Photography – Cactus Channel

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Food/Drink – Flemington Farmers’ Market

Approximately two hundred metres from my house, there is a secondary school that hosts a farmers’ market every Sunday. Every Sunday. That’s pretty awesome, considering the only other place on the street to grab a bite to eat is the IGA and a somewhat dingy cafe that appears to be staffed by members of The House of the Undying from Game of Thrones. There was a deli, but it sold apples for two dollars each, so unsurprisingly that went out of business and is now becoming a beauty salon (no apples). I could, of course, walk to Flemington or Moonee Ponds or, God forbid, take a tram to North Melbourne or Carlton or Fitzroy or someplace like that. They might have food. But that’s too much effort. It is positively excellent knowing that you have a weekly farmers’ market pretty much on your doorstep. Continue reading

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Event – Open House Melbourne 2012

I’ve been meaning to go to this for years. Years! Well, perhaps two or three. In fact, Open House Melbourne has only been running since 2008, when it began as a somewhat smaller event than it is today. In its inaugural year, OHM opened eight Melbourne buildings to the public and attracted 30,000 visitors. Since then, it has expanded, with 100 buildings across Melbourne’s CBD and inner suburbs open for public access and/or tours. One hundred buildings. One hundred. That is bleeding phenomenal. I managed to make it to six buildings over the week. I think that even a determined adventurer would have had trouble visiting more than 10-15 over the weekend. Continue reading

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Books – Melbourne: City of Literature

You  may or may not know that Melbourne is ‘a City of Literature’. I have no real way of predicting that since most of what I don’t know is common knowledge. In fact, Melbourne’s designation as a UNESCO City of Literature is apparently “acknowledgment of the breadth, depth and vibrancy of the city’s literary culture”. That makes me happy. And so Melbourne boasts a variety of literary organisations  and events to promote a culture of reading and engagement, events such as  Writers Victoria, Express Media, the Australian Poetry Centre, the Melbourne Writers Festival and the Emerging Writers’ Festival.

I missed the lead-up to Melbourne’s accreditation and only realised the fact after I discovered the Wheeler Centre’s rich program of literary events. You can’t just claim the UNESCO title of City of Literature, you know – you have to do a serious submission. If you’re the kind of person who’s interested in these things, Melbourne’s City of Literature credentials can be read in full here. I usually don’t read the complete version of anything that looks like an official document. Continue reading

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Event – Gertrude Street Projection Festival and Closing Night Party

Over the past couple of weeks (from 20 – 29 July, to be precise), Gertrude Street in Fitzroy has been home to a variety of projection art pieces, ranging from hypnotising geometric animations in shop windows to colourful patterns projected onto the entirety of one of the 20-odd story public housing towers. This year saw the fifth Gertrude Street Projection Festival (GSPF), featuring a large number of artists, including a number of collaborative works.

One of my favourite works was on Title Music Film Books, on the corner of Gertrude and George Streets. Titled “Too Busy to be Beautiful” and created by Cam Thompson and Sandra Duncanson, the piece consisted of four cheekily anthropomorphised elements (Earth, Fire, Air and Water) interacting with each other: Water dousing Fire to an ember, Wind fanning him (her?) back to normal, etc. The cool thing about the work was that the shopfront wasn’t just a surface to be projected onto, but part of the ‘space’ of the work itself. For example, the characters would move around the walls of the building but around the windows, as if these were physical obstacles to them. Continue reading

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Adventure- Footscray

Footscray is somewhat of a misunderstood place. People who have never been there believe it to be some fantastic distance from the rest of Melbourne that they bother to visit and/or that it is some sort of terrifying ghetto where you will be simultaneously offered hard drugs, mugged and murdered. In fact, Footscray is only about six kilometers from the city centre by road (about the same distance as Northcote) and, in the dozen or so times I’ve been there in the past few years, I have never been offered so much as a joint. Disappointing, no?

