CLOSED – Melbourne


Courtesy of the random number generator at, the winner is Daniel (Malcom and Rush).


What could be more up the alley laneway of the Melbourne Urbanist than a book about Melbourne?!

Courtesy of UNSW Press (a.k.a. New South), I have a hard cover copy of Melbourne author Sophie Cunningham‘s wonderful new book, Melbourne, to give away to a lucky reader.

This is one of a series of books on Australian capital cities UNSW Press is publishing, as I’ve mentioned before.

You can read the Foreword and first chapter of the book here. This is a Q&A with Sophie Cunningham conducted by Jo Case of Readings.

I haven’t seen a critical review yet (it’s a new book) but here’s some of what Jo Case has to say about Melbourne in her write-up for Readings:

What makes Melbourne different – and completely engrossing – is the patchwork of public and private. It’s the difference between riding an official tour bus around a city and having a resident take you on a personal journey, stopping by their favourite haunts while telling you stories that reflect the broader history of a city. The former is about getting an overview of agreed-upon significant icons and events; the latter is a deeper, if necessarily narrower, experience. It’s about sampling the soul of a city, which is what Cunningham does brilliantly.

And here’s the publisher’s blurb:

Sophie Cunningham writes a year in the city’s life, a year that takes us from the heatwave that culminated on Black Saturday when temperatures soared to 47 degrees to the destructive deluge of a hailstorm. She walks through Melbourne’s oldest suburb to its largest market, she goes to the footy and to the comedy festival, she talks publishing and learns how to use a letterpress. Along the way she journeys deep into her own recollections of the city she grew up in, and tells stories from its history: the theft of Picasso’s Weeping Woman, the Hoddle Street massacre, William Barak’s trek from Healesville, the Westgate Bridge Disaster, the high drama of the 1970 and 2009 AFL grand finals and the Market Murders of the sixties. She strolls by Melbourne’s rivers and creeks while considering the history of the wetlands and river that sit at Melbourne’s heart. She clambers through the drains that lie beneath. For it is water – the corralling of it, the excess of it, the squandering of it, the lack of it – that defines Melbourne’s history, its present and its future.

As with previous giveaways, you don’t have to do any serious work. I’ll determine who gets the book entirely randomly, using the trusty random number generator at So everyone will have exactly the same chance. All I ask is that you nominate your favourite book, film or television portrayal of Melbourne (or all three!). It’ll make no difference to your chances of winning but it would be nice if you could offer a little explanation. But if you just want to say Homicide, My Brother Jack or On The Beach, so be it (no paintings though, I’ll keep that for another comp). You don’t have to be original either, you can nominate the same work someone else has already nominated.

To enter, just respond by commenting below, nominating your favourite Melbourne-related literary work i.e. book, film or television program. Entries close Saturday August 13, at midday. One entry only per person, please. I’ll announce the winner here and e-mail him or her direct. The winner will have to give me an address to post the book to (usually the winner would deal direct with the publisher but I cocked up this one). Apologies to international readers but due to Australia’s ridiculously high postage costs, they can enter but they can’t win (unless they’ve got access to an Australian address).

42 Comments on “CLOSED – Melbourne”

  1. Will says:

    Three Dollars by Elliot Perlman. Also made in to a film. Great.

  2. leongoh says:

    Shane Maloney’s Murray Whelan series.

  3. Q.maisie says:

    I nominate “Stealing Picasso” by Anson Cameron. It’s set in Melbourne at the time that Picasso’s Weeping Woman was stolen from the National Art Gallery. It’s a great romp through the Gallery, Melbourne’s arcades and even stretches out to Thomastown. Loved it. Nothing like reading a good story and seeing your home town come to life so lovingly.

  4. Michael O says:

    The Castle gets my vote! I love how uniquely Australian the film is, and the way it shows so many different aspects of Melbourne, both people and the built environment!

  5. Mountain girl says:

    Kerry Greenwood’s Corinna Chapman’s series. I love the fact that it’s based around Corinna’s love of the fine things in life (food, fashion, art and culture) and one can recognise so many well known places in the novels . . . I’m a sucker for a crime/mystery novel so that gets a tick too.

