Thursday, January 27, 2011

Australia Day 2011

I've lived in Australia for 6 years, and I've been a citizen for close to 3 years, but in that time, I don't think I've spent Australia Day public holiday off work at the same time as my wife Caroline. So I took the day off chess and we went to the Domain Gardens in Melbourne to check out the open day at Government House and then wander through King's Domain to the city. Our timing couldn't have been better as we arrived at the Shrine of Remembrance at midday to the fanfare of a 21 gun salute.

Smoke rises from the guns before the shrine of Remembrance

It's a short walk across to Government House which opens its gates to the public every Australia Day. I was surprised how popular the open day was, as masses of people went through the gates with us. The state residence of the Governor General is typically lavish, both outside and inside. The lawns and gardens elegantly surround the palatial interior which houses beautiful furniture and art. The republican side of me wonders about the opulence and inferred deference to the British Monarchy. But from a purely artistic point of view, Government House is splendid.

Melbourne's Government House

The Rotary Club put on a picnic on the lawns of Government House so we availed ourself of the stereotypical Aussie sausage sizzle before heading into Melbourne CBD through King's Domain. The park was full of activity, food stalls, kids activities, exhibitions and community groups providing information. There was a rally of vintage cars that took me back to the days when I lived in Coventry which has its annual Coventry to Stratford vintage car run.

Lovingly preserved. The RACV vintage car exhibition in King's Domain.

Caroline and I then wandered into Melbourne CBD past a wood chopping event (do they really use chain saws?) and finally succumbed to a coffee in Degraves Street, between Finders Street and Little Flinders Street. We went to The Quarter for a coffee that was rich but not too strong. The long black was very enjoyable in the European feel surroundings, with plenty of wooden decor and photo's of European (mainly Mediterranean) scenes on the walls.

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