Saturday, May 26, 2007

The last couple of days I've been doing a lot of just hanging out in Melbourne. Truthfully, I probably could have done Melbourne in 5 days, but I wanted to spend more time here considering Jim and I have never been able to hang out, despite being pen pals for 20 years! It's awesome to be in a place where you don't have to drive a car and you can just hop on or off a train or tram to get wherever you want to go. It's been really wonderful to be able to explore the city like that. It's also gotten warmer in Melbourne, and I was actually able to wear shorts today, which is a good thing since the rest of my clothes are all dirty.

Friday, Jim took me to the Melbourne Zoo. It was a really nice day, despite the screaming school kids who were yelling at animals. There was a big elephant exhibit, and I saw some cool animals that I never get to see in the states. Sadly, those photos are already on my iPod so none for you to see right now. That same day, I went to the Old Melbourne Gaol which was interesting. Jim didn't want to go since he'd been there as a kid and, I imagine, would find it pretty boring. But I got to hear all about Ned Kelly and his gang, very similar to Jesse James or something, I suppose. Oddly, though Kelly was a robber and had killed many people in the proces (which he was ultimately put to death for), he's somewhat of a national hero here in Oz. The time between his trial and his hanging was 2 weeks. Imagine that happening now.

Yesterday, Jim and I went to an Aussie Rules Football game with his sister, Anna, and his brother-in-law, George. I was happy to be watching the game with George, as he's a huge footie fan and was able to explain the game so that I could understand and follow along. The game was played at the Melbourne Cricket Grounds, the biggest stadium in all of Australia, which holds about 100,000 fans. The pitch is the same size for Crickett and AFL which is convenient for them. Out of the 20-some AFL teams in Australia, something like 9 of them are from Melbourne. It would be like having the Lakers, the Clippers, and then a team in Venice, one in Burbank, one in Long Beach, and Santa Clarita, Chatsworth, Hollywood, etc. Everyone seems to support one team or another.

The game we went to yesterday was part of a celebration for the Aboriginal players in the league. They had a bunch of performances and one of them was Shane Howard who sang for the Australian band, Goanna, who I recently used for the song of the day. I got to see him perform "Solid Rock" live, so that was a nice added bonus to the experience.
The teams playing were Essington and Richmond, which is sort of like watching the Kings play the Coyotes, from what I understand (neither team is very good). But the game was amazing to watch. Those of you who know me know I absolutely HATE American football. I don't like anything about it, and no matter how many times someone has tried to explain it, I just don't get the game and there's too much game stoppage. Australian Rules football on the other hand was easy to understand and I absolutely loved it. There is much more actual foot-balling going on (if you haven't noticed, not a lot of actual kicking happens in regular football). I found it to be quite graceful and fluid. It's an offshoot of Rugby. The playing field is enormous. There are 18 players on each team on the field at once. The ball is advanced through precise kicking and a powerful sort of forward pitch of the ball not dissimilar to un anderhanded volleyball serve. And like George pointed out to me, it seems to be the only sport that rewards a team for failure. Get the ball through the mail goalposts, and you score a 6 point goal. Get it through the neighboring posts, you get 1 point. But get this - if you try to score and the ball bounces off the post, even if it goes back into play, you get a point for that, too! Oh, how I wish my adult league hockey worked like that. Games can be won and lost on these extra points. Additionally, there is no game stoppage, much like soccer. So these guys called runners can be seen running through the field giving the players messages from teh coach - while the ball is in play! I think this is a sport I could get hooked on. I'll have to check the dish when I get home to see if it broadcasts in the states.

This morning, I got on a train and then a tram to go to a crafts market in St. Kilda, and then another one near the Arts Center at Southbank. I love these types of markets. Too bad my mom and sisters couldn't be here. It was SO hard not to buy a ton of stuff, but my budget is getting really tight, so I had to restrain myself.

I leave first thing Tuesday (day after tomorrow) for Adelaide, where I will spend one night, then get on an overnight train (The Ghan) headed for Alice Springs. You may not hear from me for a few days, so enjoy these few photos.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

There's no game stoppage in rugby either. Maybe you can catch a game next year when the kids play, you'd love it!

Glad the weather is good in Oz. The outdoor markets sound like fun. Looking forward to your next post.

-DP :)

1:12 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Richmond vs. Essington was broadcast on the local Washington DC Mhz Network TV Channel, TV 56 WNVC on June 5th. Very interesting to watch. I could tell it might be rugby-based but had never seen the "punch-pass" vollyball thing before. Great to watch and hope I see more.

10:44 AM  

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