Sunday, 29 December 2019

Christmas sights and lights - gingerbread village, trees and gumnut babies

We got out and about more at Christmas than I expected we would.  One of my favourite places was the Gingerbread Village - see above photo and scroll down for more - which I think was the best I have seen yet.  But there were also lights, trees and the most engaging Santa I have seen.  And at the end of this post, there are some of our presents.

I really liked the native flower display at the farmers market.  They were making native flower wreaths.

We invited some friends over to help decorate the Christmas tree.  It looked lovely and Kerin even magically wove a trimmed branch into a wreath with some baubles, tinsel and bendy metal ties.

The next morning I awoke to this fallen tree.  I have no clue what happened.  Our cat (Shadow) is a suspect but he generally steers clear of the tree so he has grounds to protest his innocence.  Perhaps it was just a year for mishaps.  (We had two broken bowls over Christmas.)  I was mostly sad about our broken star that we had made out of icy pole sticks and buttons.  We put the tree up again and got on as many decorations as possible but it has never looked the same since.

Sylvia had a little tree in Shadow's corner in her room.  She made the little wreath, the gold Christmas tree and the reindeer on the tree at a craft session at the library.  Not pictured are his huge pile of presents, including a lot of stuff from the Cat Show and a lot of home made pom poms.

We went to my parents to help decorate the Christmas tree.  I didn't get a good picture so instead I am sharing a picture of the decorations on the sideboard.

We had an evening out to enjoy Christmas in the city.  It has become tradition that this evening includes dinner from Lord of the Fries and a visit to see the festive doughnuts at Krispy Kreme (though I prefer the Ben and Jerry's ice creams nearby).  Above is Federation Square and in the background is lots of scaffolding which I think is related to the Metro new underground rail stations project.

We've had a few visits in past years to the Gingerbread Village (2018, 2017, 2015, 2013).  This year was the best.  If you look back at past villages you can see that they have developed.  I talked to a volunteer who said it takes 4 chefs working for 2 weeks to make it and some of the village is kept in cold storage for the next year.  What an amazing piece of work.  It was very quiet when we visited late in a new location in Collins Lane this year but a friend went to visit and said there were huge queues on another day.

The Gingerbread Village includes many Melbourne landmarks, with intricate detail even if not strictly accurate.  Above is the crowds outside the Melbourne Town Hall with trams on roads and the Public Purse sculpture on a pedestrian section opposite it.  Any Melbournian knows that the Public Purse is in Burke Street Mall a couple of blocks away.  Likewise Flinders Street Station is opposite not beside Federation Square as in the top photo.

The village has previously included a wonderfully detailed Royal Children's Hospital.  So I am not sure why it was only this year I noticed that proceeds go to this hospital.  However this hospital this year has been rebuilt.  It retains the familiar parts of the hospital especially in the foyer.  I love all the details, especially the below meerkat enclosure which delights kids waiting to see a specialist (in the actual hospital it has a glass wall unlike in the Gingerbread Village).

I have not shared some of the pictures of the village that I have previous shown: the MCG, the kids lining up to see Santa, Brighton beach huts, Luna Park and the zoo.  Instead I have focused on some of the newer buildings that represent Melbourne icons of which I am very fond.

The Shrine is Melbourne's war memorial.  Hence the red poppies in the grass around it.

Young and Jackson's is a well known Melbourne pub built in the Nineteenth Century and is just across the road from Flinders Street Station.  It has bright advertising on its rooftop.

The Arts Centre is a 1980s building famous for its spire, the bottom of which is sometimes referred to as the ballerina skirt.

In the midst of the Melbourne icons is a section of buildings from Osaka because it is the sister city of Melbourne.  I think this is the only place I have seen any reference to this sisterhood.

We then went on to see the Myer Christmas windows.  In the last few years they seem to have revolved around books to the extent that crowds had to wait for an overhead recorded reading at each window and it was very slow moving.  This year it was more visual without the page by page approach and the crowds did not have to wait to move on.  It moved much quicker than on other years.  (Though my sister said on the weekend before Christmas the queues were crazy.)

I was pretty excited about the theme of May Gibbs gumnut babies because I loved my Snugglepot and Cuddlepie books when I was a kid.  I also was pleased to see the Australian theme as I had invited an Iranian colleague to come along.

But while I loved seeing the gumnut babies (and little blossom) I am not sure a Santa Koala ever appeared in May Gibbs drawings but he is the sort of character who might have.  She made lots of characters out of Aussie bush animals.  There were no Banksia men in the windows - they scared me so much as a child that I think it is just as well!

There is always a nativity scene on the last window of the Myer Christmas windows.  Usually it is fairly quiet.  This year they made it into a nativity calendar which grabbed the attention of lots of people.

Inside Myer were more gumnut baby decorations.  After a couple of years finding that the queue for Santa was too long, we were surprised to be told that there was only one family ahead of us and we were welcome as the last guests of the night.  We did a fun train ride where we watched snowy scenes go by out of the windows.  Then we waited briefly and were able to go into see Santa.  He was one of the most engaging Santas I have seen.  He made Sylvia feel comfortable and amused us with magic tricks with a colouring book to demonstrate his magic that helps the reindeer fly.

We did a quick drive around a couple of days before Christmas.  We like to look at the local lights and one of the best houses that always does a spectacular light display, had a snow machine added this year.

Finally here are many of Sylvia's presents.  You might notice a theme of cats this year!

And some of my presents.  Both Sylvia and I are very lucky to have such generous and thoughtful people in our lives.


  1. Happy Christmas! It looks like you packed a lot of things in to the festive break. I love the gingerbread village - both inventive and cute! Does anyone get to eat any of it after the holidays are over?!

  2. Thanks for posting your Christmas photos. I didn't get a chance to see the Myer windows so I enjoyed seeing them here. I visited May Gibbs' Nutcote in Sydney in November so it is quite timely. I love the native flower display at the farmers market too.

  3. Such a sweet Christmassy post! The cat's Xmas corner is the cutest thing ever. Complete with a wreath and a tree. Kitty hired a good decorator. I love the bookish socks you were gifted :)

  4. What a jam packed delightful Christmas post Johanna. Thank you for sharing the Gingerbread Village pictures esp. ive never seen anything like it - your gifts are lovely - look forward to hearing how you get on with the silicon lids as i still have to purchase them. Shame about your homemade star and the tree falling, i wonder who the culprit was?! Wishing you a Happy New Year x


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