Charlie & The Chocolate Factory is ‘Gobstoppingly Glorious’

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory is perhaps Roald Dahl’s best-known story and has proved to be one of the most enduring children’s books of all time. The story of Charlie Bucket, the five Golden Tickets, the Oompa-Loompas and the amazing Willy Wonka has become firmly embedded in our culture since it was first published in 1964. Conservative estimates suggest the original book has sold over 20 million copies worldwide; it is now available in 61 languages. That’s pretty incredible!

Charlie & the Chocolate Factory The Musical has landed at Melbourne’s Her Majesty’s Theatre following a hugely successful six month season at Sydney’s Capitol Theatre. 

We checked it out last night and I know you’re going to love it. Whether your children have read the book or not,  now is a great time to introduce it it in truly delicious way!

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If you’re die hard Roald Dahl fans, be aware that this show tweeks the original story a little, to fit the stage. Having said that, the magic is still there in glorious Wonka style!

The orchestra create musical wizardry (and lots of goosebumps) with brand new numbers, alongside the classics of the 1971 movie,  like Pure Imagination, The Candy Man, and I’ve Got a Golden Ticket. You can’t help but sing a long..

The staging of this classic Roald Dahl story is incredible.. Yes there’s a chocolate river, there are plenty of Oompa Loompas and Mike TV gets shrunk! I know right!!!

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Lenny Thomas as Charlie

Charlie Bucket (played by Lenny Thomas last night) stole everyones hearts from the moment we met him. Lenny is obviously a talented all rounder, who enchanted the entire audience with his tenderness and his pitch perfect voice! We were all desperately willing him to get his little hands on that Golden Ticket!  Paul Slade -Smith kept all of Gene Wilders kookie traits, whilst creating a brand new, (more believable than Johnny Depp) Willy Wonka. This is a man who’s talent seems endless and who’s onstage presence is electrifying!

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The nitty gritty!

The stage adaption of Charlie & The Chocolate Factory seemed a little confused about the era it was set in. The original little Bucket shack appeared to be set a long while back (like the original story), then the other characters are introduced with Mike TV on an iPad with a mobile phone, Violet Beauregard being a YouTube sensation addicted to social media.. (Yawn). Lots more references to the modern day were thrown in too, in a rather irksome ‘pantomime-esque’ way. I thought this was a shame. Must we really modernise EVERYTHING?? LOL! IMHO!

I was also a little disappointed that adults were playing the Golden Ticket winners meaning Charlie was the only child on stage. That’s just me though!  Augustus Gloop, Veruca Salt, Violet Beauregard, and Mike Teevee have been thrust into modern day life in this adaption, still as vile as ever, but managed to create a new, vibrant and interesting take on the story!

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Charlie & the Chocolate Factory the Musical is pretty long for smaller children… 2hrs and 30 mins! The first half is a little slow to get going, however once the second half rolls round, and we enter the factory, the true Wonka magic hits the stage! We were wide-eyed when we spied the chocolate waterfall, oompa loompas and all of Wonka’s awesome imaginings! The special effects are stunning, and not like anything I’ve seen in a huge musical like this! I won’t spoil it for you… although I really really want to tell you about…. No! I can’t…..! You’ll have to go and see it for yourselves!

Despite the little modern additions, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory the Musical is huge fun for the entire family, and a must see!!!

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Poppy wanted to keys to the Wonkamobile! 

SEASON DETAILS

MELBOURNE

Venue: Her Majesty’s Theatre, Melbourne

Season Performance Times & Prices:Wed-Sat 7.30pm, Matinees Wed 1pm, Sat 2pm, Sun 1pm and 6pm* From $59.90** To 3 November

Bookings: Charliethemusical.com.au or ticketek.com.au
Groups 12+ call 1300 364 001

BRISBANE

Venue: Lyric Theatre, QPAC From 20 March 2020
Season Performance Times & Prices: Tues 7pm, Wed-Sat 7.30pm, Matinees Wed 1pm, Sat 2pm, Sun 1pm and 6pm* From $59.90**
Bookings: charliethemusical.com.au or qpac.com.au or phone 136 246
Groups 12+ call (07) 3840 7466

 

* Performance times vary weekly ** Transaction fees apply

Fuel your child’s imagination at PLAY WORLD AUSTRALIA

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A magical event fuelling the imagination of young Aussie minds is about to hit Darling Harbour in Sydney and you could win tickets with us!!! 

