just don’t get to switch out.
With 18 teams competing in the league, and 23 rounds before the Final series, getting to a game is utterly achievable – even if it is just one of the 27 pre-season practice matches played over February and March. If you’re lucky enough to get tickets to Grand Final Day at the MCG, you’ll be part of the largest attendance and greatest TV audience of any Australian annual sporting event. Even if you’re just watching with some mates in the local pub, the atmosphere is truly electric with passions running high as AFL fever reaches the year’s climax.
If you’re more a fan of four legs than two, Melbourne’s annual Spring Carnival is for you. A sporting event that is home to The Melbourne Cup – more commonly known as ‘the race that stops a nation’ – this Melbournian tradition is now celebrated nationwide with a countrywide spotlight firmly on Flemington racetrack. Be warned, Australia comes to a complete standstill on Melbourne Cup Day, so frock up, log off and place your bets.
There’s no place like Melbourne to kick off your shoes and lose yourself in one of the many festivals that take place around the city. Showcasing music and the arts across a range of genres and interests, the festival schedule has something for everyone. Check out the Pleasure Garden for some funk and soul, or get groovin’ on the sand for free with St Kilda’s beachfront festival. Don’t miss New Year’s Day’s Let Them Eat Cake for an immense line-up of international DJs and be sure to get to The Laneways for a more intimate affair showcasing some of the best new artists in the heart of the city. The Melbourne Festival runs across 17 days in October each year featuring a diverse range of performances from the arts, music, circus and dance. Aiming to connect through unique experiences it is now one of Australia’s leading international arts festivals. Just for laughs, check out Melbourne’s International Comedy Festival, a rib-tickling programme combining comedy, cabaret, theatre and street performance. Hugely popular but highly accessible, pick up some tickets and tune in to some of the best international comics to escape to the lighter side of life.
Hungry for more?
What is it really all about if you can’t get your hands on a good coffee? Well, fortunately in Melbourne you are spoiled for choice. Whether you like it fully-roasted, cold dripped, or with a splash of whiskey, there is a barista somewhere close by just waiting for your order. In celebration of Melbourne’s love affair with all things foodie, don’t miss out on The Food and Wine Festival each March. Featuring over 200 events with visiting international celebrity chefs, passionate local artisans and expert winemakers, this really is the gastronomic event of the year that puts Victoria firmly on the global food-map.
With this just a snapshot of some of the Melbourne traditions, what better place to discover what makes it so special and to have an opportunity to become part of the city collective.
By Jael Livingston