Best things to do in Melbourne in December
Beneath the grey spires of the historic Abbotsford Convent is a market that champions small-time growers. The market is managed by social enterprise Melbourne Farmers Markets (MFM) who connect Victorian farmers and food producers with several urban neighbourhoods in Melbourne. Open the fourth Saturday of each month, seasonal, organic food is king here, and learning about the origins of your produce is half the fun. This farmers market is plastic bag free so remember to BYO carry bags. Entry is $2 and it runs from 8am to 1pm.
It’s two years since our Hannah Gadsby thought she was leaving comedy with her show Nanette. That didn’t work. She’s now living in LA, has a stylist, and has been seen by millions on Netflix. She’s come home to Melbourne to premiere her new show, Douglas. It’s sold out. In a venue with 2,466 seats. Douglas is the epilogue to Nanette, written in its aftermath. It’s an easier show to experience but it’s still as blistering. She explains how a decade of doing comedy “by the rules” gave her success but became so restricting that Nanette was inevitable. She’s still getting told that what she does isn’t comedy. Belittle away little men (if you've read the comments, you know one gender dominates); no one else cares. Douglas is about how words and names are used to belittle and dismiss. Douglas is also one of Hannah’s gorgeous and loved dogs. He was named because of a paperwork mistake and he’s a far better soul than the small-hearted country-town barista, Nanette, who was immortalised in a show that wasn’t about her. The walk with Douglas draws a remarkable pattern and map though a suburban dog park, being fitted for custom-made suit for the Emmys (don’t go on a diet, get a tailor!), a laser-pointer look at Renaissance art, a doctor’s office and a moment when a word was unforgivable. Words and names have so much intentional and unintentional power. “It’s not comedy” is trying to kick Nanette in the back of the knee. Doctors dismiss women as “hormonal” or “depressed” instead
When it comes to comfort foods dumplings are pretty high on the list. The team at Horse Bazaar are taking dumplings to a whole new level of cosy by offering a dumpling and massage combo on Tuesday nights. Every Tuesday night at Horse Bazaar is Dumplings 'N' Massage night where you can get three dumplings and a ten-minute massage for $15 (plus online booking fee). There are six flavours to choose from ranging from Horse Bazaar's classic pork and vegan dumplings to stranger concoctions like fried cheese, Nutella and nuts and the very experimental 'Aussie breakfast' dumpling (that's egg, bacon and Vegemite). Your massage will be delivered by resident masseuses from Soul Aquarian Therapy who will work the knots from your back as you work the dumplings into your mouth. Make the worst day of the week just a little bit better – Dumplings 'N' Massage is on every Tuesday at Horse Bazaar. Bookings are a must and can be made online.
What’s better than gorging yourself on scones, finger sandwiches and Champagne at a regular high tea? Gorging yourself on piles and piles of cheese at the Westin’s un-brie-lievable High Cheese event. Yes, the insanely successful, sold-out event is back for 2019. The idea for High Cheese began when Westin executive chef Michael Greenlaw teamed up with Anthony Demia from Maker and Monger to bring a series of cheeses together in both sweet and savoury dishes. Now extended until December 31, High Cheese brings some favourites from last year's menu plus a few new additions to the table. Traditional scones and cream are swapped out for L'amuse Signature Gouda scones served with whipped spiced butter. There's also black truffle, porcini and walnut layered Brie Fermier la Tremblaye; Swiss Gruyere Vieux Gougères with burnt green leek; and Marcel Petite Comté Réservation custard tarts for the savoury section. For the sweeter side, there's poached French pear with stracciatella, fresh honeycomb and smoked roasted macadamia crumble; ruby chocolate parfait with Brillat Savarin Frais and raspberry jam; caramelised salted white chocolate tiramisu; plus ricotta cassata cannoli. The coup de gras (pun intended) is the whole baked Normandy camembert served with lavosh that you can dip right into the cheese, like your very own cheese fondue. Holy cheesus. The Westin's High Cheese is priced at $70 per person and is available every day from 5pm. Guests can also add on a wine pairing which
Tokyo Tina is entering Melbourne's overstuffed brunch scene, but it is doing things a little differently. They've launched 'bingo academy' – a rather illustrious title for what is essentially a boozy, Japanese-style brunch with some bingo thrown in. Every Saturday the venue runs bingo brunches complete with Bloody Marys, bottomless Aperol spritzes, bubbly and beer. Feast on Tokyo Tina's sumptuous brunch menu which includes salmon tartare, karaage chicken, steamed snapper and pork belly bao. The bingo itself will be hosted by a bunch of local comedians (including the giggle-inducing Granny Bingo trio, who will give you a new appreciation of the age-old game). Plus you can win prizes like restaurant vouchers, temporary control of the jukebox and bragging rights. Tokyo Tina's bingo academy is on every Saturday from 1-3pm. It's $69 per person for bottomless booze and food or $49 for food only.