In 2018 fun legends, ReedPOP introduced Sydney to their most marvellous creation yet, Play World Australia. It was an event so large, so incredible, and oh so epic that the brand new, upcoming (even more amazing) event is going to blow you and your little ones away! 

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Presented by Nintendo, this 2 day event in Sydney, creates the most unique atmosphere for our littlest generation and allows them to play in a dynamic, fun and educational environment that is bound to get everyone excited!

Play World will light up Sydney’s ICC this October school holidays where, kids aged 4 to 12, can let their creativity and imagination run free. This is your chance to play with the latest games from Nintendo, go on a musical adventure with The Beanies, laugh until your belly hurts with The Listies, take part in drumming workshops and explore the world where kids’ imagination is the only limit. 

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With so much to explore from the minute you walk in, this high energy atmosphere entices you to the interactive and colourful exhibits inviting kids to laugh, play and dance all weekend long. Play World Australia gives kids the opportunity to learn and educate themselves on some crazy skills; from intricate coding with the experts from Code Camp to creating beautiful flower crowns with Sydney Flower School. Find some imagery from our 2018 event Here. 


The details

Where: International Convention Centre, Sydney, Darling Harbour, 2000

When: October 5-6, 2019 Time: 9am – 5pm Saturday & Sunday

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Play World Australia are proud to support Kids Helpline as the official charity partner, helping raise funds and awareness for the essential service they provide for young Australians. Kids Helpline is Australia’s only free, private and confidential 24/7 phone and online counselling service for young people ages 5 to 25. Find out more here 

Let’s Laugh, Play, Sing and Dance Together on October 5th & 6th 2019! 

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The Greatest Magic Show- Honestly!

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Fresh out of the car, I just had to tell you about The Greatest Magic Show currently playing at The Melba Spiegeltent in Collingwood as part of the Melbourne Magic Festival!
Yes, the name raises your hopes…… for good reason!  My little people were convinced it was the best thing they’d ever seen… Sorry Taylor Swift! Plus, my ringing ears only go to prove that the whole audience agreed with the very fitting title.
The Greatest Magic show is a full hour, jam packed with laughs that make you need a wee, and mind blowing magic tricks. (I’m still trying to work out how they did them!) There are hilarious props, including a pair of my enormous undies (how did they get those?), lots of audience participation, and some ‘death defying juggling’ to keep even the hardest crowd on the edge of their seats.
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There’s no denying that Sam & Justin know kids and understand exactly what makes them chuckle. Their jokes, their body language, and the way they move on stage had the entire audience glued and giggling! They even managed a heart warming few minutes assuring the audience that if they believe hard enough, they can be whatever they want to be! *Melt!
The Greatest Magic Show is a must for the winter school holidays. Sam and Justin deserve to sell out every day! They really have created The Greatest Magic Show; just ask any kid who’s seen it! This is a delight from start to finish, regardless of your age!

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Make today magical!

Where: Melba Spiegeltent, 35 Johnston St, Collingwood (lots of on street parking locally)

When: Tuesday 2 July to Saturday 13 July 2019 – 12:30pm-1:30pm

Ticket Price: Adult $24.30  Concession: $24.30 Family of 4: $85.04 

Tuesday discount: $16.20 

BUY


 

‘The juggling on the chairs was scary and funny at the same time’– ★★★★★ Monty Wilson, Head of the Fun Department, The Wilsons of Oz  

‘Sam & Justin were the best entertainers…. really funny. ’ ★★★★★ Poppy Wilson, The 11 year old Boss, The Wilsons of Oz

‘Sam and Justin have worked hard to create a show that delivers the kind of laughter we all need in our lives! ★★★★ Olivia Wilson, Chief caffeine consumer, The Wilsons of Oz

‘Quite possibly the Penn &  Teller of Australia!’  ★★★★ GLAM Adelaide

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‘Those who don’t believe in magic will never find it’ – Roald Dahl

Don’t ban mobile phones, teach children the importance of honesty! 

