What is it about Melburnians and drinking alcohol served from shipping containers? Whitehart is the latest structure to grace our city’s carparks, introducing an all-encompassing gathering space with music, craft beers, cocktails, boutique wines, a rotation of Melbourne’s food vendors and a kaleidoscopic visual feast of projections and art.
The two-storey feature is nestled at the end of Whitehart Lane, near the intersection of Little Bourke and Elizabeth Streets. It was created by husband-and-wife team Stephen Johnson and Sabrina Santucci, who parked in the empty lot many times before deciding to put it to good use.
In transforming it to its current status, they commissioned a large steel frame, which holds the two containers. From there, they introduced splashes of greenery and the work of local artist, Daisylegs, who installed several multi-storey visual art installations and wall projections.
The end result is a space Stephen described as “large yet intimate, industrial but green, outdoors yet undercover…you’re in the CBD yet hidden away and the artwork is world class.”
While Whitehart won’t have a kitchen on-site for all those post-work snacks, a rotating list of food trucks will ensure you’re eating well into the night.
Despite appearances, the bar didn’t inherit the name from its location. It was actually named after the mature white stag, also known as a white hart. A legendary majestic feature of folklore, it permeates through a number of ancient cultures: the Celts saw it as a harbinger of doom, the French believed that to harm a white hart meant to be eternally cursed with the pain of unrequited love, and the Scots saw it as a symbol of purity, redemption and good fortune.
In Melbourne, Stephen and Sabrina are hoping it garners a new meaning – something along the lines of a place where you can while away a few hours, shake off the day and if you’re up to it, party the night away.