This website is not currently being updated as at October 2020

Top Five

Here you’d find some ideas to make you smile, move, sing, cook, exercise, learn and more.
Five ideas on diverse topics, and more to come. Enjoy!

Try something new

*NEW* John Donaldson's Top Five Tiny Desk Concerts

  1. Wilco

    • Chicago’s own, Wilco, appeared here in 2011 on the back of their eighth studio album, The Whole Love. Jeff Tweedy performed again with his son Spencer in 2014, before returning with the band in 2016. The stripped back nature of the series and intimate atmosphere suiting this innovative band to a tea. See also The National
    • Watch here

  2. Leon Bridges

    • Todd Michael ‘Leon’ Bridges arrived at the NPR offices only months after releasing his debut album, Coming Home. No social gathering is quite complete without adding some Leon Bridges to your soundtrack. He’s truly an old soul on young shoulders. See also Beirut
    • Watch here

  3. Courtney Barnett

    • In the scheme of things, Brunswick’s own Courtney Barnett managed to make her mark in the USA not long after leaving school in Hobart, Tasmania. With talk-show appearances on Ellen and Jimmy Fallon in 2015 showcasing her DIY rock and escalating her profile beyond the tiny desk. She soon found an ally in stoner-rock standout Kurt Vile, with the pair teaming up on Lotta Sea Life and appearing for a second time in 2017. See also Julia Jacklin
    • Watch here

  4. Okkervil River

    • Somewhat of a modern-day troubadour, Will Sheff’s lyrical prowess has been entertaining admirers of Okkervil River for over twenty prolific years. His narrative style draws inspiration on his New Hampshire upbringing as much as his rich love of literature. Sheff is intense in his approach to writing, performing and ‘success’ too. See also Iron & Wine with Calexico
    • Watch here

  5. IDLES

    • Bristol’s IDLES provide raucous energy in all forums and formats, even behind the office desk. Their recent success has seen them grace the stage for memorable performances at the UK’s Glastonbury Festival and Paris’ now infamous Bataclan Theatre. Their message is as honest and confronting as their live act. See also Wu Tang Clan
    • Watch here

Mr Grutzner’s recent reads

I am an avid reader. Here are some terrific books (and one magazine) that I read during the Term break and can highly recommend.

Never Let Me Go (2005) by Kazuo Ishiguro

This dystopian science fiction novel is a set text for our Year 12 English students this year. It is a confronting story about the relationships between clones created to provide human body parts.

Women, men and the whole damn thing (2019) by David Leser

Australian journalist, David Leser, presents his thought provoking insights on the development of new views of masculinity and the #metoo movement, ultimately suggesting that we must all move forward together.

Flinders Lane: a recollection of Alfred Felton (1947) by Russell Grimwade

A lovely and quite remarkable story set in the mid-1800s about the relationship between the Grimwade family, who gifted Grimwade House to the School, and Mr Alfred Felton one of Melbourne’s most significant benefactors.

The Book of Joy: Lasting Happiness in a Changing World (2016) by Tenzin Gyatso, the 14th Dalai Lama, and Archbishop Desmond Tutu

This is a beautiful book in which the compassion and happiness shared by these two friends is evident. We can all learn from these wonderful people.

Grammar News (No 132, June 2020), Melbourne Grammar School

Another great edition of our School community magazine was published during the recent School break. It focused on big ideas – those being developed by Old Melburnians, some presented by Melbourne Grammar staff and others shaping our teaching and learning. You can read the magazine here.

More tasty recipes from 'Sharing Food', a 2010 FOG publication

These are some recipes from the 2010 Melbourne Grammar School FOG Community Cookbook. The hard copy version of this book is not available for purchase.

Melbourne Grammar School webpages of general interest

The Melbourne Grammar School website hosts a vast array of interesting content. Here are just a few sections you might have missed.


Melbourne Grammar School is a community of ideas. In the Explorations section of the website, people from across our School community share the ideas that matter to them, to the School, and to society as a whole.

Meet our alumni

With a particular focus on the 150 Old Melburnians recognised during the School’s sesquicentenary in 2008, this webpage captures the stories of outstanding men and women across diverse careers and fields of endeavour.

