I don’t think that I was quite with it when leaving Melbourne. I was flying at 1550 and had a good nights sleep so I had no real excuses for being a bit dopey. I thought that there happened to be a lot of people called ‘Mel’ working at the airport judging by their name tags . . .
I returned to the MCG yesterday for a stadium tour and visit to the National Sports Museum. The MCG has 100,000 members, 200 of which volunteer to give the tours. Our guide for the day was a elderly chap named Eric who put his name on the waiting list for membership in 1959. He finally became a member in 1981. Nowadays you can still expect to wait around 21 years and there is a select group of people that have been members for over 50 years. It is not a young demographic.
While on the pitch we were treated to an impromptu bird of prey show as a hawk was exercised to ward off other birds from the stadium. Not a bad idea but it could do with being done on a match day too as the amount of aggressive gulls scavenging was bordering on unsettling. Still, not as bad as Circular Quay in Sydney where I witnessed two separate seagull attacks on people having lunch, swooping down and knocking the food out of their hands.
The museum was obviously extremely biased towards all things Australian. There are special sections for the Olympics, AFL, cricket and an interactive zone where you can test yourself at various sporting activities. In theory at least: it’s the school holidays here and I couldn’t get to try anything.
Considering the plethora of stadia and facilities around the MCG (the Vodafone arena and Rod Laver Arena for instance) and the sterotypical fit, bronzed, Aussie surfer, it came as a bit of a shock to most when Australia took over the mantle of fattest nation on Earth last week.
If anybody were to ask me what the “must do” of Melbourne is then I’d have to say that you need to actually get out of Melbourne. The Neighbours tour is amusing enough but I would have to suggest a Great Ocean Road tour.
I went on one yesterday. It was a long day, setting off at 0730 and getting back to the city a little after 2100. We took in Geelong, Torquay and Bells Beach (as referenced in Point Break – the actual beach was in Oregon) before heading along to Split Point lighthouse (as seen in Mad Max and Round The Twist).
Having driven down the west coast of America it was a great pleasure to have someone else do the driving and consequently feel free to enjoy the views without worrying about crashing the car. We were so much closer to the water and maybe because of this the waves were on a far more impressive scale. The waves fell almost as if they were in slow motion. The water wasn’t exactly clear due to the recent rainfall.
However, the waves on the surf coast paled in comparison to those on the shipwreck coast. It was an extremely windy day which whipped up the ocean. The waves were honestly the biggest waves I’ve seen outside of a Laird Hamilton film and they crashed over the 100 foot cliffs.
We stopped at Mait’s Rest Rainforest and Kennett River to see some wild koalas and hand-feed King Parrots and Rosellas. Some kangaroos were also grazing in the nearby fields but there was still no hopping action.
Yesterday afternoon I took in my first live Australian Rules game and watched Brisbane Lions play Melbourne at the MCG. Melbourne unexpectedly edged the match and won by a single point – 14.9.93 to 13.14.92. The scoring soon made sense: 6 points for a ‘goal’ (the first number) and 1 point for a ‘behind’ (either side of the goals) which are added together for the actual scoreline (the last number).
I had an introduction to AFL last week courtesy of my cousins partners seven-year-old son who had to give a talk to his class on his favourite things and used me to practice his presentation, so I wasn’t completely at a loss as to what was going on. I was confused for a while about the guys in HiViz outfits running around the pitch, seemingly at random. I knew they weren’t officials, water carriers or medical staff. I asked a friend who told me that they were ‘runners’ and ferrying messages from the coach to the players.
It wasn’t the most free-flowing of games but I enjoyed my afternoon. Like a rugby match, integrated seating and being able to have a beer during the game helped the atmosphere. Attendance was over 23,000 but the ground felt bizarrely deserted as the MCG has a capacity of 100,000 or over four times the crowd on the day.
After the match we jumped on to a tram down to St. Kilda – made famous a few years ago in the TV series The Secret Life of Us. We headed home after some people watching, a nice dinner and lots of slobbering as we passed by the multitude of cake shops.
Yesterday was spent touring around various wineries and sampling their wares. Either side of lunch we clocked up somewhere in the region of seven or eight places, from the large to the small and family-run. The car was clinking with the sound of bottles as we came home loaded with a fair amount wine.
I’m afraid to say that I forgot my notebook and the nature of the day lead to my memory being pretty vague so I can’t really elaborate much on which wines we sampled where. Suffice to say that there were some good ones and some not-so-good ones. Definitely something to add to your list of things to do for the next time you’re in the area.