A Tale of Three Cities – From St Kilda to Kings Cross (via Gepps Cross)

I’m not usually prone to frequent personal travel, but over the past month I’ve spent holiday weekends in Adelaide (where I spent the first 34 years of my life) and Sydney (for the second time this year, but it had been ages before that, barring work visits). I’ve been in Melbourne for the past twenty years.

It got me thinking.


Sydney has the Harbour Bridge, a majestic symbol of Australian infrastructure. Not particularly long, but still picturesque and imposing in the extreme.

Melbourne has the Princes Bridge, look one way and you can the the MCG, the other way, Crown, look up the street and you can see the cathedral, down the street is the War Memorial. Three out of four aint bad.

Adelaide has a new footbridge over the Torrens.


Sydney has Bondi and Manly, tourist magnets and icons. Bondi is hard to get to, the Manly ferry ride, especially on an outside seat on the port side is one of life’s great experiences.

Melbourne beaches are shit, but some well heeled residents of Bayside Council will pay $200k for a brightly painted wooden shed. German backpackers flock to St Kilda.

Adelaide beaches are highly underrated, from the Northern Tip of the Le Fevre peninsula, 50k southwards to the pristine sands of Aldinga. If Glenelg didn’t have a tram, you wouldn’t waste your time going there.


Sydney has the Harbour. You can sail, catch a ferry, board a cruise ship. Sip bubbles on the steps of the Opera House. World class.

Melbourne has the Yarra. You can catch a tourist ferry. Or dysentery. Down a Crownie at, err, Crown. Tourist class.

Adelaide has the Torrens. You can catch Popeye. And those paddle boats that don’t steer properly. Scull a West End at nearby Bob Neil #1. All class.

Waterfront Property

Sydney must have the world’s largest per capita concentration of investment bankers judging by the number of properties with harbour views that must all cost a monarch’s ransom. And yes, that could be rhyming slang.

Melbourne has the Golden Mile at Brighton. And Docklands.

Adelaide has West Lakes. And the Pat.

Sporting Arenas

Sydney has the SCG and the adjacent Football Stadium. And White City.

Melbourne has the MCG and the adjacent AAMI Park. And Rod Laver Arena. Fairly popular with the locals.

Adelaide Oval has apparently been refurbished (but they should publicise it more) and the adjacent Bob Neil #1. And Memorial Drive


Sydney has the dugongs at Darling Harbour.

Melbourne has something on the Yarra.

Adelaide used to have Marineland at West Beach, which was probably the first place in Australia that you could see dolphins and stuff, but it went out of business sometime in the 1970s. The Wobbies World of aquatic amusements, but back then, what else was there?


Sydney has Paddys Market. Like the Vic Market, but in a shed, without the variety. Avoid.

Melbourne’s Queen Vic Market has an abundance of meat, fish and poultry purveyors, the fruit and veg part is pretty good too. But the general produce area is risible, unless you like boreks or kransky. The outside sheds have row upon row upon row of tacky crap.

Adelaide’s Central Market has none of the tacky crap, but fewer outlets for meat, fish etc, but for general produce such as breads, smallgoods, coffee, cheeses, nuts, it wins hands down. Has a stand devoted purely to Mettwurst.

Kurt Tippett

Sydney has him

Melbourne could do with him

Adelaide lost him (the first known link between frog cakes and salary cap breaches)


Sydney has Pitt Street Mall, Strand Arcade, QVB

Melbourne has Bourke St Mall, the Emporium, Daimaru (… what ?)

Adelaide has Rundle Mall, but it is currently being used as a movie set for a story based on the Middle East conflict

Fish and Chips on the beach

Sydney has Manly Fish Market – expensive, the chips were crunchy, but who eats “crab sticks”?

Melbourne has Chatz of Gardenvale – once a week, without fail (but maybe not on the beach)

Adelaide has the kiosk at Largs – used to be worth the drive, but now fly-blown, staffed by disinterested teenage mums-in-waiting with shit tatts. Food awful. Still popular with the locals.

