The travel guide to my hometown

Melbourne & Victoria (City Guide) - Donna Wheeler

Okay, this is my home town, but I felt that it might be an idea to see what Lonely Planet had to say about this city (though as it turns out Lonely Planet is based here). Needless to say it was totally hyped up and made reference to things, such as a style of food called Mod-oz , that made no sense to me. I guess what made it even more painful to read was the fact that the book was actually written by Victorians. I guess being a Victorian (and an Australian), I would have felt much more comfortable reading a tourist guide written by a Victorian. What I suspect the problem is is that the writer was trying to appeal to non-Victorians, and in particular non-Australians, rather than to the inhabitants of Melbourne.

Okay, granted, I have only been living in Melbourne for a little over a year, and I grew up in South Australia, but since both of my parents grew up in Melbourne (and my Dad actually grew up a couple of streets over from where I am now living), and that all of my relatives live in Victorian, I guess I can claim that title (and since my uncle did say 'gee, Dave, you're starting to look like a Victorian' three months after I moved here sort of adds weight to my argument).

Anyway, let's talk about Mod-oz. Personally I have no idea what style of food they are referring to, and to be honest with you, I had not actually heard of it until I read the Lonely Planet guide, and, well, I seriously reckon that that name sounds simply so corny. I am also inclined to believe that this particular style of food was invented by the people of Lonely Plant as a way of trying to define our culture. Anyway, these whenever I see a menu full of unpalatable dishes I automatically assume that it must be Mod-oz.

At least they got the sayings better than what I would expect to come from an American whose only experience of Australia is from Hollywood, and maybe the few Australians (if any) they have met who have been travelling through the United States (and I suspect that there are parts of the United States where the inhabitants may, if they are lucky, encounter one Australian in their lives, though of course I am talking about the ones who do not travel overseas, let alone out of their state).

They referred to a saying that is used here which is 'you've got Buckley's' or 'you've got two chances, Buckley's and none'. Basically it means that that chances of you succeeding is so remote that the most probable outcome is that you will fail. Now, they suggest (and they do admit that it is probably wrong) that it refers to a convict who escaped from the prison in Tasmania, crossed the Bass Straight to Victoria where he lived among the Aborigines and discovered something like twenty years later alive and well (against all of the odds). Now, the problem with the saying relating to that event is that Buckley survived (even though the chances of that occurring were incredibly slim, considering how harsh the Australian environment is), but the thing is that he survived. It is possible that it relates to another event that has since been forgotten to the general Australian society, however I am now inclined to believe that this is the origin of the saying because of the fact that Buckley survived, and because the survived a long time against the odds.

Personally I always thought it referred to this guys' goal kicking ability:


but even that doesn't make sense because he was actually pretty good at kicking goals.

Look, the thing with Buckley is that he was smart. He obviously had enough survival skills to help him live, and the land around Melbourne isn't exactly harsh: there would have been plenty of food to be found for somebody who knew what he (or she) was looking for. Also he made friends with the Aborigines, which was also a smart thing to do (though when he met them, it was probably something like ten against one, and Buckley was no doubt smart enough to know that the odds of him winning in a fight was quite slim – and anyway, Australian Aboriginals are far from being mindless savages).

Anyway I have rambled on a lot about Buckley and his chances, and have said absolutely nothing about this book. Seriously, other than the Mod-oz rubbish, and the fact that Lonely Planet guides do start to become mind numbing after reading a few chapters, yet interesting enough to keep you going, they are pretty useful. Okay, the one that I read is out of date (Vue De Mond – the most expensive restaurant in Melbourne – has moved, and I am not sure about some of the clubs) but it is pretty good at describing the nature of the city (particularly the part which says if you simply hang around the CBD, you miss a lot of Melbourne, namely because central Melbourne spreads out quite a far beyond the Hoddle Grid).

Also the section on Victoria pretty much covers the entire state and does go into a lot of detail. Mind you, there is not much that really captures my interest to want to actually plan a trip there. Okay, I do like the quiet serenity of the bush, but trying to think of myself as an overseas visitor who only has a few weeks, it makes me wonder how I could fit all of that into my plan. Okay, the same problem occurs to me when I think about my next trip to Europe, or South East Asia, but I guess that is a problem that we all face.

I remember today that we had a discussion about retirement and that if somebody retired now they would have nothing to do, and the realisation we had was that if we could retire now there would be heaps of things that we could do, such as learning, travelling, and doing good for the community.

Anyway, I am now tempted to read the guide on Adelaide and South Australia because there is a saying in Adelaide and that that there is nothing to do.