The “Bloomin Great” Ocean Road!!!!

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We finally made a trip along the Great Ocean Road a few weekends ago. We packed everyone into the car, and as per usual we prayed to every possible god that the kids would be good!

From Melbourne to Torquay, where we were basing ourselves, is about 145km so not too far on a cold Friday night. We were staying in a property in the centre of Torquay, close to shops and restaurants, which was great. It meant we had everything on hand, should we need it. The house had all sorts of wonderful things to keep us all occupied; from ping pong, to basketball, board games, skateboards and a playstation! I was especially happy as there were plenty of lovely magazines, a beautiful deep bath, and a Nespresso machine.. Me time!! Bliss! Our first night was super comfy, warm and cosy!

We woke on Saturday to glorious sunshine, we headed out, grabbed coffee and milkshakes and hit the road! Driving out of Torquay and toward the Twelve Apostles, we passed all the iconic surf beaches that surround Torquay, and promised ourselves that we weren’t going home without dipping our toes in the water at Bells Beach!

The drive was spectacular. Travelling along the Great Ocean Road is such a magical experience. That iconic Aussie road trip; the ocean almost lapping at the road side as you twist and turn your way toward to the Twelve Apostles. Even with the bickering in the back it was bliss. We broke the 150km drive with a few stops in lovely little beachside towns. We saw Koalas in the wild, peeking at us through the tourist information window (Lorne), the children played on the beaches, and we had the best pork sandwich you could EVER IMAGINE (Apollo Bay)!!!! Pretty much could have stopped right there, the trip was already a cracker!

We made it to the Twelve Apostles at about 2pm, it was incredibly busy! Obviously! You can’t come to Victoria and miss this!

We joined the other gazillion visitors and walked the path (well, Monty hopped and Poppy tripped most of the way) across the road and down toward the ocean. The wind was howling, but thankfully it wasn’t cold. When we turned the corner and caught sight of the enormous sea stack sculptures, rising majestically out of the Southern Ocean, it truly took our breath away. The pictures do not do it justice! It is jaw droppingly beautiful. The hours of endless eye spy, and arguing, was definitely worth it.

Australia has some incredible landscapes, and it’s coastline is second to none. I now completely understand why this road is called the Great Ocean Road. It just has to be on the list for one of the greatest coastal drives of all time.


Highlights of the trip

 The Australian National Surfing Museum– Torquay

You can read about our trip to the museum here

Cost: Adult $12  Student/Pensioner Concession $8  Child (aged 16 and under) $8  Family $25

Location: 77 Beach Road Torquay Victoria 3228
Tel: 03 5261 4606 |
Email: ansm@surfcoast.vic.gov.au
Opening hours: 9am – 5pm 7 days a week 364 days a year

Bells Beach

Bells Beach is the beach you think of when someone mentions the movie Point Break… Although, it turns out, the movie wasn’t actually filmed there. Why? I have no idea, as this is possibly the greatest surf beach we have visited on our travels so far. I am not a surfer by any stretch of the imagination but this beach was amazing, and judging by the number of people slipping in and out of wetsuits in the car park, this is the place to surf! We could see the ocean was flecked with surfers waiting for a wave, the waves catching them, dropping them off,  and then hurtling up onto the beach. We made our way down the wooden staircase on to the sand. The waves were crashing up right in front of us, almost wiping us out a few times. To think we were treading the sand that so many world famous surfers have walked on, is pretty special, and I just kept telling myself that Patrick Swayze probably stood here with Keanu Reeves at some point too… Well, I can dream, can’t I? Bells beach has a wonderful feel to it, and we’re definitely going to get back there some time. Probably not for a surfing lesson, I think I need somewhere a little more placid!


Top Eats:

As we were self catering and the house was so beautiful, we didn’t eat out too much; however when we did, it was ace, so here are the details…. Our top eats were:

Apollo Bay Bakery

 Apollo Bay Bakery was where we had a delicious, quick lunch, whilst being serenaded by a travelling ukulele band! How awesome does that sound? Well wait until you’ve tried the roast pork roll with crispy crackling, gravy, stuffing… Oh god I have to stop typing… I mean… The love we have for that pork roll….. Get in the car and go now!

