THE OUTBACK AND SO FORTH – Tuesday, 20 March

I slept uneasily due to fretfulness. Boy, is that a fucking waste of time and energy. Stepping out of the hotel and turning the corner reveals a café that advertises an ‘excello’ breakfast, the main ingredients of which are fabulous coffee and BACON. Gotta love Australian bacon. What it might lack in ‘crispy’, it more than makes up in ‘porky’. We then walk down to the National Gallery of Victoria, the NGV, to see what we might see. A wonderful and exhaustive exhibit of art and artifacts from its colonial past, 1770-1861 fills the museum. A lot of what’s here belongs to the period before Melbourne was founded in 1835. It’s fascinating, with many beautiful paintings, drawings, furnishings, textiles, and curiosities. The entrance to the exhibit presents a stunning collection of Aboriginal shields. In a long row and lit for emphasis, these shields set a tone of resistance that colors the whole history lesson. Then, on the third floor, the Aboriginal response is fierce, funny, and furious. We discover many marvels in the museum store, for example, Dame Edna potholders on sale.

We detour up Hosier Lane, a back alley and graffiti heaven. A fellow on a cherry picker is putting the finishing touches on an enormous portrait of Biggie Smalls, the one with the crown. Groups of schoolkids are hanging out, fooling around and smoking or texting and just being cool by association. Ali is most impressed. We fade back to the hotel to put our feet up and our heads down. I need this. Thus rested, we go in search of more postage; quite a flurry of postcard composition has been going on at the dining room table.

The true nature of our present mission is to buy sheets and towels for our forthcoming voyage on the Murray River. The houseboat we’ve rented won’t supply linen. A nearby Target has just what we’re looking for. Heeding the muse of practicality, a small suitcase gets bought to carry our burgeoning tchotchke collection.

Consolidating our purchases in the handy little suitcase, we roll on down the street looking for some place for dinner.A stylish-looking Italian bistro beckons. Yeah, but sometimes stylish only pretends to have a decent kitchen. So what: I’m starving. We fall for the tasting menu, which is very good until it sucks.


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