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Imaginaria
Photograph: William Hamilton-Coates/Supplied

Things to do in Melbourne this weekend

Venture out safely this weekend and enjoy all these safe outdoor activities or stay home with virtual events and food delivery

By Rebecca Russo, Nicola Dowse and Cassidy Knowlton
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Melbourne's slowly making its way out of lockdown so check out our curated guide to all the fun things to do in Melbourne right now. Many performances, museums and venues have closed and cancelled, but creative Melburnians have translated things online so you don't have to miss out. Here's a list of things to do at home while we all stay safe.

Here are Melbourne's current physical distancing rules explained and a guide to helping your fellow Melburnians who might be struggling.  

Things to do in Melbourne this weekend

It’s a Wonderful Life film screenshot
Photograph: National Telefilm As

1. Watch a free film screening at Fed Square

Film Federation Square, Melbourne

Get into the holiday spirit with free screenings of some favourite family films at Federation Square. The precinct is screening two all-ages films every weekend in the lead up to Christmas, including recent hits and nostalgic gems.

This year the program features films like HugoInstant FamilyDaddy's HomePlanes, Trains and Automobiles, and the Christmastime classic, It's a Wonderful Life

Juniperlooza cocktails
Photograph: Supplied

2. Drink up at Juniperlooza

Bars Pilgrim, Melbourne

Head down to the Yarra for Juniperlooza: a summer gin festival celebrating the herbaceous spirit. After a stint down river at the Boatbuilders Yard, Juniperlooza is back where it started at Pilgrim, just below Fed Square. This year the festival will be an all summer affair, with Juniperlooza running for the duration of the season. There will be 70 gin labels from 30 different producers available to taste, with Pilgrim running interactive talk and taste sessions for gin enthusiasts.

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Classic Cinemas
Photograph: Supplied

3. Watch a flick on Classic's rooftop

Film Outdoor cinema Classic Cinemas, Elsternwick

Classic Cinemas holds the claim to fame as is the longest continuously operating cinema in Victoria. It boasts ten indoor screens and now has the new Classic Rooftop, with nightly 9pm screenings all through summer and until Easter.

Random International Rain Room
Photograph: Creative Commons / Alexandermcnabb

4. Head back to the Rain Room

Art Installation Jackalope Pavilion, St Kilda

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.

 

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Bar Saracen's hummus
Photograph: Anthony Rahayel

5. Eat up at Sarafian's Sunday Saracen Sessions

Restaurants Rumi, Brunswick East

Chef Tom Sarafian of Bar Saracen (famed for its hummus) and Middle Eastern restaurant Rumi recently launched Sarafian’s Sunday Saracen Sessions so those looking for a final weekend pick-me-up have something to gear up for.

It’s a place where you’re promised good food in the way of a rotating set menu featuring charcoal-grilled dishes and good times with live DJs and flowing arak, Brick Lane beers, cocktails and wine courtesy of Georgia Colbert.

Pasta Face food truck
Photograph: Pasta Face/Supplied

6. Head to the Festive Food Truck Stop

Things to do Food and drink Queen Victoria Market, Melbourne

So it might not be the Summer Night Market that we remember, but Queen Victoria Market is still keen to get you enjoying summer surrounded by good food. This year, because of you-know-what, Queen Vic Market will be running its first night-time activation since March in the form of the Festive Food Truck Stop. Every Wednesday night from November 25, some of Melbourne’s best food trucks will be gathering near the hallowed market sheds to sell everything from bao buns to burgers, tacos, smoked barbecue meats and mango lassis.

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Woman wearing a santa hat walking between pine trees
Photograph: Supplied

7. Go buy a real Christmas tree

Shopping Homewares

The convenience of a plastic Christmas tree can be very alluring, but why not get into the festive spirit and opt for a real Christmas tree this year? The scent of natural pine will have you feeling more festive than ever, plus real trees are less flammable when fresh and are often a greener alternative than artificial trees. Christmas tree farms are scattered throughout Melbourne and Victoria, so your options for purchase or delivery are plentiful.

