OK. Those pesky Mayans ran out of wall, so we all know we’ve all got only nine days left to live, right? So here’s my ultimate guide to what to do with every one of those sleeps in the world’s most liveable city. Money no object. I mean, you can’t take it with you, right?
So before the invisible planet slams into the earth – hop on a jumbo and head here.
I don’t care what the rich and famous tell you about heading to Japan for wafer-thin slices of wagyu beef at $500 bucks a head. Spend one fifth of that and get the most sensational steak you’ve ever eaten at my friend Stefan’s place in suburban Balwyn. The most unprepossessing place you ever saw, but it’s somewhat dowdy facade hides real riches.
He serves sausages, followed by cevapcici, (that’d be skinless sausages to you), followed by steak and salad, followed by either black forest gateaux or pancakes. Walnut, lemon, or strawberries and cream. If Dirk Diggler came in with a few friends no one would be surprised, this is the 1970s on a stick. Meat, followed by meat, followed by meat, with some sugar and cholesterol to round it off. Perfect. No point worrying about your heart, if you go before the 21st you just miss all the nastiness.
I have always secretly suspected that his wine list seems mainly to comprise excellent bottles of wine left behind by business folks who leave there somewhat befuddled after three or four hours not realising they’ve left a bottle of Grange Hermitage behind. But who cares? The man is a legend, and so his meat.
A word of advice. Never just choose your favourite cut of steak, instead ask Stefan what’s especially good that day. It’s all on display, he’ll let you know what’s the go. Stefan’s is just one of many great steak joints in Melbourne, where you can eat the beef that in general gets exported to Japan (and to a lesser extent China and America) before it ever gets to a local supermarket. If you don’t want to eat 9 different cuisines before we all evaporate into space, then try Vlado’s in Richmond as well, and an honourable mention for Cutler and Co in Fitzroy. That’s three of nine days taken care of.
So, nicely sozzled from lunch? Hop on one of Melbourne’s famous trams and treat yourself to a lazy afternoon watching the cricket at the MCG: yes, the Melbourne Cricket Ground, universally known as the “G” by all Australians, where up to about 90,000 or so screaming fanatics regularly gather for Australian Rules Football, Cricket, and occasionally rugby and soccer too.
If you can, grab a day-night limited overs game, which gets progressively more rowdy as the lights come on and the seagulls swirl around the light towers, and that day’s victims – South Africa? Pakistan? India? New Zealand? Or please God, England – step out to try and chase the Aussie’s total, or to bowl the Aussies out before they reach the target set by the visitors. It is one of the great sporting moments in the world, and as this is Australia, you can be assured that a fair amount of the amber throat charmer will be drunk before you head home.
Tickets aren’t cheap, but we’re all doomed anyway, so you may as well join in the fun. And as the world’s ending, we’ll probably throw in fireworks, too.
OK, hangover not too bad? Let’s head, then, to one of the finest golf courses in the world, at Royal Melbourne. Established in its current location since 1930, it offers two of the most exquisitely beautiful and challenging courses in the world – known somewhat prosaically as the East, and the West – and regularly plays host to world class tournaments.
In 1959 the Club was chosen to host the Canada Cup. In order to avoid crossing busy roads, 12 holes of the West Course and six from the East, all in the “main paddock” were chosen, and this became known as the Composite Course, which for many years was rated in the top 10 courses in the world. Many important tournaments have been played over this layout, including the Eisenhower Trophy (1968), the World Cup, [previously the Canada Cup] (1972, 1988), the Australian Open on several occasions, the 1988 Australian Bicentennial Trophy, and most recently the Heineken Tournament for four years between 2002-2005.
In 1998 the Club hosted The Presidents Cup, the first time this was held outside the USA. The event returned to Royal Melbourne in 2011. Now for the casual visitor it costs an arm and a leg to get on there, for sure, but then again, you won’t have much use for your arms and legs soon, so where’s the problem?
The perfect spot for a cool ale after 18 holes in 30 degree heat. Please turn your mobile phone off.
Right, up and at ’em Vita Brits. Lets do some shopping. What about a million dollar car?
Well, if you’re quick, apparently an old black Holden (GM) garaged at a country NSW dealership for years is set to become the most expensive car ever made in Australia. It is up for sale for A$1.2 million – the owner has already knocked back an offer for A$900,000.
