Quentin Long asks just what the ‘race that stops a nation’ means to Melbourne’s psyche.

I have a theory that the Melbourne Cup is largely responsible forMelbourne’s identity as our most sophisticated city.

Forget the tennis, the F1, the Boxing Day test and the AFL grand final, those are all times I wish I was in Melbourne. Tuesday is the day I really wished I was a Melbournian.

And it’s not only because it’s a public holiday in Victoria, we all bludge the afternoon off with office parties anyway.

No other Australian city has a day when the entire populace frocks up and celebrates as one. Yes, New Year’s Eve in Sydney is very, very similar, but it lacks the fashion element which raises the level of sophistication.

I know I am in danger of sounding as shallow as a teaspoon, but I think it does lend itself to the overall city psyche.

Essentially, Melbourne Cup celebrations tell every single resident that it is okay to value aesthetic. And from that core value, much of the city’s greatness flows. Ironic, as the city itself is not that attractive.

As a Sydney boy, it took me a long time to ‘get’ Melbourne. It’s a city that reveals itself slowly and requires some investigation.

So in the haste and exuberance of my youth I missed the great Melbourne experiences. Below are the experiences that my mature and cultured self feel are ‘Signature Melbourne’ (and it’s funny how foodie they are):

And where to stay, oh my, there are just too many great ones:

Luxury

Very Comfortable