Another Marvelous day in Marvelous Melbourne

The threat of rain was passing and the sun was venturing out as several OMNI men sat at the Eltham station waiting to catch the 8.32am train into the city to participate in COTA’s 3 monthly meeting at 9.30am. As we chatted and laughed away the back yards and homes slipped quickly by as the sun sent search lights and flashes from the high rise windows as if saying “come on the suns up.

We stepped out onto the platform at Flinders St. Station and quickly crossed into Elizabeth St heading to Block Arcade – 98 Elizabeth Street, passing some homeless people asleep on the footpath, it was only 8 deg c. Up the lift to the 4th floor of this iconic building that was sold last year for 110 million dollars. There was a buzz of activity as men jostled for coffee and biscuits. We sat around the large board room table and listened to the reports the reps gave from the various Victorian groups.

The success was applauded with great enthusiasm plus some laughter here and there, biscuits and tea for morning break followed by a video of promotional activity created by the skills of older men with ideas. Followed by a lovely lunch of healthy rolls and more coffee, mixed with exchanges of ideas, hand shakes and we vaporized into various directions and modes of transport with the exciting thought of all meeting again before Christmas. BUT NOT AT THIS VENUE.

We were informed that COTA was moving to a new address because of the rising rent required, so we are going to a lovely spot in Little Lonsdale Street near the Flagstaff Gardens and the underground station.

So guess what, the three Omniteers Ken, Nick and Daryl went exploring again along Elizabeth St., left turn into Little Lonsdale St and there was a high-rise crane suspended above the traffic lifting huge buckets of concrete several stories above extending the height of the city’s skyline whilst a man suspended from a single rope and a small platform was painting the outside of a skyscraper with a roller some 10 stories above where we gazed in awe.

Onward to the future home of COTA, Council On The Ageing, and as the photo will show this high-rise dwarfs the single level brick dwelling beside it, which has a brick front, lane-way down one side revealing a long blue-stone wall, very mysterious perhaps it was a Cobb and Co station when Melbourne ran on horsepower.

We met three lovely ladies having coffee on the sidewalk they took our photos and helped us with our iphones and enlightened us with the current history of our new meeting home.

We dared each other and went up by lift to have an optic and were invited in and given some lovely biscuits by a very sweet young lady. There is a nice coffee shop on the ground floor of which we partook and a blackboard therein chalked a message “what did the wig say to the bald head?” …….. I will leave the answer up to you!

Around the corner down the steps that lead below the foundations of Melbourne’s sky scrapers and onto the City loop train heading back to Eltham and Diamond Creek. We engaged in conversation with two Ivanhoe school kids on the way and asked them how many times can you fold a piece of paper in half. After a guess of 7 times we gave them an OMNI brochure to fold but the best they could do 6 times. We asked if they could recognize any one the OMNI brochure and in a flash the boy pointed to me, asking in a cheeky manner we said and what’s his name the reply was Daryl. This set us back a yard or two asking how did you know my name? The answer, he said – “it is on your name tag in the photo!”

His said his father is aged 45 so we gave him the brochure to give to his Dad with an invitation to join OMNI when turns 50.

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Australia Day Melbourne 26th January 2017

The fully laden train pulled into Flinders street station at 10.30 am, the street procession was in full swing with every nationality being represented in all their traditional costumes and music. The parade headed down St Kilda Road across the Yarra towards Government House. The crowds were 4-5 deep and all were in great spirit and as we headed that way also there was a volley of gunfire – a salute I believe.

The weather was cool with a misty rain shower early this cleared away to a warm sunny day, there were large crowds of people walking and sitting in the beautiful gardens. We were hurrying towards Government House which was open to the public and what a magnificent building with its historical paintings, cedar furniture huge ballroom and spacious gardens.


Overhead the Roulettes flew in a formation of 6 and passed in different formations several times some just above the tree tops. With Aussie flags in hand we headed back to the display of vintage cars supported by the RACV – what magnificent machines adorned our city streets of old. We had the privilege of meeting a dog sitting in a bike basket that had been to the last 13 Australia day ceremonies in the same bike basket.


Channel 9 had a female photographer on site she had a wedding veil and a posy of flowers and a bowler hat and we were invited to get remarried, much to the amusement of the on-lookers. We headed back along St Kilda Road and meet a true dinky die Aussie Donald Campbell McDonald with his cork brimmed hat, his great Grandmother was the first white born child in Tasmania as the ship was docked in Hobart when she was born, great story. We experienced three street buskers playing music on the footpath much to the delight of slowly moving on-lookers.


