You don't have to go far for a pint and body wax

Postcard From Melbourne

March 29, 2007|By KEVIN VAN VALKENBERG

Australia has always been the land of possibility, as well as new beginnings. The country, after all, was originally populated by criminals, most of them convicted of petty crimes (think Jean Valjean) and shipped from England or Ireland between 1788 and 1868 to help prison overcrowding. Such an interesting, complicated, ancestry somehow lay the groundwork for a culture that can be both delicate and beautiful, yet manly and roguish, all at the same time. Only Australia could produce such divergent Oscar winners as Cate Blanchett and Mel Gibson.

I knew this before I arrived, but yesterday, I saw something that helped it all make sense: a sports bar, called The Fourth Watch, featuring a sign with a white-bearded sea captain, beckoning me to come inside, pull up a stool, down a pint and watch some footy or cricket. Through the same door, right across the hall, was a salon, called Honey Soul, offering back waxes for men and bikini waxes for women.

Not even Wal-Mart can offer that kind of one-stop shopping.

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