Melbourne Central and the Little Library – a community project.

Melbourne Central buzzes these days. There is action here and in amongst this action there is an oasis of quiet. A corner where you can sit or browse and take time out.

Wander around the different levels of the complex, shop till you drop then head for The Little Library – The Community Library.  This is a space that does make Melbourne Central feel something of a community.  The fact that the food hall is alongside helps this feel.  It is a busy food hall with chatter, clatter and laughter. There is nothing like eating together to give a community feel.

The Little Library takes this feel and builds on it.  It is a library for everyone.  Its a place to swap books, take one of your choice home or to browse and read while sitting in the comfortable chairs that are provided.

The Little Library

The Little Library

The books are for all comers. The community allows you to take the books away, to return them at your leisure and to bring any books from home that you have read and are cluttering your shelves.  The idea is to bring back books you have read but there are no rules to say if you find a book you want for your shelves you can’t keep it.  I passed one I enjoyed on to a friend.

Melbourne Central Management says, “ The mission of the Little Library concept is to promote literacy and the love of reading by offering a free book exchange. After all, books were built to be swapped (and read, of course).”

Reading in the Little Library

Reading in the Little Library

Browsing is good too.  It is a place to escape the noise and clamour of the outside.  When I was there last there was a good range of cooking books and a set of old encyclopedias for a step back in time, when all information wasn’t at our finger tips. The encyclopaedia aren’t something you are going to carry around with you but it is fun to browse.

I love this space and I have added some of my once-read books.  I have some in a bag at my door at the moment to remind me to take them next time I am in the CBD.


Reading- The Melbourne Central Library

Reading- The Melbourne Central Library

Recently I was on  an international flight and it surprised me that a number of people were carrying real books and not relying on e- readers. If you have read the book you flew into Melbourne with leave it at Melbourne Central Little Library and collect another one for your flight out of Melbourne.

Where: The Little Library first floor Melbourne Central – CBD.  Opposite the State Library.

Getting there:  Enter the complex from the entrance at La Trobe and Swanston Street.  Head up the escalators to the first floor Food Court and you will find the Little Library in the right hand corner.

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La Café on Nelson Street in Balaclava – outside on a sunny morning.


Sitting on a high ladder style stool feet propped on a bench while overlooking a car park doesn’t sound an ideal place to have breakfast.  Strangely,  it is pretty good.

We shared the veranda space with two spaniels who relaxed at our feet and did not beg for tit bits or fuss about.  They were as relaxed as we were. The early morning summer air drifted in and the activity in the car park did not disturb us and we had passersby to observe.

This is an Israeli cafe so there is an emphasis towards that style of food on the menu.  If you go for a really different experience, you won’t get it.  Most of the food is just a little different from standard fare.  I have an idea that the menu has changed since they first opened and has become more Australian (local).

We chose:-
Avocado Delight: A slice of toasted bread w/guacamole, sautéed mushrooms, sun dried tomatoes, fetta and chorizo, served with an Israel salad
This was described as very good by my friend who had it.  The chorizo giving it flavour and the salad a freshness

The Big: Eggs of your choice, toasted bread, served with grilled Portobell0 mushrooms, tomato, bacon  chorizo and spinach.
Good choices of bread here, sourdough, rye, white, multigrain, Turkish, raisin, bagel
Eggs could be , omelet, scrambled. poached or fried

Beautiful large mushrooms that looked delicious but for some reason were tasteless but the rest of the dish was fine.  It was surprising to find the spinach raw and the tomatoes cooked.  They were delicious and it is a while since I had cooked tomatoes, must do it myself more often and a chorizo sausage gave the dish a tang.  It all worked well but perhaps could have been improved by the freshness of a serving of Israel salad.  Ah, but plates only hold so much!

An Israel salad is a great addition to breakfast.  It is clean, fresh and it cuts any suggestion of fat or grease.  Made from finely diced cucumber, tomato and parsley, sometimes onion is added.  It is often served with lemon as it is at La Cafe.
The coffee was particularly good here.

A disconcerting moment came at the end of the meal.  The waiter took the  bill and our money.  After a while she came back and removed our cups and cleared the table.  We were ready to go when we realized that we didn’t have the change from the bill.  We wonder how many people got caught out this way. With the  bill and the payment taken and the table cleared, subconsciously you think that everything is over and leave before you receive the change.  It may not be a problem if you paid by credit card but still you don’t want to find you have left it behind.  We had to ask for the change.

