Country girl in the big smoke

March 28, 2018

Fans gather for a performance by Ed Sheeran in a Melbourne laneway. Picture: AAP/Joe Castro

The prospect of driving in Melbourne is not a common thought in my life.

Growing up and learning to drive in Benalla and avoiding city life when it came to university, the chance never came up.

My mother is a big fan of public transport and the Sydney-to-Melbourne line which stops in Benalla, therefore all Melbourne appointments were attended by train.

After a few months of regular appointments, the train became quite dreaded and I was determined to change my mother’s mind and let me drive.

Her answer was always a flat out no.

Late last year I had to attend training in Blackburn for a casual job during Christmas, so I took the chance and drove.

The trip went off without a hitch and I found myself touring the sights, finding the recently-finished House Rules homes and shopping at Brand Smart.

By Friday, I was ready to come back to the country, but recently decided I was capable of returning to the city again.

So earlier this month, when Ed Sheeran toured Melbourne in four sold-out concerts, I was adamant I would drive my friend and I to the concert, much to my mother’s concern.

The concert was another eye-opener and I was exposed to more elements of the city.

Staying at the Travel Lodge, we did not have far to walk to Etihad Stadium and getting there seemed to roll smoothly.

Our room had a top floor view of everyone heading to Etihad and of a person dressed as Cookie Monster, which was entertaining.

On our way we could not believe the amount of people all in the one spot for the one reason.

Our tickets were in the front mosh, as they were the only tickets I could get my hands on and I was happy to give it a go.

Being only a party of two, my friend Elyce and I stayed close the whole night, and after news of people fainting from nights before we kept checking in with each other about how we were feeling and drank plenty of water.

The excitement of everything happening around us and the opening acts of Bliss N Eso and Missy Higgins had everyone in anticipation for Ed.

I was soon bought back to reality when I poured myself a drink of water off the bar from a supplied jug and plastic cup and the guy standing next to me gave me the most horrid look, like I had committed a crime.

Clearly I shouldn’t be trusting the free water or the people around me.

Then, when I asked the lady next to us to take a photo of us, she commented on the fact that I still used an actual camera, rather than just my phone.

The reason being I wouldn’t give someone in Melbourne my phone to take a photo, rather I would give them my cheap point-and-shoot camera and get the same quality.

Elyce and I pushed through the crowd to about halfway and were satisfied with our view of the stage.

I could only see Ed when I lifted my phone above everyone and viewed him on the screen.

I soon gave up, enjoyed his live voice and most loved songs through the stage screens.

We danced and screamed, got drinks spilt on us and were invited to dance with the group of girls next to us.

It is and will always be one of my most treasured memories.

We left the concert feeling like teenagers again, all pumped up on adrenaline and ready to head to the Crown.

Our feet started to hurt and we were reminded of our age as we wished we could catch a ride on the rickshaw bikes whizzing past us blaring Ed’s music.

Catching a taxi back to the hotel, the starting rate was $6 and a further $4 once we had arrived.

The driver also requested we pay by card because it was easier these days and I started to miss the easygoing country life where there was always someone to offer a lift home if it started to rain.

And oh, it was raining.

We climbed into bed and fell asleep listening to the sounds of the city, so different from the birds and crickets back home.

I awoke the next morning to a phone call from my sister checking in as I hadn’t sent a message the night before to say we had made it back to the room.

Clearly the night had taken its toll on more than just my feet.

My next call was to my worried mother to assure her we were all partied out and on our way home.

The experience of my night away in Melbourne was amazing and seeing the beloved Ed Sheeran is something I will always cherish, but my heart will always be in the country where I belong. Madeleine Caccianiga is a journalist at The News.

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