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Things to do in Melbourne in October

October's best events all in one place – it's your social emergency saviour

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Rite of Spring Melbourne Festival 2019 supplied image
Photograph: Yijian Li

Wondering what to do in Melbourne in October? We can help. October is, of course, Melbourne Festival month, and there are a stack of beautiful, thought-provoking and just plain weird shows to get around. It'll also be a big month of eating, with two separate cheese festivals, two separate wine festivals and $2 oysters available all month at Stokebar. And you'll be wondering what to do for Halloween, of course.

Then check out our guide to all the fun things to do in Melbourne, including free attractionsart exhibitionstheatre showsactivities for kids and so much more. Plus, if it's a rainy day, consult our guide to Melbourne's best indoor activities instead.

Best things to do in Melbourne in October

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Still from the movie Speed (1994)
Photograph: 20th Century Fox
Film, Special screenings

Keanu Reeves-a-thon

icon-location-pin Lido Cinemas, Hawthorn
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Between 1990 and 1999, the number of babies named "Keanu" skyrocketed in the US. It’s no coincidence that these were the crucial ascendant years – beginning with Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure in ’89 and reaching the zenith of A-list Hollywood with the first Matrix movie in ‘99 – of the man, the mystery, the marvel that is, was and ever shall be Keanu Reeves. Whether you fell in love with his stoic, brooding portrayal of Jack Traven in Speed, his stoic, brooding portrayal of Neo in the Matrix trilogy, or perhaps his stoic, brooding portrayal of the anti-hero assassin John Wick, there’s no denying the stoic, brooding appeal of Reeves in whatever role he inhabits. Any Melburnians who are crazy for Keanu can now immerse themselves in an epic celebration of this modern-day matinee idol courtesy of the Lido Cinema in Hawthorn. Every Friday between October 18 and December 13, some of Reeves’ most beloved blockbusters will be getting an airing, including Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure, My Own Private Idaho, Point Break, Speed, The Matrix, The Lake House and John Wick. If despotic robot overlords wanted to enslave our bodies by hijacking our minds, well, a Keanu Reeves film fest would be one surefire way to do it. So plug in, sit back, and surrender to the two-month Keanu Reeves-a-thon.

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Razzmatazz DJs Caity and Ted against a pink backdrop
Photograph: Supplied
Clubs

Razzmatazz Indie Disco

icon-location-pin Globe Alley, Melbourne
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You might remember Razzmatazz as the party people responsible for some raging nights out at the Exford and the since-closed Ding Dong Lounge. But you can't stop indie music and Razzmatazz is back in action after a hiatus.  Razzmatazz Indie Disco runs on the first Friday of every month at its new home, Globe Alley. Resident DJs Caity and Ted are back too, spinning the indie classics from every era. Expect bangers spanning Bowie, Blur, Oasis, the Arctic Monkeys, the Cure and Chvrches.  Better still, the newly reincarnated Razzmatazz night is free to enter. That's more dosh to spend on Globe Alley's drink specials (or their jalepeño poppers). 

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A black flag with a red cross on it overlaid with "So much for my Fucking Optimism" in white gothic font
Photograph: Courtesy of the artist and Sarah Scout Presents, Melbourne and Hugo Michell Gallery, Adelaide
Art

Hope Dies Last

icon-location-pin Margaret Lawrence Gallery, Southbank
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Some exhibitions bring you joy. They lift your spirits by capturing the sublime beauty of the world, the whimsy of nature and the base altruism of humanity. This is not one of those exhibitions.  Hope Dies Last self-identifies as “one of the most depressing events of the year,” promising to leave audiences emotionally crippled and wracked with negativity. It puts the dead in deadpan, examining our own mortality, suffering and failure through the lens of gallows humour.  The exhibition (which is coming to Gertrude Contemporary and Margaret Lawrence Gallery as part of Melbourne Festival) picks away the final threads of hope that stop you from spiralling into the void. Hope Dies Here features works like Tony Garifalakis’s ‘Fucking Optimism’; a large black and red felt banner overlaid with ‘so much for my Fucking Optimism’ in a gothic typeface that serves as a fairly unsubtle metaphor for the entire exhibition.  Unsurprisingly Hope Dies Last contains adult themes so be mindful it may be unsettling. Bring a pal along for emotional support if you must but as Hope Dies Last ominously states, “we all arrive at the final exit alone.” Hope Dies Last is on at Gertrude Contemporary from Oct 5-Nov 9, and at Margaret Lawrence Gallery from Oct 18-Nov 14. Discover more, less disheartening events to check out at this year’s Melbourne Festival.

