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Mount Buller – free entry
Welcome to May
Reader Feedback
Two newsletters
A Melburnian at the Pearly Gates – part 1
Environment Newsletter
Composting Awareness Week
From the White Hat Inbox
Jazz
Last Week’s Quiz
Seven Mansions of Melbourne: No.2 - Raheen
La Mama for Kids
Twitter
Melbourne Awards
Classical music
Melbourne’s Hidden Gems
Choral Festival at Montsalvat
A Melburnian at the Pearly Gates – part 2
Family Day
Flinders Street Station Book
Country Victoria
The White Hat Quiz

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Mount Buller - free entry

With early snows Mount Buller will be open this weekend with no entry fees. A great place to take the kids for a roll in the snow and a snowball fight. Then again you might want to take the girlfriend or boyfriend for a roll in the snow – it makes a change from a roll in the hay. Now although the normal entry fee to the mountain doesn’t apply we don’t know if there are other ‘hidden’ charges so you may want to investigate further.

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Welcome to May

“Now is the month of Maying
When merry lads are playing.
Fa la la la la,
Falala La la la la la.”

When Europeans arrived in Australia with its inverted seasons you would think they would just switch their festivities around by six months. But that has its problems.

“Now is the month of Novembering
When merry lads are ???"

So they just continued to celebrate things on the usual European dates. One tradition to welcome May is that of Walpurgis Night. If you want to see what Scandinavians do on Walpurgis Night head along to the concert at Toorak House on Saturday night. The concert is “free with net proceeds going to the Australian Red Cross”. It must have been a Norwegian who figured out that fundraising plan.

“Each with his bonny lass
Upon the greeny grass.
Fa la la la la,
Falala La la la la la.”

If heterosexual dalliances upon the greeny grass are not to your taste, you could always welcome May by erecting a Maypole and dance around singing the traditional song:

“Happy, happy is the day,
Everybody here is gay.”

I wouldn’t be surprised to find a maypole in Commercial Road Prahran.

May Day is also a tradition time for the proletariat to bring about the downfall of capitalism, although at the moment it seems to be doing a pretty good job of it all by itself. I’ve already got my banners painted.:

“Why should the workers pay for the bosses global crisis?”
“Tax the rich, not the poor!
"Mortgages for those who can’t afford them!”

 – although wasn’t that how we got here in the first place? Maybe I’ll need to rethink that last one.

If you want to be part of the May Day march, May Day activities start at 12 noon until 4.00 pm outside Trades Hall on Sunday 3rd March. March at 1 pm. (The organisers have left out some crucial information. What time does the John Curtin Hotel open?)

Happy Maying.

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Reader Feedback

“You never cease to amaze me. I have been reading the newsletter for five years and you always seem to come up with something new. White Hat Newsletter – The Musical was a hoot. If only I could get my creative writing students to come up with some fresh ideas. They all want to write about how they’ve got no voice.
Margaret”

“Hi, What I most enjoy about your newsletter are the facts and stories about early Melbourne - especially those things that relate to locations. It's great to be able to go to have a look at a place where some historic event happened. I recall that I particularly enjoyed the information about Melbourne's cable trams, Cobb and Co, railways, working girls, great benefactors and old burial grounds and have done a lot of follow up research and reading. The Quiz often reveals some interesting facts, also. Lately, though, the readers don't get a full set of answers any more. Could you please start providing full sets of answers again? I would be interested in more stories about locations associated with famous gangsters or crimes as I know little of this. But, more than this I would like you to introduce me to Melbourne topics. The internet is a great research tool - but I need a tag to get me started. Your newsletters and some old school history books that belonged to my wife discussing convicts got me interested in the history of Melbourne and Sydney in particular. Murray”

“I live in Orlando and accidentally signed up for your newsletter thinking it was about Melbourne, Florida. I’ve been reading it ever since. It’s addictive.
Joe”

“Dear White Hat,
In the most recent edition of Limelight magazine, there was an article on alternative musical instruments. The only one in Australia that was mentioned was the Weather Harp in Sugden Place (off Little Collins St). Four of us made a special trip into the City to see it, only to find out that it is no longer there. My friend emailed the Melbourne City Council and asked them what had happened to it, but their only reply was that it was commissioned by the Melbourne City Council. Can you shed some light as to what has happened to it?
Thankyou, Julie”

Julie,
Each year the city council commissions temporary street art usually for the back lanes. The artworks stay for about a year and are then dismantled or removed. One example is the statue of La Trobe on his head at the bottom of: The White Hat Guide to Charles La Trobe

This statue is no longer there but was purchased by Latrobe Uni and currently stands in their collection.

