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People Watching

Home > Melbourne > Free | Fun Things To Do | Hobbies
by Michaelie Clark (subscribe)
Pun-loving freelance writer based in Victoria.
Published February 11th 2011
A favourite hobby of many, people watching can be enjoyed almost anywhere strangers congregate or traverse, and provides endless enjoyment and entertainment. Below are some helpful, tried and true tips for indulging in this past-time whenever a bright opportunity presents itself or whenever distraction is required.

Hanging Out on Acland Street

St Kilda is the place to be for all kinds of freak-spotting. Sit at one of the footpath cafe tables with your sauvignon blanc and watch them go by. The strip is frequented by a charity seeking llama, the rich middle-class, a life-size chicken on a skateboard and the Irish.

Acland Street
Acland Street, St Kilda

Business Conferences

If you find that you are bored out of your mind at a business conference and you're struggling to keep focused on an endless stream of presenters and slide shows, then the best thing to do is give up trying. Look around you instead (use peripheral vision, there's no need to make like a meerkat). See that middle-aged man in the conservative Italian wool suit? He listens to Rammstein in his spare time and is partial to a nice Circle of Death mosh.

Melbourne Transport

Frequent users and ticket evaders of Melbourne's trams and trains, know the pain and peril this form of transport often inspires. Put travel time to good use by listening in on other people's conversations, particularly those that are one-sided (whether they may be phone conversations or 'other'). It's also often pleasant to read over people's shoulders as they send text messages or flick through the paper.

Doctor's Waiting Room

One of the best locations for people watching. If you're feeling particularly jaded, it may even be worth paying for an appointment just for the fun of the reception alcove. Diagnose those around you with likely ailments (to yourself that is, don't go sharing, now). The woman with the pretentious eyebrows who is coughing a touch too pointedly - it's herpes. The young man with the iPod who is going through his travel documents - persistent head lice. You'd best hope neither of them share, either.

The Cinema

A ticket to the local cinema grants you a double dose of viewing entertainment. During any tedious parts of the film, stare at the backs of people's heads and try to discern the details of their lives. The couple holding hands in the row ahead may be on a 'date'. Or have they never met? Perhaps Rolf de Heer brought them together. How sweet.

Remember, people watching is both an art and a two-way activity. While you are watching, you may be watched. It's good form to return the favour now and then, so doing something a little odd in public is a great way to contribute to your community, just take care to keep your sense of humour (and don't commit any civil misdemeanours).
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Why? Free entertainment
When: Any time
Where: Any place
Cost: Priceless
Thatís a really great and funny thing to do when youíre bored. I think I might try doing this activity at the cinema as you have said but when you mentioned people watching while on transport that kind of seemed rude to eavesdropped on other peopleís privacy.
Nice fun thing to do
By David - senior reviewer
Thursday, 27th of October @ 11:18 am
What a great idea! I've heard that Kerry Greenwood (if you don't know of her, she's a writer who has a 1920's whodunnit series set in Melbourne, featuring a fearless heroine called Phyrne Fisher) fills in long train journeys with people-watching. She (Kerry G, not her fictional heroine) likes to imagine how each one of her neighbours in the compartment would respond if they were suddenly washed up on a desert island. It would certainly help to pass the time!
By Sue Williams - senior reviewer
Tuesday, 22nd of November @ 09:34 am
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