Outside Flinders St Station we meet the concrete man who gave Lady Florence a kiss on the back of her hand – it cost her “five bucks”! Then there was Meg in her invalid scooter playing the piano accordion, more money and a bottle of coke. Meg told us she was minister of the Wesley church in the City. We left Meg and headed to the Bourke St mall where five people where run down by a car on the footpath. There were volumes of flowers on the street and chaplains supporting the teary and shattered people. Down near Elizabeth St, on the Old Post Office steps, they were covered in flowers and Teddy Bears, people were crying as they tried to read the hand written notes of sympathy and grief from total strangers.


We Had some Macka’s and sat opposite mum and dad with their 4-year-old son who was playing on his electronic device and they were hand feeding him whilst he played with both hands, how parenting has changed.

Back on the train again heading home after an inspiring day with much to reflect upon. As we alighted from the train we realized how stiff and sore we were and wondered if the uphill walk to home would be too much, when a friend of Lady Florence offered us a ride home, how lucky.
Home and a Glass of cold Beer.

Make sure you experience Australia Day in the city next year.
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Ken’s Pedal for Prostate – 2016

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It was the 4th year for Omnicycles supporting Ken and Norm with the Movember 2016 Pedal for Prostate ride. It was great morning start at Marngrook oval, Diamond Creek, 10*C cool, clear, and sunny with a promise of warmth to come.

Seven riders, Ken (sporting his half-grown mo for Movember), Bill, Steve, Joe (sporting a snazzy new helmet), Bruce (sporting sniffles and a dodgy throat), Leon & Nick were sent on their way at about 8.20am, by Norm (the official start umpire and photographer) assisted by Lyn.B, to the first stop at Eltham 20 mins later where Ken took off for administrative duties.

The peloton proceeded along the usual route at a leisurely pace heading for Melbourne city stopping for a brief stop at the Heidelberg junction to farewell Leon who had to leave the peloton there (thanks for participating Bro). It seemed like the local wildlife took much interest in this year’s ride as not only the usual magpies, cockatoos and blue wrens (a few rabbits as well) came out to cheer on the team but along the Heidelberg/Ivanhoe stretch Joe & Nick were accompanied by a large grey kangaroo who decided to pace them for about half a kilometer, crossing the trail in front of them a couple of times. A bit of a worry as, at that point of the trail, on one side was the river and bushland and on the right was a busy four lane highway – fortunately ‘Roo’ decided to leave them on the bush side.


10.45am and a welcome coffee stop and breather at the Fairfield Polytechnic campus Nursery cafe for coffee, conversation and a breather.

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11.20am – set off from Fairfield Campus running a bit behind schedule but no one was worried about it as it was only 14 km to go before lunch. The morning was beginning to warm up quickly now with a strengthening northerly breeze to take them down the Main Yarra/Capital City Trail through Abbotsford, Richmond & Burnley. index4It was somewhere half way along that a rather large tiger snake showed some incling to joining the peloton as it slithered up from the river bank and onto the trail. Joe and Nick, being ‘tete de la course’ at the time, quickly overtook it and must have put it off its stride for it thankfully decided to find somewhere else to go and was fortunately not encountered by the following peloton.

12.10pm – The team had a quick regroup before crossing the Morell Bridge together and turning right onto Alexandra Avenue where the backup team of Flo, Lynda, Daryl and Ken were busy setting up the BBQ lunch – many thanks for their support. Cool drinks and lots of fantastic Hurstbridge butcher’s sausages (even Rusty approved), onions, cole slaw, home-made tomato & plum sauces – what more could the hungry riders need – besides a well deserved sit down and convivial company.

Unfortunately at turnaround time the wind and temperature were making for a most unpleasant return so, sense prevailed and the Metro was engaged for the journey home – the team would do the next leg on some later, more conducive, occasion.

…thanks boys …. looking forward to next years challenge.

Happytash

Rhododendrons, Azaleas and Mountain Ash

The National Rhododendron Gardens are situated in the lovely township of Olinda which nestles in the centre of the Dandenong Ranges. Managed by Parks Victoria, these 104 acres of gardens are a magnificent colour palette of rhododendrons, azaleas, camillias and  many other floral wonders set amongst stands of mighty Mountain Ash.
Approximately a 3 kilometer walk around the main pathway with a picnic lunch by the lake is a delightful and peaceful way to spend three hours or so.

OMNI men showing the older you get the better you become.

