Footnote Frivolity***, Thrills without frills

Frugal thrills: winter in Melbourne

Winter. It’s cold and wet. There’s nothing to do except eat, sleep, and have sex. But there’s only so much hibernating one can take, so here are five free things to do in Melbourne during the next few months:

1) Play videogames

Until 8 July 2012, ACMI is offering punters the chance to play some of the best games from San Francisco’s Independent Games Festival 2012. Compete against strangers/friends in the art racer game Proun, ninja-vacuum your way through fifty levels of grime in Dustforce, or explore 3D worlds as the 2D platform character Gomez in Fez*. This exhibition is located in Gallery 2 and is open daily from 10am to 6pm. Don’t forget to check out the ACMI store’s collection of videogame geekery, including Zelda mints, Mario Bros chess sets, and PacMan mugs.

2) Listen to words

Being a UNESCO City of Literature, Melbourne’s always got something word-related happening. Its writers festival (MWF) will be on again at Federation Square from 23 August to 2 September 2012. Most events require an entry fee, but there are always some that require nada, such as 2009’s Festival Club gigs by The Bedroom Philosopher. For other written and spoken word events, check out The Wheeler Centre’s website. Coincidentally, The Wheeler Centre also runs Lunchbox/Soapbox, a free, informative (and usually interesting) talk that happens around noon on Thursdays.

3) Go to an ‘art’ gallery

NGV and the Ian Potter Gallery usually offer some free exhibits. For something a little less high brow, check out Platform in the Degraves Street Subway, the Citylights projects in Hosier Lane and Reko Rennie’s Neon Natives in Cocker Alley before trawling through Melbourne’s laneways for some street art by folks like Deb, Phibs, and MIC. Just remember to bring a camera and some cold/wet weather gear.

4) Watch a movie without catching the cold

While open-air cinemas are superb in summer, they’re not so much fun in winter. Luckily, some genius has come up with Southgate Cinema, ‘an outdoor experience while remaining undercover’. In addition to the glass roof, Southgate also provides headphones and audio kits, making it Melbourne’s only silent cinema. Screenings start at 7pm on Tuesdays and Wednesdays. Remember to turn up a couple of hours early to secure tickets.

5) Pretend to be Kevin McCloud

For the weekend of 28 and 29 July, a hundred of the city’s significant buildings will be on display for Open House Melbourne 2012. The public will be able to explore places such as the Royal Australasian College of Surgeons, 60L Green Building, and Russell Place Substation. This program is popular with architecture/history/photography nerds; there will be lines, so get there early.

*Warning: attending the Best of IGF 2012 exhibition may induce the urgent compulsion to buy an XBOX 360 and a ‘What would Gomez do?’ T-shirt.

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