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Darebin Community & Kite Festival
Darebin Community & Kite Festival

 

Melbourne, with its old world charm, is ideal for romantic activities. So below you will find White Hat's suggestions for

50 Romantic Things to do in Melbourne

OK, the list runs to well over 50, but it's pretty hard to stop once you get started.

Breakfast at Footscray

Romantic breakfast in Footscray

For a leisurely row on the river, you can hire a rowboat from one of the two boatsheds in Studley Park.

There are also numbers of fine dining establishments around Melbourne that can produce an intimate romantic atmosphere and maybe a log fire. For a truly Melbourne romantic experience there is the Colonial Tramcar Restauant.

And if you are able to get out of town, there are many options which can be found on our pages about country Victoria. Dinner in a restaurant at a winery, an overnight stay in the Dandenongs, a romantic weekend at Queenscliffe can all be recommended.

And the next morning you can always turn up for breakfast at 6am at the Vic Market in your dinner suit and party frock. You are likely to find a few similar couples doing the same.

 

 

Sunset over St Kilda Beach

 

Watch the sun set over St Kilda Beach - Sit on the sand, the grass or a bench. You can wander along the beach and out onto the pier and have a glass of wine at the pier kiosk (once it is rebuilt) . There are also several restaurants and cafes on the beachfront at St Kilda which can provide a great view of the sunset.

Concert at Sidney Myer Music Bowl, Melbourne

 

Enjoy champagne and a romantic picnic under the stars while listening to a concert at the Sidney Myer Music Bowl. During summer there are numbers of classical concerts as well as ballet and opera at Melbourne's iconic open air venue - and many of them are free. For a listing see The White Hat Guide to the Sidney Myer Music Bowl.

Lygon Street Carlton (Melbourne, Australia)

 

 

If you prefer a bit more hustle and bustle, you can be in the thick of the action dining on the footpath in Lygon Street. You can find more information on Melbourne's Italian precinct at The White Hat Guide to Lygon Street.

Garden at Dame Elisabeth Murdosch's Cruden Farm

 

 

Wander through a private garden - Most weekends in Melbourne you will find that some family has thrown open to the public their lovingly tended private garden for some good cause or other. You can find a listing of current private garden openings at The White Hat Guide to Private Gardens in Melbourne.

Go cycling. Melbourne is relatively flat and if you don't have your own bicycles you can always hire them. A particularly romantic ride is from the city to Williamstown and back which involves a punt crossing across the Yarra River underneath West Gate Bridge. You may want to hire a tandem (click on link to right) but White Hat suggests that if you feel your back view is not your most attractive angle that you quickly claim the rear seat. You can find more information at The White Hat Guide to Cycling in Melbourne.
Visit a night market. On many days in Melbourne there are atmospheric night markets. During summer there is usually a night market at the Queen Victoria Market on a Wednesday, ones at Northcote Town Hall and St Kilda Beach on a Thursday and one at the Abbotsford Convent on a Friday. You can wander around hand in hand checking out the merchandise, possibly enjoy a meal on the grass and listen to a band - all with no price of admissions. You can find a comprehensive listing at The White Hat Guide to Twilight & Night Markets in Melbourne.
Afternoon Tea at The Windsor
For as long as most people can remember, afternoon tea at The Hotel Windsor has been a Melbourne institution. A full leisurely afternoon tea served in the luxurious surrounds of Melbourne's of Melbourne grand old historic hotel really calls for a lady to wear a hat and gloves. If you don't have a hat and gloves and the gentleman doesn't have a cane then White Hat urges you to at least carry yourself with a dignified air.
Royal Botanic Gardens, Melbourne

 

If the weather is fine, a picnic in one of the many parks and gardens with a bottle of champagne is hard to match. The Botanic Gardens in particular evokes the atmosphere of a Jane Austin novel. Keep in mind, however, that Melbourne's weather may require a Plan B.

Go sailing. Towards the end of this list you will find details for trying out sailing for free. Obviously you need to dress appropriately. However if you feel that you look at your best in a wet t-shirt then White Hat suggests you contrive an occasion to fall overboard. For those who prefer the romantic experience of sailing without all that sweaty physical exertion we have listed some options below which you may wish to check out.
   
