Tag: melbourne

Who is more disabled?

When I was almost eight months pregnant, I went to Brisbane for a training course. On the way back, I took the Skybus back to the city.

I had been sitting in the ‘special needs’ section of the bus for about five minutes, waiting for the bus to leave the terminal, when a Skybus official got on the bus and said to me, ‘You’ll have to move, we have a person in a wheelchair that needs this space.’

I leapt up to change seats. It took two seconds for the man’s expression to change. ‘Oh no! You’re pregnant!’

I mumbled reassurance. I think a person in a wheelchair is more disabled than a healthy pregnant woman.

Car share schemes in Melbourne

Damjan and I have lived the inner city car-free lifestyle for a while now. We wondered if would be possible to continue without a car once Mia arrived.

It’s been five months now and I think the answer is yes. Public transport and walking still gets us almost everywhere we need to in a normal week. Beyond that, car share gets us to the beach, friends in regional towns, Ikea and Bunnings.

We had been thinking about joining a car share scheme for a while and Mia’s impending birth finally brought it to the top of our ‘to do’ list. Being the analytical people that we are, it would not surprise you that we put together a spreadsheet of all the car share options in Melbourne (11 plans from three companies). The spreadsheet allowed us to work out the most cost effective plan for our lifestyle.

The three companies in Melbourne (Flexicar, GreenShareCar and GoGet) have different fee structures (e.g. hourly charges, distance charges, toll administration, insurance). It’s quite tricky to line them up side-by-side unless you have a spreadsheet… which you now can do, my readers, because here is a link to our handiwork.

Australian car share cost comparison

Australian car share cost comparison
Our spreadsheet lets you put in scenarios for car use so that you can see which of Melbourne’s 11 car share plans is best for you.

We worked out that we might spend around $1,000 per year. Which is bloody good, considering how much the insurance and registration would be just to own a car for occasional use. Even better, instead of an underused car sitting in our car space, we’re renting the space out and the rent covers all our public transport.

Head over to Damjan’s site for his write up of the spreadsheet.

Oddball series

You meet some strange people on public transport.

In one day, I shared my trips with three oddballs. The first one was on the train. He got on at Collingwood rail station with two boxes of food. I recognised them as Vietnamese beef and red rice with salad, which I love. He loved it too. He would take a bite then cry out, ‘Oh yeah! That’s great’ and ‘Wow, mmm…’ throughout his hurried meal.

The second oddball was on the tram. He was a young man with a Nokia dumbphone, which was blaring out tinny hip hop music. His views on the world were ‘The old ways were the best! Who needs a sh*t smartphone, the old ones were the best!’ and ‘Sisqó, I love it. Not this new music cr*p.’

The third oddball was also on a tram. He was dressed like a working professional. He kept telling everyone, ‘The platform at Flinders Street was packed. The platform at Flinders Street was packed.’

I wonder what happens when one oddball meets another? Do they recognise each other as kindred spirits? Or do they each think, ‘What a weirdo.’


Last weekend, Cobi and I went to see Breastmilk, which was showing as part of the Human Rights Art and Film Festival. Cobi suggested that it was the perfect outing to bring Mia along.

Actually, there was no mention of whether or not babies could attend the film on the website. I emailed the organisers to find out. Appropriately for a human rights festival, there was an email address dedicated to questions about access.

I wondered if there would be any graceful way for the organisers to decline my request to bring Mia. One option would be for them to enforce the 18+ classification for the film showing. ‘Sorry, your baby is too young for the movie.’

You’ll be glad to know that the festival organisers did not say anything so logical and ridiculous. Of course, do bring your baby, they said.

As it turned out, Damjan looked after Mia while I enjoyed this fantastic film. There was at least one baby in the theatre with us. I hope he or she enjoyed the food porn.

What luck!

We were coming back from a stroll around the Botanic Gardens when we saw a bright green rectangle on the ground.

‘Hey, a Myki!’ Damjan bent down. Baby Mia, strapped to Damjan’s chest in the baby carrier, might have squawked as she tipped over.

‘Damjan, of all of us here you’re probably the one least able to pick it up,’ said Sean.

Cobi, Sean and I peered at the Myki in Damjan’s hand. It was a Seniors Myki.

‘Oh dear,’ I said. ‘I wonder if they’ll be able to get home?’

‘If they’ve registered the Myki, maybe we can get it back to them,’ said Cobi.

‘Hello!’ called a man powering up the steps towards us. ‘Did you pick up a Myki? I saw you bend down around the spot where my wife pulled out her phone twenty minutes ago.’

