Month: January 2014

Chinese New Year in Melbourne

Happy Chinese New Year! Or 新年好! (I’ll pretend for a moment I translated that with no help whatsoever.) The Chinese New Year festivities kick off today, with celebrations continuing in various locations around Melbourne for the next two weeks. If you’re near the city, you can check out the special events happening in Federation Square on Friday (today) or Saturday (1 February), or join the traditional ceremonies in Chinatown in the CBD on Sunday, including the Dragon Awakening Ceremony. For more info on what’s on where, click here. Enjoy the Year of the Horse!  

St Andrews Community Market

Every Saturday, a hillside in the small township of St Andrews is overrun with falafel stands, vaguely tribal-looking jewellery stalls and general hippy-happiness. Like-minded types come from near and far to soak up the market’s relaxed atmosphere and sip tea in the Chai Tent, while a few music groups gather with violins, drums and earnest voices to serenade visitors. Located about 45 kilometres north-east of Melbourne between Hurstbridge and Kinglake, St Andrews is a picturesque little place, surrounded by rollings hills, farms and thick native bushland. It takes about an hour to drive here from Melbourne’s CBD, and luckily on Saturdays it is also accessible by public transport (take the train to Hurstbridge then catch the free shuttle bus to St Andrew’s Market). The scenery is as much a drawcard as the small market — those with cars should also take the opportunity to explore the surrounding area (nearby Kangaroo Ground is, well, a prime kangaroo ground). Even if you’re not particularly excited about palm readings and hessian clothes, the St Andrews Market is a …

Free tango classes in Fed Square

Grab your dancing shoes, Melbourne, and practice that smouldering gaze because it’s time to tango. Every second Friday until March there are free tango classes in Federation Square led by performers from the Sidewalk Tango dance company. The classes are open to all skill levels and last for an hour and a half. For more info, check out this link, or visit Sidewalk Tango. The last class will take place on 21 March.   Free tango classes Where: St Paul’s Court, Federation Square (or wet weather alternative) Dates: 24 January 2014, 7 February 2014, 21 February 2014, 7 March 2014, and 21 March 2014. Time: 5.30pm–7pm Tel: 9655 1900 Damage: free  

A1 Lebanese Bakery

Located in upper Sydney Road in Brunswick, A1 Lebanese Bakery is a big, breezy, slightly dishevelled place serving up cheap and delicious Lebanese pastries with zero pretentiousness. The front of the bakery is occupied by a bunch of tables, while down the back is a shop section offering a variety of Lebanese treats including dried herbs, dips, lentils and canned goods. The bakery is to the right, where you’ll find an enormous oven and all sorts of tasties including spinach triangles, halloumi pies and za’atar pizzas for just a few coins each. You can also get coffee here, and some baklava to finish off. If you love Lebanese food, you’ll love A1.   A1 Lebanese Bakery Address: 643–645 Sydney Rd, Brunswick Tel: 9386 0440 Opening hours: Sunday–Wednesday 7am–7pm, Thursday–Saturday 7am–9pm   Read more reviews at  

How to survive a heatwave (in Melbourne)

Batten down the hatches, Melbourne. We’re in for a scorcher. With temperatures set to peak at 43 degrees Celsius today, and the next few days hovering around 40, I figure now’s the time to pass on some hard-earned advice on how to keep cool in Melbourne’s summer heat. Option 1: Fortify Assuming you don’t have air conditioning at home and you don’t want to brave the heat outside, the next best tactic is to keep your house cool by closing all windows and doors in the early morning, blocking out the sun, sitting in front of a fan and keeping a water bottle handy. Ice blocks and wet towels highly recommended. Option 2: Take a plunge Although a common response to 43 degrees is hitting the beach, this can be a mixed blessing. Yes, there is cooling sea water, but often there isn’t much shade, without which you will boil and burn. A tree-lined river or water hole can be a better option. You can find some lovely swimming spots along the Yarra River: check …

CERES Community Environment Park

If you love nature, gardening, organic food, bicycles or animals, or if you’re passionate about conservation and general do-gooderness, you should head to CERES Community Environment Park in Brunswick East. This place is like an urban lung, feeding Melbourne’s northern inner suburbs with oxygen and greenery and the smells of fresh dirt and ground coffee. Apart from being a lovely place to simply wander around and look at chickens, CERES has its own Organic Market, a Permaculture Nursery, and an Organic Cafe. CERES also offers a range of courses and workshops on all things green and sustainable; check the website for details of what’s on offer. There are also a bunch of volunteer opportunities here, so contact CERES if you’re keen to get involved. One popular and very handy CERES service is the team of volunteer bicycle fixer-upperes at The BikeShed. If, like me, you’re a little mechanically challenged, take your ailing bike along to CERES and the kind folk here will teach you how to fix it yourself. You can also buy new and second-hand bicycle parts …