Visit one of Melbourne's Hidden Gems. Most weeks in our White Hat Melbourne Newsletter we mention a hidden gem and many of these are romantic in nature.
Ride a tram - You can ride the City Circle Tram for free, but once you've done a complete circuit you probably don't want to go around a second time. On the other hand you could choose a particular tram and ride it to the end of the route and back. On the weekends, if you buy the right ticket, this will cost you next to nothing. and for visitors it can be a good way to get a flavour of Melbourne suburban living. You could for instance try the route 109 which runs through Collins Street in the city. If you are on a tight budget you could break your journey at either Victoria Street Richmond or the Box Hill terminus and enjoy a cheap warming Asian meal. If you have a little more to spend you could enjoy a meal at one of the restaurants overlooking the bay at the Station Pier terminus.



© Colonial Tramcar Restaurant

Colonial Tramcar Restaurant

 

Have a meal on the tramcar restaurant - Enjoy a leisurely meal in a heated tramcar restaurant while looking through the windows at the poor mugs out there walking around in the rain. Be warned that the wine (included in the price) keeps on coming so you're sure to feel nice and warm when you return to base.
Take a romantic evening stroll along the Paris end of Collins Street then into the Treasury Gardens. You can find some background information on this area in Part 2 of our podcast of August 2008.
Take the ferry to Willy. Williamstown (or Willy as the locals call it) still has a village atmosphere and the boat trip across the bay helps put you in a romantic mood. There are numbers of cafes, restaurants and pubs along the waterfront for a romantic meal. More details at The White Hat Guide to Williamstown.
Spend a lazy afternoon in the sun at a rooftop bar such as the one on top of Curtin House.
Lie on the grass at an outdoor cinema. Popular outdoor movies in Melbourne include the Moonlight Cinema at the Royal Botanic Gardens.

Some forthcoming events:

Hispanic Latin American Festival (Johnston Street Fiesta)

Sexy and vibrant, Johnson Street’s Fiesta promises more kick than a tequila sunrise. Every year thousands of Melburnians are lured to Fitzroy for a weekend fiesta of food, music and dancing. The street is lined with stalls serving paella, chorizo sausages, sangria, tapas and other taste sensations. A giant stage offers entertainment for all ages.

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Melbourne Night Noodle Markets

The Night Noodle Markets are back, with all the sights, sounds and smells of an Asian hawker market plus the buzz, hype and vibe of a huge outdoor festival.

This event sees the return of some of your favourites: Wonderbao and Hoy Pinoy, as well as West of Kin and desserts from Gelato Messina and Black Star Pastry x N2 Extreme Gelato. The  Night Noodle Market dragon dancers illuminate the crowd in a sea of acrobatics, dance and lights. Relax in the fun seating areas and get up close and personal with the schedule of chef appearances, or dance the night away to live DJs and music. Times and other details at Melbourne Night Noodle Market.



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Cruise Ship Crystal Stmphony visiting Melbourne
The Cruise Ship Crystal Symphony visiting Melbourne.

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Free Guided Tour of Fitzroy Gardens

A free one hour guided walking tour through this formal garden highlighting its rich history. Bookings are not required. The tour leaves from the Information Centre in the gardens.



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Gypsy Jazz on the Village Green
Come and jam to the music of Django Reinhart, or just have a listen. If you would like to come along and jam, contact Misja on carbowalker@optusnet.com.au

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Sunset Series 2017

The 2017 Sunset Series is a vibrant program consisting of a four-hour Saturday and Sunday program in Fitzroy Gardens held over two weekends in January.

Saturday evenings are traditionally focused on local bands and offer a relaxed vibe. Sunday evenings are dedicated to music and dance with a fun interactive workshop component.

