Dec 04

What does Australia smell like?

On Friday while walking through the hallways with students during a class change, one of my students asked me what Australia smells like. I told her I didn’t know but I knew someone I could ask.

When I got back to my classroom, I tweeted @malynmawby who lives in Australia to see what she thought in response to the question. She responded later in the day and @brittgow also provided some insight.

I’ll be sharing all of this with my student Monday, but it also got me thinking about how certain places do have associated smells. I’m going to ask her what Georgia smells like. Right now, no distinct smells stand out to me.

However, I grew up in Florida in the town that produces Tropicana orange juice. It’s also right on the Gulf of Mexico. When I was younger, we lived only a couple of miles from the Gulf. The air was always salted and often smelled of the sea – seaweed, salt air, and sometimes dead fish.

When I was older, we lived on the other side of town close to the Tropicana factory. When they were producing orange juice, the air smelled of cooked oranges and warm orange juice. I was reminded how much I enjoy that smell when I was visiting during Thanksgiving last week.

So for me, my hometown in Florida smells like warm oranges and the sea. What does it smell like where you live?

Orange and Juice Image by helter-skelter on Flickr from Fotopedia: http://www.fotopedia.com/items/flickr-2067048782


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  1. Malyn Mawby (@malynmawby)

    Great question. great post.
    Smell is an amazing sense and it is a fantastic memory jogger. I’m surprised it doesn’t get a bigger profile. I’m pretty sure i read somewhere that the reason we can’t taste our food when we’ve got a cold is because we can’t smell. If true, taste and smell are tightly connected.
    Let me know how you go on Monday.

    1. Janelle

      It is amazing how catching the scent of something you haven’t smelled for a long time can awaken a long forgotten memory. And you’re correct, smell and taste are very intricately connected.

      I’ll keep you posted. 🙂

  2. Britt Gow

    Dear Janelle,
    I used to rent a house near a coffee factory, which, when the wind blew from the north, filled the house with the smell of coffee. Now I live on a farm in SW Victoria, which variably smells of sheep manure (autumn) mud (winter) mown hay (spring) and bush fires (summer). I aim to plant lemon-scented eucalypts up the drive way so visitors are greeted with that beautiful Aussie fragrance. Thanks for evoking the senses in this post!

  3. Alyss

    What a great question! I live in Portland, Oregon and there are wonderful smells here. In the fall it smells like wet pavement in town and ripening apples, and like mown hay just outside of town. In the winter, it smell like Christmas trees and woodsmoke most of the time, with hints of coffee roasting or good food smells depending on where you happen to be at the time. I have been driving down to a rural community south of town this month and that community smells distinctly of Christmas trees because they grow so many down there and they are in the middle of harvest season. Around town it smells like that because of all the Douglas Fir trees in yards and parks. In the spring, as the days warm, there is a very distinct smell of wet earth. It reminds me of earthworms and babbling brooks and deep, wet, green forests. It’s kind of mossy, and very much alive. As summer comes, so does the smell of roses… tons and tons and tons of roses everywhere! Summer is also the time of dry grass smells, BBQ smells and the smell of the river – a not unpleasant watery smell, but not the fresh smell of brooks or the salty smell of the ocean. Just a big, watery, river that runs right through town. What a great question!

  4. ger

    Where abouts in australia are we talking about. Cities, deserts, snofields, tropical rainforest, temperate rainforest, wet farming lanf, dry farming land,

  5. Angela


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