June in Winter

Monday, June 04, 2007

Contrary to June being a month of warmth and sun, shorts and sandals, lakes and boating, and moreover, a summer month, down here in topsy-turvey Australia, winter is setting in. No, there’s no snow, and no, it’s not really TOO cold, but nevertheless, I look at temperatures in Saskatoon and Melbourne, and here the temperature is 10C and back home in Canada, 12C (in the middle of the night, expected to hit 26C tomorrow). So, perhaps my wisdom wanes in being in Australia over winter, but I am enjoying it nonetheless. However, June has started, we’ll see how it goes. In the meantime, here’s my recap of the last two weeks of May. If I may.

Starting around the 21st of May, I worked pretty much the entire week through, with a couple short lunch shifts early on that allowed me to wander around the city in the afternoons and evenings, and then some dinner shifts (6-12) that gave me my afternoons completely free. Where that time went is beyond me. I was sick with a bit of strep throat and flu during that week, but I do remember stumbling around and rediscovering that little lane where Melinda and I had crepes, which I discovered is called Degraves St. It was a pleasant discovery on a day where I was just looking for a place that wasn’t Starbucks to get a nice chai latte. I sat and had a bowl of soup at a place called, ironically, In a Rush, and then went to Hudson’s (which I later discovered is a chain anyway) and got a chocolate chai latte. Ah, therapeutic.

Jess, another girl I know from my adventures through Scandinavia, was coming down to visit Nick, who happens to be her boyfriend, and so I was determined to get out of the house for the weekend. Plus, my work schedule wasn’t remotely overlapping with Kirsti’s, so I was hoping to visit with her and Dave. It worked out quite well. We worked the 7-7 shift together, moreorless (she was done at about 5) and then I drove out to her place and crashed. It was my first Saturday night off since starting at Stalactites, and I was pretty determined to get out on the town at least a little bit. Dave called and mentioned that a friend from Queensland was in town and we were going to the MCG to see an AFL game with them, so we headed down and I stroked another item off my Melbourne todo list. The game was pretty poor until the last quarter, but the ‘G’ itself was a world-class stadium and suitably impressive, even half-filled. Afterwards, we met up with Andrew (another coworker) and went out for some food in Chinatown but didn’t go out per se as Dave was pretty tired. So, back home to Croydon, a little bit of Wii tennis against Dave (he still can’t beat me, but he’s gotten much better :) ) and then bed.

I left their house the next evening to visit with Jess and Nick before she went back to Lismore, but she missed her flight and we got to spend a bit more time together than I hoped. She’s a cool girl and it was a fun little convo with the two of them. I had a really sweet week ahead of me, and this was a nice way to kick it off. I met Norm at 1:00 “Under the clocks” in true Melbourne fashion (I felt like such a local to be told that and know what it meant) and we went on a huge ride, almost 50km down the coast of Phillip Bay all the way to Carrum. Norm was kind enough to map out the track which is on the left and you can enlarge by clicking on it. It was mostly a coastal ride, but we veered off and drove along a creek then a golf course and finally back to the coast through a canaled housing area that looked very ritzy and pristine. We stopped to have a bite in one of the man-made harbours and I bought Norm a long-overdue birthday Guiness as well. Then back on the train and Norm and I checked out the new Pirates movie which was pretty average. I suppose I needed to see the second movie more recently, because I felt a little lost at the beginning, but eventually I got back into the swing and actually enjoyed the movie better than the second one.

And so ended Monday. Tuesday, I was definitely in the mood to do some more exploring as I’d had so much fun Monday. However, it just didn’t happen. I admittedly have been waking up later than I’d like because of my night shifts and so I basically was home most of the daylight hours. Finally, as I wracked my mind for something that wasn’t a movie to do in the evening, I remembered I’d been wanting to see a play or musical here in Melbourne. I went online and found that Pirates of Penzance, the Gilbert and Sullivan classic from which “Model of a modern Major-General” comes from started in 45 minutes. Conveniently, Nick lives a five minute walk from the Arts Centre, so I walked over, got a ticket in the lower balcony, and grabbed a seat just before the lights dimmed. The play was pretty good and definitely had moments of hilarity, though I felt like it was a bit more amateur that I’d expected from a major play in an Arts city like Melbourne. Still, a good time and worth a see, I’m glad I got out of the house.