Red Light Areas

Sydney has Kings Cross

Melbourne has King Street

Adelaide has Hindley Street (the Melbourne Street sex shop is no longer trading, but there is one at Gepps Cross)

Big Buildings You Can Pay Money to Look Out From

Sydney has the Sydney Tower which is 309m high, provides a 360 degree vista and for an extra fee, you can be escorted around the outside. Or you can do the Bridge Climb

Melbourne has the Eureka Tower which is 297m high, provides a 360 degree vista and for an extra fee you can stand on a glass platform on the inside. Or the Docklands wheel (should be sponsored by German shoemakers Larfenstock)

Adelaide has the Westpac Building which is 132m high, and if you know someone that works there you can look out a window on the 31st floor.

Public Transport

Sydney has underground rail, buses and ferries. Bondi Tram not sighted.

Melbourne has underground rail, trams and a bus.

Adelaide has rail, bus and a tram. And the O-Bahn

Variety Show Hosts

Sydney had Don Lane

Melbourne had Graham Kennedy

Adelaide had Ernie Sigley


Sydney had Radio Birdman, Mental as Anything, Midnight Oil

Melbourne had The Boys Next Door, Hunters and Collectors, Skyhooks

Adelaide had Irving and the U-Bombs, Cold Chisel, The Angels

Test Matches

Sydney’s starts in the New Year. Nothing much ever happens. Pakistan desperately unlucky there in 2010. Andrew Symonds and Harbhajan Singh had a tiff.

Melbourne’s starts on Boxing Day apparently. Everyone goes on the first day. Nothing much ever happens.

Adelaide’s starts sometime around Halloween. Everyone goes, but most of them are still stuck in tents out the back. Why didn’t Marsh and Cosier go for the runs in 1976? (which was held from 24-29 December, wait, what happened to the traditional Melbourne Boxing Day Test ?)

Cultural Icons

Sydney gave us Clive James and Rodney Rude

Melbourne gave us Barry Humphries and Dave Hughes

Adelaide gave us Fitzy and Lehmo

Paul Kelly

Sydney …

Melbourne …

Adelaide …

About Mark 'Swish' Schwerdt

Saw my first SANFL game in 1967 - Dogs v Peckers. Have only ever seen the Dogs win 1 final in the flesh (1972 1st Semi) Mediocre forward pocket for the AUFC Blacks (1982-89) Life member - Ormond Netball Club -That's me on the right


  1. Swish – Adelaide gave us you, me, Crio, Mickey and Rulebook.
    Sydney gave us Mathilde.
    As with the VFL, Melbourne dominate the numbers but offer little of note. Tired, broken down derivative scribblers clinging to memories of Barassi, Victoria Park and the Dougie Hawkins Wing.
    Quality over quantity every time. And Paul Kelly belongs to Adelaide. Other cities stole him just like the Grand Prix.
    What about the Twilights and the Masters Apprentices?

  2. Malcolm Ashwood says

    Entertaining Swish and I like PBs comment above and we have Bob Neil ! ( they don’t ) New fish and chip shop at Semaphore is very good and a shame that Ad Oval aka
    Bob Neil number 3 getting a up grade is never mentioned

  3. We stole the GP because you poached Ernie Sigley. Or was he the trade for Fitzy & Lehmo?

    And how about Men At Work for a Melbourme band?

    We have more than bus BTW. But the other one is usually in for a service.

  4. Excellent analysis Swish.

    Since Tippett-gate, I have boycotted the frog cake.

    Adelaide clearly wins the beer battle (Coopers) and best pie prize (Vili’s).

    Port Willunga is SA’s premier beach. Many a summer staying down there before the Star of Greece was invented. The waters and landscape are almost Mediterranean, on a good day!

    As a young boy I found Marineland to be quite magical and exotic. But, then again, I came from Kapunda.

    I’m with Peter B in that we claim Paul Kelly. He barracks for Norwood and The Crows, so his heart is Adelaidean.

    And let’s not forget where Kensington’s finest cricketer, The Don, elected to live.

    But, gee, Melbourne’s a good town.

  5. The G deserved just a little bit more emphasis.

    Paul Kelly even wrote a song about Adelaide!

    What about authors?