Where:- La Cafe
28 Nelson Street
Phone:-    9537 3093
Open:-     Monday to Saturday 7.30am  to 5.00pm
Sunday 8.00am to 5.00pm

Getting there:- Trams 3 & 12 from the CBD- to Balaclava Station
Train Sandringham Line to Balaclava Station

La Cafe on Nelson on Urbanspoon

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Play Me I’m Yours – The joy of piano music in the CBD

The sounds of the piano being played has added to the fun and delight of being around the City of Melbourne during January.


British Artist, Luke Jerram, came up with the idea of placing pianos around a city for everyone or anyone to use.  Since he kicked off the idea in 2008 he has given delight and fun to people around the globe.  Melbourne took up the challenge this year.

Most of the pianos have been placed around the Arts Centre and the CBD.
Pianists took on the challenge and sat down and played.  They appeared to play for themselves and along the way they gathered an appreciative audience.  No level of skill was needed but some I heard were very skilful.


If the music wasn’t enough to stop you in your tacks, smile and loiter the pianos themselves were a visual feast.
Here is a sample of a few that were around the Art Centre.




This is my favourite.  It was inside the Art Centre so good to play and to listen on those very hot days.



I do wonder what is going to happen to these works for art once the time they are available to the public is over.  I would like to think that this one found a permanent home in the Art Centre so that it was always available for someone to tinker on and for those of us who don’t play to listen to.

Getting there:-  Tram to Federation Square. The first stop, at the top of St Kilda Road, is the stop for the Arts Centre. Train to Flinders Street

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Christmas and Summer in Melbourne with Stonnington

December and The Stonnington City Council has gone all out to make it fun for you.

You can pick up their booklet, “What’s on in Stonnington” outlining their events, all over the city.  I found one in Brunswick Street, Fitzroy so they are not only available on their home turf of Stonnington.

December is a upon us and there are great Christmas programs, especially for children,  to get you all in the mood.  Enjoy carols in various parks around the city including the Prahran Market Square on December 21st from 2pm to 4pm.  

There is fun for children in Ardrie Park, Malvern East on Saturday 7th December, where there is a chance to make Christmas decorations and join Elmo and Cookie Monster and other characters from Sesame Street to sing carols.  This event starts at 4pm

Santa and his elf will read stories and help children make decorations in the various libraries around the city.

It is worth finding their well presented booklet available from cafes and the Town Halls.  Their web site doesn’t give such clear information.

If you can’t find a booklet here are the pages on the Christmas Carols.  Just click on the pictures and you should be able to read them.




The Stonnington Council and Malvern Town Hall
1251 High Street
Malvern 3144


The Prahran Town Hall , the entrance is just around the corner at:
180 Greville Street,
Prahran VIC 3181

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Hosier Lane

-a makeover – watch the street artists work


Go to Hosier Lane in the next couple days and you will be met with a rare sight.  Blank walls.


Hosier Lane is getting a makeover.   The art you know has been blacked out and  about 100 Melbourne artists are working to give the lane a new look.
HOSIER Lane is one of Melbourne’s best known art galleries.  Visitors from all over the world come to view the art in the laneway.

The makeover is being organised by The Allyourwalls, a  project supported by the National Gallery of Victoria.  The idea is keep Hosier Lane vibrant and up-to-date.  The artists behind this embrace the change.

The new art will included graffiti, stencil and paste-up.

Now is the time to check it out.  Artists are perched on top of cherry pickers, and ladders and are crawling around on ground to reach the spots they want to touch up. Check it out in this video.

The art work will be ready for viewing on 30th November.  In the meantime it is fascinating to watch the artists at work.  They all seem happy to work with crowds watching them, discussing  them and their work and photographing them.



It takes a cool head to keep working with so much going on around you.


Hosier Lane

It is located between Flinders Lane and Flinders Street. The entrance from Flinders Street is opposite the entrance to Federation Square



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The South Melbourne Night Market is underway for 2013.

The market opened on the last evening of October.  It was a good start.  The weather was pleasant, sunny and coolish and the people were turning up.


This a craft market with food.  I am only going to look at the craft in this post and leave the food for another post.

The craft is a showcase for creativity -  ideas on their own are nothing, you have to bring them to fruition and the stall holders at this market have done just that.  There are some great outcomes at the South Melbourne Night Market.

These are some of the things that caught my eye on the opening night.


