This year's sand sculpture theme - Friends, Foes and Superheroes - did not compel in and of itself, but the stunning artisanship is worth witnessing even if you don't know anything about Frozen.
'That's the Death Star on the left, over Darth Vader's shoulder', I explain to my mother, after having tried to describe the inspiration for another complex tableau depicting the X-Wing fighters' culminating chase sequence. Yes, I'm out of my depth, I admit it.
To piano tuners 'Vader' evokes the Beale Patented All Steel Tuning System. I resist the temptation to explain that to my mother.
Ooh, there's a Storm Trooper, and those blokes on the right are from an era after most humans stopped feigning a cursory interest in the Star Wars franchise...
...but skillfully rendered nonetheless. Stunning. The eyes follow you around the beach!
The lovely robot couple from Star Wars. No, R2-D2 has not been scalped in a war we've not heard about. Four months on Frankston Beach have taken their toll. Foreigners underestimate the harshness of the Australian sun. There is a resident sculptor who maintains and repairs the works, but there are limits.
A tribute to the marvels of merchandising opportunities dictating narrative and character.
Ewoks, incensed by the new data retention laws, discuss becoming simply Woks.
A sense of scale. An overcast changeable day is better for photography. Each sculpture tableau initially requires a series of wedding cake-style tiered formwork structures. Each layer is filled and compacted until very hard. The sand used is brickies' loam. It holds together well when compacted because its grains are square. Beach sand is smoother and rounder, ensuring that all children learn important life-lessons about disappointment.
Oooh, it's Christopher Pyne.
I feel like shooting detail. It's not so easy with an iThing, craning over the little protective fences and wishing I'd brought a camera with optical zoom, how old-school.
The eyes, the lashes. The sculptors use shovels, trowels, large and tiny, pottery tools and kitchen implements to carve the highly compacted sand. Each uses a plastic tube, like a large drinking straw, to blow away the loose grains as they carve.
Isn't that the 'Coon from Coonabarabran? Don't be ridiculous, Cazzbo, there are no Australian-themed characters in this collection of all the princesses that ever princessed.
Shortly after this, the Von Trapp Family escaped Nazi Germany. No, wait...
The famous snowflake from Frozen - rendered in weed form. The bases of the sculptures are not afforded as much biodegradable environmentally friendly protective spray to aid their wind- and weed- resistance. I never saw a weed growing out of any of the incredible manga-style eyeballs.
The finest, sharpest tools are used by the sculptors, who work from the top down, layer by formwork layer. Astonishing. The same scalpels are then used to separate four-year-old girls from myriad Frozen merchandise items.
There are no evil princesses, I muse.
Edvard Munch - The Yawn.
In Melbourne's CBD I notice that this McDonald's sign is a hotspot for tourist photographs which are no doubt used to confirm Aussies' tendency to make cute abbreviations out of everything and everyone. The exception is very short words or names, which of course we lengthen. We're just seeking some sort of natural balance.
I keep seeing Melbourne Bike Share helmets on fancy bikes. What gives? Do folk steal helmets? No, apparently one buys a helmet for $5 at a 7-Eleven store (or similar) then couples it with a bike that is worth more than my car. No Bike Share helmet can touch more than one head, I'm told. This fails to explain the helmets on the bikes at the Bike Share docking stations. Too complicated. Suffice it to say, helmets are the bane of more than just languishing Bike Share initiatives.
This tunnel leads to Flinders Street Railway Station. The Do Not Spit signs on the tiles are famous (in my mind). As a small child I remember the similarly-annotated tiled walls in Spencer Street (now Southern Cross) Station's walkways. 'Who would spit?', I asked my mother, puzzled as to why such warnings were necessary. 'Who spits?'
Her instant response, 'Dirty old men spit.'
It is fabulous to have gainful employment interstate on State Election Day, provided you've paid enough attention to remember to dutifully cast a pre-poll vote. As a regular touring performer I'm well-acquainted with the veritable VIP-iness of no queues and having the polling booth to oneself. I only spied one other voter, who was finished before I started.
The election forecast team.
A rare jaunt (sans musical equipment) on the Airport Shuttle. Free Wi-Fi onboard, impressive. How is that even achieved?
More marvellous Melbourne reports imminently.