"My childhood prepared me for my life in Southbank with the friends I’ve made through Southbank Sustainability Group (SSG). I grew up in India, with my family, in four different states. We moved to Mumbai when I was 14 and lived on an Indian Institute of Technology campus, next to Powai Lake. It was built on a protected green zone where my father was chief librarian.

During my schooling years in the mid-1970s, I kept hearing about environmental changes, pollution and environmental concerns. We were hearing about energy conservation, non-conventional sources of energy, solar, wind and biomass energy. After high school, my dad wanted me to pursue medicine and work as doctor in the remote village where he grew up in northern India.

However, after my unsuccessful attempt to enter medical school, I took up a Bachelor of Science, majoring in botany and biochemistry and quickly realised this was my passion, eventually qualifying with Masters. I started working as a lecturer in biochemistry in parallel to working on my PhD, with research focussed on a halo-tolerant micro-algae which could be used as a non-conventional source of energy. It was a very rewarding 26 years of research and teaching.

In 2009 my husband decided to move overseas for work. Our daughter was seven years old. I was still guiding a few PhD students with my own research laboratory and wasn’t mentally prepared to give all of that up. The following year during a vacation in Melbourne with my daughter, while having a coffee in Southbank, I loved the area straight away.

With our daughter’s school in South Yarra, the decision to be in Southbank was made. We lived in and around Southbank in rented apartments before finally discovering Melbourne Square, which suited our lifestyle. All the places of interest were in proximity - with good public transport connections, we never felt the need to own a car. This way we could also minimise our carbon footprint.

One of the things that attracted me to Southbank was the library at Boyd - I must have read hundreds of books from City of Melbourne (CoM) libraries. We moved into our apartment in Melbourne Square just before the COVID-19 pandemic hit Melbourne. Initially there were only about 10 other families in the building. We were compelled to come downstairs for exercise and interaction in our allocated hour. Boyd garden was my area for exercise.

One day, Maria from SSG saw me looking at the planter boxes and asked what I thought we should plant next. That’s how serendipitously I first became involved with the group. I am also involved with CoM’s Gardens for Wildlife program and it’s one of my other passions. For me, this has been a true journey of over 50 years, from when I first heard about the environment as a girl in India to being part of SSG in Melbourne. From Mumbai to Melbourne, it all tied up beautifully for me.

For me, this community is a home away from home. Now, when I think about going away, I think about missing the family I have made here through the community in Southbank."

SG group members and friends Seema Misra Thakur, Faye McDonald and Lily Bednikov

SG group members and friends Seema Misra Thakur, Faye McDonald and Lily Bednikov

Find out more

Southbank Sustainability Group (SSG) is a solutions- focussed community group of Southbank residents working to bring positive change in sustainability practices. If you’re interested in getting involved, send the group an email or come to one of the fortnightly meetups.

Learn more about City of Melbourne’s Gardens for Wildlife program.

Southbank Neighbourhood Portal

Our Neighbourhood Portals are full of great information to get the most out of living, working and playing in the City of Melbourne.