If your well-intentioned New Year's Eve self swore that 2017 would be the year you'd learn new skills, expand your horizons and maybe even listen when your dad explains how to do your taxes, then, boy, do we have the provisions for you to make good on those promises — no matter what month it is. We've rounded up ten of the best short courses in and workshops in Melbourne to help you acquire said skills, from making wine and keeping bees to playing a ukelele and using commas correctly. New life skills don't always come easily, but these courses should make it fun to try. Happy learning.
Cone11 at Abbotsford Convent gets props for pottery studio in the loveliest surroundings in Melbourne, and might just win awards for teaching you the art of the throw. Sign up to the eight-week term for beginners and you'll be throwing shapes on the wheel, trimming and glazing in no time. With small class sizes and the ability to take home and eat or drink off the pieces you make, you'll be feeling both very smug and artistic by the time eight weeks is up.
When: Dates vary. Where: Abbotsford Convent, 1 St Heliers Street, Abbotsford. Cost: $495 for the eight-week term.
Noisy Ritual is a winery smack-bang in the middle of Lygon Street in Brunswick East. They market themselves as a people-powered urban winery, and they're not wrong — as well as a wine bar and a cellar door, they also do live music, food and function as an event space. But the coolest thing over here is their membership program, which is basically a year-long course, workshop and discount bonanza.
Membership entitles you to three different winemaking workshops (stomping, pressing and bottling), three barrel tasting sessions and a whole bunch of free and discounted wine. Learning how to make wine stage-by-stage is cool, but getting your feet all grapey and then drinking the finished product are obviously the best parts.
The National Institute of Circus Arts will get your feet firmly off the ground with their aerial short courses, which are designed to improve your strength and flexibility while also making sure you have heaps of fun hanging out in the air. Aerial hoop, tissu, trapeze and rope are all activities you can conquer in the safety of a well-padded studio — it will work your upper body and core strength while also fulfilling your past (or present) dreams of joining the circus. Class sizes are small too, so you can be assured that you're safe in the eyes (and maybe arms) of a pro circus trainer.
When: Classes run in terms of ten weeks; dates vary. Where: The National Institute of Circus Arts, 39-59 Green Street, Prahran. Cost: $415 for a ten-week term.
They say anyone can play the ukulele, and even those with tiny hands or no rhythm would have no trouble, owing to its small stature and four-chord progression tendencies. The Melbourne School of Ukulele runs eight-week group courses for you and your tiny axe, so go pick one in a cool colour, sling it under your arm and off you pop — classes are run in the CBD, Fitzroy, Camberwell and Murrumbeena. And if you don't have your own uke, for $30 extra, the school can provide one for you. It's your time (to learn to play that one Jason Mraz song like you've always wanted).
When: Dates vary — and class times vary with studio location. Where: The Melbourne School of Ukulele have studios in Murrumbeena, Camberwell, CBD and Fitzroy. Cost: $250 BYO ukulele, $280 for one thrown in.
Make entire green worlds on a miniature scale with Amy Wong from Petite Green at Work-Shop in Fitzroy. Amy runs workshops devoted to making mini-landscapes out of ferns and indoor plants, moss, soil and rocks. All you need to do is bring a glass vessel big enough to fiddle around inside, then you can make your world, pop a couple of figurines inside to make it looked lived in, and voila — you've got a unique little ecosystem to talk to when you get lonely. Amy will also share her knowledge of soil composition and terrarium care as well as the best plant selection for both open and closed terrariums, so your little terrariums can carry on nourishing themselves inside their glass walls all year-long. Booking is essential as workshops tend to sell out.
When: Dates vary, but workshops are held every few weeks. Where: Work-Shop Melbourne, 195 Argyle Street, Fitzroy 3065. Cost: $80.
The Good Copy in Collingwood is fighting the good fight against bad grammar by running classes on the ins and outs of punctuation and grammar (and the inarguably inherent importance of their, there and they're). Their monthly two-day intensives will teach you the art of clauses, commas and copy — and coffee, as they keep you hopped up on cups of joe for sharp minds. Book in if you've always wondered what exactly a colon is and whether you have a semicolon somewhere inside of you or not (hint: you don't).
When: Courses run monthly.
Where: The Good Copy, 19-21 Johnston Street, Collingwood. Cost: $350.
Bees are fascinating creatures with much more going on than just honey and humans getting them confused with their meaner cousins, wasps. At CERES in Brunswick East you can learn about colonies and their survival techniques in the three-day complete backyard beekeeping course with beekeeper Benedict Hughes. You'll learn how to get started as a beekeeper, gain knowledge about diseases and pests of bees (and lots of bee facts), and obtain the general courage needed to start keeping the tiny tuckers in the first place. You'll meet some cool people and some cool bees.
When: Dates vary. Where: CERES Community Environment Park, corner Roberts and Stewart Streets, Brunswick East. Cost: $390 full ticket, $350 if you bring a friend.
The rule of thumb is that every kitchen has far too many spoons for normal use, but never the right sized one you're after. Add to this chaos with Handsome and Co.'s DIY spoon day: The Art of Spoon Carving. The Richmond school of fine woodworking and design run frequent spoon-making courses on Sundays for those wishing to create a handmade soup or cereal vessel. Bring nothing but your hands and your spoon vision, and you'll be instructed on the art of carving, shaping, sharpening and finishing.
When: Dates vary. Where: Handsome and Co, 19 Lincoln Street, Richmond. Cost: $170 general admission, $153 for students.
If squeezing large amounts of meat into thin casings and texting your mates that you'll be having a barbecue this weekend is on the horizon for you, The Meat Room can sort you out. Check out their sausage making workshop, a sell-out hit which teaches you the fine art of sausaging over the course of a day, and also throws in morning tea and a woodfired pizza lunch. As if life skills and tasty pizza weren't adequate bang for your buck, perhaps the kicker is that you get to take home four kilograms of pork sausages you've made. Seriously, you'll need to have a barbecue.
When: Dates vary. Where: The Meat Room, 26 O'Gradys Road, Kilmore East. Cost: $180 (including morning tea and lunch).
Tap dancing is a great excuse to make heaps of noise in a musical, art-approved way — it's also stacks of fun and very skilful when it comes down to it (although it's an activity that ticks the harder than it looks box). East Richmond's Dance Factory offers a short course of ten weeks for tap beginners, working on technique and musicality and making satisfying amounts of foot noise. Also, you'll have a beaut party trick if you've got your shoes on, you old Fred Astaire.
When: Wednesdays, 6-7pm. Where: Dance Factory, 4-10 Yorkshire Street, East Richmond. Cost: $170 for the ten-week term.