The next day, I went and did some shopping. I picked up some new shoes since my existing pair is running low on, well, sturdiness, and some clothes at CMs, fulfilling my vow to get at least one or two things from there before leaving Melbourne. The checklist gets shorter and shorter! I also got a parking ticket as they apparently changed the parking zone and that wasn’t so nice but I suppose that for all the free parking I’d been doing it’s not too horrible, as long as they aren’t a regular occurrence. I went to work from 6-midnight and then Nick and I had a few drinks and called it a night. Thursday night, Kirsti planned a night out since I hadn't really been 'out' in Melbourne as such. Although we wound up going out in Croydon instead, it was still a lot of fun and I met some of her other friends as well as seeing a few again. We went out to a place with a live acoustic act, hung out there for a spell, and then went back to Kirsti's and Dave's and played a little bit of Wii before Nick and I hit the road for home. Definitely good times and as always Kirsti was very cool organizing this particular night.

Friday I got some internet things done and worked the night shift, which went pretty fast. Saturday, another night shift and I met some of Nick’s friends from school that I hadn’t met at the Thy-Thy-Thai nights before heading out. It was a long shift and I was wiped out before it even started, but there were a few customers that made it worthwhile. Finally, Sunday, I headed to the historic Astor theatre and watched a double feature of Humphrey Bogart movies, African Queen and Treasure of the Sierra Madre. The former was filmed in that just-discovering-blue-screen era and wasn’t a particularly notable movie though I could see how its exotic location would’ve been a thrill for movie goers in that era. Treasure of the Sierra Madre, an older black and white number, is definitely a worthy classic. I loved that movie. The theatre itself was awash in art deco stylings with a real aura to it of an older time when a night at the movies was a little more special. Incidentally, Nick and my experiments are going fairly smoothly. We've ruled out the 'poo taste' apple in favour of pink lady, and hit a bit of a snag in that I chose Red Delicious over Royal Gala while he chose the Gala, meaning both apples will advance to the next delicious round. I like that the gala is a nice compromise in tartness and sweetness but I like the sweet apple flavour that goes with the Red Delicious for the baked apples while Nick prefers the contrast. The next round, coming soon, is the green apple round. I suspect neither will compare.

And so we arrive on today. I wandered around the city a bit and tried to see some things I’d not seen. I took a stroll through the historic Block Pl, the oldest Arcade in Australia (I think) and up as far as Williams St before doubling back towards the more familiar Swanston and Russel St. I finally found a place called Hardware Lane that I’d heard so much about. While walking through, a painting caught my eye in an art gallery and I wandered in and had a chat with the guy running the show there. It’s kind of impressionistic, the paintings are made of circles of paint, aerosol paint no less, but look absolutely fantastic. If I had money to spare and a wall to hang it, I’d definitely pick up one of his pieces in original form, but even the smaller paintings were $4500. Still, I bet those paintings are worth a lot more than that in a few years’ time and if not, well, they’re almost worth that price to me, so much do I enjoy them. I took a photo of a couple of them though the photos don’t really do paintings justice. And I’ll probably stop by the gallery for the official opening night on Friday before work to meet James Cochran (the painter) and see what an art opening is all about.

In the meantime, I’m hoping to hit the road for a few days before working again on Friday. We were planning to do a camping trip through the goldfields of Victoria but as that has fallen through, I’m thinking of driving out to Ballarat (a gold rush town) and then the Grampians for a day or two of hiking and/or camping on my own. I don’t think I’ll be in Melbourne too much longer as there is so much more of Australia to see, but I definitely do love it here and wouldn’t mind coming back before I leave. But I’m thinking that I’ll hang around until Nick’s big post-uni party in Ocean Grove and see his hometown a bit before taking the Great Ocean Road to Adelaide to visit Dave and Belinda and of course Adelaide itself. From there, well, who knows? I may head up through the desert to Alice Springs and Uluru, or maybe just fly there and then drive my way back up the east coast into Queensland. Either way, I’m heading north for the winter, but I’m going to enjoy my last few weeks here in Victoria and Melbourne.

Melbourne Photos

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