On Friday night at Fed Square you can go along and celebrate 50 years of TV in Australia with a 1950s TV dinner while watching James Dean together with dancing, trivia and various other stuff. $10 gets you dinner and the night’s entertainment. You are encouraged to bring a blanket to sit on then donate it to the Salvation Army winter appeal at the end of the night. I wouldn’t be surprised if Senator Coonan has similar events planned all around the country and then, while everybody is out reminiscing about their radiograms and black & white television which is still good enough for them, she will quietly use the opportunity to switch all broadcasting to digital. Details at Australian Television.
We have two new farmers’ markets listed on our website at Casey and Girgarre, and you all know where they are. Details at Farmers' Markets in Victoria. On Sunday there is a Wearable Art Bazaar at Abbotsford Convent (next to the Collingwood Children’s Farm). Also there is a Munchkin Market coming up which gives you the opportunity to sell all those educational toys you bought for the kids but they never used once they got a mobile phone. Details at Fairs & Fetes in Melbourne. There is also an organisation looking at starting a monthly community market in Caroline Springs and they are inviting expressions of interest from potential stallholders. Let us know if you are interested.
“Dear White Hat
Thank-you for your great newsletter, we take advantage of your cheap outings on many occasions. I was however, disappointed with your last newsletter which told me about Craigieburn Pre-school and a rock 'n' roll dance. I was quite excited about this because we will be moving to Craigieburn soon and my two daughters will go to pre-school there. I opened up the link, only to find that it is Cranbourne pre-school, not Craigieburn. My mother-in-law who just visited from Coffs Harbour, made the same mistake and kept referring to our new house being in Cranbourne. How annoying! Come on White Hat, you know Melbourne better than that. These two suburbs are ages away from each other and sound nothing alike, they just start with the same letter.
“I have been in Australia three years and am working hard on my English. I am not allowed to receive your newsletter on my school email and so every Friday I rush from school to my local library so that I can get a computer and read the newsletter. I have read it now for two years and have learned . . . a lot of important things about . . . Melbourne. Why do they not teach these things in school?
The Woman in Black has just opened in Melbourne and has been well reviewed around the world. It is in the theatre that now occupies the site of George Coppin’s Iron Pot (you have been paying attention haven’t you?) If you want to escape from the bloodshed and inexorable fate which seems to be driving world affairs at the moment you can head off to the theatre and see - Hamlet and Oedipus. You could then go home and listen to some Leonard Cohen. There are small productions of these two plays touring from Montsalvat to the Trades Hall in the city and then to Williamstown. It might be safer to go to The Pajama Game. Details of all these at Theatre in Melbourne.
On Saturday you cane experience ‘Dances from the Roof of the World’ with Tibetan dance and music at the North Melbourne Town Hall. From Wednesday you can see the Dance Theatre of Taiwan. And if you would prefer to do the dancing yourself, there is a big band dance at the Austrian Club on Saturday night. Details at Dance in Melbourne.
I enjoyed your April fool's info on Melbourne's many tunnels - a little less when it turned out not to be true. Of course it is true that many cities contain a great deal of underground infrastructure - like the red brick sewers, big enough to drive a truck though, under Kensington that were opened up during renovations a year or two back. Other than the sewers, what other underground tunnels, etc are you aware of? I've often been told of tunnels under Victoria Barracks (perhaps under the war room at the Northern End of the building along the fence line) and have seen an entrance-way to, and start of, a tunnel under Government house built in earth. Over the weekend I hear of the underground complex that is under John Deere's tractors now adjacent to the ring road. Apparently there is a lot of banking infrastructure there - computers for inter-bank transfers, etc. Also I heard of a road complex that is located underground land just North of the Western Highway adjacent to ICI where lots of materials were stored for the manufacture of parachutes (flax) and for the manufacture of explosives (phosphates I guess). There was lots more road below ground than there was above I was told by a coach driver from the area. This driver used to drive trucks (semi's) for his dad from Gippsland loaded with this sort of freight and now lives in the area - so I believe that he has the correct location. I think that there is now a housing estate being built/planned for there. He mentioned that vents for the underground facility were still visible at one or the other of these sites.
