First stop, Federation Square, a recent addition to the city's face and a polarizing one, supposedly. It's got huge glass-and-metal structures with strange, intersecting-triangle architecture. Not much is happening, maybe because it's Sunday, and the horse-racing museum costs five dollars to enter so we go into the Australian Center for the Moving Image and promptly lose each other
. Finally we all reunite in a strange art exhibit about cinema and abstraction that features a lot of really weird videos of coloured bars. In one room the video goes on for half an hour of black and white lines moving up the screen, getting smaller, moving down the screen, disintegrating into dots, and returning to the lines, with a slight break for a picture of dead squid. All this to a soundtrack of hums, thumps and vibrations. We get into a trance watching it, and we're not the only ones; there are at least fifteen people watching this thing, enthralled. Finally I drag the boys away and we go for a walk in the Domain and the Botanical Gardens. It's a bit of a grey day and the gardens just aren't doing it for us like the suggestion of gambling is.
So we head over to the Crown Casino, Melbourne's gigantic ode to tacky. Al and I watch, lulled into another hypnotic trance, as a gentleman plays the dealer on the one-hundred-dollar minimum blackjack table. We watch him win a thousand dollars and then lose two thousand dollars more in the space of ten minutes. Then we don't feel so bad about losing seven dollars (me) and three (Al). Rich comes over crowing that he's won five bucks on the five cent slots and, after I get in trouble for taking a photo in the casino, we head back to spend that winnings on something for dinner.
Then time for the pleasures of St
. Kilda after dark! A pub crawl, on a Sunday evening. Luckily lots of other Melbournians seem to think this is a good idea so all the pubs are still humming along with us. There's a live band at the ramshackle old Espy Hotel, and cheap pool tables at the Prince of Wales. The Elephant and Wheelbarrow is, sadly, closed to us at one in the morning, so we return from whence we came and go back to the Prince of Wales. By three we stumble towards the hostel and see another pub still hopping! More dancing and drinking at some place called the Vineyard, which is happily only a few feet from where we're staying. At four o'clock we're in bed and I'm considering whether a hangover is the best thing to be sporting when going to a new WWOOFing place, but it's too late for regrets.
Rich and Al and I have this one day to figure out Melbourne, really soak up its character, so we start out early (for us, so think noonish) and stay out late. We ride a tram into the city. The boys don't pay, because Laurence told us that we shouldn't, because we're not Australian. I do pay because I already tried that trick on the way to the footy game and spent an abashed five minutes getting a tongue lashing from a transit ticket inspector, who let me off after perusing my passport and warning me that next time I'd get a $150 fine. The boys point out that the chances of me seeing that same guy again are nil. But I can't hack it as a petty criminal, so I pay.