Last week I arranged to meet a university friend downstairs at The Moat Bar & Café.
Situated in the basement of the State Library of Victoria The Moat is the perfect place to linger over a latte and discuss our works in progress and the latest books. But I could not leave it at that. I grabbed the opportunity to catch an early metro train which would give me enough time to visit and enjoy some of the more familiar Christmas sights Melbourne always offers at this time of the year. My favourite pastime is people watching. On the 1.30pm train from Carrum tired mothers with dangling Christmas tree earrings, one hand rocking a pram, chastised excited toddlers running up and down the carriage. Teenagers, eyes glazed or closed listened to music that I could hear without the benefit of ear phones. Others fiddled with iphones or made loud phone calls to friends, ignoring the friend sitting next to them. I talked to an elderly lady with a wheely walker who explained in great detail the responsibility of belonging to Alcoholics Anonymous. ‘They saved my life’, she said, ‘but the damage to my health was done.’
Across from Flinders St Station is Federation Square. People relaxed in deckchairs dotted amongst a forest of Christmas trees, or watched the cricket on the big screen. There is always something happening at Fed Square ranging from celebrations of the Melbourne Cup Carnival to demonstrations of Tai Chi. The next big event will be a huge New Year’s Eve party complete with fireworks.
Across from Federation Square is St Paul’s Cathedral. As soon as you enter you leave the noise of the city behind. Everyone whispers and there is an overwhelming sense of peace. Many a time I’ve quietly taken photos for tourists but this time I found my services were no longer needed. I have been made redundant by a camera mounted on a long pole. Visitors are now able to take a long distance selfie.
I always love to see the decorated carriages and plumed horses clip-clopping their passengers through the busy CBD. Although I have to admit that the cycle rickshaws are much faster.
I can never pass the flower stall outside the Melbourne Town Hall without admiring the display and breathing in the perfume of roses. Next was the Christmas tree in the city square before listening with joy the talented young singers of the Victorian Girls Choir
To visit the Myers windows every year has been one of my a traditions and they did not disappoint. This year the windows tell the story of Goldilocks and the Three Bears with Father Christmas thrown in for good measure. By this time I needed a break so I found the nearest public seat and enjoyed watching the buskers in the Bourke St Mall. My feet were tapping to the Pierce Brothers’ rendition of Blind Boys Run. It was such a spirited rendition and so joyously full of life that I bought their CD.
A visit to our State Library is a must every time I go into town. This time the free exhibition covers Bohemian Melbourne complete with photos and videos records of those times. I spent an hour wandering around the exhibits before hurrying to meet my friend around the corner at The Moat, under The Wheelers Centre– the home of books, writing and ideas .
By the time I reached The Moat I was well and truly ready to sit and talk at a table for two beside a deep windowsill filled with books. Here you leave a book and take one you’ve always wanted to read home with you for no cost. I felt as if I was in Aladdin’s cave.
On the one hour train trip home all passengers were off-loaded at Moorabbin Station because the PSO’s (Protective Services Officers) said our train was faulty. During the next fifteen minutes everyone was talking to each other and laughing and joking. After piling into the replacement train the camaraderie continued with fellow travellers vying with each other with yarns of horror train stories. I laughed so much I nearly missed my stop. At Carrum two PSO’s were patrolling the platform to see that all passengers were safe. They even escorted me down the ramp to the car waiting below.
Another magical Melbourne excursion filled with laughter and fun
HAPPY NEW YEAR