Bluestone memories and meanings

Melbourne Grammar has a rich heritage full of extraordinary stories. This section of the website presents just a few of these.

Staff stories

Meet some of the people who contribute to the exceptional learning community at Melbourne Grammar School.

Grammar News

The School recently launched a new site for Grammar News, the School’s community magazine. Here you’ll connect with our initiatives and activities, hear the latest from our Old Melburnians, and explore ideas that are shaping our School and leading us towards new ways of thinking.

Mrs Joseph’s Top Five classic picture books

Oh, where to begin? Choosing a favourite picture book is like choosing a favourite child! Nevertheless, these 5 classics were either read to me as a child, I read them to my three sons, or both. All of these hold special memories and I love them all equally. (Mrs Joseph is the Teacher Librarian in the Kath James Library at Grimwade House.)

Where the Wild Things Are (1963) by Maurice Sendak
Mischief-making Max is sent to his room without supper, and as his bedroom transforms into a jungle, so begins a magical journey.
The Giving Tree (1964) by Shel Silverstein
A story of selfless love that also raises questions and discussion.
Magic Beach (1990) by Alison Lester
An Aussie classic celebrating a perfect day with family at the beach.
The Red Balloon (1956) by Albert Lamorisse
Pascal finds a red a balloon tied to a lamp post and together they explore Paris. This was a repeat borrow for me at the Beaumaris library when I was a child!
What Do People Do All Day? (1968) by Richard Scarry
Join Huckle and Lowly as they explore Busytown, discovering what people do all day. There is so much to see on very page!
Ms Pusmucans’s top stand-alone reads for Upper Primary students

Here are Ms Pusmucans’s tip top, very best, first rate, altogether excellent stand-alone reads for students in Years 3 – 6. And as the Walker Library maestro at Grimwade House, she knows a thing or two (or five as it turns out) about this!

FROGKISSER! by Garth Nix
Princess Anya needs to see a wizard about a frog. A romp of a quest that turns your normal fairytale right upside down onto its fairy-tail! Great for all of my lovely Year 3 – 6 students to read.
Marsh and Me by Martine Murray
If you want to learn how to ‘never judge a person by their cover’, you’ve got to read about how timid Joey and brazen Serbian Marsh connect on levels that help them both to appreciate not only others, but themselves along their adventure. All Year 3-6 students should read this at some stage.
How to Bee by Bren MacDibble
A book for my keen Year 5 & 6 readers. All Peony the main character really wants is to be a Bee. This story is set in a dystopian world where all Peony’s grit and quick thinking might not be enough to keep her safe.
The Goldfish Boy by Lisa Thompson
A toddler goes missing and Matthew Corbin, an emotionally crippled obsessive-compulsive teenager who rarely leaves his room on a cul-de-sac in London, is the only one to observe the truth. Will he overcome his secret guilt and save the toddler’s life? Great read for all of my Year 3-6 library-goers!
Mrs. Whitlam by Bruce Pascoe
From the very first ride, Marnie and Mrs. Whitlam get more adventure than they bargained for. By the way…. Mrs. Whitlam is a horse! Soon Marnie is learning to negotiate newfound friendships, pony club and how to stand up for what she believes in. But being true to yourself seems to be the hardest decision Marnie must make. All books are for readers and this is one brilliant book. If you are a brilliant reader – read this book! Suitable for all of my Years 3 – 6 students. Enjoy!
Mr Stewart's books that take you somewhere else

Here is Mr Stewart's list of five books that take you somewhere else, suitable for Wadhurst students...

