Category Archives: Melbourne

White Night Survival Guide

White Night Melbourne is almost upon us again. In just a few hours, the lights will go on and half a million people will descend upon the Melbourne CBD to gaze in wonder upon the pure artistry of a group of extremely talented people.

But, it’s a long night, and it’s a difficult one. So here’s a few tips to get the most out of it.

Dress Sensibly

Comfortable walking shoes are a must. Thongs, heels or sandals are a definite no. Assuming you’re going to every site, you’re probably going to be on your feet for around five hours. At minimum.

Check the weather beforehand. Last year I made the mistake of assuming the temperature would drop, and wore jeans and a jumper. Big mistake.

Plan Ahead

White Night is busiest between 7PM and midnight. The crowds are massive, and the lines to a lot of the indoor art installations are long. Even well after midnight, the line to the State Library was around the corner into Latrobe Street.

If you’ve got the kids with you, be sure to have a way to keep them entertained while they’re in line. Thank god for smartphones, right? You might be tempted to skip the sites with long lines, but those are usually the best.

It also pays to check which sites are only active at certain times. I missed a couple of live performances in my rush.

I would recommend starting a little late, if you’re able. If you don’t have kids to contend with, or work Sunday, it’s your best bet. Last year I worked late Saturday, and didn’t get to the CBD until around midnight. I hit every site in around five hours. On foot. And only waited at the Library for around fifteen minutes.

In the line at the State Library during White Night 2015
In the line at the State Library during White Night 2015

Bring A Camera

Everything about White Night is fleeting. That’s the magic. It’s all just for one night, never to be seen again. You’re going to want a keepsake. Not to mention the interactive installations, where you pose with something to become a part of the art yourself.

In this day and age, it goes without saying really, everyone has a camera in their pocket. But don’t forget to use it.

Plus the social media mentions are great for publicity, and the bigger it is, the more likely it is to continue.

Take Care Of Yourself

Hydrate. Especially if it’s a hot night. Even if it’s not, you’re walking around a lot. Keep a bottle of water handy.

Rest. Especially if you’ve got kids. It only takes five hours at top speed to get to all of the sites. The night is twelve hours long. Sit down for a little while every now and then. Your body will thank you.

Eat. Have dinner in the city before you go. Carry snacks. Hit the foodtrucks or dozens of other eateries that are open all night.

Have Fun, But Be Respectful

White Night is a great night. The sounds and the sights, it’s Melbourne at her best. But it’s also 500,000 people wandering the CBD at night. About a dozen people were arrested last year for public drunkenness (although the regular nightclubs are still open, so it could be unrelated). So the golden rule is: Don’t Be A Dickhead. Don’t ruin the night for someone else. Don’t break anything. Don’t kill the event.

Have fun, but not at the expense of someone else.

For further information, go to the White Night Melbourne homepage.

Open House Melbourne 2015

Open House is probably my favourite concept, as someone who wants to see the world on a budget.  Dozens of cities across the world designate a particular weekend or date and throw the doors open on many of their most important sights.

A chance to see behind the scenes? Yes please!
A chance to see behind the scenes? Yes please!

So, never shying away from an excuse to spend a weekend in the city, I took work off and grabbed my camera. Having not been one of the lucky few winners of tickets to the Flinders Street Station Ballroom, and having completely missed out on booking a number of my other top picks, I instead started my weekend at the Arts Centre.

It’s my understanding that you can just wander the foyers of the Theatres Building (above) and Hamer Hall during the day anyway. There’s currently an exhibition in the Theatres Building about entertaining the troops over the years, which I found very interesting.

But Open House isn’t about seeing the things you can see for free on a regular day. Open House is about going that extra mile.

So we went underground.

Those pipes could just about fit a small person inside. Perhaps that's what Mario uses?
Those pipes could just about fit a small person inside. Perhaps that’s what Mario uses?

A guided tour through not the behind-the-scenes stuff, but behind that. The transformer substation, the cooling units (above), the boilers and the backup generators.

Not everything is going to interest everyone. I know a lot of people who would have been bored to death on that tour. But there really is something for everyone.

