Decided to take a bus daytour down to the Great Ocean Road today. Considered hiring a car and driving down there myself, but it would have made for a lonely trip and besides, it’s hard to enjoy the scenery properly when you’re driving. One can find oneself rather closer to the scenery and rather further from the road than is comfortable when one gets too distracted.
So it was that I found myself on a coach with 40 other daytrippers, mostly Poms (surprise), a bit disgruntled at having to fill two days with non-cricketing activities rather than the expected one. However, spirits were lifted considerably (well, mine were, at any rate) by the announcement that the first stop would be for morning tea, which sounded like a very civilised thing to do first up. And it was, albeit from a billy can, Aussie style.
My principal companion on the trip was a chap called Phil, who had the misfortune of sitting next to me for the whole day. Phil, like most of us had only been here for the cricket, but had to diversify somewhat after the Poms’ capitulation within three days. He had come out to Oz via an official tour package, which is the low-hassle, high-cost way of doing these things – his outlay was well over twice mine. But then he doesn’t have some very accommodating relatives in Sydney to impose upon, and I daresay his hotel in Melbourne is a little more plush than mine. Over lunch and a reassuringly expensive beer, we ruminated on England’s woes, and concurred that Flintoff should not have been captain, and Giles being picked ahead of Monty was a terribly negative move, as were Freddie’s tactics when Australia were in trouble at 84/5 on the second day in Melbourne. Which was basically a facsimile of every cricket conversation I’ve had recently, with Aussies and Poms alike. The Aussies are pretty disgusted with England’s showing in the series. The papers here (and back home, I believe) have had a go at KP today, labelling him ‘selfish’ and ‘not a team player’. Allegations which are quite possibly accurate, and I confess that I haven’t read the articles in question, but Pietersen has generally played well in the series and I suspect the press have simply latched on to the easy target his sizeable ego presents.
But back to the bus trip. In between lunch and tea (the afternoon session, in other words) we visited the 12 Apostles and Loch Ard Gorge – spectacular limestone rock formations spearing up from the South Pacific just off the cliffs. I opted in on a helicopter ride over the cliffs (in for a penny, in for a pound) and it was brilliant – photos will be in the usual place before long. After the tea break we stopped briefly at London Bridge – not the actual London Bridge – another rock formation framed by golden sandy beaches – before conceding defeat to the omnipresent flies and heading back to Melbourne.
Melbourne is a vibrant city, with bags of bars and restaurants and quite a buzz in the evenings. I walked down Chapel Street yesterday on my way to St Kilda, and passed every conceivable type of shop in one street – clothes, art, groceries, cafés, restaurants, bars, furniture and many, many more. A real mixing pot. And the restaurants came in every flavour too.
St Kilda had a laid back feel to it, with multiple cafés and bars sitting alongside quirky bookshops. I stopped for ‘lunch’ at a juice bar run by a Scot from Argyll, before heading down to the beach, which appeared to be (and probably was) populated entirely by Poms. On the grassy area just back from the beach I counted seven separate games of beach cricket going on, with a couple more on the beach itself. I sat down for a bit at square leg, but none of the batsmen appeared too adept at flicking off their pads, and so I got bored and wandered on. Found a bar with free wireless, which was a bonus, so I sat there and typed for a bit before catching a tram home.
So, tomorrow it’s goodbye to Melbourne, and later, goodbye to 2006. Have a great New Year’s Eve if I’m not in touch before then!
PS Techie note: my apologies for all the missing/incorrect links in profiles etc. Those of you with the inclination to point these out, please feel free to do so by sending me an email, rather than making comments for my public humiliation… then again perhaps I deserve it ;-0
PPS Thanks to all the commenters, yes, even DC