Thursday, February 25, 2010


Melbourne, and the Great Ocean Road

As the Olympic Games continue in Canada, we follow the results on Australian television. The entire package is an enormous tourist promotion for the country, for Vancouver, and for Whistler in particular. Negative comments are most rare.

The main desk man is Eddie McGuire, and he brings a lot to the table. He covers some of the events, does many of the interviews, and serves as an anchor for the presentation. Naturally, he does get revved up with the success of the Australian athletes. But he also enjoys the stories and events around the venues. We watched the interview with Wayne Gretzky, and he almost got Wayne to laugh, twice.

Another occasional host is Mike Malloy, also very funny. They do carry on, to the benefit of the audience---sometimes most irreverently. The suggestion that the competitors in the two man luge should light up a smoke after the sled comes to rest was brilliant. His chats with American figure skater Johnny Weir are excellent.

The Hockey Boys have rebounded with a couple of victories to advance. McGuire said that ten million Canadians had watched the game against the Germans. Add two to that number. And likely countless other Canadians around the world.

We are staying in Melbourne with the Grangers. As if they hadn't already seen enough Hursts! Jane stayed here during her Rotary exchange time, and Joanne visited with them for a month in 1999.

I was overwhelmed approaching the city. It looms far on the horizon when approaching from Canberra, almost like Judy Garland's "Emerald City". The same view comes into sight from the western road.

The Great Ocean Road stretches from Geelong, near Melbourne, to Port Campbell. It is not a drive for the faint of heart. I have never been comfortable with heights, but can adapt. Driving along the highway, on the wrong side, the ocean side to boot, passing bleary-eyed truckers in their haste to get to market. The drop from the road to the ocean is sometimes a couple of thousand feet. Makes the gonads sing, the old sphyncter costrict to the size of a micro dot. The views are brilliant, but require a stationary position. Park the car first.

We witnessed the "Twelve Apostles", rock formations on the ocean's edge. (In the last century, they were called "A sow and her piglets".) There is a natural erosion process that goes on constantly, but the formations remain relatively intact for the tourists. We stayed at Port Campbell, just past the helipad, from which twenty flights of tourists an hour rise to see the rocks up close and personal.

We took the inland road back to Melbourne, no ocean views, just valleys far below, and we topped it off with a few hours on the beach at Torquay.

Classes of school kids tore into the surf with their boards as part of their curriculum. Damn fine activity, thought I.

Plans are in order for a night of Australian Rules Football tomorrow evening. "Footy" rules here in Melbourne, and we hope to get a taste of it tomorrow. With the obligatory meat pie, of course.

The Grangers are exemplary hosts. We can only hope they will show their faces in Prince Edward County some day to learn of County Hospitality.


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