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Too much of the same
on 1 September 2013
I sit here in Melbourne with this book open and must express my annoyance. I have reviewed a number of guides recently, with a general personal preference for the Lonely Planet style and format. However I just have to say that this particular one is unbalanced in several ways. Firstly, it gives a lot (and I mean a lot) of achingly hip hotels to use in Melbourne, but nothing about the more 'normal' ones. I'm here at the Intercontinental Rialto in Collins Street. It's jaw-droppingly good, public rooms are significant, set in one of the city's oldest and best re-interpreted old buildings. Too corporate? Well, whatever the reason - no mention
We have just spent the day at Heide, now the Museum of Conteporary Art. The guide does mention it, just fails to contextualise - either by letting one know where it is (Bulleen, 25 minutes drive out of town); or anything about the major Australian artists on permanent diplay (other than their love of Sunday dinners here). Superchefs, ethnic dining and food trucks in Melbourne get more coverage than all the art in Victoria.
Next, it being Sunday, I sought any mention of Christianity or a church other than as an architectural item. I had noticed that LP are pretty anti-faith in their publications, but this is a zero faith zone - except concerning Aboriginal beliefs. We had to track down the 5,000 strong Planet Shakers church in the CBD via the internet. (Their regular conferences have 20,000 people in attendance - roughly the same as the number of Aborigines in the whole State of Victoria), buy hey, no hipster would be interested in such things would they?
Far too many restaurants are reviewed, leaving little room for most other experiences, even for sport, the new Australian god. Most such restaurants are just too transient, and rapidly date a guide.
Any spare space is instead lavished on the Lesbian, Gay, Bi scene or sniping at Britain, the Empire, Captain Cook, the founding of Australia, white Australians, etc etc etc, whilst reading like a land rights manifesto. I wanted a guide book, not an essay on liberal guilt.
If they are aiming to be 'alternative', I would rather they had some stuff about the music scene that spawned Nick Cave and the Birthday Party.
This guide makes Rough Guides seem a masterpiece of discipline. Too personal, insufficient for families, Christians, Muslims, any other isms, children, older people etc. If you are really up yourself and think you are younger than you really are, this guide is for you.