  6. I’m with you on Port Willunga, Mickey. But I’d venture a little further up the hill to the Star of Victory pub on top of Willunga Hills with the views across the the gulf, the vines and McLaren Vale. Best wine list, views and meals in any pub I know. We always have a meal there any time I go back home.
    Summer days driving along Aldinga Beach; perving at Maslins; or a small detour for a consoling drink on the way home from Victor Harbour trots.

  7. Mark 'Swish' Schwerdt says

    Thanks all.

    Feel free to fill in any blanks, this isn’t meant to be comprehensive or definitive, so go your hardest.

    I fiddled with a section on songs, but Google had already done that. There are plenty of songs about the three places, but fewer with the names in the title, so I thought I’d leave that gap in there for others to fill if they wish also.

    Thought about authors too, but drew the line somewhere.

    If only PK had a song with “Melbourne” in the title (plenty about Melbourne though), he would have a (boxed) trifecta. I left him there for others to (again) fill in the blanks, as he, maybe more than anyone, has links to all three cities and beyond.

  8. I thought Deadly Ernest may have usurped Ernie Sigley.
    You probably could have thrown in Cuisine as a category Swish – the pie floater/Kitchener bun/ Giant Twin vs what Melbourne and Sydney have to offer (the kebab & the oily kebab?)
    Old footy teams: Adelaide had Woodville, Melbourne had Fitzroy & Sydney had Norths. I followed all 3!

  9. Happy for you to have Paul Kelly.
    He did, indeed, write a song about Adelaide…here’s the final lines:-

    “All the king’s horses, all the king’s men
    Wouldn’t drag me back again
    To Adelaide, Adelaide, Adelaide, Adelaide”

  10. Dr Goatboat says

    Red Gum also wrote, inter alia, on Adelaide…..”another boring Friday night in Adelaide….”
    But we had the other more loquacious and effective Don, the member for Norwood…..and the Redlegs to boot….
    As the (other ) Dangerfield, Sebastian might have said..Ah Adelaide what a heartbreak old town….

  11. Here are the lyrics:-

    Well it’s one more boring Thursday night in Adelaide
    And it looks like everybody must have died
    There’s no one on the streets and nothing on tv
    Well I think I’ll go and burn my tv guide
    Doesn’t Ernie Sigley bring you down?
    Don’t you think Mike Willesee’s a clown?

    Oh well I think I’d like to go and hear some rock’n’roll music played
    So I’ll check the amusement pages of the paper
    Reggae bands doing one night stands at the Lion Hotel and Arkaba
    And the girl at the bar thinks I’m going to take her home in my mg and
    Hanging out at discos brings you down
    Hanging out at discos brings you down

    Down on Anzac highway in my rusty old fv
    And I’m looking for some food to take away
    Finger lickin’ kitten and a double fisted bun
    Well I’ve chewed and spewed and so I’m here to say
    Orange laminex pizza bars bring you down
    Orange laminex pizza bars bring you down

    Yes we know it was the festival of art and all that stuff
    And the culture vultures still sat on the fence
    Before you put your bum on those plush red seats take a look in your backyard
    Don’t we need some changes in this town?

  12. Mark 'Swish' Schwerdt says

    Beat me to it Crio

    That was one of the songs I had on my list, I’ve always loved the Ernie reference.

  13. Dave Brown says

    Just passed through Paradise on the O-Bahn, Swish – Adelaide’s crowning glory. Sure, plenty of people didn’t want to be here 30 years ago, but they still wear their allegiances on their sleeves, and a bit deeper. Was alarmed when a bunch of colleagues in town last night commented on how busy Adelaide was on a Tuesday night – the world’s gone crazy!

  14. Luke Reynolds says

    Great stuff Swish. Though as a South West Victorian am claiming back Warrnambool’s Dave Hughes.
    How about “Sitting in a Bar In Adelaide” by Skyhooks. It’s Melbourne bands clearly on top for mine.