The bad reputation has some element of truth to it; Footscray suffers from some social problems, such as alcoholism, that are typical to areas with lower socio-economic statuses. However, despite the fact that you may find yourself waiting at the train station next to a bloke who had had more stubbies that afternoon than he has teeth, the central retail/market area, as well as other places worth visiting (such as the area down by the Maribyrnong River), are sufficiently safe and non-threatening. In any case, the social profile of the area should change dramatically as gentrification makes its way West (whether this is a good thing or a bad thing or a complex social grey area is up to your perspective on the matter). Continue reading

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Food/Drink – Le Miel et La Lune

Le Miel et La Lune quietly opened on the corner of Elgin and Cardigan Streets in Carlton earlier this year. I have vague memories of previous cafes existing in this spot, but the clean and minimalist inteiror of Le Miel, in tandem with its enticing menu, was enough to pique my curiosity. Continue reading

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Adventure – Yarraville

Telling people in Melbourne that you’re from Werribee tends to evoke the subtle expression people make when they’re trying to hold back raising an eyebrow or laughing; I’ve come to recognize it well. Perhaps due to some sort of “Western” pride, I have never been tempted to avoid saying it upon meeting people. Actually, in the past couple years and among a festival-going crowd especially, I’ve had some good reasons for being proud of where I’m from. What with St Jerome’s Laneway Festival moving to Footscray and the new Harvest Festival at Werribee Park Mansion, the West is on the rise – I don’t see The Flaming Lips or Beck playing in Toorak;  just sayin’.

In order to break Brass of the Bear readers into the Western suburbs gently, however, I’ll start with Yarraville, the first suburb west of the Yarra River and somewhere I’ve loved hanging out for a long time. Yarraville gained some rep in 1995 with the restoration and reopening of the Sun Theatre, a 1930s Art Deco landmark which now screens art-house, foreign and mainstream films alike; it’s very popular on Friday and Saturday nights so I recommend getting tickets early. Anderson and Ballarat Streets are these days lined with cool independent boutiques and bookstores, as well as award winning cafes and restaurants that hold true to a Melbournian multicultural atmosphere. Restaurants such as Lucellino and Aqua e Vino have been popular for quite some time (the former for some of Melbourne’s most authentic pizza and the latter for its tapas, drinks and live bands). However, the streets are always evolving. Continue reading

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Adventure – Old Royal Children’s Hospital

I was cycling through Royal Park today on the way home from a coffee at Le Miel (review by James coming soon, I’m told) and thought to stop and take a few photos of the old Royal Children’s Hospital, which is currently in the process of being demolished (don’t worry, they’ve built a new one for all the sick kiddies, what with some giant modern art statue or something). I’m categorising this post as “Adventure” since the whole area is a bit other-worldly and fun to explore, not that I actually jumped the fence and went into the demolition site itself (the adventure would be less fun if some falling rubble collapsed my ribcage). Continue reading

Food/Drink – White Rabbit Record Bar, Kensington

White Rabbit is my favourite place in the Kensington/Flemington/inner-north-west/whatever area. Hell, it’s one of my favourite places ever. I say “place” rather than, say, “cafe”, as it’s really a lot of things. It can be what you want it to be: a meeting-place for after-work drinks to a good soundtrack, a dispensary of hangover-curing weekend brunch or simply just a chill spot to read a book and get through a pot or three of rosehip tea.

White Rabbit is part bar, part cafe and part record store. It’s open all day Wednesday to Sunday, with closing times varying from 6pm to 11pm, depending on the day of the week and time of year. The long opening hours mean that you can come in (practically) any time of the day for a coffee, a bite to eat, a beer or a glass of wine. The food menu has also expanded in the past year to include tapas-style sharing meals suitable for lunch or dinner (huevos rancheros for breakfast is still my favourite, however). The staff are also super friendly, which is a major plus in my eyes, particularly in the inner suburbs (where there is sometimes a tendency for staff to adopt a “hipper-than-thou” attitude). Continue reading

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