As to where the weather harp went we don’t know. If you can eventually get on to the person that commissions the artworks somewhere in the depths of the council they might know.

The reason for this strange behaviour of sticking artworks up back lanes and then removing them seems to date back a generation. A contemporary sculpture called Vault was commissioned for the City Square. It so offended conservative ‘Middle Melbourne’ that it caused a scandal and had to be removed. The ‘Yellow Peril’ as it was unkindly dubbed now stands outside ACCA where admittedly it sits more happily with its contemporary surrounds than it did in the middle of Victorian era architecture. Since that time the council seems wary of letting anything ‘too modern’ stay around for long.

If we find out any more about what happened to Weather Harp we will let you know.

“I work in a media agency and part of my job is to monitor publications about Melbourne. Your newsletter is the highlight of my week. People hear me chuckling and know I must be reading the White Hat newsletter. Keep up the good work and help keep me sane.
Julie”

“We visited your wonderful city in 2004 and had a great time. We still read your newsletter each week to remind us of Melbourne and for the White Hat wit and wisdom.
Brian & Jenny (London)”

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Two Newsletters

This newsletter is late again. The pressure to do work which puts food on the table pushes the free stuff later and later into the week. Well, never fear. We have a cunning plan.

We know from feedback over the years that about half of you don’t necessarily read the newsletter for information on particular events but for the more general information. In fact about 10% of subscribers live overseas. So the time when you receive your newsletter doesn’t matter that much. Then there are the other half who want to plan for what’s on. A lot of information is submitted to us at the last minute and there’s nothing much we can do about that.

So, starting next week we will put out two newsletters – one early in the week and the other later in the week to spread the load and to try to get information to you earlier. We’ll see if it works.

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A Melburnian at the Pearly Gates - part 1

This article has been moved to Richard Pratt.

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Environment Newsletter

The White Hat newsletter on environmental sustainability came out earlier this week. If you would like to receive a copy send us an email requesting it.

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Composting Awareness Week

Next week is Composting Awareness Week so we would urge you all to be aware of compost.

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From the White Hat Inbox

“Dear White Hat,
Thanks for meeting with me and for the support for my book! I am enjoying talking about the sense of place and the surprises that lurk within the confines of the station. It seems our tour will not include the ballroom as it is currently full of junk. Last time I visited, I was not allowed into the gym because it was full of junk but it seems they may have transferred it to the ballroom as the gym is back on the menu. My guests may stage a mutiny if the ballroom is not included....
Jenny”

[Jenny also made some observations on some the authorities she has had to deal with but we feel it is inappropriate to include anything vaguely irreverent in this newsletter.]

“Dear Market Office, I am a French and dynamique lady working actually in Portobello Market in West London, it is one of the most famous street markets in the world. It is a popular destination for Londoners and tourists alike. As I sell "French Crepes" I would love to achieve my dream which is to expand my knowlegde across the world, I'm actually applying for a visa to come through in August, and in the same time applying for a Stall in the market. Can you please get back to me with some informations. Thank you in advance for your time.
Valerie”

Now, I haven’t got the heart to tell Valerie that White Hat doesn’t actually run any markets – we merely list them. However if the young French lady should call on us I’m sure we could arrange a detailed briefing maybe and help to expand her knowledge of Australia. – You don’t think that one’s genuine do you? Oh ye of little faith!

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Jazz

The Melbourne International Jazz Festival concludes this weekend. Details at The White Hat Guide to Jazz in Melbourne.

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Last Week's Quiz

Our first answer came from a subscriber purporting to be ‘Helga’ although the company email address seemed to indicate he was male and worked for a high-profile accounting firm. But who are we to argue? Maybe by day he is a mild-mannered accountant and by night he is Helga. Anyway, here are Helga’s answers:

Dutch Orange Day Quiz

Please note: This section of the newsletter has been removed as it forms part of a forthcoming publication.
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Seven Mansions of Melbourne

No.2 – Raheen

This article can now be found at The White Hat Guide to Raheen

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La Mama for Kids

La Mama – the tiny theatre near Lygon Street – has a special presentation coming up for kids.

