Sydney, Melbourne and The Libby Kennedy Effect


As a native Antipodean, today I was again faced with the FAQ asked by people heading down under: “so should I mainly just focus on Sydney?” (Sometimes there is also a mention of the Outback or the Barrier Reef, but rarely any other cities.)

Given Melbourne’s global events — the Tennis Open, the F1 Grand Prix, the Melbourne Cup etc — I am surprised it does not come up more often as a possible location. (Full disclosure: I grew up in Brisbane, so am an impartial judge.)

It’s further perplexing for the fact that many an experienced, world-weary traveler that has been to both places – take Anthony Bourdain – expresses a keen love and (dare I even suggest?) preference for Melbourne.

A friend (and CnI official #1 fan) recently introduced me to a concept that I have found helped me grapple with why this happens: it’s called “The Libby Kennedy Effect”.

For those that did not grow up on a diet of “Neighbours” every night on TV, Libby Kennedy was the ‘quite attractive’ female resident of Ramsay St that grew up with us through the years. Plenty of the time, you found yourself with a bit of a crush on Libs. But as the show rotated through different storylines and families, others would come along like , Steph, Nina, and steal the limelight, because well, relatively they were just that much hotter. Libby was still cute, but now the boys of Ramsay Street had eyes for others.

My friend further explained that every night in bars around the world, perfectly attractive guys and girls “get Libbied” when a more attractive option glides in and soaks up the stream of attention. The punters are like moths to a flame, and our poor Libby is left to go home and play with Bouncer.

What’s this got to do with Sydney? Well, it’s nice, and you should visit. But I think in the past two decades or so, it really “got Libbied” by Melbourne – which is so much more charming and alluring to the seasoned traveler. It has multicultural, cosmopolitan natives; Australia’s best culinary delights; a vibrant theater, music and comedy scene; the premier sporting and cultural events the country has to offer; and shopping experiences from Australia’s best markets to high-end retail and suburban mega-malls to cater to everyone.

It’s an overall experience that Libby, uh, I mean Sydney, can’t quite match – as attractive as she (sorry, it) is, in isolation.

So, if you only have time for one city in Australia, I recommend visiting Melbourne first.

But sure, if you have a bit more time, head north and buy ‘Libby’ a drink, too.

— Irish

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