  • The Right Stuff by Tom Wolfe details the challenges faced by the US pilots that would go onto be the first Project Mercury astronauts in NASA 's space program.
  • True Grit by Charles Portis was originally published as a newspaper serial. This is the story of Mattie Ross, a headstrong teenager who heads out into the wilds of Oklahoma seeking to avenge the murder of her father.
  • Cormac McCarthy's The Road is a harrowing read set in a post-apocalyptic world. It follows a father and son as they journey across a bleak, unforgiving landscape.
  • In stark contrast to the previous book, Neil Gaiman’s Stardust is a delightful story. A modern take on a fairy-tale, it has Gaiman's trademark sense of humour and an enchanting collection of characters.
  • As a self-published novel, Andy Weir's The Martian is inspiring on numerous levels. It tells the captivating story of astronaut Mark Watney, using his wits to survive on a hostile red planet.
Mr Dessant's Beyond the Bluestone reading suggestions

Beyond the Bluestone: a wider reading list for students from Mr Stephen Dessants, Head of English.   Five great novels, plus three short stories...


Charles Dickens, Great Expectations

Dickens is the master of characterisation.  Think of Ebenezer Scrooge, Tiny Tim, Oliver Twist, Uriah Heep and Fagin. In Great Expectations the reader will discover Pip, Miss Haversham, Magwitch and Estella, 19th century creations that resonate fully with 21st century readers.  This is a ‘rags to riches’ tale with distinctive local colour and profound class and social commentary that is simply a good yarn.

Mark Twain, Huckleberry Finn

Huckleberry Finn is essential reading in the Bildungsroman genre (a novel dealing with one’s formative years). It is about Huck’s adventures with Jim, an African-American slave along the Mississippi River in the antebellum (pre-Civil War) America. The modern reader will need to understand and transcend the prejudices of the time; they are not those of the author.

Kurt Vonnegut, 'Slaughterhouse Five'

Set literally during the bombing of Dresden in World War II, this novel is a satire with a science fiction twist. Its protagonist, a time-traveller called Billy Pilgrim, is according to the narrator ‘unstuck in time.’ Full of biting irony and yet playful humour, its famous phrase ‘So it goes’ will stay the reader forever.

Note: alternate choice in a similar vein Joseph Heller, Catch 22.

Aldous Huxley, Brave New World

Though George Orwell’s dystopian novel 1984 is often cited by pundits to capture the essence of our post-modern society (i.e. the omnipresence of surveillance in Big Brother and the abuse of language in Newspeak), it is Brave New World that comes closer to predicting the future. This dystopia is deceptive—it is based on the pursuit of happiness sourced in pleasure and achieved by genetic conditioning through a caste system. This society worships a new god, the originator of mass production, Henry Ford, and eradicates the values on which the old world was based.

Short stories

Ceridwen Dovey, Only the Animals

This collection of short stories by the Australian author Ceridwen Dovey features the souls of 10 animals narrating the tales of their interactions with the foibles and follies of human beings.  Read about a mussel hopping a freighter from San Francisco to Pearl Harbour while discussing ideas from Jack Kerouac’s On the Road or the dolphin who chooses to die rather than do its duty during the American invasion of Iraq in 2003.

Ernest Hemingway, In Our Time

Though written nearly a century earlier, these stories and vignettes (in the mode of a Bildungsroman for Nick Adams, the protagonist) resonate with young readers of any time period. One of the most original and influential collections of stories in the 20th century and written early in the career of the author, In Our Time foreshadows the great novels that would earn Ernest Hemingway the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1954.

Tobias Wolff,  The Night in Question

This is a modern anthology from a writer with an eye for uncovering the hidden truths of life and the reluctance of people to come to terms with reality.  Understatement, ingenuity of plots and surprising twists and turns are the hallmarks of this witty writer.

Mr Grutzner’s Top Five (well, more than that actually) childhood and teenager books

Here are just some of the books I loved to read as a child and as a teenager. I hope you enjoy them just as much as I did.

The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle

  • I learnt to read this in Prep in 1969 and it is still a popular book amongst children and their parents.

The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe by C. S. Lewis

  • A beautiful adventure story.

Lord of the Flies by William Golding

  • This was a Year 9 Melbourne Grammar School text which informed me about rights as well as responsibilities.

The Catcher in the Rye by J. D. Salinger

  • Introduced to us by Mr Clayton when he filled in when our English teacher was away. Still a classic.

The World of Olegas Truchanas by Max Angus

  • This is the book I chose for a Year 12 Book Prize at Melbourne Grammar. It is a true story with stunning photographs about the first person to kayak Tasmania’s Gordon River in 1958.

