How many times do you walk into an Open Day and receive a plethora of choices, not only on information about courses, but a full-blown entertainment roster as well? Let’s just say, it’s not often.

For this reason alone, I was amazed when I walked into Box Hill Institutes Open Day. It wasn’t just the standard handful of education pamphlets like course guides and rundowns, but an environment of live music, entertainers, a full blown photo shoot and more.

When I arrived on campus, the first thing I noticed (other than the smell of freshly ground coffee – a good start) was a large band setting up. This wasn’t just any band and as an avid fan of the local Melbourne music scene,  I soon realised it were indie-rockers Dorsal Fins. Naturally, I was incredibly excited and for starters, this was kept totally under wraps. The Melbourne nine-piece could be seen wandering around the campus during the day, their ‘AAA’ passes tucked into their back pockets so you wouldn’t have noticed these guys were later performing. In fact, you would have thought they were interested future students, just in line for the ham and cheese toasties like everyone else.

After having a chat to them, I realised that a few of the members were actually graduates of the institute, and when I saw them play I was really impressed as they somehow managed to not have members from Saskwatch and Eagle And The Worm on stage, but also arranged their existing nine members on stage to perform. Talk about awesome. They also included the much-played Like A Version Triple J cover in the set, ‘Pash’ by Kate Ceberano.

When that excitement quieted down, I ventured inside to a room labeled Gaming. I’m not going to lie, I’m not a massive gamer – but the look on people’s faces as they entered this room and saw an old-school Atari console as they hovered to have a closer look was brilliant alone. I tentatively walked over to a Nintendo 64 and tried my hand at Mario Kart. The last time I played it, I sucked. 12 years on, and surprise, I still suck. I decided it was probably time to move on before I embarrassed myself any further. 

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A little further down the hall, I noticed a distinct smell of hairspray and foundation and immediately was brought back to my old days as a hairdresser on fashion shoots – it was really great to see all the young talent styling the hair, using quality products by Aveda and clearly having the time of their lives. Some of the students were having a few minor fan-girl moments upon realizing they were working with internationally renowned French photographer Stèphane Spatafora and stylist Kyah Bell (the hairdresser in me may or may not have fan-girled as well). The experience provided accessories by H&M, all clothing designs by the fashion student cohort and shoes from Mollini and Midias, while Sonos were pumping tunes from the latest Triple J Hottest 100. It was a sensory experience and took me back to my days actually working in the industry. Well, only the good memories.

Just as I was about to go back downstairs, I spotted a petite girl with black and white hair and peach toned lips singing into a microphone inside a glass room, while a guy tapped away behind her on a soundboard. Intrigued, I had to investigate immediately. It turned out to be synth-pop artist Eden Swan recording her new song including sound bites from around the campus. It was then she explained to me she had actually just come back from the fashion department, where she recorded the sound of the sewing machines for her set. Ingenious, but also very resourceful.

After watching Eden Swan play for about 20 minutes, I headed back downstairs as the day was coming to a close. On my way, I passed across bridge that had a shining row of frames which caught my eye. “Whats this?” I thought. I quickly wandered over to discover Box Hill had set up an impressive Hall of Fame. Most schools have someone notable in their past students, but I’ve never seen one with so many well-known musicians and chefs. The wall included Curtis Stone, Guy Grossi, Gossling, Jaimi Faulkner, George Calombaris, Matthew Richardson, Chris Cheney (The Living End) and Tobie Puttock. I wonder if there could be a frame up there for my beautiful mug – ‘Taylor Yates – Celebrity Journalist.’

This Open Day was a riot – unlike any other I had been to before. If I weren’t super busy reviewing Open Days in my spare time, I’d enroll. Bravo, Box Hill Institute.

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