The trip from Adelaide to Melbourne was by air and took around 1 hour, the shortest transfer yet. Moving around Australia with a relatively large number of people on the trip is made all the easier with a tigeress in charge. Every detail of the journey is explicitly planned with no margin for error such is the confidence of our tigress in her mission. And we are truly grateful. I cannot be easy manoeuvring 28 grown ups in and out of hotels, onto buses and into airports with the minimal of fuss and precision timing. Our Tigress is experienced and it shows. She has perfected the snarl of a mother herding her cubs who means business at the first baring of her teeth and they respond as they know what’s good for them. We have quickly recognised leadership when we see it and acquiesce to her demands with all the respect her position commands.
Our first stop in Melbourne, a city where the tigress now lives, was to commemorate the war dead at the Anzac shrine. An imposing building holding the respect of a nation for its fallen soldiers, particularly at Gallipoli. Many were lost that day. It is a moving place, emotion screams at you from the walls in silent passage as you move through the various exhibits, uniforms, pictures and stories. The most moving of all is within the shrine where a pyramidic structure in the roof topped off with a window allows the sunlight to stream through and move across the words at the 11th hour of the day. To accommodate the visitor needs, beyond that the rest of the time, a light is shone instead every half hour. So it was that we were assembled ready for the last post playing as the light moved across the inscription hovering over the word love.
Following this visit we moved on to see the newly erected Formula 1 track and even got the opportunity to drive around it. Not being a petrol head I didn’t get off to view the starting grid, but found the experience worthwhile all the same. It was then the intention to move us around the City had it not been for Shimon Perez we may well have achieved it. The federal police stopped us at the bridge over the Yarra next to the Rod Laver stadium for almost 20 minutes as the convoy carrying Mr Perez to its final destination had its own tour of the city. Hum drum as it was this caught even the tigress out as she had not really considered this might happen. The city tour abandoned we were despatched to our hotel to get on with the washing.
We wandered around the banks of the Yarra river the next day, having been recommended a bar floating on a pontoon on the river we climbed underneath the bridge just in time to escape the deluge of rain. Laughing at our good fortune the wind turned suddenly blowing the rain straight at us and we got soaked. Unperturbed by this “shower” we considered it safe to continue our walk along the river banks only to be caught once again. We huddled under a tree as the rain stoated (great Scottish word) off the sandy gravel, my feet turned golden not with the sun but the mud we were swilling about in. After 20 minutes we had reached the point of making a run for it, through the puddles and dodging trams and cars back to the hotel drookit (another great word) from all the rain. Somehow the weather from Scotland had sneaked here with us in our case. We experience a lot of rain in Scotland hence the great range of descriptors we have to cover our weather.
On the last night in Melbourne we stopped at the bar before heading out for a sedate evening meal, early night, limited alcohol, scratch that we never made it. Almost the last men standing we joined a few of our fellow travellers who had the same idea, in the bar. This being a Wednesday the hotel puts on bar nibbles and so it was that samosas, arancini, potato wedges and chicken pies were being shared around and this seemed to satisfy the immediate hunger. Thrown together through fate we were now a few days into the trip and names and faces were becoming familiar. Conversations were friendly and upbeat, people were breathing new life into old tales as we established links and experiences that signalled shared opinions and values secreted within the stories that were being regaled. Wine and beer fuelled the chatter which was cheerful and effusive. A new respect and early friendships were beginning to emerge as information flowed and was digested saved to the memory of a truly wonderful holiday and lovely night.
Melbourne was more about people for me, the city itself was not the main attraction of my visit. Meeting new friends and old family was the key to making this stop extremely memorable. I know we have never fought in a war but in Melbourne we have a shrine to our memories.