Moonee Ponds might have been internationally damned with faintly twisted praise by Barry Humphries’ choice of the suburb as the Gladiola Duchy of Dame Edna Everage, but, despite the comedian’s derision, tens of thousands are happy to call this part of Melbourne home. And many of those have travelled across the world to drop anchor in Moonee Ponds and the municipality of Moonee Valley. More than one third of the valley’s population of 110,000 were born overseas and speak more than 120 languages. The blending of so many cultures has enriched the social fabric and expression of the region in an ever-widening range of food, music, art and entertainment. The urban sprawl of bricks and terracotta which Humphries has seen as so sterile, is broken by some quite delightful parks. The tea and coffee houses which gave the Canning Street Tea Gardens their name might have gone, but the Maribyrnong Riverside park remains a favourite picnic spot for Melbournians. Historic Queens Park where Burke and Wills camped on the eve of the start of their ill-fated expedition to traverse the country, Woodlands Park and Boeing Reserve also have their share of tranquil charm.