I have two children at Primary school. I am “one of those mums” who hasn’t let either of them have a phone yet. Why would I? My son is 7, and my grade 6 daughter is 10. They’re never really in a situation where they need a phone. Not only that, I don’t want them to be able to access any form of social media without me being there. I don’t believe children under the age of 16 have anywhere near the right capabilities to understand or use social media in the right way! They’re still learning social etiquette in the playground for goodness sake, so why open up a whole other world where a simple “No!” can be completely misconstrued.

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Aside to the misunderstandings that come about from a simple text message, smartphones and social media can have seriously detrimental effects on our children’s emotional wellbeing. Alongside increased stress and anxiety levels, children have been shown to have dramatic changes in how they see themselves and measure their self-worth. So why would Primary Schools allow mobile phones through the gates? Well, how the hell can they stop it? This week (three weeks after I wrote this article) it seems that the Victorian Government are finally taking steps to ban mobile phones in all Victorian schools. This has caused lots of chat, mostly from parents who are understandably concerned about their children being left without any way of contacting them.

Just like most primary schools, our school has a “no mobile phone” policy. It’s all very clear! When you come into school, you switch your phone off and hand it to your teacher, who locks it away until the end of the day. Or, you can hide it! You can leave it on, hide it in your bag and bring it out at school swimming when you and your mates want to make a TikTok video. Or you can sneak it into your bag when you go on grade 4 camp, and make Instagram stories of your mates being silly in their underwear. Come on, who cares who’s watching our 9 year olds running around half naked?  Oh hell, let’s go the whole 9 yards and make some Instagram posts with our girlfriends in front of the mirror in the change rooms. Who cares that poor old Sally is nude in the background? Her mum won’t mind!!

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It’s all good and well for primary aged child to have a phone so that parents know they’re safe when they’re walking home, however, when our children are at school, I think we’re allowed to expect that they are safe too, and not being subjected to all the nightmares of social media and the internet? It should go without saying that they aren’t being filmed for Instagram, or photographed for Snap Chat shouldn’t it?

I think as parents, we’re well within our rights to know that when the bell goes, and school begins, children are not uploading to their socials, taking photographs or subjecting other children knowingly or not, to any kind of online activity.

According to Bully Zero Australia Foundation, one in eight Australians experience cyberbullying.

It’s not about being paranoid; it’s about keeping our whole community safe.

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Do we need to send primary aged children through metal detectors at the school gate? Probably not. Do we have an all-out ban on phones, and expect our children to walk home with no way of being contacted? No, absolutely not. Do we need to stop our most vulnerable children accessing the help they need through a device, no way! Therefore, the only way teachers can ever get a handle on mobile phone usage at school is by us parents taking control. Now!

We need to talk to our children about their devices and how they are using them. We need to make sure our children are being honest and using their phones in a safe and respectful way. We need to teach our children the importance of handing their devices to a member of staff, and absolutely make it their responsibility to do so. If they can’t be responsible enough to do that, they shouldn’t have a phone!

Mobile phones can take bullying out of the playground and into the home.

You only have to scroll apps like TikTok to see how many children (and I mean Primary aged) are using their devices in school time. It’s not only a worry for the safety of your own child, but for the children in the background who are completely oblivious to the fact they are “Insta famous”.

We mustn’t ever underestimate privacy. It’s supremely important when it comes to our very young children. “Private accounts “still reveal all sorts of information about a child, and do not stop online bullying!

Of course there’s a limit to what schools can do about children who sneak their devices into the playground. Without bag searches, metal detectors or honesty, teachers are being blindsided every day. This is resulting in our children not having a completely safe environment in which to learn, away from the pressures of social media and the worst of the internet.

The village needs you!

Our primary school children don’t understand the dramatic implications of their online behaviour. They don’t see the harm in hiding their phone in their bag and taking the odd picture of their friends in the playground. We don’t need an all out ban, we need to teach our children the importance of honesty!

It’s our responsibility as parents, to keep our children safe, however, it’s also our responsibility to make sure the children around them are safe too.