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Flight Darkfield Melbourne 2019 supplied
Photograph: Mihaela Bodlovic
Things to do, Pop-up locations

Flight

icon-location-pin Queensbridge Square, Southbank
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Here's a guaranteed way to not cure your fear of flying: step inside a plane cabin recreated inside a 40-foot shipping container, don a pair of high quality binaural headphones, and plunge headfirst into complete darkness. Flight is the latest immersive sound experience from Melbourne company Realscape Productions, the team behind the brilliantly scary Séance, which has had two successful runs in Melbourne. That experience was legitimately terrifying, conjuring up nefarious spirits inside a shipping container using nothing but cutting edge 3D sound design and some lowkey seat vibrations.  We don't know exactly what to expect from Flight, and that's part of the fun. What we do know is that the shipping container has been fitted out with seats and overhead baggage bins from a real commercial plane, adding to the authenticity of the experience. All we can really hope for is a safe landing, but judging by our Séance experience, we're not exactly optimistic.

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KAWS NGV 2019 supplied
Photograph: Tom Ross
Art

KAWS: Companionship in the Age of Loneliness

icon-location-pin NGV International, Southbank
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Even if you don't know his name, you're almost certainly familiar with Brian Donnelly's (aka KAWS) larger-than-life sculptures and paintings. Kaws take icons from cartoons and pop culture and reimagines them in vulnerable and unexpected situations. His signature? Their hands are marked with sharp crosses. For several decades, KAWS has been one of the world's most prolific contemporary artists and his work is equally in demand with major modern art galleries as it is with brands and pop artists. He's collaborated with MTV (and redesigned their Moonman in his signature style), Nike and Uniqlo, designed album covers for Kanye West and Towa Tei, and crashed New York's Museum of Modern Art's website when they sold a limited edition KAWS action figure. This new exhibition at the NGV (which is running at the same time as the gallery's Basquiat and Haring blockbuster) features paintings, sculptures, graphic design and product design, covering the full spectrum of his creative output. Central to the exhibition is a monumental sculpture, which is his largest work in bronze so far. And which characters should you expect to see? Well, definitely his take on Mickey Mouse, probably The Simpsons (or 'Kimpsons' in the world of KAWS) and maybe even Spongebob. Bringing your youngsters to the exhibition? Check out KAWS: Playtime, a brilliant interactive experience designed just for children.

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Photo: Courtesy of Warner Bros.
Film

Joker

It's the laugh that gets you: Joaquin Phoenix’s half cackle, half rasp has all the soothing aural balm of a vulture in a blender. It’ll be ratting around in your ears long after the old-school “The End” card flashes up on this unrelenting, grimly funny and brilliantly visceral reinvention of the DC supervillain. Joker is a truly nightmarish vision of late-era capitalism – arguably the best social horror film since Get Out – and Phoenix is magnetic in it. He runs Heath Ledger cigarette paper-close as the finest screen Joker. Like everything in this drum-tight movie, the title’s lack of pronoun is no accident: it’s not the fully formed Joker being introduced here, but Arthur Fleck, a man whose ambition to tell jokes for a living is at odds with the living he scraps as a clown-for-hire on Gotham’s grimy streets. Judging by the movies playing – Excalibur and Blow Out – it’s 1981, but it feels more like the ’70s of Death Wish. He lives with his frail mom (Frances Conroy) in a broken-down tenement, eking out a little joy watching a TV chat show hosted with oily relish by Murray Franklin (Robert De Niro). He’s on seven types of medication and has a neurological condition that causes him to laugh – OK, cackle – uncontrollably. In these domestic early scenes, Phoenix establishes Arthur as a man who sees himself less as an underdog than a mutt waiting to be put down. “I just don’t want to feel so bad anymore,” he says. And no wonder: It’s a seriously bleak world he inhabits, a citysc

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Polixeni Papapetrou, Olympia NGV 2019 supplied
© The estate of Polixeni Papapetrou
Art, Photography

Polixeni Papapetrou: Olympia

icon-location-pin The Ian Potter Centre: NGV Australia, Melbourne
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Polixeni Papapetrou was one of Australia’s leading contemporary photographers before her tragic death last year at the age of just 57. Best known for her images of children, particularly of her daughter Olympia and son Solomon dressed as characters from historical, artistic or imaginary settings, her work was frequently concerned with imagination, storytelling, childhood and issues of identity. Curated in conjunction with Papapetrou’s family, Olympia marks the first major museum retrospective of her work, bringing together never before seen works alongside those from celebrated series, including Phantomwise (2003), MY HEART - still full of her (2018), Eden (2016) and 2014’s Melancholia, which reflects on Papapetrou’s grief upon hearing her second, and ultimately terminal, cancer diagnosis.