And in sixth place, anything by George Orwell.

Podcasts fostering curiosity in children aged 5-12

Tune in to these podcasts which encourage learning and curiosity. These are aimed at children aged 5 to 12.

  • Short & Curly Podcast – ABC Radio, presented by Carl Smith, Molly Daniel and Dr Matt Beard
    • An Australian podcast about ethics that delves into serious questions in a child-friendly way. Interactive in its design, the podcast encourages discussion along the way.
  • Wow in the World Podcast – National Public Radio (NPR) Podcast, hosted by Mindy Thomas and Guy Raz
    • Each episode starts with a series of questions about a new and amazing discovery. The questions are answered through a comedic debate.
  • Brains on! Science Podcast for Kids – American Public Media Podcast
    • Science for curious kids and adults. Each episode is co-hosted by a kid scientist!
  • Story Pirates Podcast – Megaphone FM
    • A group of comedians, actors and musicians adapt stories written by kids into musical theatre and comedy!
  • But Why: A Podcast for Curious Kids – Vermont Public Radio
    • A show lead by kids. You ask the questions and your hosts find the answers!
Enthralling history books for non-historians

Director of Finance and Administration (and non-historian), Mr John Jesson, presents some of his favourite reads:

 True Girt - The Unauthorised History of Australia Volume 2 (2016) by David Hunt

An enthralling take on Australian history. Expect tongue-in-cheekiness and sometimes dark humour.

Rubicon (2003) by Tom Holland

A vivid portrait of the Roman Republic at the peak of its greatness, and how this same greatness lead to the catastrophe of its fall.

Jerusalem (2011) by Simon Sebag Montefiore

An illuminating read about this everchanging city and it's many incarnations. Learn how this small, remote town became the "centre of the world".

Churchill and Australia (2008) by Graham Freudenberg

A historical and compelling read exploring the tumultuous relationship between Australia and Winston Churchill.

Lusitania (1972) by Colin Simpson

Unlock some of the mysteries surrounding the tragic sinking of the Lusitania in 1915. A well-researched account from the bottom of the Atlantic to dusty libraries.

YouTube channels worth checking out

Learn, watch and do with these YouTube channels designed for audiences aged 13+.

  • Watch Jane Austen reimagined for a modern audience at Pemberley Digital
  • Join these professional chefs on Bon Appétit as they learn, explore and create new ways with food
  • Watch Crash Course as the Green Brothers make study easy
  • Craving some peace? Follow Bob Ross to learn how to paint a masterpiece
  • Keep yourself moving with easy at home workouts for all ages presented by The Body Coach

Please be advised that whilst these links contain content of a general nature, YouTube intends for their videos to be viewed by persons of at least 13 years old. Parental guidance may be required for younger viewers. Melbourne Grammar School does not endorse or approve any of the advertising content which may accompany the YouTube links listed here.


Mark Brady's favourite websites for live theatre at home

Head of Drama, Mr Mark Brady, has shared a few of his favourite subscription-based websites to watch theatre, music, opera and dance from home.

  • Digital Theatre – enjoy high-quality theatre, live music, film, dance and opera performances as well.
  • BroadwayHD – one of the best ways to watch musical theatre online including plays, foreign theatre, Cirque du Soliel and Broadway musicals.
  • On the Boards TV – Enjoy performances that aren't as mainstream? Rent or subscribe to theatre, dance and music performances.
  • Globe Player – Perhaps Shakespeare is more your thing? Recordings of past live performances are available.
  • The Stage Network - a variety of iconic and edgy performances including music and dance.
Fantastic recipes from 'Sharing Food', a 2010 FOG publication

These are some recipes from the 2010 Melbourne Grammar School FOG Community Cookbook. The hard copy version of this book is not available for purchase.

Pat Miller's choice of classical music and opera streaming sites

Mr Pat Miller is the Director of the Symphony Orchestra at Melbourne Grammar School. Below are his suggestions of websites to stream Classical Music and Opera.