It’s not our job to toughen our children up to face a cruel and heartless world. It’s our job to raise children who will make the world a little less cruel and heartless – L.R. Knost

Liv xxx

 

Suncorp ‘Team Girls Rally Cry’ encourages and motivates young girls to embrace life confidently!

Do your daughters play sport? Are you struggling to keep them engaged in sport as they get older. Well, it seems like you aren’t alone! We were invited to watch the Vixens play netball a few weeks ago and to witness the powerful launch of Suncorp Team Girls!

Suncorp recently revealed the shocking findings of the ‘2019 Australian Youth Confidence Report’, revealing more than half of parents are concerned about their daughter’s self-esteem. Hands up who can relate to this!

I was so shocked to learn that these findings coincide with 46% of Australian teen girls turning their back on sport by the age of 17, despite two-thirds acknowledging that sport can make them feel more confident. Why are our young women giving up on sport when they know it makes them feel great?

The national survey of over 1000 Australian parents and teenagers conducted as part of the Suncorp Team Girls initiative, also revealed that confidence and the perception of themselves is one of the most commonly discussed topics in their home.

 Sport plays a pivotal role in building confidence in all areas of life, and it’s so important that we are getting and giving the support our daughters need to keep them on the court. For all of us with daughter’s who still play on a team, we know just how beneficial it is, in so many ways. The confidence I see in my own daughter when she is on the netball court is proof alone, that playing sport is a valuable weapon in combatting a mental health condition. 

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Have a Hero – Poppy & her hero Caitlin Thwaites

“Our research tells us participation in team sport nurtures perseverance, resilience and confidence; essential skills teen girls need now and in the future. This, in turn, can have a real positive impact on their health and wellbeing, career prospects and financial security moving forwards,” Suncorp’s Executive General Manager Brand & Marketing, Mim Haysom

“We are Team Girls – hear us roar!”

In response to the new findings and to drive awareness of the plight that parents and young girls face, Suncorp has launched a new Team Girls Rally Cry to encourage and motivate young girls to embrace life confidently, on and off the court. Championing the cause and inspiring Australian girls to stay in the game, is Australian electronic music songstress, Thandi Phoenix, a rising star of an equally male-dominated scene.

Suncorp’s research draws a direct link for girls of all ages between being confident and achieving success in a range of life dimensions, including their work and social lives. The benefits of sports are widely recognised to have lifetime impacts, as sport is felt to build fundamental life skills like team building, leadership and resilience.


Suncorp Team Girls Ambassador Rebecca Sparrow – teen Agony Aunt, podcast host and author of ‘Game On! A Team Girls Guide to Getting Active’. offers her tips on what parents can do boost participation:

  • Encourage girls to try sports their friends are playing as they will be more willing to get involved.  If your daughter’s friends are playing netball or hockey or AFL — talk to your daughter about joining their team for a season. Or start playing a new sport with a friend.

  • Become a fan. Get your daughter excited about the sport by following the national league and experiencing the excitement of a live game. Introduce your daughter to a terrific role model like netball’s Gabi Simpson and Gretel Tippett, AFL’s Tayla Harris and Moana Hope or cricket’s Ellyse Perry. Start following the players on social media.

  • Chill out. Many kids cringe at their parents’ sideline behaviour.  Keep the focus on fun rather than form and leave the feedback to the coaches.  The goal is for kids to have fun and be active.

  • Allow them to try different sports. Some kids take a while to find the sport which ignites them.  Trying a few different sports is a great way to find the right fit.

  • If your daughter suddenly wants to quit her team sport, listen to her reasons and explore whether joining a less competitive team would be of interest.

 

 “Sport actively builds that inner grit we all need to handle life.” Rebecca Sparrow


Key Findings of the ‘2019 Suncorp Australian Youth and Confidence Report’:

  • Only 55 per cent of Australian girls age 11-17 play sport in a typical week, compared to 69 per cent of boys of the same age

  • 15-17-year-old girls are significantly more likely to be playing less sport (46 per cent) in the last 12 months or to have completely stopped, compared to 15-17 boys (30 per cent)

  • 11-17-year-old girls are significantly less active (-1 hr 18 mins) than boys of the same age in a typical week

  • 15% of girls don’t like playing sport because they don’t think they’re ‘any good’, a close second to ‘having too much schoolwork’

  • Two-thirds (67 per cent) of girls age 11-17 acknowledged that sport can make them feel confident or ‘good about themselves’

  • 54% of boys aged 11 -17 feel confident as a result of playing team sport compared to 37 per cent of girls in the same age group

  • The findings highlight the importance of peers and loved ones to drive their confidence; 9 in 10 girls aged 11 – 17 admit to deriving confidence through support from friends and family

  • 8 in 10 girls believe that it is important for girls to support one another.

