Hoo boy, what a year it’s been for Melbourne. Big changes have occurred across our fine city over the past 12 months, so we’ve lassoed together some of the biggest and most memorable changes to happen across our city’s arts, culture, music, drinking and dining scenes.
We said hello lots of new bars and restaurants
St Kilda’s famous Italian restaurant Di Stasio opened a CBD outlet on Spring Street so you can eat fancy pasta lunches in the city. Meanwhile, over in Carlton, King and Godfree’s downstairs wine bar and restaurant Agostino’s opened its doors in May. We were also blessed with Daughter in Law, the new CBD Indian venture from Jessi Singh (order the Punjabi kadhi).
It wasn’t all fancy fine dining, either. Melbourne got lots of new casual eateries as well – including the incredibly OTT Korean sandwich joint Dari in Hardware Lane. Footscray was also blessed by the opening of a new lunchtime hotspot in the form of Pie Thief (order: the lasagne pie). And of course, there’s no ignoring Victoria’s first Taco Bell, which opened on Chapel Street in early December (it’s not usual to still see lines there, either).
Harry Potter and the Cursed Child opened at Princess Theatre
Potter fever hit Melbourne in full force in January when Australia’s (and the southern hemisphere’s) first production of Harry Potter and the Cursed Child opened at the Princess Theatre. The theatre got a complete renovation for the production – the reason why becomes pretty clear once you’ve seen the magical show.
Laneway Festival moved location for the second time
It was in 2010 thatLaneway Festival moved from its original home in Caledonian Lane to Footscray Community Arts Centre. But the festival proved once again that it was too popular to contain and moved to Footscray Park for the first time in February 2019. It’ll be back at the park in 2020, hosting the likes of Charli XCX, the 1975 and Tones and I.
After six hard-partying years, CBD nightclub Boney closed in early November 2019. The club was itself the phoenix that rose from the ashes of Pony – the nightclub of its era. Boney was the last port of call for many a late-night reveller, carrying over Pony’s 7am curfew while adding the option of dinner. But at least the Boney site was put to good use...
Cherry Bar closed... and then reopened at the old Boney site
Losing Boney was a big hit to Melbourne’s late-night scene, especially after beloved live music venue Cherry Bar announced it would be closing in ACDC lane only a few months prior. But in a win for ‘Burn City’s party animals, Cherry Bar reopened at the start of December at Boney’s old digs, ensuring that the location would live on as a hedonic hot spot.
The State Library reopened after an $88 million renovation
If you strolled past the magnificent 150-year-old State Library in 2019 you probably saw a lot of scaffolding. It all paid off, though, with the library reopening in December after an $88 million renovation. You can do a lot with that sort of budget, with the library now boasting 70 per cent more seating and 40 per cent more public space. It also allowed the library to reopen some of its grand old rooms that had previously been closed to the public.
White Night moved to winter and expanded to three nights
Since launching in Melbourne in 2013, White Night has become a hotly anticipated all-night party. Things got shaken up a little this year, though. The once 12-hour summer event was moved to the deep dark of winter, stretched over three nights and given a curfew of midnight to 2am. In 2020 it’ll change again as it’s merged with Melbourne International Arts Festival.
Melbourne’s environment got a few wins
The climate anxiety is real in 2019m but there were a few promising signs in Melbourne. The opening of a new solar plant in Numurkah meant that Melbourne’s trams were now entirely offset by solar energy. Lightweight plastic bags were banned across the state in November and a new recycling plant was opened, aiming to process 10 per cent of the state’s recyclable plastic waste. And smoking was banned in Bourke Street Mall in a win for shoppers' lungs.
We remember – Sisto Malaspina
In November 2018 Melbourne lost Sisto Malaspina, one of Pellegrini’s co-founders and a pillar of the city’s hospitality scene, when he was fatally stabbed in a terrorist attack. Melburnians rallied following the tragedy, surrounding the café with floral tributes. In November 2019, it was announced a permanent memorial – a table with an engraved portrait and three chairs – would be constructed outside Pellegrini’s.