I think that's the title of a lost Wilbur Smith thriller. On Sunday we caught the train into Spencer Street Station [not called that anymore] stuffed stuff into a storage locker, and caught another train to the zoo. A woozy Collingwood supporter who hadn't been to bed yet wobbled on to our train, and addressed the carriage at large. "HOW ARE YERS?"
It was a stunner of a day, actually pretty hot, and we hadn't packed all that well for a day out in the open under such conditions. (As we flew over Tasmania on the way up, the western peaks were still blanketed with snow). We had hats for the boys but not us, no sunscreen, and long pants all round. The zoo was crowded due to the great weather and it being the last day of the local school holidays. We managed to get around all the must-sees, with many rest stops on the way. Any shaded seats or bits of lawn were solidly occupied, so we ate our lunch on a nice pile of bark.
We were lucky to be there only about two weeks after the latest baby elephant was delivered. Still un-named, he was drawing massive crowds, and probably doubled the zoo attendance off his own bat. We queued for about 25 minutes to get a look at him, but then we had a good 10 minutes up fairly close, watching him scamp about with his mum and auntie. Baby elephants look hairy.
Elsewhere, the giant tortoise was sitting with his face resting on the fence. Kids patted his shell and even his head. I thought he might have been midway through a slow motion escape attempt, commenced some time in the Menzies era. Apart from the butterflies who sometimes land on your shoulder, the tortoises are the only touchable zoologicals in the place.
We saw those zany flatmates, the zebras and giraffes. The Melbourne zebras are strangely brown- rather than black-and-white, as if they are photographs fading in the sun. I love the Hills Hoist-style winch for getting the basket of food up the pole to the right height for the giraffes. The lions looked very, very tired, as usual. I shared their sense of ennui - by the orangutans, Michael and I were both just sitting quietly while Elf and Marcus made the most of the critters on show. In fact I was getting a kick out of just watching the people. Tattoos were ubiquitous.
We left a little earlier than originally planned due to simple exhaustion. Climbed on a train back to the city, unstuffed stuff from locker, got to the airport with a few hours to kill, ate cardboardy airport food for dinner, then flew home. My last sight of Melbourne was another happy Collingwood fan, jogging down the concourse and bantering with a group of nuns.