BOOKMARK MELBOURNE

Written by root. Posted in FEATURES

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Published on September 01, 2015 with No Comments

Get the fine print on the best nooks and corners for lovers of the written word.

Words JEFFREY LIM

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Credit: Visions of Victoria

 

Melbourne is a page-turner for the literary-loving traveller. As the world’s second only official City of Literature by UNESCO, Melbourne prides itself on its literary heritage. The city is home to some of Australia’s greatest writers, has the largest publishing sector in Australia, a successful culture of independent bookselling, a healthy reading/writing culture, and an engaging calendar of literary events.

One such event is the recently concluded Melbourne Writers Festival which takes place every year. Keynote speakers in the past included British actor, director and writer, Simon Callow, and prolific Melbourne-born writer and journalist, Germaine Greer. A contingent of heavyweight editorial staff from ‘The New Yorker’ magazine have also spoken at different events and a series of walking tours discovering the history and diversity of Melbourne’s literary and arts culture all contribute to an inspiring overall programme.

The Melbourne Writers Festival came on the heels of the popular Emerging Writers Festival, one of the city’s most influential events, that celebrates creativity and innovation while nurturing diverse talents and voice across Australia. The festival has also made possible The Digital Writers’ Festival, an online-first writers’ festival dedicated to celebrating the work of Australian writers and fostering new relationships through collaboration between writers, with interactive live-streamed discussions between some of Australia’s and the world’s best authors, reviewers, editors, and general publishing community.

Melbourne’s readers are voracious. More people borrow more books from local libraries in Melbourne than anywhere else in Australia. Reading groups are also extremely popular; the Ivanhoe Reading Circle, which is Australia’s oldest book group, has met continuously since the 1920s.

At anytime of year, book-loving visitors can inhale the nostalgia and pen and ink at the State Library of Victoria. A magnificent 19th-century building in inner-city Melbourne, the library houses more than two million books, hundreds of thousands of pictures, newspapers, maps, manuscripts and multimedia materials – all reflecting the culture of Victoria over the past 150 years. The La Trobe Reading Room, with its majestic domed ceiling, is a must-do on any ‘lit-tourist’ itinerary.

Inside the library is the state-of-the-art Wheeler Centre, Australia’s first centre for books, writing and ideas. Opened in 2010, The Centre brings together writers and literary organisations such as Writers Victoria, Express Media, the Australian Poetry Centre, and hosts a number of literary events throughout the year.

The rise in online book sales and demise of some of the larger retail book chains has meant a revival of independent bookshops for Melbourne. Some of the best include Embiggen, Hill of Content, The Paperback Store, Metropolis and Kay Craddock Antiquarian Booksellers. There are also specialised bookstores such as Books for Cooks, the Travellers Bookstore, Artisan Books and The Haunted Bookshop.

Book browsing is hungry work and Melbourne’s famous cafe and coffee culture does not fail to deliver on suitable places to retreat and refuel. Mr Tulk at the State Library, the Moat Bar and Cafe underneath the Wheeler Centre; or the Journal cafe, inside Melbourne’s City Library offer the most convenient eats for readers. Other cafes with bookish bents include 1000 £ Bend, a hybrid city venue that combines a cafe, exhibition space and cinema in an old garage; Manchester Press down a cool city laneway; the League of Honest Coffee; or the Reading Room at Victoria University’s Footscray campus.

Visitors wanting to get the full low-down on Melbourne’s literary roots should let the locals be their guide. Walking tour specialist Hidden Secrets is offering Melbourne by the Book Tour which takes in some of the best-loved bookstores and significant sites in the city’s publishing, bookselling and literary history. MelTours offers a similar two-hour Literary Tour of Melbourne that snakes through laneways and arcades.

Then, there’s Stephanie Sta Maria. A journalist by profession and a yoga teacher by passion, Stephanie is the creator of Page To Pose, an unusual series of themed workshops shaped around books and yoga. Unlike a traditional book club that features a single book, Page To Pose’s participants bring a book of their choice based on that workshop’s theme, like courage, surrender and quiet. The workshop begins in book club style and then flows into the yoga session where the poses further reflect the day’s theme.

Since its conception in March this year, Stephanie has brought Page To Pose to Melbourne’s libraries, community houses and business events where it has sparked conversations and connections. But what truly delights her is being able to bring yoga to non-practitioners and adding more books to their reading list.

 

 

Royal Brunei Airlines flies Melbourne daily.

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