Melbourne Museum with kids

Museums can be fun when you go to see something your kids are interested in.

A couple of weeks ago when I asked my kids if we should go to the museum, my 5 year old daughter was very excited, and she said she had always wanted to go (which was the first time I’d heard her say, but any way… that’s kids for you! ).  My 3 year old son was not so thrilled and watching his sister’s excitement intently not quite sure whether to copy her or not but as we spoke to him more about the things he might see at the museum such as lions, dinosaurs and bones he progressively got exited.  I knew he might get a bit bored at his age especially being a typical boy looking at things without having to run around can bore him quickly, so I was sure to make a mental note to take the stroller with me.

So we wanted to go to the Melbourne Museum which is on Nicholson Street on the city fringe.  Now if you are driving there is 4hour parking on the Nicholson Street ($3.70 per hour) Or Museum underground parking ($20 for 2 hours+ check their rates for current pricing).  Callum my 3 year old, kept on asking if he will see animals, and I explained to him the animals we see at the museum are not alive, the live ones are only at the Zoo.  But it was puzzling him how can he see animals that won’t move.  So this was an interesting concept for him and was looking forward to finding out the answers to all his questions once he gets there.

We chose to go on a Wednesday around 11.30am so it was nice and quiet for us and plenty of parking on the road.  A packed lunch only consisting with fruits and almonds (the whole packet of almonds were consumed by Callum:)).  Entry for kids under 12 were free, adults had to pay $12 each.  As we approached the ticketing area of the Museum, as soon as you entered through the sliding glass doors, we were greeted with a scene created from under the sea using real stuffed penguins and other sea creatures.  This was when both kids got very excited.

Under the sea
Under the sea

This undersea scene captured kids’ attention and helped them get a bit of a feel of whats in store inside the museum.  My daughter Anisha (5) pointed out how the school of little fish had formed a large shape of a fish, and that amazed me how she could see that (something even I didn’t pick up on).   Museums are a great place to discover and educate our children about many things.   For me I found it put me in that zone where you are ready to learn and the place felt like a large open book with pictures and real specimens you just walked through it reading and talking about things more in detail.

So once we got the tickets, we entered the animal section of the museum, which showcased a massive skeleton of a blue whale, a dinosaur walk, a under water walk and plenty of stuffed animals and insects from all parts of the world for us to wow at.  We got to know a lot of new facts about animals.  There were also a lot of “staring” at and taking things in moments with Callum especially when he saw a big stuffed Polar Bear and a Panda.  There was enough to see and do  we ended up spending more than 2 hours in this part section alone.

Blue Whale Skelaton
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Panda and other animals from Asia
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Anisha’s favourtie butterflies and other insects

So after the animals we had a little break at the Kid’s Zone where there were lots of fun activities for kids to do including a puppet theater, while parents could get a bit of a rest sitting down watching the kids play.  Then we enjoyed our fruity and nutty lunch at the end of a walk in the Museum forest.  After that we felt we were ready to leave the museum for the day, it was a lot of walking and taking in a lot of information for one day.  This time around we didn’t get to explore the other sections of the museum which covered the First People and Human Mind and Body.   Which means we have to go another time to cover these other sections and spend more time at the Kid’s Zone (as requested by my kids).

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Kid’s  Zone
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A puppet show for mum

It really is wonderful to watch your children learn new and exciting things.  What a great day out it turned out to be.

One of the most Beautiful villages in France, Roussillon

I think I left my heart in Provence, a beautiful place

One of the most beautiful villages in France, Roussillon.  

The village and the Ochre trail boasts breath taking hues of ochre- reds and yellows.  Set  in the southern edge of the Plateau de Vaucluse, Roussillon is really a pretty hilltop village you would want to spend an afternoon or a day just taking in its beauty.  Tip, also beautiful to see the colours in the  setting sun.

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Red Hues Of Roussillon

The Ochre Trail that is just a few steps from the village is mesmerising  The ochre-red hills amongst the deep green pine forest is truly worth a visit.  We went with our then 11 month old and 3 year old toddlers, and they loved the colours, and the red sand that coloured their hands.

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The Ochre Trail : with my then three year old daughter
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Look at the colour
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Hilltop Village of Roussillon
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Roussillon Ochre Trail
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Views From The Ochre Trail

This brings back such wonderful memories…..  Provence is one of those places I would not mind going over and over again.

Where is that place  for you?

Hamilton Island AKA Paradise For A Family Getaway

Ok, most of you would agree, when you have kids, life can get a bit crazy.  As kids grow older, the daily routines, weekend sports and other activities drains you right out.  You really need to have a break once in a while to re-charge your batteries.  If you live in Australia there are plenty of places you can getaway for a short break with your kids.