Person at Sunda
Photograph: Graham Denholm

8. Eat well at Sunda's pop-up Summer Exp

Restaurants 1 Bourke St, Melbourne

Modern Southeast Asian diner Sunda’s spin-off venue is set to make its debut on December 5. Sunda will preserve its lockdown collect and delivery service (Sunda Exp) in a semi-permanent residency known as Summer Exp at 1 Bourke Street. The pop-up will be headed by chef Nabil Ansari, known for his delicious side hustle Indian delivery concept Ansari, and its menu was designed by pâté-en-croûte-obsessed executive chef Khanh Nguyen.

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Geraldine Hickey and Rhys Nicholson holding mikes. Hickey looks like she is speaking while Nicholson looks on
Photograph: Comedy Republic

9. See live comedy at Comedy Republic

Comedy Comedy Republic, Melbourne

There’s a thin line between comedy and tragedy, so reason suggests that all of Victoria could do with a bit of a laugh after this year. To help you in that endeavour, Melbourne’s shiny new purpose-built comedy theatre, Comedy Republic, is launching itself into summer with a bananas program featuring 30 shows within 30 days, including (gasp) live, in-person gigs. The Comedy Republic spring/summer program launches November 26 and features some of the country’s biggest and best comedians, as well as bright up and coming talents.

Horn Please
Photograph: Supplied/Peter Tarasiuk

10. Dig into all-you-can-eat vegan at Horn Please

Things to do Food and drink Horn Please, Fitzroy North

Every Sunday, the modern-Indian North Fitzroy diner Horn Please is running an all-you-can-eat vegan dinner night. Don't fear! It won't be a sad affair where there is a huge trough of dahl and mountains of stale bread. Instead, there will be a roster of five vegan curries and three entrees (spinach pakora, papadam and Colonel Tso's cauliflower) all served with rice and naan. The menu will include dishes like a dahl, aloo gobi, chana masala, red kidney beans and coconut curry.

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Koorie Art Show 2020
Photograph: Supplied

11. View this year's Koorie Art Show

Art Galleries Your Place, Melbourne

The Koorie Heritage Trust will host its eighth annual Koorie Art Show this summer, with a digital twist. As with many events this year, the opening night and awards ceremony will be held online, with 125 artists angling for a bite of the non-acquisitive, $32,000 prize pool. The annual Koorie Art Show is the only exhibition in the state dedicated to showcasing works solely from Koorie and Victorian-based Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander artists. After a statewide callout, the show has attracted artists early in their careers right up to established practitioners, with both traditional and contemporary styles represented.

Children picking cherries at Cherry Hill Pick Your Own
Photograph: Supplied

12. Pick-your-own-cherries at CherryHill Orchards

Things to do Food and drink CherryHill Orchards, Yarra Valley

Is there anything better than fresh summer fruit? Maybe being able to pick your own straight from the orchardsThis summer you’re invited to pick your own cherries at CherryHill Orchards in the Yarra Valley. This picturesque property produces some of the country’s finest cherries, and the CherryHill team are opening their doors to the public this year for picking season. CherryHill Orchards will be open every day throughout cherry season (excluding Christmas Day), which runs from November 30 to early January.

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A small child standing in a dreamlike, foggy room lit blue and purple
Photograph: Supplied / Arize PR

13. Explore the luminous Imaginaria

Things to do The District Docklands, Docklands

The District Docklands is getting a glow-up this November as it launches Imaginaria –  a magical "future play experience". In layman's terms, Melbourne, you're getting a giant, glowing, otherworldy all-ages playground to explore this summer. Imaginaria will allow (let's be honest, event-starved) Melburnians to explore fantastic custom-built, interactive structures like a giant inflatable bubble, glowing light maze, and a "cosmic abyss". The whole installation features bespoke sound, light and even scents that are activated as guests explore the dreamscape.

