MELBOURNE \ CHRISTMAS \ CRICKET - Sunday 24th December to Friday 29th (Days 57-63)
Arriving late the previous evening we met up with Jim & Karl who we were to share an apartment with for next 7 nights in Melbourne, and headed straight for the Turf Bar, official HQ of the Barmy Army for a PINT (none of your schooners-short measurers stuff). Gill and I spent Christmas Eve looking around Melbourne centre and getting those last minute presents, and some decorations for the apartment. (Jim and Karl spent it drinking-a theme that was to repeat itself on a daily basis as the fortnight progressed!)
We all spent the morning opening the few token presents we had bought each other before heading off to the Barmy Army Christmas Day BBQ at noon, which Karl had kindly bought us tickets for as a Christmas present. Melbourne had decided to live up to its reputation of offering four seasons in one day-well I would argue that it actually only offered us one-WINTER, ANTARCTIC WINTER!!! We arrived at the BBQ in sun, got a can of VB and were all ready for the BBQ to liven up. However spirits were somewhat dampened by what can only be described as torrential rain showers that created rivers of water throughout the BBQ area, nearly washing us into the Yarra river. Not only that the Melbourne weather then decided to produce golf ball size hailstones!! Jim and Gill refused to take shelter, Jim uttering the words along the lines of 'this is summer in Australia'-see photos. It was freezing, apparently 14c-the COLDEST EVER Christmas Day in Melbourne. 14c my arse, more like -14c!!!!!!
One of the, if not the, biggest sporting event in the whole of Australia is the Boxing Day Test match down at the Melbourne Cricket Ground (MCG), multiply that by a hundred if its against England for the Ashes-and we had tickets for every day!!! Sadly the Aussies had already wrapped the Ashes up by this Boxing Day, but with Warne & McGrath having announced their retirement from Test cricket at the end of the series, and with Warne only one wicket away from a record breaking 700 test wickets (which we saw him duly take) and this being his home ground, the atmosphere was incredible, as it should be anyway with 90000 people at a cricket match! Anyway who cares? Watching cricket on a red hot Aussie summers day with a few beers, what could be better? Unfortunately it was still 14c, with a strong wind blowing up in the Gods where we were seated-none of us could remember being as cold watching a game of cricket anywhere!!!!! Oh well Freddie won the toss! Unfortunately England then made a complete mess of their innings......... After the day at the cricket we all met up with my relative Paul (Clive-he still remembers your party trick!), and proceeded to get smashed ending up wondering around the hugely impressive Crown Casino in the small hours!
With hangovers from the previous evening, a dodgy weather forecast, and England's poor perfromance, nobody could be bothered to make the cricket on the second day, so we spent the afternoon looking around old Melbourne gaol-Ned Kelly and all that.
With Karl and Jim off for a day trip to the Great Ocean Road I decided to go down to the MCG for day 3 of the Test, and as it would turn out the last day of the Test! At least I spent the day in amoungst the Barmy Army with their highly amusing and mostly insulting songs about the convicts, sorry Aussies.
Karl, Gill and myslef spent our last day in Melbourne down at St Kilda beach, now the cricket had finished the weather had improved up to 28c or so, wouldn't you know it!! Goodbye Melbourne, hello Sydney!