Garden & flowers
Melbourne’s Hidden Gems
Seven Melbourne Events that were Bigger than the Beatles
Last week’s quiz
Paris to Provence
Children & family
Model engineers & Meccano
Mr La Trobe returns to his cottage
The White Hat Puzzle
The White Hat Quiz
This weekend at Kryal Castle near Ballarat there is a Mediaeval Festival where you can relive the romance of the Middle Ages without the Black Death. The men will demonstrate various manners of hitting each other, the women will stand around looking on adorningly in costumes that sometimes leave little to the imagination and both will consume large quantities of mead. It’s a bit like Brownlow Medal night.
There will be market stalls where I imagine the products will involve modern innovations such as wimples with built-in headphones, codpieces capable of smuggling a whole brace of budgies and universal remote controls guaranteed to operate with most common brands of chastity belt.
Details at The White Hat Guide to Ballarat
Australia’s Premier Collectable Show is on this Sunday at the Williamstown Senior Citizens’ Centre. Details at The White Hat Guide to Craft & Collectables Events in Melbourne
This weekend at Queensbridge Square is Festival Malaysia. Details at The White Hat Guide to Ethnic & Religious Festivals in Melbourne
It’s spring and gardeners are making use of every last bit of daylight hours. Jane next door has been entertaining a young gentleman caller and she knows her husband won’t notice provided she has her guest out the house by sunset when her husband comes in form the garden.
This week there is the ABC Gardening Expo at Caulfield Racecourse, Orchids in Mornington, Tulips in the Dandenongs, wildflowers in Cranbourne, Spring Open Day at the Botanic Gardens, a Spring gardening lunch at Como and open gardens at Brunswick, Wonga Park, Barwon Heads, Torquay and Yarrawonga.
The following weekend there are open gardens in Central Victoria, the High Country, the Dandenongs and the Goldfields. Details of all these at The White Hat Guide to Flower & Garden Festivals in Melbourne
Melbourne seems to have developed a fetish with facades. It has become a common sight to see the façade of an older building held in place by a steel framework while the innards are gutted or possibly the complete building behind is removed and replaced with a new one.
“At least they retained the façade” say the passers-by, and therein lays the irony. A number of the facades of Melbourne buildings were added at a later stage and in a different style to cover the fact that one building had cannibalised several of its neighbours. Others changed their skin, often more than once, to keep up with the fashion of the times. Suburban shopping strips usually provide plenty of examples of the latter. Often, well-meaning citizens who ‘love history and love architecture’ lobby for the retention of facades without realising that often what is happening is that the history and the architecture is thrown away and what is retained is a façade in a somewhat dubious pastiche style. You can see a couple of examples of facadism at: http://whitehat.com.au/Melbourne/Architecture/Facades.asp
But fear not gentle reader. We know that you are of more refined tastes and appreciate the whole building and not just the façade. A splendid example which demonstrates the intricacies of interior design in the late 19th century can be found in Kew not far from Raheen.
In the 1860s life was looking good for young Anna McEvoy. She was engaged to a man with high prospects in the banking business, and her family gave her a house and land in Kew called Studley Villa. Anna’s husband, Mr Greenlaw, had fulfilled his promise and was now General Manager. This required a more impressive residence so the single storey Studley Villa was replaced by the two storey Italianate mansion Villa Alba. The interior design included elaborate murals on the ceilings and walls of many of the rooms including the bedroom. The scenes depicted came from Britain and Australia. No doubt the mural on the bedroom ceiling assisted Mrs Greenlaw to lay back and think of England.
Towards the end of the 1880s the economy of Victoria was looking somewhat shaky. “Never mind my dear,” said Mr Greenlaw” “my bank is too big to fail.” It failed and Mr Greenlaw was soon declared bankrupt. As lack would have it, Villa Alba was actually in Anna’s name. We don’t know whether this had been planned by Mr Greenlaw or by Anna or by Anna’s family who had after all gifted them the original house and land. When Mr Greenlaw died in 1895, Anna was forced to have a fire sale of her carefully selected furniture then rent out and eventually sell the house.
Villa Alba passed through a number of hands until it came into the possession of the Women’s Hospital in the 1950s. “What’s this?” said the Women’s Hospital staff. “It looks like a picture of Sydney Harbour on the wall. Never mind – a couple of cans of cream paint will soon cover that up.” The mural of Edinburgh was similarly dispatched. Then there was that wasted garden space out the front. Never mind that could be pulled out and replaced with some cream brick flats for the nurses.