If you are looking to get away from the rat race, and have toddlers,  you probably have dismissed Hamilton Island as one of the places you can enjoy with little kids.  I know I did and had been delaying the idea of going to Hamilton Island till the kids had grown older.  A little bit of information about Hamilton Island; it is set in the Whitsundays in Queensland Australia.  It is has a tropical climate being near the equator.  Another great fact is that it is located near the Great Barrier Reef and Whitehaven Beach both of which are breathtaking natural wonders of the world.

Last year we were feeling really drained and exhausted so my husband, Raj, decided he would just book 5 nights on Hamilton Island for a break since we had not had the chance to go on a decent family break in over two years.   Dates were booked for November Melbourne Cup weekend.  Our kids turned 5 and 3 just before November, the 3 year old being Callum, who usually can not sit still for too long, made me a bit nervous.  I was afraid maybe we will be disappointed going to a beautiful vacation destination with young kids and spoil it for ourselves and in doing so, waste the money which we no longer had easy access to.  It scared me a bit, that we will not get our “money’ worth” so to speak. Hamilton Island is not necessarily a cheap place for a break (transfers plus accommodation can add up to the same cost of an international trip),  but we took the risk and did it any way (our style).

As usual, closer to the date of our holiday, I started doing some research to discover there are a few activities for kids to do on the island, but doubted my shy 5 year old would want to be involved in doing some of these activities that required them to be doing things without the parents.  So still with a huge question mark over my head, we set off to Hamilton Island.

Anisha Having a look at the map of Whitsundays
Anisha Having a look at the map of Whitsundays

We also took the long way around to get there.  Flying into Mackay airport from Melbourne we had to take a 2 hour Shuttle bus to Airlie Beach ferry terminal, upon which we missed the ferry by 5 minutes and had to wait another 2 hours for the next ferry to Hamilton Island.  I was a bit worried about this long day of travel (10 hours+ in total) where we had to use 5 different modes of transportation (car, Plane, Bus, Ferry, Golf Buggy).

Our long wait at the Airlie Beach Ferry terminal
Our long wait at the Airlie Beach ferry terminal
Callum enjoying the Ferry ride to Hamilton Island
Callum enjoying the ferry ride to Hamilton Island

I shouldn’t have worried too much because the kids enjoyed it very much, they were very excited and really took all of it in with a smile. Even the long wait at the ferry terminal with very limited entertainment choices (which was none) was met with a smile.  The Ferry terminal was pretty new and just consisted of a small cafe that had nothing much left and a small souvenir shop.

We left our home in Melbourne at 6 am and eventually arrived at our accommodation at Hamilton Island after 4 pm. Hamilton Island has a range of accommodation available to suit different demographics but they can be a bit on the expensive side compared to other locations in Australia.  We found the most reasonable deal with Whitsunday Apartments (self catering apartments) which is ideal for a family.

Our spacious 1 bedroom apartment
Our spacious 1 bedroom apartment
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Cockatoo visits on the apartment balcony
View from the apartment (every apartment had this view)
View from the apartment (every apartment had this view)
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Low tide exposing the reef-view from the apartment

It was a very spacious apartment with a balcony overlooking the breathtaking Catseye Beach.  We were impressed, with this 1 bedroom apartment (good start!).  There was plenty of space for a family of four with a large bedroom with a king size bed plus a separate bed/sofa, a living area, a dining area and a good sized kitchen if you wanted to cook some meals at your leisure.  We didn’t cook since there were so many places to eat out including a fish and chips take away.  The number of great restaurants that offered kids meals for free was also a bonus.

So while we were there, we really got to experience what Hamilton Island had to offer.  There were pools all along the Catseye Beach that were available to all guests staying at this resort island.  The pools proved to be a hit with our kids.  They spent hours and hours at the pools (yes.. every day).  There are  so many great activities to talk about… so let me list the activities we enjoyed that I think are great for families with younger kids

  1. The many pools you can use on the Island
  2. Catseye Beach walk during low tide- get closer to the coral reef where you can see schools of fish swimming right past your feet
  3. Free Snorkel hire- Snorkeling the reef fringe to see beautiful corals and colourful marine life including turtles
  4. Free Catamaran hire
  5. Free kayak hire
  6. Turtle Discovery cruise (only $15 per adult and $10 per child under 12years)
  7. Exploring the tropical gardens and discovering new plants
  8. Wildlife- when walking around in the evenings you see birds (that make human like loud noises) and even wallabies
  9. Kids free activities like face painting, jumping castles etc (check resort schedule for times and days of the week)
  10. The wildlife park
  11. The Golf Buggy rides (free if your accommodation gives you your own one)
  12. Late evening live music played near the pools and marina
  13. Simply relaxing on the beach or near the many pools (BYO your favourite book)
  14. Eating out there is a kids eat free program at most restaurants and great fresh seafood to be had
One of the many pools for kids to enjoy
One of the many pools for kids to enjoy
Low tide walk in the sea
Low tide walk in the sea
Reef restaurant- the salmon dish was amazing
Reef view hotel restaurant- the salmon dish was amazing 🙂

