Standing in the windy tunnel of Jane Bell Lane at the QV complex I am clutching my mobile phone and juggling my overnight bag plus the cooler bag full to the brim with our supper picnic goodies. “Can you see Officeworks?” my Airbnb host asks. “Yes” I reply. ” There is a tree in front of the store, and on the tree guard you will see a number of key locks. Mine is MO1. I shall text you the code.” Sure enough, after I trundle back down the wind tunnel lane, there is the said tree with a row of key locks attached to the guard. MO1 puts up some resistance to my attempts to reveal the combination numbers, but perserverance (and swearing) finally prevails. Voila, I have the key and so begins our White Night 2016 adventure.
We three girls have rented the one bedroom apartment, with 2 additional sofa beds (our host neglected to mention that the 3rd sofa bed was only fit for a child, not a 5’6″ 60 year old woman!), for the night so we can make the most of the visual extravaganza that is White Night.
What the apartment lacks in bedding it makes up for in magnificent views over the State Library and beyond:
By 5 we three are assembled. Time to lay out the picnic spread, open the bottle of bubbles and plan our campaign for the night. So much to see – how best to tackle it, yet avoid the madding crowds? Our campaign plans are anchored around our free tickets to the Cherry Bar for the 10.45 gig by Rob Hirst (ex Oils drummer, who Fiona has been working with in conjunction with the Arts Centre’s Midnight Oil exhibition); our desire not to be crushed to death and the recognition that at some stage we will need to sleep (midget bed notwithstanding).
We make a plan, starting with the The Big Top precinct around the Museum and the Royal Exhibition building – a few blocks from our apartment – and ending at The Arts Centre in the early hours of the morning.
We leave the apartment at 7.30pm, armed with our ticked & circled map (which Lizzie manages to lose at our first stop!) and make for the Exhibition buildings, where we see a funky Welcome to Country ceremony and the launch of the beautiful Pitcha Makin’ Fellas light display,depicting the change of seasons, on the facade.
From here we wander back towards the City Baths, via the illuminated skipping ropes, but the queue discourages us and we move on to the State Library, where the queue is long but moving briskly so we join in (and bop along to the DJ playing tunes in the forecourt whilst we wait). Looking back over our shoulder we realise that the Rennie Ellis photos are being projected on the wall beside the Library. With all this entertainment our wait skips by and before long we are inside the domed reading room to be entranced by “Ideation” – so much so we stay and watch it twice.
It’s time now to leg it to the Cherry Bar in ACDC lane to release our inner rock chicks and relive our sticky carpet days.
Swapping pleasantries with the heavily tattooed bouncer we drop the words “Our names are on the door list” and are ushered in with a grin. Our rock chick kudos is further enhanced when we bump into Elwood Dad Jack Howard, there to play the trumpet on a couple of songs. Worst glass of house red ever, but all is forgiven when the band rocks out their set.
Gig over it’s now 12.30 and sticking to the plan we meander back to the apartment, via Scots’ Church and then Swanston Street and the beautiful White Wash on the CGI Building, and various buskers dotted along the crowd thronged promenade. We stagger into the apartment, pull the cork from a red, admire the night lights and heat up the quiche. Fortified with food and wine we decide to head back out rather than have a Nanna Nap.
From here we head into the Wonderland precinct, hoping for a bit of a dance but while the spirit is willing the flesh has given up as the clock shows us it is now 4.00 am. We sit briefly (amongst the dispiriting amount of rubbish that has been left by earlier revellers- what is wrong with people, why can’t they pick up their rubbish???) to hear a band in Birrarung Marr but decide it is time to wend our way back to the apartment.
We stagger home via ACMI’s illuminated facade:
and the intriguing 3D illuminations in the Baptist Church in Collins Street:
Back into the apartment by 4.45 we are well and truly ready for bed, resigned to the fact we have missed a lot, but content with what we have seen. All in all a terrific night. Thank you White Night. Been there, done that.