Miss Fisher and the Crypt of Tears: The Exhibition
Miss Fisher and the Crypt of Tears: The Exhibition

14. Visit the Miss Fisher and the Crypt of Tears exhibition

Things to do Exhibitions Rippon Lea House and Gardens, Elsternwick

Fans of 'lady detective' Phryne Fisher will want to dust off their best sequins and fancy hats for this one: the world of Miss Fisher is taking over Rippon Lea Estate. The exhibition is filled with glitz, glamour and adventure, and visitors can solve their own interactive mystery. The exhibition also includes plenty of props and costumes from Miss Fisher and the Crypt of Tears, the feature film based on the hugely popular TV series. Some of these costumes have never been exhibited before, and they are sure to impress.

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Queens of the Damned Gaol Experience
Photograph: Queens of the Damned/Supplied

15. The Gaol Experience Theatre Restaurant returns!

Theatre Comedy Old Melbourne Gaol, Melbourne

Melbourne, say hello to the Gaol Experience, a dinner and show experience that launched in 2019. As you might have guessed, it takes place in the Old Melbourne Gaol and dredges up the site’s 175-year history for a show that combines burlesque, sideshow and comedy. Guests are served a two-course dinner in the original cell block, 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. 

Tiwi Islands Exhibition NGV
Photograph: Courtesy of National

16. Head to the NGV's Tiwi exhibition

Art The Ian Potter Centre: NGV Australia, Melbourne

The NGV is bringing the largest ever exhibition of Tiwi art to Melbourne this November, showcasing 70 artists and nearly 300 works in Tiwi. The works presented in Tiwi date from 1911 right up to the present day, but don’t come expecting a chronological tour. Instead, the exhibition will present the works in the context of Tiwi art and culture, including their two primary cultural events: the pukumani (mourning) and kulama (coming of age) ceremonies.

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A family eating pizza on a beach while a man in the foreground gestures a them wildly
Photograph: Supplied / Asha Holmes Publicity

17. Enjoy the Italian Film Festival

Film Around Melbourne, Melbourne

The Palace Cinemas franchise was started by the Zeccola brothers, who arrived in Melbourne in 1957 and opened cinemas for the purpose of screening Italian films to fellow migrants. In the late 1990s, Palace launched the Italian Film Festival as a showcase of the latest movies from the homeland. This year Melbourne will throw three (three!) opening night events across the city, at Palace Como, Westgarth and Balwyn. Each cinema will screen a different highlight film, plus guests receive a complimentary glass of Il Fiore prosecco and a gift bag.

Two doll heads on a yellow backdrop with a wooden boomerang in front of them
Photograph: Supplied © Destiny Deacon

18. Head to the NGV's Destiny Deacon exhibition

Art Photography The Ian Potter Centre: NGV Australia, Melbourne

It’s difficult to believe that it’s been 15 years since Destiny Deacon has had a solo exhibition. The Torres Strait Islander artist’s work offers a darkly funny and frequently poignant look at contemporary Australian life. Deacon is best known for her photography, but there’ll be more than 100 multidisciplinary works on show, including video, sculpture and installation, drawn from 30 years of work. You'll be able to see some of Deacon's earliest video works (created in partnership with the late Wiradjuri and Kamilaroi photographer Michael Riley) as well new commissions created in collaboration with long-time collaborator and fellow artist Virginia Fraser (who worked with Deacon on the renowned 2005 installation 'Colourblinded').

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Screengrab from Isolation escape room
Photograph: Escape Room

19. Play this gripping online escape room Isolation

Things to do Your Place, Melbourne

Escape rooms are fast becoming one of Melbourne's favourite way to have fun, but it was not always thus. Psychologist Owen Spear brought the concept to Melbourne after falling in love with escape rooms during a trip to Budapest. His first Melbourne venue was at the bottom of his mother's garden, and the South Melbourne incarnation features new fiendishly created rooms. The original Escape Room has also launched a very 2020 room, called, appropriately, Isolation. The room is entirely virtual, but that does not mean it's a videogame. The experience takes place entirely over Zoom, and as we log on, we have no idea what to expect.

Hero dog Lassie with her owner, a young boy
Photograph: Supplied/CHIFF

20. Watch the Children's International Film Festival

Film Family Multiple venues

We won’t indulge in the interminable cats v dogs debate (chill, folks, all animals are great), but what we will agree without hesitation is that Lassie is a very good doggo indeed. Which is why we’re pumped that a brand-new take on the all-time fave family classic, Lassie Come Home, will woof right into its Australian premiere at the Children’s International Film Festival (CHIFF).

