101 boxes to tick in Melbourne before you die...
Left hand red at Extreme Twister
Get down with Extreme Twister. This huge rubber mat, complete with giant spinner, will have you flashing back to your contortionist ten-year-old self at birthday parties. Don’t sick up the 3000 sausage rolls you’ve no doubt eaten. Outdoor Lounge, Coburg Lake Reserve, De Chene Pde, Coburg North. FREE.
Challenge friends at Café Games
Break out the Uno, remember the rules of Cluedo, and ask someone to teach you ‘Egyptian Ratscrew’. The Café Games crew play tough but fair. So should you. The Celtic Club, 316/320 Queen St, Melbourne. Several times monthly 12 noon-7pm. FREE.
Hop to hopscotch at Phoenix Public House
Here’s how to stick to a theme: $5 hop beer, giveaways from Hopscotch Entertainment, and hopscotch down the middle of the bar at Brunswick’s Phoenix. Kudos for skipping while holding your pint. 133 Sydney Rd, Brunswick. Tuesdays 7pm. FREE.
Ping Pong at the Fox
We like the hearty food, we dig the bands, we murmur at the skyline views from the rooftop and we thumbs up the chabby chic décor… but we always make a beeline for the ping-pong table out in the courtyard. (There’s a perfectly good pool table inside, too.) 351 Wellington St, Collingwood. Nightly. FREE.
Prick your finger at the Thread Den
This ‘sewing lounge’ offers classes (and hens’ days, sewing soirees and kids’ crafty parties), so you’ll be stitching up your own projects in no time. We particularly love the three-hour ‘Remake, Refashion’ workshops, in which you bring in an old frock and have it reworked into something sassy. 422 Brunswick St, Fitzroy. Sewing lounge: $10 per hour; $75 per private class.
Fold and staple a zine at the Sticky Institute
Get your creative juices fl owing onto the page by creating your own zine. The Sticky Institute’s Festival of the Photocopier includes the Zine Fair at Melbourne Town Hall on 12 February. 10 Campbell Arcade, Degraves Subway, Melbourne. Wed-Fri 12 noon-6pm; Sat 12 noon-5pm.
Get knitting at the CCCK
Call it whatever you want: stitch’n’bitch, craft-a-noon, or craftwork. The CCCK’s four mantras are coffee, cake, crocheting and knitting. If you share these passions, you’ll be in quicker than a dropped stitch. 31 Sydney Rd, Coburg. 03 9383 1965. Sat noon-5pm. Classes from $20.
Make an impression at the Australian Print Workshop
Acid, wax, and copper make a welcome change from easy cameraphone snaps. Enrol yourself in a printmaking course – covering etching, lithography, monoprinting and more – to find your perfect intaglio moment. 210 Gertrude St, Fitzroy. $195-$595.
Shoot a gun at the Melbourne International Gun Club
Want to release some rage and a volley of lead? Every Saturday, you plus seven mates and some ID (so the cops can check you’re a good egg) can learn the art of pistol and revolver handling, and looking hardcore. They also have a monthly orientation for lone wolves. 120 Todd St, Fishermans Bend. (03 9646 3976). $80.
Live your TV fantasies at the Actors Nest
Courses on the secrets of small screen success by ‘working actors’ – a rare breed indeed! – such as Home and Away’s Paul O’Brien and Neighbours’ Eliza Taylor and Damien Bodie. 109 Fitzroy St, St Kilda. (03 8060 1837). Nine-week courses from $420.
Find your sea legs at Albert Park Lake
It’s never too late to conquer the city seas – just enlist in a learn-to-sail programme at Albert Park Lake. With programmes on offer summerround, you’ll be Sydney-to-Hobart-ing come Christmas. 3 Aquatic Dr, Albert Park Reserve, South Melbourne 3205. (03 9686 2571). Various dates and prices.
Get back on your bike at the CERES Bikeshed
Hire some tools and learn to patch up your old bike, or assemble some new wheels of steel with the retro charm of recycled parts for $30-$100. Cnr Roberts and Stewart Sts, Brunswick East. Fri-Sat 12 noon-4pm. $5-$100.
