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Published January 19th 2013
Gasworks Arts Park in South Melbourne was originally the South Melbourne Gas Plant, hence the name. In 1992, it was reinvented as Gasworks Arts Park, owned by the City of Port Phillip. Set on eight sublime acres, it's now a bohemian-meets-city chic arts community with mutliple original buildings which are now heritage listed, housing art studios, workshop spaces, galleries, two theatres and even a dog-friendly cafe.
The mission of Gasworks Arts Park is to 'engage the community by creating a rich environment that integrates a public park and the arts.' There are thirteen artists in residence who work across an array of specialities such as sculpture, visual arts and ceramics, with several galleries and workshops open for public viewing.
On the third Saturday of each month, Gasworks plays host to a true blue farmers' market. Rain, hail or shine, it runs from 8.30am until 1pm. If you're feeling a bit dusty from the night before, you can head for the gourmet BBQ, or buy a surprisingly good coffee from the cafe van set up under the trees. Otherwise, bring some eco bags and make your way around the fresh produce and flowers, hand-made jams and free-range eggs. There is a definite organic vibe to these markets, which is lapped up by the South Melbourne locals.
The Farmer's Markets
The philosophy of the farmers' market is simple: producer meets consumer. Over 70 Victorian stallholders ensure that the produce you buy here is as fresh and local as possible. It's a great atmosphere, and it's tempting to simply weave your way through the strollers and dogs on leads and take it all in, or make yourself comfortable on the grass and watch the world go by.
It would be foolish to leave without paying a visit to Priscilla Jones, which is the cafe that resides within the arts precinct. The whole community is dog friendly, and Priscilla Jones is no exception, with mats available for your dog to have a rest on, bowls of cool water aplenty, and even a special doggy treat available to order from the menu. The breads are made daily by Noisette, and the children's menu will accommodate even the fussiest of eaters, with hommus and carrot sticks available for the trendier little people.
Fabulous coffee at Priscilla Jones
The food here is mainly on the healthier side, and varies seasonally. I went for the Priscilla's Museli, which is toasted oat, seed and nut muesli with natural yoghurt and a rhubarb and raspberry compote, along with a brilliantly made coffee. My partner in crime had the frittata of the day, which was served with salad and homemade chutney, along with a freshly squeezed orange juice. The cafe is reasonably priced and always busy, but the staff are engaging and attentive.
Gasworks also run school holiday art programs, backyard cinema throughout the summer (with a discount if you ride your bike there, of course), morning music sessions (complimentary morning tea provided) as well as dozens of other community classes and events. Check out the website for all the details. Gasworks is an artsy and fun place, hidden away barely a kilometre from the CBD. The family and dog friendly atmosphere makes for a really relaxed vibe, and a fantastic way to spend a sunny day.