Melbourne, you’re great. But here’s what you need to learn from other Aussie cities

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I don’t know why we’ve got a reputation of being snobs in Melbourne. Yes, we love having trams, but Sydney now has a tram too (and they’re very proud of it, it travels nearly a full block). Still, we in Melbourne love to get on our high horses about our, well, horses at Spring Racing, our centralised shopping in the CBD, our craft beers made by a long-haired hipster in a microbrewery, our ingenuity in creating elaborate brunch and of course, our $7 coffees that you have to venture down graffitied laneways to get.

As a touring comedian, I’ve been fortunate enough to perform in every city around Australia. I have stayed in fancy hotels and on lumpy Airbnb mattresses. I have eaten in fine dining restaurants and scarfed down stale pizza at late-night kebab joints. I’ve caught public transport in every city and even endured a replacement bus or two (I’m still surprised I made it off them alive).

Rest in peace, Melbourne Star.

Although I think I’ll always live in Melbourne (because that’s where all my stuff is), I must admit this city can still learn a thing or two from our fellow metropolises. It wouldn’t hurt us to accept that other Australian cities not only do some things as well as us, but also do a handful of things better than us. Not many, though (don’t get too excited, Hobart).

Adelaide, for example, truly is the Festival State. It’s not that they have more arts and cultural events than we do (Melbourne beats them on quantity), but when there’s a festival in town it takes over the whole city. Every single person knows when Adelaide Fringe or WOMAD is on. Even the bats change their schedules to catch a Fringe show. In Melbourne, by contrast, most people can’t even tell you what month the Comedy Festival starts. I’m often asked, “When can I see you perform at the Comedy Fest?” The answer is usually “About two weeks ago”. I’d love to see the City of Melbourne amp up their promotion of festivals to an Adelaidian level so that any time a big event is on, it feels ubiquitous. Then again, if you asked me what happens during Moomba I’d say it was something to do with man-birds.

When it comes to money, we could take a page out of Peth’s book (Western Australia has the highest weekly average earnings for full-time workers compared to all other states) and go for a pay rise across the board too. Our properties are pricier than theirs and these days you have to take a mortgage out just to eat brunch. When they’re not on their fortnightly holiday to Bali, everyone in Perth spends their Sunday afternoons drunk on the beach. Sure, it’s a bit bogan, but it creates a sense of community.

Brisbane knows how to maintain a ferris wheel, and on that subject (rest in peace, Melbourne Star), enough said.

Darwin has a much better connection to the local wildlife than we do. They celebrate their animals to the point you can actually interact with them at their local sanctuaries. I fed a croc and patted a stingray on one visit up north, and that was just at the pub. In Melbourne, the closest I’ve been to wildlife is hearing the possums fight on my neighbour’s roof. We’re not completely negligent thanks to the new penguin viewing area being developed in St Kilda and a phenomenal zoo, but we’re a bit too obsessed with laneway cafés instead of booking more dates with mother nature.

Hobart thrives at the pop-up markets. We have a few decent ones here, but usually, they’re for hipsters in Fitzroy to sell their vintage cardigans to each other (I just bought four). In Tassie, there is a real pride in local produce that we could also benefit from adopting. As much as I love the Vic Market, there are only so many American Style Donuts one can eat, and there are plenty of Victorian farms that could supply us with enough hand-made hot sauce and quince paste to set up a bunch of stalls on Queen Street once a month.

Hobart’s Salamanca Market do it better than any other Australian city. Credit: Graham Freeman

And Sydney, our bitter rival. Outside the Opera House, the Harbour Bridge, its reputation as the national hub of international business, the world-class movie studios, opulent beaches and the abundance of Hemsworth brothers who call northern New South Wales home, us Melburnians just don’t see what all the fuss is about. But I’ve got to say, the public transport Opal system is much better than ours. You don’t even need to buy a transport card anymore, you can just use your own bank card to tap through the turnstiles. Meanwhile, we’re willing to pay $350 million to ditch the Commonwealth Games, but couldn’t fork out a few bucks to end the Myki contract earlier? Don’t tell Sydney, but on this one, they’ve done it better.

And as for Canberra? Well, every litter has its runt.

Simon Taylor is a Melbourne-born comedian who became the first-ever Australian to perform stand-up on The Tonight Show starring Jimmy Fallon.

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