Saturday April 14th 2007 at 03:34 UTC: Down in Melbourne near Flinders and Swanson. They still have trams and punk rock fashion here. It is not the small, well-ordered place that New Zealand was. It is much more like America – large, rich and disordered.
There is an old yellow Victorian train station and church that seems to have been built at the same time (St Paul’s). There is also something of a town square built in 2001 when Australia turned 100: Federation Square. There is a building, the Motion Picture Museum, on one side of the square that looks more drawn than built. It looks like it should fall over.
07:17 UTC: We are now at the top of Mount Dandenong. It is a mountain to the east of Melbourne. The mountain is covered in eucalyptus trees, tall straight trees whose bark is for ever falling off. Along the road up the mountain is the Snooty Fox and other places to drink and eat. The leaves are changing colours – the first clear sign since we have been down here that it is autumn. If I did not know any better I would think it was summer.
At the foot of the mountain a plain stretches away to Melbourne and the sea. We cannot see Melbourne – there is too much smoke from a fire. Canterbury Road leads back to Melbourne and passes a place called Ringwood.
We took that road back – it was crowded with people going out on a Saturday night. We drove past the university and then down Lygon Street. It was full of people sitting at tables along the street eating Italian food. This is where pizza got its start in Melbourne.
Melbourne has preserved a lot of its Victorian buildings. This gives Melbourne a something-old-something-new look. Some buildings, especially in the Docklands, look like they are from a future that never was.
We have yet to see any aborigines, the people who lived here before the British came. But that might be like expecting to see a Native American in New York.
Many of the houses in the suburbs are largely built of brick, have just one floor and not much land. Many have a red-tiled roof. As in New Zealand, the summer is far worse than the winter. Snow is rare. And, for the past nine years, there has been little rain!
The cars are much larger than in New Zealand. The general look of things is much more like America – you might almost think you were in Texas.
The way people talk is similar to New Zealand, a sort of Cockney.
Melbourne got rich when gold was found in 1851. That is when the Chinese came – there are a lot of them here. The ships dropped them off by the sea and they walked inland to find the Gold Mountain. Some found their fortune, but most who prospered did so by opening stores and selling food. Over a hundred years later some are still there selling food.
– Abagond, 2007.