The HOT List: Little Free Libraries in Melbourne

little free library


Little Free Library is a global, grassroots movement of community-based book exchanges. People build miniature libraries (using recycled materials) and an honesty system allows people to borrow from the library and in turn donate their pre-loved books.

Little Free Libraries promote literacy and the love of reading and help to build a sense of community. I love the feeling of discovery – suddenly stumbling across a Little Free Library where every book is a potential source of inspiration!

little free library


Melbourne has many Little Free Library book exchanges. They spring up in front yards, on bike paths and at train stations. Here’s a starting list of where to find them.


  • Melbourne Central, Level 2 Cnr LaTrobe and Swanston Street, Melbourne
  • The Moat, 176 Little Lonsdale St, Melbourne


  • 10 Bowmore Ave, Park Orchards
  • 901 Main Road, Hurstbridge
  • South Crescent Westgarth
  • 159a Smith St Thornbury
  • Rossmoyne St, Thornbury
  • 62 Kendall St, Preston
  • 173 Edward St Brunswick
  • 28 Pearl St Northcote
  • Upfield bicycle path, Coburg
  • Dawson St Brunswick
  • cnr Aberdeen Rd and Birdwood Ave Macleod
  • Birdwood Ave Macleod


  • Gasworks Arts Park, Albert Park
  • Brighton Primary School


  • 13 Kent Street, Hawthorn
  • 2 Florence Street, Blackburn
little free library



This list has been compiled by Kel Devoil at Little.Different, a parent and carer’s guide to art, culture and quirk in Melbourne. For a map and reviews of the inner west’s Little Free Libraries, check out her full post.  

  • fifty-six threads cafe, Kensington
  • 5 Hobbs St Seddon
  • Bellair St Seddon (opposite train station)
  • Hotham St Seddon
  • Seventh Ave Altona North
  • 117 Mason St, Newport
  • Somerville Rd Yarraville
  • Cnr Hansen Rd and Nesnah St West Footscray
  • Pin Oak Crescent Flemington
  • Kingsville St Kingsville
  • Goulburn St Yarraville
  • on the corner of Keilor Road and Bradshaw street, Essendon

Let me know at if there’s a Little Free Library near you that’s missing from the list! 

HOT: Bread and Jam for Frances, 1/701 Glenferrie Rd, Hawthorn (enter via Linda Crescent or through Readings)

bread and jam for frances cafe

Melbourne Writer’s Festival starts tomorrow Thursday 20 August – Sunday 30 August so today I’m introducing you to a fabulous bookish cafe – Bread and Jam for Frances in Hawthorn.

The cafe is named after the classic children’s book by Russell Hoban and Lillian Hoban and is attached to Readings Hawthorn, one of my Top 10 Best Children’s Bookshops in Melbourne. You can enter via the bookshop or its own entrance on Linda Crescent opposite Coles.

bread and jam for frances cafe

I really like the church-like atmosphere of the place. Not that it’s silent and solemn. More that the cathedral-high ceilings and arched windows let in an abundance of light and the noise levels seem to be pretty muted (even during busy times) as most people are perusing their latest book purchase.

bread and jam for frances

Bread and Jam for Frances is run by Dench Bakers in North Fitzroy so you know the bread, pastries and cakes are sure to be good. Customers come to buy a takeaway coffee and a loaf of organic artisan sourdough or sit at small tables or banquette to enjoy the short, mostly grain based, menu (sorry paleo people). They serve Veneziano coffee and Larsen & Thompson teas and have an alcohol licence.

bread and jam for frances

I ordered the King brown, button, oyster mushrooms, goats cheese, silverbeet, toasted hazelnuts & toasted sourdough ($16) and was allowed to substitute the goats cheese for Meredith feta with no problems. It was hearty and filling and while a relatively basic dish, very satisfying toppling over with the mushroom melange.

bread and jam for frances

I then returned to drool over the sweets cabinet and was immediately drawn to the orange and pistachio cake with a syringe jauntily jabbed into it. I do love a dessert gimmick! The cake was grainy yet moist with a sweet dose of citrus within once the syrup had been injected inside.

bread and jam for frances

I think books and coffee go hand in hand and a cafe elevates a great bookshop to a fantastic bookshop. Bread and Jam for Frances is the kind of relaxed place where you’d be happy to linger with a novel and it’s a must-do destination for Melbourne bibliophiles.

