Melbourne: Part One

It happened all so suddenly. My father was going to Melbourne on business and arksened me if I wanted to come along ‘cos he had enough frequent flier points for me to fly for free. Yeah, ok.

I kind of forgot about it until about a week before I was due to go, and realised I’d better get excited. So I found myself on the four hour flight across the sea without much of a traditional tourist thing happening.

At Melbourne airport I used the toilets in the area where the baggage carousels are. On the wall near the sink was a unit for the disposal of syringes. So, Australia has a bit of a problem with junkies, and indeed syringe disposal units are found in most public toilets, but who exactly would be shooting up in the toilets in the customs area of an international airport? Maybe I’m missing something here?

There’s a special 20 cent coin made to commemorate Sir Donald Bradman. He was a cricketer, quite a good one, apparently. The first time I got a Don 20 cent, I was really annoyed. See, a few years ago Caltex had this promotion where with every $20 of petrol you got a free rugby collector medal and each medal featured an All Black. So when I got the Don 20 cent, it looked just like the rugby coins and I was annoyed cos I thought someone had tried to use this cricket coin as legal tender and I’d ended up with it. Then I turned it over and saw the Queen’s profile on the back. Oh.

I went to the Old Melbourne Gaol. It was pretty cool. It’s a three-storey-high cell block, and most cells have a small display about a notorious former inmate, or some aspect of the prison. There were a lot of bad arses there, and many hangings. When a fellow was hanged, a plaster mould was made of his head, because back in the day it was thought that the shape of a person’s head could determine their personality and destiny. Nowaday, we know that the size of a person’s arse determines their destiny.

In the place of honour is the Ned Kelly section. Not only is the death mask of Mr Kelly on display, but so is his famous DIY armour. I didn’t actually pay much attention to the display, so I can’t remember what Ned Kelly did, but it must have been pretty bad because he was hanged.

I also paid the Melbourne Museum a visit. It was full of many different things, but two exhibits really stood out.

As a New Zealander, I am supposed to get really angry that the stuffed skin of Phar Lap, who was born in New Zealand, (and if horses could have citizenship, he would have been a New Zealand citzen, mate) is housed in the Melbourne Museum. But as I don’t care, I’m not angry.

Phar Lap, whose belovedness is attributed to the fact that in a time of ecomonic hardship, he was a sure bet at the races, is displayed in front of a red curtain. Creepily, his horses veins stand out under his skin. It should also be noted that Phar Lap is hung like a horse.

Also of interest was the Robinson’s kitchen. Yes, rescued from the set of “Neighbours” was the set of the kitchen of the Robinson’s kitchen. I stood behind the counter and pretended I was Charlene, who’d come over to see Scott and, oh look, Helen’s baked some biscuits! My fantasy was soon ended by the arrival of a bunch of school kids.

I saw “Mamma Mia”, the musical based on the songs of Abba, but we don’t like to talk about that.

I met up with Matt and Olivia and asked them where I could see a real live junkie. Apparently the place to go junkie spotting in on the trams at about ten in the morning, when they’re heading into the city to get a fix. See, we don’t have junkies in Aotearoa. Except in Christchurch. Everyone else just smokes lots of pot.

I should also note that I had a really nice lunch, coffee and dinner with Matt and Olivia and the Melbourne posse.

I also got the names of some cool streets to check out. First on the list was Brunswick Street. It’s a really long, straight street with lots of really cool shops on it. I discovered a shop that sold interesting books, comics, zines and bongs. It was quite a novelty being in a country where it’s legal to sell bongs, they don’t have to be called “decorative vases”.

Another really long straight street with lots of shops on it was Chapel Street. My favourite was the Chapel Street Bazaar, which is the grooviest second hand shop I’ve ever been to. They had Smurf figurines! I also found some books of matches which commemorated the 100th anniversary of Te Aroha, back in 1980. Just what were those doing in Melbourne? Maybe someone’s mum back in Te Aroha send them over?

I had a good time, and can state that Melbourne is rad. Any city in which a right turn is executed from the far left side of the road has to be rad.

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