Location: 125 Great Ocean Road, Apollo Bay VIC 3233, Australia Phone: 5237 6440

Open 7 days a week

Bomboras

Before hitting the road back to Melbourne we had a feast at Bomboras  in Torquay. Local beer and plates of yumminess! Can’t go wrong with that! I had Brisket on Rye Bruschetta with Coleslaw, Mustard & Pickles.. Need I say more.. Tim had the mussels and said they were great! Check the menu and see for yourself..

Address: 37 The Esplanade, Torquay VIC 3228 Phone: (03) 5264 7881

Opening Hours

M: 5pm-Late T: Closed W:11am-Late T:11am-Late F:11am-Late S&S: 8am-Late

 

‘Embrace the detours, enjoy the journey, explore the open road’- unknown

Olivia xx

Australian National Surfing Museum – Torquay!

The Australian National Surfing Museum– Torquay

Torquay is Australia’s surfing capital, and tucked away in the back of the Tourist Information centre in Surf City, there is more surfing memorabilia than you can shake a surfboard at. The museum truly celebrates surfing and pays tribute to Australia’s surfing heritage and famous beach culture.

Breathtaking historical films show times gone by where people surf iconic beaches. The films show the incredible way that beachwear, surf boards and surfing itself has changed over the years, it was fascinating to see. The old footage was magical to watch.

The museum not only houses an extrodinary collection of surfcraft, it is also home to the Australian Surfing Hall of Fame.  There is plenty to see, and lots of activities to keep the children happy! Phew! Playing in the sand pit and decorating a blackboard surfboard seemed to be the favourite! The museum is a must see for everyone; we all had a great time, the children included.

Cost: Adult $12  Student/Pensioner Concession $8  Child (aged 16 and under) $8  Family $25

Location: 77 Beach Road Torquay Victoria 3228
Tel: 03 5261 4606 |
Email: ansm@surfcoast.vic.gov.au
Opening hours: 9am – 5pm 7 days a week 364 days a year

ACMI- “The place where we can make our imagined stuff real mum!”

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We’ve been at it again! It was the first Sunday of the month last weekend, so we headed to ACMI to enjoy the Free Family Sunday activities.

August’s theme was Winter Fantasy and Fables, so the children were excited to be getting the chance to dress up like knights and princesses! We were ready to go and rescue some damsels in distress!!

First stop for us was The Cube, where the craft and Karaoke were set up. I honestly didn’t think we were going to get chance to see anything else! Poppy loves a sing song, and was blatantly hogging the mic! Thankfully, there was plenty to colour in, so Monty had lots to do whilst his sister belted out songs from Moana, The Jungle Book, Aladdin and Frozen. Parents watched on as groups of children got up to show off their singing prowess, hollering along to hits like “Let It Go” full blast! It was fab, if not a little painful at times! Bless! We pulled the microphone from Poppy’s grip, collected up the colouring in and made our way to the Stop Motion animation stations.

‘Stop Motion is created by moving and photographing inanimate objects, such as plasticine figures, one frame at a time, to produce the illusion of life and movement.’

We all had a go at the Stop Animation last time we came to ACMI, although this week there was a different app being used and we were making a GIF. This app allowed the children to see an “onion skin” of each movement. It made it a little easier for Monty to see where his snowman had been and where best to place it for the next shot. It was fascinating to see just how easily the children could turn their little picture into a moving GIF! We were all suitably impressed. (Although Mum didn’t email the GIFs to herself correctly so we came home without the masterpieces! OOPS).

After lunch, we made our way to the green screen. The kids chose their costumes from the huge selection, and got stuck in! It was hilarious. This is an activity they love! Maybe it’s the dressing up, maybe it’s the magic of being able to see themselves on the big screen slaying a dragon.  It’s so wonderful to see them so enthralled.

Free Family Sundays at ACMI just wouldn’t be as awesome as they are without the staff! A day out with the kids can be super stressful, however, every single staff member at ACMI goes above and beyond to make the day as enjoyable, interactive, educational and stress free as possible for everyone. They joined in with the singing, they showed us exactly what we were supposed to be doing with the animation, they even hopped in front of the green screen to give the kids some tips. They are friendly, kind, super with the little ones, and they really know what they’re talking about! Poppy and Monty have a new love of all things ‘animation’, they’re creating morning, noon and night, and this is all down to the magic that happens at ACMI, and the staff putting fire in their bellies!

