We had been planning on staying in Melbourne for a few months (until the Formula 1 Grand Prix in March) but it wasn't to be. The tenants in our house in London had made a mess of the house and when we asked them to repair some of the damage they gave notice instead, and stopped paying the rent. We decided that we would have to go home early but we had a few things to do first: meet Trefor and travel with him back to Sydney and then carry on up to Brisbane to sell our car. We'd bought the car in Queensland and it seemed that the easiest place to sell it would be Queensland, crazy at it seems, because the cars are registered by state.
Melbourne was having a mini heatwave when we were there of about ~35°C so we made the most of it by going to the Moonlight Cinema at the Royal Botanic Gardens one evening, walking around Albert Park Lake (where the Grand Prix will be held) one Sunday afternoon, having a sandwich lunch on the beach, having a bbq lunch at the spot by the river overlooking Melbourne where this picture was taken and of course spending countless afternoons and evenings enjoying cafe life and cocktail/beer life outside the cafes and bars in some of the many trendy areas in Melbourne: Prahran, Brunswick Street, St Kilda...
Still, we had a few good weeks in Melbourne, staying in Prahran a few kilometres from the city centre, I did a weeks work at an architects office which was fun and we found Melbourne a really great place to hang out. It almost reminded us of London, a bit more grungy and cosmopolitan than most Australian cities and not so perfect. I followed in the footsteps of my ancestors by standing in front of Flinders Street Station where my father and grandfather before me have both stood and we met up with old friend of Dad's. David worked with Dad in the late 1970's in the UK before he emigrated to Australia but they've stayed good mates. We met up with David and his wife, Sylvia and their two kids Nicolas (7) and Natalie (5) and spent a nice evening with them. By 12 o'clock we decided to leave the pub as we were flagging but the kids were still going strong!
Tref flew in from Sydney on 25 January, somehow it seemed completely natural to meet him on the other side of the world. Anyway it was great to see an old friend that we didn't need to tell our life stories to, just settle back into the same old patter. We spent the evening out in town at a couple of the bars we'd tried before. The next day was Australia Day so we decided to go down to St Kilda in search of Neptune Street which a mate of Trefor's wrote a song about - well we found the street but couldn't quite work out why it warranted a song written about it - something about the things that go on behind normal looking house windows. Then we went to the infamous Esplanade Hotel which is a backpackers pub near the seafront. It was absolutely packed and very loud - are we getting old but we just wanted somewhere we could chat!
On a really sunny day we went down to the river where this photo of Richard and Trefor was taken at a cafe underneath a bridge. There's a lot of activity by the river, cafes, shopping centres and the massive Crown Casino which we had to go and take a look inside. Some very dedicated people spending lots of money in there.
At sunset we went up the Rialto Tower, not sure if it was the tallest tower in Melbourne but it had great views of the city and far into the distance. If you ever go there give the promotional video a miss, honestly we could have made a better film ourselves, it was diabolical and not even informative. And then it was time to throw our bags back into the car and try to find space for Trefor to sit in the back with all of the rubbish we've accumulated in the last seven months so that we could complete the final section of this road trip from Sydney to Sydney via Uluru, WA and the south of Australia. So back on the road to travel from Melbourne to Sydney.