Revisiting Australia was never really in my mind at all until last Autumn when my parents said they were going to visit my sister’s family in Melbourne. My mind then started to wonder if I could go too. Throw in the added bonus of attending the Grand Prix again, going to an A-League game, meeting up with some old friends and I was sold. I also had plenty of holidays to use up at work and so, having been given the green light by my boss, I booked my flight last December. My wife was going to come too albeit for a shorter stint but that sadly got canned due to her work commitments.
The plan was to have a week there before my parents arrived and then spend a few days with them. Sadly a mix-up with the correct dates meant I only had a day with them before I had to return to Tokyo but as they joked, that was more than long enough!!
Following my night flight from Tokyo I arrived in Australia early one Saturday morning in mid-March. After spending a few hours in the city (getting some food and looking round some arty and architectural sights) I headed south by train to the suburbs of Melbourne to be re-united with my sister and her family for the first time since my wife, mother-in-law and I went to see them in Batam (Indonesia) in December 2015.
Within a short time of my arrival, my nephew mentioned the hilarious David Beckham statue prank by James Cordern and so everyone hovered round the computer in what was a more modern spin on the whole family gathering to watch something. It was a beautiful family moment….or maybe I was just delirious from an extreme lack of sleep!
Later that same day we all went out for dinner at a local burger joint before my nephew and I headed back into the city to see Melbourne Victory at the Marvel Stadium.
Whilst my nephew was at football training one day, my sister kindly drove us on a little detour to see the colourful huts at the beautiful Brighton Beach. I previously mentioned these huts in ‘Australia 2019 Pt IV: The Art & Architecture Of Melbourne‘ but none of the photos below featured in that post so you could say that these pictures are exclusive!
After going walkabout in the wonderfully named You Yangs, I was dropped off in Geelong where I met up with my aunt and uncle for the first time in over a decade. My sister and the kids were already there having driven over from Melbourne for this family re-union of sorts. They were only in Geelong for the day as part of their cruise around Australia and it was wonderful to see them and hopefully it was a nice bonus surprise for them to see me!
The following day I met up with another family member who I hadn’t seen for 12 years. Ahead of the AFL match at the MCG we met for a couple of quick beers at Federation Square and rattled through news and updates in the hour we were together.
Going with my nephew to see an A-League game and the F1 Australian Grand Prix was fantastic but the greatest sporting moments for me were to come the following weekend and no I don’t mean the Aussie rules football match I went to!
One Saturday morning was spent watching my nephew and eldest niece in track and field action. It wasn’t really about competition but just trying to beat their personal best records in activities like shot putt, long jump, 100 metres and 1500 metres.
The reward for their new records was to go to a cafe on the way home where we had some interesting and elaborate sweet shakes called Cookie Monster and Willy Wonka which were full of all kinds of unhealthy goodness!
You can’t beat a family board game and we played a couple during my fortnight there. One of them was called Blokus and the other was the more famous Monopoly (Australia edition) which my nephew was immensely successful at. When my parents arrived they brought some Top Trumps cards so we briefly played that on my final night in Australia. In the days of internet, games consoles, social media and interactive television it was great fun to play such games and even more enjoyable to see the kids into them.
Despite what I just said there the kids did actually spend a lot of time at home on modern media. My two nieces were often glued to whatever they were watching on YouTube. As they were wearing the headphones all I could often hear was their giggling. The first picture below is of them all being absorbed by the Tokyo Fox YouTube channel.
One of my greatest moments came right at the end of my trip when I finally beat my nephew in our final match of FIFA ’19 with a late extra time winner having lost every previous match to him!
For all the other places that I went to on this trip it really was all about the more simple everyday things like taking the kids to school, swimming lessons, the supermarket or just round the corner to the nearest Hungry Jacks!
The final batch of photos were all taken on my last evening in Melbourne and will ultimately go down as selfie stick failures (due to the stick being in many of the pictures!) but they will forever be a good reminder of the fun times spent at home.
Click here to read ‘Australia 2019 Pt VIII: To Sydney & Straight Up To Palm Beach For Some Filming’