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Top 5 Dates For When You're Broke

Home > Melbourne > Free | Singles and Dating
by Sean Goedecke (subscribe)
Sean Goedecke is a freelance writer trying to visit every cafe in Australia. If you enjoy his articles, it can't hurt to click the 'like' link at the bottom or subscribe.
Published July 27th 2011
Whether it's your first date or your hundredth, the decision of where you take your partner will set the tone for the entire evening. Dinner and a movie is usually a good idea, but those of us with slimmer wallets should be looking around for less expensive – but no less exciting - options. Luckily, Melbourne has options for even the most cash-strapped of lovers:

Appreciate Art at the NGV

NGV Great Hall
Why not lie down and look up at this stained-glass ceiling?

Impress your date by showing how much you care for the finer things in life with a visit to the National Gallery of Victoria. There's the NGV International, located at 180 St Kilda Road, or the Ian Potter Centre: NGV Australia just a short walk away in Federation Square. Except for the occasional exhibition, entrance is free – and the best thing is you won't even feel out of place, with hundreds of poor students roaming the gallery every day. When you've had enough of artfully arranged glass and concrete, why not cross the road and…

Picnic in the Alexandra Gardens
Royal Botanic Gardens
An idyllic lake in the Royal Botanic Gardens.

Nothing says romantic like the beauty of nature, and in the heart of Melbourne is the Alexandra and Botanic Gardens: two large parks, full of grassy hills and hanging trees. Bring some instant noodles and cask wine and let your inner bohemian out with a casual picnic, although stay in the less-crowded Alexandra Gardens. When you've eaten and drunk, go walking arm-in-arm through the flowers of the Botanic Gardens. Stay away from the absurdly expensive food in the Terrace or Observatory Café, and when you're too tired to keep walking…

Relax on Benches by the Yarra
The brown waters of the Yarra River actually look pretty from a short distance, so why not sit next to your date and gaze over them? Birrarung Marr next to Federation Square has the best benches for this: clean and tidy, widely spaced and far away from unromantic traffic or pedestrians. Awkward conversation can be eased by making fun of passing joggers and the lawn of Alexandra Gardens is visible on the other side of the river. At night the city lights reflect off the water, making it even more beautiful - but you run the risk of encountering packs of decidedly unromantic drunken teenagers. On a first date, sit here during the day or…

Drink Fine Wine at Victoria Market
Queen Victoria Market
This man is the face of Melbourne.

Queen Victoria Market, a short walk from the CBD, always has several wine stalls. Enterprising lovers will take advantage of this by visiting each in turn and sampling as many bottles as they can get away with. There's nothing better than a romantic drink together out of tiny plastic cups while authentic market vendors scream out the price of their produce mere metres away. Stay away from the fish market with its accompanying aromas and you'll be ready to…

Experience a Cultural Feast in South Melbourne
Sate you – and your date's – growing hunger pangs by visiting the Hare Krishna temple in Albert Park. Situated at 197 Danks St, accessible by the 112 tram from Southern Cross Station or by a moderate walk, this place offers a completely free dinner every Sunday from 6:30pm. Served on rice in a cultural cardboard box, the meal consists of at least four different courses, including a delicious dessert. Eat barefoot in the picturesque temple garden to get the full Krishna experience, or carry your dinner a short walk to South Melbourne Beach. Either option is guaranteed to both fill your lover's stomach and impress them with your knowledge of Indian culture.

After that, whether you bid your date a fond farewell or invite them back to your sharehouse for cask wine is up to you.
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Why? Because you shouldn't have to be rich to be in love.
When: Any Sunday
Where: Around the center of Melbourne
Cost: Free
Really lovely ideas. I love going to the State Gallery of Victoria. I like the Vic Markets and appreciate South Melbourne markets too.
By Jody Kimber - senior reviewer
Saturday, 30th of July @ 01:22 am
this is hilarious but also full of information!! fantastic where can i get more of your cask wine/cheap date knowledge??!!!
By Anonymous
Wednesday, 3rd of August @ 01:09 pm
love your article - really good ideas.
By winny0 - reader
Thursday, 4th of August @ 01:07 pm
I like visiting the State Gallery and there are some great walks to do around Domain Road, Albert Park Lake, The Esplanade along Port Melbourne and through to Elwood Beach.

These dont cost anything, but you can get fit and have a good time without alcohol or night time aggression.

Swimming or tennis are also fun.
By Anonymous
Wednesday, 10th of August @ 11:13 am
I love your style. Traipse barefoot through parks, drinking free wine while eating off a cardboard box. Smooth.

But you're definitely right, going to the movies these days requires a visit to the bank manager to secure a personal loan before picking your date up.

That Krishna feast does sound tempting.
By Kallen Johnstone - senior reviewer
Friday, 16th of September @ 08:03 am
Where do we get the boiling water for the instant noodles in the Alexandra Gardens?
Come to think of it where can I get a cheap gal for a date ;-)
By Anonymous
Sunday, 16th of October @ 04:59 am
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by Sean Goedecke on 27/09/2011
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