  6. teponis says:

    The ‘Radical Melbourne’ series. I love the stories of events and informal actors that have helped shape and reflect the cultural image of Melbourne.

  7. Noah says:

    Secret life of us! Its a great show with a very Australian/Melbournian feel!

  8. wilful says:

    What about music? Paul Kelly songs?

    Tim Flannery’s The Birth of Melbourne I found to be very interesting.

  9. Michael says:

    Philip Goad’s Melbourne Architecture. Indispensable guide and has great walking/driving tours for the enthusiast.

  10. mit says:

    Dare I say it? If I must be sadly honest, Neighbours says a great deal about Melbourne and it’s urban planning.

  11. RED says:

    Ghost Rider, starring Nicholas Cage – I think this is the only Hollywood film made in Melbourne to date, and the film-makers made very good use of the central city’s lane-ways in creating the movie’s atmosphere. 😉

    If it must be 100% Melbourne, then I would say Malcolm, starring Colin Friels

  12. Glen says:

    Malcolm. It nearly makes me nostalgic for the days when W-class trams ran over the North Cote ‘hump’.

  13. peter pianta says:

    Secret Life of Us, the early seasons, was a great look at life in St Kilda in the early 2000’s…

  14. Skye F says:

    Totally cheesy but Love and Other Catastrophes, I was around 18 when the film was released and just loved its depiction of uni life 🙂

  15. Hammah says:

    Kath and Kim – I grew up in the outer eastern suburbs and feel that the ‘burbs are rarely depicted in popular media, despite the fact they house the majority of us!

  16. Daniel says:

    Film: Malcolm, it had so many non-descript scenes in Melbourne that could be anywhere in the world, but to someone that knows Melbourne, they can place almost all of them. Like the Northcote hump another poster mentions, and the city laneways, and railway bridges.
    TV: Rush, it shows Melbourne’s built environment from so many different angles, and from such different perspectives.

  17. Andrew(AJH) says:

    Underbelly, the original series, because it showed us an authentic look at a side of our city that most of us, fortunately, do not see first-hand.

  18. gregb says:

    Books: Shane Maloney’s novels; Peter Temple’s novels… they’re all great
    Films: Death in Brunswick; Proof with Hugo Weaving
    TV: Tangled, World of Sport and League Teams

  19. Daniel says:

    Not mentioned yet, but I fondly remember it: the TV series Good Guys Bad Guys, starring Marcus Graham, with office set somewhere in Brunswick Street.

  20. Michael Slocum says:

    On the Beach. All those years ago with the desolate, Sunday morning city scenes! And no high rise!

  21. KT says:

    I read Helen Garner’s Monkey Grip soon after moving to Carlton in the late ’80s. It’s dated now (but Tiamo’s is still on Lyon St, yes?) but it’s my earliest memorable experience of fiction set in my city, and how cool and connected I felt to already know these places (albeit in quite a different way from the characters!).

    And yes, Good Guys Bad Guys, all those scenes on Brunswick Street in the goold ol’ days. I used to leave my woodwork class early so I wouldn’t miss it (actually, so I wouldn’t miss Marcus Graham)

  22. mdonnellan63 says:

    Illywacker. lies and truths muddled for a lovely muddied history or what could have been or was.

  23. While Christos Tsiolkas’ book “The Slap,” set in suburban Melbourne, was in my view, far and away the outstanding Australian book of its year, 2008, I’d have to say that the one book that can still make a trip down Punt Road a special experience is “The Matriarch: The Kathy Pettingill Story,” written by Adrian Tame in 1996 . You can get the kindle edition for ten bucks . . . but even second hand the paperback will set you back $80 and the hardback over $150 [and people wonder why e-books are making such inroads!]

    The best TV series, for me, was the monumental, 26 episode, Power Without Glory, made back in 1976, based on the 1950 novel of the same name by Frank Hardy. The series – not the much persecuted book – won just about every media award going. The book only got to win its court case – the last effort to prosecute for criminal libel in Victoria. Still, Richmond, Kew, Carringbush will never look quite the same again after you watch this series, which is still available as a 7 DVD set.

