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Wellington vs. Melbourne: The Case

August 11th, 2010 by admin

Winona wondered who would actually call her, instead of sending a text. It’s her sister, Helena.

To her delighted shock, Helena is inviting her on a long weekend to Melbourne, air fare and hotel paid, “…if you’d look after the boys a bit? Henry and I could have a little time together, it would be so good for us…” she says, plaintively, as if the burdens of her upper-middle class existence can only be borne with her sister by her side.

This is unnecessary.  Helena had her at “Melbourne.”

Between New Zealand and Australia, there are many trans-Tasman rivalries. Perhaps the one between Wellington and Melbourne has a distinctive blend of love and hate. Both cities are the quirky, intellectual, cool-weather counterparts to another, brasher, big-smoke city. Some say that Melbourne is like Wellington, just more of it, with better weather and more money. Wellingtonians like the idea of that so much that there is now an area of Melbourne referred to by some as “Cuba Street West” for its Wellington expatriate population.

But the flow does go both ways. Wellingtonians trickle back, grumbling about the taxes that Australia makes contractors pay,  a social life that requires being part of a couple, or abodes priced beyond impossibility. Then there are the Australians who move, against all expectations, to Wellington. Often, they can’t pin down Wellington’s charm, but they conclude, “Well, we liked it…it’s nice and green.” We should pay more attention when they say that: it may be the voice of the future.

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