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Nosferatu & Melbourne Town Hall Organ
Suburban festivals
Market Watch
Country Victoria
Free Lecture
Melbourne theatres
Grandparents weekend at the Melbourne Aquarium
Hidden Gems of Melbourne
Reader Feedback

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Nosferatu & Melbourne Town Hall

The Melbourne Film Festival continues and tonight (Friday 1st) there is a special screening of Nosferatu – possibly still the best of the Dracula movies – accompanied by the Town Hall organ. Although the organ doesn’t have the gunshots, string choruses and special effects of a good theatre organ, it more than makes up for that in grandeur. The Town Hall organ is one of the Victorian glories of Melbourne, and this is an ideal way to experience it. Real Phantom of the Opera stuff.

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Suburban festivals

The Stonington Youth Festival at the Prahran Town Hall is a good chance to see recognised and unsigned performers at cheap prices. There are also skateboard demos and a visual arts display in a carnival atmosphere. Also the Winter in Banyule Festival starts this weekend. Details of both at Art & Music Festivals in Melbourne.

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Market watch

I just picked up a large smoked hock (well 5 to be precise) at $1 each from Salvatore’s Deli at the Vic Market. I wouldn’t rush over – they’re down to their last few boxes. I can pick up a large tray of mixed vegetables near closing time for $1. It’s amazing to think that it’s still possible to feed 4 people in Melbourne for $2 if you keep your eyes open.

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Country Victoria

If horses are your thing, it’s time to head off to the Strathbogie Horse Festival where they celebrate all things horsey. Then there is the Sheepvention at Hamilton. – food, craft, clothing, machinery and tools. Of the two, some people prefer the Sheepvention because after you’ve finished admiring and patting the animals you can eat them. (However I’ve heard rumours about the burgers in the Strathbogies).

Daylesford has its Words in Winter Festival. Grab your poncho (they’re making a comeback you know, although they never went out of fashion in Castlemaine & Daylesford) don your gloves, try to huddle closer to the giant log fire so that you can hear poetry about how we are suffering from global warming.

Details of these festivals at Events in Victoria.

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Free lecture

On Sunday mornings, Melbourne’s youth is divided in half.
There is the first half who goes off to the free maths lecture at the Museum. This week’s lecture is the mathematics of how to thread you shoelaces.
Then there is the second half who is incapable of threading their shoelaces because of last night’s rave party.
Then there is the third half who believes that maths is “dumb”. Details at Forums in Melbourne.

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Melbourne theatres

We receive many press releases about forthcoming events all written in a strange language with its own syntax and vocabulary called ‘Marketing Hype’. As an anthropological exercise, we have learned to translate this into English. Later we then mangle this into another strange dialect called “twenty minutes to write this week’s newsletter”. Maybe we should take the lead from major newspapers and magazines and simply reprint the press release together with a photograph - shot on an angle, badly lit and out of focus to show that we are a professional, artistic publication.

This week, we received a breathless press release telling us about the exciting range of musicals in store for Melbourne. After translation it read “no new musicals – safer to recycle films, video clips or cartoons”. The coming offerings are The Producers, The Full Monty”, The Lion King and We Will Rock You. There was a time when the stage show was the original “must see” and the film was a pleasant reminder at a cheaper price. The opposite now seems to be the case.

This leaves Melbourne with a strange dilemma. We have some great theatres and are struggling to find new original shows to put in them. We have great hardware, but don’t have the software.

Of course, there are always good new shows, but finding ones that will put bums on seats and pay the wages is a difficult task. In the meantime, I think I’ll be off to the suburbs for a good musical. Maybe in a future next newsletter I can give you a summary of what’s on offer

Details at Stage Shows in Melbourne.

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Grandparents weekend at Melbourne Aquarium

Grandparents Day at the Melbourne Aquarium this weekend. As far as we can tell, normal admission charges apply but there will be special activities. Any lost grandchildren will be fed to the sharks at 4 o’clock. Details at Seniors' Events in Melbourne.

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Hidden Gems of Melbourne

Melbourne Clubs.