  • Saturday 14 January
    Presented by Foreign Brothers and featuring Rat Child; Laneous; Alaariya; and The CoreTet.
  • Sunday 15 January
    Presented by Melbourne Salsa and featuring Juan Cretino; Melbourne Salsa workshop; Orchestra LA 45; and The Latin Dance Company.
  • Saturday 21 January
    Presented by MzRizk and featuring Neil Morris; Sista Selekta; MzRizk featuring Thando and Au Dray; a MzRizk DJ set; Silver Linings featuring Peril; and Fulton Street.
  • Sunday 22 January
    Presented by Amrita Hepi and with a welcome to country, smoke ceremony and dancers, also featuring Sovtrax; traditional dance workshop; Paul Gorrie DJ set; pop-culture workshop by Amrita; Sezzo Snot DJ set; and Deep Soulful Sweats.

In addition there will be food vans in attendance including Mr Burger, O Tuga Tastes of Portugal, Yo India and Sweet Forbidden Journey.



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So Frenchy So Chic - Melbourne

This event seems a wonderful match of venue and entertainment. Our heritage homes can often be pigeonholed as places for historic re-enactments, but they are very young in European terms and were usually created as places to entertain and host cultural activities.

So Frenchy So Chic provides the opportunity to picnic with choice deli foods, entertain the kids, dance on the grass listen to French bands and all in civilised surroundings. 30-somthings with children and a taste for the good life - this is particularly for you. More info & booking details

Our rating - 5 Hats

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Australia Day Races
The popular annual horse racing event.

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Government House Open Day
As part of Australia Day, citizens and visitors are invited to visit Government House, inspect many rooms not normally open to the public and enjoy a picnic on the lawns. Music and entertainment throughout the day.
 

Our rating - 5 Hats

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Fairfield Summer Series 2017

Meow Meow

The 2017 edition of the Fairfield Summer Series brings a variety of performers to the Fairfield Amphitheatre for a series of free shows each Sunday in February from 5pm to7:30pm. Featuring serious local talent from established and emerging artists, Presented by Multicultural Arts Victoria in partnership with the City of Yarra. Enjoy tantalising international delicacies from the Social Studio.

Fantastic Voyage - Sunday 5th February

Be ready to be taken on a Fantastic Voyage through genre and tradition as we kick off the Fairfield Summer Series with an eclectic line-up headed by The Cactus Channel. Melbourne’s flamenco rockers Malcura will get your heart racing whilst Kozmik County will supply Psychedelic Eastern music to make your feet slide and your mind expand. Top this off with unique and specialized dance stylings from Studio J and you’re set on a journey beyond the leafy banks of the Yarra.

Station to Station - Sunday 12th February

PBS 106.7 FM Stone Love presenter Richie 1250 will be taking punters from Station to Station of the African musical diaspora. Foreign Brothers’ The Core-tet will be laying down the funk and soul with moves from Metaphysical Groove. Alariiya is bringing the Afro-beat. Dig Deep will be showcasing local hip-hop talent. International stars from I Love Dancehall will show you how to shake.

Let’s Dance - Sunday 19th February

Chris Gill, the host of 3RRR’s ’102.7FM’ Get Down, is hosting a dance party ripe for busting out some serious moves. Neil Morris is opening the show with a very special performance. Latin heroes San Lazaro will be there preceded by a Bindaas Salsa workshop for those not in the know. New-kids-on-the-Melbourne-Soul-Block, The Do Yo Thangs, are going to get you up and moving.

Changes - Sunday 26th February

Celebrating the next wave of Melbourne’s biggest talent Changes will be headed up by Billy Davis & The Good Lords. After a smashing year Thando will be showing audiences what she has been cooking up. See what’s happening in Melbourne’s poetry scene with spoken word fusion darlings Lay & Soreti: The Moment. As well as hosting the evening, Anna ’Pocket Rocket’ Lumb will be reveling in the renaissance of the Hula with an interactive performance.

Bring your friends, family and a picnic rug to witness a range of of Melbourne’s music and arts. Ride a bike, walk the Main Yarra Trail or catch a train – the Fairfield Amphitheatre is a 5 minute walk from Fairfield Station and just 16 minutes by train from Melbourne’s CBD.

