I had the blog half written and fully planned by Friday morning, but one of the wonders of blogging is that you can please yourself as to content, a point, which you’ve probably noticed, I exploit shameless.
By Saturday morning I had begun a small personal adventure and by this morning I had pretty much decided it would take precedence, even though I wouldn’t have completed my “quest” until late Sunday afternoon. So the art director stands arms akimbo tapping her foot whilst I slave over a hot, tardy keyboard. Fear not you’ll get the other one next week unless something better comes up in the meantime, and that’s always a distinct possibility, just ask the art director.
One of my New Year resolutions was to get to know Melbourne as well as I know Sydney. 25 odd years since I’ve lived here has meant that half of my local knowledge been forgotten and the other half has been demolished, gone bankrupt or the owner/driving force has fallen off the perch, and moved on to “eternal party central”.
This was been my first free weekend since New Year and my partner is totally involved in study, so I was a free agent. I’d found a lot of free and or cheap events and I had a mission to see the Jeffery Smart exhibition at Tarra Warra Art Museum. Given that Tarra Warra is 60 kms from Melbourne and that I’m determined to enjoy Melbourne, as I did Sydney, by public transport the weekend could rightly be counted as a quest and a quest on the cheap.
Saturday morning I boarded a local tram at stop 20 something bound for stop 64. As you may imagine I saw parts of Melbourne only part remembered through thick mental fog banks. I then joined a train whose ninety minute eastward journey was a steady progression down the socio-economic ladder. Designer labels gave way to Target functional, then to Best and Less synthetic and finally, at Lilydale to worn and shapeless “tracky dacks” with t-shirts or flannelette checks.
A bus then took me through thinning residential tracts to rolling hills and moo cows. One group of three, black coats shimmering in the sun, standing large, muscular and statue like on a nearby ridge line, committed themselves to my memory with their silent demand for my attention. The bus deposited me in the middle of grape vine covered “nowhere” with the cheery advice that I should wave at the return bus “or he’ll go right past”.
Tarra Warra is an imposing gallery, but more of that another time, its also possessed of a long winding and precipitous entry drive, which encourages the walker to take several opportunities to admire the view, probably considerably more than it merits.
My dose of “Smart” taken, I “abseiled” back down to road level. I noticed no evidence of other foot prints in the manicured grass verge where I stood waiting for the bus. You can therefore understand why frantic two handed waving, and back up plan to throw myself in front of the vehicle, greeted the appearance of the speeding bus in distance …Ah! sheet! ………no, in a cloud of dust and torn up Tarra Warra lawn, it stopped!
I travel free on the weekends courtesy of the Victorian Government (making me no better disposed towards state governments of any region or colour) and cost of admission at Tarra Warra was $8.00.
Last night, I saw a concert version of La Traviata, beautiful park setting, good voices (Violetta was excellent) and musicians. The only “discordant note” ?…. Violetta was graceful and statuesque, her Alfredo was reminiscent of a morbidly obese Danny DeVito. Who cares?, it was free and better than some paid performances I’ve seen and I got bonus non PC comedy. Total cost of the day? $8.00.
This morning, a service marking the retirement of the music director at St Paul’s Cathedral, saw me enjoying the stunning bluestone and sandstone striped interior of the building, whilst listening to a great organ and choir enhanced by a wonderful acoustic. Sadly, a packed house “prevented” me from making an “offering” (Woo Hoo!) So total cost still $8.00.
I then boarded the free Melbourne tour bus and spent 90 minutes learning a lot about the city, I didn’t know or had forgotten. The bus dropped me at the door of the NGV gallery where I enjoyed free coffee and biscuits in the members room (OK I have paid membership, but I’m already ahead on that with free coffee and free exhibition viewings, not to mention free biscuits)
On “Summer Sundays” the NGV organises a free afternoon in its Japanese maple “groved” sculpture garden. Here you have company of Rodin, Moore and other sculptural notables, mind you if you don’t know your Rodin from your Moore you’ll have a problem, the casual nature of the afternoon sees most of the attribution plaques covered by well padded bottoms .
The Japanese maple trees’ lower limbs and under canopy have, thoughtfully, been trimmed to head height so they provide wonderful leafy shade for sprawling on the bright picnic blankets and colour co-ordinated cushions provided by the Gallery. DJs play music which would enchance the SBS Chill play-list, and children are entertained at a discreet distance. Nails are “painted” professionally and free (almost had mine done to prove the point). Out door art classes art held in small groups dotted around the area, and interesting discussions take place. BBQ meals, which smelled yummeee, can be had for $8.00, and wine is $8.00 a “glass” which is actually a cup holding about third of a bottle, meaning everyone was mellow quite quickly. I stuck with the water, and so finished my very full and very entertaining weekend out of pocket by a total of $8.00- Woo Hoo, who says Melbourne doesn’t have a lot going for it?