  • Girl’s favourite sports include dance (24 per cent), swimming (18 per cent), netball (16 per cent), basketball, soccer and gym (all 10 per cent)

If you are struggling to keep your daughter in sport, have a read of the ultimate guide for parents to teach your teens and tweens about the benefits of playing sports.

 


 

Stay positive, stay fighting, stay brave, stay ambitious, stay focussed, stay strong!

Liv xxx

 

The MSO performs Disney’s The Little Mermaid in Concert

Get ready Melbourne families as this September we get to celebrate the 30th anniversary of Disney’s classic 1989 animation, The Little Mermaid live in concert with the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra. Yes, that does say 30th anniversary! If you weren’t feeling old a minute ago you sure are now!

Showcasing the Academy Award winning original score by Alan Menken and featuring the beloved characters of Ariel, Flounder, Sebastian, King Triton and Ursula up on the big screen,  this uplifting score will be brought to life by the MSO in three magical performances, conducted by Nicholas Buc.

‘The Little Mermaid was responsible for reviving the animated musical genre, with Alan Menken’s Academy Award-winning score and songs playing such a huge part. Every kid who grew up with the film knows Under The Sea by heart, and they’ll get the chance to relive their childhood through this wonderful live experience,’ – Mr Buc.

 

The story… if you need reminding

Mermaid princess Ariel (Jodi Benson) has a dream of being human.  Much to her father’s dismay, Ariel frequently makes the journey to the surface. It doesn’t matter that Atlantica King Triton forbids her from doing so, Ariel is determined to visit the humans because some dreams can’t be overcome.

When Ariel finds herself drawn to a human – Prince Eric – during one of her forbidden trips she makes a dangerous deal with the sea witch Ursula (Pat Carroll) to become human for three days… But when plans go awry for Ariel she must use her charm, wits and resilient heart to set things right.

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Book your tickets now, take your children, and all of you can enjoy the beloved songs from the iconic film! The performance will include, amongst others,  Under the Sea, Part of Your World and Kiss the Girl so, you can absolutely re-live this classic tale of Ariel and her magical world under the sea.


Tickets go on sale at 10am on Wednesday 19 June.

The Little Mermaid – in Concert
Friday 6th September at 7.30pm and Saturday 7th September at 1pm
Hamer Hall, Arts Centre Melbourne
mso.com.au | 03 9929 9600

 

BRICKMAN CITIES POWERED BY LEGO® CITY IS COMING TO MELBOURNE!

Are you Ryan McNaught super fans? I’m pretty sure he is Australia’s new favourite human since the awesome Channel 9 LEGO® Masters aired on our screens!! Well, you’ll be glad to know he’s back and this time it’s LEGO® building that we can all enjoy, close up!

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IMMERSE YOURSELF IN HISTORY DURING THIS BRAND-NEW INTERACTIVE EXPERIENCE CREATED BY THE LEGO® MASTERS JUDGE, RYAN ‘THE BRICKMAN’ MCNAUGHT

With this brand new exhibition at ScienceWorks Melbourne about to land, we can all discover the history of the world’s greatest cities and create our own cities of the future!! Brickman Cities powered by LEGO® CITY takes over ScienceWorks Melbourne from Saturday 15th June to Sunday 4th August 2019 and we are so excited!! 

 

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This new interactive LEGO® CITY experience from Ryan ‘The Brickman’ McNaught and his expert team, Brickman Cities powered by LEGO® CITY, sounds incredible. If, like me, you thought there was no way he could beat his Wonders of the World exhibition, or his ‘Brickman Awesome’  think again!!!! Showcasing the life and architecture of five of the world’s most iconic cities – Dubai, London, New York, Sydney and Tokyo – from castles and forts to massive skyscrapers, we can all trace each city’s evolution all the way from 1000AD to today in a fun, educational and immersive way. Talk about THE BEST HISTORY LESSON EVER!!!!