‘You’re in luck, here it is,’ we said handing it over.

The man beamed as a dark haired woman caught up from behind him. ‘We got to Flinders Street Station before we realised it was lost.’

His wife added, ‘I told him not to bother coming back. Surely someone had already picked it up and pocketed it!’

‘We were wondering if you had registered it,’ Cobi said.

‘Oh no, that’s too complicated for us,’ they said cheerfully as they waved. ‘Thanks!’

Quiet town

They’re almost finished — two tall apartment buildings across the road from us, which have been under construction since we moved to our home almost two years ago.

I had the vague notion that once people start moving in, our whole street would be lit up with activity and cars. Thinking a bit more, though, I realise that this probably won’t happen.

My brother moved into his new apartment building just a few weeks ago. When we visit him, we hardly run into anyone. At street level, it’s as quiet as ever.

Even our own apartment complex, which is more than 20 years old and well and truly populated –  four out of five times that I leave my front door, I don’t meet anyone.

Strange, isn’t it?

I guess it means that even at high home densities (say, 60+ dwellings per hectare), the actual people density is still low. It’s not like Hong Kong or the Melbourne CBD at lunch time. You need to pack people into a restaurant or office before you start to feel the urban buzz. Two people every 70 square metres for an apartment is just not busy.

World’s biggest flower, Titan Arum

‘Okay, Joan, we’re coming over to the city to see the flower!’

My mum was on the phone. Last night, I had excitedly called her to say that the world’s biggest flower had started blooming in the Botanic Gardens. It was the first time in the seven years that the Gardens had been looking after it.

The flower is the Amorphophallus titanum. Wikipedia describes how the  shorter and more widely used name, Titan Arum, was coined.

The popular name “titan arum” was invented by the broadcaster and naturalist Sir David Attenborough for his BBC series The Private Life of Plants, in which the flowering and pollination of the plant were filmed for the first time. Attenborough felt that constantly referring to the plant as Amorphophallus on a popular TV documentary would be inappropriate.

It is also called the ‘corpse flower’ because it smells like rotting flesh. That makes it attractive to beetles and flies, which help it to pollinate.

Such is the difficulty of getting Titan Arum to bloom that Wikipedia has a list of publicised titan arum blooms in cultivation. When I looked at Wikipedia on Boxing Day, the Melbourne bloom wasn’t listed yet. It’s now there and I feel proud that I knew about it before Wikipedia and the news media.

See? You don’t need to be constantly on Twitter to get the scoop. You just need to live next door to the news action and stumble across it by accident on a public holiday.

The queue to see Melbourne's Titan Arum
The queue to see Melbourne’s Titan Arum.

We arrived at 10:30 and waited around 25 minutes to get in. Our family and friends who came later in the day and the following day had a one hour wait.

Titan Arum bloom in Melbourne

Inside the Tropical Glasshouse.

Here is the bloom. You see the green stalk-and-leaf plant to the left of it? That’s another Titan Arum plant. I understand that each plant can take one of two forms: the stalk or the flower (inflorescence). We’re lucky that one of them decided to be a flower.

The Sunrise camera crew films the flower

The Sunrise camera crew films the flower

Sunrise and Channel 10 were in the glasshouse the whole time we were there. The Age went one better and put together a time lapse video of the flower opening up overnight.

Can I take a photo of your carrot?

I was walking to work when I saw this.

Man carrying green fernery
Man carrying green fernery

‘What’s that?’ I thought. ‘A pot plant? In an orange pot? Oh… oh, is it carrot? I bet it’s a carrot!’

I ran in front of him and sure enough it was a carrot.

‘Excuse me! Can I take a photo of your carrot?’

He nodded calmly.

Man with carrot
Man with carrot

I got to work, super excited by this very strange, very Melbourne carrot incident.

‘Oh, the carrot man,’ Emma said dismissively. ‘I’ve seen it in the news.’


Sure enough, there have been sightings of the Carrot Man all over Melbourne for at least a year.

Carrot man sightings: mystery bugs city, MX Melbourne
A man with a carrot, Fitzroyalty
What’s with the giant carrot?, Herald Sun
Who is Carrot man in Melbourne, 3AW

Another day, another protest

It’s been a good week for civic participation. As well as the teachers’ strike, there were anti-fur protests at City Square for Melbourne Spring Fashion Week.

The big civic disruption, though, was the battle between Grocon and the construction union, CFMEU at the iconic Myer site on Lonsdale Street. It led the 7am radio news bulletin almost every day.

The police were very busy this week.

Police line 7am Thursday at the Myer construction site