Not to be all "boy howdy 2020 did not turn out the way we thought" about it, but let's just say we at Time Out HQ spent a lot more time this year writing about R-naughts and a lot less time writing about live theatre than we usually do.
But there were still plenty of stories we really loved writing this year, from the history of one of the NGV's most popular paintings to the best lockdown lunches. Here are some of our favourites:
It's very difficult to remember, but we visited and reviewed a real-life escape room in January of this very year. Hacksaw is an escape room based on the film Saw, which arguably invented the concept of the escape room to begin with. True to the film, the staff here chain participants to pipes inside a dingy, carefully designed bathroom to start the game. Remember when that sounded like the scariest thing that could happen in 2020?
There were a lot of things sapping our productivity in 2020, but we're blaming Melbourne Zoo for its livestreams of penguins, snow leopards and even baby otters for stealing countless hours from us. The livestreams helped us connect with animals in the zoo when visiting was off the cards – and it's still a cool way to see them for people who can't make it to the zoo itself as often as they would like.
Admit it: we were pretty cocky when we started to emerge out of the first lockdown in June. But then came a certain C-word to crush our dreams and send us scurrying back to our spare rooms. This story on the differences between lockdown one and lockdown two really sums up the significant change in mood (Lockdown 1.0: Pledge to learn a new skill or hobby. Buy all the equipment. Lockdown 2.0: Watch your half-finished crochet project gather dust. Refuse to throw it away because of what that says about yourself.)
Being stuck inside made us reflect on the surprising things that make Melbourne, well, Melbourne. These are the 22 things you learn in your first year in our gorgeous city (unless your first year was this year, in which case, well, it's usually better than this. We promise).
If 2020 is anything (oh, and it's something), it is the year of the takeaway sandwich. Specifically, banh mi, which were our lockdown lunch of choice way more days than we'd care to admit. Here are the 13 best places to get banh mi in Melbourne.
Once we were finally permitted to venture beyond our immediate areas, we decided to really venture. We found these gorgeous natural wonders within an easy drive of Melbourne – there's a lot of making up for lost time to do.
One of our absolute favourite stories of the year is this deep dive into 'Anguish', the so-called 'sad sheep' painting at the NGV. Our arts editor learnt about the history of the painting, which is one of the most popular items in the gallery's permanent collection. You know the one: a mother sheep stands over the corpse of her lamb, while (really, very strangely large) crows encircle them both. It turns out the artist is actually the go-to 'sad sheep' guy, with sheep in mental distress now in galleries the world over.
And among the people hit hardest by 2020 were artists. We spoke to them about how they coped – and what hope they had for 2021.