  15. Dr Goatboat says

    Thanks Crio…..mea culpa….Friday wasnt quite so bad….Bob Francis at the Princeton Club, Burnside Town Hall……the Feathers just up the road, Rofey holding court

  16. What about Thursday nights with the Ken Oath Ockerstra – Jungle Music, Backyard barby….plenty of cultcha!

  17. Mark Duffett says

    Did you mean the northern tip of the Le Fevre Peninsula rather than the Fleurieu?

  18. Mark 'Swish' Schwerdt says

    Thanks Mark D, how quickly I forget.

  19. Mark Duffett says

    Demned Frenchie peninsulas.

    But of course your main point is correct, Swish, Adelaide’s beaches are underrated.

  20. Crio – Is Ernie Sigley the reason you barrack for the Bulldogs?

  21. And then there is Brisbane.

    Can you romanticise Brisbane?

    Most entertaining piece, and conversation. Thanks Swish.

    People often say to me, “You’re from Adelaide.”

    I had one year there. Reminds me of the “But do they call me Pierre the Boatbuilder joke.”

    No I am not from Adelaide but I could easily have stayed after finishing Dip Ed in 1985. Great pubs like The Welly. Good food generally – even in 1985. Ease of getting around. The boss shop on O’Connell St. The Adelaide Oval. The golf courses. Give me the Barossa any day. Adelaide Lutheran FC and Uni Blacks. A brilliant football competition, for generations, given the population of the state. Farmers Union iced coffee. Dinosaur bones. Leviathan Bonythons. A uni library with individual lights. A siren at Footy Park that sounded like the Ghan was coming through the Boulevard car park. Brill-o. One of the world’s great sporting events: the Test match.

  22. Mark 'Swish' Schwerdt says

    Thanks once again.

    JTH, been a while since I’ve been to Brisbane, I’ll leave that to Robert Forster.

    Had always avoided Sydney, Mum’s from there and her parents’ last place was Kingswood. Not sure I could (afford to) live there, Glad to have taken up the acquaintance again, like an old flame on Facebook.

    I wasn’t expecting this piece to end up so Adelaide-centric commentswise, maybe it is the expat factor. It is loved so fondly by people that don’t want to live there anymore.

    There’s lots of Melbourne that I still don’t know, I tend to stick to my side of the Yarra, that needs to change too.

    One of my life’s great disappointments was when Ernie Sigley was replaced on Wheel of Fortune and I was stuck with Baby John instead.

    Nose – the Giant Twin, Golden North’s crowning glory. It was a great day when you could finally get those in town, instead of having to drive to Burra or beyond.

    Bands – we could go on about that one forever.

    I also thought about Shock Jocks, but the gap between Alan Jones and Bob Francis was too much to contemplate.

  23. Having lived in Brizvegas (or is it Brisneyland?) for 25 years, I’m almost qualified to comment. Here goes……
    Take your pick. Captain Cook, Victoria, William Jolly, Story, Gateway & Go Between (yes, named after the band). All car parks come peak hour. Locals insist the Story Bridge is every bit as good as the Harbour Bridge – proof at what XXXX beer does to ones judgement.

    Even Melbourne beats the mudflats of Brisbane’s beaches, unless you count the urine filled man made Southbank Beach popular with families and Swedish back backers.

    The Brisbane River winds it’s way through the city and is an actual reasonable body of water, capable of sustaining a flotilla of ferries and even the occasional cruise ship nearer the mouth. Always a lovely shade of brown & has the habit of turning distant suburbs into waterfront property on a semi regular basis.

    Waterfront Property
    See above. Coastal waterfront property should only be viewed at high tide.

    Sporting Arenas
    The Gabba, Lang Park (using the ABC’s nomenclature), Tennyson Tennis Centre. No drop in pitches for the Gabba which gets a tick from the cricket purist, but a BIG cross from the AFL players. No grassy hill anymore at the Gabba, which was the best spot to view Shaun Smiths “Mark of the century” over ex-Woodville star, Richard Champion (managed to sneak in the mandatory Woodpecker link!)

    Inner city suburbs during floods, or head to Mooloolaba

    Rockliffe markets which are simply too far away. Plenty of smaller local markets of which Eat Street is pretty good, but Queen Vic or Adelaide’s Central Market

    Kurt Tippett
    Gold Coast bred him

    Queen St Mall. Will probably resemble Rundle Mall post G20

    Fish n Chips on the Mud Flats
    Manly if south of the River, Sandgate/Shorncliffe if north. Crumbed fish is the default serving – need to specify battered if that is your preference.

