2 weeks in 1-Melbourne, Gardivalia and some theatrical “Cultcha”!

Well, so much for slowly getting into this not working caper! I have been so busy I am exhausted. As a little treat to myself for finishing work, I headed off to Melbourne for 3 nights to check out some places I have wanted to see and experience for a while. First was to sort out somewhere to stay. My focus was on going to food shops, in particular those with middle eastern and european specialities, looking at stores who supply bulk foods with no packaging, checking out options for ovens I can use when I begin sourdough making classes and visiting CERES, Collingwood Childrens’ Farm and a couple of markets. Most of these were more towards the north side of the city central (which I wanted to stay away from) so I booked an Air BnB in Fitzroy North. The apartment was in Barkly St, just a stones throw from everything I needed. It was scrupulously clean, in a quiet location and met my requirements beautifully.

I am embarrassed to say that even though I grew up in Preston, I had never been to the Abbotsford Convent. It was a very wet and rainy day so it was a bit ‘spooky’ walking among these imposing buildings as no one else was around.img_9553The convent was established in 1863 as a refuge for women in need. It was developed on land that had been subdivided as ‘gentlemen farmlets’ near the junction of the Merri Creek and Yarra river. By 1900 the Convent was the largest charitable institution operating in the southern hemisphere. It was one of the largest Catholic complexes in Australia and at its peak, over 1,000 women and children lived behind its enclosed walls. There were vegetable and fruit gardens, dairy and poultry farms and a piggery. Income to buy what could not be grown or made on site was generated through lace-making and commercial laundry services. I bet there are a lot of interesting stories to be told about what went on living here.

img_9550Some beautiful buildings and gardens are to be seen. Love these chimneys!img_9551The bakery at the convent is still in use.img_9552A massive stained glass window upstairs in the historical section.img_9544Love seeing these old buildings still showing signs of their former lives.img_9556 A quick walk over the road takes you to the Collingwood Childrens’ Farm. Set on the bend of the Yarra river, this is a stunning example of food productivity, biodiversity, agriculture, permaculture principles, and offers education (in particular to students) to those who never have the opportunity to see how food actually ‘happens’. It was extremely wet and miserable this day, this is a pic while I’m peeking out from under my umbrella! All the school kids were leaving in droves, driven out by the rain. I didn’t mind.

Collingwood Childrens' FarmCERES-Centre for Education and Research in Environmental Strategies

CERES is a short drive away from the Abbotsford Convent. CERES (pronounced ‘series’) is a place where people come together to share ideas about living well together, and directly participate in meeting their social and material needs in a sustainable way. Through social enterprises, education and training, employment and community engagement, CERES provides the means by which people can build awareness of current local and global issues, and join in the movement for economic, social and environmental sustainability. This is done in a number of ways, education, by doing demonstrations and showing examples and by taking education programs on the road to schools. It is a great use of space on the easement under the power lines that supply Melbourne and surrounds with electricity.

img_9532 Great classroom!img_9534 There is also an organic store where you can purchase items in bulk, BYO container or bag. I was quite surprised at the extremely  high cost of these items. I also visited Source Bulk Foods in Sydney Rd Brunswick (as part of seeking out plastic free packaging suppliers) and decided that at more than double the price of nuts available at Dandenong Market and from our own local “The Nut Bloke” (who will also let me fill my own container), it is a no brainer. Stay local!img_9539After I had wandered around CERES, I headed towards Brunswick to see how much I could buy at the amazing array of food shops that are scattered right along Sydney Road from Coburg right back to Brunswick. I was very self controlled and only bought some cheese and pasta and Mediterranean Wholesalers Sydney Rd Brunswick. I wasn’t so well controlled at BAS  Food Imports, or Kahvecioglu in Campbellfield that I went to the following day. Kahvecioglu is one Turkish food supply store I will definitely be returning to. I forgot to take photos of my purchases so I will have to do this as part of IMK this month.

Some “Cultcha”.