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Woman on bench at Royal Botanic Gardens Victoria
Photograph: Royal Botanic Gardens Victoria
Things to do, Walks and tours

Forest Therapy

icon-location-pin Royal Botanic Gardens Victoria, Melbourne
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Living in the city sure is convenient, but sometimes we all need to trade the concrete jungle for an actual jungle. The Melbourne Royal Botanic Gardens are giving you the chance to experience the restorative powers of nature by offering forest therapy (or forest bathing) classes for city stress-heads. Just what is forest therapy? The idea began in Japan, where it’s called ‘shinrin-yoku’ and is said to improve your wellbeing by immersing yourself in nature. It’s since been recognised as an effective (and cheap) way to improve public health. The Royal Botanic Garden’s forest therapy walk includes a guided tour through the gardens designed to lower your blood pressure, pulse and stress levels through a series of activities. The gardens currently have two-hour and three-hour forest therapy session available – visit the website for the complete timetable and to book.

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People in chairs at a pop-up cinema
Photograph: Anton Rehrl
Film

American Express Openair Cinemas

icon-location-pin South Beach Reserve, St Kilda
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Screening a bunch of fresh new releases, golden oldies and critically acclaimed alternative films, American Express Openair Cinemas offers movie fanatics much more than the average cinematic experience. From October 9 until November 3, Yarra Park will be taken over by a packed program of live entertainment, dining, music and dog dates. Yes, that’s right, dogs. Proud puppy parents can snuggle up to their own wonder dogs while they settle in for a season of new release flicks, including Downton Abbey (Oct 25 and 27), Ad Astra (Nov 3), It: Chapter 2 (Oct 31), Once Upon a Time in Hollywood (Oct 9), Rocketman (Oct 10), Yesterday (Oct 18), Fast & Furious Presents: Hobbs & Shaw (Nov 11), Abominable (Nov 2), The Australian Dream (Oct 22) and plenty more.  You’re sure to work up an appetite with all the excitement, so grab a slice of something covered in cheese from the Italian masters at Ladro. They're curating a menu for the evening, complemented by beers by Urban Alley Brewery, aperatifs by Pimms and wine from Giesen Wines. Speaking of wine, every Wednesday has officially been coined Wine Wednesdays at American Express Openair Cinemas. Guests can sample Giesen Wines' full range and even purchase bottles at Happy Hour prices.  If you have an American Express Card membership, this will be is your golden ticket to the exclusive lounge area at the event. You’ll receive the VIP treatment, complete with a comfortable bean bag chair, blanket, movie snacks and the best view in the hous

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Batik Desert Lines Bendigo Art Gallery 2019 supplied
Photograph: Julia Murray
Art

Desert Lines: Batik from Central Australia

icon-location-pin Bendigo Art Gallery, Bendigo
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Batik – an Indonesian technique of dyeing fabric – was introduced to Indigenous women in 1971, and went on to play a pivotal role in the development of contemporary central desert art, placing women at the forefront of the burgeoning market and paving the way for working on canvas. Many of the women who began working in batik went on to become renowned painters, including Emily Kam Kngwarray, Peggy Napurrula Poulson, Tjunkaya Tapaya, Unurupa Kulyuru and Tjunkiya Napaltjarri. This exhibition brings more than 60 batik works from the National Gallery of Victoria’s collection to illustrate the unique and distinct batik styles of Pitjantjatjara, Anmatyerr, Alyawarr, Walpiri and Pintupi artists, and to examine the legacy of the technique on future generations of Indigenous desert artists.

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Haroon Mirza Pavilion for Optimisation supplied 2019 ACCA
Photograph: Bettina Matthiessen
Art

Haroon Mirza: The Construction of an Act

icon-location-pin Australian Centre for Contemporary Art - ACCA, Southbank
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There's a good chance you don't know Haroon Mirza's name just yet, but the London-based artist is making a huge impression overseas with his artworks, which combine installation, electricity and a frequently startling use of sound. This exhibition is Mirza's first solo show in Australia, and will utilise all of ACCA's gallery spaces as one giant musical instrument. From there, other artists will be invited into the space to collaborate. Read our interview with Mirza about all you'll experience in the exhibition.

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Harry Potter and the Cursed Child
Theatre, Drama

Harry Potter and the Cursed Child

icon-location-pin Princess Theatre, Melbourne
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A new batch of tickets to Harry Potter and the Cursed Child are going on sale on Tuesday May 7 at 11am. The tickets are for dates from February 5 to March 22. The first rule of Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, is that you don’t talk about Harry Potter and the Cursed Child. Safeguarding spoilers is an expected responsibility for anyone who attends the Potter-verse’s first on-stage outing. There’s even a hashtag: #KeepTheSecrets. But in truth (as far as theatre critique is concerned, at least), JK Rowling needn’t have worried. This marathon, five-hour spectacle has a plot so dense and sprawling, so wonderfully, unashamedly elaborate, it would take many thousands of words more than any theatre review to even scratch the surface. While we may have been sworn to secrecy about Cursed Child’s plot, we can reveal that the hype – and rarely has a piece of theatre ever generated such fever-pitched buzz – is entirely deserved. And not just because of the quality of the production. The masterminds behind the show – led by Rowling, playwright Jack Thorne and director John Tiffany – have not merely set out to put on a play, but rather craft a rich and detailed immersive experience. To this end, Melbourne’s Princess Theatre has undergone a top to bottom $6.5 million makeover, transforming its interiors to match a Hogwartsian, Potterfied aesthetic. If this sounds like an unnecessary extravagance, it’s probably an indication this play isn’t for you. The success of Cursed Child, which has

