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24 hours in Melbourne with Christian Marclay’s ‘The Clock’

Staying up all night in Melbourne is easy thanks to all-night restaurants and 24-hour video artworks

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Christian Marclay, The Clock, ACMI 2019
Photograph: Ben Westoby, courtesy White Cube, London Christian Marclay, 'The Clock' 2010

New York City might officially be the city that never sleeps but Melbourne sure does like to give it a run for its money. This city of night owls knows how to keep going at all hours and thanks to a ACMI’s latest temporary exhibition, Christian Marclay: The Clock, your late-night forays just got a lot cooler.

This 24-hour video montage shows time pass in real time using film clips of clocks and watches taken from cinema history. Every Thursday ACMI is showing the marathon work in full, meaning you can pop into the museum at any time of the night to watch a few scenes (or stay the whole night). Need some more all-hours inspiration? Here’s how to spend a 24 hours in Melbourne.

Coffee at Market Lane Coffee, Collins Street
Photograph: Supplied

Thursday 8am

Rise and shine! Start your day at one of Melbourne’s oldest and most loved food halls, Queen Victoria Market. Grab your first coffee for the day at Market Lane Coffee. The boutique roastery and café has two locations at the market – we recommend the Victoria Street site if you want a pastry and a sit-down.

Coffee and sandwich at Sun Moth
Photograph: Graham Denholm

Thursday 10am

Having brunch is one of Melbourne’s favourite pastimes, second only to talking about the weather. Engage wholeheartedly in the local late breakfast-early lunch ritual at Sun Moth. The Niagara Lane canteen and wine bar is tucked away from the bustling CBD streets and features a tight all-day menu complete with eggy breakfast faves, hunger-busting sangas and housemade pies.

Australian Centre for the Moving Image 2016 exterior 02 feat signage courtesy ACMI 2016 photographer credit Renee Stamatis
Photograph: Renee Stamatis

Thursday noon

Avoid the heat of the day with some screen time at ACMI. The centre houses some of Melbourne’s most interactive and engaging exhibits and there’s always something fun (and free) to do. Test your button-mashing and problem-solving abilities in the ACMI Games Lab, where you can play a host of games for free. Or check out the rest of the permanent Screen Worlds exhibit and learn more about the digital realm.

Hosier Lane 2017
Photograph: Graham Denholm

Thursday 3pm

Head over to Hosier Lane to see the latest works of street art on the alleyway walls. Everything from the walls to the skip bins gets spray painted regularly here with dozens of tourists dropping by each day to take photos. Want to skip the crowds? Centre Place and ACDC Lane also provide street-chic photo ops.

Arbory Burger at Arbory Bar and Eatery
Photograph: Supplied

Thursday 6pm

Feeling lucky? Try your hand at landing one of the coveted river-facing seats at the ultra-long counter bench at Arbory Bar and Eatery. Order an Aperol Spritz (it’s on tap) and one of the bar’s hefty burgers, then relax while watching the sun set over the Yarra.

Storm Riders ACMI 2018
Photograph: Supplied

Thursday 9pm

There really isn't another movie theatre in the CBD that can compete with the ACMI Cinemas. Unlike your average multiplex, ACMI carefully curates its films so you're only treated to the crème de la crème of classic and contemporary cinema. It's open until late daily, so drop in after dinner to watch something weird and wonderful. 

Gyros at Stalactites
Photograph: Graham Denholm

Friday midnight

Stifle your yawns with a coffee and souvlaki stop at Stalactites. This is Melbourne, dammit, and there is no way we’d let our citizens get stuck with just fast food come the witching hour. This 24/7 Greek restaurant has been run by the same family for more than 40 years. Yes, there are veggo options but it would be a crime not to eat the spit-roasted lamb.

Christian Marclay, 'The Clock' 2010
Photograph: Supplied

Friday 3am

From now until March 10, ACMI is screening Christian Marclay’s ‘The Clock’ in full every Thursday. The 24-hour video work splices together clips featuring times and timepieces from throughout film history, synched up to local time. Which means that when ‘The Clock’ shows a clip saying it’s 3.50am, your watch will say the same. You’ll see excerpts from everything from Night of the Living
and V for Vendetta to Pulp Fiction as well as plenty of scenes you might not recognise – you'd have to be one heck of a film buff to be able to name every clip. The artwork is wittily edited together and enormously entertaining to watch – the time will actually fly.  

Burger at Butchers Diner
Photograph: Butchers Diner

Friday 6am

Where would Melbourne's shift workers and insomniacs be without Butchers Diner? Hungry, that's where. This all-night diner does a damn fine burger as well as hot dogs, fried chicken, rolls and a greasy breakfast menu from 6am. Give your body a much needed shot of energy with a strong cup of coffee and a stack of buttermilk pancakes.

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