For Now We Are In Melbourne

My Mom told me a story about how she and her parents and brother would drive down to Melbourne, Florida from Ohio once a year when she was little.  When they arrived, my uncle would sing a song he made up.

“For now we are in Melbourne.  So what?  So what?”

I would have felt the same way upon our recent arrival to Melbourne, Australia, if it wasn’t so awesome.

Let us count the ways.

1. Melbourne is famous for its laneways. The CBD (Central Business District) is a rectangle.  Within this rectangle are tiny laneways off the streets which house little shops, restaurants and various homes. These give Melbourne a European feel.  Plus they are car free, so G can ride his scooter up and down them all day.

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our very own laneway (note the disco ball)

2. It’s further south which means it’s further from the equator which means it’s cooler—a plus for the two Irish boys I have down here with me.

3.  Its focus is geared more towards culture: art, wine, coffee, food, an air of sophistication without snobbery.  It’s like the Chicago of the Southern Hemisphere, but with no organized crime or blistering wind.

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4.  For example, at the end of the lane is a former printing press turned adorable coffee shop where some of the staff know the little man by name.  When he walks in they say, ‘Hey mate!  Can we get you your usual?’

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his usual-a panda bear babyccino

5.  Our apartment in the laneway is a converted warehouse with its pulley system still intact.

the gear in the ceiling

the gear in the ceiling

the hook that once pulled up inventory, now gives a nice horror movie feel

the hook of the pulley system once hauled up inventory, now it gives the place a nice horror movie feel

6.  Access to the roof of the apartment has given Michael some serious opportunities to photograph the view of Melbourne’s central clock.  It quixotically chimes every 15 minutes to keep our days on point.

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7.  There are bees on the roof.  I swear.  On our roof there are bees in a hive and they make honey…on the roof!  A company aptly named, Rooftop Honey, places hives all over Melbourne and once a month they travel around to collect the honey from the bees.  They came over already in their bee keeper suits and left us a jar on the counter.  Trés local, non?  The honey is delicious with just a hint of a disco ball overtone.

8.  From inside the apartment, the views of the clock through arched windows with warped glass are lovely as well.

IMG_3251These windows offer us visits from morning doves,

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and the moon, lest we forget about nature too soon in our new found city life.

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9.  While I’m not a huge fan of the kind of sci-fi movies Ethan Hawke finds himself in from time to time, it is fun to know his most recent movie, Predestination, was filmed in this apartment.  If you skip ahead to 1:23 in the preview below, you’ll see him fall through the very same floor I’m sitting on right now.

10.  There is a swing inside our apartment.

Byron Bay

By the time this posts we will have packed up shop here in Brisbane and will have spent our first of 9 months of nights in Melbourne, or as Australians say, Melbin.  How did that happen?  I haven’t even had the chance yet to tell you anything about Brissy or its surrounds, so I’m going to steal this moment to procrastinate from packing to show you a little of Byron Bay.

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here’s one side

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here’s the other

It’s hard to show how beautiful it really is in photos.  It’s so large you need a wide angle or some such other fancy type of camera lens.  Byron gets very busy in the summer, so we decided to go in the off season when it was still just a little chilly.  It draws bajillions of people because it is the quintessential hippy, surfer paradise and everyone wants in on it.  It has a certain kind of undeveloped magic to it.  It’s striking these days to see a place so spectacular without gobs of high rise apartments and shopping two seconds from the water’s edge.  Luckily, Australia has plenty of gorgeous beach to choose from, so they relegated most of their beach development to the Gold Coast which is north of Brisbane and full of theme parks and zoos etc.

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lots of bush turkeys milling about in Byron

Way in from the water lives the town of Byron.  It’s more of a village, a beachy village with surf board shops and sandy people and lots of places to get a juice.  It’s right out of California, but with less dude and no Whole Foods.  When we were In town one day at the bulk foods store (when in Rome) we saw a group of people gathered under a tree and were informed a Koala Bear had been spotted.  We hadn’t seen one in the ‘wild’ yet and while the tree was in the parking lot of the Australian chain grocery store Woolworths, it was no less thrilling to see a Koala not in a zoo.

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he was so sleepy

We spent the night in a cool little Parisian-esque, studio apartment where Michael got fixated on a visit to a secluded beach, just south of Byron proper.

IMG_1601I acquiesced with reticence, because I know what can happen when he gets fixated on something.  When we ended up on a winding dirt road that went on for miles without a soul in sight, I didn’t say anything.  Then when we lost all cell reception so Google maps, which had been our guide, was no longer with us, I didn’t say anything.  When I looked out the car window as we drove along and saw the edge of the road was an unprotected edge of a cliff drop off, I still didn’t say anything.  Then once we finally found the place, we had to climb down a sort of mountain path comprised of a steep set of craggy rock stairs and Michael said to me, “I know you’re so mad at me right now.”

“I couldn’t possibly be more mad,” I replied.

And then we stumbled on this:

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With untouched sand that looked like this:

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And not another human in sight…

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…for miles.

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So I ate some crow.  Then we all took off our clothes and ran around naked until we remembered we’re in Australia and there is no ozone here.  Protective gear was donned and M & G went to explore.  Look how tiny they are!

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They returned with reports of an exotic cave.

“Bring me to it!”  I exclaimed in a sort of King George style.

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And then we went home, exhilarated, with the tiniest glimmer of what it might have been like to discover uncharted territory.  .

Animal Crossing

The best part of a road trip down under is the animals you’re instructed to look out for…

make way for koalas

make way for koalas

and kangaroos

and kangaroos

and bats (my favorite)

and bats (my favorite)

and echidnas

and echidnas

Clearly this is a bit of a lazy post.  And to protect Michael’s integrity, he did not take these photos, obviously.  He was driving and I was relegated to the iPhone at 80km an hour.  I am so behind in chronicling our adventures, but I will catch up soon.  Until then, Happiest and Peaceful of New Years.

Room with a View

My obsession with urban views was born in my first New York City apartment where I had the view of a brick wall.  I thought it was the greatest thing I’d ever seen.  Since then, I’m just as easily dazzled by a good metropolitan view as a six month old is when you dangle a set of keys in front of them.  So shiny!  But after so many years in New York with varying urban views, mostly of the insides of other people’s apartments, I forgot about the sky…and nature in general really.  This is not possible in Australia.  The majority of its views are a not so gentle reminder of nature’s awesomeness.

From our Sydney Perch—>various sunsets over the Blue Mountains

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—>and moon rises

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—>and this guy who scared the ever loving H. E. double hockey sticks out of us every month or so when he’d come to clean the windows

IMG_8370From our Brisbane perch—>a storm’s a brewin’

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—> a moon’s a risin’

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and from our porch in Byron Bay—>under dark blue twilight the bats are a flyin’

(best to watch full screen)

Toile de Jouy

Remember at the turn of this century when Toile de Jouy had a huge resurgence?  Generally it conveys pastoral scenes in France…

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or various colonial scenes…

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Even Mike D from the Beastie Boys weighed in and had someone create Brooklyn toile for his brownstone bathroom, but the best toile by far…

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is Australian.  Bush toile y’all.

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