Family orientated activities

Mr Grutzner's Top Five family lockdown activities

Headmaster, Mr Philip Grutzner, shares his top five ideas for family based activities:

  1. Share the cooking and regular meals with all the family. Definitely no IT or TV at the table. Each week share each person’s highlight and lowlight for the week. Also share what you are grateful for and what you are looking forward to after lockdown 2.0.
  2. Catch up over zoom and have coffee or afternoon tea with ten of your mates, or txt five mates you have not contacted for a while.
  3. Write a letter to someone you love or who has helped you in some way, and tell them why.
  4. Share and make the family chores fun, backed up by songs selected by each member of the family.
  5. Look for random acts of kindness and surprise your family, neighbour, relative or supporter.
Staying in touch with family and friends

Grimwade House teacher, Coral Rimmer, moved to Australia from England in 2018. She has been staying connected with friends and family online for a while now. Here she shares her Top Five experiences:

  • We’ve been playing Pictionary and Charades – although I have to say my Dad is still no better at either of these games online than he is in person!
  • We’ve shared afternoon teas and family meals together, sometimes with everyone eating the same food. The time difference between here and England has been a source of amusement with some of us eating breakfast and some our evening meal at the same time!
  • We send each other jokes, riddles, challenges and funny messages to keep everyone smiling.
  • Just recently we had a challenge to see who could complete their 1000 piece jigsaw in the fastest time!
  • We’ve tried hard to make an ‘appointment’ online each week to catch up with those we care for and stick to it.
Fun ways to stay connected with friends and family

Ms Edwina Lanham, Head of Upper Primary at Grimwade House, outlines some ideas for engaging with family members and friends which she has tried and tested in her own home…

  • Host a virtual dinner party with friends – we ordered the same dishes and caught up at our dinner table as though it was a regular dinner party.
  • Create a treasure hunt for children to solve the clues, complete some activities and incorporate Facetime conversations where the next clue is revealed - grandparents especially loved giving the children the next clue!
  • Children learnt how to draw various cartoons and sent drawings and handwritten letters to extended family / friends for Easter. This approach could now be applied for birthdays, special anniversaries or just because you want to say hello.
  • A chat over the fence with the neighbours to check in with how they are going is a great isolation break for everyone.
  • A game over Facetime with a friend (like chess, cards, Pictionary, or Scategories) can keep children connected with their friends and relatives.
Ideas for family fun

More great family friendly engagement ideas...

  • Play a few quick card games at dinner table straight after eating for 20 minutes or so.
  • Each child takes a turn nightly helping with dinner preparation or doing it wholly on their own.
  • Choose a family exercise activity for each day of the holidays - each family member submits ideas to a list and a different one is chosen every day. Examples include a Pilates, yoga, shooting basketball hoops, a walk
  • Choose a (60 min) family activity for each day of the holidays - each family member submits ideas to a list and a different one is chosen every day. Examples include a board game, a jigsaw, dancing, playing charades
  • Alternate television viewing with a documentary one night, a movie the next and a memorabilia type the next (for example, your wedding video or a holiday video) – that is, the things you’d like your children to watch but they never do!
Mr Boller’s favourite cards games suitable for all ages

Deputy Head of Grimwade House, Mr Nathan Boller’s lists his all-time favourite cards games suitable for all ages...

  • Uno
  • Go fish
  • Concentration/Memory
  • Snap
  • Donkey
Ideas for family learning
  • Teach your children to cook, sew and iron. Who can be the family Masterchef?
  • Go to online video of an aerobics workout and do this together at some time each day.
  • Get out the old board games – we all need some time away from screens!
  • Share an hour of reading together – possibly one person reads the story aloud, or you share ideas about what you are reading.
  • Each day, each member of the family should try to share at one (or more) ‘fun fact’. There are many things of wonder in the world and sharing some of these can help lift our focus away from the immediate issues.

Staying happy and healthy

Eleven lockdown ideas to lighten up the day

Always one to think as widely as possible, Rev'd Hans Christiansen, Senior Chaplain, offers not five, but eleven ideas to calm and restore your piece of mind.