Melbourne has varieties of clubs. There is the sort of club where a selection committee of ancient members considers your membership application based on a set of secret and inscrutable rules at length over a number of gin and tonics. Then there is the sort where a gentleman in a black suit (size 2AH – two axe handles) and a door bitch will evaluate your credentials immediately based on a set of secret and inscrutable rules. It is unwise to dispute the decision in either case.

Most of these clubs have no name above the door – those who need to know where they are, already know. Even the National Trust plaque on the Melbourne Club was changed so that it did not mention the name of the club. Hence many Melbournians walk past these establishments every day without realising what they are.

Some of the more interesting include the Melbourne Club, the Victoria Club (scene of the Great Bookie Robbery but since moved to new premises), the Australia Club (with its wonderful dining room), the Italian Waiters’ Club (with its Serbian chef and Chinese kitchen hands), the Savage Club (with its collection of ‘savage’ memorabilia). the Athenaeum Club, the Commercial Travellers’ Club, the Kelvin Club, the Melbourne Cricket Club (enrol at birth), the Fabians, the Princess Mary Club, the Buffalo Club (just like Fred Flintstone belonged to), the Royal Society, and others all in the centre of the city. Some memberships are based on social standing, some on achievement or merit, but most on interest. Some are deeply conservative. Some are highly radical. Some are very expensive. Some are free. Numbers of these clubs have played (and continue to play) an important part in Melbourne’s history.

Occasionally, I have sat inside one of these clubs, listening to the conversations and looking through the windows at those passing outside. It often reminds me of John Brack’s painting of passing crowds in Collins Street. The interpretation of the same Melbourne scene can change depending on who is viewing it. The conservatives, the bolshies, the young, the old, the talented, the coodabeens, the achievers, the victims, the know-alls, the wise, the galahs, the cultured, the drunk old-timer, the self-absorbed teenager, the wowsers, the larrikins, the new-chum, the quietly learned, those who don’t know what they don’t know, and me (who is a combination of all the above).

I sometimes reflect that the passing crowds, if they never bother to see Melbourne life through such windows, experience only part of what there is to know about Melbourne. And similarly, those who choose to see Melbourne life only from behind such windows know only their side of the coin. I enjoy looking through the windows from both outside and inside. Meanwhile, many of those who apply to us for jobs as guides or writers claiming that they “know Melbourne well” do not know where these clubs are or what goes on there. (Some also often use a preposition to end a sentence with.)

We currently belong to a modest city club that provides a small classy meeting room during the day to read the papers or magazines provided, have a free tea or coffee as well as providing free or reduced entry to numbers of cultural events. This costs us about $90 a year for a couple. That’s less than having coffee once a week at a café. If subscribers would like more information, email us and we will consult a set of secret and inscrutable rules then send you the information. We wouldn’t want just anyone joining us in the clubrooms don’t you know. Or maybe you are like Groucho Marks – you wouldn’t want to belong to any club that would have you as a member.

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Reader feedback

“Thanks for the great information you share with us, and the giggles we all have. Keep up the fantastic work. I have been able to point interstate visitors to several hidden gems recently, which I would never have known about myself, if not for this newsletter. Rowena"

“Re Open House Weekend - 26 & 27 July 2003 Your newsletter stated that the Melbourne Museum was free for Adults this Weekend My husband and son visited the Museum and was told that it was not free for adults, it was only free for children I contacted the Museum on Monday and was told that it was not free, the normal admission prices still applied. They stated that the Media was wrong, I also heard on 3AW Radio station that it was free for Museum's and Art Gallery Exhibition.
Thanks, Louise.”

We apologise for the misleading information. (Technically, our newsletter didn’t state there was free adult entry to museums, but it implied it and we believed it to be so). In this case, we made the mistake of relying on the mainstream media for our information – something we rarely do. They in turn had assumed the government information on "open day" and "open house" implied free admission, as has been the case in the past for Victoria’s Open Days Maybe the AFL should announce “open house” for a round of football and only mention in the fine print that normal admission charges apply. In the meantime, our sincere apologies to any of our readers who were misled by our newsletter. By the way, the current edition of the City Weekly states that this weekend there is a two-for-one entry for the Nolan and McCahon exhibitions at the gallery. Having checked with the gallery, we find that this information is incorrect.

You can find a comprehensive guide to markets around Australia at The White Hat Guide to Markets in Australia.