a BUDGET TRAVELLERS guide to sydney & Melbourne.

Like all great cities around the globe, Sydney and Melbourne have a rivalry that runs deep. Listen to two locals discuss which city is better and you will hear argument after argument detailing why one is better than the other. Fortunately, budget travelling means you can visit both cities when down under. Only 878 kilometres separates the two Australian cities which makes it easy to travel between them. When you do, you will find plenty of differences as both vie to be considered the country's No. 1 city.

Sydney and Melbourne are the two largest cities in Australia, and both consider themselves to be the commercial, social and financial hubs of the country. The citizens of both cities greatly identify themselves with each, and you may too, if you can decide which you prefer more.

Both Sydney and Melbourne offer so much to see and do for budget travellers, and a trip to the Great Barrier Reef is possible when staying in one of the two cities. Yes, almost anything is possible in the land down under, so get ready for fun, sun, beaches and while you're at it, throw another shrimp on the barbie.

Culture

Australia's culture derives from the British, who landed in Australia in the 1700s. By 1788, the British began to colonise the country and soon after waves of people were setting off for Oz. Although Aboriginal people were already in Australia, the new groups settling in the country began to set up government based on that of Britain's.

By the 1900s, immigrants to the country were turning Australia into a melting pot of people. New arrivals came from Europe where two World Wars would displace millions. Like the United States, Argentina, Brazil, Chile and Uruguay, Australia offered people the chance to start a new life.

In addition, immigrants from Asia settled in Australia, bringing various types of food and cultural norms. These have now become part of Australia, helping to make the country what it is today.

Things to see

Sydney

Sydney is the oldest city in Australia, therefore many of its buildings are also quite old. One of the city's most recognised sites is the famed Sydney Opera House. Located on the gorgeous harbour, Sydney Opera House has been certified as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Its amazing shapes and structure make it one of the most memorable buildings in the city.

Sydney Harbour Bridge was the city's most recognisable site until the Opera House was built. It connects the harbour's north and south shores. It is iconic and a great picture opportunity when enjoying the harbour.

When you want to stretch your legs and interact with others checking out Sydney's great sites, Darling Harbour is the place to go. The waterfront area is strictly for pedestrians and is filled with shops, restaurants and cafes to cool off in. Darling Harbour also has plenty of museums to stroll through while exploring the area.

Melbourne

If you love sports, Melbourne may just edge Sydney as Australia's top sporting city. The Melbourne Cricket Ground has been the site of many great triumphs over the years. With a capacity of 100,000, the ground is considered one of the world's greatest sports arenas. Take a tour of the ground and catch a cricket or Aussie Rules Football match while you are there.

After an exhilarating time at the MCG, head to the Royal Botanical Gardens for a chance to catch your breath. The gardens contain more than 50,000 plants to view. The gardens are also home to the Aboriginal Heritage Walk which will give you insight into the history of Australia's indigenous people.

Melbourne's Docklands are one of the city's newest additions. The waterfront area is filled with great places to grab a drink or a bite to eat. There are also first-class sporting venues at the Docklands – Etihad Stadium and Icehouse – and the area is all about being green.

Food

Australia's cuisine has been influenced heavily by the British, who colonised the country centuries ago. However, there have also been influences from the

massive waves of migration to the country. From Italy and Greece to China and Indonesia, Australia's foods reflect those that have settled the land.

Barbecues are common in Australia – although maybe not as common as foreigners think – and you will find great grilled dishes in Melbourne and Sydney. From steaks and burgers to fish and squid, Aussies never miss a chance to start a barbecue. Snags are a grilling staple and you can get these sausage like items in beef or pork.

Nothing may show the difference between the people of Melbourne and Sydney more than their tastes in beer. If you are in Sydney, you may favour the golden lager of Tooheys; while Melbourne's residents will prefer Victoria Bitter or Carlton Draught. In Australia, the beer you drink says a lot about you.

What to see?

Looking out over Sydney is Sydney Tower. Another of the City's great landmarks, Sydney Tower provides tourists and locals with great views of the New South Wales capital. Rising from the Centrepoint shopping complex, you will be taken to the top of the tower in no time via the express lifts.

No trip to Sydney is complete until you dive into the surf at Bondi Beach. The iconic beach is a must, and the local beach bars and cafes offer refuge when the sun becomes overbearing.

Melbourne's Southbank and Arts Centre provides plenty of great sites for culture vultures. The area contains multiple theatres and halls to visit. You may even fancy taking in a show at the Fairfax Theatre.

Opened in 2002, Federation Square celebrated the centenary of Australian federation. Although it is part of the furniture of the city, the square was hated by a large segment of Melbourne citizens when it was completed. While visiting Federation Square, be sure to check out the Ian Potter Gallery and the Australian Centre for the Moving Image. Both offer cool exhibits to visitors.

Nightlife

In recent times, Sydney has inacted new laws to curb alcohol-related violence. Being aware of this can prevent you from missing out on a great nightclub or even buying beer from a local shop. That said, Sydney offers plenty of amazing venues

to explore on a night out. Oxford Street houses the city's LGBT bars, but the great clubs and cafes are for all no matter what your sexual preference. Kings Cross is the city's notorious red light district, while those wanting something a little more classy will venture to the Rocks or King Street Wharf.

In Melbourne, you will find a variety of great drinking holes from bars at the top floor of a skyscraper to dive bars underground. Unlike Sydney, Melbourne makes it possible for you to still stay up all night enjoying the great clubs, restaurants and bars in the city. Whether you are looking for late night food from hipster hotdog joints or cold Victoria Bitter from a cozy pub, you will find it on the streets of Melbourne.