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Published: October 2nd 2021
We wake to the news that COVID case numbers are skyrocketing in Melbourne, and the consensus seems to be that a five day "circuit breaker lockdown" is not going to be nearly enough to hit this outbreak on the head. The situation is even worse in Sydney, and the authorities there are now implementing progressively harsher lockdowns in that fine city. We do our regular nervous scan of the Melbourne exposure site list; it seems our luck is holding for now at least.
Our apartment is in the inner city suburb of Parap, and the renowned Saturday morning Parap Markets are happening right across the road. If crowd numbers are anything to go by they're very popular. There's the usual offering of every conceivable form of handicraft and food, with a bit of live music thrown in for good measure.
We can’t help but notice a slightly sad and unsettling undertone associated with some of the indigenous folk here. We saw a twenty something indigenous girl and her father begging outside the cafe we were in opposite our apartment a few days ago. The girl then came inside and started using one of the bench seats as a bed,
and the owner had to ask her to leave. The same couple are now sitting on the footpath here at the market banging a couple of sticks together on the pretext of it being traditional indigenous music. A few other indigenous folk are just lying asleep on the footpath. We head into the CBD again where we see some policemen talking to a clearly very drunk indigenous man; we overhear them commenting to each other that they've had to deal with him hundreds of times before. This all seems incredibly sad. There's clearly a clash of cultures at play here. The indigenous folk have apparently been in Oz for something like 50,000 years, so throwing money at them to try to turn them into westerners would not seem to me to be the answer. That said I'm not at all sure what the answer is, and if it was obvious I'm sure someone would have thought of it by now.
We head into Crocosaurus Cove, which is a small two-storey crocodile/reptile park right in the middle of town. We hear that one of its massive inmates, "Axel", was relocated here a few years ago after some of the local
fisherman got a bit tired of him puncturing the tyres on their boat trailers. I suspect they were probably grateful he preferred tyres to body parts. Another resident, "Bert", is reportedly around forty years old and has spent a fair proportion of it right here. The park includes a large indoor reptile display, and a tank full of stingrays and enormous fish. One of the crocodile pools has a glass cage which deranged visitors can volunteer to climb into to be immersed with some of these prehistoric monsters. I'm not too sure how a few bits of glass are going to help if Mr Croc really wants to take a chunk out of one of these intruders; we hear reports that their jaws have been measured as having the strongest bite force of any creature on the planet - 50 times stronger than a human, and four times stronger than a lion or a tiger. There don’t seem to be too many signs of blood in water, well not yet at least….
We see an indigenous seasonal calendar on display. Apparently we're now in the "cold months". Hmmm. I’m not sure how the locals would go coping with a
Melbourne winter - it's been over thirty degrees every day we've been here so far. It seems my memories of the thunderous April storms was about right - April is referred to as the “knock 'em down storm month”.
We meet up again with Peter and Teresa down at the Waterfront Precinct. I'm pretty sure this area was just a dockside industrial wasteland back in 1980, but not anymore. There's a wave pool, massive apartment blocks, bars, restaurants and a convention centre. Stokes Hill Wharf runs along most of the outer part of the harbour, its main feature being a massive ferris wheel a la The London Eye. There's also a large man made beach/swimming area separated from the sea by a massive rockwall. I think the theory might be that the crocs would find it a bit hard to scramble up over the rocks in search of a tasty bather to munch on - I wonder if that theory's ever been tested. It's Saturday night and the whole precinct seems to be rocking. It feels a bit like Southbank along the Yarra River back home; well apart from the minor detail of it being about twenty degrees warmer....
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