  1. Only read the news twice a day for a limited time
  2. Spend time observing flowers and trees
  3. Write letters to loved ones and ring your friends
  4. Read good books
  5. Get your heart rate up and sweat
  6. Close your eyes and listen to your favourite music
  7. Watch your favourite films or TV series again
  8. Pay attention to the light at dawn and dusk
  9. Practice meditation
  10. Explore every single street, laneway and park of your neighbourhood
  11. Bring to mind what you are grateful for
Uplifting Ted Talks

We have curated a list of TED talks that will leave you feeling uplifted and inspired. With all videos under 20 minutes in length, they're the perfect activity to take a mental break from work or tune into after dinner.

Swissball exercises you can do in your loungeroom

Depending on your fitness level perhaps try 3 x 10 of each exercise, and try and build up the number or increase from 3 sets to 4.

Feel-good inspirational poems

If by Rudyard Kipling

Casabianca by Felicia Dorothea Hemans

Desiderata by Max Ehrmann

In a time of distance by Alexander McCall Smith

“Hope” is the thing with feathers by Emily Dickinson

Just for fun

Sensational rowing races

Downhearted about missing the end of the rowing season? Here are five races that are bound to lift your spirits. Thanks to Will Anders (OM 2016), Melbourne Grammar School rowing coach, for providing this list.

1936 Berlin Olympics, Men’s 8+ Final
Only one second separates the top three finishers in this exhilarating and celebrated race. Watch an unassuming working class team from USA take on the celebrated German team in front of Adolf Hitler. The 1936 Olympic games were used as a propaganda tool by Hitler to demonstrate the superiority of the German people. The German rowing team was a figure of national pride at a time when Hitler was trying to present a picture of a country at peace to the rest of the world.

2012 London Olympics, Lightweight Men’s 4 Final
Held at Dorney Lake, the aftermath of this thrilling race was controversial due to a strong breeze that swept sideways across the course. According to some of those involved, this made the race easier for those in lanes 5 & 6 and, as such, the others had to expend more energy.

2004 Athens Olympics, Men’s 4 Final
A strong rivalry had been established between Canada and Great Britain in the World Games leading up to the 2004 Olympic Games. This race is arguably one of the greatest Men’s 4 races in Olympic history.

2008 Beijing Olympics, Men’s 8+ Final
The rivalry between Canada and Great Britain continues; this time with some tough competition from the USA.

2003 Oxford - Cambridge Boat Race
The Boat Race is an annual side by side rowing race between crews from the universities of Cambridge and Oxford. This was the first Boat Race to feature brothers on the opposing sides and has a hugely dramatic finish!

Please be advised that whilst these links contain content of a general nature, YouTube intends for their videos to be viewed by persons of at least 13 years old. Parental guidance may be required for younger viewers. Melbourne Grammar School does not endorse or approve any of the advertising content which may accompany the YouTube links listed here.

Philip Grutzner's Top Five songs

Here are my all time favourite 'go to' songs.  I hope you enjoy them as much as I do.

  • Imagine by John Lennon - reminds me of what is best in our world.
  • Beethoven’s 9th Symphony - fills me with joy just as it is intended to do, and, significantly, it was played to mark the fall of the Berlin Wall in November 1989.
  • Yellow by Cold Play - gives me great hope.
  • Holy Grail by Hunters & Collectors - is just a great song that I love listening to.
  • The Melbourne Football Club Song after a win at the ‘G’ (a rare event)
Songs to turn up LOUD and sing along

You won’t able to sit down when these Golden Oldies play.

  • Build me up buttercup, The Foundations 1967
  • Can’t take my eyes off of you, Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons 1967
  • Waterloo, ABBA 1974
  • Jump, The Pointer Sisters 1983
  • Dancing on the ceiling, Lionel Richie, 1986


Off Campus Learning

This page provides a list of resources for students and parents designed to assist with off-campus learning.

Health and Wellbeing

This section includes resources which are aimed at helping students, staff and other members of the community take care of themselves and each other.  

Top Five

Here you'd find some ideas to make you smile, move, sing, cook, exercise, learn and more.  Five ideas on diverse topics, and more to come. Enjoy!

Faith and Spirituality

Ideas about how faith and spirituality can support you in these troubling times can be found here.