Forget the Sydney/Melbourne rivalry, the new enemy is Hobart
I travel frequently between Sydney’s inner west suburb of Annandale and Melbourne’s Brunswick, and I’ve noticed a big shift in dinner party conversation in both cities. Where previously the Sydney versus Melbourne debate would dominate discussion, a new rivalry has emerged and it’s one that just a decade ago you’d never have banked on. Hobart.
Yep, the place that was the butt of many a joke about banjo players, sisters, and two-headed babies. The same place from where bon vivant Leo Schofield fled back to the mainland pursued by pitchfork wielding locals after he called them: “dregs, bogans and third generation morons”.
But, judging from the talk around the table, nowadays Hobart is the place we should all envy. Here’s why:
Traffic: Ever seen a Hobart traffic jam? No? That’s because they don’t exist. There was once a report on a Hobart radio station about a woman who had to wait in her Camry for almost a minute-and-a-half at a traffic light. It was subsequently dismissed as a hoax, because Hobart doesn’t have traffic lights. It only got its first Give Way sign a month ago.
On the other hand, Sydney’s Parramatta Road enjoys a 24-hour peak hour. It’s basically a 23km long car park owned by Wilson. And Melbourne has its own problems with the West Gate Bridge, where drivers have actually been known to grow old and die in their cars just getting to work.
Property prices: In Hobart nobody ever needs to get a mortgage. Yes, you heard correctly; mortgages in Hobart are non-existent. This is because Hobart is a city where, for the small change in your pocket, you can buy a stately home to rival Windsor Castle. Even Hobart’s poshest suburb, Sandy Bay is ludicrously inexpensive. And check out this “Manor” (that’s not just agent talk) in the heart of the city. You’ll probably pick it up for the price of a used Hyundai i30.
Food: Sure, Melbourne and Sydney have world class restaurants, but you’ll have to book weeks ahead to visit them, during which time they will no longer be in fashion. Plus, you’ll have to endure the egotistical ramblings of a “celebrity chef” with a pony tail.
Down in Hobart, the food is so fresh the chef will be chasing it around the kitchen with a hammer. Seriously, Tasmania is basically a giant farm, dotted with hectares of stumps where an old growth forest used to be. Even the Sydney Morning Herald food critic, Matthew Evans moved down there to forge a career showing folks how to slaughter a cow and eat its naughty bits.
Fresh air: Following a trip to Hobart, the first thing you notice about Sydney and Melbourne’s air is that it’s so thick with smog you can play hide-and-seek without the need to actually hide. On some days, the air quality in Sydney is so poor that it’s mistaken for a solar eclipse.
Head to Hobart and you can take a deep breath without something lodging in your throat and choking you to death.
Natural beauty: Yes, yes, OK, Sydney has its stunning harbour, but only those with deep enough pockets get a view of it. The majority of Sydneysiders live in brick veneer bungalows 40 kilometres from the harbour with a view of the Colorbond fence and Commodore next door. The same goes for Melbournites; not many enjoy the dubious pleasure of looking out over a liver-coloured river, or over a bay full of things that eat your legs.
Meanwhile, Hobart has the leafy Mount Wellington towering in the background and the sparkling Derwent Estuary spread out in front. And nearly EVERYONE can afford a view of one or both.
The arts: This is where Hobart really kills it. Not only do they have MONA, a modern art museum so edgy it boasts a great wall of vaginas and a public lavatory, in which you can look up your own clacker, it also has an annual festival of music and art (Dark MOFO) dedicated to debauchery and naked swimming.
What does Sydney have? Bloody VIVID, where families wander around looking at pretty lights. And a film festival where people watch boring, pseudo-art movies that make you want to slash your wrists.
Melbourne has Moomba, featuring Karen Martini. Enough said.