Time Out says
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Photo: Macall Polay/Warner Bros.
Film, Drama

The Goldfinch

It’s terrible when a beloved novel arrives onscreen with a self-important thud, and that’s putting it diplomatically in the case of The Goldfinch. Donna Tartt’s hushed 2013 bestseller, a Pulitzer Prize winner, divided opinion, with naysayers calling it young-adult fiction (as if that were easy to pull off). No one disputed, though, that the thing flew, swiftly touching on symbolic scenes of Manhattan terrorism and adolescent abandonment while burrowing toward a deeper preoccupation with the question of survival, of objects small and large. That animating spirit is exactly what’s missing from this overlong movie version, slackened by wall-to-wall sad music (not to mention sinful misappropriations of New Order and Radiohead), narcotised narration and a thematically deployed lens blur that begins to play like coyness. Baby Driver’s Ansel Elgort, never persuasive as a tortured soul, brings us into the character of Theodore Decker, who, at age 13, survived an explosion in the Metropolitan Museum of Art that claimed the life of his mother. Quaking from PTSD and rootlessness, young Theo (Wonderstruck’s Oakes Fegley, squinty but an improvement on Elgort) finds himself harbored by a WASPy, wealthy Upper East Side family, the Barbours, and their concerned, saintly matriarch (Nicole Kidman, touching in the film’s most effective turn). But just as that situation seems to be tipping toward permanence, Theo’s estranged alcoholic dad (a cartoonish Luke Wilson) and his trashy girlfriend (Sa

Time Out says
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High Tea Live
Photograph: Supplied
Things to do, Food and drink

High Tea Live

icon-location-pin Arts Centre Melbourne, Southbank
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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

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Things to do, Food and drink

Wonka Bar

icon-location-pin The Westin Melbourne, Melbourne
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Drawing inspiration from Charlie and the Chocolate Factory showing at Her Majesty's Theatre, the Westin is bringing a dedicated dessert and cocktail bar to its lobby, named the Wonka Bar, until January 2020. Darren Purchese from Burch and Purchese has teamed up with the kitchen crew at the Westin to create some truly remarkable and over-the-top desserts. Expect the likes of the Black Forest (in dessert form) with an actual chocolate river surrounded by cherries, chocolate sponge, a crunchy biscuit base, chocolate twigs and chocolate mushrooms. Unlike Charlie, you'll be able to purchase your golden ticket in the form of a gold chocolate bar, dark chocolate mousse, smoked vanilla ice cream with a salted caramel cream. For those with an 18+ palate, four candy-inspired cocktails will be available to buy from the Wonka Bar, like the vodka-based Blueberry Gumball, with blue curacao, raspberry balsamic and an ice sphere, garnished with popping candy and Persian fairy floss; or the chocolate lover's Pure Imagination, made with chocolate liqueur and sauce, garnished with actual chocolate. Those with kids can buy into the Children's High Tea at $49, which includes chocolate river cupcakes, golden ticket chocolate bars, an array of savoury finger sandwiches and drinks.  For the full-service experience, the Westin is also offering golden ticket packages, which include overnight accommodation, two A-reserve tickets to the musical, a copy of the book and two desserts from the Wonka Bar

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Roger Kemp: Visionary Modernist National Gallery of Victoria 2019 supplied
Photograph: Tom Ross
Art

Roger Kemp: Visionary Modernist

icon-location-pin The Ian Potter Centre: NGV Australia, Melbourne
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His name might not be as well known as some of his contemporaries, but Roger Kemp was one of Australia’s greatest abstractionists. Best known for his large-scale tapestries that hang in the great hall of the National Gallery of Victoria, during his lifetime Kemp eschewed figurative and landscape art in favour of a more metaphysical approach that sought to “make visible the invisible”. Now the National Gallery of Victoria will host the first major retrospective exhibition of Kemp’s work since his death in 1987. Developed in conjunction with the artist’s estate, the exhibition includes several works that have never been shown publicly before, and traces Kemp’s evolution as an artist, from his early Cezanne-inspired sketches to the geometric, stained glass-like paintings by which he made his name.

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Liquid Light NGV 2019
Image courtesy NGV
Art

Liquid Light: 500 Years of Venetian Glass

icon-location-pin NGV International, Southbank
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Venetian glass is known across the world for its vibrant colour, elaborate designs and exquisite craftsmanship, honed over centuries by traditional glassblowers on the Venetian island of Murano. In Liquid Light, the National Gallery of Victoria brings together their extensive collection of glass pieces to explore the development of the Venetian glass tradition, from the Golden Age of the 16th century to the postmodern creations of the Memphis Group. Highlights include a Games of Thrones-worthy 17th century goblet, complete with intertwining dragons coiling around the stem, and a contemporary patchwork vase by renowned Murano glass artist Fulvio Bianconi.

