Our last day in the Big Smoke and a chance to catch up with friends who we haven’t seen for ages. Gennie and Peter moved back to Victoria on the Big Island a few years ago, so we couldn’t leave their neck of the woods without catching up.
After our predictable hopelessness with navigation on the bikes yesterday, we redeemed ourselves by finding the right tram, going in the right direction and clunked and rocked our way through the CBD to the outer suburbs. Despite getting off at the wrong stop (I mean, really, we couldn’t do with flawless navigation because that just wouldn’t be us!) we were still near to our final destination, so we took a stroll around the streets, getting a sense of the vibe and culture of the place, which was eclectic to say the least. Hipsters in harem joggers and Nonnas in black dresses with head scarves, strolled side by side down the bustling streets. Another great “we’re not in Tassie anymore” vibrant scene.
We met Gennie and Pete at a very funky little cafe in Brunswick, with its graffiti artwork street frontage, but very hip and stylish interior, with a menu for the regular folks and a separate vegan menu for the not as regular, like us. Brilliant!
It was just perfect, to sit over some great food, complimented by great conversation that flowed from topic to topic to books to travel to life in Vic and Tassie. A fantastic way to start the day. The food was great too, with a veggie hot dog type affair for Steve and Cauli Beans on sourdough for me, which was a sensational mix of flavours. Deelish!
We eventually said goodbye as Pete headed off for work and Gennie kindly drove us back into the city. This gave us a welcome reprieve from our amateur directional abilities as Gennie’s navigational skills were A+ and far superior to the champions of getting lost that were her passengers. After saying farewell, we waved her into the city streets and we returned to roaming the Melbourne pavements.
We made our way to the Old Treasury Building for a taste of history and I loved the exhibition on a 1920’s Christmas. In the 1920’s, most ordinary working folk didn’t have much spare cash lying around to splurge on shop-bought Christmas decorations, so the newspapers published patterns and ideas for making decorations at home with everyday materials, particularly coloured paper, crepe, tissue paper and card. There were even ideas for making larger decorations with hat wire and hat pins. Very inventive and lessons to be learned for today I feel, with ideas for reusing and upcycling, rather than creating more environmental troubles from the making and discarding of today’s manufactured decs. I mean, look what can be done with some wire, paper, card, scissors and a bit of imagination and creativity…
I hadn’t realised that the Superintendent of the Old Treasury and his family actually lived on site in the building itself and the exhibition was set up in their living quarters. As Superintendent, Mr Maynard was in charge of security, maintenance and the cleaning staff and Mrs Maynard was responsible for morning and afternoon teas and providing a sponge cake and tea on silver service for the Governor’s meetings. With all the wealth that was sitting in the walls of the Treasury, the family lived in very basic accommodation downstairs, but I loved the little rooms and the make-do festive decorations.
A final stroll through the streets, to pick up our bags, on the bus to the airport and then winging our way back to the Small Island we call home. It was a blustery and bumpy take off and a fierce cross-wind on landing that saw my aviation nerves raise their ugly heads again as I gripped the seat with white knuckles. The pilot did a super job of landing the little rubber-band powered plane and Steve, a one-time pilot himself, gave him the tick of approval, commenting “That was a strong cross-wind, I wouldn’t have been able to land it.”
So home we were, back to the quiet and calm of small town village life. Mission accomplished though, as we had a lovely break in the Big Smoke, did some roaming and some riding, caught up with friends and managed to gather some necessary bits and pieces in preparation for next year’s epic new cycling adventure in Europe, so plans can continue to forge ahead. The things that can be done on two feet and two wheels are endless…places to see, people to meet…brilliant!