Every Melbournian has a place they go to feel inspired. Somewhere that makes them feel like they can write a novel, solve world peace or finish an entire Oreo Freakshake by themselves. You enter these spaces as an innocent caterpillar, and leave a boss butterfly, ready to take on the world.
Sometimes it’s a building or a park, sometimes it’s a class or an open mic night. You never really think a space will inspire you until you experience it. So pause your latest Netflix binge and check out these 9 places in Melbourne that will have you feeling like you can take on the world.
Well yeah, duh, right? But we’re not talking about the latest Van Gogh exhibition (although that is pretty awesome too, you should defs check that out). We’re talking about the NGV’s floor. Specifically the floor in the gallery’s Great Hall. Here’s what you do, wander through to the Great Hall, pick a spot where you won’t get stepped on or crushed beneath the wheels of a pram, lie down on your back and look up at that gorgeous stained glass ceiling. It’s actually the biggest stained glass ceiling in the world, created by artist Leonard French almost 50 years ago. The job took him five years. If that doesn’t get your creative juices flowing, nothing will.
The South Lawn Carpark
A carpark? Really? Yep, really. If a carpark could ever be categorized as “cool”, it’s this one: a gothic labyrinth in perfect symmetry that stretches out into gloomy oblivion. Melbourne Uni’s South Lawn Carpark was featured in the original Mad Max movie, and was described as one of the ‘most important non-residential designs in the country’ by architectural historian Miles Lewis. The echo in this place is insane. You’ll probably look a bit weird, wandering around with your jaw on the floor, but hey, who cares? It’s an inspiring spot.
LaTrobe Reading Room
An oldie, but a goodie. If you every need a spiritual top-up, something to refresh the soul and replenish your faith that the world isn’t terrifying and awful, spend a couple of hours in the State Library Reading Room. It was officially opened in 1913, built to mirror the great dome of the British Museum in London and Washington’s Library of Congress (we’re a smidge biased, but we reckon ours is better). The dome itself is 114-ft high, a measurement you can appreciate if you climb the stairs and look down from one of the viewing galleries. There’s no better place in Melbourne to tuck into a good book.
Alfred Nicholas Gardens
Everyone’s been to the ‘Nongs, but most people whiz straight on through to Sassafras or Olinda in search of the perfect scone, totally ignoring one of the mountain’s most beautiful gardens: a huge collection of natives and sky-scraping mountain ash trees, with a very special ornamental lake at the bottom. It’s the perfect spot to sit and soak up a bit of nature (doesn’t hurt that it looks like something out of the Notebook either). The park is open every day of the year (except Christmas), but Autumn or Spring are the best seasons to visit: the leaves turn, the azaleas and cherry trees blossom and the whole garden comes to life. Go and sit outside for once and enjoy what nature has to offer.
Centre For Contemporary Photography
The cliché “a picture speaks a thousand words” actually kind of makes sense here. If you haven’t checked CCP out before, it’s a pretty awesome spot. The Centre started out back in the 80s as a not-for-profit exhibition and event space, and it’s been championing local photographers ever since. Browse the latest exhibitions or take it a step further with a workshop that’ll have you feeling like a pro. There are even free artist floor talks, where local photographers can walk you through their work first-hand. Take a friend or fly solo—you need to see this place for some next level inspo.
The School of Life
The School of Life offers you a space to step away from the bustling Melbourne streets and just be Zen for a sec. They offer classes, workshops, retreats, secular sermons and therapies that will leave you radiating positive vibes all day long. They also sell books and make a range of things that will have you life feeling incredibly fulfilled (including a mean espresso). You can expect sessions on mindfulness, great thinkers like Socrates and (best of all) how to manage stress. Totally appropriate for all those uni students ripping their hair out right about now.
I bet you’re thinking what the hell does that mean? It means your about to get a whole bunch of inspiring words thrown at you. Slamalamadingdong is Melbourne’s longest running spoken word slam poetry night, and its pretty damn cool. Every last Thursday of the month, at the Melba Spiegeltent, they invite poets, storytellers and performance artists to step up on stage. If you’re down for embedding some serious word art into your brain, we highly recommend checking it out. And if inspiration strikes, there’s nothing stopping you from getting up on stage and quietly rocking people’s worlds.
All the single ladies, this one’s for you. Go bust a move at Bey Dance. This Beyoncé-inspired dance class is everything you need to bust out of a shitty day. There are no standards, no judgement, and it doesn’t matter if you can’t live up to the moves of Queen Bey herself (who can?). It’s all about letting loose and having fun...and nailing the steps to Single Ladies. Best part? You can grab a cocktail to really get those inspo levels at their peak. There’s no better way to feel inspired than to listen to a whole Beyoncé playlist. Fact.
The Weekly Service
You don’t have to be religious to appreciate the nice ritual of going somewhere each week to talk and listen and reflect on life in general. The post-service finger services are also usually top notch. Well The Weekly Service does the same thing, just in a secular way. It’s a place where people can meet each week and discuss ideas, jam on guitar, reflect on life’s big questions, and eat good food. Doesn’t matter what your religious or spiritual orientation is. All are welcome. Services run on Saturday mornings at Nest Co-Working Space in Thornbury.
Of course, for some people, all inspiration needs is a good cafe. Here are the best cafes for working or studying in Melbourne.
Image credit: State Library Of Victoria