After 6 months off to recover from knee surgery our expectations of Rogers’ success in the Australian Open weren’t that high. We just wanted to see him play again. What a decision that turned out to be! We didn’t see all his games live in the Rod Laver Arena or we would’ve been looking for jobs to finance our flights home but we did see some and we were in the grounds to watch the remainder with the crowds. We watched the final on the bigscreen on the hill outside the Rod Laver arena with Mary & Chris from Noosa who we had housesat for. We were very lucky to meet and watch both the womens and mens final with them. The final with Roger playing Rafa had an electric atmosphere and being able to enter the Margaret Court arena to see Roger with the trophy was an added bonus. A major bucket list tick and one of the highlights of our travels. Now if he lasts to March 2018, a trip to Indian Wells could well be added to the list of places to go. We were also lucky enough to watch several of the big names practising – Novak Djokovich, Serena Williams, Stan Wawrinka, Martina Hingis & Grigor Dimitro – plus plenty of other games.
Big Bash Cricket was also on, so since we had visited the MCG but never been to a game we decided this opportunity couldn’t be missed. The Brisbane Heat – captained by Brendan McCallum and coached by Daniel Vettori – were playing The Melbourne Stars – coached by Stephen Fleming. Unfortunately, Brendan was on a one match ban for this game but it was still exciting and the Heat won so another late night but we went home happy.
Victoria Market is always a must visit when in Melbourne but I’m not sure it’s as good as it’s always been. However the indoor food vendors were as good as ever and cheese, spices and wine were on the list of purchases.
South Melbourne Market was also a day visit. We decided to walk from Docklands which was slightly challenging but it did help to keep the kilometres up. Peter enjoyed the raw oysters and I had an aggressive Chinese back and shoulder massage. As usual he hit the most troublesome spot in my shoulders and I have been pain free since but the pain of the massage at the time had me wondering if I would even get up off the bed!
The cloudy weather in Melbourne had been disappointing so when we had the opportunity and the sun was shining we decided to head to Rosebud beach on the Mornington Peninsula. Peter had camped there for 6 weeks at the ripe old age of 19 so this was a return visit for him – some 40 years later. It was an hour train ride to Frankston followed by an hour bus ride. Rosebud is a shallow beach on Port Phillip Bay where we could walk out 300 metres and the water was still only waist deep. The beach was dominated by young families enjoying the last days of the school holidays.
It was a sad day when an out of control young Australian drove his car down Bourke Street and killed and injured several people. There was an outpouring of anger followed by love and support by Melbournians. The same issues as we have in New Zealand came to the fore – why didn’t the police stop him before this happened, why do they have a “do not chase” policy, why was he out on bail? All valid questions but with equally valid answers. We were lunching in Preston with Gail and Reece from Lower Hutt and Chrystal, Jim and Hannah from Palmerston North before heading into the city to the Myers’ sale. Luckily we were so busy getting our 10,000 words in each, lunch took longer than planned or we all could have been in Bourke St.
26 January – Australia Day and our 32nd wedding anniversary. We love the way Australia celebrates their National day, though they are now also experiencing questions about whether Australia Day is an appropriate celebration. It’s impossible not to notice the way families celebrate together and the parks and gardens were full of people enjoying each others company after watching the street parade. We celebrated our wedding anniversary by going to the tennis and having a few extra treats.
Chinese New Year – Year of the Rooster – and the year that both Peter and I were born. Melbournes’ large Chinese population along with the many visitors in the city for all the events just adds to the celebrations with street parades, street performers, fireworks and markets on the South Bank. Yes, it was crowded, but the atmosphere was worth mixing it with the crowds.
We stayed 2 nights with Hilary, Carl and Evie, originally from Wellington. What a pleasure that was! Meeting 9 month old Evie for the first time was wonderful (even though she had a cold and wasn’t her normal self) and catching up with everything they have been up to since arriving in Melbourne just under two years ago was amazing. They live in the inner city suburb of Richmond, close to everything, including the tennis. How kind it was of them to let us stay between housesits.
Two years ago we met Sharon & Rob from Silverstream on the steps of St Pauls Cathedral in London. This time we met them again on the steps of St Pauls Cathedral in Melbourne and enjoyed a lovely brunch in Degraves street together.
Kelly, one of Morgans’ friends from St Orans College has made a good life for herself in Melbourne and we enjoyed her company in a well known café, Barry, in Northcote. I’m sure the French waiter fancied Kelly so we got very friendly service. It was great to catch up with Kelly after several years and hear her thoughts on life in Melbourne.
Meeting good friends from NZ and making new ones by housesitting made this visit to Melbourne even more special.