22 Feb - 1 Mar '14
Sat 22 Feb 14 - Sat 1 Mar 14 28 °C
So after Papua New Guinea I headed to a place just a little different: Australia. I pretty much had to go through Aus to get home, so a week with my friends in Melbourne sounded like an excellent plan. Apart from taking an age to find Phil and Rora at midnight, and some Burmese bracelets confiscated by customs (possibly the wrong sort of watermelon seeds), it all started swimmingly with me making a new friend on the flight from Brisbane. This turned out rather well as with my buddies at work, I had someone else to hang out with. I was overwhelmed by the kindness and generosity of people in Melbourne - yes I was with friends, but Rora's mum took me out for the afternoon and so did my mum's friends. Oh, and it was my birthday so Phil and Rora spoiled me too.
Melbourne appeared to be all about food, something my stomach very much agreed with after months of rice and noodles. It's amazing how much you end up missing proper bread and cheese. Melbourne provided cheese in the form of some rather nice taleggio from an Italian deli, and many lovely breakfasts, as well as a BBQ, a home-cooked roast dinner and scones with jam and cream. Exactly what my stomach ordered. It couldn't manage proper beer though - the nearest I came to it was a too cold too fizzy bitter-type beverage, and a pint of cold Guinness. Not quite right, but the wine made up for it.
So, despite spending far too many mornings sitting with a book, I actually got out and about to quite a few places...
- Camberwell Market on a Sunday - its a market full of random stalls selling bric-a-brac of the slightly artsy fancy variety. Good for a wander although you might need a) a house to put stuff in, b) money - they've definitely cottoned on to people wanting retro and vintage goods
- open-air cinema at Abbotsford Convent - a lovely setting, a seriously bizarre movie (An American Hippie in Israel) - it had laughable sharks. Rora swears she could see a foot underneath.
- Mornington Peninsular - some lovely beaches at the other side of the bay to Melbourne and wilder ones facing into the Southern Ocean
- Williamstown - once the dock area, now becoming more upmarket, but still full of old charm. Plus a BBQ.
- Fairfield - an excellent teahouse by the river. Earl Grey + scone + jam + cream. Yum. If they'd managed clotted cream I would have been in heaven.
- St Kilda - some excellent live music at the Espy, and a British pub...
- National Gallery of Victoria - some pretty cool art
- Melbourne city centre - street art galore. Very cool. Shame they've covered some of it up!
- Ponyfish bar - under a bridge on the river. Nice setting, nice beer. Cheese board looked damn tempting.
But my favourite? A gig at the zoo. I got to wander round the animals whilst clutching a bottle of wine. I saw most of the famous Aussie animals. I got to stroke a kangaroo. And then I got to eat samosas and drink more wine whilst watching the excellent Josh Pyke.
So Melbourne for me was pretty wicked. I loved it. Partly because it felt like home, partly because I got to see my lovely friends, and partly because I met amazingly nice people there (old and new). But its also the kind of city I like - it lays claim to be the cultural centre of Aus, and I guess that's why it appealed - anywhere that can give me good food, good music and good art is my kind of town.