UnknownWhen my nephew turned three, I gave him a book called The Chimpanzees of Happytown, by one of my favourite children’s authors, Giles Andreae.

It is a magical, rhyming tale of a Chimpanzee who moves to Drabsville, plants a forbidden seed and eventually transforms the entire city into a colourful, carefree Happytown.

I never knew what an apt story it was for this happy little chap, until last weekend, when he visited Melbourne town for his 10th birthday.

It was his first interstate trip as an unaccompanied minor, for two nights and an unspecified outing with his Aunt.

Melbourne being known for its gloom, we were expecting another week of rain. But by the time J got off the plane, the sun was out and the forecast had been changed.

“You brought the sun with you!” we said, not knowing how true that would turn out to be.

It was a perfect Sunday.

After a bike ride to the local skate park, where I was instructed to record every jump until he got it right…

…we took a one hour ferry ride to the city.

His exuberance at the sights was unexpected.


“Has Dad seen this?!” J wanted to know.


Before long, he had wrestled the camera from my hands.








I think he hoped to do a direct transfer from his brain to Dad’s.







We pulled up outside the Arts Centre just as my camera battery died…


…and then we were off to see the Flying Fruit Fly Circus, a theatrical production by kids aged 8 to 18, about a girl with a circus hidden under her bed.

Following the show, filled with wonder and ice-cream, J was ready to dance all the way home to Happytown.


Aunty Larns, have you seen the movie Dumb Ways to Die? (click the pic to see it)

Debriefing on the way to the airport the next morning, I was surprised by the vision he had of my city.

If you had asked me, I would have told you it is dark and gloomy, and everyone wears black.

That Melbourne has forgotten its roots in a drive for glamour and opulence. And other less flattering things.

But my nephew saw a city full of colour and art, nice historical buildings mixed in with interesting new ones, factories, ships and lots of different things to see and do.

He left me with a smile on my face, and a resolve to get out more and find the colour in my world.

Have a Happy Easter, everyone!

What colourful things do you have planned these holidays?


  1. says

    Awwww! That was a lovely trip ya’d with the big boy, I suppose. I’ll be having exams by the beginning of next month, Alarna. Hence I won’t give much importance to the festival season this time, though I can’t miss those yummy dishes which will be prepared by my close-friend’s mom during the Easter day. Hope ya’re having a good time there. Happy Easter! God bless. 🙂

    – Rahul

    • says

      Exams, hey? That’s a bit if a holiday spoiler! But I’m glad you’ll have some fine food to get you through it, and I’m sure all your exam prep will pay off! Happy studies, Rahul, and lovely to see you here 🙂 xo

      • says

        Thank you so much for your blessings, Aunt! 🙂 Oh, yeah! I’ll be back soon to read the rest of your other posts too. 🙂 Stay happy! xoxo

        – Rahul

  2. says

    Great photos, what a great day! I really must visit Melbourne sometime, it looks wonderful.

    The colours of my holiday will be mostly green, brown and grey. I’m headed off in my little bus to the Colo River to get the sense of the place nailed down for the book I’m writing. It’s too long since I’ve been there.
    If those colours don’t sound all that exciting, spend two minutes watching this, maybe you’ll change your mind.

    • says

      Greens, browns and greys are by no means boring to me! One of my favourite things to do is spend time in places like the Colo River – I’ve never been to the Blue Mountains or Hawkesbury area, but I would very much love to…ever since I read Kate Grenville’s ‘Secret River’. Perfect setting for story. I hope you have a blissful holiday out there (and if you ever do come to Melbourne, do let us know! There are lots of little hidden gems to see…) xo

  3. says

    Such beautiful pictures Alarna! Spending time with my nephews and nieces and nephews of my husband made me realise that through the eyes of children we can see things so much differently and in such a better way. Happy Easter Alarna!

  4. says

    These are lovely. Such a fun time with your nephew.

    It’s funny, I think of Melbourne as artsy and interesting. I’d like to see all of Australia (well, not all, it’s a huge country, but, you know lots of it) but Melbourne is on the top of my list.

    I will admit to a preference to black clothing. A misspent youth in NYC did that to me. 😉

    • says

      Looks like Melbourne and NYC have some things in common 😉 . It is indeed artsy, and lots of things to see and do – something for everyone, really. I hope you make it someday. The contrast between our city and country is pretty wild 🙂

      • says

        I think I shall, someday. I got to Tokyo once, but didn’t have the cash to hop the puddle. (Such a long flight.)

        Fingers crossed, at some point I’ll get there!

  5. says

    Great captures, Alarna! I’m happy that you and your nephew both learned something from each other. Kids are such excellent sources of inspiration. 🙂

    I’m planning on getting lots of writing done this holiday weekend and (if I’m lucky) draw my guts out. It’s also time to get reacquainted with nature (which is not always possible when you live in the city) so I’ll be walking some forested trails.

