Ode to Magnation

magnationMagnation is an iconic Melbournian institution (now with branches interstate!). The place is full of thousands of periodicals, all for purchase or simple to look through for an hour or so. The place is full of comfy couches and chairs, and is an excellent gap-filler in your day, or just to pass a little time away from the busy street. I remember clearly that the shop was one of the reasons I wanted to move here – it represented, in a way, what Melbourne was all about to me: quirkiness, trust, and a new twist on an old idea. These are my reasons why Magnation is a better place to pass an hour than a coffee shop… or a library.

1. It is both

This is a shop that is not only a great place to hang out for an hour or so, but can even accommodate your caffeine fix to boot. Awesome.

magnation

2. It has thousands of up-to-date periodicals

Magnation carries 4000+ publications, both local and international, on subjects from your stock-standard to quirky (Fortean Times, anyone?). Many of their titles are received via airmail within hours of the title becoming available overseas. Magnation is fabulous if you are looking for foreign-language titles, too. They can also sort out subscriptions for you with little fuss.

3. Actual peace and quiet

Coffee shops can be very loud. Whether it’s the man-date next to you or the girlfriends dishing the dirt on the other side, they can be very distracting if you are reading, or heaven forbit, trying to get some work done. Magnation is quiet like a library, but with better magazines.

4. The third floor

The third floor is the discount level. Full of not only magazines, but books, stationary and homewares, you’ll find unusual and quirky goods galore. It’s also the emptiest and so the quietest level, great for a little chill time.

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Community Project: The Footscray Community Arts Centre

footscray

Flickr: The Shopping Sherpa

The Footscray Community Arts Centre is a unique community initiative based on the banks of the Maribyrnong River. In operation for almost 40 years, the centre engages the community by staging performances, hosting festivals, and encouraging positive artistic expression. Here I speak to Communications and Marketing Director Jenna Williams about the initiative, and how you can get involved.

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Wheeler Centre’s New Spring Programme

logoThe Wheeler Centre was launched in 2010 as a focal-point for Melbourne’s new City of Literature status. The building sits, unobtrusively, on the State Library of Victoria’s southern wing, gazing innocently at the QV centre across Little Lonsdale Street. This place, however, is revolutionary.

Part writer’s centre, part lecture hall, the place focuses on making books, issues and journalism leap off the page and into our lives.

As their website proudly states,

‘Our City of Literature status is not about Dickens on the tram, Nabokov in the Great Southern Stand or a Brontë or two over breakfast. It’s a recognition and celebration of Melbourne’s passionate readers.’

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Community Project: Lentil as Anything

logoFounded in 2000, community project Lentil as Anything fosters community involvement through volunteerism, kindness and human decency. Providing wholesome, tasty vegetarian fare at ‘pay what you feel’ prices, the project focuses on bringing people together in a warm, friendly space. With its base at the heritage-listed Abbotsford Convent in Melbourne’s inner eastern suburbs, and two satellite operations in Footscray and St. Kilda, the locations are proving as popular as ever. Here I speak to Lentil’s Marketing Consultant Severine Meunier about the project’s achievements, ethos, and outlook for the future.

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Day Trip: City

10am – Breakfast, Centre Place

Centre Place is a hive of activity any day of the week – with vibrant cafes, restaurants and bars, there’s plenty to choose from. I chose coffee and a tasty savory muffin for a mere $5 from Cafe No. 5.

11am – Culture Fix @ NGV, St. Kilda Road

With a selection of tours (free!), classes, and an impressive array of modern and historical art, The National Gallery of Victoria delivers enough diversion for a whole day, but I decided to go for the antiquities. It’s fascinating to view ancient hieroglyphs, relics and jewellery made thousands of years ago.

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Movies Free and Cheap

filmIf you’re anything like me, you are a bit of a movie tragic. As much as I love watching stuff from iTunes and streaming services like Quickflix, nothing compares to seeing a film up on the big screen. But with Australia’s movie prices as much as double that in the States, and Screen Australia’s chart of ever-increasing costs, it can be a pricy affair.

Here’s a few options for catching films for cheap (or free!) in Melbourne.

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City Walking Tours

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Street Art in Stevenson Lane

In her essay ‘City Tour Guides’, researcher John Wynn referred to tour leaders as ‘urban alchemists,’ almost mage-like in their ability to bring forth magic from banal streetscapes, and conjure fascinating stories out of thin air.

There are a lot of tours in our town – and why not? Melbourne is a fantastic walking city. A signatory of the International Charter for Walking, and blessed with broad, well-planned streets and plenty of parks, it’s no wonder so many walks (guided and unguided) are available – but why take an expensive guided tour when you can see the best of the town for free? Melbourne has a host of tours available, including I’mFree, Melbourne Underground, and Peek Tours.

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