This morning, we took our kids out to explore the Eltham North Reserve. My oldest didn’t seem too excited at the thought of giving up screen time for a walk, but I reckon he didn’t completely hate it.
I was supposed to write about something else today, but by the end of our walk, I felt fortunate to have the opportunity to share the outdoors with my children.
Access to the reserve is free and open to the public. You don’t have a random man standing outside charging you for ‘entry’ or ‘parking’, while handing out what looks like chits of paper, depicting a ‘make shift’ ticket. There’s plenty of parking and accessibility is always catered to. In Bangalore, getting a dose of the outdoors would mean going to Coorg or a resort outside city limits. You’d also end up spending a lot of money to make that happen.
I look around and notice families playing ball with their kids and that one very jumpy and excited puppy running in all directions – aimlessly. There are many cyclists on the trail and my kids have brought a skateboard and a scooty to help them with what could be a long walk.
As we walk, I can’t help but take in the fresh air, the greenery, the beauty of it all. The reserve has a farm which is again free and open to the public. We are welcomed by chickens – rather big and fat, and I can’t help think of roast chicken. There are sheep, cows and ponies. There’s also a wooden cut out of a goat that children can milk (water).
There’s a lovely little cafe that resembles a food truck. They have toasties, coffees, and all day brekkie.
What gets our attention though are a number of penny-farthings that have been parked outside the cafe.
I had no idea those ‘big wheel’ cycles were called penny-farthings and that they were still being used!!!
We notice a family decorating a picnic table for a children’s party. You can reserve these tables at no cost. This is a common feature in Australia along with barbies. And no, I’m not talking about dolls. A barbie is short for BBQ. You really should be getting the hang of Aussie slang by now. So here’s the thing with these facilities.
- Anyone can use them.
- It’s free in most places (some councils charge a small fee).
- This is a great option for a party as it keeps venue costs low – almost nil really. You don’t even need a part entertainer as the animals (like in this reserve) or the playground equipment is enough.
We didn’t have these opportunities back in Bangalore. The parks (if you found one) were dirty, poorly maintained, and over-crowded.
The outdoors is a ‘culture’ here. Aussies are always spending time with friends and family in parks, reserves and vineyards. The best bit I reckon is that you don’t have to go far from home to find a spot.
I find that I spend way too much time on the weekends doing household chores that I forget how important it is to get outdoors with the kids. And I admire the Aussies who introduce their kids to hiking and camping.
You’ll hear Indian migrants talk about an improved quality of life here. For many people back home, they instantly think of money. Money isn’t life – life is about all your experiences, the things you cherish, the things that add value, the things that make you stop and smell the roses.