    Red Light District
    The Valley. They used to have a wonderfully named “Bunny’s Male Relaxation Parlour”. Surely this would be sitting in a comfy chair watching replays of old Great moments in Australian sport whilst sipping a nice ale and having one’s car washed?

    Big Buildings
    There is Q1 on the Gold Coast, and the new biggest one in Brisbane, and the even newest tallest building that has just been approved, or the Brisbane Eye.

    Public Transport
    A train system that works well*
    A bus system that hides on bus ways and confuses the hell out of me.
    Trams that were discontinued decades ago (but a tram museum just down the road from me)
    * in areas the rail exits & providing no electrical storms

    Variety Show Host
    Jackie McDonald from Hey Hey It’s Saturday

    The Go Betweens had a bridge named after them, but for my money it has to be the Saints.
    Locals rave about a local one hit wonder called Railroad Gin (see earlier comment about XXXX)

    Test Cricket
    Opening test of the season on a Gabba green top. Pigeon scored a half century in 2004

    Cultural Icons
    The Bundy Bear, Russ Hinze, Joh, Clive Palmer….

    Paul Kelly
    Always carved us up. Oh, the other Paul Kelly!

  24. Mark 'Swish' Schwerdt says

    Well played Nose, McInnesesque

  25. Torchbearer says

    As one of the Warwick Capper generation, I will defer to The former Prime Minister Paul Keating who once proclaimed; “if you’re not living in Sydney, you’re camping out”.

  26. Great topic Swish – nothing like some post season analysis of the really Big Issues
    Kingsford Smith – ‘only’ costs $16/pax on skytrain o/w into the city (but who lives there?)
    Tulla – easily accessible via helicopter or take a punt via the freeway – stop in & see Hirdy & co on your way!
    Adelaide International – shiny & clean, close to the beach and the city but sadly no longer operating from a tin shed, with its one baggage carousel and the mother of all taxi ‘stands’ awaiting frazzled travellers outside – origins of the Middle East conflict apparently stem from passengers caught up in the chaos of this free-for-all.

    Drinking water
    Syd – don’t they only drink coffee?
    Melb – Apparently its OK….if bottled.
    Adl – misunderstood by all – an acquired earthy tasting H2O with good body – available in barrels in some parts of SA

  27. Dr Goatboat says

    and Darwin is best see from 30,000 feet on a flight to Paris……thanks to PK

  28. Tom Martin says

    Good one Swish. As a recent call-up to the Adelaide diaspora, I enjoyed the comparisons, covering all the key topics. And it’s got me thinking about Perth.

  29. Hi Mark,

    It’s interesting to read. It sounds that Sydney is the best totally? I have been to Sydney and it’s a great city. But I am afraid that I have never been to Melbourne; however I really want to visit one day (even I want to move to Melbourne to have a fulfilling and satisfied work and to be close to mighty Saints).

    As for shopping, Daimaru is a Japanese department store and we have the one here in Sapporo. My friend living in Tasmania says that there is Daiso (it’s called 100-yen shop here in japan, bit not sure how it is called in Melbourne) and Japanese stuffs can be purchase in Melbourne.

    What do you think about Etihad (Docklands) Stadium? You didn’t mention in the Sporting Arenas section.

    Cheers :)


  30. Mark 'Swish' Schwerdt says

    Hi Yoshi

    You will see that I am still living in Melbourne, so there may be a difference between living somewhere and visiting.

    Daimaru closed its doors in Melbourne mid-2002 after opening in 1991, but Daiso and other $2.80 stores are doing quite well in a lot of places.

    The stadia that I mentioned (apart from White City) are all placed very near each other. Etihad is on the other side of the CBD compared to the MCG. I don’t like it much, especially when the roof is closed. I can’t get used to indoor football, even after all these years.

    Come to Melbourne, you’d enjoy it and we’d enjoy meeting you.

Leave a Comment