OPINION: Heavy heart for great city of Melbourne struck low by COVID-19

Peter FiorenzaGeraldton Guardian
A group of police and soldiers patrol the Docklands area of Melbourne.
Camera IconA group of police and soldiers patrol the Docklands area of Melbourne. Credit: WILLIAM WEST/AFP via Getty Images

I am missing my regular Melbourne fix big time.

And I cannot see it happening anytime soon.

I just love that city, and since first venturing there more than 10 years ago, I have tried to fit it into my regular travelling itinerary ever since.

Recently, in this column, I spoke about my love for my paternal homeland, Italy, and my despair at what COVID-19 has done to its beautiful locations, namely, the Eternal City of Rome.

Well, my heart is now bleeding for my most favourite of cities, Melbourne, which is now a victim of the dreaded coronavirus.

As I write this piece, Daniel Andrews, the Victorian Premier, is considering extending a State of Emergency for, possibly, the next year.

In the past couple of months things have really gone south, and, although cases are starting to come down, it will be a long time before Melbourne and Victoria return to some normality.

After doing a bit of travelling around the world, I have come to the conclusion that Melbourne is right up there, when it comes to great cities.

Why?

Well, it really is a combination of several things that have come together.

Firstly, it’s the “home of sport”.

So, that’s immediately a big tick.

It has a coffee culture combined with a cafe and bar environment that has no equal.

This is quickly followed by the fact it demonstrates the best and most diverse, and most extensive, choice of cuisines anywhere.

And if you add to this the enthusiasm and energy of one of the biggest cosmopolitan breakdowns of people on Earth, it is hard to find an equal.

I don’t know anyone who has visited Melbourne that really comes back with a negative experience.

Yes, there is that Western Australia versus Victoria rivalry, but I really think that situation is a manifestation of mutual respect.

I reckon it’s because we are, simply, so similar.

In fact, history tells us that this is a friendly rivalry that goes all the way back to the 1890s gold rush.

Many Victorians ventured to the west, and especially the Kalgoorlie Goldfields, during that time to try and show us how this gold prospecting was done, following their own 1850s rush.

I’ve never seen it written in any history book, but, in my opinion, that’s how Australian Rules Football (now AFL) got a strong introduction and hold in this State.

Anyhow, there is no doubt I have, indeed, a heavy heart for Melbourne and Victoria at this time.

* Peter Fiorenza is the host of Fiorenza on Sunday, 10-noon on Radio MAMA.

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