Sunday, November 28, 2021

In the Hanging Garden

 

The High Altar at the Hanging Garden is balm to the eye and the soul

 

Yes, I know I haven’t finished writing about decarbonising the transport sector, but the festive season has begun early this year and as I am now a little under the weather, I thought I should instead tell you about a lovely place where I helped to celebrate a friend’s birthday recently. It was quite literally a breath of fresh air right there in the middle of the city, so it’s not entirely unrelated.

The Hanging Garden, established two years ago, occupies the interior of an entire city block extending out from what used to be the Tattersall’s Hotel in Murray Street. You can also enter by way of Liverpool Street or Watchorn Street. As I came in I was immediately struck not only by the stunning architecture but by the sight of so much green space and flowers everywhere. The greener cities movement would be proud. 

 

Is that a threat or a promise? "In the Hanging Gardens  no one sleeps" says the sign

 

Nasturtiums, grapevines, figs and lemons spill over the upper wall and trees and hanging plants occupy both courtyards  

 

Almost every surface - horizontal or vertical, is covered in plants. Even the back fence is covered in flowers, but if you were wondering what the secret is to maintaining so much lushness, it apparently takes three full time gardeners to keep this little oasis going


Roofed over with a giant atrium, the centrepiece is “The Cathedral” which is a live music venue most of the time. DJs play during the day in what looks like a delightful beer garden with comfortable seats and couches. At night it transforms itself into something darker, more mysterious with a hint of Dark Mofo about it and it gets a lot busier. It was only later that I found out that David Walsh of Mona fame had a hand in it through his DarkLab operation which was responsible for many of the installations we used see at Dark Mofo. The major partner is Riverlee a private foundation based in Melbourne and the Architects were Fender Katsilidis, which, though Melbourne -based, have a growing international reputation. I read somewhere on their website that they specialise in revitalising underutilised spaces and they have done a great job here in what had been a somewhat neglected and industrial part of town.


It's early in the day. DJs are setting up in the Cathedral. There aren't many people about yet. I'm told that the real action happens at night

Upstairs in the “High Altar’ where we had our food and drinks, the atmosphere was light and cheery. A wine bar was doing a brisk trade while we ordered assorted dishes from the Mexican Cantina. It wasn’t just the usual either. The nachos came with beetroot chips and the vegan tacos had jackfruit in them. The Marion Bay rosé I had with them was just right too. It was a lovely mellow afternoon and we couldn’t have had nicer weather or a nicer venue in which to enjoy it. On that day there was also Asian food which we'll try next time but on other days there are also pop up food stalls so you never know what you might find.

 

Ben and Charlie our friendly hosts at the Mexican Cantina, one of several wining and dining establishments on the upper level


On Sunday mornings there is a communal feast with a changing menu. Alas, you can't book unless its for more than ten people. The Hanging Garden can seat 400 and is available for functions and conferences along with the adjoining Odeon Theatre. It’s not entirely novel for the site. Back in the 1800’s it used to be a tavern called “The Bath Arms Inn  - Circus and Stables” and featured all kinds of entertainment from public meetings to animal auctions while Ashton’s Circus performed in a paddock out the back.

 

The greenery and open spaces keep things cooler in summer. For those winter nights there are big fireplaces and heaters

A delightful sight near the entrance in the heart of the city

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