Our rating - 4 Hats

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The Book of Mormon

The Book of Mormon

From South Park creators Trey Parker and Matt Stone and Avenue Q co-creator Robert Lopez, it’s The Book of Mormon, winner of nine Tony Awards® including Best Musical. 

The Book of Mormon made its world premiere in March 2011 at Broadway's Eugene O'Neil Theater. The London production opened in February 2013 at the Prince of Wales Theatre. The show has set house records at 27 theatres around the US, and broken the house record at New York's Eugene O'Neill Theatre more than 50 times. The London production broke box office records for the highest single day of sales in West End history.

White Hat can thoroughly recommend The Book of Mormon as one of the best and most entertaining musical productions to be seen in Melbourne for quite some time

Our rating - 5 Hats

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’Tis Pity - An Operatic Fantasia on Selling the Skin and the Teeth

Meow Meow

An operatic fantasia by Richard Mills, ’Tis Pity reunites the creative forces of international chanteuse Meow Meow and director Cameron Menzies to create a brand new work, following their acclaimed production of The Seven Deadly Sins.

 Richard Mills composes a flight of fancy on ‘selling the skin and the teeth’. A song cycle on the complexities of sex, pleasure, survival and salvation, trade transactions and razzle dazzle rouge through the ages, from Ishtar to the Internet, the vamp, the saint and the mirror, suckers and succour, preaching and pragmatism.

Be drawn into a fantastical history of the concubine, the courtesan, the conqueror, the queen and the sing song girl. With texts ancient and modern, old and original.

With Meow Meow, Kanen Breen and Orchestra Victoria conducted by Richard Mills.

See The White Hat Review of 'Tis Pity

Our rating - 3 Hats

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Sidney Myer Free Concerts - The Russians

Crowwd at Sidney Myer Free Concert

The Sidney Myer free concerts at the Music Bowl is always one of White Hat's favourite Melbourne events. Relax under the stars with a picnic and perhaps some champagne while listening to the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra play some of the world's great music.

In this concert the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra with Benjamin Northey (conductor) and Jayson Gillham (piano) perform:

Running time: 1 hour and 45 minutes, including a 20-minute interval

Admission is free and gates open at 4.30pm, entry is on a first in, best dressed basis. Full conitions of entry can be viewed here.

Our rating - 5 Hats

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Sidney Myer Free Concerts - Romeo & Juliet

Crowwd at Sidney Myer Free Concert

The Sidney Myer free concerts at the Music Bowl is always one of White Hat's favourite Melbourne events. Relax under the stars with a picnic and perhaps some champagne while listening to the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra play some of the world's great music.

In this concert the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra with Benjamin Northey (conductor) and Claire Edwardes (percussion)  perform:

Running time: 1 hour and 40 minutes, including a 20-minute interval

Admission is free and gates open at 4.30pm, entry is on a first in, best dressed basis. Full conitions of entry can be viewed here.

Our rating - 5 Hats

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Sidney Myer Free Concerts - La Valse

Crwd at Sidney Myer Free Concert

The Sidney Myer free concerts at the Music Bowl is always one of White Hat's favourite Melbourne events. Relax under the stars with a picnic and perhaps some champagne while listening to the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra play some of the world's great music.

In this concert the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra with Kazuki Yamada (conductor) perform:

Running time: 1 hour and 40 minutes, including a 20-minute interval

Admission is free and gates open at 4.30pm, entry is on a first in, best dressed basis. Full conditions of entry can be viewed here.

Our rating - 5 Hats

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White Night Melbourne

  • Flinders Street Station
  • Forum Theatre

White Night Melbourne uses installations, lighting, exhibitions, street performances, film, music, dance and interactive events in a 12 hour overnight event that transforms the city into a wonderland.

Our rating - 5 Hats

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Sydney Road Street Party
An annual event with stalls, entertainment and refreshments.

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Moomba Fireworks

The annual Moomba Fireworks running over three nights.

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Port Phillip Mussel Festival

White Hat can thoroughly recommend this vibrant seafood festival come street party. Enjoy mussels and other seafood cooked in a wide variety of ways all accompanied by one of Melbourne's best free jazz festivals. Street vendors combine with the market's own restaurants to provide plenty of variety from the cheap and cheerful through to chef-prepared restaurant dishes. Sit in the sun with a cold sangria and a hot mussel paella or enjoy a craft beer with wok cooked drunken mussels.

