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Melbourne for The Aussie Open

Having opted for an Airbnb stay in Melbourne, our lovely host checked us in and made sure we were comfortable before leaving us to unpack. We decided to make the most of being in the same place for two weeks by completely unpacking our bags, rather then living with the tangle of clothes within. After all the hard work unpacking we rewarded ourselves with an ice cream from Messimo’s, probably the best ice cream we have ever had. We made a note to return several times over the coming weeks.

Having lost had my Akubra hat which blew off down a creek whilst fishing in Port Douglas and Nicola having no adequate face shade, we used our first day to head in the city for a spot of bonnet shopping. I picked up a replacement Akubra and Nicola picked up a fashionable large brimmed floppy number. We also popped into the tourist information centre to get a glance of the non-tennis entertainment that we could seek over the next two weeks before heading home to watch the first evenings tennis on the telebox.

Nicola, being a professional tennis spectator, decided we should take a walk to find the entrance gates to the tennis, prior to scoping out queue sizes the next morning. I assume this is the tennis playing equivalent of watching your opponents last matches to scope them out. As expected, Australians do not queue even for the open and there was no requirement to arrive before the 10am opening time.

Rafa!
Rafa!

Our previous two rehearsals meant that getting into the tennis was a breeze. We headed over to to court 18 to watch Rafa practice and after 10 or so minutes of watching a Spanish man hitting a tennis ball I decided to give my spot to the 13 year old girl behind me and went for a walk, coming back to collect Nicola at the end of his allotted hour practice. Aside from watching some of the smaller matches, we spent the afternoon with a couple of drinks, watching Rafa playing Verdasco on the big screen before heading into the Rod Laver Arena to watch Hewitt vs Duckworth. Working most on large sporting events I’ve always wondered if attending as a punter is any more excitable, I now know, after 18 hours, that it’s not.

Having spent so much time on the Bally Hooley Steam Railway in Port Douglas, we decided to visit another narrow gauge railway just outside of Melbourne. The plan had been to ride on the railway but owing to the couple of hundred dollars it would have cost Nicola and myself to take the return trip and our rapidly decreasing kitty, we instead opted to drive to one of the end stations, Lakeside, where we could view a couple of the engines and take take a walk around the lakes and park there.

Our middle Saturday was spent at a swimming pool a little outside of the city chosen because of it housing a few water slides. We had a few hours swimming and sliding although Nicola wouldn’t go on the “big” slide as the fast, small tube followed by rapid spin around a funnel before dropping into a deep pool didn’t appeal to her.  Aside from the bruises I gained I can’t see why she didn’t want to do it.

On Sunday we took another trip into the city for a bigger explore then we had managed so far with a few hours looking around the State Library of Victoria and it’s Galleries. We filled out the weekend with Tennis and watching Eddie Redmayne’s amazing performance in The Danish Girl.

Raonic vs Monfils
Raonic vs Monfils

Another week meant another day pass for the tennis and we had another great hot Melbourne day to sit and watch the tennis. Surprisingly we had some great weather on the three days we made it to see the tennis, most of the rest of our time was miserable in terms of weather. As the evening cooled off we headed back to the house to continue watching the tennis and to eat some food more suited to human consumption than offered at the venue. The following evening found us back at the Rod Laver arena to watch Monfils v Raonic.

We also found time in the week to visit a well know Melbourne eating hole, Top Paddock, for some good breakfast. Unfortunately it had been hyped up a bit and a visit to a much smaller, less well known bistro, Cheeky Monkey, proved how breakfast should really be done. Cheeky Monkey really did provide a great brekkie and if in Richmond we would recommend a visit! We also managed to sneak another visit to Messina’s.

On the second Friday we decided to go and explore the coast a little and took a train down to St. Kilda where we had a walk along the seafront, stopping for a bite to eat at a cafe before realising that I had managed to lose the case holding BOTH sets of my prescription glasses. So we took a slightly alternative tour, back over the territory we had covered and home via the local Police station to see if anybody had handed them in. They hadn’t. To the person wearing my Tommy Hilfiger sunglasses: I hope my prescription lenses give you a mild migraine.

We spent our last Saturday sunning ourselves in the Botanical Gardens before heading into town to meet up with James and Charlotte, the couple we had met in Adelaide, for a few drinks. We ended up in Glamp, a South African inspired watering hole where we sample some of the best cocktails in town. The following evening we met up with them again to watch the tennis final on the big screen in Federation Square and to share a few more drinks including the mandatory Pimms. Anne-Sophie, a girl we’d met in Sydney also joined us for a while.

Erinsborough!
Erinsborough!

More exciting than Djokovic’s stroll in the park against Murray, was our Sunday Morning activity: The Neighbours Tour. The tour took us out to the suburbs where we found the iconic Ramsay Street filming location, before heading over to the studios to meet a couple of the stars in Paul Robinson’s old back garden. There it was we met and had photos with Dr Karl Kennedy, the idol to a lost generation of day time TV watching university students. Nicola also met the actor who played Stingray, one of her teenage crushes.

We’ve got about 10 days to road-trip our way to Canberra and rendezvous with Nicola’s mum who’s coming out for a short while, before me and Nicola part our ways. She is going to find her farm work in order to be eligible for a second Working Holiday Visa and I’m going up to Port Douglas for just over a week to relax.

Peter
A Ginger Down Under
6th February 2016

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