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Tickets to Brickman Cities powered by LEGO® CITY are on sale NOW!

Brickman’s fourth LEGO® brick experience, Brickman Cities powered by LEGO® CITY has been exclusively curated and built by Ryan ‘The Brickman’ McNaught and his expert team. Did you know that McNaught is the only LEGO® Certified Professional in the Southern Hemisphere, and one of just 14 in the world???  (We also know him as the official judge of Channel Nine’s new blockbuster reality series, LEGO® Masters… So he’s practically been in our homes…. which totally makes him family doesn’t it??)

 “Brickman Cities brings to life the rich histories of the world’s greatest cities like never before and I hope visitors will find it both informative and fun. I can’t wait to see young LEGO® enthusiasts take what they have learnt and use their imagination to create their own LEGO® CITY of tomorrow,” Ryan McNaught.

I am most looking forward to seeing the 3m x 4m scale model of Lower Manhattan, built entirely in white LEGO® pieces with 3D stories of New York projected directly onto them. Using cutting-edge technology of UHD 4K projectors, visitors are taken on a journey from the First People’s villages right through to present day. Amaaaaazing!!! You’ll find me there, all day!

“Using 3D technology adds a whole new dimension to the LEGO® experience which I never thought would be possible! It’s very cool to see how it enriches the stories we are trying to tell through this experience,” Ryan McNaught.

Don’t panic, all your budding builders (including your husband) will be able to build their vision of a LEGO® CITY of tomorrow in the interactive master build zone, home to half a million LEGO® bricks!! Hurrah for some hands on time!  

Facts

  • It took the team more than 1,900 hours to create this exhibition.
  •  1 million LEGO® bricks were needed to build Brickman Cities powered by LEGO® CITY.
  • Ryan ‘The Brickman’ McNaught and the creative team spent a further 250 hours developing sophisticated 3D projections to bring the hero city of New York to life.

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Don’t miss out on travelling through time in this immersive, educational and imaginative world of Brickman Cities powered by LEGO® CITY.


Tickets on sale now at  www.ticketek.com.au

Brickman Cities powered by LEGO® CITY

Scienceworks Melbourne

Saturday 15th June to Sunday 4th August

P.S. Ryan I love you xxx (Shhhhhh)

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Melbourne Winter Masterpieces: Terracotta Warriors | Cai Guo-Qiang

The NVG Winter Masterpieces this year is a sight to behold and one for the whole family to see. Not only does this incredibly well curated exhibition house 8 Terracotta Warriors, it is also home to approximately 170 pieces of stunning work, old and new.

The Terracotta Warriors are often referred to as the eighth wonder of the world, and The National Gallery of Victoria has brought them to Melbourne, so that we can see them, close up. This is honestly, not to be missed!

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Cai Guo-Qiang: The Transient Landscape, presented in parallel with Terracotta Warriors: Guardians of Immortality has just opened in Melbourne, and is running until 13 October, 2019. 

Arguably the world’s most exciting contemporary artist, Cai Guo-Qiang’s features his brand new masterpieces, created using gunpowder! The videos of how this was achieved are fascinating, and the children are guaranteed to love the theatre of it all.

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‘Using gunpowder brings me closer to nature and even the universe. Of course at the moment of ignition the explosion is instantaneous… but gunpowder has its origins in minerals that took hundreds, thousands or millions of years to form.’Cai Guo-Qiang 

As if the gunpowder creations and the Terracotta Warriors aren’t enough to thrill,  Cai Guo-Qiang has created 10,000 porcelain birds, each one suspended from the ceiling as if mid flight. These birds have been created solely for this exhibition.  This monumental installation of 10,000 suspended porcelain birds, create a three-dimensional impression of a calligraphic drawing of the sacred Mount Li, the site of the ancient tomb of China’s first emperor, Qin Shihuang, and his warriors. It is a sight to behold!

