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To celebrate Hugh’s birthday this week, we flew to Melbourne to watch tennis at the Australian Open. Unlike any time we’d watched it on TV, where it always seemed to be stifling hot, this year it was COLD! The daytime highs were 18-20C and the overnight lows were 13-15C. Brrr. Apparently one acclimatizes to hot temperatures very quickly. Out came the long sleeved shirts, long pants, socks, shoes, and jackets.

We arrived on Tuesday and our friends “Mr. Fox” (careful what you wish for, Darren :)) and Kathryn kindly picked us up at the airport. We went out for lunch and then they took us to Victoria’s first winery – Yering Station. I was well aware of the wine regions in South Australia but hadn’t known that Victoria also had lots of wineries. I tell ya, there simply is not enough time for all the wine here!

We spent most of Wednesday at the Australian Open.

It was rainy until late afternoon so it worked out well that Hugh had booked us into the Rod Laver arena for the early afternoon game (its roof can close):

Our new favourite tennis player is Alex de Minaur. We watched him play on TV during the United Cup the week before and he’s so exciting to watch – incredibly quick on his feet! On Monday night, we watched him play Milos Raonic on TV:

We got to cheer for both players, Cdn and Aussie! Milos had to withdraw with yet another injury but Alex has continued his winning streak since (he’ll be on TV here shortly, so will need to get this blog done quickly :)). We lucked out at Rod Laver on Wednesday that it was Alex playing – another solid win for the young Aussie. Our seats were in the nose bleed section, just one row below the roof, so I don’t have any great photos or videos of Alex playing. But I did take this video – I’d always wanted to see how the umpires got up in their seats 🙂


When the rain cleared, we went to one of the outdoor arenas and got to watch Cdn Leylah Fernandez play. She unfortunately lost but we had great seats and it was awesome to see her play from just a few rows back! We also watched the Machac and Tiafoe game in that arena and made it onto TV three times! The people sitting next to us were cheering for the American Tiafoe and had flags and signs so the camera kept panning to them and we got included 🙂

On Thursday, Mr. Fox and Kathryn took us up into the Dandenongs. It was chilly and rainy but BEAUTIFUL. We stopped in Olinda and Sassafras, two little villages full of artisans. It’s very weird in Yeppoon in that there are next to no artisan shops and only intermittent artisan markets. We were so spoiled in Hamilton and area having such easy access to so many skilled artists, we’ve really missed that since moving here. The average income in Yeppoon seems high but people don’t seem to spend on art/home decor as much, there’s more of a focus on caravans (RVs), boats, and putting piles of accessories onto SUVs. So we really enjoyed wandering around artisan shops in the mountains – Hugh even got a bit of the woodturning bug back after seeing some pieces that got his creative juices flowing! We had lunch at this cute little spot called Miss Marple’s (yes, after the Agatha Christie character):

Here we are with our friends Mr. Fox and Kathryn:

Lots of images of Miss Marple on the wall behind us!

After staying with Darren and Kathryn Tue and Wed nights, we took the train from their place in Eltham to downtown Melbourne to stay in a hotel on Thu and Fri nights. This is the Flinders St Station – the hub of trains coming in from the outer suburbs as well as all the city trams (the trams are all free in the core of the city!):

We went to some night games at the AO on Thu and the highlight was having excellent seats to watch our favourite Cdn play – Felix Auger-Aliassime!

This was one of the most exciting tennis matches I’ve ever watched – both players made outstanding shot after outstanding shot and Felix was the ultimate victor! Lots of Canadians in the crowd too. Unfortunately he lost in last night’s game, but I am so glad I got to see him play on Thu night. As much as it was nice to say we’d been in Rod Laver arena (fun fact – Rod Laver is from Rockhampton!), we much preferred all the smaller outdoor arenas that you attend with a general grounds pass. You didn’t have to wait long to get seats because people were always moving around arenas, and you could be so close to the play. We decided that when we go back in future years, we will just buy grounds passes and not bother with the expensive seats in the paid arenas. No more nose bleeds for us!

