City more chic than bleak

Fashion mecca … Stephanie Harper loves shopping in Melbourne.
Fashion mecca … Stephanie Harper loves shopping in Melbourne.

MELBOURNE has again claimed bragging rights over its city rivals, with Australian women choosing it as their favourite getaway spot.

A national travel survey has shown that 45 per cent of women voted Melbourne as their preferred holiday destination. Sydney came a distant second at 21 per cent.

Of the 5000 women surveyed in the 2012 Female Travel and Lifestyle Report, released by, 56 per cent of women preferred holidaying in Australia to "relax" and "escape day-to-day life", despite the strong dollar making overseas travel attractive.

Young Sydney professional Stephanie Harper took regular trips to Melbourne with her mother for a dose of retail therapy.

"I feel I'm a lot more likely to pick something up that I wouldn't find in Sydney,'' Miss Harper said. ''I find that the clothes are a little bit more interesting and not so mass manufactured.

"[Melbourne] has a really European feel to it. The centre of the city is a lot more intimate and I really like the quirky bars, shops and cafes that you can stumble across in the laneways."

Lane Cove mother-of-two, Clare Greenup, recently travelled to Melbourne with three female friends for a weekend away.

"We stayed in a little serviced apartment and got up late and had a lovely brunch,'' she said. ''Then we hit Chapel Street and wandered for hours and hours without children complaining."

Shopping aside, Melbourne has several drawcards that appeal to women.

Last year, 4.3 million interstate visitors travelled to the Victorian capital and the popular destination was awarded ''best weekend away'' at the Gourmet Traveller 2012 Travel Awards.

"It's a really cultural place,'' Ms Greenup said. ''We could have gone to shows or seen bands. We, as women, had zero intention of going to see any sport, but if that's your thing then it's great for that, too."

Ms Greenup said busy women want a release from their usual routines.

"The world gets really busy and you don't give yourself time to not be the cook, cleaner or chauffeur,'' she said.

"A weekend away in Melbourne is a great way to have a relaxing time with friends.''

Often considered Australia's culinary capital, Melbourne is also a favourite among foodies.

"The dining scene is amazing, too,'' Miss Harper said. ''On my next trip I would be happy to go down purely to visit some of the restaurants."

This story City more chic than bleak first appeared on The Sydney Morning Herald.