    • says

      What you have just described is exactly what I’m hoping for these holidays, too! It’s never as easy as it seems to escape the city when you’re in it. But it’s so good when it happens. Wish you much creative inspiration (and hopefully a peak or two at your drawings when you return? 😉 )

  6. says

    There’s art in how, J sees the world (it’s in the photographs too). Sometimes I think we rush past our choices in directions to fast and only see the blur to what is, but if we just slow a fraction, then directions will find us. We’re our own cartographer and navigator, it’s still all about experiences and sharing. Alarna, you shared your city well, and J shared with you the parts that hide in the blur at times.

    For the rest of the week, and the next. Yes, managed to land the whole ten days off. Already see a lot of wild places for work, so perhaps contemplating jumping on a jet plane to somewhere, well thinking about it. Have some family in Sydney, and you did mention the Blue mountains somewhere. So will probably wait for the crazy weekend to finish, and then step aboard.

    • says

      The shared vision, that’s what it’s all about…

      Hopping on a jet plane, perhaps to the big smoke? One always needs a change of scene, in whichever direction. I’m not sure I will ever be fully content with country or city, but I dream of affording the luxury of both!

      Whatever you end up doing, I’m sure it will be a great time. Happy travels 🙂

  7. says

    What a fun auntie you are! My kids play the video game Dumb Ways to Die, and now that you have posted this, I can’t get the song out of my head! 🙂

  8. says

    What a wonderful post! He is so adorable and you are quite the proud auntie! Very cool biking video and pics taken by both you and he. I had never heard of, Dumb Ways to Die – the video was hilarious! Happy Easter to you too! 🙂

    • says

      It’s great to have a chance to spend time with the nephew – it’s always refreshing to see things from their perspective. I hadn’t heard of the song either, but I love the wicked humour 🙂

  9. says

    I love it Alarna, I love how kids see the world, the photo’s are amazing. To write for kids we must see in full colour. I took a look at my clothes….black with a little black. When did I get so boring. Lately I have been adding a splash of colour with my black and guess who notices first…yes my children smile and say wow mum you are wearing some colour! I too need to open my eyes wider if I am ever going to finish my children’s books lol. Kath

  10. says

    Now that’s a freaking day of memories that will last a lifetime our friend! What a glorious day & what an incredible young man! The pictures we enjoyed as much as you did! Thank you, we’ve added that book to our gift list for my younger nieces and nephews so thanks Alarna as I’m always uncertain of what to get them having two grown kids now! Loved this and sharing it now. Btw~ I wish you we’re my Aunt!!! ❤ 😉

    • says

      It’s a cool book – so glad to recommend it to you. His books have always rated on the kids’ fav lists! And BTW… this Aunt is always open for adoption 😉 (thanks for sharing!) *hugs*

  11. karenmcfarland says

    I’d have to agree with your nephew. I saw “a city full of colour and art, nice historical buildings mixed in with interesting new ones, factories, ships and lots of different things to see and do.” I have to say that I didn’t know that all these things existed in Melbourne. Thanks for the beautiful site seeing tour! Great Pics! Glad you had a wonderful visit with your nephew. Those are special times. 🙂

    • says

      I reckon there would be a few locals who haven’t seen those sights, either! It was a first trip on the ferry for me, and it did make me want to be a tourist in my own town a while! Special times indeed. Thanks so much for sharing! 🙂

  12. lynnkelleyauthor says

    What a fun and delightful post, Alarna. Your nephew is adorable and pretty darn good on his bike! What wonderful memories. They grow up so fast, don’t they?

  13. sherinsk says

    Hi alarna lovely pictures lovely kid.i came to your blog through manu kurup.He is from my state but the things he writes outstanding right?i will think about your easter outing this way.jesus just sent your cousin to make your day special and kids can make everything around them colorfull too.
    i also wrote somethings for easter.i don’t know if you like it.here it is-http://sherinchelad.wordpress.com/2014/04/19/an-easter-insanity/

  14. says

    This really brought a smile to my face. What a great time you both had. It shows in J’s pictures. The video clips were a treat and so glad the sunny weather arrived and held out. Sometimes it takes seeing things through a kid’s eyes to appreciate what we have all over again. 🙂

  15. says

    hello, Alarna… it looks like nephew had fun – the pics are nice, the scenes are captivating and he looks happy. happy like seeing the city for the first time, incidentally rubbing the mood off to an otherwise bored aunt, hahaha. so, did you also see Melbourne like the first time, huh? 😉 hope things are well. sorry i havben’t been around much, hoho. cheerio!

    • says

      No apologies needed! Not so much a bored Aunt, as a cynical one 😉 But yes, I hadn’t taken this trip before, so it was pretty cool to see Melbourne from that angle! Hope you are well, too, San xo

      • says

        cynical, ahh… a boat ride is always fun, especially with good company. and the nephew sure was enthusiastic about most things, ahaha. btw, the scenes and the pics are delightful to look at.

        it’s the peak of summer here – super hot, way too humid. we’re waiting for the rain, huhu… waving… 😉

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