Every year we make sure we support our local amateur dramatic society (TADS) by going along to their annual production. This year their play was ‘What the Bride Wore’. I love these events and wish I had a little more confidence as I have a secret hankering to be involved. It is real ‘nuts and bolts’ theatre, good fun and a very good way of catching up with some locals we don’t see often. Well done guys.tads The following day we had the pleasure of seeing a slightly more refined production presented by the Off The Leash Theatre Company. We were lucky enough to see a play called Milo’s Wake. Milo planned his own wake before he dies so he can participate in it. The wake is complete with an Irish Band who sing and play and there is the opportunity to join in a few songs. I was blown away with this play, the script is powerful, every emotion is presented and it hits you hard. The acting was first class and the music was a great feature. So proud to know we have such talented local theatre groups putting on such high calibre productions. I was going to say there is a performance on the 30th at the Railway Hotel Drouin, but I see that’s sold out. Brilliant!



This weekend we participated in the open food gardens weekend as part of Gardivalia in conjunction with the Baw Baw Sustainability Network (BBSN). The weather was atrocious yesterday but we still had some brave people turn up. Today was much better, the rain had eased, wind had dropped and we had a good attendance. You meet some lovely people doing these events and I even managed to cope with doing an interview with ABC Gippsland. Very brave indeed!

Our mascot with his shower cap on!img_9912 img_9907 img_9904 img_990132mls of rain yesterday, not conducive to having people go out and look at gardens. Thanks to those that did take the time to visit us, we loved having you.



15 Replies to “2 weeks in 1-Melbourne, Gardivalia and some theatrical “Cultcha”!”

  1. Wow, you’ve been having fun! That convent looks beautiful – what stories those walls would have to tell. I’ve found organic bulk places to be huge rip-offs – I love the fill your own concept, but often stuff is stale from being kept in open containers. And can I just say – LOVE your frog umbrella! xx

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Definitely a rip of Celia! I’m hoping my new contact the Nut bloke pans out, looks promising. I hate to think of what things went on behind those big walls at the convent. Frog umbrella was an unclaimed items lost property and i just had to give it a good home. I love it too!


  2. Hi Maree, the garden looks more advanced than last year and so lush, due to this crazy non stop rain. The goods at Ceres and Source are ridiculously priced- especially source. I have only been to the latter once and walked out promptly. Up there with smashed avocados on sourdough in a Brunswick Cafe as the source of hipster poverty.I am very partial to Bas foods as you know, especially for nuts, dried fruit, flour and spices though sometimes something odd and wonderful turns up there. I am excited to hear about that place in Campbellfield- must put it on the drive list. The photos of the convent look more magical in the wet, more Dickensian.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I was very spooked at the convent! Glad I did take the time to see it though. I couldn’t believe the price of the Source items, I too left empty handed. The Campbellfield store didn’t have as much ‘fresh’ stuff but they had a sensational selection of other goods. The other place I found and loved as they were so friendly and family based, was Sonsa foods at 150 Smith St Collingwood. They were really keen to chat about dishes and best ingredients to use in Turkish cooking.


      1. I forgot to mention to you another place near Bas food, called NSM. Itis on Victoria st but closer to Sydney rd. Blink and you can miss it.They sell grains, nuts, herbs etc in bins- very cheaply- and also massive bags of flour, stone ground wholemeals and a different range to the other flour sellers around the traps. For super fresh herbs, nuts and other unusual ingredients, there’s also the Royal Nut company in Brunswick.

        Liked by 1 person

  3. I really enjoyed your tour of these ‘north of the city’ highlights, good on you for braving the cooler, wetter, weather! The rain definitely brightens up the greens in the foliage. It’s great that you make the effort to see local theatre as well. I particularly like the sound of Milo’s Wake. Last, but not least, your garden looks wonderful! Such an interesting post, thanks for sharing. Ruth

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I had the details all ready from the local paper to come and visit your great garden, but we had a family trip to Echuca take it’s place. Sorry I missed it, hope you had a good turnout. I will have to make do with your great garden pics. Also, my elderly aunt was actually placed in the Abbottsford Convent by her mother when she was a teenager for misbehaving/miscarraige… it was quite gruesome to be a resident I think. The building had been put to much better use. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I think there would be some horrendous stories to tell from the convent. Feel free to come and have a look around any time you like! Just email me first. Cheers, Maree.


  5. No wonder you are exhausted, but happy I bet. We too had a good turn out for the Poowong Pickers Festival despite the rain.
    Wow, double the price! I haven’t been to any of the bulk stores in the city and I don’t think I’ll be rushing there anytime soon now. If I’m in the area I’ll look round. No wonder people say the cost deters them from plastic free and zero waste living.

    Liked by 1 person

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