Build your own guitar at Monsalvat
Dodgy guitar ruining your campfi re Kumbaya? From raw materials to fi nishing touches, seasoned luthier Chris Wynne will show you how to design and build the perfect guitar at this historic artists’ colony. Monsalvat, 7 Hillcrest Ave, Eltham. (03 9431 2490). $2,800.
Perfect your mixing at DJ Warehouse
God might be a DJ, but even He had to start somewhere. DJ Warehouse’s one-day crash course for beginners will have you dropping needles and spinning tunes in record time. 431 Victoria St, Abbotsford. (03 9421 2941). One-day crash course: $220
Fight for the $5 paella at Claypots
See that impatient queue? They’re not there to order drinks. They elbowing their way towards snapping up Claypots’ fresh paella. Remember: the early bird gets the biggest serving. 213 Barkly St, St Kilda. (03 9534 1282). Nightly, 6pm. $5.
Shamelessly devour a Bogan Burger at the Napier Hotel
The whole menu is great but the Bogan Burger speaks for itself: steak, chicken schnitzel, caramelised onions, cheese, pineapple, beetroot, egg, potato cake (!), bacon, lettuce and tomato... and sides. 210 Napier St, Fitzroy. (03 9419 4240). $24.
Get aristocratic at the Windsor Hotel
Enjoy the tastes of royalty at High Tea at the esteemed Hotel Windsor. Serving a traditional afternoon tea since 1883, you’ll nibble on a delectable range of pastries, sandwiches, and – naturally – tea. The Hotel Windsor, 111 Spring St, Melbourne. (03 9633 6000). Mon-Sun 12 noon-2.30pm. $59 weekdays, $79 weekends. Bookings essential.
Find your favourite bratwurst at Queen Victoria Market
Sausage is the great equaliser: good for paupers and kings alike. Fuel your crowd-fight through the markets with a selection from the ever-revolving sausage varieties on the bratwurst menu. Shop 99, Deli Hall, 513 Elizabeth St, Melbourne. (03 9320 5822).
Relax with fish and chips at South Melbourne Beach
St Kilda is fun, sure – but to laze on the sand with salty fish-n-chips, why not head to South Melbourne instead? The Number 1 tram takes you right to the water. South Melbourne Beach, Beaconsfield Pde, South Melbourne.
Recover with weekend brekky at the Espy
Each weekend the hotel du rock offers up a tasty breakfast, from fi sh cakes to the Espy Burger and $10 Espy Special. Sit outside for one of the nicest views in Melbourne. 11 The Esplanade, St Kilda. (03 9534 0211). Sat-Sun 9am. $10-$25.
Unleash your appetite at all-you-can-eat yum cha
Ignore the hanging ducks in the window and secure a seat at the lazy susan. You’ll need some serious stamina to eat your way through all these a la carte goodies. Rize BBQ & Restaurant, 262 Brunswick St, Fitzroy. (03 9078 1862). Sat-Sun 11am-3pm. $15.80 cash only.
Hoe into a progressive tasting at Melbourne’s best eateries
Gather your food-obsessed friends and work your way though the city, progressive-dinnerstyle. Tours include noted restaurants like Cumulus Inc, Taxi Dining Room, The Kitchen Cat and Mezzo Bar and Grill. (0408 555 679). By appointment. 1-7pp $899.
Become a coffee expert at Seven Seeds
Do names like Don Pachi and Panama Esmeralda mean nothing to you? You’d better educate yourself at one of Seven Seeds’ cupping (read: blind coffee tasting) sessions stat. 114 Berkeley St, Carlton. (03 9347 8664). Thu 10am. FREE.
