Event space race between Sydney and Melbourne heats up

The friendly rivalry between Sydney and Melbourne spills into the events spaces as both cities roll out new venues.

The mixed-use Melbourne Docklands will feature a convention centre and two TFE Hotels properties.
The mixed-use Melbourne Docklands will feature a convention centre and two TFE Hotels properties.

Sydney and Melbourne like to claim they are the best Australian cities with the coolest people, the tastiest coffee and restaurants, and the most successful sporting teams. 

And it seems the friendly rivalry is also extending to which city has the best hotel, event and cultural spaces.

In Sydney there is plenty of fanfare and excitement right now about The Art Gallery of New South Wales’ much anticipated US$225 million Sydney Modern Project

The gallery is perched on the edge of the Royal Botanic Garden and is within walking distance of the Sydney CBD.

The first phase of the expansion and transformation of the gallery will open on December 3.

Described as a “once in a generation project” it will transform the historic NSW gallery into a two-building art museum, almost doubling the space for the display and enjoyment of art, and providing new spaces for special events.

There will be four new event spaces once completed with the largest capable of holding up to 1,000.

Gallery director Michael Brand said the transformed institution “will represent Sydney’s bold spirit as a leading 21st-century art museum with a deep commitment to both Australian and international art.”

And good news in the sustainability stakes, the art gallery will be the first art museum in Australia to be awarded the highest environmental standard for design with a 6-star Green Star rating.  

The expanded Art Gallery of New South Wales is part of the Sydney Modern Project.
The expanded Art Gallery of New South Wales is part of the Sydney Modern Project.

New for Melbourne

Not to be outdone down south, the Victorian capital of Melbourne has just announced a first-of-its-kind mixed-use development in the Melbourne Docklands, not too far from the convention centre, that will feature two world-class TFE Hotels properties.

The cost is almost identical to the Sydney Modern Project. 

This development includes a 200-key yet-to-be-named Collection hotel and a 105-key A by Adina hotel, with a sky bridge connecting the two.

Opening in 2026, it will also feature the largest rooftop infinity pool in Australia and a 1,000-person event and conference centre offering 360 degree views of the Melbourne CBD.

Developer Capital Alliance CEO, Mohan Du, said that after eight years of developing properties in the Docklands, he was on to his last parcel site in the precinct with this project.

“As the saying goes, you save the best for last and these one-of-a-kind hotels will be uniquely different to other accommodation offerings in Melbourne,” he said.

“I know when we welcome guests and the public in 2026, we’ll be able to proudly showcase the legacy we’ve left behind with tremendous pride.”

And to the question of which city makes the best coffee – Sydney or Melbourne? Well, you’ll just have to try for yourself when you next visit.



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