At some point in January I will be leaving Melbourne and moving to a new assignment in Paris, where I expect to be for the next 2-3 years. It was always expected that my assignment to Melbourne would be short-term, with the work here due to finish in early 2014, although I would have liked to have stayed another 6 months or so to enjoy the warm weather (which has finally arrived) and a bit more sailing. Apparently you can sail on the Seine, but you need to tack an awful lot.
With the exception of the sailing, which has been brilliant, I’ll not be too sorry to leave Melbourne. I suspect my view of the place was tainted with difficulties I had at work, to put it mildly, and this is quite often the case: my view of somewhere largely depends on how happy I am in general, and on international work assignments this is inseparable from the situation at work. For this reason, and for the fact that I arrived in winter when it was cold and wet, I am probably judging Melbourne a little harshly and I advise readers not to listen to my views on the city too closely, but I generally found it overrated, ridiculously expensive, geographically isolated, and quite dull. I’ve previously gone into detail about what I liked and didn’t like about Melbourne and I’ll not bother to repeat it here, but it’s not a city I’d make any effort to come back to – even if it wasn’t 22 hours from Europe. I’m not even sure I’d come back to Australia, to be honest. If I was based in Thailand or Singapore then there’s a good chance I’d fly down for a week or two to see some people or maybe dive the Great Barrier Reef, but I’d not be flying long-haul for a holiday here, and I’ve got no interest in looking for work in Perth, Brisbane, or any of the other oil and gas centres. Australia, despite the insistence of practically everyone I’ve ever met that things would be to the contrary, just didn’t really do it for me.
However, I enjoyed my visit to Sydney and I have decided to make the most of what time I have left here to do weekend trips to Adelaide and Hobart. The latter I will be visiting between 27th and 31st December, the flights for which I booked completely forgetting that Hobart is the (fairly obvious) finishing point of the Sydney to Hobart yacht race, which takes place between Boxing Day and about 28th-29th December. For a member of the Royal Melbourne Yacht Squadron to forget this is pretty damned slack, and I was punished accordingly when I found a solitary hotel room left available in Hobart for the period of my stay, which is going to cost me just shy of $1,500 for 4 nights. The good news is I ought to be able to access the Royal Yacht Club of Tasmania thanks to the reciprocal rights I enjoy through my own club, so expect to see me propping up the bar listening to stories of the race from salty old sea dogs. Then it’ll be back to Melbourne for New Year’s Eve.