Defy gravity at Melbourne rooftop bars
The ultimate antidote to soaring mercury is a non-stop rooftop barhop. This elevated city circuit incorporates a cavalcade of silk parasols, cocktail jugs, cucumber sandwiches, deckchairs, palm trees and Astroturf. Madame Brussels, 59 Bourke St, Melbourne. (03 9662 2775). Mon-Sun 12 noon-1am. Rooftop Bar, Lvl 7/252 Swanston St, Melbourne. (03 9654 5394). Mon-Sun from 12 noon. Palmz at the Carlton, 193 Bourke St, Melbourne. (03 9663 3246). Siglo, Lvl 2, 161 Spring St, Melbourne. (03 9654 0811). Mon 8pm-3am; Tue-Fri 5pm-3am; Sat-Sun 8pm-3am.
Wet your whistle at the Melbourne Aquarium
Drinking and aquariums – together at last! Friday night drinks let you tour the entire aquarium while armed with bellinis, cosmopolitans and (hopefully non-seafood) treats, ending with dessert in the Fish Bowl. Cnr Kings Way & Flinders St, Melbourne. (03 9923 5915). Fri 6-8.30pm. $75.
Off the Hip records in-store
Off the Hip has many irons in its musical fires: it’s a music shop, a record label, and magazine dedicated to garage, powerpop and rock’n’roll. It’s a venue for regular in-store gigs, too. 381 Flinders Ln, Melbourne. (03 9621 2044). Tue 12 noon-5pm; Wed-Thu 10am-5.30pm; Fri 10am-6.30pm; Sat 11am-5pm.
St Kilda Bowls Sunday gigs
Fancy some rock’n’roll, swing or rockabilly? The St Kilda Bowls is a great place to relax on Sunday with a bevvy – and best of all gigs are free! 66 Fitzroy St, St Kilda 3182. (03 9534 5229). Sun 12 noon-late. FREE.
Get eclectic at Pure Pop Records
How do record stores compete with the internet? How about excellent music, free in-store gigs, a licensed bar, trivia every month, the occasional film premiere – and now even an Argentinean BBQ? 221 Barkly St, St Kilda. (03 9525 5066)
Rock baroque at the MSO’s free gigs
Classical music can soothe even the most frazzled mind. Bundle up the kids and let the free annual jamboree from the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra carry you away on your picnic rug. Sidney Myer Music Bowl. (03 9929 9600). 15, 18, 22 & 25 Feb, 7pm. FREE.
Zip line over the Otway Rainforest
If you’re going to get high, make sure the comedown’s exhilarating. Spend two and a half solid hours soaring through the glorious treetop canopy in Victoria’s only zip line tour. Otway Fly, 360 Phillips Track, Weeaproinah. (03 5235 9200). Mon-Sun 9am-5pm. Adults $115, children $82.50.
Take a free class with the Salsa Foundation
Can’t tell one left foot from the other? Try a free salsa class and soon you’ll be twirling like a Latin American natural. Paid private lessons are available, too. Stella Maris, 600 Little Collins St, Melbourne. (0400 933 285). Wed & Thu 6pm. FREE.
Play a game of bike polo
Bicycle wheels and wooden mallets seem like a terrible combination – but remember the mallets are only for the fun of smacking polo balls, not for taking down yet another hipster fixie. Sun from 2-8pm at Flagstaff Gardens (corner of Queen St & Franklin St, Melbourne) and Tue from 6pm at The Futsal Courts (Aughtie Dr, Albert Park).
Get wet at the Brighton Sea Baths
At 50 metres across and 300 metres around, Brighton’s Sea Baths are a last-of-their-kind Olympic experience for everyday swimmers in Melbourne. Join a squad or just lash out for a steam. 251 The Esplanade, Brighton 3185. (03 9539 7005). Mon-Thu 6am-9pm; Fri 6am-7pm; Sat-Sun 7.30am-5pm. $4-$5.
Ride the West Gate Punt
The West Gate Punt between Port Melbourne to Williamstown gets you from the city’s edge to cute-but-otherwise-inaccessible Willy. Bikes are free, so pack your copy of Treadlie and explore ‘Melbourne’s Manly’. Fisherman’s Bend, Port Melbourne 3207 & Scienceworks, Spotswood 3015. (0419 999 458). Mon-Fri 6.30-9.30am and 4-7pm; Sat-Sun 9am-5pm. $5-$7.
