When I heard that the Socceroos were going to play Argentina in Melbourne as preparation for the Asian Cup I knew I’d be there. The idea of seeing the skills of Saviola, Crespo and Messi pitted against Neill, Schwarzer and Moore was too good to pass up, especially as we should have been playing them in the World Cup if it wasn’t for the acting skills of the Italians. Unfortunately the match was cancelled because Argentina wouldn’t be able to field their best team due to exhaustion at the end of a long season. It would have been nice if they’d recognised this before all our accommodation, flights and match tickets were purchased. There were 8 of us who were flying down specifically for the game who were let down by the decision but we decided to proceed anyway and spend the 5 days experiencing Melbourne. We even managed to pick up another guest so that by the time it came to leave there were 9 women. This could be the ultimate shopping experience or a PMS war from hell.
Not everyone was pleased with the 7.15am flight as it meant a wake up call of 4.30am for some people. It doesn’t help your mood when you have to load the car in the rain but since Brisbane has had barely a spit in the past year it wasn’t something anyone wanted to complain about. The drive to the airport parking was thankfully stress free but it was surprising how many cars there were on the road. Who gets up at that time of the morning? We all went through the usual process of booking in and getting breakfast and before we knew it we were in the air and on our way. The group was spread out throughout the plane but there were enough spare seats that after the plane had taken off the guy beside me in the aisle moved to the seats behind so we had space between us. I spent the trip watching the Uruguay vs Australia match while Danielle listened to her newly purchased Nano – something she should have bought years ago.
A stress free release from the airport meant that we were in the hired Kia Carnivale within 30 minutes of arrival. We took the Sunbury exit with the intent of heading towards the wineries near Mt Macedon. It transpired that our first destination was Hanging Rock – a location that got Bood and I very excited as neither of us were expecting to go. Like any famous destination we had to battle with a just arrived coach, so instead of checking out the discovery centre we headed straight up the mountain.
Hanging Rock is one of the most famous landscapes in Australia thanks to the book and movie called “Picnic at Hanging Rock”. It’s a story about a school picnic that turns bad when some of the girls go missing and only one is ever found again. As girls growing up in Australia the movie and book was a right of passage at school which is the reason why Bood and I got so excited about going there. Even though we all started out as a group of 8, within minutes we had separated into smaller groups and even split up to get to the summit. Danielle had taken command of Faye’s video camera so we decided to make a Blair Witch version of Hanging Rock. This of course involved the close face camera angles, screaming and running as per Blair Witch, but to make it more Hanging Rock we added a “woooo” which was meant to sound like the pipes in the movie but was more like a spooky ghost and also an exaggerated version of the walk up the mountain. It’s hard to describe how to do the walk, I wish I could put the video on youtube. This sound and walk became a theme for the rest of the Melbourne trip and was inserted at the appropriate moments (i.e. hanging rock walking at southbank and wooo sounds when seeing a ghostly pair of pajamas at Peter Alexander). The rocks did seem really serene and very mysterious after we’d had our fun and it was quite steep to get back down.
On the road again and we were off to our first wine tasting of the day at Hanging Rock WInery. They have a huge selection of different types of wines – from Sauvignon Blanc to dessert wines which is quite unusual. Of course the place was full with a coach load of winos so we had to wait a while for our turn at tasting. I was partial to the white wines as the red ones left me cold. Their dessert wine was great though and I ended up walking out with about three different bottles – the pinot gris being my favourite. I was a lot happy after the tastings as I probably had about 2 drinks when you added it all up which meant I was a little loud in the bus – usually this means I laugh louder at my own jokes and think I’m really funny while no one else gets the joke.
Up to Mt Macedon after a few wrong turns and we discovered that the area has an amazing amount of high quality intricate gates. This was an opening for the girls to create “Shut the Gate” jokes which is a soccer analogy for not leaving any holes open on the field for a player to get forward and score a goal. It also probably meant that the biggest and richest gate in the area was probably owned by the gate maker. To get to our next winery we had to take a dirt road that was being graded by some huge machines – one of which forced us so close to the edge we were a little afraid that we might slide down it. At the winery there was a distinct lack of buses but there were two men who arrived shortly after us and who had been at the Hanging Rock winery also. Julie managed to discover that they were Australian police in the area for some interviews and were killing time between questions by taking some stuff home for their wives. We joked that they were on the tail of us and the gig was up – but not to their faces. To me they were reminiscent of Frost – the old dude with the tweed jacket and mustache and the young tall guy who was learning the ropes. They left after a short while so we were the only ones there.
