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Theatre
Food festival
Marketing hype
Music
Why I love Melbourne
Seminars & workshops
Why is this newsletter so late?
Sunday savers

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Theatre

Menopause The Musical – tickets make a great mother’s day gift for the braver offspring. I know some mothers who are agitating to make infanticide legal until the age of 21. In the suburbs there is Boeing Boeing at Fitzroy, Hello Dolly at Burwood and The Full Monty at Frankston, so those of you interested in watching Frankston people take their clothes off can head off to the theatre (or a couple of clubs in Frankston which we could name). Details at Theatre in Melbourne.

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Food Festival

There is a new food and wine festival in North Balwyn. If you are interested in the local wines and native food of North Balwyn you will find details at Food & Wine in Melbourne.

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Marketing Hype

Each week our mailbox gets full of marketing hype. Much of it is so over the top that we haven’t enough time to sift through the hype to find if there is any substance underneath. However we have developed a few simple guidelines that help us eliminate the xxxx.

Firstly anything starting with “Have you ever wanted to ..” comes from a TAFE Marketing 101 student and we don’t have time to translate it back into English. Similarly the more sophisticated “Ever wanted to ..?” comes from TAFE Marketing 201 (notice they been taught to drop the “Have you” by year 2) and that similarly goes to our rubbish bin (or ‘trash can’ as it is called in marketing school). Then there is the “Melbourne’s Best Kept Secret” school of marketing. Currently there are over a thousand of Melbourne’s Best Kept Secrets according to our reckoning. Again they go straight to our trash can (see we’ve already been effected) because we know that “best kept secret” means “worst marketed”. Marketing doesn’t need money but it does require a certain amount of intelligence and “best kept secret” doesn’t rate high on the IQ stakes.

In recent times we have noticed a particular tendency in the classical music scene to opt for over the top claims to attract attention. One local choir proclaims itself to be “one of the world’s great choirs” while other musical organisations claim to be “Australia’s best” or “Melbourne’s best”. Then there is a forthcoming event with the MSO promoted as "the World's Greatest Classical Music Event" so you can forget about heading off to The Ring at Bayreuth or the Proms at the Albert Hall - just head on down to the Tennis centre in Melbourne. To check out the offerings in classical music of “world’s great”, “Australia’s best” and Melbourne’s best” go to Classical Music in Melbourne.

One piece of marketing hype that is thoroughly justified is “VCE Season of Excellence”. We are amazed each year at the talent coming through the school system and salute the students and teachers that have contributed to such exhibitions. In this case the term “excellence” is not marketing hype – it is simply true. There are exhibitions at both the gallery in Fed square and the Melbourne Museum.

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Music

The big event in Melbourne this week is the Umbria Jazz Festival. Details of this and other jazz events at Jazz in Melbourne.There is a free recital of classical music at the Iwaki Auditorium on Sunday. Details at Classical Music in Melbourne.

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Why I love Melbourne

Living in Melbourne has its advantages. Last Sunday was a good example.

Time to stock up for the footy. Over to the Vic Market. Half a dozen oysters, meat salad from the Polish deli, some fruit and crispy veg and I’ll eat like a king for about eight dollars. “I’ve got the best legs in the market” shouts the poultry lady. I glance up at the picture of Vickie and wonder what she makes of this market named after herself in the centre of the colony named after herself.

I head off down Elizabeth Street. I was going to catch a tram but in pondering the engineering marvel of Melbourne’s cable tram network and the particular skills required by the gripman to negotiate Elizabeth Street I find I’ve already arrived at Collins Street so I turn and head up “The Block”. Between S.T.Gill’s watercolour painting and Fergus Hume’s prose painting of The Block there is little else you need to place yourself in nineteenth century Collins Street. Back then, they even delayed the start of the football so that people could ‘do the block’ after finishing work at noon on Saturday, but I don’t think the AFL is going to delay the match for me to vogue my way up and down the block so I continue up the hill.

As I make my way up Collins Street I briefly acknowledge the place where John Brack created his famous painting of Collins Street, pay respect to Sid Nolan’s giant mural of the Eureka Stockade and nod in the direction of Tom Robert’s studio. I head on past Harry Seidler’s building which anchors that corner of the city and looks defiantly outwards at a time when the rest of Melbourne was looking inwards.

