The 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.’
The venue plays host to varied events, and is likely to have something to suit all tastes: just a few weeks ago I caught a wonderful talk between travel writer Tom Doig and co-founder of Lonely Planet, Tony Wheeler (and yes, the centre is named for him, due to a particularly generous donation to the project). This is a man that basically created the world of commercial guidebooks, and we could see him chat about his adventure. For free.
The mind boggles.
The Spring Programme has just been released, and includes events in the realm of sport, politics, fantasy-writing and journalism. The good news for shoestringers out there is that many of the hosted events are completely free. Events run both during the day and in the evening, with a special selection of lunchtime talks for a touch of mental floss after your midday meal.
It’s bares mentioning that many events are very popular and so it’s worth arriving 15, or ever 30, minutes beforehand to ensure entry.