This isn’t so much a guide to Melbourne as it is what I did during the weekend.
- Browsing around Melbourne Central. This large shopping centre and train station has an interesting centre piece of an old chimney under a multi paned glass roof. It’s got a good value food court with free wi-fi too.
- State Library of Victoria – a god send for uninterrupted public wi-fi without the need to buy a Big Mac (or my nemesis, Global Gossip) if you have a laptop. It’s housed in a neo-classical building, which is relatively uncommon in Australia. It’s just across the road from Melbourne Central on Swanston Street.
- Watching hockey at the ABN AMRO Champions trophy. Melbourne is the capital of Australian sport, and you can take your pick from Aussie rules and cricket in season, but hockey’s my game.
- Walking down the Yarra riverfront on a hot day is an excellent free activity. This modern city has a pleasant skyline, with interesting postmodern architecture and markets around Flinder’s Street station.
- Sunday session in St. Kilda, my favourite Melbourne social spot.
Unsurprisingly, I didn’t sleep well on the night bus to Melbourne. I woke up around seven driving through the Victoria countryside, and we arrived soon after. As usual, not having a map, I didn’t really know where I was going upon my arrival. I wanted to head up to Franklin Street in the north of the central grid, went the wrong way, but eventually managed to find it. I checked into Melbourne International Backpackers at nine in the morning. I had some trepidation about going in a backpackers again, seeing as my luck had been out for almost all of the country, and it was two days until Tom, and old friend that I’d be staying with in the week, returned from the Great Ocean Road. Circumstances didn’t lend themselves to staying at Frank’s (my ex-girlfriend) either, who was another point of contact in the city. In fact, Melbourne International Backpackers was about two hundred metres from her apartment.
For $25 a night, the room wasn’t exactly worth the money. It stank for one. At least there was a free breakfast at the downstairs bar. The location was perfect for the weekend though, and I headed down to the library to work for most of the morning. Once that was finished, I just pottered around the city and had a Chinese. I couldn’t really be bothered to start making friends in the hostel. The same old conversation was not going to come up again.
Anyhow, at five my old mate Rich, from Canterbury gave me a call and I headed to meet him down near the markets. Meeting up with an old friend thousands of miles from home is always pretty good, and we got typically battered. I went into town, had too many drinks with no dinner, then we took a taxi to some unknown location, drank more, then Rich called it a night. I took a taxi back to Fluid Oz bar, under the backpackers, then stood in the smoking area drinking more with a group of random Australians. I got refused service on about my third beer. It was probably a good idea.
The next day I’d be going with Frank to see England vs. Korea at hockey. It’d been five months since I’d last seen her, and considering the circumstances this was going to be quite a big deal, but with the hangover I had it didn’t really register. We watched the hockey, England won, watched a bit of the Australia vs. Spain match, then headed to the markets. We sat outside drinking away in the heat of the afternoon until about five, when my hangover caught up with me. I had to go home and pass out for the night.
The next day had two main events, interluded by a few hours of boredom. The first was meeting Andrea, who I’d been to the Great Barrier Reef with, to arrange our Great Ocean Road trip for later in the week. I met her, after some effort trying to find her, at Flinders Street Station along with two others she’d got to come along. We had lunch, then booked the car for Thursday through to Monday. They’d drive up to Adelaide in that time while I’d cover the Ocean Road and return to Melbourne. I’d originally thought of doing this with Frank, seeing as she suggested it, but it would’ve just been a bit too weird.
After a couple of hours interlude, I got a call from Tom to tell me he’d come back. I took a train to Armadale and met him at the station, to see my third familiar face of the weekend. I dumped my bag down at his place, then we went for a Sunday session down at St. Kilda. I didn’t know any of the others, but it was a fairly good session, and unsurprisingly, I had quite a hangover the next day.