The entire event was well organized and it’s a short walk from downtown. You get amazing views of the skyline from almost everywhere:

Right next to the AO grounds is the famous MCG – Melbourne Cricket Ground:

We stopped in here because our friend Rob Z had told us about a fun sign in the bar inside and we just had to get a photograph:

The sign is in reference to Hugh Trumble but some days… 🙂

Melbourne is an absolutely beautiful city. It is full of nice shops and restaurants and art installations. Two random examples of fun larger-than-life art:

Also, there are trees EVERYWHERE. It was like being back in Canada, being surrounded by greenery again (there were even dandelions!). Then there was this cool thing down by city hall:

There were heaps of these huge planters and while there were some flowers in them, they were mostly full of vegetables and herbs! There was lettuce, corn, tomatoes, you name it, it was growing in one of these planters. I assume when things are ripe, people can just take what they want? A couple cobs of corn were about ready to pick, but alas, no way to cook them in the hotel :).

One thing we found difficult was getting re-accustomed to the throngs of people and the constant noise. Only 8 months of living in a small town and we’d forgotten what that was like! There was construction going on everywhere so that really added to the noise as well. We were grateful to be back in the quiet of Yeppoon yesterday!

A very cool feature in Melbourne is what they’ve done with the alleys between buildings (called “arcades”) – they’ve turned them into narrow routes full of shops and restaurants:

Lots of outdoor seating at the little cafes in the arcade pictured above. You can get a map of the alleys and there are covered sections where buildings meet, like in this one:

It was really fun roaming through the arcades. Although on Friday night, we missed our turn and went too far and chose an alley to take back to the hotel where homeless people seem to sleep. When we arrived in the hotel lobby, the people working there were shocked that we had come that way :). We didn’t know and it felt completely safe at all times.

Some other random photos from the city:

Oh, the lady sitting next to me on the plane heading to Melbourne told us to check out Brunetti Oro on Flinders Lane. Very glad we did!! It’s a huge Italian restaurant and bakery. It was really busy while we were there (although Google Maps declared that it was less busy than usual, yikes) and this included piles of people speaking Italian, so we’re thinking the food and pastries must be pretty authentic. We’d already had breakfast so we decided to just get a coffee and chocolate cannoli – mama mia that cannoli was good! Here’s a photo of the main pastry counter:

Opposite was the cake display that was almost as long as this pastry counter but went from floor to a very high ceiling. Incredible. Could feel sugar coursing through my veins just looking at everything.

A fun thing happened outside our hotel room on Friday morning – a pigeon made a “nest” and laid an egg on the windowsill opposite us!

You can see the egg on the far right corner of the ledge and the “nest” is made up of 1 small twig and 1 plastic cable tie – so really, the egg was just sitting on the concrete ledge. On Saturday morning, mama pigeon was sitting on her egg and she had added a few more plastic cable ties to the nest, but it was still pretty darned sparse. I guess this is city life for pigeons!

Our friends Rob and Lyn P live in Melbourne but we met them because they have a place in Yeppoon and will be retiring here in the next year or so. We met them for dinner at a B’Churrasco, a Brazilian restaurant where they just keep on bringing meat on skewers out to the table to carve pieces for you! Scott and Christine – there was at least corn, green salad, and grilled pineapple included, unlike at Dinosaur BBQ 🙂 Very delicious and fun. But the highlight of the evening was yet to come! Rob and Lyn didn’t know anything about our musical tastes but they had booked a table for us at a basement blues bar! Oh my, we thought we’d died and gone to heaven, there couldn’t have been a better way to celebrate Hugh’s first Aussie birthday! We have REALLY missed watching live blues in small venues. Here’s a video snippet to give you a feel for the cavern we were in:


It was called Beneath Driver Lane and it was originally the vault underneath the old Money Order Office – totally looked like a vault! When we’re next in Melbourne, we will absolutely return here!

So that was Hugh’s birthday week in Melbourne – other than the chilly temperatures, it was a really awesome trip and we look forward to going to Melbourne again!

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