Melbourne, Oh Melbourne I Do love Thee.
Before dinner tonight I was continuing my love affair with Gin and Tonic as a summer drink while fearing the imminent end of my holiday and the resulting return to work, plus musing on five days just spent in Melbourne while also looking up at the sky watching the clouds. I also briefly noticed my toenails needed cutting but I thought enough is enough.
Thanks to the persistent weather pattern we have had for the last two weeks there have been lots of clouds sailing across the skies. Today on the plane home I flew above them. There was big fluffy white ones mixed with some grey ones and even the odd dark cloud pregnant with rain.
Today they seemed to be quite low and were scooting along from east to west and I really understood the frequent comparison of clouds with yachts under full sail. Earlier when I was above them in the plane flying from Melbourne I could see their shadows moving over the countryside. Clouds are really cool. Lets face it without them sunrises and sunsets, surely the best of the eternal shows of nature on this planet, would be non-events. I love clouds.
In Melbourne, a city where I spent the 1990s I had the unique pleasure of a summer day in that city where on Friday at 3.00pm the temperature was 43 degrees and it was exactly like being inside a fan forced oven. Then by 7.00 pm the temperature was in the low 20s. I wonder how many other cities regularly experience this unique phenomenon. If you could organise it with accuracy I am sure it would be a popular tourist event in itself.
Not that Melbourne needs any more tourist events, there are plenty of things to see and do and while Sydney has more natural beauty [specifically if you stay near the water] and is arguably the best place in Australia to live if you are filthy rich, Melbourne is a better city in my eyes. Why?
Well for the young or DINKs as The Artist and I were in the 90s – Double Income No Kids if you have forgotten, Melbourne does inner city living better than almost anywhere. And nothing has changed. Melbourne’s ceaseless lust for new dining and bar experiences, the laneways, the options for live music and the arts in general, the premier sport events, the ability to go bush, go beach, go sailing, go to the snow, and go to wineries all within 3 hours of the CBD. It is all still there.
When we first moved down in 1992 Melbourne folk would ask me why would I move to Melbourne from sunny Queensland. I used to tell them I had to because Australia would tip over soon with the amount of migration north. They were going through a bad patch then and admittedly we fluked it with the timing. Pretty well straight away after we arrived the state got its mojo back and things started booming. And for god’s sake there is more to life than living somewhere sunny and warm especially if you aren’t an old fart, which of course I wasn’t then.
Anyway did I mention the continuing and growing legacy of its multiculturalism, the great inner city public transport, the general lack of red neck conservatism and the buildings? Sure Melbourne is not perfect, the screwy weather, the problems with rapid population growth, the shitty graffiti are issues but I still love every return visit I make.
If you are going that way in the next few months make sure you see two exhibitions at the National Gallery of Victoria. Julian Opie and MC Escher are two very different visual artists from different centuries but the two exhibitions are sitting side by side by side in the gallery and for me that added a lot to both shows. I am not an art historian so if you want to know more about these two get on to Google and do a search. You will recognize Escher’s work as he has been famous for the best part of eighty years and like all great artist’s output it is instantly recognizable. The work is the perfect fusion of master craftsman with brilliant vision and the way that the exhibition has been curated and presented makes his genius and vision accessible to all ages.
Julian Opie has been working in Britain over the past thirty or so years and works across a number of different mediums and like Escher has been a popular choice for record cover art. For a snapshot of his style see Blur’s Best of Album. His use of film and projection as well as more traditional mediums is less jaw dropping than Escher’s prints but it also affects the soul and the brain as all good art should. Definitely on the shopping list when the lotto win comes along.
All up the best exhibitions I have seen in an art gallery since the fantastic Bowie retrospective.
All that gallery wandering and shopping brings on an appetite so you might want to check out the following places for sustenance. For something new try the food and drink options in the revamped King and Godfree building on Lygon Street in Carlton. Lygon Street seems to be in the process of being reclaimed by the locals and has lost a lot of that kitschy Italian crap feel and I am told the real underworld guys have moved on so have a look around. The rooftop bar goes ok.
For something blue try Blue Bonnet in East Brunswick for barbecue meats American style. I am thinking this brisket, pulled pork, potato salad and corn bread craze has peaked like bushy beards and fixed gear bikes but I may be wrong. Either way the food is real good.
For something old the classic dining experience of Café Di Stasio in St Kilda can’t be beat for traditional Italian food and real waitering. It is formal and expensive but if you are like me and find that every now and again you want a level of dining that you dress up for this is the place.
But there are hundreds more options; this is Melbourne after all so have a look around.
I already listed some favourite Melbourne tunes in my blog called Dioramas that you can read here https://www.chestbeatingbyword.com/home/2018/11/14/dioramas
so we won’t be doing that again. But how about six utterly, perfectly Melbourne places to stand, look around and take in the ambiance.
On Fitzroy Street St Kilda outside the Prince of Wales Hotel. Best during pub hours.
In Degraves Street during lunchtime
Outside an entrance to the MCG on game day
In front of the Waterwall at the NGV
On the bleachers poolside at the Fitzroy Pool on a HOT summers day
Outside 94 Studley Park Road Kew to see what recycling rubbish and making cardboard boxes can buy you in a home.