Sharon has arrived so less time to write blogs (which is a good thing). We have been spending time walking around town and getting her acclimated with the Women’s World Cup. Even without the WWC Cup, this is a very busy time of the year in Australia in Sport. The night of the first Australian WWC game (the “Matilda’s” is the team name), the viewership was probably about 4th in pecking order.
1. AFL rules football and is clearly the king in Melbourne – few bars playing the Matilda’s and multiple TVs on different AFL games. There are 8 teams in Melbourne that play at 2 stadiums couple of miles apart, usually multiple times a weekend. So people in multiple team colors always walking around the train station (located in between the stadiums). Very much a college football atmosphere. I still really don’t have a team.
2. Rugby – both league games and international matches are very popular. Australia played New Zealand and had about 100,000 people attend. Australia lost – they struggle to beat New Zealand.
3. Cricket. Australia was playing England in the Ashes. I don’t get cricket. Australia won the first game and apparently England was beating Australia so badly in the second game that the game took forever (like more than a day) and so for the third game it was rained out and the “test” was over – and Australia retained the trophy since the first two games were a tie. I am sure I am missing an important detail – but both English and Australians get pretty salty on cricket.
4. Womens World Cup – Its getting bigger as it progresses. We have been lucky to go to a couple of games and we are 5 minutes from the Fan Fest in the Central Business District (CBD). The stadium is about a mile away. Could have been an even bigger event – hard to get tickets through the FIFA (even when games aren’t sold out) and New Zealand is a pretty small country to host. In Melbourne, they used the 4th largest stadium – should have used a larger one but the AFL teams didn’t wish to share. And only the Australia games were on regular TV – the others required buying a package. The two games we went two were sold out with a great atmosphere – Australia – Canada was the first game and the infamous USA-Sweden was the other one – each could have had doubled the crowd. But the round of 16 game against Denmark got TV ratings similar to a big AFL game….so maybe if the Matildas move through, they will move up the pecking order.
If you have been watching the games, you may have noticed a statement at the start of the games – called “Acknowledgement of Country” – pretty common occurrence here, including in large meetings at work. I have included a picture with a typical statement and it is printed on most government documents. Similar to other countries, Australia is working to reconcile with the past – the problem for Australia is the past isn’t that long ago in some cases. More on a referendum that is up for vote in the fall in a later blog that takes further steps.
Sharon has settled in and getting into a routine and found a couple of favorite places – Royal Botanical Garden and National Gallery of Victoria. In addition to the games, we took a boat ride, explored St. Kilda and the bay, a day at the wineries, and a couple of trips to the Queen Victoria Market and I have posted some of her pictures as well.
Sites around the CBD
Queen Victoria Market
Wine Tasting Trip
We found a “hop on – hop off” wine bus tour to one of the wine regions outside of Melbourne – the Yarra Valley which is about an hour outside the CBD. Not a true “hop on – hop off” but it worked great to get us to four wineries. As you can see it was cloudy but it was a good trip and did remind me of Napa in ways. We initially thought we would drive Penfolds Winery – but as you can see below from Google Maps – it was a bit further out. Note in the picture at Boat O’Craigo – the brown spots in the vineyard – they are Kangaroos – locals view them like we do deer – big pests. Not pictured is Dominique Portet which was the best one.
Boat Trip on the Yarra
Royal Botanical Garden and National Gallery of Victoria