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Crown Christmas 2020
Photograph: Supplied

21. Check out the Christmas Spectacular at Crown

Things to do Fairs and festivals Crown Melbourne, Southbank

From late November you can head along to see Crown's sparkling festive display which will no doubt get you in the Christmas spirit after a whopper of a 2020. As well as the festive decorations, this year's ten-minute Christmas Spectacular show will include a sing-a-long medley of festive classics like 'It's Beginning to Look a lot like Christmas', 'Hark the Herald Angels Sing' and 'The Most Wonderful Time of the Year'. 

Pasta Face food truck
Photograph: Pasta Face/Supplied

22. Head along to the Festive Food Truck Stop

Things to do Food and drink Queen Victoria Market, Melbourne

So it might not be the Summer Night Market that we remember, but Queen Victoria Market is still keen to get you enjoying summer surrounded by good food. This year, because of you-know-what, Queen Vic Market will be running its first night-time activation since March in the form of the Festive Food Truck Stop. Every Wednesday night from November 25, some of Melbourne’s best food trucks will be gathering near the hallowed market sheds to sell everything from bao buns to burgers, tacos, smoked barbecue meats and mango lassis.

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Model Magnolia Maymuru wearing a deep green, patterned off-the-shoulder dress. The dress has a short, bulbous skirt and a singular puffy sleeve. Maymuru wears a flower-themed fascinator.
Photograph: Bronwyn Kidd

23. Head to this exhibition on contemporary Indigenous fashion

Art Textiles Bendigo Art Gallery, Bendigo

Bendigo Art Gallery has a long history of hosting stand-out fashion exhibitions. Last year it was Balenciaga; the year before that, Marimekko. Now in 2020, Bendigo Art Gallery is turning the spotlight on First Nations designers in Piinpi: Contemporary Indigenous FashionThe exhibition is the first major survey of contemporary textiles and fashion by First Nation artists in Australia. Piinpi features artists from across the country, including Grace Lillian Lee, Maree Clarke, Lorraine Connelly-Northey, Lisa Waup x Verner, Hopevale Arts and Culture Centre, Maara Collective, Lore, Aarli FashionYarrenyty Arltere Artists and Lyn-Al Young (who’s been commissioned to create five new pieces for the exhibition).

People standing underneath giant, glowing rainbow inflatable arches
Photograph: Supplied / Fed Square

24. Explore Fed Square's Sky Castle

Things to do Pop-up locations Federation Square, Melbourne

To celebrate what are hopefully set to be sunnier times ahead (both literally and figuratively), Fed Square is hosting an enchanting sound and light installation called Sky Castle. For one month this November, Sky Castle will be taking over Fed Square and transforming it with clusters of inflatable rainbow arches. The whimsical work is courtesy of art and technology company Eness, which has quite the history of creating dreamy public works (you might remember the Sonic Light Bubble the group presented at Fed Square during White Night 2017).

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Children running around a castle-like structure of transparent screens
Photograph: Marie-Luise Photographer

25. Visit this prismatic new art installation in the CBD

News Art

Those returning to the city might notice something new at Birrarung Marr. 'Sukkah' is a new, temporary work of public art that has been installed at Birrarung Marr in a collaborative project between designer Zahava Elenberg and the Jewish Museum of Australia. Currently, visitors can only enjoy the structure from the outside, but as restrictions ease it's expected guests will be able to go inside the work.

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Wanderlust Melbourne
Photograph: Wanderlust/Supplied

27. Pay a visit to Wanderlust Melbourne

Things to do Exhibitions 379 Smith Street, Fitzroy

Welcome to Wanderlust, a new attraction that’s going let you visit some of the world’s best cities without leaving Melbourne. Opening on December 5, this new pop-up will include five different rooms which showcase the sights, smells, touches and tastes of five cities from across the world. You’ll be able to “walk” the streets of Paris, try an authentic New York hot dog and take a look at Big Ben in all its big benny glory.