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Petrina Hicks, Bleached Gothic 2019 supplied NGV
© Petrina Hicks. Courtesy Michael Reid, Sydney; and This is No Fantasy, Melbourne.
Art, Photography

Petrina Hicks: Bleached Gothic

icon-location-pin The Ian Potter Centre: NGV Australia, Melbourne
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Petrina Hicks is one of the most instantly recognisable photographers working in Australia today, known for her large-scale, hyperreal works that co-opt the visual language of advertising and traditional portraiture to explore ideas around consumerism and the female experience. Yet, until now there has never been a major survey exhibition of her work. Bleached Gothic brings together more than 40 works from Hicks’s 15-year career, tracing her evolution from commercial photographer to awarded artist. Included in the exhibition are several works featuring albino artist and performer Lauren, whose ethereal appearance is one of the most recognisable features of Hicks’s work, alongside five video works that play with the concept of slow time to create a sense of menace and unease in the viewer.

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Gaol Experience theatre restaurant
Photograph: Supplied
Theatre, Comedy

The Gaol Experience Theatre Restaurant

icon-location-pin Old Melbourne Gaol, Melbourne
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In 2017, Melbourne suffered a mighty blow. Dracula’s, arguably Melbourne’s premiere theatre restaurant and cabaret venue, closed its glittery doors after 37 wild years of G-strings, pasties and ghost train rides. Luckily, Melbourne’s other two theatre restaurants were available to fill that void: Witches and Britches and Williamstown’s Titanic Theatre Restaurant. But in 2019 something new came along to add to the list. Say hello to the Gaol Experience, a dinner and show experience. As you might have guessed, it takes place in the Old Melbourne Gaol and dredges up the site’s 174-year history for a show that combines burlesque, sideshow and comedy.  Guests are served a two-course dinner in the original cell block of the City Watch House, which is the place where felons were brought to face justice when the jail was in operation. Fancy taking things up a notch? VIP guests can serve more time, kicking back cocktails in old jail cells as the evening goes on.  The show itself includes the talents of a team of inmates (also known as cabaret performers Queen of the Damned) and includes lots of classic songs – think anything from Tina Arena and Queen to Wolfmother and Beyoncé. And because it’s burlesque, you should expect some risqué scenes – these inmates were charged with indecent exposure, after all.  The show takes over four areas of the old jail and includes anything from laser beams to wanted photos and even a flash mob. Tickets start at $75, and you can organise special hen

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Kid splaying at KAWS playtime
Kids, Exhibitions

KAWS: Playtime

icon-location-pin NGV International, Southbank
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New York artist KAWS (aka Brian Donnelly) has brought his larger-than-life sculptures and paintings to the NGV this summer for KAWS: Companionship in the Age of Loneliness. Alongside this mega exhibition will be something for the littlest art fans. KAWS: Playtime is a free and immersive exhibition for kids that includes a number of hands-on activities that draw inspiration from KAWS’ work, especially his BFF character which is inspired by popular cartoon characters. The exhibition is on display until April 13 at NGV International and it’s free to attend.

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Cheeses for cheese making class at Henry and the Fox
Photograph: Supplied
Things to do, Classes and workshops

Cheese Making Masterclass at Henry and the Fox

icon-location-pin Henry and the Fox, Melbourne
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If you've ever wanted to make your own cheese, this is the masterclass for you. Henry and the Fox is offering a series of masterclasses to teach you how to make all kinds of cheese from around the world – and yes, tasting is encouraged.  Classes offered include everything from brie to tallegio to peccorino, halloumi and mozzarella, and each class is marked with a level of difficulty.  Each class is $89 per person, and they run for three hours. The classes include a glass of chardonnay or pinot noir on arrival, plus a shared cheese board. You'll also get to take home your cheesy creations at the end. 

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Babydrag with Morgan McMichaels
Photograph: Supplied
Things to do

Babydrag

icon-location-pin Sircuit Bar, Fitzroy
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Upcoming drag king and queens get the chance to practise their shows and refine their acts every Thursday night at Melbourne's favourite LGBTQIA+ venue (as voted by Time Out readers), Sircuit. Bio queens, drag queens, trash queens and drag kings all perform, and the event is hosted by famed drag queen Missy La ’Minx. It's a chance for up-and-coming performers to get experience, and for audiences of course it's a night of fantastic drag.  The bar offers $5 pints from 7pm until 10pm, and entry is free. 