Bread and Jam for Frances 1/701 Glenferrie Rd, Hawthorn (enter via Linda Crescent or through Readings)

Daily 7am – 6pm

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HOT: Designing 007 – 50 Years of Bond Style, Melbourne Museum, Nicholson St, Carlton

james bond melbourne

Designing 007 – 50 years of Bond Style is Melbourne Museum‘s showcase James Bond exhibition for the summer. And if you don’t want to share the space with gawping noisy kids then I recommend heading to the museum on Friday nights when the exhibition is open for adults only, with special location themed nights, martini talks and music.

Every Friday night 5-9pm until the exhibition closes on 23 February you can have a cocktail at the Bond Bar, purchase themed food and nibbles, dress up in costumes from Rose Chong and see the extensive Bond exhibition at a leisurely pace.

james bond melbourne

Designing 007 – 50 years of Bond Style comes to Melbourne from London’s Barbican and features many items which will delight Bond fans (like RM, who’s seen every single Bond film) and entertain those with a passing interest in Bond (like me).

We spent around 2 hours looking at all the exhibits. There’s lots to absorb, with drawing and models of sets, vehicles and technology from five decades from 1962’s Dr. No to 2012’s Skyfall. Most of the items are original but there are some re-creations which I don’t think are particularly necessary (even if it is Ursula Andress’ white bikini in Dr No).

Designing 007 – 50 years of Bond Style starts with an eye-catching entrance to the Gold Room with a gold-painted replica of Shirley Eaton draped on a rotating cushion. You then proceed through various themed rooms – the most interesting one for me was the ‘casino’ room with many glamorous evening gowns and excerpts from the films where the gowns are featured. The sometimes outlandish gadgetry featured in various Bond films is also fascinating.

Take the time to watch the short 20 seconds films interviewing various people involved in the making of Bond, including special-effects expert John Stears discussing how he had to drill into a brand-new Aston Martin DB5 for Goldfinger and a languid cigar-toting Sir Ken Adam discussing how he decided to pack an autogyro in crocodile-skin cases. Give the ‘Foreign Territories section’ which details Bond’s exotic locations, a quick walk-through.

Designing 007 – 50 years of Bond Style is as entertaining as the Bond franchise itself, even for someone who only has a passing interest in the films and books. If you want to join the Friday Night Bond Experience you can book on-line. Note that the The Bond bar and Designing 007 exhibition are also open till 9pm Saturday nights.

james bond melbourne

Finally on 22 February you can celebrate White Night with James Bond’s last night in Melbourne from 7pm 22 February to 7am 23 February – imagine seeing the exhibition at 3am after a few drinks! To purchase your White Night tickets go to Melbourne Museum Tickets.

Designing 007 – Fifty years of Bond Style, Melbourne Museum, Nicholson St, Carlton

1 Nov 2013 – 23 Feb 2014 10am-5pm daily

Late Nights Friday and Saturday open till 9pm

Adult  $24
Adult Flexible* $34
Concession  & Students $16
Child  $14
MV Members – Adult $14, Concession $12, Child $10

Includes entry to Melbourne Museum between 10.00am and 5.00pm on the day of your visit

HOT: High Tea at the Library, Cowen Gallery, State Library, 328 Swanston St, Melbourne

High Tea at Library, Cowen Gallery, State Library, 328 Swanston St, Melbourne

The State Library of Victoria is not a place you often associate with afternoon tea (more like invigilators saying ‘no food or drink in the library please’) so I was really interested to discover that they are holding high teas in the Red Rotunda of the Cowen Gallery. Never knew that the State Library had galleries? Neither did I.

High Tea at Library, Cowen Gallery, State Library, 328 Swanston St, Melbourne

The Red Rotunda is one of the function rooms that you can hire at the State Library. For the State Library High Tea the library’s caterers CNK Food Design had set up round tables and chairs in the centre of the ornate room as old beardy men in the 19th century paintings and plaster busts stared down at you. Together with the parquetry floors and high dome it was quite a regal setting to be sipping tea and nibbling cakes but the shared table format meant that there’s a lot of chatting with strangers (if you wanted to) so the atmosphere was friendly and relaxed.

