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Festivals
Rockbank & Melton
Family stuff
Melbourne’s Disappearing Hidden Gems
Gardens
Music
Mini Quiz
Fairs & fetes
Films
Country Victoria
Reader feedback
Historical Vehicle Display
Advance notice
The White Hat Quiz

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Festivals

This weekend is the Johnston Street Fiesta. This has been known by various names in the past – Spanish Festival, Hispanic Festival – but this year it is the Johnston Street Fiesta. There is a Polish Festival at Fed Square. Stay and have few glasses of pear schnapps then try asking your way to the Bosnian Herzegovnian Cultural Festival at the Immigration Museum. Details at Ethnic Festivals in Melbourne.There is a community festival in Broadmeadows and next week the Biennial Big West Festival. Details at Community Festivals in Melbourne.

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Rockbank & Melton

For several generations the good folk of Melton and Rockbank pursued their unique tourism strategy. The menfolk on their travels would collect rocks, bring them home and place them artfully throughout their paddocks. In the meantime the womenfolk busied themselves with planting thistles. People would travel from Melbourne at the weekends to show their children this wondrous landscape. The main industry was a factory producing heavy duty springs for trucks and owned by Mr George Caroline. Much of this heritage is now disappearing and the only reminder of the industrial past is the new suburb which bears the name of the once-sprawling factory – Caroline Springs.

This weekend you can take the family to Victoria’s Annual Olive Festival at Rockbank and sample the olives, oils and wines on display. However, don’t be surprised if you notice a few old timers in the carpark wistfully discussing the changing fashions in tourism while indulging in some of the traditional local brew made from fermented thistles. Details at Food & Wine in Victoria.

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Family stuff

There is Christmas Tree lighting and entertainment tonight (Friday) in Fed Square. On Sunday there is a Dogs’ Breakfast at Albert Park. Details at Family & Children's Activities in Melbourne.

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Melbourne's Disappearing Hidden Gems

As I was nearing the corner of the alley I saw the telltale reflection of a camera flash and my heart sank. Another of Melbourne’s historical gems had disappeared.

Sure enough, when I rounded the corner there was another wall covered in ‘graffiti art’ with excited visitors taking photos with cameras and mobile phones. This was a lane to which I often took visitors to point out the remarkable vestiges of Melbourne’s early European settlement. Those familiar with the arts and Melbourne’s history learn to read and value the urban landscape, and small clues bring places like this to life. This alley had some crumbling remains of early individually painted commercial art, reminders of political meetings at a significant early club and rare mathematical markings as used by early surveyors. They were now all gone – irretrievably. Scraping the ‘graffiti art’ off would not retrieve them. In recent years I have seen more of Melbourne’s fragile and endangered heritage fall victim to the spray can than to the bulldozer.

I listen, saddened, for a while to the conversation. I have learned to interpret it. “Nobody ever knew about this place” means “nobody we know ever knew about this place”. "The artists really researched this place" means "They did a keyword search on Google", and so on. One of the visitors is pointing out how the stencil maker has not used computer software to manipulate the press photograph but a fifth generation photocopy at high contrast. “Ah, a traditionalist” I think. Another is saying “I’m told that this place was just an eyesore but this really captures the spirit and meaning of place”. I looked more closely, but I had never associated those anatomical attributes with this place before.

I have never been particularly disturbed with older things being replaced by something newer and much better. I think Australia is much richer for knocking down an old tram shed on Bennelong Point and replacing it with the Sydney Opera House. And perhaps it is fitting that Melbourne’s early European heritage, which wiped out a long and rich Aboriginal heritage before it, should gradually be covered over by a sub-culture whose time scales and cultural references are even more truncated.

In the meantime if you approach an alley in the city or inner suburbs and notice a camera flash you may either find some visitors wondering at Melbourne’s rich new artistic heritage, or a strange person in a White Hat taking photographs of an earlier heritage before it before it too is proclaimed Terra Nullius by the 'graffiti and stencil artists' and destroyed for ever..

