Through countryside that resembles eastern Oregon or northern California without the mountains, I rode the CountryLink train South, South West from Sydney to Melbourne, an all-day ride. Only sour moment was receiving a packet of imitation espresso powder and a cup of hot water when I expected brewed coffee at least.
After 10 days in Sydney, which felt like the world testosterone capitol, I’m chipper to be in laid back Melbourne where the air is sweet and art spaces outnumber rugby pitches.
Sydney ferries offered entertainment and respite. The Parramatta river tides caused that long route to turn around at Rydalmere where passengers headed to the end of the line completed their trip by bus. Even through the days of rain and grey skies, I boarded a Rivercat or ferry every day, as passage is included in the weekly transport pass. The return from Manly to Sydney at night provided a neon lit, nearly full moon arrival at Circular Quay, the primary ferry dock.
Melbourne is a major port city too, and I’ll be boarding the Spirit of Tasmania on 12 February for passage to the island that captured my imagination when I was age 6 or 7 and just starting to collect stamps.
In Melbourne, I spent most of my first morning at the Old Treasury Building, an elegant Italianate building where all the gold was once vaulted. Exhibits featured local history, the founding of Melbourne, jailhouse photographs of late 19th c. Chinese miscreants and audio renditions of commentaries by the rough and tumble gold miners. Today I’m at the State Library and will soon look at some old maps of Tasmania. Art museums and archives have surprising collections.
I’m currently in the State Library’s chess room (with tables set up for play) using the free wi-fi which my hotel offers for hire. See: Vintage 1975 images of Queen’s Hall and Chess Room.
Friday, I’m headed down the Mornington Peninsula where new friends have offered to drive me around to see a bit of the south coast. They are an Aussie couple about my age who emigrated from So. Africa and run a real estate promotion business here. We met last night on the Southbank River promenade as we watched the passing scene and sipped wine. They had gallantly protected my Greek salad from scavenger birds while I returned to the food court to fetch a glass of a bright, dry Semillon Chardonnay blend.