The battle as old as time: Sydney v Melbourne

Two Universities test their strength at the Australian Boat Race

We all love picking a side: Edward or Jacob, Gryffindor or Slytherin, Milo or Nesquik - but there are few rivalries that measure up to Sydney vs Melbourne. As Australia’s two biggest cities, there’s been a friendly competition running between these two greats through the ages.

In honour of the upcoming Australian Boat Race, where rowers from University of Sydney and University of Melbourne are set to go head-to-head in Darling Harbour, we’ve decided to whet your appetite and help you pick your side.

Bring out the big guns


Melbourne has been rated as the most liveable city in the world for seven of the last eight years.


Sydney is home to one of the most beautiful natural harbours in the world, punctuated by some of Australia's big-name attractions, including the Sydney Opera House and Sydney Harbour Bridge. Can the Yarra really compete with this?

For the gram


With a stunning mix of old and new architecture, the University of Melbourne campus has it all.


When it comes to Instagrammable spots, you can’t go past Sydney. Our quad, with its beautiful 19th-century sandstone and Hogwarts vibes, there’s little wonder that it’s a favourite for tourists and students alike.

Photo credits: @giftoftwentyfour, @ohbabyitskaren, @chloe_anx, @szyld, @ruby.duff

The way we were


The Billibellary's Walk through the University’s Parkville campus, provides insight into the experience of the Wurundjeri people of the Woiwurrung language group who walked the grounds upon which the University now stands for more than 40,000 years.


If you’ve ever been to the iconic Quadrangle, you’ll notice the many grotesques leaning out of the sandstone, but have you ever cast your eyes upon the one that resembles a kangaroo? It’s there to signify a time, long before bin chickens roamed the lawns, when the grasslands were actually known to early settlers as the ‘kangaroo grounds’. Before it became the University of Sydney, local first nations people used the area to hunt kangaroos, and even fished and camped at the nearby rivers and creeks.

You can study that?


The University of Melbourne’s Dookie campus is Victoria’s oldest and Australia’s second oldest agricultural college. Situated on 2,440 hectares the campus includes a small community which houses our students and teaching staff, merino sheep, an orchard, robotic dairy, winery and a natural bush reserve.


There once was a ‘medical gymnastics’ branch of Royal Prince Alfred hospital that treated twisted backs, legs or arms. Medical gymnastics eventually grew into what we refer to today as physiotherapy.

You may recognise me from…


An episode of Masterchef Australia for ‘Heston Week’, featuring legendary British chef Heston Blumenthal, was filmed in the iconic Underground Car Park. The car park was also utilised in the filming of the famous garage scene in Mad Max. Recently the University’s Beaurepaire Centre Pool was used for the ABC’s Life on the Line series where acclaimed documentary maker Todd Sampson was shot at close range by an AK-47 in a dramatic demonstration of the physics of resistance.


In cinemas right now, the Ladies in Black movie was directed by alumnus Bruce Beresford (of Driving Miss Daisy directing fame) and is based on the book The Women in Black by alumna the late Madeleine St John. Set in 1959, it tells the warm-hearted story of Lisa who dreams of attending the University of Sydney. The Sydney Uni campus has also been the filming location for a number of movies and tv shows: the Jackie Chan film, Bleeding Steel; the American high school tv show, Reckoning and The Quadrangle was also used in the film Looking for Alibrandi, based on the Melina Marchetta book. As well as being the site for a promotional activation for the Handmaids Tale, we’re also featured on the Sydney version of the Monopoly board.

That’s my team!


The sporting rivalry between Sydney and Melbourne dates back to 1871 when the very first intervarsity competitions in Australia were a boat race and cricket match between our two great universities, Melbourne winning both.


Melbourne may have hosted Australia’s first Olympics in 1956 but Sydney was home to the ‘most successful Olympic games’ in Australia. The 2000 Summer Olympics in Sydney gained 23 more medal placing’s than Melbourne’s podium results. 

Have you picked a side?

Come along on Saturday for the thrill of the race!

Watch the sheer determination and sportsmanship as crews from University of Sydney and University of Melbourne race for victory on the Yarra River.

Watch the race live riverside from the south bank, in front of the Melbourne University Rowing Club boathouse.

When: Saturday 12 October 2019.
Cost: Free to watch from the riverbank, or ferry and brunch packages are available.