24th Mar 2012 - 17th Aug 2012
Australia - Melbourne Part Two
We packed up our stuff and headed to Melbourne where Miss Ruth put us up in her empty place and that’s where we’ve been ever since (thanks a million Ruthie). Work was intense to begin with, even though the language is the same, the attitude and local knowledge takes a while to get up to speed with. The first month was hard and Brandan was back in Sydney working with children (finally he could appreciate Derek’s pain!) and doing some renovations work. I was very glad to have him back and even happier when work eased up a bit. We’ve love living in Barkly Street, it’s a quirky little place and we’ve grown to love it. Highlights of our time in the house include the marsupial mouse that kept me company while Brandan was away, the outdoor lav and our blow up mattress, which has been slept on since March! In June we finally gave in and bought a heater. After having spent a few days in a heated apartment in Phillip Island we couldn’t face Melbourne’s nip again.
We have ticked off some Australian must dos while living in Melbourne including eating Kangaroo and going to an AFL match where we had the obligatory Four and Twenty pies covered in tomato sauce. The Four and Twenty were just the job when the match you’re watching has four quarters of 25- 30 mins each and Kangaroo is lovely when it’s cooked properly, i.e. hardly at all. Other culinary highlights include ‘Parma’ (Chicken Parmigiana), which is the staple of Friday lunchtime at the pub and consists of a chicken schnitzel, covered in tomato sauce and cheese with chips. There’s a whole host of food options in Melbourne with a strong Italian and Asian influences but my favourite are the brunch options including Avocado Smash, which is feta and avocado mashed up with chilli and served on toast. You also can’t beat the coffee in Melbourne. I’m a tea drinker but even I can taste that the coffee is lovely here with no bitterness, plus they’re very innovative with their coffee froth pictures.
AFL didn’t convert us from rugby but Victorians go mad for it and the atmosphere is good. You would have to be incredibly fit to be a professional player because the pitch is enormous and it’s very fast. I loved the songs each team has which Ruth cleverly pointed out are a bit like Gilbert and Sullivan ditties. We also managed to squeeze in a couple of Super 16 games watching both the Bulls and the Blues against the local team the Rebels. Melbourne seems to be a bit of sports mad city with loads of stadiums, for everything from tennis, to AFL and rugby and racing in the Spring. There are also plenty of rowing clubs but the idea of getting up at 4am in the freezing cold outweighs the fun of being on the river!
We’ve slowly ticked off some other Melbourne tourist jaunts to the Skydeck, the highest of its kind in the southern hemisphere. Another trip was to the Melbourne aquarium where we could see the rays, sharks, jellyfish and penguins. I’m not really keen on zoos as I don’t like the small spaces for the animals and they did seem too small for animals used to a whole ocean, which is sad.
One day we took a trip to the war memorial, which is very beautiful. It’s located on a central route out of town so there’s a long avenue leading up to it and it’s quite impressive. It looks almost Turkish in design but maybe I’m projecting that onto it as it’s not only a WW1 memorial but also an ANZAC memorial for the diggers at Gallipoli. I made ANZAC biscuits this year and they were very easy and very yummy. I did have hopes of getting up early and going to the dawn service with a bottle of milk and rum but it was pouring with rain and so cold that we didn’t quite make it. At the memorial you can see the Changi flag. This is the Union Jack that flew over the Sultan’s palace in Johore and was removed by Captain Ken Parsons to prevent it falling into enemy hands after the fall of Singapore. It was held by the captured Australians in Changi Prison, where it was kept safe until liberation in 1945 and brought out on ceremonial occasions, including the burial of prisoners. It was signed by over 100 people, some of whom made and some who didn’t and was also signed by Lady Edwina Mountbatten who was part of the liberation force in 1945.
There's loads to do in Melbourne but while we’ve been here we’ve had a few trips out and about, one the Phillip Island and one to Tasmania....