Game Two to Queensland 

Wednesday, if I can remember back that far lol. 

Got into Southern Cross at 10, and found a cafe/bar that was showing the Lions game from the night before. Them beating the Chiefs by a big margin. 

Managed to grab half an hour of Phillip Island mate’s time, as he was waiting around for his coach back home to depart. Which was lovely. It’s great meeting genuine people. 

Then Geelong cousin showed, and I had fleshed out a kinda sorta plan. Out to Fitzroy, then into the city, then back to her train station. Ding ding! All the tram hopping to start with. 

Ah, Fitzroy. Basically the first thing I noticed was Adam Bandt’s electorate office, lol of course it was going to be there. The second thing was a cafe called Stagger Lees, where we killed time waiting for our food choice for lunch to open. It was extremely busy. Cousin said, why is it so busy, don’t these people work? I guess the answer to that would be ah, Fitzroy. Lol. 

Then across the road for lunch, at Naked for Satan. The decor is very red. And also very gold. The pintxos, basically a sushi train system with toothpicks instead of bowls, looked very appetising, but also not quite what I was expecting. Then the bartender told us there was an upstairs. 

Oh man, that view! Is to die for! And enclosed balcony and industrial strength heaters, and the food was fabbo as well. Popcorn chicken, pork meatballs, lamb ribs. They all hit various hunger spots. And – that view! I could definitely see me lingering over a cocktail or three there if I was a local rather than a tourist. 

Wandered down Brunswick Street a couple of blocks, basically people watching, but it was still too early in the afternoon for many of the bars to be open. So hopped on a tram back into the city and it was to the State Library. Which I had walked outside of heaps on previous trips, but never been inside. And it’s absolutely stunning. Dat reading room lol. And again, if I wasn’t touristing and instead localling, I would have lingered. Four or five stacks of shelves on chess alone. 

Across the laneway to Father’s Office, which advertises itself as a speakeasy. But it’s bright and airy, with a huge window out to the balcony. And goes upstairs. My idea of a speakeasy is downstairs and dim and dull. But once that first impression was out of the way, another dat view reaction. Over Swanston Street, the autumn and winter trees, the tramlines, the skyscrapers. It was a little bit special.

Chicken wings were superb. Sauce flavoursome and all over my fingers. And that whole sixties Motown music soundtrack, which always makes me think I want to take my parents to the place hahaha. All those weekends brainwashed with Classic Hits. 

Oh, and the Socialist Alliance had their tent there. The State Library, not the bar. Petition of the week was to rename Margaret Court Arena for her anti gay comments. Signed sealed delivered indeed. 

Dropped cousin at Southern Cross for the trip back to south west, posted more postcards – you know, post boxes are like hens teeth in the CBD here. Friend said later it was likely because all the city businesses use couriers or email instead of post. Whatever the reason, I had to go to the GPO – the actual GPO, not the historic building that is now an H+M. Same same as Perth, actually.

 And waited around to see whether other friends would text to catch up in the arvo. Killed time at the Whisky Den, a micro bar, all of twelve square metres, two thirds a front bar, the rest a really small room. Was cute, but I had thought it was going to be larger. Gave the bartender a price point, and he gave me something Scottish, but I should have taken a pic of the label, because no way do I remember it now. Cute. 

Bought more postcards, than a train out to suburban home base. I wasn’t going to watch the state of origin, and told the bestie that. My heart couldn’t take another Queensland loss, let alone the flogging the Blues gave us in game one. Bestie then thought it was hilarious that I watched the last twenty five minutes. After explicitly saying that there was no way league would be on her TV.

Such a rebel, me. 

Game Two to Queensland 

Baw Baw 

It’s getting to that point of the trip where my recollections of the previous day are lagging further and further behind the actual doing things on the current day. But will try. 

Yesterday was the trip out to the regions for this Melbourne swing. And the lucky lucky region to have me grace its presence this time around was Baw Baw Shire, in East Gippsland. Yes, truly, that’s the place’s name. So sorry Phillip Island, Ballarat, Echuca, the Pauly Wheel of Fortune may shine in your direction next trip. 

Of course, it wouldn’t be Melbourne if I could get there directly from my suburb, so it was a trip into the city to start. Straight in, popped my head up, meerkat style, at Flinders and Swanston. St Paul’s Cathedral, Federation Square, Flinders Street Station itself. Which is covered in scaffolding at the moment, not so Melbourne iconic now.

And then the Traralgon V-Line. And then Warragul. Which is about the best I can say for that particular railway trip. Meh. 

