We got back from the Great Ocean Road on the Friday which gave us 10 days left at the apartment. We certainly filled the remaining time well, quite a bit of it with the Melbourne Fringe, similar to Edinburgh, but in a different accent.
We spent the Friday night at an iconic Australian event: the AFC (footy) rules semifinal at the ‘G’, the diminutive expression for the Melbourne Cricket Ground (MCG). More well known obviously for epic England-Australia Ashes matches, it had always been a dream to go to it. Of course I wasn’t expecting to see a footy match but beggars etc. The big surprise was the behaviour of the crowd, well behaved, polite and not an ounce of aggression, just like our English football crowds, not? The other surprise was Fran’s enthusiasm for the sport and it’s no surprise, again: there’s little dissent, hardly any ‘injury-acting’, not much stop time and the action is non-stop. Basically it’s played on an oval cricket sized pitch (it was apparently developed in the 19th century to keep cricketers active during the close season), with four poles at each end of the pitch. A goal is scored if the ball (oval rugby-like, but smaller) is kicked through the middle two posts, and a ‘behind’ us scored if the ball passes the between the middle posts and the outer. To get there the ball is punched and kicked between players to get into a position to score. Simples!
The result was of little interest to me at least, but the local derby between Geelong and Hawthorn resulted in a win for ‘Ford Town’, Geelong, who eventually lost in the final the following weekend to a team from Fremantle called the Dockers. Tickets for that match were like hen’s teeth, so we settled for watching the first quarter in Fed Square in the middle of Melbourne on a cold, rainy day, and the rest at the flat, in the warm and dry. Best of both worlds really.
We spent the rest of that weekend ‘chilling and shoppin’ and on the Sunday did a Fringe comedy walk around North Melbourne, featuring a comedian and various foils placed around the route.
Officially photographed by Teri.
On the Tuesday we borrowed the car again and went to somewhere I had been wanting to go for years: the RAAF Museum at Point Cook. The Australian Air Force started here in 1921 and it has been home to the museum since the 70’s. No quite on the scale of the equivalent at Henson, but impressive nonetheless. They even show off one of the exhibits every week by demonstrating it in a flight. This was the Wanjeel (Piston Provost copy) which flew the day we were there:
The rest of the exhibits were well presented and for a aero-phile like me, were seventh heaven. Recent examples of RAAF combat aircraft were mixed with a comprehensive history in display cabinets and artifacts from various eras:
A very good museum and well worth a visit.
The rest of the week left we went to a couple of shows in the Fringe, met up with friends Pete and Shirl whose son lives in Farnborough, and went out to the Yarra valley on a wine and beer tasting trail. The Yering Station (fine wine) and Punt Road (cider) were the pick of the bunch, but a few others, some parts of industrial estates, were all just as good.
So we came to the sad ending of our six week sojourn down under. It had been a fantastic experience with no traumas, dramas or even a slight disturbance. It all went swimmingly well, and was enjoyed as much (we hope) by our hosts as much as we enjoyed it. Luckily our flight wasn’t until 10pm on the day of departure so we had all day to pack and more importantly weigh our bags, and with an allowance of 30kg we were well within that even with all the alcohol and other heavy souvenirs. The flight back was uneventful, if bumpy on the first 13 hour leg, but we arrived back on schedule at Thiefrow to be met with a lift. Thanks Keith!
All that remains now is thank everyone we met or came into contact, and everyone who helped us, especially Teresa and Kevin. We just have to save now for our next trip! G’day mate.