At this point everyone was pretty hungry so the lady who was minding the place went out the back to make us some pizzas and cheese platters. She said we could make ourselves at home so instead of eating in the large dining room we decided to stay in the warm wine tasting room with the big leather armchairs and fire and set up the tables to eat in there. She left the wines all out and the till open so if we were bad people we could have taken huge advantage of the place but as we are people with morals we only went behind the bar to get more water out of the fridge. When she delivered the food we all tucked in while she saw to the couple who had arrived while she was out back. To us it felt like we had our own winery for the afternoon and it was almost as if we were a large italian family getting drunk on wine and full on pizza. We all fell in love with the Blue Vein cheese that was served and hassled the lady so much about it she wrote down it’s name so we could source it back in the city. I think it was called Willow Glen and it’s aftertaste was so minor that it converted non blue cheese lovers to it.
The drive back to the City was sedate as a lot of the group snoozed. It was only when someone asked when to get off that all things went haywire and we took an exit we didn’t need to. It was almost like we all woke up and said “lets get off here” without any reason at all. After a few stressful u-turns we were back on the same freeway we started on and continued on the journey to our accommodation. I took over navigation at this point and got us to the corner of Lonsdale and Exhibition Street where Faye prepared to do a hook turn which she wasn’t looking forward to. A hook turn is a uniquely Melbourne thing where you get in to the middle of the road on the left hand side to do a right hand turn. It’s not on every street and it only seems to be in the CBD where the trams are. It was at this point that I looked over my right shoulder and noticed the street numbers were too low on the right hand side of the street, so I turned to my left and realised that we should be turning left. By then it was too late and we had to do the hook turn and then a u-ee through the carparks in the middle of the street. Faye managed to park the van in front of the hotel and we all cheered her for putting up with the shit that we had put her through on the ride back. Props went to Cat as well for easing us in to the ride at the beginning of the journey.
Once booked in to our rooms – which were thankfully on the same floor and just down the hallway (four in one suite and five in the other suite), we decided to take the car back early to save the parking fees. It was decided that Faye, Julie and I would take the car back to Franklin Street while everyone else picked up important supplies like Milk and alcohol. After a few wrong turns we dropped the car off at Europecar and I decided that I prefer Avis because they make it easier to drop off the car. With Europecar you have to go through the whole car inspection issue and then go upstairs and sign off again. With Avis, you park, a guy comes up to you where you’ve parked, walks around the car and hands you a receipt. Easy. It may also help Avis in my mind because they sent me a preferred customer card so the next time I hire from them I don’t have to go through the whole counter rigmarole. Could it have been me being so nice to the Avis lady in Adelaide? Probably not. The three of us walked back to the Saville and met up with the others who were still downstairs at the Food Store picking up the supplies. I think we chilled out for a while before deciding to head to Lygon Street for dinner.
Lygon Street is a famous eat street in Melbourne and is most renowned for it’s italian food. I’d eaten there virtually every time I’d been to Melbourne but there are enough restaurants there to visit 50 times and still there would be some place new to visit. It’s a cut throat business in the street so you always have hawkers out the front trying to convince you in by offering free first rounds of drinks or garlic bread. The eight of us wandered up and down the street a few times being harassed until we finally decided on a place – one that didn’t ply us with offers of free food. I personally think that the place was chosen because of the so called “hotness” of the Donatella Versace hostess (not my type though). Mel stuttered every time she had to talk to her and even poked her own eye out with the menu in her presence (I think that was a higher being punishing her for her naughty thoughts). The amount of food on the plates were huge, with Faye’s lobster dish having virtually an entire packet of pasta placed on her plate. We were all so stuffed that we were glad for the walk back to the hotel just to get rid of some of the bulk.
We all sat around the dining table for a while waiting for the ninth member of our party to turn up – Vanessa, who didn’t get tickets for the game but wanted to come anyway, lucky for her there was no game! She flew down after work on a later flight to join us for the shopping part of the trip. While waiting we got her sofa bed made up by housekeeping, which made for an awkward moment as I thought it was Faye at the door and I was laying on the sofa doing angels saying “woooo” like we had done at Hanging Rock. It was only when I sat up that I realised it was the guy from downstairs looking very amused while at the same time confused. 🙂 Vanessa turned up and not long after we all went to bed.
Primarily a really quiet day by all of our standards, but I think we were pacing ourselves for the five days ahead while at the same time figuring out each others boundaries. Don’t worry, there is way better stuff to come in the next few days.
For more photos, check out the Day 1 Photo Gallery.