Look closely at these pictures and you will see that everything has been created with parts of watches. Each piece is unique – a one off.  Sharee  Humphrey who is the creative brain behind the jewellery says, “I have got my local Op Shops sifting through donations that come in and they save any old watches or pieces of watches for me”.  In this way she keeps up her supply of parts.  Her pieces are popular and she believes that she will be running low on ‘bits of watches’ by the time we get to Christmas. This is her web site

It is the colours of the fabrics that first catches the eye at ‘retro pop homeware’ – then you notice the pictures and designs. Scot van Maanen also has a stall at the Rose Street Market in Fitzroy and he sells through ebay.



Your pets have their treats here too.

Pet-grocer Dog-treats

What: The South Melbourne Night Market
When: Between 31st October and 19th December 2013
From: 5.30pm
Parking: Free roof top parking from 5.30

Tram: 96 (Light Rail) from Bourke Street, and get off at the South Melbourne stop. The market is about 2 minutes away.
112 Tram from Collins Street, get off on the corner of Clarendon and York Street

The Stalls are under the wide verandahs surrounding the market so that whatever the weather you are comfortable.

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St. Kilda News – The Local Newspaper for a Global Village.


This is a monthly free paper.  It is not delivered.  You need to pick one up from local outlets.  I got mine from the Grumpy Swimmers Bookshop in Elwood. Another good place is Safeway in Balaclava.

The editor describes this as an Open Newspaper.  This means that anyone can write for it and summit their article.  This makes it a vibrant and relevant newspaper that reaches all  in the community.
The latest issue is a densely packed 31 pages of local information.  There is information on Farmers’ Markets, the Melbourne band Soul Safari, Sacred Heart Mission has a column and Port Philip Deputy Mayor and Catani Ward Councillor Serge Thomann has a Postcard from France.

A section is called St Kilda Bites – featuring food in cafes and local restaurants.

This month there is a double page spread on Armstrong Street in Middle Park.  It  mentions  two of my favourite cafes Hot Honey and Mart. You may want to check out what I have said about them.

Tamara Griffiths writes about making a Herb and Weed Salad and explains how to do this.
There is a section that is of value to Tourists and Visitors as well as Locals.  It gives you a chance to compare eateries and  check out some that may be under your radar. There is plenty of information for a visitor to the area to get an understanding of the  iconic suburb and feel like a local.  The ads keep you in the know too.

If you are around the area grab the St Kilda News,  read it, and indulge, try the highlighted local hot spots and consider writing your own contribution.

Contact details:
St Kilda Newspaper
P.O. Box 1427
VIC 3182

Phone 1300 48 55 11

More Armstrong Street Cafes


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Melbourne City Library – a great pleasure.


Libraries hold a magic for me.  As a child I found them a treasure trove, a sort of Aladdin’s cave, I could wander around taking books from the shelves browsing then putting them back and grabbing another.  I could read magazines and when I became a news-junky, the newspapers.

I had lived in Melbourne for sometime before I chanced upon Melbourne City Library.  It is sort of tucked away in the CAE building in Flinders Lane and not easy to see.  I’ve walked past many times and missed it.  What a delight when one day I discover it and an even bigger delight to find I could join. You don’t have to live in the CBD to do so. And like all libraries you can enter this wonderful space, spend time there and browse without being a member.

One of my very special libraries is the Wellington City Library in New Zealand. It is a wonderful place that has welcomed me for hours at a time. When money was a scarce commodity in my life I felt rich when I was in that building and so much was available to me.  Melbourne city Library comes in as a close second.

I hope this video gives you the feel of the Melbourne City Library.  It also shows you the side of the Journal Canteen – the coffee shop in the same building.

The Melbourne City Council  has written their ‘Vision’  for the library as this, “The  library is Melbourne’s gateway to your past, present and future”.  I think they fulfill it.

This is the children’s area.

You don’t have to go into the library to join.  You can join on line and then pick up your card when you go in there. Here’s the link. 

Amazingly you can have 50 items on loan at one time.  I have never needed to have that many books at one time but it is comforting to know that in the depth of an extra cold winter or in the middle of a large research project you can do that.   There are a few limitations but they are spelt out clearly on the web site.

Melbourne City Library
Address: 253 Flinders Lane, Melbourne VIC 3000
Between Swanston and Elizabeth Streets CBD

Phone:(03) 9658 950

Opening Hours: -  Monday to Thursday 8.00am to 8.00pm
Friday           8.00am to 6.00pm
Saturday      10.00am to 5.00pm
Sunday          12.00noon 50 5.00pm

Web site:


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NGV – National Gallery of Victoria – a great place for a Melbourne souvenir

Souvenirs!  Mementos!  Gifts from Melbourne! Christmas presents for relatives and friends overseas?  Whatever we call them we all need to buy them at sometime.