Melbourne must be the only city in the world where too much abbreviation is not enough. The Melbourne Cricket Ground is abbreviated to the MCG but that is still too long so it has become ‘the Gee’. And what a Gee it is with much of Melbourne’s history still echoing around in there. It is a great example of how the buildings and structures can change many times but the spirit of place remains. And the feeling for history is demonstrated by the crowd – “You might have a yellow uniform umpire but in my heart you’ll always be a little white maggot!” St Kilda is trouncing Collingwood. This is good. Anybody trouncing Collingwood is good. Xavier Clarke handballs to his brother Raphael who ambles away with the loose limbed run known only to Aborigines, and everything slows down and the stands melt away and for a moment – I don’t know how long – we are all back in a time before Batman and Fawkner and gold and cable trams.

The saints have marched in and I am marching my way through the autumn leaves of Yarra Park and the Fitzroy Gardens. On a crisp autumn afternoon Melbourne’s gardens are at their best I pass Cook’s Cottage where people are wondering at its size. “That is sooo big! It’s at least three times larger than my apartment in the city.”

Through the avenue of elms and on to St Pat’s. I have a chat to Daniel Mannix and tell him with a certain restrained delight that his team his been defeated. His statue becomes just a little more stiff and aloof. I also explain that a couple of good catholic lads called Xavier and Raphael were partly responsible. He continues to look into the middle distance while I continue into the cathedral – his cathedral. St Pat’s is at its best in evening autumn light. The yellow windows create a light from another world, and when you turn and head back, the Irish stained glass from the east window (in the south) cuts through the angled yellow rays with a sense of theatre that the little Irishman outside knows will put me in my place.

On past the Eye and Ear Hospital where Graeme Clarke and his team created the bionic ear and past the Exhibition Buildings. Prince Albert had a grand dream of a world so united by trade and commerce that wars would become a thing of the past, and he kick started this dream by encouraging a series of world fairs including two in Melbourne. I wondered how he would have reacted to the local historians and residents objecting to a nearby lane being called Bionic Ear Lane because they said “it sounds too commercial – a bit like promoting a product”.

Back past the Trades Hall and the Eight Hour Monument and on to the Vic Market. I explain to Vickie that I didn’t have the heart to tell Albert that the grand building that was part of his dream also saw the opening ceremony for a new commonwealth based on the twin pillars of trade barriers and the White Australia Policy. She seems to think it was best he didn’t know.

Back home and Melbourne is preparing to transform itself from day to night. This happens quite quickly at this time of year and if you live in a city apartment it is important to have the right soundtrack to accompany the magical transformation. On this occasion I choose some Percy Grainger. His music expressing the feelings of being Australian and Victorian in particular seems appropriate to accompany the end of the day in Melbourne. The bats are now flying past the window – off to feed on the fruit trees in the leafy suburbs. In the morning there had been red and green parrots in flocks. In Melbourne it is important to be at just the right height. You still have to be in touch with the activity on the street but at sufficient height to be in touch with the bird life.

I suspect that is the height Bunjil chose – but that it is another story and another time.

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Seminars & workshops

The free Deakin Lectures continue and this week also sees the visit of a Brazilian bishop presenting his views on how the world can be changed for the better. Details at Forums in Melbourne.

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Why is this newsletter so late?

We would like to get this newsletter out on Thursday or even Wednesday but as a free service it has to be slotted in behind paying work – and that paying work keeps on increasing. You might not know that we have a paid subscription newsletter for the industry which generates much of what you read in the “what’s on” columns of the printed press. We also have food vendors, market stall operators, bands, entertainers and others who want to know what’s on well in advance who pay for this service. We have to look after these customers first and then when there is time we can get a free newsletter out to you lousy lot who we know aren’t prepared to pay for anything – let alone a newsletter. So we will keep on trying to get our work finished earlier in the week and who knows? – you may soon get another newsletter on Thursday - or even Wednesday.

In the meantime, if you work for an organisation that needs information about events well in advance then send us an email and we will let you know the costs of our services.

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Sunday Savers

The new very cheap Sunday ticket for public transport has arrived, and starting next week we will run an occasional piece on how to have a great Sunday out in Melbourne costing next to nothing. One of the saddest things we witness is visitors in Melbourne for just one or two days slavishly following the guide books and taking the City Circle tram everywhere because they have been told it will save them money. In most cases they have paid many hundreds of dollars for their air ticket and now they are using up most of their time travelling around the outskirts of the attractions in order to avoid paying several dollars for a daily ticket to travel everywhere and see far more. So next week we will start a little feature on spending a day in Melbourne for under $20.

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