    And the best film? Possibly The Club [oddly produced jointly by the SA Film Corporation and the NSW Film Corporation] set basically in the MCG, or The Great McCarthy, based on Barry Oakley’s book, about a country boy kidnapped by what was once a Melbourne footy team. While hordes of people will tell you that AFL/VFL footy lies at the very heart of Melbourne, increasing numbers of us look upon it as a penalty Melbournians just have to learn to live with. Whatever, football and the MCG and all the other sporting coliseums that now dominate our city, love them or loathe them, are a major part of our built environment and both films go some way in exploring this odd obsession. But which film to pick? Well I’d say The Great McCarthy wins . . . even though arch pedant David Stratton called it “a lamentable failure” . . . because of the great music which won it, and Barry Smeaton, an AFI Award for Best Original Music Score, some of which you can hear in the trailer.

    Russell Pollard

  24. Em says:

    For me, also, it’s Monkey Grip. I read it soon before I moved, aged 20, to the streets that Nora cycled. I rode my bike through the long cool tunnel (is that the quote?) of Edinburgh Gardens to Fitzroy Pool, lay in the water and read the ‘Acqua Profonda’ sign like a secret code meant for me alone…

  25. Has to be Power Without Glory by Frank Hardy – set in a fictitious Melbourne suburb, but said to be based on the suburbs of Collingwood and Abbotsford.

  26. jamie truong says:

    The Castle.

  27. Brodie says:

    Now that you’ve stolen my thunder, On The Beach is by far my favorite. There is something almost comical (yet strangely rational – to Neville Chute’s credit) about millennia of human evolution spending its twilight hours in Frankston!

  28. Pete says:

    Yeah, [i]On the Beach[/i] still echoes around my brain maybe a decade after reading it.

    [i]Sea Change[/i], in its “Escape from Melbourne” way painted an amusing inverse picture of the place.

    [i]The Castle[/i] is of course unskippable for this request for something overtly “typical”.

  29. Pete says:

    Well, seems like there’s no BBCode. Oh well. 🙂

  30. Evan Dando wrote a song It’s a Shame About Ray about his time living upstairs at The Tote, but since you are wanting a novel or writing for screen, Crackerjack for the Richmond Union Bowling Club and typical Bill Hunter, Molloy’s “flipper” and Judith Lucy, for being well Judith Lucy…

  31. Cat says:

    Second the Murray Whelan series!

  32. David Miller says:

    Definitely Frank Hardy’s “Power Without Glory”. I am reminded of it every time I drive past Archbishop Mannix’s former residence of Raheen or the Tote in Collingwood or the Trades Hall in Lygon Street!

  33. Johanna says:

    I like Keith Dunstan’s “Wowsers” and “Knockers” – can’t decide which book is better. They’re daggy, but funny.

  34. sten says:

    Not really Melbourne, but Picnic at Hanging Rock. It’s been a while since i watched it, but i feel like australian cities are constantly defending themsleves against the close mysteriousness of their surrounding wilderness.

  35. Michael says:

    Death in Brunswick

  36. Emma says:

    Monkey Grip, The Slap, Loaded (also by Christos Tsliokas), Kath & Kim, Dame Edna Everage of Moonee Ponds! Hardy’s Power without Glory. And the wonderful classic, The Fortunes of Richard Mahoney by Henry Handel Richardson – set in Melbourne & Ballarat.

  37. Luke D says:

    I think mine will have to be ‘the show we were never meant to see’, aka Underbelly season 1. I loved that we produced a home-grown drama that relied upon more than just “they’re Australians doing Australian things!”. Best of all it was set against the backdrop of Melbourne of my (late-ish) Childhood, and in neighbourhoods that I know all to well.

  38. Andrew says:

    Partly set in Melbourne, Norman Lindsay’s book Cousin from Fiji.

  39. Yeah, it’s got to be The Castle. Or Bad Eggs – totally underrated.

  40. El_Gordon says:

    While Ghost Rider is probably Nicholas Cage’s best-known contribution to Melbournywood, an even guiltier pleasure is the sci-fi schmaltz of “Knowing”. This big budget film was set in Boston, but filmed here, at locations like Parliament House and Camberwell High School.

    My favourite recent local production in Melbourne was “The Jammed”. This movie got to the nastiest underbelly of our seemingly gracious town.

  41. Julia Burns says:

    Power Without Glory by Frank Hardy

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