First published on 22 Feb 2012. Updated on 19 Feb 2014.
Food and Drinks
A free snag is the way to every meat-eating Aussie’s heart – and this Friday is the last of Section 8’s Gourmet BBQ sessions. Drop in from 12pm – 3pm for a gourmet foot long sausage with eggplant jam & baby gherkins. The Exford Hotel is also onto a good thing: on Friday nights they couple their free barbie with free pool and free jukebox jiving. Plus, every Monday from 6.30pm, St Kilda backpacker haunt Base offers complimentary pancakes when you buy a drink. You show me a stomach that doesn’t love a syrup-drenched pancake!
It seems Tuesday’s the day for free activities: Melbourne Latin Dance offers free salsa classes at their Richmond studio every week – two-left-feet welcome! Alternatively, you could get into some dungeon-dragon style medieval warfare with the Swordcraft crew in Princes Park from 7pm. Byo swords, shields, armour etc… And if slowing things down is more your speed, try the free tai-chi sessions which run weekly at Fed Square at 7.30am.
You’ll find the ‘other’ clubbing scene comes at a much lower premium for your purse. Exercise your cheek muscles (not THOSE cheek muscles) and get ready for some big belly laughs at one of the many Laughter Clubs about the place. A book club is a stellar way to combine socialising & learning – these days, there are even muggle-groups for Harry Potter fans! And, if you can’t quite find the motivation to whack those trainers on, join a city-based running club where you’ll pound the pavement with umpteen other eager-exercise-beavers.
They say a second language is the key to expanding your brainpower. So, whip down to the free Spanish conversation classes every Saturday afternoon at Cruzao Arepa bar. For a meatier subject matter, check out the Melbourne Free University sittings, which run every Tuesday through til March at City Square. A diverse range of lecture topics include banking profit margins, parliamentary debate, offshore employment strikes, and much more. And if you need to blow off some steam midway through your workday, get on your soapbox at the Wheeler Centre’s Speaker’s Corner each Thursday in the CBD.
These free gigs will get you dancing in the street! The Melbourne Symphony Orchestra holds the last of its free Sidney Myer concert series this coming Saturday – pack a picnic & immerse yourself in the glorious strains of classical music. Following on from this, the Melba Hall Lunch Hour Concerts resume on Monday, featuring wonderful recitals from the Melbourne Conservatorium student body each week at 1.10pm. On a decidedly rockier note, head to St Kilda icon The Espy, whereby the front bar offers free gigs almost every night of the week.
Want to catch a flick on a budget? Every Wednesday in March, Grumpy’s Green in Fitzroy feature a candlelit beer-garden screening from 8.30pm – spend the admission cost on their drink specials! More free film is on offer at IMAX, where their buy-one-get-one-free special is available for every session until Feb 29th. If you like to talk film too, Longplay are holding a run of discussions regarding the Controversies on Film every Thursday at 6.30pm, until the end of March.
Need to prep your winter vegie patch? My Smart Garden has you covered, with their host of free gardening workshops around the city - from raingarden installation to seed saving. Footscray Town Hall runs a monthly lunchbox session for budding greenthumbs – next month’s Organic Gardening Workshop is all about keeping bugs at bay without the spray, and maintaining a healthy soil. And if you’re keen to create a more sustainable garden, venture south to Frankston for some tips from Sustainable Gardening Australia for their next free session on March 3rd.
Priding ourselves on being an exceptional art-ing community, it’s no surprise there’s plenty of arty stuff around for us frugal types. The Linden Centre for Contemporary Arts has five gallery spaces open for public viewing, with a strong focus on featuring local artists-in-residence. For the CBD dwellers, RMIT Gallery features multiple exhibitions on Australian & international design, architecture and fashion, as well as housing a permanent Australian art collection across various city locations. Another brilliant gallery is the Australian Centre for Contemporary Art, where each frequently changing exhibition is accompanied by a free tour & talk.
We like to think ourselves a humorous mob, hence the prevalence of excellent comedy about the place – all free of charge, of course! Spleen has been running a comedy night for what must be a century, such is the popularity of their Monday night gig. Staying in the city, the restaurateurs at Sotto e Sopra will have you giggle as you gorge on the first Tuesday of every month. Also jumping on the bandwagon is relative newcomer 99 Problems, who are consistently drawing crowds for their monthly Thursday evening run.
A night at the pub needn’t cost you your uni fees. Meander along to Never Cheer Before You Know Who’s Winning at Revolver on a Tuesday, where you can win free jugs in the bonus Peace Sign v Metal Sign round. Bingo wise, the Terminus Hotel has been running a cracker Wednesday night for 14 years – if you’re lucky, you might come away with a 500-piece jigsaw of Adelaide, or your very own glow-in-the-darktechnicolour Jesus. For more of the spotlight, head up the elevator shaft to Charlton’s Karaoke in the city, where you only pay for as much Dutch courage as you need to muster up a tune.