Tuesday, 19 January 2016

Map of Tassie Tour - Day 12 Melbourne

Spirit of Tasmania from the
Eureka Skydeck
Another warm day in Melbourne, with still no news on the fate of our van. It's a waiting game and despite a decision to avoid canvassing options, as each day passes, it's hard not to be thinking of what the next week brings. A quick repair will see us retreating to rural Victoria to wait until our new sailing date on The Spirit of Tasmania (6th February) but even that may not be guaranteed owing to the mishap it experienced the night after ours. A later repair, or perhaps even worse news and we will almost certainly have to return home and set our sights on Tasmania for later in the year.

It's all rather disappointing.

We tried hard to distract ourselves with another day in he city and started by meeting two families from Adelaide at our bus stop. They had roguish humour, answered in swerves and asides but they were great fun. Like others before them, they received our tale of woe but at least it is becoming abridged and for once, it wasn't delivered by me. Late to the bus stop, Sue had exclusive broadcast rights. We were able to help them with their public transport enquiries and lead them toward the tennis ... at least we hope we did!

We left the bus at Queens Bridge, walking to the Eureka Tower. On a previous visit, we had been to the viewing platform on the 88th floor but crowds and waiting times saw us choose not to attempt The Edge. A viewing platform which extends three metres out from the building, it has see through walls and floor in order to hang its occupants out over the city and delivering either fear or intense excitement. Unfortunately, between buying our ticket to ascend we were slightly delayed - toilets etc - for enough time to allow a large group and several families to board the lift ahead of us. By the time we reached the top, the waiting time was extending and I wasn't keen to spend the extra money required for a ride on The Edge with such a long wait thrown in. To be honest, I'm not sure either of us needed the extra thrill at the moment.

The viewing areas were crowded. Unfortunately we encountered something, not for the first time, of the rudeness of a certain group of overseas tourists. I won't identify them as I'm not into stereotyping and certainly don't want to confuse what I would hope is an accurate image of our inclusiveness by appearing racist or culturally exclusive. However, we were bumped into, stood in front of and had to tolerate their loud talking and ability to stand in an unpenatrable mob standing in narrow spaces. I'm sure it's a cultural misunderstanding on my part but it always appears rude.

The view was spectacular, especially over the city blocks themselves. Ants were crawling all over the National Tennis Centre. Boats plied their trade in tourists along the Yarra and pedestrians hurried everywhere, some even running in a variety of fluorescent colours.

We returned to the ground, to eat lunch and with Sue determined to take a cruise but researched and found very mixed reviews, I wasn't at all keen. Tales of enjoyment were well and truly matched by complaints about toilets not working, promised refreshments and commentary not being available and late starts eating into the paid for time on the water. These comments extended across both of the major service providers and not enough was being said about the smaller operators. However, when she fixes on an idea, their is no stopping her and with memories of the Seine still ruminating even three years later, she was still searching for the romance of water. Off she went.

Martin Rotsey's guitar
I declined and instead headed for the Arts Centre Victoria and an exhibition of Midnight Oil memorabilia and film clips. A phone call intervened before I got there. Sue had been about to step on board and having looked at the boat and been informed refreshments were not available because "we have no power today", she joined me in declination. 

The Arts Centre which had a change in name, which literally did nothing more than change the order of the words, was opened in stages between 1982-84, having been designed more than twenty years earlier. It features the Hamer Hall, close to Princes Bridge and the much talked about combination of theatres and concert halls which has the webbed spire inspired by the Eiffel Tower. Unlike Eiffel's design, which hosted radio antenna and has millions ascending it every year, this spire is purely decorative and was the subject of much public debate when it was being built. Some say it represents a ballerina, whilst our bus driver thought it looked like an inverted ice cream cone. Either way, like the Sydney Opera House, it is a distinctive landmark which immediately identifies Melbourne.

The Oils exhibition was compact, installed in a small gallery not far inside the main entrance. A mock stage had been set and scenes from concerts played out on the sort of video screen typically used at such events for a generation so used to screens that even live they prefer looking at them. The memorabilia was top draw. My personal favourite was the Strat guitar of a former cricket team mate Martin Rotsey, which had smashed out the driving rocks rhythms which were the guts of their sound. Rotsey had opened the bowling for Miranda Magpies U16s and I had stood at second slip. I have often wondered if his angry, rock god guitar playing was as a result of his social consciousness or my bad catching. Clothing, foul copy of lyrics and gig posters provided a cornucopia of their history and ignited my otherwise dull day.

By the time we reached the Melbourne Museum, a venue we had much anticipated, too much of the day had already brushed past us, so our visit was too short. Then again, they usually are in such places. There is so much to see and absorb and these days, without children urging us toward the ice creams and complaining about their teacher parents insisting they read and absorb. "Questions would be asked later" was never sufficient threat to obviate their insistent orders for Paddle Pops.

We missed Pharlap. Having seen his heart in Canberra, I was keen to see the case it came in.

The dinosaur exhibit had me senselessly but happily retreating to childhood. Bones and skulls and shadows which had been cast form millions of years have that effect on me. I noticed other tall children similarly entranced.

The collection of stuffed animals was impressive, with interactive touch screens to identify each one. Upstairs, displays about the human body and particularly the mind, have been thoughtfully mounted with an excellent combination of information conveyed in a number of different ways which would cater for all learning styles. By this stage of the day, Sue's back was again barking, so she lay on a couch out of everyone's way. She was impressed that a passing staff member enquired as to her well being and offered assistance. She was less impressed when Alan Brough of Spicks and Specks fame bumped into in the coffee shop. His apology was instant and appreciated but the fact he didn't recognise her left her disappointed.

Owing to our bus schedule and pre-paid tickets, we had to leave much earlier than either of us wished but in truth, L4 and L5 were making it clear that it was time for Sue to quit. We returned to the caravan park, mostly along the Footscray Road, passing through the vibrant differences of cultures that are Footscray. I noticed for the first time that we had been passing the Bulldogs home ground each day and informed Sue of this fact. Blank and oblivious would best describe her response.

A swim in the pool and a coughing fit rounded out the day.

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