My winter vacation

What I’ll remember from my winter vacation:

** The golden hills of Tasmania, the tan of Melbourne, the green of Sydney

** Chatting with a passenger on the Melbourne-Hobart flight, then happening upon him in town at dinnertime the next day

** Exploring Battery Point and the harbor in Hobart

** Petting a koala and wombat at Bonorong Sanctuary

** Reaching for the turn signal and getting wipers, and vice versa

** Monstrous march flies at Mount Field National Park

** The climb (231 steps, but who’s counting) from Russell Falls to Horseshoe Falls, and then the forest of 250-foot tall swamp gums

** The view from the top of Mount Wellington, then discovering my car’s keyless entry and locks didn’t work

** The sideways glances on the Hobart-Melbourne Qantas flight when I verbally identified the Australian cricket team (featured in the video safety demonstration) in my flat American accent

** The drive from Tullamarine to Aspendale

** Petting and scritching the legendary Cuba (and sidekick Daisy)

** Picking up my Footy Almanacs

** Endless food and lively conversation at Yvette Wroby’s house

** The Boston-like cool of Hobart, glorious heat of Melbourne, the sticky humidity of Sydney

** From black tie to blue jeans, from elegant dresses and fascinators to T-shirts and caps on the train to Flemington

** Bookmakers’ Row at Flemington, and meeting Crio (and then not betting on his first-race tip, which won at 7-1. Sigh.)

** The great lawn between the track and the grandstand

** Salmon with black polka dots

** Sunset on the beach over the Pacific

** Swing dancing at the city park in Mordialloc to the sound of the local 20-piece big band, with Dr. Carl (!) admirably belting out the old standards

** The official MCG tour, and then Dave Downer’s unofficial: “This is where Brendon Goddard took the mark; this is where the ball bounced away from Stephen Milne; this is where I rested my beer from my seat in the last row of the upper deck.”

** Wedding photos: At the Royal Botanic Gardens in Melbourne and the Queen Victoria Building in Sydney — and my wife getting into a shot with three groomsmen stuck with holding the bride’s and bridesmaid’s bouquets

** Watching the Saints romp over Adelaide and the wilting defeat to Port Adelaide in 38-degree heat between bites of barbecued shrimp and lamb

** Years and years of Saints history and memorabilia in the Moorabbin museum – including minute by minute in photos of the 1966 Grand Final — and a mad Sainter’s private collection

** Seeing the 1966 premiership trophy

** Saying “G’day” to Rhys Stanley at a chance meeting at the Saints’ training facility in Seaford (I think my wife’s in love)

** Postponing a trip for a day because of grassfires, and watching the kangaroos hop across the screen in front of the flames on the news reports

** The width of The Australian and The Age (how do you read that on the train or the bus? – although I guess no longer an issue with The Age)

** A mob of 30 wild kangaroos on the back nine at Hidden Valley Golf Course

** Discovering the Sydney Opera House roof is golden yellow, not white; and tile and not Mylar

** Watching the “chain gangs” of tourists climb the Sydney Harbour Bridge

** Sticker shock in restaurants

** The ferry ride to the Taronga Zoo in Sydney

** The infomercials on the TV morning shows (“24 ladders in one!”, *you’ll never need another vacuum cleaner!”)

** The Gap at Watsons Bay: Cliffs and roaring waves on one side, peaceful harbor on the other, hillside town in the middle

** Discovering the filming for “Australia’s Next Top Model” at our hotel in Sydney, then trying to check out what the models were buying at the grocery store down the street

** Waiters toting bags of live fish to the tables at the Golden Century in Sydney

** Fireworks at Darling Harbour

** Seeing downed trees by the hotel in Sydney after Saturday night’s wild storm

** The remote beauty of Mackerel Beach

** Grilled barramundi at the fish and chips shop in Palm Beach

** The wonderful hospitality of Dave and Brooke, Yvette, Uncle Bob, several of you, our friend Wendy in Sydney, the warmth of dozens of other Aussies we simply happened upon in all sorts of settings

** Reluctant to leave and already planning trip No. 3. Maybe in three or four years…..

About Glenn Brownstein

I'm a red, white and blue supporter of the red, white and black who became a footy fan through ESPN telecasts in the 1980s and a buddy who founded the American version of the game. Yup, I chose the Saints, but I'd like to think they chose me, too.


  1. GlennB – brilliant list. Glad you enjoyed your time. The memory that most jumped out at me was: “The drive from Tullamarine to Aspendale”.

    More detail please. Who was driving?

  2. What an adventurous few days it was. Next year, it will be me writing about what we did in your neck of the woods. Don’t tell Debbie that Rhys is hurt again, it will break her heart after he looked so fabulously fit and healthy at Seaford. BTW, what is ” sticker shock” ? Be well Glenn and Debbie, your room is booked for 3 years time.


  3. Dips: Dave Downer was driving us from the airport to his fashionable digs hard by the Pacific (where we spent our first two nights in Melbourne) and taking the scenic route (well, not that scenic until we crossed the Yarra), making sure we saw all the southern landmarks.
    This was our second Australian trip (also 2009), and I got us somehow from Melbourne to Adelaide via the Great Ocean Road and the coast, but we were more than happy to accept his offer.

  4. The Wrap says

    Good to hear you made it back OK. I just had a thought, seeing you’re from the home of the great Dan Patch, and vaccinated with the salmon with black dots of Black Caviar, you might like to catch up on the story of Phar Lap – our own Legend of The Turf – The People’s Champion during the dark days of the Great Depression. Google ‘Phar Lap movie’ and see what you come up with.

    And swing dancing at Mordialloc – my summer home as a kid.

    Take care,

    John & Maggie


  5. Ordinarily I would have said you missed Queensland, but we have had more of a wet season than a summer.

  6. Gus: We didn’t completely miss Queensland, as our flight over was from Dallas to Brisbane (and then to Melbourne and Hobart). So we experienced the 6 a.m. sun disembarking outside from the plane, and then at about 7:30 a.m. on the bus ride from the international to domestic terminal. Reminded me a lot of Florida, where we spent many a two-week winter trip at my in-laws.
    Queensland was my introduction to Australia when I was a kid because I was a big fan of Rod Laver — who was short and left-handed (like me) and had the biggest left forearm this side of Popeye (not like me). And I tried to emulate him by hitting with a lot of topspin (never like him, though I did make it onto my high school varsity team).
    And I’d go with my dad the first day every year to Forest Hills in those mid-60s, the glory years for Aussie tennis with Roche and Newcombe and Emerson and Rosewall, etc.
    We have a long list of sights to see and things to experience in Australia and New Zealand. Probably have to take five or six more trips to see them all. Still time, though.

  7. David Downer says

    Let me assure everyone the Tullamarine to Aspendale drive via Beach Road will be the number one “must do” in the next edition of ‘Lonely Planet Melbourne’.

    I neglected to point out the Tommy Bent statue on Nepean Highway on the Sunday, however. It’s gotta be right up there with, well perhaps not quite the Statue of Liberty …but I ask you, has the latter ever donned an oversized St Kilda jumper?

    It must be noted Dr Karl from Neighbours is an “enthusiastic” big band singer.

    Where you guys at Seaford the day the Saints recorded their version of ‘Harlem Shake’? Gawd, that would have been an “experience”.

    One of my highlights from Lightning Stakes day was Debbie unwittingly sporting a salmon dress with black polka dots. That day, and witnessing a track record, was just meant to be.

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