Hands holding cherries
Photograph: Jason Reekie

28. Go out and explore the Victorian Cherry Trail

Things to do Food and drink Around Melbourne, Melbourne

It’s cherry season here in Victoria and the state’s cherries are ripe for the picking from early November to mid-January with its peak season occurring in December. Support and explore nine regional orchards which span from the Yarra Valley and Ranges, Upper Goulburn Valley and Macedon Ranges to the Mornington Peninsula. Some will offer you the chance to go cherry picking while you can also purchase freshly picked fruit at all of them. Click through for more info on how to visit.

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Three ladies sitting on chairs by a table with wine, beers and food under an umbrella. View behind is the city's skyline and lake.
Photograph: Supplied.

29. Visit Lakeside at Carousel

Things to do Albert Park , South Melbourne

The teams behind Half Acre and Food and Desire have taken over the Carousel building at Albert Park Lake and its grassy surrounds, where you can have a lakeside picnic and lap up the sights of the seemingly mysterious Gunn Island or the CBD skyline. Strewn across the Pelican Lawn are a bunch of striped umbrellas which can host groups of up to ten. All you need to do is bring your own rug, and grab a bite to eat from Carousel, then enjoy it under the shade of your personal brolly. There’s also furniture hire available if sitting on the ground isn’t your thing.

People in a laneway looking at a street art painting of a person sitting cross legged. The painting has a bull's head instead of a human head.
Photograph: NOME

30. Go out on a Melbourne Street Tour

Things to do Walks and tours Around Fitzroy, Fitzroy

You can't swing a macchiato in Melbourne without hitting some street art. But if you've ever wondered about how so much street art appears in Melbourne, who's creating it, and how, then Melbourne Street Tours is your best port of call. These street art walking tours are run by actual practising street artists, so you're getting the low down straight from the artist's mouth so to speak. The business overall is managed by Adrian Doyle, who local art nerds might also recall is the founder of Melbourne's Blender Studios.

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A man wearing a singlet and a chain around his neck. He's in a dark room and is slightly blurred
Photograph: Supplied / TS Publicity

31. Listen to Malthouse audio drama 'Loaded'

Theatre Drama Your Place, Melbourne

We were pretty excited to hear that Malthouse would be turning Christos Tsiolkas's 1995 debut novel Loaded into a stage production this year. Due to certain global events, that production can no longer happen but the creative arts aren't called the creative arts for nothing, people. Malthouse Theatre has announced that in lieu of stages being off limits right now, Loaded will be presented as an immersive, four-part audio experience available now. 

A variety of artworks from paintings to textiles
Photograph: Supplied / Kate Robinson

32. Explore a virtual exhibition of art created during lockdown

Art Your Place, Melbourne

During the height of Melbourne's lockdowns, the Queen Victoria Women's Centre and its inaugural feminist in residence, Kate Robinson, launched an intrepid art project. And now that project has reached fruition as an online, interactive exhibition called Make A Fuss.

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South Wharf Webb Bridge
Photograph: Christian Pearson/Parks Victoria

33. Go for one of these great walks in Melbourne

Things to do Walks and tours

If you’re looking for a walking track near Melbourne that you can complete in a couple of hours, we’ve got you covered. The following trails show off sides of Melbourne’s inner city and close-by suburbs that you may not have explored yet, so lace up your comfy shoes and head out on these great Melbourne walks.

The Crown S4 Netflix
Photograph: Liam Daniel/Netflix

34. Watch this month's best streamable content

Film

Even as we emerge from lockdown, it's likely you'll still be hanging out for things to watch when at home. So, with that in mind, we've rounded up a few much-watch things coming to Australian streaming providers like Netflix, Stan, Binge and more.

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St Kilda Beach, Melbourne
Photograph: Josie Withers

35. Head out on one of these bike trails

Things to do Games and hobbies

With a few exceptions, Melbourne is a largely flat city, making it perfect for cycling. You don't have to be a Lycra-wearing, Tour de France die hard to enjoy a bike ride around Melbourne either, with the city boasting lots of trails frequented by both serious and recreational bike riders. Better still, these cycling trails cover everything from beachfront boardwalks to twisting river paths, all but ensuring you have a great day out. Saddle up and clip in!