High Tea at Library, Cowen Gallery, State Library, 328 Swanston St, Melbourne

High Tea at Library, Cowen Gallery, State Library, 328 Swanston St, Melbourne

I liked the styling of the tables, with lovely vintage floral tea sets and crockery and a literary touch with some old books tied up with a silk ribbon (I’m stealing that idea).

High Tea at Library, Cowen Gallery, State Library, 328 Swanston St, Melbourne

On arrival everyone was offered a glass of Tahbilk Coueslant Chardonnay Pinot Noir and surprisingly for a high tea top ups were offered throughout the 2 hours. Disappointingly there was no choice of tea (English Breakfast only) alongside coffee, sparkling or still mineral water.

In the centre of the tables were placed classic three tiered afternoon tea stands. On the bottom were double-decker finger sandwiches of egg and mayonaise and cucumber with lemon mayonnaise, all very fresh with soft white crustless bread. There was no sign of the promised poached chicken with herbed mayonnaise sandwiches but as Gourmet Chick and I arrived a little late we may have missed that plate. There were multiple serves of the other sandwiches though so I still ate my fill.

High Tea at Library, Cowen Gallery, State Library, 328 Swanston St, Melbourne

The other savoury offering was a smoked salmon roulade made with a spinach crepe and filled with with creme fraiche and salmon roe. They were just as fresh as the sandwiches and deliciously light.

High Tea at Library, Cowen Gallery, State Library, 328 Swanston St, Melbourne

Of the sweets the pastries – macarons, Belgian chocolate dipped strawberries and lemon meringue tarts – were more impressive than the scones. Sadly, the buttermilk scones were as hard as rock on the outside (and bizarrely we had to ask for knives to slice them open) although they were quite fluffy on the inside. Slathered with strawberry jam and King Island double cream they were still palatable but by no means the best scones I’ve had in Melbourne.

In contrast the miniature macarons were delectable, light as air but with no tell-tale air pockets inside the shell and a good proportion of ganache and macaron in each bite.

High Tea at Library, Cowen Gallery, State Library, 328 Swanston St, Melbourne

The pastry of the lemon tarts was buttery and thin with a soft, faintly bruleed meringue capping off a sweet lemon curd.

High Tea at Library, Cowen Gallery, State Library, 328 Swanston St, Melbourne

At the end of the high tea you could elect to join a guided tour of the State Library‘s current Mirror of the world: books and ideas exhibition which showcases rare and beautiful treasures in the Library’s collection as detailing the history of books, illustrations and ideas. I declined the opportunity as the tour crowd was looking to be quite large and I could visit the free exhibition in my own time. 

Considering the fact that the State Library doesn’t specialise in serving food I was generally impressed by the quality of the food on offer, with a few exceptions. There was certainly a lot to go around, with generous top ups of sparkling wine and quite a few sweets left over at the end.

My only other comment is regarding the price. The high tea costs $80 ($70 for Foundation members) which puts it on the upper end of the afternoon tea prices I’ve seen around Melbourne, even taking into account the unique setting. Gourmet Chick and I managed to score a Facebook offer of 2 for 1 tickets which made it a very reasonable $40 each.

I think with a few improvements as to the catering and maybe a reconsideration of the pricing the State Library High Tea would be a lovely, unique space to indulge in afternoon tea.

The next dates for State Library High Tea are:

Saturday 12 October 2013, 2:00pm – 4:00pm

Saturday 9 November 2013, 2:00pm – 4:00pm

State Library High Tea, Cowen Gallery, State Library of Victoria, 328 Swanston St, Melbourne +61 3 8664 7099

Cost $80.00, $70.00 Foundation members

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The Age Good Cafe Guide Awards 2013

The Age Good Cafe Guide 2013_393x540

The 2013 edition of The Age Good Cafe Guide is in stores today – are your favourites listed?

While I am not a coffee drinker I have reviewed several of the award-winning establishments noted with a *. These cafes won top honours:

Each of the 300+ cafes in the guide have been reviewed and the very best have been awarded one to three coffee cups based on their commitment to coffee, the food and the decor/ambience.