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Family time is precious, and us parents need to fill it wisely. I highly recommend you get down to ACMI and check it out!! 

 


Free Family Sunday

ACMI Family Sundays are free monthly activity days, each with a different theme. A reliable source of family entertainment and learning, ACMI Family Sundays combines hands on activities, performance and interactive displays with celebration and learning around the moving image.

Location: ACMI, Federation Square, Flinders St, Melbourne
Date: First Sunday of every month
Cost: FREE
Web: acmi.net.au

SCHOOL HOLIDAY WORKSHOPS 24 SEPT-08 OCT
A range of animation, film making, and coding workshops for your little darlings! You have to check it out!


NEXT FREE FAMILY SUNDAY- 3rd SEPTEMBER: SMART STORIES 

Let the power of your imagination take you on a journey to a world of wonder through storytelling!

Everyone has a story to tell, and ACMI’s Smart Stories Family Sunday is the chance to tell yours. Families can hear from the experts with chances to meet and greet award-winning children’s authors and illustrators on the ACMI Lightwell stage.

Audiences can learn to generate their own choose-your-own adventure narrative with Twine, and write and animate their own simple storybook adventure with hand-drawn images and iPads. The kids can discover their inner monster with ACMI’s fun and interactive storytelling sessions.

ACMI will have a craft your own comic book or graphic novel creation corner, and families can also expect to play a range of narrative based video games in ACMI’s Games Lab.


Also on at ACMI

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Wallace & Gromit and Friends -The Magic of Aardman

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When you visit, make sure you put a little bit in the donation boxes!!

One day in the Dandenong Ranges…..

I have finally found time to sit at my desk!! Yayyy! I am literally every single dancer in this music video!

I look forward to the holidays, but bloody hell, school is just the best!!! Two weeks of jam packed activities last school holidays left me crawling back to school on the Monday, with acne, bags under my eyes, and the urge to not go back at pick up time.

I’d packed so much in to the break that day one of the hols started like this…

“Every body get up, quick!  Quicker…. or we’ll be late”

Sleepy child #1 “Mum, hold on I have to make my bed like you said”

“Oh sod the bed, we’re going to be late, GET MOVING”

…and the rest of the holidays followed in the same way. Unmade beds, laundry everywhere, apple cores strategically placed on window sills, and the car became a health hazard.

So now a few weeks on, it’s absolutely freezing in Melbourne, I’m still finding rotting apple cores, and I have a hangover that’s lasted two weeks. So unfair.

We have been super busy exploring more of Melbourne and more of phenomenal Victoria! Once we were over the holidays, we headed out to the Dandenong Ranges. It’s not far from here and Mr W and I are experts at eye spy even if the kids aren’t.

 

Our first stop was Grants Picnic Ground where you can hand feed the Cockatoos, Rosellas and parrots. After living in Sydney, where the Cockatoos are blatantly out to kill you, and the Parrots just loved to pee on me, I thought this would a) be dangerous and b) worth the risk. Well, the children have been particularly annoying recently. Come on birds, it’s payback time!

We purchased our bird seed tokens at the kiosk ($4 each), and headed to the fenced area where a sweet little bird loving lady (who claimed one of the cockatoos was her treasured pet (They all look the same??)) handed us our silver trays filled with bird seed. Poppy reversed out and stood well back. Monty followed. Tim and I entered the circle of doom alone! My plan to have the kids eaten alive had backfired tremendously. Tim was gracefully attending to the birds, meanwhile, I had about 64 Cockatoos swoop upon me like something out of  Hitchcock’s ‘The Birds‘…. I couldn’t move; I was being closely stared at by hundreds of little black, beady eyes. I had four on my shoulders, three on each arm, one literally clawing at my skull, perched on my head, and the dish was full of greedy peckers.

Each cockatoo weighs a ton, (not literally, that would be awful) so you need to be holding your dish with two hands. (That’s a good tip!!) One cockatoo decided he liked the look of my shoe laces and clung on to my ankle for dear life. I wished I’d worn a Tena!!

The children thought this was hilarious of course, and realised that as nearly all the birds were attached to me, it was probably safe to come in and have a go themselves.

