Grand Final Long Weekend at San Remo

Some years ago, Daniel Andrews, the Premier of the State of Victoria, made the AFL Grand Final eve a public holiday. Traditionally, a parade of the competing teams through the streets of Melbourne CBD on the eve of the Grand Final, is quite an event. The idea is to let more Victorians be part of that parade so Dan Andrews made that decision.

The Queen’s recent passing also lead the PM to declare 22 September a day of mourning and a national public holiday. That day happened to be the day before the AFL Grand FInal Parade day, so most Victorians conveniently found themselves a 4-day long weekend.

We had planned to go away to San Remo for a couple of nights. That became a 3-night away event, so on Thursday arvo, after Tress and I did some work to clean up the gardens, we headed there with both the elderly LBJ and the youthful Padawan. There was a really bad traffic snarling crawl as we approached Phillip Island. That last 10km was a “first gear” type of congestion. We had the radio on and there were callers who relayed their experiences of large crowds, horrendous traffic and stupendous waiting times. The tulip festival at Silvan and the Melbourne Royal Show at Flemington were the worst spots, with hours of wait time and food and beverages running out.

Eventually, we made it to San Remo and checked into our accommodation at nearly 4pm. The views of that lodging however, made us forget that long crawl. They were magnificent, looking out across a paddock and into the Bass Coast, with the brilliant blue Bass Strait.

We had dinner on the first night at the San Remo hotel. It was pub food but what pub food! I had a porterhouse steak and Tress had some salt and pepper calamari. Both dishes came with a large amount of very well done chips so we doggy bagged most of it. The next day, we drove into Phillip Island and walked around Cowes, joining thousands of other folks who were also taking advantage of the special occasion. We had the younger one with us. It was his first trip away from home and he soaked up the new experience. It then started to rain and we headed back to San Remo. I had brought my weber GA with me so we did a home cooked barbeque for dinner later that night.

The next day we took a walk into town, went to the jetty to see the well-known pelicans, bought some fresh seafood from the co-op, had coffee in town and then went back to get ready to watch the game. We were tossing between going back to the San Remo hotel to watch it, or just watch it at the lodging. The lodging had a pretty decent large screen HD TV and we had all the grub and drinks ready and we couldn’t book a table on late notice anyway so we watched the game “at home”.

The Cats took off at the first bounce and very soon, goals rained. Isaac Smith, an ex-Hawks champion, was on fire and kicked 3 in that blistering start of the first quarter. At the end of that quarter, it became apparent it would be uphill all the way for the Swans. At half time, it was pretty much a foregone conclusion that Cats would win the 2022 premiership. I even started to read the book I had brought along and had been reading. Gerard Henderson’s accounts of “media pile-on” of the George Pell trials were very compelling and it was easy to read it and sort of follow the game at the same time.

Well the Cats won it easily in the end, and Isaac Smith won the Norm Smith too. I said to Tress those Geelong players are decent folks, and I’m kind of happy for them. I risk being stoned by other Hawks supporters but in a week where Hawks have been accused of terrible racism, it felt right to accord some humanity across the bow. That night, we cooked up the rest of the seafood we had picked up, for dinner. We had earlier in the arvo, pan friend the scallops we bought and they were delicious.

We came back late Sunday morning and after unpacking, we headed out for lunch as one of our usual joints before returning for some grocery shopping. I then got the car washed and later, we walked the little one at the oval.

The days are longer now and it made so much difference. Maybe the getaway also recharged my batteries but I felt somewhat refreshed. Thanks to Dan Andrews and the PM, the 4-day long weekend has been really good. It was a much needed break for me and I am truly grateful.