The Age Good Cafe Guide 2013 is available in book stores and for $9.99. You can also pick up a copy for $5 with this Saturday’s copy of The Saturday Age.

HOT: Books Illustrated Gallery & Showroom, 300 Beaconsfield Parade, Middle Park

Books Illustrated Gallery & Showroom, 300 Beaconsfield Parade, Middle Park (2)

On Beaconsfield Parade, facing the beach and the bay, is an unprepossessing little house which is the location of Books Illustrated.

Books Illustrated is an independent bookstore and gallery which promotes Australian children’s literature and book illustrations. Their focus and specialty is Australian hardback picture books and in two small rooms (and online) they sell books for babies right up to young adults, original illustrations and limited edition prints.

Books Illustrated was established in 1988 (and has been in various locations since) and I only visited for the first time recently when they held an Open House with Julie Vivas, the illustrator of the beloved Australian classic Possum Magic. Normally the cosy showroom can only be visited by appointment.

In one room, where Julie was signing, there were bookshelves and an exhibition of original watercolours from Possum Magic. In the second room the walls were lined with more books as well as limited edition prints resting on the floor which you can flick through.  Cosy couches, an open fireplace and some friendly dogs encourage browsing and lingering.

Books Illustrated Gallery & Showroom, 300 Beaconsfield Parade, Middle Park (1)

Books Illustrated hold book signings, exhibitions and conduct workshops at Gasworks Park. The best way to find out about their events is to sign up to their newsletter here.

If you like children’s bookstores try visiting The Little Bookroom, the oldest children’s bookshop in the world.

Books Illustrated Gallery & Showroom, 300 Beaconsfield Parade, Middle Park +61 3 9534 7751 

HOT: Janet de Neefe at Books for Cooks, Rice Queen, 2/231 Smith St, Fitzroy

I’ve written previously about the great author events that specialist cookbook store Books for Cooks run. They are becoming so popular that they’ve started moving certain events out of their store – too many books and people to fit into a small space!

While the non-store events are generally not free, the great thing is that they tend to pick local restaurants with a particular affinity for the cuisine in question. So for the launch of Janet de Neefe’s cookbook Bali: My Island Home, we met up at Rice Queen for a talk by the author and four tastes from the book prepared by the Rice Queen kitchen for $20.

Janet began her talk describing how she came to live in Bali. She travelled to Bali with her family as a teenager and was immediately captivated by its exoticness compared to Melbourne. Ten years later she returned after university and met her future husband. She also fell in love with Bali and started collecting Balinese and Indonesian recipes from her sister-in-law and other locals – and with no formal culinary training opened her first restaurant. Janet and her husband have since opened restaurants Casa Luna, Bar Luna and Indus, a bakery, the Casa Luna cooking school and the Honeymoon Guesthouses.

I’m visiting Bali next year so I purchased Bali: My Island Home to gain an insight into the island and its cuisine. The big glossy tome not only gives mouth-watering recipes of Balinese dishes but the photos and text explore the daily life and culture of Bali. It was interesting flicking through the book and encountering new ingredients – fortunately there’s a glossary for things such as candlenuts and salam leaf.

As for the tastes from the book – I highly recommend the black tapioca pearls in coconut milk!

HOT: The Design Files Open House, 40 Little Napier St, Fitzroy

What’s better than a pop up shop? A pop up house!

Melbourne design blogger extraordinaire Lucy Feagins has brought her blog The Design Files out of the interwebs and into real life. With the help of The Project Agency’s Esther Navarro-Orejon, Lucy has turned a swoon-worthy Fitzroy warehouse conversion into an even more swoonworthy display home – where everything is for sale!

That means inside The Design Files Open House all of the furniture, artworks, homewares, textiles, plants and food (and in theory even the Mini) can be popped into your shopping basket. Here’s your chance to bestow the gift of good design to your friends, family or let’s be honest, yourself.

Here are some of my favourite picks:

Baggu backpacks and totes in an array of colours.

A coat rack from Tractor Home that reads in rainbow colours ‘It’s beautiful here’. Very Miranda July I thought.

