I finally got my tourist trousers on and made it into Central Melbourne on the train and got out at Flinders Street station.
First stop, the tourist info centre at Federation Square, where I loaded up with leaflets including a few self-guided walks.
I’m booked on a guided walk on Friday which I am hoping will fill me in on history and culture in an informative and entertaining way, help me to understand what I am looking at, how to ‘read’ Melbourne.
So today has been more of a wander with frequent stops to take photographs and to sit and watch the world go by. I chose to follow Melbourne Walks #3 On the Waterfront to give my wandering some structure. I had looked at the waterfront from the train and thought I should like to see more, so it was a good choice. All settlements are built by water, so looking at the Yarra was the obvious place to start. Fortunately both Marlon Brando clones and living statues were notably absent.
Art, evidence of prosperity, and homelessness all featured; people lying on the grass in the spring sunshine, other visitors like myself, locals, tents and blankets, people keeping fit.
I broke my walk to visit the Immigration Museum. Racial screening made for sober reading, and the presence of several school parties meant some galleries were more or less inaccessible. I’m not complaining – it’s a good excuse to go back, and I hope the short film about why people leave their homes and their countries will sow seeds in the minds of the children who watched it, so they reject the current anti-refugee narrative flourishing in the West.
I have had some contact with news from the UK and see Nigel Farage is to lead a march protesting against the ruling last week that Parliament should be involved and have a say in how Brexit works. Those going on this march seem to believe a) that Parliament’s involvement will mean the result of the Referendum being overturned (I wish), and b) that only this who voted Leave now have a voice in the UK. Anyone who disagrees is a whinger or a loser. Yet Parliament’s involvement should make the 48% of us who voted Remain should start to feel part of the process. Make no mistake, I don’t want to leave the EU, I am still very upset about it all, but if we are to leave, and I think we shall, then all the citizens of the UK need to have a voice and ownership of it.
Walking by the Yarra today, my thoughts turned to Jo Cox, the MP murdered during the referendum campaign, who pointed out in her Maiden Speech in the Commons that we have more in common than divides us. That applies to Brexiteers and Bremainers, and 100% of us needs to be involved in this leavetaking.
In 1215 Magna Carta reminded King John that no one is above the law. That’s what this judgement is about. So get a grip Nigel, the Daily Mail, the Express and anyone else who thinks divide and rule is the way to go, this is very much a homegrown judgement.
Over in the US final votes are being cast for the next President. I don’t get why anyone would vote for Donald Trump other than to protest against the status quo, and I truly fear for all of us, wherever we live, should he be elected.
I am on the other side of the world from my home, but that only serves to underscore how closely connected we are.