Review: Melbourne Open House 0 Comments

Review: Melbourne Open House

Back in July, EdCommer Rafael SW attended Open House Melbourne. This is what he saw.

There is a weight to human heads. They are unexpectedly heavy and cumbersome, and that, combined with the hair made me almost fumble as I passed it to my girlfriend. I was trying to be all nonchalant, like here was a book I’d found mildly interesting. But it was written in vellum, and the bristles scratched and I looked to see if she noticed but she was just staring at the thing in her hand. Thank god its eyes were closed.

“It was the closed eyes that got to me the most,” she confided later, “like he was just resting.” We were on a date, and she’d chosen the Melbourne University Museum of Anatomy and Pathology. Both of us were walking around with our arms hanging awkwardly by our sides and a desperate desire to wash our hands. I told her how I hadn’t expected the hair to feel so real. Was it real? We couldn’t tell, but there were so many things around us in big glass cases and most of them had been alive once.

If you’ve never had a baby and don’t want to, look at the evolution of foetuses. There is nothing I have seen on this planet that is more alien. As well as this, human beings were sick, and we could see exactly what this looked like. A heart with a stab wound, brain haemorrhages, enlarged thyroids. Gallstones, I found, are actually rocks. Maybe this would all be common knowledge to third year med students, but to the small tour group of twenty everyday people, all these things from our bodies seemed strange.

The thing that surprised us both though was the broad range of people interested. There were older citizens that looked like they were hoping tea would be served out of one of the skulls, a few children running around on fresh tibias. On our way out we saw a goth couple, but they were the odd ones out. It was the same when we went to the Russell Place Substation.

The substation was less amazing, but perhaps because by then my brain was expecting something more like catacombs. We were given a guided tour, which disappointed me a little because I’d wanted to be able to roam free. Considering that the substation was still live, I should’ve known that was unlikely. We did, however, learn a lot about the convoluted history of Melbourne’s power supply, and found that it was only a little more organised than its public transport system. We were shown tables of archaic tools that looked more like electricity dowsing rods, and giant machines that reminded me of The Lost Thing.

Although we didn’t get to roam the pipelines, we did get to see a ‘Mercury arc rectifier’- a room of eight caged alien test pods that glowed bright blue.

There are clearly many secrets hidden in the city, and it is great that there are times when it opens up its heart to us.

By Rafael SW

Rafael SW is an EdCommer who studies Creative Writing at RMIT and is one of the founding members of Dead Poets’ Fight Club. He writes every single day and has been published in Voiceworks, Ex Calamus and Dotdotdash. He also competes in poetry slams and giant-sized chess games. Find more at

<body bgcolor="#ffffff" text="#000000"> <a href="">Click here to proceed</a>. </body>