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Tokosan
Things to do, Food and drink

Tokosan Ninja Nite Battles

icon-location-pin Tokosan, Prahran
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Have you ever wanted to be a part of your own Japanese game show? Well, wonder no more, because Tokosan holds pub trivia, Japanese-style, on the first Wednesday of every month, called Ninja Nite Battle. There are no ninjas, so you'll just have to use your imagination. Instead of flexing your brains, Ninja Nite Battles pits teams against each other in eating competitions, sumo wrestling, human curling (we don't know what this is, but we imagine it is ridiculous and awesome), takoyaki mouth catching (yes, that is catching a hot octopus fritter with your mouth) and many more – all performed while under the safe and calming influence of alcohol.  Aside from being extremely fun and potentially embarrassing, you get to win prizes along the way, as well as go up for larger prizes like a $100 dinner for two, bar tabs and merchandise. It is free to participate, but you do have to register each month.   

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Woman arranging vegetable stall
Photograph: Supplied
Things to do, Walks and tours

Preston Market Flavourhood tours

icon-location-pin Preston Market, Preston
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One of Melbourne’s largest and most delicious markets is now running tasting tours. Preston Market has launched Saturday morning food tours that curates some of the tastiest products on offer at this northside food hall.  The 2.5-hour tour walks guests through the market, introducing them to traders who will talk them through what they have on offer and how best to use their products in their own kitchens.  As well as getting to try organic produce, fresh seafood, deli items and Preston Market’s winning paella, guests on the tour will also get to try more unusual foodie finds like crocodile meat (which we’re informed can be cooked easily on a sandwich press if you want to jazz up your sad office lunch).  The Flavourhood tours run roughly twice a month, are $20 per person and include a progressive breakfast, coffee, Preston Market eco bag and a $5 market voucher. Tours are limited to ten people per tour and you can book online to secure your place.

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Random International Rain Room
Photograph: Creative Commons / Alexandermcnabb
Art, Installation

Rain Room

icon-location-pin Jackalope Pavilion, St Kilda
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UPDATE 23/09/19: More tickets will be released for Rain Room on October 1. Hold tight! It’s pretty common to get caught in the rain while walking around Melbourne. What’s less common is to get caught in the rain while walking around indoors in Melbourne – and even weirder when you realise that the rain is inexplicably falling everywhere except on you. Melbourne is the first city in the southern hemisphere to host ‘Rain Room’, an immersive artwork by London-based collective Random International. ‘Rain Room’ is one of Random International’s most famous works and has previously shown at the Barbican in London, MoMA in New York and at the Yuz Museum in Shanghai. Guests are invited into a darkened room filled with continuous rain. No need to bring an umbrella though because this rain won’t dampen your clothes or spirits. Thanks to motion sensors in the ceiling ‘Rain Room’ detects where visitors are and ensures a dry six-metre radius around guests. The artwork has been brought to Melbourne thanks to a collaboration between the currently closed ACMI and uber-luxe hotel Jackalope. Until October 31, you can experience the installation for yourself at the Jackalope Pavillion, a pop-up space on the corner of Acland and Jackson streets in St Kilda. Tickets are available now.

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Queer Deluxe at Bimbo
Photograph: Supplied
Things to do

Queer Deluxe

icon-location-pin Bimbo, Fitzroy
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Melbourne institution Bimbo (universally called Bimbo's) is celebrating LGBTQI pride each and every Sunday from 3pm.  Queer Deluxe is an all-inclusive day to relax, eat, drink, boogie and celebrate queer culture. There are performers, drag queens, DJs and drink specials, including $20 Bloody Mary, Spritz and Margarita cocktail jugs. Bimbo reopened after a devastating fire in May 2019 and has re-cemented its place in Melbourne's north for good times and great eats. And yes, of course, the pizza is still just $4.

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Yarra River at Arbory Afloat
Bars, Cocktail bars

Arbory Afloat

icon-location-pin Arbory Bar and Eatery, Melbourne
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Oh buoy! The team behind massive outdoor eatery and beer garden Arbory Bar and Eatery have brought back their famed floating bar and restaurant Arbory Afloat for the 2019/20 season. The giant floating pontoon has once again moored itself alongside Arbory’s permanent fixture beside platform 13 of Flinders Street Station. This year the bar will be taking inspiration from Miami in the '70s, with a pastel blue and pink colour palette and palm trees aplenty. The upper deck has been extended so there will be plenty of room to kick back, grab a drink and celebrate in your own private cabana.  Probably the most exciting part is the introduction of Arbory Afloat's own pool, which will be located on the upper deck level. Don't forget your bathers!  As well as boasting 360-degree views of the Yarra River and the CBD skyline, Arbory Afloat has an extensive cocktail list (think fruit-driven cocktails served over ice for those hotter-than-hot days) and a Mediterranean-inspired wine list. Hungry? You can dig into American-inspired wood-fired pizzas like the New Jersey pepperoni, the cheesy Chicago and the Boss, with provolone, pork sausage and barbecue sauce. There are also Miami-inspired sandwiches and a seafood bar with oysters, ceviche, kingfish tiradito and build-it-yourself fish tacos. For the second year running the live entertainment aboard Arbory Afloat has been curated by Sky Lab and will feature some of the country's buzziest DJs, who will be soundtracking your balmy eveni

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Gasworks Farmers' Market
Shopping, Markets

Gasworks Farmers' Market

icon-location-pin Gasworks Arts Park, Albert Park
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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. 

