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ARTS & ENTERTAINMENT

Five Melbourne Date Ideas for This Week That Aren't Dinner and a Movie

Just think of us as your cultural wingman.
By Concrete Playground
January 11, 2021
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Five Melbourne Date Ideas for This Week That Aren't Dinner and a Movie

Just think of us as your cultural wingman.
By Concrete Playground
January 11, 2021
  shares

Tired of the classic drink and dinner date night combo? Us too. That's why we're always on the hunt for new things to do, scouring the city for not-boring Melbourne activities — ones that are guaranteed to take your next date way beyond done-before beers at the pub. Whether you're taking someone on a second date or doing your 100th with your significant other, we've got some killer (and, yes, cute) ideas for dates to go on this week, no matter how much money you've got to spend. Just think of us as your cultural wingman. You're welcome.

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FREE

Liam Neal

EMBRACE THE OUTDOORS AT THIS GARDEN-INSPIRED AL FRESCO POP-UP

Understandably, after last year, we're all keen to be outdoors as much as possible. And one spot you and your date can soak up al fresco good vibes in abundance is Federation Square, which is transforming into a garden oasis this season.

On Friday, January 15, the CBD space will unveil new grass zones, deck chairs, colourful beanbags and a jam-packed program of free happenings to keep you entertained (and comfy) through those lazy summer afternoons and evenings ahead.

The roster of date-friendly fun includes live music, wellbeing classes — think yoga, cooking demos and life drawing — plus an outdoor cinema screening classics like Muriel's Wedding, The Great Gatsby and Red Dog. And, when you get hungry, you can get food delivered from the surrounding Fed Square restaurants and bars, including Transport, Mama's Canteen and Chocolate Buddha.

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UNDER $20

ENJOY COCKTAIL JUGS AND VEGAN PIZZA, AT THIS WES ANDERSON-WORTHY POP-UP BAR

Treat your SO to a few boozy slushies and vegan slices, at Howler's breezy new summertime pop-up. With a look reminiscent of some Wes Anderson film set in 1960s Palm Springs, Howlerwood has taken over a sunny position on Michael Street and it's your new go-to for balmy drinking sessions every Wednesday to Sunday.

Expect sunset hues, palm fronds and romantic festoon lights, painting a dreamy backdrop for the bar's lineup of kitsch cocktails. Summery sips include frosty treats like watermelon margaritas and a frozen Blue Hawaiian, alongside crafty tins and shareable cocktail jugs.

Meanwhile, vegan pizzeria Red Sparrow is also on board, slinging plant-based woodfired delights from Friday to Sunday. With a few slices and a couple of spritz, sunset sessions here are looking pretty damn date-worthy.

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UNDER $50

Michelle Jarni & Made With Moxie

HEAD DOWN THE COAST FOR BARBECUE EATS AND WINES AMONGST THE VINES

Keen to get out of town? Make a day of it and check out the huge finale weekend of Jerry Mai's (Bia Hoi, Annam) barbecue-focused residency at Ocean Eight Winery on the Mornington Peninsula.

On January 22 and 23, the acclaimed chef will be whipping up her usual storm of Viet flavours; think, fried chicken with fish sauce caramel, and coconut-braised beef rib bao. Then, from Sunday, January 24 to Tuesday, January 26, she's invited some legendary food friends to join her on the charcoal grills, slinging punchy eats best enjoyed on a picnic rug with a bright local wine in hand.

Sunday sees Mai and George Calombaris duel it out in a Greece vs Vietnam culinary battle, while on Monday, Masterchef alum Sarah Tiong challenges Mai to a Southeast Asian cook-off. And TV chef favourites Diana Chan and Khanh Ong go head to head whipping up a final feast on January 26.

There are no bookings — simply rock up on the day.

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UNDER $100

Heide x Midsumma, courtesy of Heide Museum of Modern Art

TAKE IN SOME LIVE JAZZ IN THE GARDENS

If an openair jazz gig held in a lush sculpture garden sounds like your ultimate date-night adventure, you'd best check out the Heide Museum of Modern Art's brand-new nine-week music and culture festival.

Kicking off Sunday, January 17, the inaugural Heide Summer Festival will see the parkland grounds come alive with a series of live tunes, performances and dance, held in collaboration with local cultural organisations like Songlines Music Aboriginal Corporation and Midsumma.

To start, a program of January Sunday sessions is being put together by the Melbourne International Jazz Festival, with this week's January 24 gig headlined by third-generation jazz legend, Nichaud Fitzgibbon. From 4pm, she'll have you grooving along to the classics, while you kick back on your picnic rug overlooking Heide's parkland surrounds.
Some festival events are free, though you'll still need to register for all tickets via the Heide website.

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PICNIC WITH A VIEW, ON THE SIDE OF A CLIFF FACE

What's the absolute best spot in Australia to take a picnic date? Well, it's hotly contested, but Mount Buffalo, a picturesque mountain surrounded by green valleys roughly a four-hour drive from Melbourne, is now coming for the title — as long as neither of you are afraid of heights. The Bright Adventure Company is offering secluded picnics for thrill-seekers suspended off the cliff face of Mount Buffalo, on a platform 300 metres off the ground.

For $449, you'll get a set up on the suspended ledge suitable for two people, a delicious picnic hamper and all the safety equipment and training required. Then you can relax with your picnic partner as you take in sweeping views across the Mount Buffalo National Park. All you need to bring is warm clothes, sturdy shoes, a water bottle...and a total lack of acrophobia. The experience runs for three hours with lunch, dinner and romantic sunrise packages all available.

Book a cliff picnic through the Bright Adventure Company.

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Top image: Cliff Picnic With the Bright Adventure Company.

Published on January 11, 2021 by Concrete Playground

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