In recent years, with the help of a number of grants and sponsorships the house is in the process of returning to a large part of its original splendour. The cream brick flats were quietly knocked down before anyone who grew up in the 1960s could declare them to be of nostalgic value and at least the facades should be maintained. The mansion is in the process of becoming a museum of interior design and the gardens are being restored along 19th century lines.
Villa Alba is open this Sunday afternoon and we can recommend a visit to anyone interested in 19th century domestic interior design, you can find details at The White Hat Guide to Historic Houses in Melbourne
For the next week there are free bands and music events scattered all over the city. There are far too many to mention, so we suggest the easiest way is to go to our home page and choose a day from the drop-down menu where you will find a summary of the free performances for that day.
We were going to give you number 2 in this series today but time has run out so that will have to wait until next week.
In the meantime you might like to go along to the cover band which is celebrating the 40th anniversary of the Beatles album Let It Be. Details at The White Hat Guide to Melbourne Town Hall
The Fringe Festival has about a week to run. Details in all the mainstream media.
The first answer to last week’s quiz on flowers came from Pete so here are his answers:
Please note: This section of the newsletter has been removed as it forms part of a forthcoming publication.
This weekend at Como is a festival called From Paris to Provence featuring all things French. Details at The White Hat Guide to Como
The Melbourne International Brass Festival concludes this weekend. Details at The White Hat Guide to Brass Instruments
School holidays end this weekend so this is your last chance to catch a number of school holiday activities such as the Northcote Kids Festival. There is also the postponed MCG community day on Sunday. Details at The White Hat Guide to Family and Children's Activities in Melbourne
SENIORS FESTIVAL Seniors Week starts next with tons of free and cheap activities open to anyone with a Victorian Seniors Card. This is rattle battle between vanity and frugality. Will you let it be publicly known that you are over 60 by producing your senior’s card for a discount. Details at The White Hat Guide to Seniors Events in Melbourne
As part of Melbourne Music there are numbers of workshops about different aspects of music from writing hip hop songwriting to managing your career and how to make money out of music. According to some of my muso friends the best way to make money out of music is by giving workshops on how to make money out of music. Check them out at The White Hat Guide to Workshops & Seminars in Melbourne
If you want your children to support you in your dotage, forget about the music workshops – get them started early on engineering. This weekend there is a model engineers expo at Monash Uni and the following weekend there is a Meccano exhibition in Glen Iris.
This weekend Mr La Trobe (or an actor who looks remarkably like him) returns to his cottage. You can find details at The White Hat Guide to La Trobe's Cottage
Mr Garrett’s tradesmen have been and installed insulation in the roof. They have also installed 3 light bulbs at various points in the roof cavity with their 3 on/off switches in your laundry. However they didn’t label which switch belongs to which bulb. You are there by yourself and know that it will take some major gymnastics to get up through the manhole and back again so you only want to do it once. How can you determine which switch operates which bulb?
The Mildura Country Music Festival concludes this weekend, , the is the Ride The Worlds cycling event in Geelong, the Heathcote Food & Wine Festival, the Port of Echuca Steam Festival and the Gippsland Combined Gem Show. Details at The White Hat Guide to Country Victoria
Melbourne and Australian music
- If you look in your pantry, what Australian band are you likely to find?
- The image of which particularly attractive Australian musician was used for many years to promote cosmetics?
- Name a musician that called themselves after a) Melbourne; b) Broken Hill; c) Australia
- What Australian musician could be regarded (as a proportion of recordings sold at the time) as the best selling Australian artist of all time?
- What band caused an enormous overflow at the Music Bowl when they appeared at free orchestral concert?
- What Melbourne musician was married in the Hollywood Bowl?
- What Australian musician was named International Woman of the Year?
- What band used Swanston Street as the backdrop for one of its major video clips?
- What Melbourne woman was awarded the French Legion of Honour for services to music?
- What performer of Sri Lankan background who learned singing in Melbourne is now a hit on the world stage?
No prizes – just glory and a warm inner glow.
White Hat is dressed by an Italian tailor in Carlton and enjoys the quiet refined elegance of dining at La Porchettas.