As well as many other activities on Hamilton Island including Mini golf, Bush Walking, Quad bike racing, Art classes, Bowling, Sailing, Fishing, Cruises, Jet skiing, Fitness classes (free for guests) and Open air cinemas to suit all ages. Plus loads of opportunities to take up on that well deserved relaxing time for the parents. Be sure to have a look at the brochure you get at your accommodation which has a time table for all the activities mentioned above.

Discovering new tropical plants
Discovering tropical plants
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Relaxing walks along the marina in the evenings

The trip I treated with caution turned out to be a great one and ever since we got back, Hamilton Island has become one of our “must go again” destinations.  As we discovered firsthand Hamilton Island is a family destination as much as it is a destination for couples.

I would love to hear your Hamilton Island stories or any other similar experiences.  If you would like to know more about something I have mentioned above or need more information on certain things I have briefly spoken about please let me know.

5 Family Adventures On A Budget, Melbourne, Australia

We don’t need to travel too far or burn a hole in our wallets to have an adventure with kids.  If you live in Melbourne, Australia and you have young kids there are lots of adventures to be had just in our back yards.  I have discovered some free/low cost activities that we can do with our young kids to keep their adventurous spirits high, their minds active and have fun filled family days for some good old quality time spending.

Here are my top 5 suggestions for a family adventure on a budget in and around Melbourne….

  1. Caribbean Gardens- Free train rides during their “Babes to Kids” Market held on the first and third Friday of every month, is a great hit with toddlers and younger kids.  Free train rides take place between 9.am-11am during the Babes to kids Market days.   Continue reading

Provence, A family holiday with Toddlers

Our Provence Family Adventure In Pictures…

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River Sorgue

 

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On our way to La Fontaine de Vaucluse

 

 

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Village of La Fontaine de Vaucluse

 

 

 

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A beautiful restaurant at the village of La Fontaine de Vaucluse

 

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View when walking up to the Springs at La Fontaine de Vaucluse

 

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Wondering around La Fontaine de Vaucluse

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Gordes: one of the most beautiful villages of France

 

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Gordes in the setting sun

 

 

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View from the road across the village of Gordes

 

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A dinner at a beautiful family run restaurant in the backyard of an olive grove

 

 

 

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The walk between two beautiful hill top villages of Bonnieux and Lacoste

 

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Our accommodation at Oppede

 

 

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Anisha enjoying a fresh Baguette at our accommodation at Oppede

 

 

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Our accommodation at Oppede

 

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Property next door to our accommodation in Provence

 

 

 

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Callum (11 months) being carried in his Baby Bjorn to the medieval village of Oppède-le-Vieux, in the Luberon

 

 

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A proud Anisha after a long walk through the woods to reach the village of Oppède-le-Vieux

 

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The captivating medieval village of Oppède-le-Vieux

 

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The old Church of of Notre Dame d’Alidon at the top of the medieval village of Oppède-le-Vieux

 

 

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Exploring Saignon the quiet hilltop village

 

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Roussillon the red village set in the Ochre trail

 

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Fountain at Saignon another small hilltop village

 

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Saignon


 

 

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Exploring Saignon the quiet hilltop village

 

 

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Enjoying a dinner “at home”, traveling at our own pace

 

 

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Some of the delights we found at boutique pattisseries

 

If you have any comments or questions please leave them in the comments below.  I would love to hear from you!

About Our Family

Our Blog

We are an ordinary family of four with an extraordinary passion for travel.  We currently live in Australia but we dream  of bigger travel plans.  I (Shani) started this blog to record our travel stories near and far including our future travel plans.  Please pardon my blog writing style since I have not been very good at writing throughout school, this blog was born purely through my burning desire to record my travels and the travel experiences I have gathered through time and not because of my writing talent….  This  Blog will be an online scrap book or a journal where we can share our adventures with family and friends.

