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First Look: Makeshift

Beatrice Smith

Max Brenner has left the (Nishi) Building in NewActon, and there’s a new cool kid in town.

It’s not just a new look. It’s a new purpose, or perhaps a new ‘multipurpose’, would be more accurate.

Reclaimed by founders of the NewActon precinct, Molonglo Group, the space has been turned into a café by day, bar by night and space for creative types always. It will also serve as an event venue, with some events already booked in, says Dave Caffery, founder of Dionysus, the team tasked with running the space.


“Specifically it’s a workspace for university students, freelancers and staff,” he explains. “Anyone can come down and set up. We’ve installed power points and fibre internet connection, which is extremely fast and is free.”

Retaining the dark wood bar, the long room is now filled with all manner of tables, desks and armchairs with space to study, read, enjoy a coffee or even play a little backgammon. As Dave explains, he wants this space to be almost everything to almost everyone.

“It will be open daily and will change over time. We want people to come and have fun. We want to hark back to a time that was a bit warmer, a bit less minimal.”


As you can probably tell, Makeshift is far from a generic hot desking space or your average café. A Rube Goldberg machine serves as an eye-catching feature artwork on entering the space, and covering a wall at the back of the room is flocked orange wallpaper provided by Hotel Hotel’s furniture curator Ken Neil. Across the way there is the start of an intellectual book exchange, and beside the entrance, a record player and sound system are set up, with a retro microphone stand just waiting for someone to grab it.


Public servants wanting to escape their four walls will be winners, with Dave pointing out Makeshift will be the perfect space for employees from the Department of Communications and the Arts upstairs to use as a break out area.

“They’re an artistic lot,” he says. “So we’re looking forward to entertaining them.”


Behind the bar you’ll find tea, coffee, juices, soft drinks, beer and wine and maybe even a cocktail or two. There will also be food served in the coming months, which will take many different forms.

“There’s going to be food provided by Chop Chop, the takeaway menu from Monster,” Dave explains. “And we’ll hopefully have our first street food vendor set up in here early next year. As the name suggests, the space will always be shifting.”

Dave also says they’re aiming to take full advantage of the breezy terrace that runs parallel to the space, as well as the concrete area across from the Nishi Building that could be used for summer events.


In fact, Makeshift will have already held their first event by the time you read this, having hosted the opening of the 2017 Greek Film Festival on Thursday night. The space will be open for the weekend as a special preview, before closing again until November.

Taking place at Palace Electric, just across the foyer, the Festival is an important facet of the NewActon cultural calendar, Molonglo Group’s founders the Efkarpidis having come to Australia from Katerini, near Thessaloniki.

Showing from 19-22 October, the program boasts eight films across four days, as well as live Greek music and Greek food and wine served in Makeshift each night before and after screenings.

So why not immerse yourself this weekend? Here are our picks.


From Director of The Lobster and father of ‘Greek Weird Wave’, Yorgos Lanthimos, comes another quirky film starring Colin Farrell. This time he’s joined by Nicole Kidman and Alicia Silverstone in this psychological thriller that examines the family of a charismatic surgeon.

This will be the Canberra premiere, as well as the finale of the Festival so it’s one not to be missed.

Showing Sunday 22 October at 6.15pm. Book tickets here.


Nominated for Best Feature Film at the Los Angeles Greek Film Festival 2017, Xamou focuses on the Greek Economic Crisis through the lens of Hotel Manager Johnny who, upon losing his job must rediscover himself against the gorgeous backdrop of Crete.

Showing Saturday 21 October at 9pm. Book tickets here.


A highlight for any animal lover will be Greek-Australian philosopher and filmmaker Mary Zournazi’s Dogs of Democracy, which is an English language documentary that follows Zournazi’s travel to Athens to learn about her roots.

What she finds instead is the Economic Crisis and in the midst of the marches, the protests and the fear, the famous street dogs of Athens. These prolific herds of dogs are cared for by those who see them as “the soul of the city” and the trailer alone is enough to bring a tear to a dog lovers eye.

Showing Sunday 22 October at 3.30pm. Book tickets here.


Sun, sand and…golf? This cute rom com with a twist follows professional golfer Zoe as she suffers a meltdown on the greens, throws in the towel and returns to the village of her grandparents to lick her wounds.

But what she finds instead is a pro golfer in the making in the form of ten yeat old Stella, a megalomaniac American golf course owner and perhaps a shot at sporting redemption.

Showing Saturday 21 October at 4pm. Book tickets here.


Based on the novel Land of the Golden Apple by English Cypriot Eve Makis, Boy On The Bridge is a tale of lost adolescence in 1980s Cyprus. When 12 year old Socrates finds himself faced with the violence of his uncle, he sets out for revenge but finds himself in deeper than he expected.

Showing Friday 20 October from 6.30pm. Book tickets here.

the essentials – The Greek Film Festival

What: The Greek Film Festival 2017
When: 19-22 October
Where: Palace Electric with pre and post-show music, drinks and food at Makeshift
More information and tickets: via the website

the essentials – Makeshift

What: Makeshift
When: Friday from 4.30pm (live Greek music at 8pm)
Saturday from 4.30pm (live Greek music at 8pm)
Sunday from 2.30pm (live Greek music at 8pm)
Where: Just inside the Foyer of the Nishi Building on Philip Law Street, NewActon

All photography by Martin Ollman

This is a sponsored editorial. For more information on sponsored editorials, click here


Beatrice Smith

Bea loves that her job as HerCanberra’s Editorial Coordinator involves eating, drinking and interviewing people - sometimes simultaneously. The master of HerCanberra’s publishing schedule, she’s usually found hunched over a huge calendar muttering to herself about content balance. Otherwise you’ll find her at the movies, ordering a cheese board or ordering a cheese board at the movies. More about the Author

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