Details at Port Phillip Mussell Festival

Our rating - 4 Hats

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Melbourne Tomato Festival

This recently established festival his quickly become very popular and was initiated by the well known Grossi family to celebrate Italian food and one of its star ingredients - the tomato.

White Hat recommends you purchase your tickets ($25/$10) online in advance from the festival site as this event usually sells out. More information at Melbourne Tomato Festival >>

Our rating - 4 Hats

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Parliament House Open Day

Apart from its regular free daily tours, Melbourne's Parliament House has an annual open day. On this day not only are the interior spaces of Parliament House open to the public, the grounds and gardens are also accessible. More details at Parliament House Open Day >>

Our rating - 4 Hats

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Heritage Apple Festival

Join the Diggers Club team for a weekend of heritage apple festivities and celebrations.

Taste test and choose the best heritage apples and pears, sample freshly pressed apple juice and cider, taste and buy delicious baked apple pies and strudels.

For the green thumbs join garden tours and learn about the history and making of this beautiful garden and pick-up gardening tips at the free gardening workshops.

Book into an Apple Masterclass with the heritage apple experts, Pete the Permie and David Key and sample cider from local makers. Learn all about cider making at the demonstrations.

Listen to live music at the Fork to Fork Café while you enjoy a menu inspired by the autumn harvest and complimented by wine.

Children activities on Sunday between 11am-2pm



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The Piers Festival

 

The Piers Festival is held at Princes Pier, Port Melbourne during Victoria’s Term 1 school holidays. The day will be headlined by singer/songwriter Archie Roach alongside new global musical collaborations, kids’ activities, forums, exhibitions and a gourmet foods from Victoria’s artists and cultural communities. Schedule includes:

  • Main Stage will feature one of Australia’s finest celtic rock bands Claymore, Italian Greek aficionados Magna Grecia, Orkeztra Glasso Bashalde’s wide spanning repertoire from Romanian gypsy to Klezmer, Arabic, Macedonian and other Balkan melodies, powerful mana from Polynesian dance group Nuholani, Melbourne’s favourite 60s Asian/Western garage pop explosion Empat Lima, sensational high energy collaborators Amaru Tribe & The Lalibelas ft. Oscar Jiminez and Nhatty Man, headlined by Australia’s iconic and profound Indigenous voice and musician Archie Roach.
  • The Landing will bring together a collection of some of Victoria’s most active cultural associations representing their communities and culture through exhibitions, activities and performances.
  • What Happened at the Pier is curated by Lella Carridi and will feature live poetry readings, forums and musical responses inside The Gatehouse on Princes Pier alongside an exhibition of artefacts and moving image illustrating the narratives from the artists and Memory Keepers who arrived to Melbourne from Princes Pier
  • Cultural games, roving activities and performers
  • Food stalls and food trucks from local providers

Piers Festival celebrates and reflects on the collective historical and contemporary migration stories at its site, Princes Pier, the significant entry point where almost half of Australia’s post World War II refugees arrived. The Festival brings to life the pivotal role Princes Pier played from 1915 to 1969 in Victoria’s growth and as a gateway to the diversity of cultures that enrich our community. With 12,000 attendees in 2015, Piers Festival has grown to become an annual fixture in Victoria’s cultural calendar and a significant occasion to acknowledge and bring to light our Indigenous and multicultural talent.



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Szymanowski's opera King Roger

Opera Australia together with the Opera Australia Chorus and Orchestra Victoria (Melbourne) conducted by Andrea Molino present

Cast - King Roger Michael Honeyman; Roxana Lorina Gore; Shepherd Arthur Espiritu; Edrisi James Egglestone; Deaconess Dominica Matthews; Archiereios Gennadi Dubinsky.

This is a co-production with the Royal Opera House and Dallas Opera. Running time: approximately 1 hour and 50 minutes, including one interval. Sung in Polish with English surtitles.