As with many of the NGV’s exhibitions this is absolutely a child friendly one!  Alongside the exhibits you will see detailed explanations specifically targeted at a younger audience. Perfect for all budding art lovers!

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I strongly urge you to take your whole family to see Melbourne Winter Masterpieces: Terracotta Warriors | Cai Guo-Qiang. As well as delivering an entire new perspective on Chinese culture, past and present this exhibition is sure to create a love of art that you will all enjoy for a lifetime.


 

Location: 180 St Kilda Rd, Melbourne VIC
Date: 24 May to 13 October 2019.
Tickets: ngv.vic.gov.au
Cost:  Adults $30, Children $10 Family $65.

 

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Find joy in the journey!

A weekend at JoyBell Cottage

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It seems like an age ago that we left the rush of the city behind us and headed out into the Victorian countryside. A weekend of heavenly fresh air, family time and glorious Aussie bush exploring lay ahead of us, and let me tell you, the Friday night traffic wasn’t going to get me down.

We were heading to JoyBell Cottage, a much adored, family owned hideaway near Elaine, 117km from Melbourne. Elaine is small town located on the Midland Highway between Ballarat and Geelong. At the 2016 census, Elaine and the surrounding area had a population of 228, so we knew it was going to be blissfully serene. Hurrah!

Leaving the cities in Australia is a real eye opener to just how barren parts of this country are. I love that you can drive huge distances down under and see very little sign of life, just the odd kangaroo or lonely farm house. It seems to make every journey an adventure!

The arrival

We arrived at our secluded little retreat in the bush at about 8pm, exhausted, but thrilled at the promise of total peace for the entire weekend! 

6537FBA8-531D-4DDD-BAFD-CAF341914758We were so thankful to Sam, the owner, who had left a box of treats for us, and a beautiful welcome note from her children. This sort of personal touch is what JoyBell is all about! It really is like coming home. This was a beautiful start to what was going to be a really special weekend.

The story behind JoyBell Cottage

Every wonderful house has a story doesn’t it! JoyBell is no different! You can feel the warmth as soon as you walk in, and I’m certain it’s because of the love that has been poured into this house since it was bought by Sam and her husband.

Sam and her husband both grew up in the Aussie bush and wanted to give their children experiences that mirrored their own childhoods as often as they could. It took a year of searching for the right place but they finally found their little piece of paradise and purchased this beautiful cottage. They named it JoyBell after Sam’s mother in law Joy, who sadly passed away in 2017 from leukaemia. Joy was a passionate quilter, nature lover and raised her boys as a single mum. She was amazing, and her incredible quilting talents are in pride of place throughout the cottage!

JoyBell Cottage has 5 acres, so there is plenty of room to wear the children out, or go for a peaceful walk! There is a dam where we caught yabbies (tick off the bucket list)  and plenty of room to ride bikes, explore the Australian bush and make the most of the beautiful outdoors on the doorstep!

Sam and her family have filled their lovely country cottage with Joy’s treasures, quilts and furniture, which have made it not only incredibly comfortable to stay in, but beautiful and welcoming. You can almost smell the freshly baked cookies as you walk into the kitchen.  It is a true testament to the life of Sam’s mother in law, and knowing the story, and visiting the cottage, I think the name is absolutely perfect.

If you are looking to connect with nature and each other, this is the perfect weekend getaway. If you’re looking to get the children away from the tv and their iPads, this is the place for you. If you want to explore the Aussie bush, and have breakfast on the deck whilst listening to nothing but native birds, this is the place for you. If you want to see Australia at its most wonderful, this is the place for you.

JoyBell Cottage

JoyBell cottage is a rustic Australian bush home with three bedrooms, two bathrooms, a laundry room, a large family room, a games room and a kitchen diner. The decking is perfect for mealtimes, snoozing, reading, watching kangaroos hop past, and enjoying the outdoors!  It is welcoming, relaxed and ready for anyone to enjoy. Why not treat yourself to a weekend in the bush! It doesn’t get any more relaxed or more Aussie than this!

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‘Joy is the most magnetic force in the universe’ – Unknown

You can learn more about JoyBell and book your stay by contacting Sam via Instagram 


What’s nearby? 