I'm often genuinely surprised when I become aware of the scale of some of the projects taken on by our forebears (like the Coode canal) and evidence of the scale of some of the former military infrastructure (like the huge airfield at Tocumwal) shows what was possible. I'd be interested in any details you may know - as, I expect, would your newsletter readers. The locations and history of some of the former Government houses may be of interest to readers too. Old maps show a former Government house North of Toorak road near Kooyong road and another on Glenferrie road a little further South. There are also the modest buildings in the park around the shrine, etc that were also former Governor's homes.
What about something about the routes of the likes of Hume and Hovell and other early routes throughout Vic and any relics (a bit more on Cobb & Co maybe?)? To keep the info more Melbourne centric their routes out of town (past the Moonee Ponds, etc) would be of interest. And who was that female benefactor that built the shelters for travellers along the way to the gold fields and what else is there to know about her. I've recently read (on the net) something about the mortuary on the site of federation square. The English practice of keeping bodies in Pub's prior to this period was interesting. And the mortuary practice (from the French) of displaying bodies in the hope of identifying them was also news to me.
What about some Urban Myths? Ghost stories? What about a quiz based on the name of Fish and Chip Shops? There still is a 'Top of the town' fish and chips in Echuca. There's a 'Titanic' in Bentleigh East. Maybe somewhere there's a Puffin Muffins? And what does appear on your credit card statement when you visit somewhere you shouldn't? Rumour has it that visits to the daily planet are charged as Elsternwick Bistro?
Pyjama' is the correct spelling of loose clothing for sleeping in - but was the real question what is the name of the play? I don't know. A quick google brings up reference to the play as 'Pyjama' entry but none spelled 'Pajama' - but it could be an Americanism of the word. I saw on the weekend that the upside statue opposite treasury (noted by you) is gone, too. Oh well, nice chatting. What, you didn't get a word in? Sorry.
Thank you Murray. You seem to have set the agenda for the next 57 newsletters so we’ll see what we can do. We don’t claim to be an authority in these areas but we do know a thing or two and do know how to research if we ever get the time. Speaking of which, Murray works for an important government organization and his email was sent at 3 o’clock on a Monday afternoon. Maybe we’re in the wrong job.
The Melbourne Film Festival gets under way next week. For 18 days you need only see the light of day whilst travelling the short distance between Melbourne screening venues. Details at Film Festivals in Melbourne.
Our first reply came from Sasha closely followed by Brett (“after that "warm inner glow" (at least a semi-glow if I'm not 100% correct ;-)”), Leanne and then daylight to the forty or so stragglers who came in later. Here is Sasha’s response:
Please note: This section of the newsletter has been removed as it forms part of a forthcoming publication.
On Saturday there is a Kids Fun Day at Hoppers Crossing. Details at Children's Activities in Melbourne.
Along the edge of the city grid you can find a number of small triangular city blocks. Robert Hoddle had laid out his grid aligned with the Yarra but later inner suburban streets followed the more traditional north-south / east-west alignment. Where these two alignments meet at Victoria Street you can find a number of triangular blocks including one at the corner of Exhibition Street opposite the Carlton Gardens and the Exhibition Buildings. In this block stands the Royal Society building.
At first glance it does not draw much attention. Passers-by sometimes notice the weather station over a strangely suburban fence in one corner of the triangle. However, they mainly ignore the rock mounted in the surrounding lawns next to the footpath. They possibly imagine it is a piece of conceptual art representing “the alienation felt by a disempowered individual attempting to discover their place in the overwhelming vastness of the sprawling city”. In fact it is a piece of rock brought back from scientific expeditions to Antarctica.
The building itself is in the shape of a lamington with the sharp edges cut off. It has had several rebuilds and extensions over time but the cube with the corner shaved off is a little unusual. You can see that shape in some of the older warehouses up narrow back lanes. The corners had to be removed to allow the horse and dray to negotiate the narrow corner. However the Royal Society, in the middle of its own spacious black, had no such mundane considerations.
Several societies for philosophy and science had been formed in the goldrush years and they amalgamated in 1859 to become The Royal Society of Victoria. This society was prominent in promoting scientific studies and expeditions including Australia’s first Antarctic exploration.
Inside you will see – sorry – what’s that – how do you get inside? – you become a member – does it cost much? – no, only about $50 one-off IIRC – so where do you sign up? – well you have to be nominated and seconded by existing members – so it’s who you know not what you know? – well not really, it’s a form of meritocracy so what you know and have done in the scientific field will bring you to the attention of the existing members and what you know will also put you in the position of knowing who are members and how to approach them – it sounds elitist to you? – well you may be right sir but there are plenty of clubs in the city where you can hand over a much larger amount of money and become a member no questions asked and they may be more suited to your tastes.
