How Melbourne dropped the ball

In recent years, Sydney has jumped ahead of its southern neighbour by redeveloping iconic buildings and factories into foodie hubs that draw in locals and tourists alike.

While Melbourne may boast destinations such as Lygon Street or its famed laneways, it has completely missed the opportunity to turn some of its iconic buildings into food precincts.

Prime locations like the Skipping Girl Vinegar — an image familiar with anyone who grew up in the city — are being developed into residential apartments.

In Sydney, the thinking is different.

Like London and New York, the city is focused on growing interesting food destinations, and it is using some fantastic old buildings to do that.

How Melbourne dropped the ball

While Tourism Victoria is spending huge dollars to promote the city, ultimately it comes down to final product. And Melbourne just isn’t cutting it, with even international publications such as The New York Times questioning the legitimacy of Melbourne’s dining scene.

The harbour city, meanwhile, has been developing a range of old warehouses, factories, and run-down neighbourhoods into diverse destinations, meaning you can find a community of foodies no matter which Sydney suburb you’re in.

Sydney is the place to eat right now in Australia.


The Tramsheds is now a hot foodie destination in Sydney’s inner west. Picture: Tramsheds
The Hawthorn Tram Depot does attract a couple of people interested in old trams, but it’s not living up to its potential.

The old Rozelle Tramway Depot built in 1904 is home to Tramsheds, one of Sydney’s newest food spaces in what used to be the sleepy inner west suburb of Forest Lodge. The entire tram depot has been refurbished by developers Mirvac and now is home to more than 17 eateries. With an on-sight butchery and specialty coffee roaster, the individually curated food shops applaud the innovative food entrepreneurs of Sydney. Butcher And The Farmer draws in beer and meat lovers while Flour Eggs Water is the sister restaurant to popular Italian restaurant, A Tavola — a destination for fresh handmade pasta. Bodega 1904 and Garcon are perfect spots to cure your Spanish food cravings and cocktail fantasies.

Meanwhile in Melbourne, the Hawthorn Tram Depot built in 1916 is now home to residential apartments and a museum with old trams on display.


The Cannery in Rosebery in Sydney’s inner south is home to not only restaurants, but boutique food stores.
This sign is known to all Melburnians, but unfortunately isn’t being developed into an inclusive destination for everyone.

Hold the applause — foodies make your way to The Cannery in Sydney’s inner south. Not just another food hall, The Cannery Rosebery is where artisans come together, with Sydney’s greatest providores, restaurants and bars all together under the steep, industrial-chic roof. Whether you are in the mood for gin and tonic from Sydney’s first distillery in more than 150 years Archie Rose, or simply want to explore The Drink Hive for a premium curated wine list, The Cannery is your one-stop-shop in this 11,000sq m, 100-year-old Rosella soup cannery. To cure hunger pains, there are woodfired pizzas at Da Mario and artisanal produce at Three Blue Ducks, as well as Vietnamese food at Banh Xeo and New York-style restaurant, Stanton & Co. There’s even a cooking school for those who want to go the full hog and play chef.

In Melbourne, Skipping Girl Vinegar in the once cool neighbourhood of Richmond continues to skip over residential apartments with more slated for the next five years.


Barangaroo is a new development on Sydney’s waterfront drawing huge crowds.
The Docklands have proved a huge waste of waterfront space.

The Streets of Barangaroo is Sydney’s answer to Melbourne’s South Bank … only better.

A teaser to the billion-dollar redevelopment and resurgence of what will be Australia’s newest luxury complex (with casino and more award-winning restaurants to rival Melbourne’s 20- year-old Crown Casino Complex), the Sydney waterfront just north of Darling Harbour has gone from concrete jungle to high-end food district. During the week, Barangaroo is abuzz with corporate high-flyers looking for a place to close million-dollar deals, while on the weekend it’s flooded with hungry revellers looking for food, glorious food. According to Sydneysider and tour guide Helen Fraser, from Ultimately Sydney Tours, the redevelopment of Barangaroo and rise of food precincts signifies the resurgent of the Sydney dining scene — so watch out Melbourne.

Sophisticated menus make light work of the multicultural communities around Sydney. Turkish mezze platters with charcoal octopus and cherry tuzlama at Anason, Louisiana-inspired barbecue at NOLA Smokehouse and Bar, Lotus takes you to China, and Born by Tapavino offers Spanish bites. Standout restaurant 12-Micron offers epic harbour views and an impressive menu: Get the lobster omelet or the lamb with ironbark honey and damper to stay true to your Aussie culture.

In Melbourne, the Docklands promised a new neighbourhood to rival Sydney’s ‘dining by the water’ with the iconic Melbourne Eye towering over the inner city neighbourhood. But what could have been a high-end dining destination like Barangaroo is now just a ghost town of apartments no one wants to visit.

Michelle Tchea is a Melbourne-born self-professed foodie, who would love to see her home town follow Sydney’s lead. Follow her on Twitter: @Michy25Elle

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