The Null Device
Every year, thousands of Britons come to Melbourne for one purpose: because some TV soap was filmed here.
Liverpudlian backpacker Chris, 23, and her travelling companions are star-struck after a close encounter with the actors. "It's stupid 'cause in Liverpool, you meet the Brookside (UK soap) actors and loads of footballers and you're not arsed at all. Give them a wave and head back to the bar. "But here, it's like, f---ing hell, it's Karl Kennedy, let's give him a kiss wicked."
Countless tour buses (both the official one and clandestine ones organised by pretty much every backpacker hostel in Melbourne) make their way to the sprawl of Vermont South, laden mostly with young Britons keen on seeing Pin Oak Court, better known to them as Ramsay St. Which probably pisses off the actual non-soap-character people who live in those famous suburban houses:
In recent years, minor intrusions like doorknocking fans looking for Harold Bishop, have given way to drive-by hoons and light-fingered memento hunters. Since the early 1990s, a Grundy-employed security guard has been on nightly duty, blocking unauthorised access to the street from 8pm to 7am. But this did not deter one amorous young couple found intertwined in a rather intimate position on Harold Bishop's front lawn one night about five years ago.
In two years on the job, Forster, 33, has witnessed some bizarre sights, such as the Newcastle (UK) rugby players who posed for photographs outside the Scullys' house with their daks down. "Another fella posed for a photo where he appeared to be urinating in the Kennedy's letterbox," he says.
Meanwhile, fellow Brit backpacker, Ole, 21, who arrived in a friend's car, is about to depart with some old roof tiles he found stacked next to a wheelie bin. "I'm in desperate need of money so I'm going to try and sell them to fans on eBay," he says.
(Somebody should probably tell Lonely Planet about this; the Melbourne section of their book on Australia doesn't even mention Vermont South, instead pointing out sights like the Old Melbourne Gaol, the Botanic Gardens, Puffing Billy and cosmopolitan inner-city areas which aren't home to popular TV soaps.)