Now, where were we? Inside you will see reminders of the various scientific endeavours (including the ill-fated [it’s always called “ill-fated” nowadays] Burke & Wills expedition) financed and supported by the Royal Society together with a small museum and library which seems set in a different time and space. To walk into this small building on the edge of the city is a little like entering the Tardis.
If you want to see inside you can either become a member or attend one of the occasional public seminars held there. You never know, there might be one this week.
A new monthly jazz club is to be launched in Frankston on Sunday called ‘Jazz at Shakespeare’s’. Details at Jazz in Melbourne.
If you enjoy Clive James &/or film music then the MSO Pops series has a concert hosted by Clive featuring popular film scores. On Friday night in Dandenong is a production of Carmen. On Saturday morning at the Dandy Market expect to see a number of sultry stallholders quietly singing “L’amour, l’amour” as you pass. On Saturday Merlyn Quaife performs Poulenc and on Monday lunchtime there is a free performance of Schubert Impromptus at Melbourne Uni. On Wednesday you can hear the Mozart Clarinet Quintet at Collins Street Baptist and from Thursday the MSO will be performing Richard Strauss’ huge Alpine Symphony. Details at: Classical Music in Melbourne.
On Friday you can attend a free drumming class at Fed Square at 5pm, then head off to a free drumming concert at the George Adams Gallery at 6.30 and maybe have time to get back to BMW Edge for the Buena Vista repertoire at BMW Edge. (This is scheduled at the same time as the TV Dinner in the Atrium so I’m not sure how well this well work.) On Sunday there is concert of Middle Eastern music at the Arts Centre preceded by a market. Details at Folk & World Music in Melbourne.
We had this personal message:
“hi from na+ a+ venus bay.
every evening a+ venus bay people go & s+and in +he shallows and move slowly and gaze ou+ 2 sea. crys+al says +hey are ge++ing in +ouch wi+h +heir inner selves and +he universe so she does i+ 2. i +ried bu+ i+s 2 cold. i asked 1 of +he guys & he said +hey were feeling 4 pippies under +he sand wi+h +heir +oes so now i don+ know who to believe.
love from na+”
The Craft & Quilt Fair is in town at the end of next week. Buy your tickets early to avoid the scalpers. Details at Craft Festivals in Melbourne.
On Thursday at the Royal Society there is a discussion called ‘A Father of the Garden State Remembered’ covering the importance of Baron Ferdinand von Mueller to Melbourne and at an international level. For some reason, although many of Australia’s greatest achievements are in the sciences, this major part of Australia’s heritage often gets written out of history as taught. Eleven out of twelve Australians given the international recognition of a Nobel Prize are from the sciences. If you have never been inside the Royal Society building why not go along and soak up the atmosphere as well as learning some more about an important world class Melburnian. The $15 fee also gets you supper.
On Tuesday at the State Library there is a seminar prompted by the Prime Minister’s call for ‘a root and branch renewal of the teaching of history in our schools’. This seminar, invites responses from Australian historians, teachers and curriculum specialists. I wonder how many present would be able to name Australia’s Nobel Prize winners and explain the nature and significance of their work. Details at Seminars in Melbourne.
Ben Elton is in town on Tuesday for one show only. If you like improvised theatre and comedy there is the Impro Cave in Fitzroy on Sundays until the end of next month. Details at Comedy in Melbourne.
How well do you know Melbourne?
Melbourne and science.
- A Melbourne scientist is also a keen jazz fan and often recorded jazz performances and kept up with the latest recording technology. This was to lead to an invention of world significance. What is the name of the scientist and his invention?
- Our state animal is named after a chief taxidermist from the museum. What is the name of the scientist and the name of the animal?
- A nut is named after a Melbourne scientist (and President of the Royal Society). What is the name of the scientist and the nut?
- An Australian dinosaur is named after an engineering equipment company. Which dinosaur and why?
- A large area of Antarctica is named after a Melbourne sweets manufacturer. Why?
- In the 1920s a Melbourne chemist created a use for a waste by-product of beer manufacture. What is the name of that product?
- Who is the current Australian of the year?
No prizes – just glory and a warm inner glow.