There’s not really a lot for us Poms to whinge about over here, despite the locals bleating to the contrary. It really is a rather wonderful place to spend some time. One thing that does get our collective British gander up is that everything is so ridiculously overpriced.
Take yesterday’s activity for example. Following a recommendation in the guide book, China books us up for a tour of the city, by foot. Excellent work, I thought, a chance to immerse myself in the cultural heart of Victoria and a good walk in the bargain too.

Bargain.

What a horribly cataclysmic choice of word that is.
Our tour guide asks for his money up front. I reticently hand over my money, for the price I’ve paid this is going to be absolutely the greatest, most thorough piece of bespoke tourism undertaking ever. It has to be.

$35 for a walking tour of Melbourne.

Yes, you read that correctly, no I’m not re typing it because it hurts too much. The bloke didn’t even look embarrassed when I handed him over my money.
So then, what did this tour involve? Unrivalled access to this marvellous city’s famous points of interest, to the corridors of power atop the Eureka Building, to Kylie’s Summer House even?
Sadly, none of the above. It did, however, feature a lot of this.

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Which is brilliant if you like that sort of thing. Well I don’t.
China isn’t helping. “Just think mate, we could be sat in Fed Square on deck chairs nursing A Caaaaald One watching the cricket on the big screen and the girls go by.”
It’ll improve. It has too. There’s all that history to go through. Ah, yeah, hang on, there’s not all that much history here to go through is there.
We pause for a drink. Now then, a chance to bring it back. Our tour guide’s getting the beers in, surely?
No, no he isn’t.
We repair to a run-of-the-mill Melbourne cafe for orange juices. “This has got to be the best orange juice in all of the Antipodes”, I suggest hopefully to China. “Sweeter than an England away victory, squeezed ‘twixt the thighs of skint, buxom Swedish backpackers and served in glass frosted directly from the Antarctic.”
I’m wrong. But it is a welcome break from the graffiti at least.
The tour resumes and we head towards the financial district and some old buildings, which I enjoy. Then we go to the Banking Museum of Australia, which, surprisingly and almost ironically, is free entry, so I guess we’ve got two tours for the price of one, right? However, the museum’s closed, so we have a look at the ornate foyer and the portraits of ANZ directors past and present.
Then it’s a shopping mall and a look round the coffee shops before a stroll next to the Yarra wraps the tour up almost exactly three hours since we set out from Federation Square. I couldn’t have felt more short-changed if I’d have bought tickets for Day Four of the Boxing Day Test.
“Just think about it,” says China resignedly, “that tour guide’s made $400 for three hours work. Times that by a week, that’s obscenely overinflated Chelsea player levels of ill-deserved remuneration.” The Caaaaald One tastes bitter, but it’s probably just me.

Then this bloke turns up.

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By way of introduction to China he opens with “Yeah, I’ve kinda lost it recently….” Brilliant.
It’s great to see him, six years on, he’s not changed a bit. Elstow CC’s original shambolic genius, Browny. Back in Australia.
A quick catch up later, some fond reminiscences of his time in Bedfordshire and we’re off on another tour. Browny’s Tour of Melbourne. We head to his current cricketing home, Emerald Hill CC based at St.Kilda Bowls Club for a few Happy Hour drinks then on to Acland Street for steak and chips. On hearing of our afternoon’s misadventure, Browny sagely pipes up, “aw look fellas, for seventy bucks I could’ve just talked shit at you for three hours and got ya pissed….”

I decide tomorrow’s a dry day and to not bother with Lonely Planet recommendations for the rest of my time in Australia.

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Thank you to China for the photos. Top work mate.

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