Boogie your board at Warrandyte National Park
Hot day? Head to our closest National Park and enjoy the soothing wilderness of Warrandyte. There’s access to the Yarra so it’s perfect for a canoe, paddle, or boogie-board. Warrandyte National Park. FREE.
Take a swing at mini-golf
Mini-golf is the only sport that gets better as it gets smaller. (In your face, table tennis!) These two 18-hole courses – one outdoor, one indoor – might be Melbourne’s best. 703 Wellington Rd, Wheelers Hill 3170. (03 9795 3111). Mon-Sun 10am-5pm. $9-$11.
Go kayaking at dusk
Paddle out as the sun goes down and the city lights come up. No experience necessary: instructors will have you sailing away from either St Kilda or the Docklands in no time. 425 Docklands Dr, Docklands and 300m west of the Royal Melbourne Yacht Squadron, Pier Rd, St Kilda. (0410 329 090). 6-9pm. $55-$85.
Get nautical at Williamstown’s sailing club
Can you think of a better way to spend your summer than shouting ‘anchors away!’ at unsuspecting passersby? This five-week sailing course will give you all the skills you need. Cnr Stevedore St & The Strand, Williamstown. (03 9397 6987). $395.
Join in a nudey night swim
For over 30 years, folks have been splashing around in the nude at monthly swim nights. Bring a plate for the 9pm shared supper – and lots of towels to sit on, of course. Rebound Leisure Club, 5 Rebound Ct, Narre Warren. (0407 558 301). First and third Saturdays, 7-10.30pm. $15.
Get heavy petting at Melbourne Zoo
The Wild Sea exhibit at Melbourne Zoo offers a spectacular place to avoid the heat. If it’s good enough for the seals, penguins and stingrays, it’s good enough for you humans too. Melbourne Zoo, Elliot Ave, Parkville. (03 9285 9340). Mon-Sun 9am-5pm. $25.40.
Adopt a hive for Melbourne Rooftop Honey
Did you know we depend on bees’ pollination for 65 per cent of our food? Help promote urban beekeeping by hosting a hive – or buy the sweet stuff from your local apiculturists.
Sleep over at the Melbourne Zoo
A nocturnal zoo tour, a delicious dinner, and a tent pitched in the 1940s Historic Elephant Enclosure. It’s like an African safari without the long plane trip or crippling colonial guilt. Melbourne Zoo, Elliott Ave, Parkville. (1300 ZOOSVIC). Selected nights. Adults $195, children $145.
Get dirty at Collingwood Children’s Farm
Milk cows, bottle-feed lambs, and learn the principles of permaculture and sustainability while never leaving the inner city. Their farmers’ market (every second Saturday) was recently voted the best in Australia. 18 St Heliers St, Abbotsford. (03 9417 5806). Daily 9am-4.30pm. Adults $8, children $4.
Go wild at Werribee Open Range Zoo
With the savannah designed to replicate the wild, Werribee Open Range Zoo lets you encounter giraffes, gorillas, elephants, lions, hippopotamuses, rhinos, and zebras. Try not to look too delicious. K Rd, Werribee. (03 9731 9600). Mon-Sun 9am-5pm. Adults $30, children FREE.
Conquer croquet at Brunswick Mallet Sports Club
Golf croquet, puzzle croquet, association croquet and gateball – this genteel sport sounds as complicated as D&D. Find out for yourself. Brunswick Park, Victoria St, Brunswick. (03 9387 9239). Wed 10am-noon; Sun 2-4pm. First two visits FREE for non-members, $5 after.
Find yourself in the Enchanted Maze Garden
If city life is grinding your gears, venture down the Peninsula to the Enchanted Maze Garden. Hedge mazes, labyrinth mazes, fairy mazes, and tube slides will all test your internal compass. 55 Purves Rd, Arthurs Seat. (03 5981 8449). Mon-Sun 10am-6pm. $15-$25.
