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Why Melbourne has become so much better for partying than Sydney

The approach to nightlife in each city couldn't be more different

  • Scott Carbines
  • 7 April 2016
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Given Australia’s competitive nature, its two largest cities are traditional rivals.

Melbourne: "Our coffee’s better." Sydney: "Our bridge is better."

But since the lockouts’ introduction the music and clubbing scene debate has become skewed. The two cities are on completely different trajectories.

Melbourne’s nightlife is thriving with a state government, local council and mayor that want the city to run 24/7. They’re doing their bit to make it happen.

The south-eastern state of Victoria's progressive Labor government pledged 24-hour public transport on Fridays and Saturdays in its capital city at the last election, and began trialling the measure on January 1. Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews said he wished getting home was that easy when he was slinging hot dogs out the front of Tunnel nightclub back in ’93.

All night trains and trams, late-night buses and a 2am coach service to key regional areas make the city more accessible after hours than it’s ever been. It’s something Keep Sydney Open campaigners are pointing towards as part of an alternative approach to lockouts to help get people home safely after a night out.

The group is the leading voice advocating for the lockout laws to be overturned in Sydney and promote a fairer approach to alcohol-related violence that allows nighttime culture to grow, while providing as safe an environment as possible. In February, their 15,000 strong rally drew attention on a weekend when the two cities’ differences yet mutual passion for music and culture stood out starkly.

As Sydney-siders took to the streets toting signs of ‘cut shapes, not culture’ to protest the lockouts, thousands of Melbournians were in bed after staying up all night as part of the city’s annual ‘White Night’ festival. Inspired by Paris’ Nuit Blanche, the event sees light-installations projected onto and within buildings, public spaces and parks from 7pm to 7am in the central business district.

DJs take over streets and laneways for all night, free state-endorsed block parties. This year, Harvey Sutherland, Otologic and Planète closed the Lonsdale St stage from 3.30am. Last drinks were half an hour earlier in Sydney.

You wouldn’t have even been seeing things if you thought you caught Lord Mayor Robert Doyle in between installations. He wants people dining until 2am and City of Melbourne is encouraging more buskers after midnight on its streets.

But, of course, you can still grab a drink somewhere in Sydney post-3am.

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