 

Gintonica gin advent calendar
Photograph: Gintonica

36. Pick up one of these boozy advent calendars

Shopping

We are big fans of advent calendars. Why limit yourself to gifts on Christmas Day when you can have gifts every day for 24 days? And although small chocolates or toys are pretty good gifts to receive every day, we think we can do one better. These advent calendars are filled with wine, beer, gin or whisky. That seems like an even more festive way to count down to Christmas. And after the year we've just had, let's face it, it might be time for a drink, or 24.

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'Ray hard seltzers
Photograph: Kate Shanasy

37. Stock up on these new hard seltzer brands

Shopping

Seltzer is the American term for sparkling water, and the US happens to be the home of hard seltzer. Does White Claw ring a bell? Own your desire to enjoy a cocktail in front of your beer-drinking friends and try it for yourself. Here’s a list of some that are out now in Australia.

A drawing that replicates a keith haring artwork featuring two people and a love heart
Photograph: Supplied / FCAC / Jessica Ibacache

38. Take part in FCAC's Creative Workshops

Things to do Classes and workshops Multiple venues

Footscray Community Arts Centre is undeniably the home of the arts in Melbourne's west. In the Beforetimes, the organisation not only hosted exhibitions, performances and gigs, but they also provided a space for locals to engage and learn more about the arts through workshops. That committment hasn't wavered, and FCAC is back with a series of online creative workshops led by some of Melbourne's best artistic talents.

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Dozens of small artworks hung on a white wall over a timber floor and white marble fireplace
Photograph: Supplied

39. View the Linden Postcard Show

Art Paintings Linden New Art, St Kilda

The Linden Postcard Show is an annual exhibition offers a ‘snapshot’ of Australia’s artscape by dint of its open door policy: the only rule for entry is that the artist must be Australian, and that the work must be 8 by 10 inches. Add in a stack of cash prizes, and you have a perfect storm for a consistently dynamic range of styles and calibres. The exhibition is now in its 30th year and to mark that occasion, organisers are inviting back past winners to share their work and stories (you can even view the alumni exhibition online now).

Picnic featuring charcuterie, salads, fruits, baguette, pasta and wine.
Photograph: Cookes Food

40. Order one of these pre-packed picnic hampers

Shopping Delis

We’ve taken the hassle out of buying picnic goods from the same stores you’ve been frequenting within your 5km radius and compiled a list of ready-to-go packs that some of Melbourne’s venues have put together for you. 

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'Wilsons Promontory 1' Amanda Krantz
Photograph: Amanda Krantz

41. Check out the Other Art Fair

Art Photography Your Place, Melbourne

The Other Art Fair, presented by one of the world's leading online galleries, Saatchi Art, allows the average person to purchase their own masterpiece direct from the artist. Usually the event takes place in person, but like most exhibitions and art fairs in 2020, the event has moved online.

 

Good Day People gift pack
Photograph: Supplied

42. Send a gift package to someone (or yourself!)

Shopping

Sometimes you just want to do something nice for someone else. In a time when things are so up and down, getting a little surprise in the mail can mean the world to someone else. Whether there’s a birthday on the horizon or maybe you’ve noticed a friend has been feeling a little down, one of the below packages might be just the pick-me-up they need. And hey, there’s no one saying you can’t send one to yourself, too!

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Gary Bigeni face masks
Photograph: Supplied

43. Purchase a face mask from these local creatives

News Style & Shoppng

For people living under stage three restrictions right now, it’s now mandatory that you wear a face mask when you leave your home for one of the four permissible reasons. You do not have to be wearing a hospital-grade face mask to leave home; residents can wear reusable cloth masks, a homemade face mask or a face covering (such as a scarf or bandana). So where can you get a mask in Melbourne? Many Melbourne retail stores and creatives have started selling their own.

Staying inside?

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Time In: The best things to do at home

Things to do

We've collected the best ways for you to experience Melbourne while staying at home here into this hub, so you can stay sane, comfortable, fed, watered and entertained at home – while helping small business owners, hospitality workers and creative people who desperately need your business.

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