Financially Independent, Retired Early(ish) at 57.

Little Adventures #18. Geography Excursion to the city. October 2022.

I didn’t do a Little Adventure last month – I was too tired and all I wanted to do was rediscover the glories of being at home. But I’ve got back on the horse that threw me and I’m on the quest to go somewhere each month to a place or experience I’ve never had before.

This month started with a text on Monday evening.

“Hi Frogdancer! Would you be available to go on an excursion to the city with the year 8s tomorrow? “

As it happened, I’d arranged to take Scout to the vet on Tuesday for her annual grease and oil change, but just as I was about to hit ‘send’ on the first refusal of an offer of work I’d ever have done… I paused. This was a very late text. They normally don’t hire CRTs for excursions. Someone has clearly had to bail at the last minute and they were desperate.


I sent ‘ok’ and turned up to the main campus bright and early the next morning, ready to go into the city with 2 year 8 classes and 4 other teachers. We were going to learn about how Melbourne’s land use has changed over the years since settlement.

The kids were enthralled to learn that one of the names originally slated for our city was “Batmania.”

We rode in on the train and started off at Federation Square. The kids were all sitting down, listening to their teachers as they were filling in answers in their booklets, when one of the kids noticed an old man taking photos of them.

“Is he allowed to do that, Miss?” she asked.

Turns out he was a retired teacher from Holland, here to visit his sister. He complimented us on how well-behaved our children were, saying that in Holland the kids are feral. “They don’t have very good parenting!”

Fed Square always seems like a wasted opportunity to me. It’s always empty and it looks really uninviting. How hard can it be to have a space that people actually want to be in?

The photos on this post are taken from the internet. I left my phone at home.

The next step on our journey was Birrarung Mar.

It’s been ages since I’ve walked on this side of the Yarra. I had it in my head that Birrarung Mar was closer to Docklands, but there it was, tucked away behind Fed Square.

We were here for quite a while. The kids were sketching what they could see on the banks of the Yarra and answering questions in their booklet about how land usage had changed over the last couple of hundred years (and further, of course.)

After we’d eaten morning tea, we moved on down the Yarra to a bridge I’d never noticed before. Here’s where it got interesting.

Sandridge bridge is way down the Yarra. One thing you know when you go on a Geography excursion, there’s going to be a lot of walking! The sculptures on this bridge are ok, but it was the perspex plates stretching all the way across the bridge that were really interesting.

Each rectangle documented the stats of the immigrants from a country – how many were in Australia as a whole, how many were in Victoria, how their professions have changed since 1820 onwards, and the languages that they brought here.

As soon as the kids hit the bridge, they all raced off to look at the countries that were in their backgrounds. Nothing could have illustrated how much of an immigrant nation we are as they all scattered! I walked along, looking at England, Scotland, Ireland and Wales. There’s not a huge amount of diversity in my family tree!

Just around the corner from the bridge was Banana Alley. I’d heard about this place but I’d never been here before. It was good to put a face to the name. 🙂

We walked back across the bride and went to lunch at a food court in Southbank.

The plan was to go to the Arts precinct after lunch, but when we got there the lawn was packed with people attending a Welcome to Country ceremony. We decided tto go across the road so the kids could answer their questions from there.

It was nice. Every now and then we’d hear the click of the rhythm sticks and we could smell a waft of smoke, mingled with the ‘ding’ of the trams going by. The real teachers were talking about the things the kids needed to write down, as the rest of Melbourne hurried by.

The last stop before we jumped on the train to go home was the Alexandra Gardens.

Then it was all over, red rover as we walked the kids back to school. I was knackered! As I said at the start, there’s always a lot of walking on a Geography excursion.

I wouldn’t say that it was the most rivetting Little Adventure ever, but I got to see a few new places in my home town and it’s definitely the first Little Adventure that I got paid for!

Dad joke of the day:

How does a mathematician plough fields? 

With a pro-tractor.


  1. Onevikinggirl

    I would have wanted to go on this excursion too, sounds very interesting! Now, just one point to discuss. Children in Holland are NOT feral. However, as am immigrant, I think most regardless of age are fairly bonkers and difficult to live with. (They say they are ‘direct’ but by standards of most other cultures, they are impolite, inconsiderate and rude. And they can’t handle being spoken to in an open and direct manner, then they get defensive and accusatory. Or I could just go and live in another country, but then some are really lovely which makes up for the rest.)

    • FrogdancerJones

      Yeah, the good old, “I’m not being rude – I’m just direct!”
      Who knows – maybe that guy just taught in a really bad school or something?

      • Onevikinggirl

        That, or not a very good with people, including children.

        • Wendy

          Being Dutch, therefor living in Holland AND having children it hurts to hear this. Unfortunately I cannot totally disagree. When I was young we were taught to have respect for the elderly and good manners. Now the children must call the teachers by their first name, not too many rules else they cannot develop their (hidden 🙂 talents etc etc. I think we went a little overboard there. On the other hand we are a very open society so not all is bad (and my sons are not feral….) 🙂

          • FrogdancerJones

            Of course your sons aren’t feral!!!
            You read this blog – this PROVES that you have common sense!

  2. Josie

    I helped chaperone my daughters’ overnight trips to Washington DC (8th grade, 13yo). I absolutely agree on how tiring and even more so when it is mostly museums! In the last museum on the second day, our group of 8 kids found a corner in the museum hall, sat down and begged us not to make them look at any more! So in the last hour we took them outside to the mall and they loved it! Sunshine, grass and all the monuments can be seen. Your trip sounded much more interesting for kids that age!

    • FrogdancerJones

      That’s funny. “Please don’t show us any more culture!!”

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