Let your heart guide you to happiness

I decide to live my dream, and let the kids have an education like no other!

Only 3 weeks and 4 days away to go to start my year away with kids.   I feel organised but there is always that little voice telling you there is something I have missed even with my  multiple lists.  I have many lists for packing  and things we need to do before we leave.  I carry this little note book around to jot down things that just pops up as they do while doing something totally random like shopping.  I also have a few spreadsheets with lists and things to do and places we need to go (I will put these up on another post).

The logistics of taking a whole lot of things for the kids to live in another country for over 6 months is a bit complex.  Given that I am traveling with two kids without my husband, I can’t carry much luggage, so most things have to be shipped.  Having shipping companies that lets you ship boxes full of stuff is really helpful.  I have organised 3 tea chest size (45cmX45cmX60cm) boxes (cost $90) to be shipped with things like books, toys, nappies, food items the kids are familiar with until they get used to eating local food, and cloths and other items to giveaway to people there etc.   I was hoping to take a lot more like my jewelry making things but looks like there will be no space left for that in the three boxes I had to bring home to pack up.    I will have to get some more boxes to send more things to be given away to needy schools over there.

I am looking forward to showing my kids the world and hoping they will appreciate it and be part of my charity work in Sri Lanka.  The charity part of this trip is something that I have been wanting to do for a long time, and I am glad I finally am doing something about it.  you can read more about it on my blog. I just have to follow my heart,  if I think more and more about this it will never eventuate, so hear I am feeling happy to follow one of my dream.

Still  need to make more money to support this en-devour of mine so I am auctioning all my left over jewelry

” target=”_blank”>Kookki Designs Facebook Page

to raise more funds.  All products will be listed with a starting price of $2 (Australian).  Hope I can raise more funds within the next 3 weeks.   I realise that I do not have much time left, so whatever I can do now will help expedite my projects and have them established before I leave for Europe.    Wish me luck! 🙂

Some Items up for auction at Kookki Designs Facebook age
  Some Items up for auction at Kookki Designs Facebook age

Hamilton Island Wild Life Encounters

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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 Schoold Hoolidays: Re Discovering Victoria Astralia

These School Holidays we had some visitors from overseas, two of my uncles and their families came for a visit.  And this was the perfect opportunity to show them and our kids this part of the world.  We live in Melbourne, Victoria in Australia.  It has been quite an adventure during these school holidays as we discovered victoria again.

During school holidays we covered the

  1. Chesterfield Children’s Farm
  2. Phillip Island Penguin parade & seal rock
  3. Mornignton- Dromana beach, Arthur seat lookout & Red Hill Sunnyridge Strawberry farm (we got to pick our own strawberries)
  4. Mt Dandenong- Sky High, Maze & Sassafras
  5. Melbourne city Eureka tower viewing deck & “The Edge”
  6. St Kilda- Luna park
  7. Daylesford & Hepburn Springs (spent 2 nights)

Kids were really happy to see and do so much these holidays!

I will write more in detail about all these places we visited later….  for now here are some photos….  I really like Daylesford as you can tell:)

 

As I mentioned I will write more about each of the places we visited later when I get a bit more time 🙂

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.

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).