For only the third time in 36 years, my Christmas feast wasn't prepared by Mum. In fact, it was cooked by an Indian chef at the Gourmet Curry Hut in the CBD, where carols were replaced by a Bollywood dance routine best-of on the wall screen. I had pappadums, aloo tikki, dhal makhani and peas pulao, washed down with Kingfisher lager.
The closest I got to turkey was the penguin rookery at the Melbourne Aquarium. (I couldn't believe it was open, either.) While smaller than its Sydney counterpart, it's very well laid out. The "Indiana Jones"-ish Lost Lagoon wing was cute, and the jellyfish exhibit an unexpected, hypnotic highlight. Swimming in the main tank was a monster of a smooth ray, looking like a black cloak to fit a giant.
Whatever I may have said in the past, Crown Casino is much more impressive than Star City. I didn't feel like a flutter, but I engaged in some casual spectating and checked out their poker room, which is separate from the other forms of gambling, in a semi-seedy basement. When I'd had enough of that, I strolled the eatery-lined banks of the Yarra River in the mild sunshine.
Back at my room, I phoned Japan, rural Queensland and Sydders and wished my immediate family members a merry Chrimbo. Saw out the 25th reading "Top Gear Australia" mag, which, frankly, struggles to emulate the charm of the program. (But was worth buying for the supercars calendar.) Eventually, I was lulled to sleep by FOX8's comedy animation marathon.