Melbourne–Australian Open Tennis

13-20 January 2017

We headed off to Melbourne once again for a week of sport, sight seeing and fine dining. This time, we had the company of of Ron and Jo, who were making their first trip to the AO despite being regular visitors to Melbourne itself.

We scored a really wonderful Air BnB apartment in East Melbourne right on Victoria Parade and less than a kilometre from the MCG, making the walk to the cricket and tennis a snap. The apartment was on the ground floor which meant we had a neat little courtyard and no awful wait time for the lifts. The block used to be the Victoria Brewery but only the old shell remained, the rest being rebuilt as units collectively called the Tribeca Apartments. An IGA, liquor store and several little eateries and takeaways filled out the ground floor so supplies were always on hand. More great eateries were across the other side of Victoria Parade and not far down the road in adjoining Richmond. With frequent trams at the doorstep, the location was ideal.

The apartment itself was spacious and very well appointed, with two bedrooms and two bathrooms. The kitchen was fully equipped and there were good stocks of ingredients, giving us the option of eating in or dining out. The only down side was the very soft mattress. With the current state of my back, I keep finding myself paying for a bed and sleeping on the floor. The cushions from the sofa made a very firm and comfortable bed on the floor of our room. I had to do the same last year in another Air BnB in Melbourne.

We managed to find a couple of gems in the local dining scene, including the Aviary, a small pub about a kilometre down Victoria Parade in Richmond. It served a great range of amazing meals at very affordable prices. Ron and Jo also took us into China Town for some belly filling yum char in Little Bourke Street. The waist line didn’t take too much of a battering though because we made sure we did lots of walking.

On the Sunday night before the tennis got underway, Christine, Ron and I headed down to the MCG for a One Day International cricket match against Pakistan. At a little under 40,000, it was the smallest crowd we have experienced there but the mob just below us more than made up for it. We had seats in the front row of the first tier and beneath us was the main Pakistan supporter area. It was a riot of colour, chanting and flags, the spectacle enhanced by the fact that they were on top of Australia throughout. It was very entertaining and it was sporting of us Aussies to let them have an occasional win.

The tennis was the best we have attended, in part due to the weather which was mostly mild. We stuck to the outside courts in the main, with Show Court 2 providing a lot of Aussie action and some top class matches. Ron and Jo managed to score a couple of free tickets into Rod Laver Arena when Roger Federer was playing so they were happy. It was three days of great tennis and a fantastic atmosphere. The venue seems to get bigger and better every year and it is good to see that the facilities for the spectators is constantly being upgraded. Security is tight on entry but there are non of the ridiculous bans on bringing in your own food that seems so common in Perth. Go Melbourne, the sporting capital of Australia. When one thinks that $114 buys three days of top World class tennis it makes some of the other event costs seem ridiculous.

On the Tuesday, we caught up with our “daughter” Azba after work and travelled with her on the train down to Mornington. She and Mike have a beautiful place there, shared with Pickle, the real owner. After only a few minutes with Pickle, I was sold on Miniature Dachshunds as a breed.  She is possibly a little indulged but rightly so.

Azba took us out to breakfast in Mornington Village, complete with a walk along the pier. It is a relaxed spot and the food at a little vegetarian cafe was sensational. We visited the Mornington Peninsula years ago and always said it was worth a re-visit but now we have marked it down for a serious exploration some time. (We have a few places on that list and it keeps getting longer).

Our trip to Melbourne lived up to all expectations once again, enhanced this year because we had the company of Ron and Jo. The morning we left was the day that the horror occurred in Bourke St, with so many people being injured or killed by a rogue driver. Ron and Jo were only a few streets away at the time whereas we had caught an earlier flight. A sad sign of the times I’m afraid.