The flight time is 13 hours and the time difference from the UAE +7. I spend part of it reading, which sends me immediately to sleep, as well as watching Appaloosa (pretty average), Igor (better than average), City of Ember (better than average), Bottle Shock (abandoned) six episodes of Arrested Development (inferior to Scrubs, but better than Friends), an episode of 30 Rock and an episode of Family Guy, both of which I've seen before. Between that lot and eating three times, the journey is nowhere near as arduous as it probably should be.
There's a three hour delay at Sydney which added to a layover means that by the time I'm picked up from Melbourne airport, I've been travelling for 24 hours. My eyes look like someone has dug them out with dirty nails and I occasionally lose control of my looming, spherical cranium. But it's 3pm and I have a day of meeting and greeting ahead of me so I cannot – will not – be tired.
I arrive at the Crown Tower, part of a large, luxurious complex that hosts a casino. It's one of the nicer hotels in town and when I turn up, I'm shown to the Crystal Club Lounge, a 29th floor executive area for the very rich and wanky, and me, for whom only half is applicable. I'm greeted by the PR manager for the hotel complex who gives me about five minutes to sling my bag in my room, mash cold water through my greasy hair and follow her to Nobu, an up-market Japanese fusion restaurant on the ground floor. Despite looking like a hairy smackhead, I'm treated to some quite wonderful food, much of which is Japanese with a Mexican twist. The sashimi tacos are especially excellent, as is the king fish with jalapeños.
Some time later I'm back in my room with a chance to acknowledge the fact that it may well be the poshest one I've ever stayed in. Over lunch my friend had accidentally-on-purpose mentioned just how much it would cost for a member of the public - $500 Australian a night, or roughly £250. I'm not sure if this included the Crystal Club entrance or not, but that's £75 per night on top of room charges.
For all that money, though, what you get is quite magnificent – a view down the Yarra River, a plasma TV in the bath, an iHome if you are unfortunate enough to have an iPod and even a phone in the bog. If, for example, you were dumping out and the guy you were supposed to be meeting from Tourism Vic called to tell you that he'd be 15 minutes late, you wouldn't have to hop shitty-arsed through the bedroom worrying about leaving a Hansel and Gretel trail of turd in your wake; you could simple grunt, scratch, fart and answer from the throne. The place has been recently refurbished and just about achieves the all-too-rare trait of making you believe that your room is unique.
I've to meet my man from Tourism Vic in a couple of hours. I look at the bed and discount it – if I go to sleep now, I may never get up again. Instead, after setting up my computer and falling asleep for an indeterminable amount of time with my eyes open, I head out into the streets of Melbourne with my camera.
There's something very Glasgow about this place – and I don't mean maurading maniacs, widespread depression and general clattyness, none of which are here. It's hard to place exactly, but something to do with the grid-iron streets and tall buildings and the fact that a lot of the best places have to be sought rather than viewed from afar.
While abroad, I tell anyone who'll listen that if you're visiting Scotland for a weekend, then go to Edinburgh – but if you're staying for a while, then live in Glasgow. According to most locals, as Edinburgh is to Glasgow, so Sydney is to Melbourne. In other words, it's my kind of town.