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Gardens

This weekend there are open rose gardens at the Buddhist temple in Yuroke. Be careful not to harm any snails or bugs. Next weekend is open garden at Parliament House – a special treat. Details at Garden Festivals in Melbourne.

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Music

This Sunday is the Berry Street Bash featuring a number of Melbourne’s finest bands. The following weekend is the Queenscliff Music Festival. Details at Rock & Pop Music in Melbourne. Next Friday you can Swing under the Stars with the Monash Big Band and the following weekend there is jazz at the Collingwood Children’s Farm. Details at Jazz in Melbourne. For opera buffs there is La Traviata at the Comedy with Melbourne City Opera, La Boheme, Romeo & Juliet, Signor Bruschino and Voix Humaine at the Arts Centre with Opera Australia and free opera competition performances at Melba Hall and BMW Edge. Tonight (Friday) is the last of the Town Hall proms with Firebird and a premier of a new Australian work. Details at Classical Music in Melbourne.

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Mini Quiz

Martina wrote

“Can you put some easier questions in the quiz? I have only been to Melbourne once but still love reading your newsletter but have little chance of answering your quiz questions.”

Alright Martina, here are some easier questions, although be careful, they may be trick questions.

  1. Where is the Johnston Street Fiesta to be held?
  2. Who wrote the autobiography of Sir John Monash?
  3. Robert Russell was an architect who proposed a smaller street grid before Hoddle’s grander one. Robert Russell also designed St James Old Cathedral. Who is Russell Street named after?
  4. Who is the Queen Victoria Market named after?
  5. What language is spoken in Broadmeadows?
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Fairs & fetes

This week there is a new three day fair at Magnolia Square in East Malvern, car boot sales at Wilmott Park and Carlton Gardens Primary Schools and tonight is a twilight bazaar at Ripponlea Primary School. Details at Fairs and Fetes in Melbourne. The Aspendale Gardens Primary School has also started a new market on the third Sunday of the month with the first market this Sunday. Details at Markets in Melbourne. (If the info isn’t there, return in a few hours – this one is hot off the press.)

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Films

This week there is the Angry Film Festival and the last screening for the year of independent local short films at Picture House in Fitzroy. Details at Film Festivals in Melbourne.

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Country Victoria

They’ve had some good rain up in the country, so everyone has stopped work in the bush and are holding food and lifestyle festivals. There is a Village Fayre at Malmsbury, a Wine and Food Festival at Brown Brothers, an ‘Eat Italy, Drink Italy’ festival at Cheshunt, a ‘Dolce Vita’ festival in the King Valley and an Olive Festival at Rockbank. For details, go to our home page and under the drop-down menu of events in Victoria select this weekend.

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Reader feedback

This week some feedback from the Department of Premier and Cabinet.

“Dear White Hat

I refer to your newsletter of 11 November and the comments on inaccuracies on the Calendar of Events on the Department of Premier and Cabinet website.

First of all, thank you for the heads-up! As you note in your comments, anyone can make a mistake but, like you, we wish to rectify it quickly and minimise any confusion. And have done so!

The Calendar of Events is primarily a printed and circulated hard copy listing of events which may be of interest (for participation, information, school projects etc) to the general public. It is usually printed every six months. The current issue, in order to avoid gathering and distributing material in December/January when so many people are on leave ( or like me, running events!), has a longer than normal end date. This has undoubtedly added to the difficulty of ensuring accurate information. The material on the DPC website is basically a pdf of the printed document with links to the original information source wherever possible ( for user ease and to minimise any inaccuracies). For this reason we do include a disclaimer on the publication. We believe that there is still an interest within the community for something that can go on a notice board without requiring a download..

Unfortunately when gathering information in April/May for a 1 July 2005 publication and a March 2006 end date, some events (the Blues Festival for one), have simply not eventuated. We did have direct information from the (then) Event Director on that one!

