01 June 2013

Melbourne (Aus) and Boston (USA) to amalgamate - re tourism

Melbourne’s international sister city relationship with Boston was established in 1985. As vibrant and learned cities, Melbourne and Boston are connected by a common commitment to excellence in healthcare and medicine, inform­ation and biotechnology, education, the arts and culture. The Melbourne Boston Sister Cities Association Inc, became an independent incorporated community association.

The importance of promoting educational exchange between Melbourne and Boston was recognised, particularly in the strong areas of medical research and the arts. So the City of Melbourne & Sister Cities Association created a series of funded fellowships, awarded annually in the fields of medical research, the arts and education. The aim of the fellowships is to provide opp­ort­unities to expand and enhance Melbourne and Boston’s reputations as centres of knowledge excel­l­ence, while strengthening international relationships in medical practices, the arts and education.

Some winners have stood out. In 2006, Dr Sharon van Doornum travelled to Boston to collaborate with leading experts on research into the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis in patients with cardiovascular disease. In 2007, Dr Emma McBryde, Head of Epidemiology and Victorian Infectious Diseases Service, travelled to Boston, working on trans­mis­sion models for tuberculosis. In 2010, Dr Bob Anderson moved to Boston to further his work in developing treatments into celiac disease. 

Yarra River, Melbourne

Newbury St, Boston

Additionally the Boston Arts Exchange, supported by the Melbourne Boston Sister Cities Association and the City of Melbourne, was introduced to connect two outstanding educational institutions: the Boston Arts Academy and the Victorian College of the Arts.

In the past both Melbourne and Boston often set aside a portion of their outdoor advertising space on city kiosks for municipal advert­ise­ments eg arts festivals; the cities simply swapped advertising space to make room for each other’s promotions. Now Boston will look a little bit Australian this northern summer when advertise­ments promoting Melbourne are put on benches and bus shelters around the city. At the same time, 16,900 ks away, Boston’s image will get a boost on Melbourne tram stops. The posters, which depict glowing night-time images of each city, are scheduled to go up in June and July for a month.

The two cities share strong British and Europe influences, large immigrant populations, many universities, stunning parks and gardens, museums, art galleries, top class public transport, heritage architect­ure, ports, a vibrant café culture and a passion for sport. But they are not going to be taking each other’s tourist trade since Boston should be visited in June-August and Melbourne is best seen from December-April.

Boston has sister cities other than Melbourne: Strasbourg, Hangzhou, Haifa, Padua, Kyoto, Barcelona, Valladolid, Taipei, Brasilia, Sekondi-Takoradi in Ghana and Boston in the UK. Clearly the Bostonians hope to expand their advertising exchange to these other partners later on. Melbourne’s sister cities are, apart from Boston, Osaka, Tianjin, Thessaloniki, St Petersburg and Milan.

I don’t think it is a coincidence that my closest American friends live in Boston. I would add Vancouver in Canada as well, but alas Vancouver is not a sister city of either Melbourne or Boston.

The light rail in Boston's tree lined streets

The trams in Melbourne's tree line streets

Many thanks to William Roberts, Visiting Associate Professor at Massachusetts College of Art & Design, and to the Boston Globe (25th May 2013).


Shainee said...

Thanks for sharing the informative piece !


We Travel said...

Of all the places in North America we have visited, Boston seemed the most like Melbourne and the most fun.

Hels said...


Welcome aboard. Although mine is a history and art history blog, occasionally people will send me travel stories that inspire new and different posts.

Hels said...

We travel

Australians are great travellers, but we tend to be most at home in coastal cities. So although we love visiting Berlin and Paris, we would be happier living in Boston, San Francisco and Barcelona.

Parnassus said...

Hello Hels, This is a great instance of the sister city program, and what can be accomplished. Cleveland and Taipei (the cities I grew up in and now live in) are also sister cities, but I never saw the one place promoted in the other.

Your blog also does a great job promoting Australia. So far, I have not managed to travel there, but when I do, I have a list of buildings, museums, and places to visit, all thanks to your writing.
--Road to Parnassus

Andrew said...

Should we ever travel to the US...

What a great photo of our Princes Bridge and St Pauls.

Hels said...


I had initially thought the Sister City Programme was a big of a wank, largely giving the mayor and council officers of each city free travel and warm reception in their sister cities.

But the funded fellowships, awarded annually in medical research, the arts and education, are much more tangible. Ditto the Art Exchange.

I am loving this entire process :) And yes, you should always visit Australia!

Hels said...


When our dollar was strong, travelling in the USA was a doddle. Now our dollar had a heart attack and is slipping into a coma, travel to and living in the USA are are more expensive.

However do it anyhow. Make it your goal to visit every nation on earth before you die. There are only 193 (a figure that sometimes changes).

Mandy Southgate said...

Hmmm. I think I will need to visit Boston to be sure but I can see that the two cities must have their similarities. I'd love to visit Melbourne again and truly appreciate it this time.

Hels said...


Welcome!! There is something lovely about Old European cities in the New World that value their physical environment, food, education, culture, health care and public transport.

Mandy Southgate said...

Yes, I believe Quebec is like that too!

Jane Nicholas said...

I wish Australian cities had more of those row houses. I'd surely buy one!

Hels said...


You are going to love Boston :) Including their beautiful domestic architecture, galleries, parks, markets and every other thing.

Hels said...


Today I saw the row houses and other old parts of Boston in a TV programme called Aerial America. On the History Channel, the images and text followed the Freedom Trail, the Tea Party and 19th century migrations. Excellent!