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Camberwell Markets
Photograph: Creative Commons
Shopping, Markets

Camberwell Sunday Market

icon-location-pin Around Camberwell, Camberwell
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Here’s a question: What can’t you find at the Camberwell Markets? This would have to undoubtedly be Melbourne’s biggest marketplace for pre-loved wares, with 370 stalls in total. From the most delicate string of vintage pearls to hardwood furniture, you and your home can get a reasonably cheap makeover from one Sunday morning's worth of rummaging. The layout of the markets does not divide stallholders by what they are selling, which encourages you to explore every nook and cranny of the outdoor marketplace. You may not think you need silver-sequinned glam rock boots, but just wait until you're trying them on, piping hot jam doughnut in the other hand.

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Slow Food Melbourne Farmers' Market
Shopping, Markets

Abbotsford Convent Farmers Market

icon-location-pin The Abbotsford Convent, Abbotsford
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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.

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High Cheese The Westin Melbourne
Things to do, Food and drink

High Cheese

icon-location-pin The Westin Melbourne, Melbourne
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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

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Boroondara Farmers' Market
Shopping, Markets

Boroondara Farmers' Market

icon-location-pin Patterson Reserve, Hawthorn
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After more than a decade, this Hawthorn market is less a hub of commerce and more a friendly get-together. Locals have been catching up with guys like Trevor from Red Hill Cheese for years, and before long, you'll spot him chatting over turnips across the reserve. Boroondara is also about spreading the love: their Grub Hub initiative encourages local cafés to order produce direct from the farmers. This market is accredited by the Victorian Farmers Market Association (VFMA) and is open the third and fifth Saturday of each month.

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Treats at Wonkariffic Kids High Tea
Kids, Food events

Wonkariffic Kids High Tea

icon-location-pin The Westin Melbourne, Melbourne
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While the adults are digging into the Wonka Bar at Melbourne’s Westin Hotel, kids can have their own fun.  To celebrate Charlie and the Chocolate Factory landing at Her Majesty's Theatre, the Westin Hotel is recreating its kid-friendly high tea with a little Wonka magic.  The Wonkariffic Kids High Tea includes three tiers of sweets crafted by the Westin’s Oompa Loompas… er, I mean pastry chefs. There’s everything from chocolate river cupcakes, honeycomb and chocolate mousse, cucumber finger sandwiches, violet and almond gobstopper cookies and even a golden ticket milk chocolate bar.  Thirsty? Kids can take choose from Violet Beauregard’s bubblegum milkshake, hot chocolate, juices or soft drink to wash down all the sweets.  When partaking in the Wonkariffic High Tea, all kids will receive a limited edition Charlie and the Chocolate Factory book by Roald Dahl to take home.  The high tea is aimed at children four to 12-years-old and costs $49 per child.

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Dumplings 'N' Massage at Horse Bazaar
Photograph: Supplied
Things to do, Food and drink

Dumplings ‘N’ Massage at Horse Bazaar

icon-location-pin Horse Bazaar, Melbourne
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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.

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Bingo Academy at Tokyo Tina
Photograph: Supplied
Things to do, Food and drink

Bingo Academy at Tokyo Tina

icon-location-pin Tokyo Tina, Windsor
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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.

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Carlton Farmers' Market
Shopping, Markets

Carlton Farmers' Market

icon-location-pin Carlton North Primary School, Carlton North
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Carlton Farmers' Market opened in 2014, much to the delight of locals searching for a way to get closer to the source of their food. Farmers' Markets offer shoppers the unique opportunity to put faces to names of their favourite local producers, and to take home a basket of tasty, ethically grown groceries. Head over to the Carlton Primary School and you'll find stall holders offering everything from freshly baked bread from Flinders Sourdough to eggs from The Old Farm Happy Valley in Flowerdale. While you're there, why not grab a bag of juicy cherries from CherryHill, or a glass of fresh juice from The Orange Lady? Of course, no Melbourne market would be complete without barista coffee. We're gearing up for a latte from Bean Rollin'. Yes, it’s a classic 1970s campervan, retrofitted to accommodate baristas brewing top-notch coffees through espresso, press and filter methods. Stewart and his team are a welcome sight at markets and festivals around Melbourne. They use locally roasted beans as well as locally produced chocolate, milk and tea. The Carlton Farmers' Market runs monthly on the first and third Saturday of each month. Visit our full round-up of farmers' markets in Melbourne to discover all the markets occuring in suburbs across the city.