Warragul itself was lovely, and had a late lunch at the restaurant converted from the old courthouse, built in 1897. Perfectly lovely ploughman’s lunch. Needed more cheese though. 

And bumping into an online mate that I’ve had for a decade and this was the first actual in person meet. Well, I say bumped into, but it had been in planning for the last six months. Was a lot of fun, and she actually liked me. She. Actually. Liked. Me. Stunned Silence hahaha. 

We then drove out to a winery in Drouin, but it was closed. At, I think this was about 3.30 or so? But lovely, absolutely beautiful, country vistas. All the gum trees, all the green. 

A local sculpture garden next, with a local metalworker who used to be a teacher, I think. Some absolutely gorgeous pieces, including more than a bit of surrealism, a touch of modernism, and more than a few not so subtle political digs. A map of Australia as an echidna, spikes out, about the general attitude towards refugees anyone? It appeared to me the artistic incarnation of the feck off, we’re full thing. 

And then in the gallery, the paintings were, umm, quite intense. Not something you could hang in the living room. Kinda the Heironymous Bosch version of hell, but with Australian motifs. At least that’s how both of us saw it. Much disturbing, much awesome. 

Out to a cricket oval, at Jindivick, with stunning views over the valley beyond. And a reminder that it wasn’t just north of Melbourne that suffered during Black Saturday, as there were major fires around Traralgon as well. Less death, but a massive amount of property damage. 

Up to Nerrim South for the country pub experience. We were going to have wine at Warragul, but seriously, their whites were from Western Australia or New Zealand. I laughed out loud at that. A lovely local pinot grigio, and a great sit down and chat.

In a place that was half taken over by the TAB, but at least it wasn’t duelling banjos. Even though I’m sure I looked the total hipster tourist. I totally deserved any kidnapping I got haha. 

And then a drive around the countryside on dusk. And my mate staying at the train station until I got on. I think it was more enjoying my company for the ultimate longest time possible, rather than making sure I left. I think. 

Writing postcards and reading 1984 on the train trip home. And turning the phone off to conserve power until three stations from home base. 

Another long one, but that was my yesterday. 

Baw Baw 

Day Three, Canberra to Melbourne 

Not all that much happened yesterday that I don’t think I’ve already covered. I keep my travel days pretty light, just in case of flight delays, missing luggage and the like.

Cafe El Commandante Fidel, which, by the way, had fab food, flight from Canberra to Melbourne, non eventful, the airport bus into the city, the metro train out to suburbia. Outer suburbia. Planes, trains and automobiles, indeed. 

And then Woolworths, for friend to buy groceries. It’s not as exotic as when Victoria called it Safeway lol. And then basically collapse at hers, dinner, RuPaul, Twin Peaks, a slow build to the catch up. I’m here four days, I don’t want to blurt everything in the first twenty minutes hahaha. 

Her youngest, the Tiny Dictator, commandeering me to build blocks with her. For hours and hours, it seemed. And then the cat curling up on my lap on the couch when everyone else had gone to bed. Felt like home, as I roll my eyes at myself for saying that out loud.

I’ve missed Melbourne. I’ve missed the friend.

Day Three, Canberra to Melbourne 

The Day Two Summary 

Long lost friend. National Arboretum look out. Elk and Pea for brunch, with a mountain of food, and a mountain of catch up. High Court of Australia, another brutalist building that feels like the largest of cathedrals inside. All that ceiling, all that air. With random surprise violin and piano concerto, which just was fantastic. 

Over to the National Gallery sculpture garden, with an Angel of the North a tenth of the size of the one in Yorkshire. The sight lines onto the lake and the Carillon behind were stunning. As well as the eucalypts as background. And a cast of Rodin’s Burghers of Calais. The faces, the emotion shown in sculpture, all sorts of amaze. 

I posted the pic of the burgher with his head in his hands. Oh, I know that feeling all too well, mate. Utter despair, and it’s – well, I wanted to use stunning fabulous fantastic, but I’ve already hit those quotas in this post haha. Let’s just say, they need that on a postcard more than Blue Poles. 

Then Kingston Foreshore, Bellconnen Owl, and Yarralumla. That last, in that warm, lazy, golden, late afternoon sun. My mate said it was better in autumn with the leaves still on the trees, over the road, but I loved the bare branches look. 

And then back to home base for home cooked meal and The Voice. And writing postcards. Sooooo many postcards. But I’m up for that particular challenge, I asked for your addresses, and I got a heap haha. It would be silly to wimp out on a plan. Especially this early in the trip. 

And I’ve been writing, “Canberra is not the same as it was when I last visited. For the better.” But then I realise, 2009, I’ve changed a massive amount in that time as well. Will muse on that over the next few weeks. 