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Twitter

White Hat is now on Twitter and you can find us at whitehat_aus. We don’t know how long we’ll keep it up but we’ll give it a try just to announce when new pages go up on the White Hat website. Twitter probably came along too late for us because we already had tried-and-true work avoidance techniques in place.

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Melbourne Awards

The Melbourne Awards honour individuals, community groups and corporations who contribute to Melbourne’s profile, community and environment. You can submit your nominations by 15th May. “Your submission must be no longer than five A4 pages, single-sided. The font must be 12 point Times New Roman, Helvetica or Arial.” We would like to nominate the committee which decided on those criteria and helped make Melbourne what it is today.

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Classical music

This week there is a coffee concert with string quartet and recorder at the recital centre and the Australian String Quartet play Brahms and Schumann. Details at The White Hat Guide to Classical Music in Melbourne.

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Melbourne's Hidden Gems

One of the fun things about the newer Melbourne bars and cafes is how so many of them hover on the borderline between classy and kitsch. It’s a long-honoured Melbourne tradition dating back to the 19th century.

For instance you might go to the Hopetoun Tea Rooms in the Block Arcade with pleasant company and enjoy the ambience of the detailed decorations of the era. However if you are feeling dyspeptic and find yourself in tedious company your attention will wander to the décor and you will find yourself thinking “Nobody created kitsch quite as extensively as the Victorians and Edwardians”.

Similarly, Melbourne’s newer bars can hover on that interesting borderline. Take Victor’s in Carlton just down the road from Brunetti’s. When you enter you are struck by the décor which is a seamless blending of the Uffizi and Franco Cozzo. With pleasant company and a couple of gin and tonics you find yourself thinking “This is really great. I’d like to live here.”

At the end of the night you can ask the question – is it classy – is it kitsch? The answer doesn’t really matter. If you enjoyed it you’ll go back.

Victor’s is at 188 Faraday St and 303 Drummond St Carlton.

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Choral Festival at Montsalvat

This Sunday there is a choral festival at Montsalvat where they will probably be singing the verses that expand on the details of “Each with his bonny lass upon the greeny grass” and singing lyrics that would a rugby player blush – provided he could understand Latin.

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A Melburnian at the Pearly Gates - part 2

This article has been moved to Richard Pratt.

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Family Day

This Sunday is Family Day at the Collingwood Children’s Farm. This is a great way to take the kids to the bush in the middle of the city.

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Flinders Street Station Book

The only extensive book about Flinders Street Station is about to be released, entitled ‘Beyond the Facade: Flinders Street, more than just a railway station’. A Media Launch (by invitation only) is being sponsored by Connex on Monday 4 May upstairs in the station. This will be followed by a book signing, photographic display and Devonshire tea in the Victorian Railways Institute (VRI) Office, on the Ground Floor, Flinders Street Station. The VRI Office was originally the luggage room and its architecture is essentially intact with high, pressed metal ceilings and lead light windows. The photographic display will continue all week. Books will be available for purchase from the VRI Office, as well as Information Victoria, The Railfan Shop, Hill of Content and Readings in Carlton. For further details, contact the author, Jenny Davies jenny.davies7@bigpond.com or on (03) 5426-3118

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Country Victoria

This weekend is the Prom Coast Seachange Festival near Wilsons Prom. If you thinking of a seachange and the estate agent has a special deal on a block of land, be sure to visit it at high tide.

If on the other hand you are thinking of a treechange, you can check out the Grampians at the Grampians Grape Escape.

Then, if you thinking of being a self-funded retiree, you will probably need to learn to live on nuts and berries. You can start by visiting the Mount Dandenong Chestnut Festival. Details at The White Hat Guide to Nuts

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The White Hat Quiz

Where in Melbourne could you find:

  1. A building in the shape of a cone?
  2. A building reminiscent of a Rubik’s Cube?
  3. A building surmounted by 4 kangaroos holding shields?
  4. A building with a missing dome?
  5. A building with impressive pillars out the front which hold up – nothing!
  6. A building sinking into the footpath?
  7. A hotel next to a freeway where no-one has been known to stay?
  8. A short-stay hotel is one where rooms are let by the hour. Which is your favourite?
  9. A building which incorporates an optical illusion into its façade?
  10. And finally, can you nominate Melbourne’s tackiest building. Now think hard. Competition is stiff from Queensland, but let’s show them we can out-tacky even the Gold Coast.

No prizes – just glory and a warm inner glow.

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