I agree entirely with your comments about the plethora of websites and the fact that many have particular aspects of events and activities that they wish ( in many cases quite properly, such as local government sites) to highlight and /or promote. It will be great when technologies allow us to integrate these in the most convenient and informative way for the user. While working towards that good goal, we rely very much on getting the correct information at the start and also being advised directly when we have made an error or dates have changed. As you will know, the latter is the hardest of all.

So, my sincere apology for any errors, thanks for alerting us to the problem and we will continue to work to keep information flowing accurately - as you say, there is a lot of good information there!

Yours sincerely

Alison Fraser Senior
Manager, Events and Communications Strategic Communications
Department of Premier and Cabinet”

And from Leanne we received:

“Dear Mr Whitehat,

In response to this weeks quiz:

On November 11th 1880 Ned Kelly was hanged at the Old Melbourne Gaol at the ripe old age of 25.

On that date in 1850 the Princes Bridge was opened over the Yarra. It was also the day that Victorians celebrated achieving independence from New South Wales.

With regard to the request for nominations for best children's meal, I can't think of a particular venue but would suggest almost anywhere that doesn't have a separate section on the menu for children that offers nuggets and chips. My children particularly enjoy any Asian food that's not too spicy, and yum cha is quite fun and allows them to play it safe or be adventurous depending on their individual leanings.

I have enjoyed your suggestions for family outings. I agree that Melb has lots to offer that is not necessarily expensive. Last Saturday we attended the MSOs Family classics with our young daughters. We then wandered around making the most of the Arts Open day, having fun at the NGV, stumbling across a free performance and Children's CD launch by Coco's lunch and then attending a shadow puppet workshop at Artplay.

Thanks for a great newsletter,"

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Historical Vehicle Display

This Sunday at Sandown is a historical commercial vehicles display – the biggest in the southern hemisphere. There you will find the true enthusiast closely examining the suspension of the old trucks. “Ah yes. That’s an original – see the brand – Caroline Springs.” Details at History & Heritage Festivals.

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Advance notice

The following weekend is Open Gardens at Parliament House, Gold Street (Clifton Hill) Christmas Fair, Croydon Main Street Festival and jazz at Collingwood Children’s Farm. In the country is the Queenscliff Music Festival, Drysdale Community Christmas Festival, a Medieval Fayre & Tourney, Spring Harvest Festival at Werribee Park Mansion and A Day on the Green at Mount Martha. For details, go to our home page and choose the appropriate weekend from the drop-down table of events under either Melbourne or Victoria.

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The White Hat Quiz

How well do you know Melbourne?

Last week’s simple question was:

Today (November 11th) is Remembrance Day as well as the anniversary of ‘The Dismissal’. What two important events in Victorian history occurred on that date in 1850 and in 1880?

And it has been answered by Leanne (above) and numbers of other readers.

So to this week’s quiz.

Melbourne's Missing Heritage

In the past decade, Melbourne has seen some major revitalisation of its built heritage – thanks Steve, thanks Jeff. However, not all Melbourne projects were ever finished and others have been removed, so here are a few questions about Melbourne’s missing heritage.

  1. In the 1950s school children were encouraged to form a mile of pennies (copper coins) which were contributed for a landmark building. What was that Building?
  2. By about 1913 (I’m sure someone will give me the correct date) all private tram systems were taken over by the state government. Since that time many tram lines were torn up. Name a street (or two) where trams no longer run.
  3. What part of Melbourne’s Parliament House was never built?
  4. Melbourne has several corridors once used for public transport but now gradually being redeveloped. What were these corridors called?
  5. And for the sake of Martina (see Mini Quiz above) a dead easy question. Name an election promise (or two) relating to Melbourne in the last 20 years that was never been delivered on.
You can find a comprehensive guide to markets around Australia at The White Hat Guide to Markets in Australia.