Last Wednesday I made my way into Melbourne to watch the Formula One street parade and came away a bit frustrated, and somewhat alarmed. What concerned me was the speed the F1 & V8 cars were doing in such a confined space, probably in excess of 150 km/h along the straights.

It seems I’m not alone in my concerns with the speed. While the drivers did give everyone there a great sensation of the speed the cars were capable of, it meant that most people only really got a glimpse of the cars as they flew by, so I felt that while people did enjoy the sound of the cars, they were disappointed they never really got to see them properly. I was expecting a much slower procession, although perhaps the F1 cars would tend to overheat at the sorts of speeds I had in mind (50 km/h maximum?).

My other frustration was partly my fault. I got stuck on the city block bordered by Flinders Street, Swanston Street, Collins Street and Russell Street, for two hours. None of the police or security people would let anyone on the inside block cross the road. I actually knew about this in advance, but thought maybe the parade would only last an hour tops. I enjoy F1, but after two hours I was just fed up and wanted to be somewhere else. I also thought it was extremely unfair on anyone working in the area to not be able to get in or out during that time (12:30-14:30), whether they are F1 fans or not.

I just tried finding a map of the course which I remember seeing on the VicRoads web site, but it seems that their “Metropolitan Roadworks / On Road Events” information is deleted after the “end date” expires. Pretty useless.

I thought it was odd that a security guy told a group of two or three people to get off the roof of the Forum on the corner of Flinders & Russell Streets. He was at street level though, and not in any position to move them, so they ended up staying there, and probably got a decent view, too. From what I could tell they had a right to be up there anyway (eg. Forum employees), but the security guy at ground level seemed to think they were just total strangers who had managed to get onto the roof.

After the F1 parade was finally over and I was “let out”, I didn’t want to hang around. Fortunately I had my bike, so I ended up riding through Southbank, the Docklands precinct, to Flemington Bridge then grabbing a chocolate Big M at the corner milk bar on Victoria St. It was 15:15 when I realised I hadn’t eaten since my 07:30 breakfast, but I decided to keep riding further until I found somewhere decent to eat. In the end I wound up riding from Flemington Bridge past the zoo then along the Upfield train line to Fawkner.

No shops near Fawkner train station though, just a cemetery, so I decided to get the train to Upfield and hope there was food there, instead of backtracking on my bike. As it turns out there was a kebab shop open across the road from the Ford car plant, so I got a chicken kebab for only about $5. I rode back to Upfield station, kebab in hand, and there was a girl working in the ticket office who reminded me of Jane Hall from that dodgy Australian TV show “All Together Now”, except better looking. I couldn’t work out why this girl was working at a train station – her teeth were too good. But I had a kebab to eat, so I had to follow my priorities. Also, she’d just finished a cigarette, and I wasn’t too enthusiastic about inhaling second hand smoke while looking dumb trying to strike up a conversation with a girl from the wrong side of the tracks… 😉

Thursday at the 2005 Australian Grand Prix was “People’s Day”, where you didn’t have to pay to enter, but I was having some doubts about going. My experience on Wednesday at the parade actually put me off going, and for that weekend, I wasn’t really into the F1 spirit.

Incidentally, normally when you buy a “General Admission” ticket for the grand prix, you’re given a small booklet that contains some text in fine print in the form of a disclaimer, which (from memory) attempts to minimise the event organisers’ responsibility from certain unforeseen events, explaining that “motor racing is dangerous”, and so on, but I wonder if the people who went on Thursday were given a copy? And in any case, is it even worth the paper it’s printed on?

There are some photos I took on Wednesday here. Most of it’s just touristy stuff, I guess. Can someone explain to me why part of Princes Bridge has been painted silver? It looks very wrong. Also, if someone could explain to me what was going through the minds of the architects of Federation Square, I’d appreciate it. Oh, and this horrible multicoloured building on the southern side of the Docklands.

Why don’t they make buildings like this any more?


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