Melbourne National Gallery of Victoria for Kids?

You can find more information on the Tromarama exhibition at the NGV website 


Free Theme Park Entry Gold Coast Australia

Free theme park entry anyone?

Early May we went over to the Gold Coast for a 5 day mini break with the kids.  We stayed and the Whyndham apartments at Surfers Paradise for the first 3 nights and had to find a place for the 4th night.  We knew we wanted to go to Sea World with our 3 and 5 year olds, so we decided to looked into Sea World Resort.  We found out that they have a red hot deal valid from 26th April – 13th July 2015 which gives a family free entry to the theme parks when you book a hotel room at the Sea World Resort.

The RED HOT DEAL includes:

  • Unlimited entry to Sea World, Warner Bros. Movie World and Wet’n’Wild Gold Coast during your stay
  • Free entry to Paradise Country
  • 25% off Kids Club evening sessions
  • 25% off all food & beverage purchased at the Resort
  • 10% off all food, beverage and retail merchandise at Sea World, Warner Bros. Movie World and Wet’n’Wild Gold Coast
  • 25% off selected Sea World Animal Adventures
  • 25% off Sea World Helicopters
  • Buy 1 SpongeBob Bag and get 1 free

If you are interested you can check out the RED HOT DEAL at Sea World Resort.

Our take on the Sea World resort

The water part at Sea World Resot
Free Entry to the Theme Parks when you stay at the Sea World Resort

Sea World Resort is next door to sea world theme park so you could just walk in or take the monorail to Sea World without a problem.  We had a pram and either option was great for us.  If you are using public transportation to get to Sea World Resort, You have to walk about 800m from the last bus stop near Sea World entrance to the reception at Sea World resort.

The rooms are a bit dated especially the bathrooms, but the deal we got was good enough to ignore that!

Our kids thoroughly enjoyed the time at the Sea World Resort they enjoyed the amazing pools and Nickelodeon Water Park for kids.  It lights up at night, but it was  bit too cold for us to get out in the water at night time (there were other brave kids doing just that though).

Fun at the water park
Fun at the water park

Us as a family enjoyed the Friday night sea food buffet at The Shoreline.  It was a $74.99 per head and kids under 3 were free and kids over 4 incurred a $1 per year charge.  They had a great variety of food and desserts.  It was worth what we paid  as you got a discount with the red hot deal!

There are four dining options at the resort

  1. The Shoreline restaurant
  2. Lobby lounge
  3. Hatsuhana, Japanese restaurant
  4. Waterfall cafe near the pool

And the Marina Mirage Shopping Centre with more eating and shopping options were not too far away from the resort (may be 1.3Km)we walked there for breakfast and enjoyed a real nice breakfast at the Providore Mirage a French style bakery/cafe/grocer that has amazing patisserie and breakfast.

All in all we really enjoyed the one night we stayed at the resort 4/5 with this red hot deal.  We only wished we had known about this deal earlier so we could have stayed a couple of nights to make use of the unlimited theme park entry passes.

Easter Holiday fun

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
Panda and other animals from Asia
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).

Kid’s  Zone
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.

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
Cockatoo visits on the apartment balcony
View from the apartment (every apartment had this view)
View from the apartment (every apartment had this view)
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
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 during the Babes to kids Market days.   Continue reading