by Alissa

Two things this week that make Newcastle feel a bit more like home: We went  away to Melbourne for three nights, and my Dad’s aunt, uncle and cousin are coming to visit from America tomorrow, our first relatives on the ground here. I believe this is their 5th visit to Australia in a long and well-travelled life. When Ace got the job here, they didn’t hesitate to start planning another trip, and we are thrilled they will be here. Great Uncle Herb turns 92 on Easter Sunday, an occasion that calls for a glass of red and a good slice of cake. I hope if I live that long, I am still game for a good journey.

But Melbourne. Swoon. Even if it may actually be pronounced Melbin. Melbun? [I have started using the occasional, accidental Australian idiom (i.e. “How are you going?” in lieu of “How are you doing?”), but my accent remains firmly North American.] Ace lined up a couple of math talks with his people, and I took to the city with O on my back for three days of urban bliss. It was all so lovely and accessible.

What I loved:

  • Abundant and available art of all sorts.
  • This ceiling:
NGV International

Stained glass at NGV International.

  • Walking on streets filled with people walking. I do a lot of walking in Newcastle, but this place is slow and small and sleepy with a half-vacant downtown. In Melbourne, I was in abundant, vibrant company. [Toddlers were thin on the ground in the city centre.  O noted, “I think I am the only little girl in Melbourne.”]
  • Walking through well-treed parks.
  • Walking with my girl packed into the Ergo, where she regressed into day napping for the first time in months, allowing me two afternoon meanders through the National Gallery of Victoria.
  • Fashion. In Melbourne, people really make the effort to be a part of the cityscape, a flash of beauty/colour/difference, a part of the visual stream of everyone who will cross their path. I felt myself waking from a long indifference to clothing.
  • An unlabeled alley in Chinatown that poured forth the scent of roasted chickens.
  • The Postcard Show at the Linden Gallery in St. Kilda. Hundreds of tiny pieces lining the walls–the art equivalent of people watching.
  • The wombat sculpture in City Square:
  • Wombat sculpture in City Square

    On the way to the Botanical Gardens.

    The pavilion where we were  happily rained out on our way to the Botanical Gardens.

  • A snippet of Evensong at St. Paul’s.
  • Taking the tram in the rain.
  • And time together playing in new places–and eating great food–with these two:
"Hoosh me, Daddy!"

“Hoosh me, Daddy!” At the sundial at Piazza Italia on Lygon Street.

Good night, my readers, and a good Holy Week to those of you who celebrate. I’ll try to round up a few more photos from Ace’s collection soon. Or just go back to Melbourne over and over for more.