If Canberra impressed me so much, with its change, I can’t wait to figure out the 2017 version of Wellington. Home town, but potentially stranger in a strange land?

The Day Two Summary 

Holiday One 

First day of holiday was pretty well perfect. In Canberra, would you believe it lol. Dog show to start, my mates here are big dachshund people, and that was fun.

And then NGA, where once again I tried to make sense of Blue Poles. Once again, I failed. I mean, I know it’s an important piece of art, by an important artist, but personally, I just don’t get it. And I’ve tried, oh how I’ve tried. 

The food and drink venues we went to were fabbo, right up my alley. Grease Monkey, the most fantastic pulled pork burger I’ve had, ever. Bar Rochford, just a chilled cocktail bar, relaxed, no pretentions, the aforementioned bearded man sex.

Akiba, which had even more awesome pork than Grease, but in buns, not pulled. And so busy and so happening and Color Me Badd and House of Pain on the music. I’ll call it a Must Do for Canberra. It was Amaze. 

And then Molly, a downstairs speakeasy in an abandoned bank vault with the exterior looking like cheap student dorms. Reminded me of Dominion League back home, but with less exterior work. It was great, I chose a cocktail, Death Flip, without an ingredient list lol, but i think it would have been better on a quieter night. Too many wannabes trying out their rogue’s gallery personas. 

Walked through Civic, past the popular meathead spots, to remind that Canberra hasn’t quite evolved as much as cocktail speakeasy Asian fusion evening had led me to believe. That was funny, a guy shouting into his phone so angry at his mate he was walking to catch up with, another guy saying he remembered me off Jurassic Park (Who? Jeff Goldblum? The raptors?). 

Canberra, you’re actually pretty great.

Holiday One 

A day of waiting 

Huzzah! I found public transport that gets me to the airport for tonight’s thing, even up to midnight if needs be.

On that evidence, who dares say Perth isn’t a 24 hour world city now? Look on my works, ye mighty, indeed. Lol. 

And why I take the full day off beforehand, when I did the online boarding passes yesterday, and my check in isn’t until, like, 10pm, I don’t know anymore. Long gone are the days when I used to last minute panic over travel.

But, I had the leave, I might as well use it.

Especially since my next big trip likely won’t be until 2019. Finances and all. And my not yet sorted but quite probable long weekend at Adelaide Fringe next March doesn’t count, as particularly big. 

And having today off means that for a few hours at least, my holiday isn’t ultra organised, not City A to City B, to meet friends C, D and E, at bar F, G and H, onto museum J, Colonel Mustard, in the Billiards Room, with the Candlestick, seeming rush that i actually thrive on.

A day of waiting 

No retreat no surrender lol

I got called inspirational earlier in the week. 

Surprisingly, this is not an unusual occurrence. It seems to happen two or three times a month, on average. I’m never going to get used to it, but I guess I’m accepting it, the compliment, more freely now than I used to. 

Primarily it seems because of my take no prisoners and suffer no fools attitude, paired with the brutal searing emotional honesty I have on here, and, despite my best efforts, in the past, at self sabotage, it seems more people are drawn to that than repelled.

People seem genuine in considering me to be a positive in their lives. Case in point, a good portion of my interstate friends buzzing with energy about my holiday.

People seem to like the fact I’m so open and I don’t care who knows what. I won’t say it’s a no fear attitude, just that my current fears are deeper set than what I consider the surface, of what I write about, of my everyday realities.

So thank you to my friends, loved ones, assorted contacts, for putting up with me, for enjoying what I do. Even though I don’t actually write for anyone other than me, knowing it resonates out in the wider world, it makes – it makes my heart sing, to be perfectly honest.

If I can help one person with being open about anything and everything I talk about, that means the world to me. Or if I send a random text, message, card, and of those draw a smile. There’s never even actually any need to reply. 

Of course, this purple patch of my own amazingness will have to end sometime, so I’m banking brownie points with friends for my next meltdown lol.

If that doesn’t sound too mercenary.

There will be a point where I withdraw, isolate myself, and generally become harder work than I am currently. 

Don’t give up on me when that happens. That’s all I ask. Give me space, maybe message me, occasionally, maybe make sure it’s not taking a self destructive turn. Well, any more self destructive than creating maudlin art. Organ music and masks ahoy haha. 

When that happens, when I’m off the radar, believe that I will be back, and probably even better, with the next reinvention of self.

No scheduling, no expectation of a downward spike anytime soon, but I can’t be this awesome forever, surely?

No retreat no surrender lol