I'll admit I've been slack about writing now that I'm here in Melbourne. It's not that nothing's been happening, more that I've become a temporarily lazy bastard.
I arrived at Tullamarine at the usual time after a flight twice delayed by missing passengers. The first delay was at San Francisco, where they boarded us and then discovered that there was a no-show. Thus to the inevitable delay while they fished the baggage out of the hold. Of course, considering how long it takes to board a 747 and settle everyone down, there was no way they were going to let us off the plane during the delay. Fortunately, there's ample opportunity to make up lost time on the flight and we arrived at Sydney only 20 minutes later than scheduled.
I sadly report that there is no longer a smoking lounge[^] at Sydney Airport. I had a sneaking suspicion the anti-smoking nazis would have made it so but nonetheless it was a bitter disappointment to be denied that pleasure with three hours to go until arrival at Melbourne.
The second delay was on the ground at Melbourne, waiting for the gate to be available. You guessed it, the flight occupying the gate which was supposed to have departed was delayed while they removed luggage belonging to a no show. It beats me how someone can check their bags in and so completely disappear. Why else did they check in if not to take the damn flight?
From Tullamarine at my request straight to the fish shop in Williamstown. After three years without fish and chips I didn't want to wait any longer than necessary. We did, however, stop off at the Coles supermarket to buy a bottle of Rosella Tomato Sauce to go with the chips. Pure unadulterated bloody heaven!
Then Heino and I dagged around Williamstown for a while, reliving scenes from the distant past (well, thirty years ago which is near enough). But eventually it was time to take the trek across Melbourne to Heino's house which is not terribly close to Williamstown. In fact, he lives right by the northern end of the newly opened Eastlink Tollway. Which meant that, having taken the Eastern Freeway through Doncaster, we ended up at the Mullum Mullum Tunnel.
They've been planning to build that tunnel for almost as long as I can remember; it opened this year. Heino assures me it's a Melbourne tradition to chant Mullum Mullum as one drives through it. So I obliged him, feeling a trifle silly as I did so. 'No mate' he assured me, 'just watch the other drivers. They're chanting it too'. I looked and, sure enough, it looked just like they were.
The following morning we headed back the other way through the tunnels to pick up my hire car. I learn fast so I was ready to chant Mullum Mullum as we went through the tunnel. I even pointed out that it was pretty obvious one had to chant it backwards as we were going in the opposite direction. I was warming up as we approached the tunnel when Heino broke the sad news to me; the northbound tunnel is called the Melba tunnel and one does not chant at all.
So much for inspired guesswork!