For those of you who love to have something to do, when you’re done relaxing, here are a few ideas for your weekend at JoyBell.

Ballarat

Ballarat is 35-40 mins away and a hive of activity for couples and families. Check out the Visit Ballarat website for what’s on right now!

Our faves:

Buninyong – Local town

Buninyong is about a 20 minute drive from Joybell Cottage. The first thing that you’ll notice is the beautiful Town Hall and the incredible number of coffee shops! Oh and the peace too!

Our faves:

Buninyong Town Hall – If you are there at the weekend, you must pop in and talk to the members of the Historical Society. They will tell you some fascinating tales of Buninyong’s past! One of my favourite facts was that ‘Buninyong’ is the aboriginal for ‘Man laying down with his knees up’ which is exactly what Mount Buninyong looks like!!

Book Cottage – Search out this wonderful little cottage bursting at the seams with $1 books. It is run by the local Lions Club, who make you feel like a long lost friend when you are joyfully flicking through all the books you have ever wanted!

In Buninyong there are more coffee shops than you could ever use in a weekend and a well stocked supermarket. You’ll find a play park, a skate park & a parkour park! Yes kids, it’s true!! Ace street art dons the walls and the botanical gardens are worth taking a stroll through. Buninyong also has a small art gallery and an outdoor pool, although we didn’t check these out.

Mount Buninyong Winery is a whole afternoon of adventure! So many games for the whole family to enjoy, and plenty of space for the kids to get outdoors whilst you sip some local wine and eat the most delicious pizza you ever tasted! Go smoked salmon, its AMAZING!!!

 

Have a beautiful time!

xxxx Liv xxxx

Review – Fringe Wives Club GLITTERGRASS

Welcome to the best bloody Hootenanny you’ve ever been to!!

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Grab your sequinned one piece, chuck on the hottest cowboy boots you can find, slap on your favourite pink lippy and get down to the Malthouse Theatre as the Fringe Wives Club are back! And they are KILLING IT! In this brand spanking new moonshine-fuelled sucker punch, these fierce femmes pay homage to the bad girls and dangerous women who strived for freedom and independence. Hustle your horse, it’s one hell of a ride!!

Fresh from their sold out debut in London (Soho Theatre and the Southbank Centre) the all-singing, all-dancing, all-fighting Fringe WivesClub are back in Oz for the Melbourne International Comedy Festival.

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There’s no hiding the talents of this group of powerful women, and it’s just sky rocketed with the introduction of Laura Frew and Sharnema Nougar. The comedy is thought provoking and genius, the outfits are… um…. well you’ll bloody want one… and the ferociously clever soundtrack is played LIVE by the wives themselves. Instruments include a banjo, accordion, uke, mandolin, washboard, lagerphone, musical saw, kazoos, the spoons (and anything else they can rustle up) with the support of a junk band rhythm section.

Using the framework of an old-time televised hootenanny, they reveal the “erased” women of past and present, examine which stories have been deemed worthy enough to survive, and question what we have done so far to change the future.

If you have never managed to catch the physical comedy queen Tessa Waters, the musical comedy powerhouse Victoria Falconer or even the acclaimed comedian and storyteller Rowena Hutson you ain’t seen nothin’ yet!!

Sexy, sassy and full of attitude, the Fringe Wives give respect to the unheard female voices of the past, including a somewhat moving song about lady bushranger Jessie Hickman. Together the wives throw wide open the conversation on feminist issues but more than that, this is a show about acceptance and female empowerment.  The way the wives seamlessly perform together is a lesson alone in supporting each other, and never holding anyone back.

Brave, bold and bloody good!

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Web fringewivesclub.com   FB: fringewivesclub Instagram: fringewivesclub

Date:  Thu 28 March – Sun 21 April (no show Mondays)

Time: Tues-Sat 9:45pm, Sunday 8:45pm

Venue:  Beckett Theatre, The Coopers Malthouse, 113 Sturt St Southbank

Tickets: $32 Full $28 Concession Groups 6+ $25, Preview $23

Bookings: 03 9685 5111 or online at www.malthousetheatre.com.au and www.comedyfestival.com.au

Duration:  60 mins duration – Rating: 18+

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Read our review of Glittery Clittery (2017)