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Want to have a grand day out on a tiny budget? Discover Melbourne's best free experiences, attractions and exhibits.
Explore the art galleries
Swing by NGV International and marvel at their expansive collection. The gallery has a slew of free exhibits to peruse. Explore the NGV collection from a queer perspective, then make a pitstop at the pink pond. Next wander in to wonder at millions of dollars of Australian art at the Ian Potter Centre: NGV Australia. Artistic creations by luminaries Tucker, Nolan and Arkley are all on show, and all for zero cents.
Take a crash course in cinema
Get behind the camera at ACMI’s free exhibition, The Story of the Moving Image. From the birth of film to today’s digital wonders, there’s more than a century of movie history to explore. And you can get hands-on at this fun cinema showcase, with animation and sound effects to play with.
Explore an exhibition of iconic Australian music
If you’re musically inclined, the Australian Music Vault is a must. It’s a great overview of Melbourne’s backstage sounds and stories. Watch rare footage and see iconic objects like Kylie Minogue’s stage outfits and notebooks belonging to Nick Cave. The free exhibition is permanently on show at Arts Centre Melbourne.
Find art in everyday moments at City Gallery
The City Gallery presents free, quarterly exhibitions on city life; past and present. Pop in to the gallery at Melbourne Town Hall to see the current exhibit, From Mundane to Friday: The Art of Everyday Melbourne. Think transient objects and oddities, from forgotten shopping lists to Melbourne's first brick.
Visit the Koorie Heritage Trust
Learn about the history, strength, and resilience of Aboriginal people and their communities at Koorie Heritage Trust. Based at Federation Square, it’s home to an ever-expanding collection of art, cultural artefacts and oral histories.
Uncover Melbourne’s street art
Melbourne’s street-art covered laneways are among the city’s most iconic sights. Awesome spots to discover include ACDC Lane, Croft Alley and Tattersalls Lane. Get out and explore Flash Forward's festival of street murals. Local creatives are transforming more than 40 laneways with epic art and installations. You'll want to capture them all, from immersive Highlander Lane to the exuberant Rainbow Alley.
Get lost amongst the greenery
Escape the concrete jungle and take a break in one of our beautiful green spaces. Did you know the lush Royal Botanic Gardens is filled with hidden virtual reality art? Download the free Seeing the Invisible app to uncover 13 immersive virtual works. Another favourite is leafy Fitzroy Gardens. The gardens boast oodles of old-world charm, heritage water features and an unexpected piece of 18th century England.
Catch a free show from Melbourne's best buskers
The city streets are a stage for Melbourne’s performers, here's where to find them. Stroll along the Yarra River at Southbank and watch the buskers entertain the crowds. Take a break, park yourself on a bench and settle in for some serious people-watching. Over in Bourke Street Mall, you might just catch the next big thing. This is where local legends Tones and I, Pierce Brothers and Tash Sultana all got their start
Free every week
There are plenty more free things to do in Melbourne, but some only run on certain days of the week.
Listen to lunchtime live music
Instead of eating lunch at your desk, break up your day with a free concert. Most Tuesdays of the year, the historic Scots' Church hosts musicians for an hour of beautiful music at its Music Matinee. In the office on a Thursday? Pop over to St Paul's Cathedral for its Lunchtime Concerts. Not only will you get a free half hour performance, but you'll get to marvel at Gaia, the giant earth installation.
Welcome the day with free tai chi
Sure you can borrow a book. But there's so much more to do at Docklands' library and community hub Library at The Dock. Start your Thursday morning early with a guided tai chi class on the waterfront. Held in the fresh air on the library deck, this graceful Chinese martial art will exercise your body and your mind.
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