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Friday, 4 October, 2002, 15:12 GMT 16:12 UK
The best and worst of cities
Melbourne and Port Moresby skylines
Both cities have their quite considerable charms
A survey has found that Melbourne, with Vancouver, is the easiest place to live for ex-pats, while the Papua New Guinea capital Port Moresby is the hardest. Our writers find both have much to recommend them.
Melbourne

When we came to Melbourne, we were not quite sure what to expect.

My wife, a West Australian by birth, had not been there for 20 years, and although we knew Perth and Sydney well, Melbourne was uncharted waters.


For ex-Europeans, the climate is perfect - cold enough in winter to go skiing in the mountains outside town, warm enough in a long summer to go surfing on one of the many beautiful beaches on the coast

Paul Bethell
First impressions were not entirely convincing, either. It does not have the Harbour Bridge, Opera House and grand vistas that Sydney boasts. Melbourne's charm takes a little longer to sink in, but is worth sticking around to discover.

The city has made great efforts in the past 10 years to rebuild and rejuvenate. It has added a great deal to its grand heritage of Victorian architecture, preserved from the "gold rush" days of the mid-1800s.

A new, multicultural, vibrant city has emerged from the faded industrial past. The transformation continues with the new Federation Square project nearing completion and work under way on flats and restaurants in the old docks area.

The inner city is thriving, teeming with cafes, open spaces and walking areas. There are also beautiful parks and gardens all over the city - from the Botanical Gardens to Albert Park, which transforms itself into the Grand Prix circuit every March.

Good transport

It is a great city to get around, especially after we had spent 20 years suffering London's traffic jams. Recent extensions to the freeway system have made a huge difference, and although rush-hour is busy, it is easy to get around and find parking.

Melbourne Grand Prix 2000
Melbourne has magnificent sports facilities
Public transport is also efficient, with one ticket covering trams, buses and the extensive train network.

For the energetic, there are miles of cycle paths linking all areas of the city.

For entertainment, Melbourne is the sports capital of Australia, with magnificent facilities providing for the Open tennis, the Grand Prix and Melbourne Cup horse racing carnival in November.

It is the home of Australian Rules Football and loves its cricket in the summer. The Melbourne Cricket Ground - a veritable Coliseum of a venue - is a wonderful place to watch sport and with a 90,000 capacity, almost always easy and cheap to get into.

'Four seasons in one day'

However, it is the magnificent cafes, restaurants and bars that many feel are the best thing about Melbourne.

They say one meal in three is eaten out, and you can see why. They are cheap, serve fantastic food from a huge variety of influences and cultures and are widely patronised.

An hour or so outside the city, the vineyards of the Yarra Valley and Mornington Peninsular begin.

However, a eulogy to Melbourne would not be complete without a discussion of the weather. "Four seasons in one day" is the local description and other Australians are not always very complimentary.

But for ex-Europeans, the climate is perfect - cold enough in winter to go skiing in the mountains outside town, warm enough in a long summer to go surfing on one of the many beautiful beaches on the coast.

If there is a bit of rain in between - who cares? It's a good excuse to find a café and sit and watch the world go by.

Paul Bethell moved to Melbourne from London in 1999 with his wife and daughter. He works there as a lecturer in journalism at Deakin University and also works part-time for BBC News as a producer.


Port Moresby

I rang Papua New Guinea's tourist bureau this afternoon to ask its response to the Economist Intelligence Unit's finding that Port Moresby is the world's most unlivable city.

The reply was straightforward. "It probably won't help," a spokesman said.


It is nasty - muggings, carjackings, robberies, murders - but it seems a big call to rate Moresby the worst out of 130 world cities

Shane McLeod
Chalk up another one for the anti-Moresby forces.

Sometimes the world's most unlivable city can be charming - almost dazzlingly so.

Hilly terrain rises to overlook a bright blue harbour. Sandy beaches creep right up to the edge of the city. Palm trees tower over nearly every backyard.

It also has its nasty side. Crime - muggings, carjackings, robberies, murders, police with M-16s, supermarkets with guards, houses with razor-wire and "menace" lurking in every shady corner.

But it seems a big call to rate Moresby the worst out of 130 world cities.

Enthusiastic democracy

Violence here is rarely political.

Crime is not against a particular group - unless you count people with property a group - it is opportunistic.

The response to that is to reduce the opportunities... which people do. The electric gates, razor wire fences and 24-hour guards are evidence of that.


The tangles of vines are covered in thorns - making them at least as effective, and certainly more adaptable than the razor wire they replace

Shane McLeod
Buses do not get blown up in Port Moresby. The military do not shoot political dissenters. Yes, there is a problem with (blatant) corruption.

But Papua New Guinea is still a democracy - and quite an enthusiastic one. That is a lot more than some of the other - more liveable - cities on the list can boast.

Yes, Port Moresby is dysfunctional. Electricity can be unreliable, water supplies are sometimes rationed, telephones do not always ring and lot of the time it is not very nice.

But the worst city in the world?

Perhaps the city is best summed up by its favourite garden plant - the Bougainvillea vine.

Cascades of purple, red and orange flowers hang down over countless fences in the PNG capital. The flowers are a welcome relief from razor wire and aluminium sheeting fences.

But the tangles of vines are covered in thorns - making them at least as effective, and certainly more adaptable than the razor wire they replace.

Shane McLeod has been Port Moresby correspondent for the Australian Broadcasting Corporation since June this year.

See also:

03 Sep 02 | Business
21 Aug 02 | Business
18 Jun 02 | Business
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