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Ben Oliver leading a Drinking History Tour
Photograph: Supplied
Things to do

Drinking History Tours

icon-location-pin Multiple venues
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One of the best ways to learn about Melbourne is on foot, with an experienced guide pointing out nooks and crannies you might otherwise miss and telling entertaining stories about Melbourne's colourful past. But walking and learning are thirsty work, no?  Enter Drinking History Tours, which will take you on a tour down laneways, up alleys and through hidden parts of Melbourne or Fitzroy to teach you about the city's hidden gems and secret histories. And most importantly, the tours include stops at three fantastic Melbourne bars along the way.  The Melbourne tour takes in Federation Square, the Forum, the MCG, AC/DC Lane, the Old Treasury Building, Chinatown and more. The tour stops at three bars en route, and there are snacks at the second bar and a full dinner at the third. You'll learn fascinating stories about Melbourne's seedy past, including tales of murder, brothels and a centuries-old unsolved mystery. The Fitzroy tour starts at St Patrick's Cathedral and includes the Royal Exhibition Building, the Spanish Club, Brunswick Street, Johnston Street and laneways in between. You'll learn about Fitzroy's seedier side, including the epic battle between Squizzy Taylor and his archrival, as well as fun facts about the suburb's art and music scene. It also stops at three bars along the way: an old Melbourne stalwart, a reinvented hipster hangout and one of Melbourne's best cocktail bars.  Founder Ben Oliver has worked as a guide for years, including five years running Melb

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Plants at Rose Street Artists' Market
Shopping, Markets

Rose Street Artists' Market

icon-location-pin Around Fitzroy, Fitzroy
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Each Saturday and Sunday the Rose Street Market gathers some of Melbourne's most exciting artists and designers to display their wares and talk all things handmade. Weave your way through the crowds and duck into the warehouse to check out the handmade fashion, food and curios for sale. The artists are usually on hand to compare crochet needles and discuss their work, so drop in for a squiz, a chat and a haircut from the resident hairdresser.

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Melbourne Book Market Queen Victoria Market
Photograph: Supplied
Shopping, Markets

Melbourne Book Market

icon-location-pin Queen Victoria Market, Melbourne
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The famous weekly Fed Square book market shut up shop in 2017, much to the despair of Melbourne's bibliophile community. But the closure was only a temporary one, with the free market now open at Queen Victoria Market every Sunday till December 15. Whether you eat, sleep and breathe books or are just curious, the market has over 5,000 new and second-hand titles to browse from. From sci-fi to non-fiction, the Melbourne Book Market has every genre presented by a revolving cast of veteran Melbourne booksellers. Tweed jackets are encouraged, but not compulsory. There will be around 20 pop-up stalls giving bibliophiles plenty of options to spend all their life savings on, including stalls by the founding members of the book market. After deciding on your next bedtime read take some time to stroll around the market and check off your grocery list with the fresh produce or go into one of the cafés and satiate your hunger. For more information on the next market visit the Queen Victoria Market website or the Melbourne Book Market Facebook page.  

More things to do in Melbourne this month

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Pouring drinks at Bar Liberty
Photograph: Graham Denholm
Bars, Cocktail bars

The 50 best bars in Melbourne right now

Here is Melbourne viewed through the bottom of a glass: from its world-beating cocktail lounges to its down-and-divey saloons. These bars represent the pinnacle of Melbourne drinking.

Princes Bridge. Melbourne
Photograph: Robert Blackburn
Things to do

The best free things to do in Melbourne

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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Meow Meow Apocalypse Meow Crisis is Born Malthouse 2019
Photograph: Magnus Hastings
Theatre

Melbourne theatre and musicals in November

This November is a great time for theatre-loving Melburnians, with shows in just about every corner of the city; and just about every entertainment box ticked. Melbourne Theatre Company is donning its dance shoes for Kiss of the Spider Woman, while Malthouse is taking on Christmas with the help of cabaret chanteuse Meow Meow. There's plenty of indie theatre happening in our smallest and most daring venues and some international comedy superstars headed our way.

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Great Otway National Park
Photograph: Robert Blackburn
Travel, Short getaways

The best day trips from Melbourne

If you're looking for a break from the inner-city grid, there's no better cure than a day trip from Melbourne. The state of Victoria is full of friendly neighbourhood towns, whether you're in the mood for a winery tour, a road trip or a national park to explore.

People browsing through clothing at a market stall
Photograph: Supplied
Shopping, Markets

The best markets in Melbourne

Borrow your nanna's tartan shopping trolley and venture out to one of Melbourne's best markets for farm-fresh produce, designer homewares, vintage fashions and tasty street food.

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Seafood bowl at Uni Boom Boom
Photograph: Parker Blain
Restaurants

The best new restaurants in Melbourne right now

If you love food and live in Melbourne, your 'must-try' list of new restaurants, cafés and bars probably takes up your phone's entire storage capacity by now. Luckily, we've put together a curated list of the newest, hottest and coolest restaurants our critics are raving about. 

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