Drift to the Studley Park Boathouse
Row, row, row your boat – but if boating doesn’t tickle your fancy, you can always picnic on the banks, feed the ducks, or retire to the restaurant of Australia’s oldest operating boathouse. Boathouse Rd, Kew. (03 9853 1828). Mon-Sun 9am-5pm. From $12 per half hour.
Go underground with the Cave Clan
Formed in 1985, the mysterious Cave Clan are dedicated to exploring the secret world of the city’s tunnels, drains and caves. You can join them on their underground adventures. Around Melbourne. FREE.
Fish off the St Kilda Pier
Perch yourself on the weathered footbridge, dangle your bare feet into Port Phillip Bay, cast out as the sun sets – and stick around to catch the post-dusk penguin parade. Jacka Blvd, St Kilda. FREE.
Go on an Aboriginal Guided Walk at Royal Botanic Gardens
Learn about native plants – from lemon-scented ironwood to fluffy paperbark – from an Aboriginal guide. If you’re not too unco, you can try to master the boomerang. Visitor Centre, Observatory Gate, Birdwood Ave, South Yarra 3141. (03 9252 2429). Tue, Wed, Thu, Fri, and first Sun of the month, 11am-12.30pm. $25 adults, $21 conc, $10 child (6–17 years).
Help yourself at the Community Kitchen Garden
With its grassy floor, high-above-the-street location, and sunlight streaming through floor-to-ceiling windows, Melbourne Central’s Community Kitchen Garden feels a little like Eden. (Only without the talking snake.) Lvl 2 Bridge, Melbourne Central, Cnr LaTrobe & Swanston Sts, Melbourne. (03 9922 1112). Mon-Thu 10am-6pm; Fri 10am-9pm; Sat 10am-6pm; Sun 10am–5pm. FREE.
Take sunset pics at the Shrine of Remembrance
Looking at your photos, your friends will inevitably ask “where’d you take that?!” You don’t have to tell them you were on the Shrine’s balcony, snapping pics down Ceremonial Ave. Birdwood Ave, Melbourne 3004. (03 9661 8100). Mon-Sun 10am-5pm. FREE.
Roll up your sleeves at CERES
Turn those iPhone-stunted thumbs green again by volunteering at the verdant utopia of the Community Environment Park (CERES). The farm, education centre and farmers market are all well worth preserving. CERES Community Environment Park, Cnr Roberts & Stewart Sts, Brunswick East. (03 9389 0150). FREE.
Give our city a green lung
Why not help give our city an environmental facelift? Urban Reforestation is always looking for volunteers for their shop, garden, or on one of their many worthy community projects. 818 Bourke St, Melbourne. FREE.
Get a picnic and a free bike from Little Creatures Brewery
Fancy a hot set of wheels and a cold six-pack? Little Creatures can provide both – along with a ploughman’s lunch picnic. The snacks will cost you, but they’ll throw the bikes in. 222 Brunswick St, Fitzroy. (03 9417 5500). $50.
Perv on Melbourne from a hot air balloon
Forget cleanliness – effortlessly drifting over the city at sunrise in a fire-powered basket is the closest you’ll ever get to godliness. Especially while you’re drinking champagne for breakfast. 10 Bond St, Abbotsford. (03 9427 0088). From $340.
Bathe at a nudist beach
Swing by Sunnyside North Beach in Mornington and casually strip off. The novelty will probably wear off in about two minutes flat – but you’ll have bragging rights forever! FREE.
Play chess at St Kilda Botanic Gardens
Regular-sized chess is for suckers. Challenge your mates to a match on the giant chessboard at St Kilda Botanic Gardens and feel like a legend whether you win or lose. FREE.
Get your arse in shape at De Jour
Dreary derriere? Forget trying to find the perfect fit off the rack. Perk up with your own custom fitted pair of De Jour jeans – all for the tight-arse price of around $48. De Jour, 542 Sydney Rd, Brunswick. (03 9380 4884). Mon-Fri 9.30am-5pm; Sat 10am-4.30pm.