7.30pm 19th, 23rd & 25th May; 1pm 27th May 2017

Our rating - 5 Hats

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Toorak Village Festival of Sculpture
For the entire month of may, Toorak Village businesses will display contemporary sculptures in their windows and bolted to the pavements along Toorak Road. Take your time surveying the sculptures as well as the shops. Please enjoy 'a decade of sculpture' and take advantage of the warm hospitality of the traders in the village. Catalogues are available from any of the shops in the village and all sculptures are for sale. Toorak Village is between Wallace Ave and Grange Rd, just east of Williams Rd. Simply catch the no 8 tram from Federation Square, along Toorak Road to stop no 35.

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Docklands Winter Fireworks

Start your weekend with a spectacular light show during July and August with the free Friday night fireworks over Docklands. Arrive early or stay late to enjoy sparkling entertainment set to delight kids big and small, from live music to roving performers. If you are feeling peckish, warm up with a bite to eat at one of the many restaurants and bars along the Docklands waterfront before or after the show.

Entertainment starts at 6:30pm with fireworks lighting up the sky from 7:30pm.

Our rating - 4 Hats

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Gertrude Street Projection Festival

Commencing in 2007 the Gertrude Street Projection Festival has grown to become  one of inner Melbourne’s most visible and accessible free large scale arts festival. The festival celebrates projection art and lets us see familiar spaces and buildings in new, inspired ways. It’s a collaborative, volunteer effort of artists and traders, residents and community groups all brought together by The Gertrude Projection Association.

For 10 evenings in July and in over 38 sites, the length of Gertrude Street in Fitzroy is illuminated by the visions of talented projections artists for the Gertrude Street Projection Festival. Buildings, laneways, footpaths and tree trunks light up with site-specific, curated projections. The Festival’s diverse arts program celebrates and connects our diverse community.

White Hat can thoroughly recommend the festival as a showcase of the edgy, arty inner suburbs. more info >>

Our rating - 4 Hats

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The Melbourne Regatta and Blessing of the Fleet

Melbourne is one of the few cities that can pin-point the time, date and the people who first founded it. The Melbourne Regatta was first held on 30 August 1838, making it the first in Australia. In 2016 the Melbourne Passenger Boating Association will deliver a magnificent waterside spectacle to celebrate the connection between Melbourne and the sea.

Born out of a river settlement, developed through trade and immigration, stabilised by gold and farming, the city owes much to the ships who made that connection. The rivers and the great bay have been bountiful, providing food, leisure, relaxation and a highway to the rest of the world. Discover too, the land before it became Melbourne. Learn about the people and the natural landscape that existed long before, and why this made Melbourne a perfect place to build a village.

See a spectacle of cruising boats, dressed especially for the occasion. Hop aboard free ferry cruises around Victoria Harbour, be part of a Welcome to Country ceremony, and hear Father Bob bless the fleet.

You can also enjoy live entertainment with Normie Rowe, along with reggae, calypso, and blues bands. Plus there'll be walking tours, story-telling, roving entertainers, a mass choir and the Sunday market with many food stalls and local cafes. Everyone is invited to join in the fun and excitement and celebrate Melbourne's maritime and indigenous history.



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La Primavera Swiss Italian Festival

Lavandula's La Primavera festival honours the original Swiss-Italian migrants who celebrated the coming of spring with song and dance.

Rosa Voto and her troupe from the Melbourne School of Tarantella will be performing their intoxicating songs and dances. Salvatore, will share the stories of his homeland through song. Lina and Tony of Rose Creek Estate will be showcasing their quality range of Italian-style wines, olive oil and preserved olives. Mara Ripani of Village Dreaming will be putting on a special performance called Kitchen Songs. Descendants of the original Swiss-Italian family who once farmed the property, Faye and Boyd Thompson will give an authentic tour of the original farmhouse.

In addition, good regional fare will be available from La Trattoria and its wood-fired oven. Several stallholders will be showcasing their wares and handicrafts.



You can find a comprehensive guide to markets around Australia at The White Hat Guide to Markets in Australia.