Travel Journal

Wrapping things up in Melbourne...

(Sunday 15 November 2009) by Al/Alvin "Poison" Challis
23rd October: Today i decided that that i would tie up some loose ends of stuff in Melbourne. I have been asked whilst i have been here whether i was going to do things such as the Great Ocean Road, Phillip Island. To be honest my time through Australia is to establish which big city i like the most in order to come back here and work then i can go straight to the city that i want to go to work in. That's not tosay that i am going to completely eliminate all excursion opportunities whilst travelling to Brisbane, but i just have to be selective in my trips due to my budget.

My first stop of the day was to head to the CBD and to take a photo of the Big Purse, my 4th Big Thing that i have now seen but only the third thati have photo evidence of (I did not manage to take a photo of the Big Scotsman in Adelaide due to being surprised to see it whilst coming back extremely drunk on the wine tour). At this rate, i am hoping to be able to get over 10 of the big things that Millsey has challenged me to see.

With that ticked off the list, i headed to Federation Square and decided that i needed to see some art. I went to the Ian Potter Gallery for Victoria and it hit the spot. Once again, the collections of Aboriginal art and artefacts were fantastic and i was starting to begin to understand the stories behind the art pieces. They also had a great Pasifika gallery where they had some amazing war canoes and transport vessels. Really inspiring stuff and completely different to anything that the western culture has produced in our history.

I headed back on the tram to St. Kilda where plans were being hatched as to what was going to be done tonight. We had a few beers at the house before heading to the Vineyard for a couple of "longneck" Coopers ales where we watched the sun go down and got offers to go on the rollercoasters at Luna Park. Fortunately the girl was hammered and had no intention of going through with her multiple offers.

We had gone out in St. Kilda on an empty stomach and decided that some food was in order. We headed to the Tandoori Times and amzing Indian restaurant on Barkly Street, where we had a great feed. The food was top notch and i was blown away by the flavours. The dodgy Taj Mahal in Bridport this was not. The quality of the food was not lost with the amount of alcohol that was consumed.

24th October: Today was meant to be a quiet day, but it turned into the most chaotic, booze fuelled mess that u have had in Australia so far. It was going to be a day of drinking coffee and chilling out. But then Rohan, from the backpackers in Adelaide called and said that he was in Melbourne for the weekend. "Al mate, we are going to go to the pub to watch the horses, do you want to come?". How could i refuse? A day drinking piss in the pub with a mate and his friends and putting a few bets on some horses. It can't hurt can it?

Wrong... it hurt a lot. Not in the wallet but in the head the day after. We started drinking at about half 2 in the afternoon and didn't quit until 5am the next morning. I havew not done abender like that for a long time. What i can remember is that the pub we started at was called the Elsternwick Hotel and it was a pub that allowed you to have a pi9nt but also was a licensed bookies. I had never been to a place like this before and certainly nothing like this exists in the UK that i know of.

We were drinking lager by the jugful and it was being consumed by myslef, Rohan, Troy and Nick ( Rohan's mates) at an alarming pace. Rohan's wife, Natalie, was there too along with their friend Suzi. Everybody was great and in good spirits. I placed a bet on the big race on a horse called Black Piranha. Troy sounded like he knew his stuff and he siad that this could one to look out for. Unfortunately it turned out to be a complete no show and was going rapidly backwards 300 metres from the end. Still it really did not matter by this point as i was getting more and more out of it.

With the big race having been run, we decided on the next move: Troy's place for more booze and a bit of a party shall we say. A slab of Corona later along with a few scotchs, it should have been all over. But oh no, the Challis still had something to give after it was decided that we should head to Rohan's friends house at 1am.

At this point, you know when you get to that point and someone suggests something positive to you when you are just off your face, you just don't care, you just go with it. So off we went to Corby's place where i met Tertia, Corby's wife, who hailed from sunny old Frome in Somerset. She had been in Australia for 8 years and had manged to maintain her beautiful West Country accent. Amazing. I love it so much. God forbid that i ever lose mine while i am on this trip.

Corby turned out to be a bit of a hero. Christened Craig by his parents some 40 years ago, he gave me his business card which said that he was in Real Estate. However, this was irrelevant to the conversation until i mentioned to Rohan that he looked like a spitting image of Mitchell Johnson (a current Austrlaian Cricketer). "You like cricket do you Al?" said Corby. "well come on upstairs, i have something that you might like".

What he showed me i didn't like i absolutely loved and was in complete awe of. What Corby had was a framed autographed cricket signed by the 1948 Australian cricket team who toured England. Nicknamed "The Invincibles", they are regarded as the greatest international cricket team ever assembled and contained a certain Sir Donald Bradman, arguably the greatest cricketer of all time.

However, not only was Corby in possession of this, but he also possessed an autographed bat which contained the signature of every Australian ever to captain the team. I was in awe. Absolute awe. To a cricket fan, this was pretty much like looking at the Holy grail only twice. "So how do you come by these?" I asked. "Picked then up at a couple of charity dinners" said Corby, pretty casually. Unbelieveable. It also turned out that Corby used to go to school with Shane Warne and was in the same year as him in school, and thought he was a tosser, but i will save you the details of that.

As with all good things, they have to come to an end, and i left Corby and Tertia's house at some god foresaken hour in the morning and stumbled home. What an incredible night i thought. What i didn't know though was that trouble was on the horizon...

25th October: I like everyone else hates hangovers. I hate them not because of the pain but due to the fact that i always promise myself that i will never get in this state again. I always do this and i am just going to give up saying it. Today was no different. I felt dead and could not face doing anything let alone getting out of bed and go trouncing around Melbourne to see kore sights.

I eventually did rise around 6p, to get some food from the supermarket to buy for tomorrow's trip to Canberra on the train. After that though it was pretty much back to bed recovering from one of the worst hangovers i have had in living memory. :-p


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