Go your own way with the Humble Vintage
Ditch the sweaty public transport and blitz traffic in style by renting one of Matt Hurst’s humble vintage bicycles – whether a European gentleman’s bike or classic ladies step-through. CBD, St Kilda & Fitzroy. (0432 032 450). Day rental $30, weekend $45, week $80.
Feel good on a sustainable Op Shop Tour
Check out six to eight of Melbourne’s best op shops with armed with expert guides and the power of public transport. Just don’t be insufferable when you find the perfect bargain, OK? Various locations. Saturdays. $40-$75.
Discover hidden gems in Melbourne’s bazaars
Trawl through trash to find real treasures as you blaze a trail through Melbourne’s bazaars. Kitsch kitchenware, rare furniture, half-remembered childhood toys, and no-it-couldn’t-be-but-it-is finds, like original Thorens record players. Chapel St Bazaar, 217 Chapel St, Prahran. (03 9529 1727). Mon-Sun 10am–6pm. Smith St Bazaar, 305 Smith St, Fitzroy. (03 9419 4889). Mon 12 noon-6pm; Tue-Fri 11am-6pm; Sat-Sun 10.30am-5pm. Lost & Found Market, 1 Perry St, Collingwood & 511 Lygon St, Brunswick East. (03 9419 4477 & 03 9383 1883). Mon-Sun 10am-6pm.
Sing along with Mary Poppins at the Astor Threatre
It’s exactly like it sounds: karaoke-style screenings of Mary Poppins and Grease. The words appear on screen so everyone can give it their best Newton-John or Dick Van Dyke. Cnr Chapel St & Dandenong Rd, St Kilda 3182. (03 9510 1414). $13
Feel no shame at No Lights No Lycra
All kinds of dancers gather in the dark for some self-proclaimed ‘daggy dancing’. Do the Shopping Cart, the Sprinkler, or even the dreaded Egyptian without fear – no one can see you. 1000 Pound Bend, 361 Little Lonsdale St.; Dancehouse 150 Princes Street, North Carlton; 12 Surrey Rd, South Yarra; The Body Voice Centre, 50 Wolverhampton St, Footscray; 49 Nicholson St, Brunswick East.; Mon 6.30-7.30pm in the City, Tues 6.30-7.30pm in Carlton, Tues 7-8pm in South Yarra, Tues 8.30-9.30pm in Footscray, Wed 7-8.15pm in Brunswick. $7.
Do the twist at Anna’s Go-Go Academy
Learn to go-go like Elvis, do the ‘Pulp Fiction’ like Travolta, and even try the ‘Pony’ like that crazy neighbour lady who doesn’t close her curtains. Bella Union Bar, Trades Hall, 2 Lygon St, Carlton; The Victoria Hotel, 380 Victoria St, Brunswick . (0402 769 515). Wed 6.30pm in Carlton; Thu 6.30pm in Brunswick. $12.
Flashdance at the Bodyelectricdancestudios
With more than 200 dancers and nine separate dance groups, 2014 will be a blockbuster year for Jade Duffy’s lycra-and-leg-warmer dance school. Each term ends with a show-stopping public performance. Classes held in Fitzroy. New term starts 6 Feb, check website for availability and fees.
Hit the high notes at Glee Club Singing
Can’t carry a tune in a bucket? Don’t let it keep you from singing pop songs at the top of your lungs. Guaranteed to make more sense than the TV show Glee. The Butterfly Club, Carson Place, Off Little Collins Street. Tue 6.30-7.30pm. $12.
Get glam with the Real Hot Bitches 80s Dance Troupe
You can catch the Bitches’ performances everywhere from roller derby halftimes to the Spiegeltent. But why not also learn their 80s fuelled dances? Bring your leotard. Men can be bitches, too. Irene Community Arts Warehouse, 5 Pitt St, Brunswick East. Contact email@example.com for details. $7.
Groove randomly at the Portable Dance Portal
Cranked up headphones: check. Green man saying the intersection’s safe: check. Dance your heart out for commuters: check. Is it a flashmob? A pop-up studio? Who cares? Just dance, damn it! Various intersections around the CBD. Semi-monthly after work. FREE.
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