In nostalgic mood, I went for a solitary walk in the Williamstown Botanic Gardens, established in the developing colony of Melbourne in 1860, as "a place for reliving the gentle English landscape, a place for social outings and to promenade".
When my brothers and I used to be taken for outings to Williamstown Beach, The Gardens were where we ate our picnic lunch and waited the obligatory hour before trudging back for more swimming and sunburn.
The shrubberies where we played hide and seek have shrunk to give way to more open lawn vistas. The brass cannons we clambered on have gone. The gloriously large fishpond has been emptied, and the spacious aviary, once full of budgerigars, has been demolished.
Furthermore, time, impudent colonial possums and prolonged drought have not been kind to the noble trees of this "gentle English landscape".
My spirits were restored when I saw a family with three little children in fairy costume, having a birthday picnic for the 2-year-old.