Ah, Melbourne. As the temperatures outside continue to drop in synch with our urge to stay inside, the need for seasonal recreation arises. After all, it’s all fun and games until someone loses an eye... because they were unaware that real-life fun and games turns you into an eye-gouging maniac. Moving along!
We’ve decided that the winter months are perfect for indulging in retro pursuits; the type that have you jumping around whilst also remaining indoors. From old-school arcade gaming to glow-in-the-dark mini golf, here are Melbourne’s best retro leisure activities.
One of Melbourne’s original and best rollerskating rinks, Laverton Skate Centre has been in operation since 1983, which is before Heather Graham even glided into our lives in Boogie Nights and forever changed our perception of roller girls. Located just 20 minutes’ drive from the CBD, it has late-night adult-only skate sessions for advanced skaters, as well as adult-only learn-to-skate classes every Wednesday night from 6.45pm to 8pm.
Saturday morning classes are run by an accredited skate coach who has competed nationally in the disciplines of figure, dance and prevision skating, and cost just $15 with skates or blades included. Whether you’re after fitness, fun or an excuse to indulge in ‘West End Roller Disco’ fashion with its knee-high socks, booty shorts and spandex, roll on over.
Game on, Melburnians. This CBD arcade bar boasts vintage video games, obscure craft beers, and ironically-titled cocktails. It’s located in a basement (of course) just off Flinders Lane, and styled in the manner of Intencity or Timezone. The only difference is that if you have your birthday party here, it’s bound to get looser than it did when you were 12.
The cocktail menu features a Wall Street Espresso Martini made with butter vodka, hazelnut Kahlúa and house-made cinnamon syrup, and a Mario-Mai-Tai sluiced with Cointreau and lime juice. On tap, you’ll find Little Creatures’ Furphy and Pale Ale as well as White Rabbit’s Dark Ale and Three Oaks Pear Cider. Bottled brews include Saint Mihal or Asahi Black—and you can even get four Saint Mihal in a bucket for $20.
But you want to hear about the games, right? Okay: Bartronica has everything from Ninja Turtles pinball to Nintendo 64 as well as old-school favourites like Daytona USA and Fire Escape. It’s a gold-star haven for gamers and geeks, and there are plenty of comfy couches to relax on as you listen to the strains of iconic ‘80s hits.
No one likes to admit it, but a game of mini-golf can actually be pretty fun. The clever clogs at Glowgolf have upped its street cred a little bit by making it glow in the dark. 10 holes under special UV black lighting plus an 18th hole that randomly generates your score await you in Docklands – yes, you have to venture to Docklands to play a round, but it’s open from 10am til 11pm on Saturdays and 10am til 6.30pm on Sundays, plus there are late-night hours throughout the week.
Embrace your sense of adventure and that eerie sense of tourism that comes from a visit to Harbour Town – we hear there’s a simulated ‘Coffin Ride’ for ghost fans, and Glowgolf will even refund your money if you get bored before you finish the course.
There’s an old saying that bowling fans never die, they just end up in the gutter. If you’re the type of person who, to paraphrase Tyler Durden, likes to let the pins fall where they may, you should head down to Strike QV. With 12 bowling lanes split into three private areas that contain large format projectors pumping out Top 40s tunes, it’s our pick of Melbourne’s ten-pin bowling venues because it also boasts a cocktail bar and gourmet kitchen.
Sink gins, split pins and bowl to R 'n' B until inadvisably late. What’s more, Strike QV offers laser tag, karaoke and even Escapism escape rooms—so you can show off your physical prowess, then test your mental mettle as you are locked inside a themed room which requires you to use your noggin to get out.
Release your inner child and head to Luna Park—it may not be entirely indoors, but no list of leisure pursuits in Melbourne would be complete without a tribute to this giant toothy fairground. The rollercoaster is the oldest continually-operating one of its kind in the world, and the only one ever with a standing brakeman aboard its moving carriages. It’ll treat you to sweeping views of Port Phillip Bay and St Kilda as well as a few stomach dives, and the other rides have plenty to satisfy thrill-seekers as well as kids. The Coney Island Top Drop provides the fastest way to bounce four storeys high, and the Enterprise offers a shiny slice of space tourism.
Entry to Luna Park is free, and the unlimited ride tickets allow you to leave Luna Park and return anytime throughout the day. Food-wise, you can snack on classic carnival fare like fairy floss, snow cones and hot dogs, or eat gourmet pizzas at Café Luna. Since it opened in 1912, thousands of people have thronged through the now-famous mouth of Mr Moon to embrace Luna Park’s delights. Join them—even on rainy days, it’s always open.
Need more retro things to do? You definitely need to check out our Complete Guide To Melbourne For Geeks!
Image credit: Whip It