TV threatened rain and storms for today but us, 10 OMNI men from Diamond Creek and Eltham would not let that stop us from our planned trip to the mysteries hidden behind the bluestone walls and brick architecture in the gold laden streets of the city called Melbourne.
8.34am, the packed electric train pulled into the Eltham station and disgorged lots of human cargo, mainly children heading for the Eltham College, as us 70 plus year olds boarded we found enough seats close to each other to be able to excitedly chat amongst ourselves like escaped convicts on our first trip into the big city some 45 minutes away. We left our homeland of trees and open spaces and travelled along the ribbons of steel over polluted creeks and graffiti painted walls and broken timber fences. We could see into the backyard of homes through the scratched windows as we speed past, some were tidy many had old rusty car bodies, rubbish and struggling vegie patches.
Trees were displaced by homes and commercial buildings being built wall to wall, the further we go toward our destination the higher and denser they become with total disregard for any other persons light, sunrays and views, this is no doubt an artificial way to live, may be in 20 years’ time we will grow long ears and look like rabbits living in concrete burrows.
We headed south past the MCG into Flinders St and onwards through the tunnels of the loop and with excitement flowing through our veins we alighted at Parliament Station heading up the very steep mechanical staircase to the bustling and noisy throng of Spring St, down past Parliament House to the Princess Theatre and a lovely coffee shop where we stopped for coffee and cake. Our hostess was a delightful lassie from Vancouver she enjoyed our Aussie crappie jokes and took photos of us together and also the cook. The theater is a magnificent building.
Leaving there we crossed the road past Parliament House to the busy intersection of Collins st where a skyscraper was being built it seemed to disappear in the fog clouds above it glass walls reflecting the struggling sunshine, an outside lift was racing up and down the skyscrapers ribs as if in a frantic endeavor hoping not to come adrift.
We crossed the very busy intersection with crazy taxi drivers seeming to be competing for the next Mad Max movie role plus fire trucks all lights flashing ,horns screaming and a beautifully dressed woman eating a sausage roll calmly ducking and weaving amongst it all against a red light.
emcm0014_1As we crossed the street we were confronted with our destiny “The Old Treasury Building “ a 3 story bluestone government building with the lower level used to store gold back in the 18th and 19th century.
This building was designed by a 21-year-old Englishman and built in 6 years, on inspection the foundations of heavy bluestone and curved brick ceilings makes you wonder how this building was constructed so quickly, the levels above ground encompass many offices for the government, there is one office the Victorian Governor attends once a week to sign official papers.
The walls are very thick even the inside walls, high ceilings, very ornate wood work all made in Australia from local cedar includes doors and furniture. Great display of early household goods and many documents mostly hand written, lots of photos and stories of First World War, farming and industry difficulties. We were ably guided by Lynne around the building with knowable descriptions on all subjects including the development and layout of the city streets.
After the tour of the Treasury Building we headed back along Spring St opposite Parliament House where a protest was in process, there were many police in attendance but it seemed peaceful and ok.
With rumbling tummies we headed down to China Town for a tasty lunch, we had been there before, we had made contact with a Chinese food store owner two years ago who looked after us very well , we approached him again and he gave us a meal as much as you could stack on a plate for $8.00. We were looked after by an Indonesian waitress she was so lovely we took a photo of her, Les jumped up and gave her a hug just as the shutter did its job, what a lovely photo and moment (see photo included at end of story). It was a large food hall nearly all tables were occupied, I would say he is a great business owner.
After a filling lunch we headed back to Parliament station, down the scary shiny metal mobile staircase, all the OMNI pioneers landed safely at platform one where we waited for our silver train to safely return us all back home again there was much chatter and discussion about our day of enlightenment, we realized that when you have retired you have time to explore and pursue history of your local area and country. We are so lucky to live long enough to see and enjoy evolution.
Well they were wrong about the rain and storms again, luck favors’ the brave and the dills.
We started to disperse at different stations, three of us left the train and walked together to the top of the steep hill, we stopped, shook hands and went our own ways. Like 10 puffs of smoke we separately disappeared and as darkness sets in you stop to wonder did this day really happen?
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Old Treasury Building Visit

A very enjoyable visit to the Old Treasury Building was had by OMNI men on the third Tuesday of the month ( 30 August ).Built in 1858-1862 it was a product of the 1850’s gold rush. Built in the Renaissance Revival style from Sandstone from Bacchus Marsh and Bluestone mined from Footscray.

The architect was John James Clark, a 19 year old immigrant from Liverpool who also designed Government House, the Royal Mint, City Baths and the Queen Victoria Women’s Hospital.

 

 

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Tour conductor Lynne explains the Welcome Stranger gold nugget ( 97.14 kg )

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St. Francis church ( Cnr Lonsdale and Elizabeth streets ) by  J. Atwood circa 1854

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Chief penguin makes his protest

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Chief penguin passes the pennant

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Off to Chinatown for lunch