Melbourne Festival’s Jonathan Holloway: why the city is never dull

Artistic Director of the Melbourne Festival, Jonathan Holloway at the Forum Theatre. 24th July 2017. The Age Fairfaxmedia News Picture by JOE ARMAOJonathan Holloway, Melbourne Festival director, shares his hot tips and takes on living in Melbourne.


First memory of Melbourne?

Standing outside the Regent Theatre on Collins Street at 10pm on a Friday night and seeing green trees and old buildings, a mass of people in the streets, and trams and cars and bicycles, and thinking, ‘this city is so alive’.

Best thing about living in Melbourne?

I love the fact that 200 years of architecture can be seen in almost every street. That the city grows and is technologically superb but doesn’t forget 40,000 years of storytelling. And that the people of Melbourne use the city brilliantly, going from restaurant to gig to sporting event, seamlessly.

Worst thing?

Distance from the extended family (my children’s grandparents are in the UK and Spain, so they only get to see them once a year, at most).

Jonathan Holloway loves the ciabatta from Dench Bakers.Photo: Melanie Faith Dove

Best takeaway?

Bread from Dench Cafe in Scotchmer Street, Fitzroy North. I love either their ciabatta loaf or a “runt” (a smaller white loaf, but with a cooler name). Related: Lindy Burns on why Melbourne is all classRelated: Mayor Robert Doyle’s idea of a great nightRelated: Melbourne Festival 2017 program

Guilty pleasure?

An obscure cocktail with a nitrogen-infused candyfloss hat at Eau de Vie, down a laneway in the city, of course.

Most unforgettable meal you’ve had in Melbourne?

It’s a toss up between a Barramundi noodle dish I ate at the Flower Drum or vegetables with indigenous Karkalla at Charcoal Lane on Gertrude Street (a Mission Australia social enterprise restaurant that provides guidance and opportunity to young people, many of whom are Aboriginal, and in need of a fresh start in life).

Barramundi noodles from Flower Drum. Photo: Eddie Jim

How would you make Melbourne better?

Allow more creative disruption. It should be possible to close the streets in the centre for more than a demonstration.

Who would you like to bump into on the street and why?

Apart from Shakira? I recently bumped into comedian Hannah Gadsby after seeing her superb show Nanette, and managed to be an embarrassing fanboy. Excellent.

Favourite building in Melbourne?

The Forum – it is possibly the best venue in the world and is so beautiful.


Arts and culture.

Most recent discovery?

The Alliance Francaise building in St Kilda. Love the gorgeous building, and it has great exhibitions.

Describe Melbourne in three words.

It’s never dull.

The Melbourne Festival runs from October 5-22.

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