For instance, my second tour at the Arts Centre started in Hamer Hall. Through a doorway I’d never noticed before, and suddenly I was in the Performing Arts Centre archives. One of three locations, containing the incomplete, but ever-growing, history of performing arts in Melbourne. Thriving off donations from performers and their families, the collection is truly astonishing. We only saw a fraction of it, including Nick Cave’s notebooks, a stage costume belonging to Dame Nellie Melba and one of the most iconic pieces of stage costuming in Australia… Kylie Minogue’s hot pants from the Spinning Around video.

"Melbourne Museum has Phar Lap. The State Library has Ned Kelly's armour. We have Kylie's hotpants."
“Melbourne Museum has Phar Lap. The State Library has Ned Kelly’s armour. We have Kylie’s hotpants.”

Just as impressive is their seemingly-complete collection of Dame Edna’s outfits, along with early drafts of a lot of Barry Humphries’ work, signed and annotated.

You do need to plan ahead, and also pace yourself, as I learned from Parliament House. I missed out on the Saturday because the line was immense. So, first thing Sunday I was in queue. And honestly, the building’s interior blew my mind, to the point where the Windsor Hotel and Myer Mural Hall, my next two stops, seemed to pale in comparison.

Parliament House is all neo-Roman columns and 23-carat gold leafing. A large library, not to mention the rooms where Parliament actually sits, and even the hallways are absolutely gorgeous.

There are three of these $400,000 Waterford Crystal chandeliers in the Lower House. Of course, that value is from before the Waterford factory closed, so the value is higher now.
There are three of these $400,000 Waterford Crystal chandeliers in the Lower House. Of course, that value is from before the Waterford factory closed, so the value is higher now.

I’ve skipped over a few buildings that I went to, the Town Hall, Mission to Seafarers, the aforementioned Windsor Hotel and Myer Mural Hall. All absolutely wonderful places, but either my photos don’t do them justice (Town Hall), or it’s more about the things you learn about the building themself (Mission to Seafarers).

I finished up my weekend at the Melbourne Tram Museum in the old Hawthorn Tram Depot. It was probably the highlight for me, I’ve loved trams since I was a little kid, and getting to climb inside of restored trams from before I was born was kind of cool.

Look at them all!
Look at them all!

If you’re planning on being in Melbourne in July, I absolutely recommend you arrange your plans around Open House Weekend. It is a great way to not only see the sights of Melbourne, but more importantly, save money on tours, which you can then spend on seeing more of the city’s most amazing sights.

White Night 2015

Where: Melbourne, Victoria, Australia
What: All-Night Cultural Event
Website: White Night Melbourne

White Night
Flinders Street Station

If you could only be in Melbourne for one weekend, and want to see as much of the city as possible, choose White Night. From 7pm to 7am, parts of central Melbourne are lit up and dozens of  art installations, live performances and some truly bizarre stuff are on display.

Attracting well over half a million people, White Night is only in its third year, and the Andrews government has promised its continuation into the future. Like many artistic, and cultural events, it is very hard to describe to someone who hasn’t experienced it.

Artistic projections adorned some of the city’s historic buildings while local and international artists displayed multimedia art installations. Oddly enough, while there was local and world music on display, it was a quiet night in Australia’s Live Music capital.

There were moments of true wonder. The inside of the State Library Dome, during the light show and musical accompaniment of ‘Eat Me’ (there was a recurring ‘Wonderland’ theme in many of the larger sites). The 4 Elements projections at the Royal Exhibition Building was something to behold. Conversely, there were a few places where I would give the installations a miss. There’s a lot of weird stuff, but art is, of course, subjective.

White Night
Exhibition Building

I rushed it, and got to all of the sites in the space of six hours. It’s a heck of a hike, up and down streets, right up to the Exhibition Building, and Museum, and down to the Queen Victoria Gardens. Walking from one end to another is 2.5 km, and the majority of the sites are in an area three blocks wide. I suggest you spread it out. Take time to sit and watch some musicians, enjoy some food, or just see something you never thought you’d see. White Night has something for everyone.