Originally from Adelaide, Hannah Fox used to look to Melbourne as a “vast, scuzzy and cool place” she’d seen on screen – especially in the 1986 flick Dogs in Space, about a group of misfits living in a share house. Now the well-travelled co-artistic director and chief executive of buzzy winter arts festival Rising is a verified local – shaping the arts and culture scene in the city. Ahead of Rising’s packed program of more than 100 events from June 1 to 16, Fox tells Broadsheet where she likes to eat and drink in Melbourne, where she goes to escape the city, and a cafe she rates as one of the best in the world.

Hey Hannah! Have you always lived in Melbourne?
I grew up in Adelaide and moved to London at 19 for a decade, then came to Melbourne in 2007. My first few months here were very weird. I didn’t know anyone except my aunt and my cousin and I started working for [stand-up comedian] Nick Giannopoulos, Big Day Out and a part-time job in a jewellery shop in Degraves Street – all at once – so it was sort of a Melbourne crash course.

Where are you based now?
I live above a shop in Northcote High Street, in a rental that my husband Dan who, with a lot of help from friends, converted from an office into a great apartment well before I arrived on the scene. He’s been there for 15 years so we feel very lucky to have that haven in the rental world.

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What do you love most about this city?
The music and art community here is something I would find very hard to leave. The hypercritical chin-stroking also drives me up the wall sometimes, but when it’s at its best it makes me feel part of something genuinely special. I travel a lot to see art and music elsewhere but I often find myself returning feeling even more passionate and proud of the talented people and the deeply engaged supporters who are right under my nose.

Who makes Melbourne a better place?
Artists, musicians, writers, community radio DJs, bookers, curators, librarians, Mary Mihelakos, Marios and Carrot Man.

Where do you like to eat?
My favourite is going to family restaurants with a big group of friends and yell-talking over lots of shared food. Jinda Thai in Abbotsford is always a good time – the food is incredible and the staff makes you feel at home. If I’m feeling fancy, Julie at Abbotsford Convent is really special. Chef Jules Blum is the real deal. The produce they grow is incredible and the mood is refined but relaxed.

Do you have a favourite bar?
Joe’s Shoe Store has been my local for a long time and they make a proper Martini, which is my drink of choice after a long week in the arty trenches. I also like The Tavern at Fortress, which is a gaming place in the Emporium. It has a medieval tavern with board game nights. It’s so weird and great.

Where do you go for coffee?
Cibi is still one of the best cafes in the world I reckon. I will also always be a Captains of Industry loyalist. It’s around the corner from my office and has been a steadfast throughline of multiple lives/jobs/partners.

Do you have a favourite shop?
I like to haunt Metropolis in Curtin House and World Food Books in the Nicholas Building. I also have a genuine problem with Mecca. I need to be cut off from that place. I’m so easily seduced by the promise of make-up.

What’s underrated in Melbourne?
Greater Melbourne. We get stuck in our bubbles and the outer ring of Melbourne is full of culture, great food and music – you just have to work a little harder to find it.

Is there an essential Melbourne book or film?
Dogs in Space made a big impression on me as a bong-smoking teenager in Adelaide looking to Melbourne as this vast, scuzzy and cool place, but I’ve never returned to the film as an adult so it’s frozen in memory and time. Sarah Krasnostein’s book The Trauma Cleaner, although not a book about Melbourne, is a character study of Sandra Pankhurst that painted images of West Footscray and St Kilda that have stayed with me.

Finally, where do you go to escape the city?
I like to go to the Bass Coast. Its wild ocean, windswept hills and sparse population is a nice antidote to city life.

Rising runs from June 1 to 16.


My Melbourne” is a regular column about the places and spaces that entice Melbourne’s well-known residents.