A dilapidated old mansion turned giant work of art, a vintage designer fashion flea market, and a genius new cocktail bar in the CBD by internationally celebrated bartenders. Here’s what Broadsheet Melbourne editor Ellen Fraser will be checking out this month.
Over dinner a few nights ago someone floated the idea of starting a street festival in the CBD. “Whatever you do, don’t do it in March,” came the plea from someone who works with a few city restaurants. “Please.” She was right. March is huge. If you’re not hitting up one of the big acronyms – VAMFF (Virgin Australia Melbourne Fashion Festival), MFWF (Melbourne Food and Wine Festival), MICF (Melbourne International Comedy Festival) – there's still so much to do.
But if the idea of booking events this month is overwhelming, I highly recommend getting the heck out of town and over to the Dandenongs to see acclaimed street artist Rone’s transformation of a dilapidated old mansion. One room is half submerged in jet-black water, and a hallway has been reclaimed by nature, all to a custom sound and scent-scape. It opens March 6.
Also out of town is this dramatic natural swimming pool. BYO snacks and floatation devices.
Further out, chefs including Shannon Martinez, Alejandro Saravia, Victor Liong and Matt Moran are taking over the tiny country town of Jindivick for one day only as part of Melbourne Food and Wine Festival’s Village Feast, happening on the 16th. I’m most excited about Liong’s take on a classic country Chinese restaurant – think beef with black bean, sweet and sour pork and prawn toast, all kicked up a notch. There are loads more happening at MFWF, now under stewardship of former Gourmet Traveller editor Pat Nourse. Check out our late-booker’s guide here.
A similar concept will hit the Broadsheet Kitchen at Saint Crispin when chef Matti Fallon – primarily known for making (albeit fancy) pies out of a tiny shop in the CBD – is put in charge of the food. He moves in on March 6.
The CBD has a new cocktail bar: Fancy Free. It opened on Thursday on Little Collins Street, and it’s by Matt Stirling, Rob Libecans and Ryan Noreiks, all formerly of internationally celebrated bar Black Pearl. Head in for perfectly balanced cocktails (on a list that’s one-third alcohol-free), such as the R&C, with Johnnie Walker Black Label, pineapple milk punch, a smidge of juniper and a schmear of raspberry shrub painted onto the outside of the glass, which provides a sweet kick with every sip. Food is by cult Sydney burger joint Mary’s – think fried chicken, mash and gravy, and burgers that feel a bit like fancy McDonald’s.
There’s an incredible amount to see at VAMFF, but don’t miss Gertrude Street costumier Rosie Chung’s runway show, or Fast Fashun, where a tonne of clothing destined for landfill will be salvaged and resurrected into ensembles for hourly fashion shows. There are also workshops and free events – find them in our (fashionably) late booker’s guide here.
Still on the fashion front, every Hawkeye Vintage Super Sale sends me into a mad panic, coordinating friends to provide guidance on potential purchases, and reshuffling credit card debt before realising that if I struggled to pay for dinner at the brand new Di Stasio Città two weeks ago, I can’t afford even the most heavily reduced Chanel handbag. But the folk at Hawkeye have just launched a flea market, with more than 30 different market stalls offering vintage gems to suit even the most frugal of fashion budgets.
For those who’d rather look than spend, the NGV has just announced an extraordinary exhibition of more than 150 garments by Chanel, Yves Saint Laurent, Alexander McQueen, Balenciaga, Christian Lacroix, Dior and more, on display from March 1. As someone whose wardrobe is basically a goth rainbow, I’m looking forward to seeing the archive of Chanel’s little black dresses dating back to the 1920s.
On the 4th, I can’t wait to try the fish head sanga at Richmond’s mod-Japanese diner Future Future, which is teaming up with sister restaurant, Collingwood’s wine-focused Congress to celebrate (mostly) two things: kingfish and sake.
Play On – known for its ambitious concert format pairing classical musicians with electronic acts in unexpected spaces (most recently the Collingwood Underground Car Park) – has just announced Series Six will be running over three consecutive Friday nights in March. There’s a host of other killer March gigs worth a look-in here, too.
There’s no denying that Melbourne is well and truly in the middle of a Harry Potter takeover. If you’re heading to the Princess Theatre to see the Cursed Child and you don’t want the magic to end, escape to these five-star wizard’s digs just around the corner. If you’d rather get cinematic, outdoor cinema season isn’t over yet.
Finally, we’re well aware Heather Lighton’s Dog Photog made it into this list last month, but the photographer is at it again, this time with a delightful ’90s slant. I’ll be borrowing my cousin’s whippet, Gemma, forever immortalising her in a moody black and white portrait.