What do zoo animals get up to when all the daytime visitors have headed back to their cars? Quite a lot, it turns out, with many African animals most active at dusk. That makes Werribee Open Range Zoo's Sunset Safari the perfect time to see giraffes, rhinoceroses, elands, zebras, scimitar-horned oryxes, hippopotamuses and other incredible African animals. Visitors are divided up into two groups, Kipenzi and Lataba (named after two of the zoo's seven rhinos). There are three activities on the night, but the order changes by group. Everyone gets a welcome drink on arrival, after which the groups go their separate ways. One part of the night is an African drumming and dancing performance, which includes a workshop on how to do some of the simpler moves. A second part is an African feast, where visitors can enjoy tagine, couscous, salads and other delights, all topped off with a chocolate fountain, into which you can dip marshmallows, strawberries and meringue pieces. The best part, and the reason for the event, is the safari itself. Visitors pile onto the safari buses and travel out to the 45-hectare open savannah section of the zoo. Sunset is the best time to see the magnificent creatures who live here, and safari guests will get to see all kinds of cool African wildlife at their most active. The luckiest group goes out at the same time as the truck that delivers their food, which is sure to bring the animals running from all corners of the savannah. Proceeds from the ni
The Old Melbourne Gaol closed in 1929, but by then there had already been more than 130 hangings in its 80-odd years of operation. The site housed some of Australia's most notorious criminals as well as prisoners who were unlucky enough to be caught up in the period's punitive justice system. And that means there are plenty of former residents at the gaol who never "moved on". The Old Melbourne Gaol's 'Ghosts? What Ghosts!' tour takes a group of intrepid guests through the gaol after hours. As you walk through the gaol in the semi-darkness you'll be told about some of the most spooky sightings that have been witnessed, as well as see photos taken of suspected ghosts. Both staff and visitors at the gaol have had unusual things happen to them within the prison walls, and anyone who values their life should stay away from cell 17 – the gaol's most haunted room. Guests also get roughly ten minutes to explore the gaol with the lights on at the end of the tour. Arrive at 8.15pm for an 8.30pm start.
On the first Sunday of the month Arts Centre Melbourne host High Tea Live, a traditional high tea with a different live act every month. Performances range from jazz to broadway and it's all paired with a traditional three-tier cake stand of sweet and savoury tea favourites. Make sure you leave room for the scones though – these fluffy, golden nuggets are served still warm from the oven. Held upstairs in the Arts Centre Melbourne's Pavilion function space, High Tea Live is just fancy enough to impress without feeling stuffy. The sparkling wine on arrival is a nice touch, as is the free-flowing tea and coffee that staff will happily top up for you throughout the musical performance. Note that High Tea Live seats guests at eight-person tables. If you're not feeling up to meeting new people then make sure you book in with seven of your friends. The 2019 High Tea Live line-up kicks off with a family event called High Tea Party. Kids and their parents will enjoy snacks (yes, mum and dad still get that glass of bubbly) before getting to bop around with Andrew McClelland's Starting School, Anna Go-Go and All Day Fritz. Other High Tea Live sessions includes Lady Be Good (an Ella Fitzgerald-inspired event with Nina Ferro), What the World Needs Now (a high energy celebration of the 60s with Melissa Langton and Mark Jones), Exposing Edith (where Michaela Burger and Greg Wain will showcase the songs of the legendary French singer Edith Piaf) and Michael Cormick sings the hits of Broad
If all you sell is raspberries (or olives, or rhubarb, or honey), then you've got to have a pretty strong passion for them. Every third Saturday of the month, enthusiasm for high quality local produce runs like electricity at this Port Melbourne arts space, and your tastebuds will feel it too.Grab a fresh, crusty baguette to go with your market haul salad for later, stock up on seasonal produce and a treat or two for afternoon tea (handmade chocolate biscuits, anyone?).The Gasworks Farmers' Market is plastic free so make sure to bring your reusable bags, baskets and coffee cups.
You don't have to have political aspirations to enjoy the tour at Parliament House. For one, it's free, and who doesn't like a freebie? Aside from walking in the same hallowed halls as our current and former state pollies, the tour takes in the incredibly ornate architecture and reveals some of the building's less illustrious moments. Like when a cricket ball broke Queen Victoria's arm (sort of). You're welcome to take photos and videos on the tour, which you'll want to do for a selfie on one of the parliamentary benches (see if you can find where your local member sits). There are also two 20-minute express tours every day for the time poor. No need to book – just turn up on time for your chosen tour on any week day when parliament is not sitting. Parliament house tours run eight times a day on non-sitting days at 9.30am, 10.30am, 11.30am, 1pm (express tour), 1.30pm, 2.30pm, 3.30pm and 4pm (express tour). Consult the parliamentary calendar to find out what days parliament isn't sitting.
More things to do in Melbourne this month
Find all the best art exhibitions in Melbourne over the next few weeks.
Major musicals are a bit thin on the ground in Melbourne this July, but there's one biggie opening: Broadway hit Come from Away. There's plenty of other shows on this month, including Malthouse's blistering one-woman version of Wake in Fright, and Melbourne Theatre Company's biggest show of the year, Shakespeare in Love is opening. Harry Potter and the Cursed Child is still going strong at the Princess Theatre, but if you prefer something a little left-of-centre, immersive theatre experience A Midnight Visit is making its Melbourne debut.
Guess what? Not everything in Melbourne costs a bunch of money. From art shows to coffee tastings, there are a bunch of things to do in this fine city that you can do for free – here are our favourites.
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From food to laneways, drinking to ghosts, these tours are the best way to get to know a different side of Melbourne.
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Looking for a movie to see this week in Melbourne? Check out the latest releases in Australian cinemas, all reviewed by Time Out critics.