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Almost a soft spot for Melbourne

The arrogance of Melbournians never ceases to amaze me. They consistently and forcefully state that Melbourne is the best city in the world, often with very little data to compare it to or experiences of living elsewhere. However, almost three years down the track, I almost have a soft spot for Melbourne.

When we first arrived, Melbourne was new and exciting. We enthusiastically bought thermals when we realised how cold it was. We good-naturedly timed every car trip and stared out the window at the traffic. We worked hard at meeting new people and trying to work out what made them tick (FYI it’s football or coffee; sometimes both.)

In our second year, reality started to set in. The long winter affected us both big time. The traffic seemed oppressive, especially to get over to church in Hawthorn three times a week. We had people we knew but struggled to find really good friends. We’d heard that the good chinese food was over at Box Hill but it seemed too overwhelming to try to find the suburb, let alone a favourite dumpling house.

In this our third year, I feel like things have evened out a bit. I’ve worked out the difference between Brunswick and Hawthorn, and which sub-culture I prefer. We know where to go for good dumplings (Dumpling Specialist, Box Hill), breakfast/brunch (Greens, Sydney Rd), steak night (Wednesday at Arcadia, South Yarra). We have an amazing heater with a thermostat. We know the back ways, the roads to avoid in peak hour and we have the right expectations about how long it will take to get places. We have good enough friends that we can drop in casually rather than organise dinner 2 weeks beforehand.

Melbourne no longer feels like a foreign city or an oppressive city. There’s a sense of familiarity to it, perhaps like a holiday home feels, like it’s yours even though you wouldn’t want to live there long term.

Categories: Uncategorized Written by Tamie

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Tamie Davis

Tamie Davis is an Aussie living in Tanzania, writing at

5 replies

  1. ‘Even though you wouldn’t want to live there long term’ – I’d be interested in hearing why!

    And which subculture do you prefer over Hawthorn and Brunswick (I have an idea but thought I’d ask anyway)?

  2. Oh, plenty of reasons Elizabeth! For example, while we’ve grown used to, say, the traffic, there’s a difference between tolerating something in the short term and choosing it long term. And long term, I’d choose somewhere more friendly and laid-back than Melbourne. (I know Melbourne people think their traffic’s better/they’re more friendly and laid-back than Sydney, but I’m comparing with Adelaide!)

    And definitely Brunswick over Hawthorn. I don’t belong in the eastern suburbs and the hippy/social justice-y/aspirational thing about Brunswick appeals to me. (Although of course it has its own inconsistencies and first world problems too.)

  3. I’ve only been to the airport there. I got on a plane in Tasmania fully packed and ready to go, only to be told that my bags were too heavy as I was transferring planes in Melbourne. I had to throw away my underwear to make my bags lighter. Melbourne makes you throw away your underwear.

  4. Plus, we don’t personally feel the need to stay in Melbourne. It’s a wealthy city and the church is well-resourced, whether you’re comparing it with the rest of the world or with the rest of Australia.

    For example, Adelaide Christianity is wonderfully unique yet struggling to thrive. We’d much prefer to contribute to the joys and struggles there (if we weren’t heading overseas!).

    Living in inner-city Melbourne, the temperature hasn’t been a problem so much as the lack of sunlight and constant cloudiness.

  5. Thanks for sharing Tamie, it was interesting to read your reflection on melbourne life. Lol, I wish I could locate a good nearby dumpling place, steak restaurant or breakfast brunch place!

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