A Little Bit About Us

I met my husband Raj during University as we started our Engineering degree back in 1997.  No it was not love at first sight, it was a friendship that blossomed into love (it worked better for us:)).  I always loved travel and convinced Raj to do a bit of travelling within New Zealand and  make the move to Australia in 2004.  We got Married and traveled a bit more within Australia and Europe  before we decided to have a baby in 2009.  When our little girl Anisha was 6 months we did our first overseas trip with her.  Since then and another baby boy later we have done many more short distance trips as well as another Europe trip with our kids.     I really want to travel the world with our kids and live a different life filled with adventure. Dec 2015 Calalnder

Get To Know Us…

Shani (Mum/the blogger)

Shani  with Anisha
Shani with family

I am the person behind this blog. Travel has been one of my passions for as long as I can remember.  As a child I would love planning trips with my dad and being the one to guide with maps whenever we traveled. I was born in Sri Lanka, moved to New Zealand with my family back in 1994.  Where I completed a Bachelor and masters of Chemical and Materials Engineering.  I always questioned this typical dream where we study get a degree, work,  climb the co-operate ladder, build a house settle down have kids and wait till retirement to enjoy your travel dreams.  I have been going against the grain so to speak since becoming a mother.  Coming from a Sri Lankan family, doing things out of “norm” is not accepted.  My mum will say “well you have to work while you can” and I say well you also have to do the things you want while you can.

No one knows what happens tomorrow, and our lives are so uncertain and short.  So why wait?? Approaching my mid to thirties, a panic set in as I realised that there is so much i wanted to do and I have always been waiting for the right time to do it.  My decision to not go back to 9-5 work, and opting for an alternate life style where I could be flexible for my kids by starting my own handmade jewellery business and later a cafe was slowly taking its toll on me.  Managing a cafe demanded a lot of my time which took away our freedom to travel.  I started the cafe nearly two years ago, it was a fun project at the time, even though it demanded a lot of my time.  I turned the business around and now it is at a stage where the day to day process runs without me. The problem is the cafe still requires us (Raj and I) to be present 7 days a week to make sure things run smoothly.  This feeling of being trapped/stuck… nearly drove me into a state of depression where I felt my I was been suffocated living this life that belonged to someone else.   Never before have I realised how badly I wanted to travel and see more of the world, and share it with my  family.  Traveling with the family is such an amazing experience, where togetherness of family grows exponentially and I feel it is the only way I want to experience my life.  being able to travel freely feels like THE most important thing for me right now.

So My mission is to start living that dream of travel since my kids are both young and well ahead in their learning, we can open their eyes to see the wider world. Apart form travel other things I love and enjoy doing are, photography,  making jewelry (my other business Kookki Designs), going through old things particularly books (love Op Shops), trying delicious food (always open to try new cuisines) or spending time learning things on the world wide web (love researching things).

Raj (Dad)

Raj with Callum
Raj with Callum

I asked Raj to say a few things ….

I was born in Fiji to Sri Lankan parents and moved to New Zealand in 1989 where i completed all my schooling and higher tertiary studies. I met Shani in 1997 while at University completing my Engineering degree and we have been together since 1998. When growing up, I was fortunate enough to travel to a number of countries including Germany, England, USA and a number of Asian countries. As a result of this early exposure to travelling, during my early adulthood, I did not have a major desire to travel. I was happy with that regular dream “find a good job, a  house, and settle down with the wife and kids”  until I met Shani, she dragged the travel bug into my system.

I now look forward to our travels with kids, which tend to be slightly bit far apart compared to when we were both working with no kids.  We are looking to improve on this and find creative ways to see the world.

Anisha (Daugter/little princess)

Anisha
Anisha

 Anisha is 5, she just started school this year.  She is a very reserved, quiet yet sensible little girl, who also shares my love of travel and a bit of adventure.  She is a keen observer, and my precious little partner in crime when it comes to travel.  She and I often read about the fun facts of the world, I bought her a little kids Atlas where they have lost of facts about countires, when she was 3 that was one of her favourite books she would sit and happily flip  through pages quietly, asking me to read about different countries she was interested in.

When asked where she would like to travel to, she would say Malaysia and Hamilton Island.  So far she has been to France, New Zealand, Sri Lanka and lots of places in Australia.

Like many girls at her age she loves drawing, dressing up as a princess (Elsa from Frozen is her favourite at the moment) taking photos and playing with her little brother.

Callum (Son/the cheeky one)  

Callum
Callum

Callum is 3 and he just loves to copy his sister  and cousin brother, but I am not sure if he fully understands the travel stuff, but he loves to go to play grounds where ever we go.  He is an inquisitive fella, who has a lot of “why” and “what does it mean” questions.  He is very independent, and loves to figure things out by himself.  Also a lot more social than his sister, he is not shy to say hello to people he meets when out and about.  He is also the cheeky one in the family, joking around and trying any trick he can think of to get what he wants.

He is also quite keen on sports (like his dad) loves his cricket, soccer, or just playing with a ball.  He started holding a cricket bat and playing before he could walk properly.  He loves playing with his sister, to the point he doe not want her to go to school.  They are the best of friends (most times).