It’s summer when we arrive in Australia. So that means we have plenty of free time before school starts.

Dad is off to work. And me and the kids are off to discover the neighbourhood.

We are equipped with new shoes, scooters and lots of curiosity.

The kids are excited, I struggle a bit with the phone GPS, then I decide it is much better to go the old way: wandering aimlessly. That was the method I used to discover the old silk dyers neighbourhood hidden in tiny alleys alongside the Chao Phraya river canals when I lived in Bangkok.
There is an abundance of Victorian architecture in Melbourne – one or two storey houses built one next to the other, nicely adorned with lace on the front yard canopy.
The Victorian period flourished in Australia from 1840 to 1890, and the state of Victoria saw a gold rush and population boom during the 1880s (see Wikipedia).

These lovely houses have nice front yards decorated with plants and fruit trees. Most of them have a bench or two chairs to sit and enjoy the day. Our eyes are filled by the sight of nice vases, sculptures, a locked bicycle, luggage, lights and signs left from new years eve, kids’ drawings.

We like to observe and list the known and unknown plants we see on the pathway. Lemon trees are very common, together with more local flora bushes where the colorful parrots and white cockatoo love to visit. Some houses also have rows of tomatoes growing: every centimeter is used to enjoy the outside area.

By walking around I get the sense of the area, I feel the spaces, I smell the fragrances that every corner blows – it might be a flower exhaling its scent or food being cooked nearby. And I am part of the ambient.

The kids sometimes lead the way, propelling their scooters with their strong leg pushes, sometimes they are on their knees observing an ant’s path or another exciting discovery.

At the end of the street we have a big surprise: an Italian ice cream shop!
Great joy for the kids and a heartwarming moment: we have found a tiny tasty bit of our culture in this new city, and we are happy!

When we arrive at a playground we are amazed to observe the majestic height of the eucalyptus trees, that here are called gum trees. Some varieties release red gum if the bark is broken. There are 700 varieties of eucalyptus in Australia, and its oil finds many uses like in fuels, fragrances, insect repellant etc.

Every day is filled with colours, smells, discoveries, sounds and new learnings.
We make our way home carrying virtual luggage: sensory experiences that will inevitably shape my children’s perception of this amazing world we live in.

I feel happily tired at the end of the day, curious about what tomorrow will look like.

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