The 60+-year-old Holden, No.46 of only 112 sold in 1948 – the year the first Holden was made in Australia – is believed to be one of three still around. The owner, Canowindra car dealer Charlie McCarron, said experts had described his car as “the first Holden that will make a million dollars”.
Mr McCarron said he had been contacted by an agent for an overseas buyer who offered $900,000 but at the time of the news story I read the offer had been rejected. Mr McCarron commented at the time: “I really want what I’m after ($1.2 million) for it,” he said. And he would prefer a local buyer, saying: “I wouldn’t like to see it go out of the country.” The car was originally known as a 48-215 Holden but the model has become more commonly called the FX.
They sold new for just over 700 pounds sterling back in 1948 and Mr McCarron bought his car second-hand for $575 in 1970.
His car has deluxe options, while the other cars known to exist are standard.
What’s the difference? For an extra ten quid the car gained leather trim, safety wheel rims and a passenger’s sun visor.
It only has 21,000 miles (35,000km) on the clock and has had an interesting life, including several TV appearances. Racing legend Peter Brock drove it on a parade lap before his last Bathurst 1000 race in 2004. Mr McCarron said it was the last car Brock drove at a Bathurst 1000, as Brock’s race car was crashed by his co-driver before he could drive it that day. “Peter Brock told me after he drove it, ‘I never thought I would ever have the opportunity of driving an as-new 48 Holden’,” Mr McCarron said. He said the car still ran well and had its original spark plug leads. The tools, jack, hand pump and handbook are still there and the interior still smells like new.
It had a 2.15-litre, six-cylinder engine with 45kW of power. Today’s six-cylinder GM-Holden Commodore has 172kW. More than 120,000 FXs were made until 1953, when the FJ took over. The other cars are owned by Holden (No.6) and Melbourne enthusiast Phil Munday (No.19).
The desired $1.2 million price betters the $1 million price a 1971 Ford Falcon GT-HO owner has been asking for his car and the $900,00o plus paid for a Holden Special Vehicles 427 coupe a few years back.
Trivia aside: Who wrote HSV’s well-known slogan “I just want one.”? Yes, the answer wouldn’t be far from the home of Mr Wellthisiswhatithink …
So last but not least, what about some prime real estate?
Raheen is an historic 19th-century Italianate mansion located at 92 Studley Park Road in the suburb of Kew, overlooking the Yarra River. It was built in the 1870s, and its name means “little fort” in Gaelic. It was once the residence of Daniel Mannix, the former Roman Catholic Archbishop of Melbourne. and was purchased by the Church.
The first section of Raheen was commenced in 1870 with an extension added in 1884. It was designed by William Salway and built for Edward Latham of the Carlton Brewery. Sir Henry Wrixon, prominent Melbourne barrister and solicitor, later owned and resided at the property.
In 1981 the Church sold the property and it reverted to a private residence. Raheen was constructed as a two-storey house in the Italianate style with a four-storey tower over the entrance and single-storey extension. It was designed in an asymmetric and arcaded form, and is built of red brick with cement render. The property retains its garden layout, including an Italianate garden, outbuildings, fence and gates, and internal features including the original stairwell, library, ballroom and cast iron tower stairs.
Raheen is of historic importance because of its association with Melbourne’s elite businessmen through Latham and Wrixon, and illustrates not only the importance of the brewery business and the legal profession in nineteenth century Melbourne, but also the importance of a residence in indicating success and status in society. The house is also of historic importance through its association with the Roman Catholic Church and illustrates the status sought by church hierarchy for Melbourne’s Roman Catholics and the Church prior to the mid-twentieth century.
It was purchased in 1980 by the Australian businessman Richard Pratt (now deceased) and his family and currently is not open to the public. Many of Melbourne’s great and good – or, in any event, the most powerful – have graced its fine dining and living rooms down through the years, especially the art and theatre community which is extensively patronised by Pratt’s widow, Jeanne.
Before his death, Pratt extensively renovated the house and gardens, including the addition of a new wing designed by Glen Murcutt. Some sources say about a hundred million bucks should be enough to shake it loose from the Pratt’s hands.
Or then again, maybe not.
Apparently villages in France, Turkey and elsewhere are being touted as the right place to wait out Doomsday. In one, aliens are supposed to emerge from a garage and whisk us all to safety. In Turkey, the Virgin Mary is supposed to do the trick.
But I recommend Melbourne. The beer’s cheap and cold, the Vietnamese nosh is the best in the world, and we’re really nice people. Now I ask you, what else do you really need?