There are clip on koalas, painted boomerangs,  cuddly Kangaroos with a Joey in the pouch,  cute wombats,  beautifully painted didgeridoos – difficult to travel with……….

Great souvenirs but once you have done that what next?

Try the shop at the National Gallery of Victoria.  There you can find something that represents Australia but is a little different.  For example there are these Husque  bowls made from the shell or husk of the macadamia nut.  The shape is the shape of the nut. Very Australian and beautiful.


Husque web site

The shop at the NGV flows off to the left of the entrance in auditorium of the Gallery on St Kilda Road.

This video may give you the vibe of the shop.

At this moment with Monet’s Garden Exhibition coming to an end  you to have squeeze your way past Monet souvenirs and a very French ambiance to get to the  Australian products some designed and made exclusively for the National Gallery.

This homeware is made exclusively for the NGV

The teapot is priced at $49.95.

There are jigsaw puzzles packed in a flat tin priced at $14.95.  They are exclusive to the gallery.



The NGV have another slightly smaller shop in Federation Square below the Ian Potter Gallery.
Check out their books about Melbourne.

This is a recent publication.


There is a whole shelf on Melbourne books.

Something that is exclusively Melbourne are the Salus body products.


This cushion is a great memory of the local train network.


The shop in Federation Square also has the Husque pottery


The shells  from the macadamia nut are milled into fine particles and melded with polymer, then shaped by designer Marc Harrison into these beautiful objects.

One reason they differ from pottery is the weight.  They are surprisingly light as well as being beautiful. Test the weight when you are looking at them.

Where:-      National Gallery of Victoria
180 St Kilda Road CBD

Opening Times:-    CLOSED TUESDAYS
Wednesday through to Tuesday to 5.00pm
Friday to 9.00

+61 3 8620 2243

NGV Shop at NGV Australia, Federation Square
10am to 5pm daily
+61 3 8662 1543


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Street Art – Chapel Street – Windsor – Melbourne



Car park off Green Street

The laneway that leads to this car park off Green Street, Windsor, was dubbed Aerosol Alley by the artists who work in it.  Stonnington City Council has officially named it Artists Lane.  It is has yet to be sign posted.
The area is an open gallery of street art.  It is good to find that it is also a working warehouse area where tradesmen are on roofs and working in these art decorated buildings hammering and sawing away, as they have been recently. There are also delivery vehicles jamming it at times.  It gives it life.
It is paved in the bluestone blocks that are found in so many places in  Melbourne.   Laneways by their very nature are dinghy and sunless, this one is the same.  The difference is that it has been given a new lease of life.


If you are not familiar with Melbourne’s laneways I hope this video gives you feel for what they are like and something of the atmosphere.  I have started at Union Street and moved towards Green Street.  I was there early one morning when artist Jono Tindall was working on one of his pieces.  He’s at the end of the video.


This is what Jono was working on.


Jono’s doorway is opposite the artists’ gallery that is hidden behind a plain-black-painted roller door – no art work on this door.  It is all behind it.



Melbourne Artist Wayne Tindall is behind the project.  In 2009 he painted a picture of himself and his wife outside his studio in the laneway.


Photo used  with thanks to Google and Herald Sun

He got permission from the owners and the council for artists to paint the blank spaces that surrounded his studio. Finally  in March, this year, Wayne collected a number of artists together and they painted their own pieces.
A video was made of the occasion.  You can watch it here.

roller door with pigs

 At the back of the Bendigo Bank.  The bank’s logo is a piggy-bank.

This is a working laneway and as yet there are no cafes.  David Russell is the curator of  Chaotic.  The gallery is open in the afternoon and opens onto the laneway.  David says that they are arranging a show with 25 Artists on the 13 of September 2013.  You can contact him for more information about this event -see below.

Artists Laneway, Windsor
It runs behind Chapel Street from Union Street right behind the Tyranny of Distance Cafe to Green Street where it comes out beside the Stickybeak Cafe.

Chaotic Gallery:-
Behind the black painted roller door
Open:- Usually from 12 noon – check hours with the Curator
Contact:- David Russell, Curator 0448 216 700,,  Jono Tindall Artist in Residence 0447 640 400,

Train: a few steps from the Windsor Station on the Sandringham Line
Tram: the 78 stops near Union Street.
Times: The weekend is good time. Delivery vehicles are not there and often some of the artists are.



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