Shoestring Melbourne: iPhone apps and Coconut House

One of the great equalizers in university life is illness. With so many people congregating together, fresh from other cities, states, or countries, in the midst of unpredictably shifting weather, and a lot of them (myself included) at the mercy of terrible dietary decisions, it’s not a surprise that so many students fall ill almost immediately when the semester starts.

It’s with that in mind that I found myself very happy that I’d already pegged this week’s article as me reviewing apps, because I fell really ill midway through last week. I mean *really* ill. It was not pretty. At any rate, it did mean that I spent plenty of time in bed this weekend, going over apps on my phone to make a list of my top picks.

Now, two things before I kick off: 1) I only have an iPhone, so some of these may have alternate platform counterparts, but some probably won’t. Sorry about that. 2) This is a very short list of only free apps, so there are plenty more available that do basically the same thing for you to have a look at and experiment with.

Now, two I will point you to right out of the gate are ‘Groupon’ and ‘Scoopon’. These are fairly well known already, they provide people with special deals based on their country or area. They’re pretty good, overall, but you do need to keep on top of them day by day if you’re determined to get a lot of use out of them.

Next, another fairly well known one, is ‘Urbanspoon’. The site is a crowd aggregated listing of restaurants, bars, and cafes all over the world and the app has full access to the database. I’ve already used it a few times to track down good quality, reasonably cheap, places to eat, including the place I’ll be talking about shortly.

Urban Adventures Melbourne’ is a good app to have on you, because it gives you silent notifications whenever you’re near a place in its database, which is pretty big. It’s something that can get a little annoying, sure, but it does mean that at any given time, you can pull out your phone, activate the lock screen, and check if you’re near anything of note.

I tracked down a pretty neat app called ‘HappiestHour’, which is a listing of when bars and restaurants have regular specials, which you can check by area, name, or what’s on right now. I shouldn’t have to elaborate on why that’s awesome.

Also of note, an app named ‘myMarketsVic’, which gives listing of all the various markets around town, when they’re open, where to park, etc.

As for places to go and things to see, there’s a few cool apps to look out for. ‘City Walk Melbourne’, in particular, seems very cool. The free version lacks a few features that would make using it a lot smoother, but there’s nothing that stops you using the free version perfectly well as it is. It gives listings of walks that incorporate numerous landmarks, and allows you to create your own. An interesting twist on that dynamic is ‘Detour: Melbourne’, which lists all the street art in Melbourne’s alleys and lane ways.

Artwhatson’ and ‘ArtsView’ both provide up to date listings of the different arts programs and exhibitions running in the city at any given time and ‘Melbourne Music City‘ gives you a listing of music venues, record stores, and music based landmarks. It’s pretty rad.

In the end, all you need to do is search for ‘Melbourne’ on iTunes and you will be swamped with apps, not to mention my favorite song by The Whitlams, so dive in and have a look around at what’s out there.

Now, for a change of pace, I thought I might actually give you a tip for a good place to eat instead of warning you away from expensive areas. Weird, huh? Actually, it gets a little more bizarre, because it’s a restaurant with at least two locations, but the two that I know of are withing half a dozen stores of each other. Same side of the road, same block, easily visible from one to the other. It made ‘meet me out the front’ a slightly hit and miss prospect when catching up with a friend.

Anyway, the place(s) is called ‘Coconut House’. They serve Malaysian food and can be found on Elizabeth st. From standing under the RMIT brains, head west along La Trobe, away from RMIT and along Melbourne Central. Turn right at Elizabeth St and continue on past the next set of lights and both restaurants are along that stretch of road, on the left hand side.

I can really recommend this place; it’s cheap, the food is of good quality and a nice quantity, and the service is perfectly reasonable. I had the meal pictured below, which is served in a bowl around six inches across at the rim, and a bottle of water and it cost me just over $10.

in blog pic

I barely finished it, too. It’s bigger than that picture makes it look.

Now, as always, if you have any recommendations for me to look in to, drop them in the comments. Otherwise, come back next week for the next installment, when I head out to North Melbourne.

Alastair Collins


Catalyst has been the student publication of RMIT University since 1944. We may be older than your parents but we’re still going strong!

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