Maiike softies and Made by Mosey fabric mobiles. Awww.

I am obsessed with lamps. And my current obsessions is with these Workroom lamps. See them here…

..and here….

….and here!

A festive table full of kitchenware and sweet treats from Phillippa’s.

And when you’re done shopping and browsing, hang out on the rooftop under the  Basil Bangs umbrellas and enjoy some coffee and sweet treats from Coffee Supreme/The Abbotsford Club.

The Design Files Open House, 40 Little Napier St, Fitzroy

Thu Dec 1 – Sun Dec 4, 10am-5pm
Online from Mon Dec 5 – Sun Dec 18

The Casual Cyclist’s Guide to Melbourne Giveaway!

I am a big fan of Melbourne-based bike rental company The Humble Vintage and the limited edition hand-drawn maps coming out of it called Melbourne for Visitors and Casual Cyclists.

Now author and entrepreneur Matt Hurst has written The Casual Cyclist’s Guide Melbourne, a book bringing a fresh perspective to cycle routes in Melbourne interspersed with articles on cycling tips, tricks and thoughts as varied as Taking the Scenic Route and Five Surprising Situations When it’s Better to Take the Bike.

The guide brings together contributions from a range of Melbourne architects, historians, chefs, designers and local identities, including chef Guy Grossi and milliner Richard Nylon.

With hand drawn maps by Matt, design by Studio Pip & Co and illustrations from graphic design duo Tin & Ed, it’s a uniquely Melbourne collaboration. The book is a delightful read and it’s an essential item for the ambling Melbourne cyclist.

Giveaway! Thanks to Hardie Grant, I have one copy of The Casual Cyclist’s Guide Melbourne to give away. All you have to do is leave a comment below by Friday 9 December and the winner will be drawn randomly. The competition is restricted to Australian residents. Good luck!

HOT: Adriano Zumbo at Books for Cooks, 233-235 Gertrude St, Fitzroy

We’re so lucky to have Books for Cooks in our city.

This independent book store in Fitzroy is Australia’s only retailer specialising in books on food and wine. The five rooms of an old Victorian terrace typical of the area are filled floor to ceiling with densely packed books, from the popular to the obscure. There are couches and chairs for browsing and the staff are always on hand with information and advice.

Books for Cooks also occasionally hold events in their small store. Talks and signings from visiting authors are normally accompanied by a free glass of bubbles and some tastes from the featured cookbook made by Amanda, one of the owners of the store.

From their mailing list I found out that Australia’s own Willy Wonka Adriano Zumbo was going to be visiting to promote his cookbook Zumbo: Adriano Zumbo’s fantastical kitchen of other-worldly delights. I am a huge desserts fan and I love Zumbo’s cakes and macarons, so I was not going to miss this event.

Adriano was a very personable speaker, even though he described himself as ‘not much of a people person’. We learnt about his beginnings baking in his parents’ supermarket in store bakery, his stint at a French sourdough bakery, his favourite cookbooks (Larousse des Desserts, Ramon Morato’s Chocolate), his favourite bakeries and patisseries in Paris (a long list, including Laurent Duchene, Fauchon, Pain de Sucre, Pierre Herme, Arnaud Delmontel, Laduree – but only the macarons, not the cakes), the challenges of managing 97 staff and looking forward to mechanising his processes, his most outrageous failed dessert (chocolate eggplant macaron, anyone?), his new dessert train at The Star and finally, the key to making winning macarons (finely processed almond meal, knock the air of the meringue, don’t eat macarons fresh but leave for 24 hours).

Books for Cooks have lots of other great events coming up in November, including a dinner with Luke Nguyen at Eat Drink Man Woman on 7 November, dinner with Andrew McConnell at Cumulus Inc and evening tastes with Janet de Neefe, author of Bali: the food of my island home. To keep up to date with their news, sign up to their mailing list.

As for my next Books for Cooks purchase? I reckon it’s going to be the Vintage Edition of the Australian Women’s Weekly Children’s Birthday Cake Book. Retro-fabulous!

Books for Cooks, 233-235 Gertrude St, Fitzroy +61 3 8415 1415
Sun 11am-5pm; Mon-Sat 10am-6pm