Once the bird seed was gone and the cockatoos had given up fighting whilst perched across my body, we headed into the forest. There are a few different paths you can take depending on how far you want to walk. We did the shortest walk, with the obligatory detour after taking a wrong turn. The scenery is stunning. Huge mountain ash towering above us, thick moss growing amongst fallen trees which have become home to all sorts of little critters. Ancient ferns, and huge sloppy puddles perfect for sliding through. Along the paths are small boards filled with information on the fauna and wildlife surrounding you. You couldn’t be anywhere else in the world.

Typically, we hadn’t banked on needing boots, so like the ‘City Kids’ that we have become, we managed to hike through the mud in a selection of stylish runners… When will we learn?

Once we’d scraped the mud off our shoes, and had our picnic eaten by a few pesky but splendid Kookaburras we headed to explore a couple of the many wonderful villages that the Dandenong’s hold. There are so many places to choose from.

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You don’t need to feed them as they’re expert thieves…

We bumbled through the winding forest, and quaint little villages, whilst Monty hollered things out of the car window like, “I will destroyyyy you” and “watch out baaaaad maaaaan”….  I think he even shouted “The eeeend is neaaaar”….

Suprisingly we managed to arrive in Sassafras without too much attention, and got out to explore. We poked our heads into the lovely little shops, we looked through a fab antique centre, then Monty managed to cut his hand in the toy shop so we had to make an emergency dash for some bandaids… Never a dull moment! By the time we had got ourselves to the much talked about Miss Marple’s Tea Room it was full… We couldn’t risk another hour of trying to keep the kids safe on empty stomachs so we walked a little further and found the delightful Fat Badger Cafe. Phew!!

Our day trip to the Dandenong’s ended with all four of us snuggled up on the sofa, in front of the log fire, drinking steaming hot chocolates and eating freshly baked cakes.

Yes folks, it was another awesome adventure in Oz…..

Olivia xx

‘I’d rather look back at my life and think “I can’t believe I did that!” – Instead of saying “I wish I had done that” – Unknown

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Dandenong Ranges

The Dandenong Ranges are a set of low mountain ranges, rising to 633 metres at Mount Dandenong, approximately 35 km east of Melbourne, Victoria, Australia. The ranges consist mostly of rolling hills, steeply weathered valleys and gullies covered in thick temperate rainforest, predominantly of tall Mountain Ash trees and dense ferny undergrowth. (Wikipedia)

Visitor Information Email: info@visitdandenongranges.com.au

Accomodation: Click here for some ideas

Activities and things to do: Click here for a whole heap of things to keep you out of trouble.


Next time on The Wilson’s of Oz…….

Our trip from Melbourne all the way to the Twelve Apostles…. 

Yes that’s 227.4km in the car with the gang… I felt it, I can assure you!!

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Jingle all the way to Sovereign Hill’s Winter Wonderlights!!

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Christmas in July is a crazy one! It feels like Christmas, it looks like Christmas, but it’s not actually Christmas. We of course embrace any opportunity to celebrate Christmas twice a year, so we whizzed out to Sovereign Hill to experience the famous Winter Wonderlights.

You all know we love Sovereign Hill. The authentic streets, the horse and cart rides, the trips deep into the mines, panning for gold; it all goes toward making their Gold Rush experience second to none. Monty of course mostly loves the horse poo scattered about the road, and especially on Monday as it had been raining, making it far more sludgy and spectacular.

The Winter Wonderlights was by far one of our top experiences in Oz so far. We arrived early so as the children could have another search for some gold, take part in the craft activities and watch a couple of shows in the Victoria Theatre. We bought hot chocolates with fudge and freshly baked sausage rolls to munch on, we kept warm by the crackling fires along the streets, and mummy drank mulled wine! (I wasn’t planning on driving home). It was completely Christmassy with the snow falling around us, and then the Carol singers started. Well, I was catapulted back to my childhood, I could almost smell the mince pies and pine needles.

We waited eagerly in the cold (and I mean brrrrrr cold) for the lights to be switched on, gobbling the most wonderful gingerbread men. I was so glad I’d ignored the “why on earth are you taking hats and scarves to Australia?” when we packed our lives up in 2015. I’d forced the kids into their jumpers and insisted on them wearing coats. Even though I carried Monty’s most of the day, he was pleased to have it by 5pm as his body was going blue.

The carol singers came to an end at about 5:45, and the huge chimney lit up with the tale of the “Gingerbread Man”.  The magic had begun! The street came alive with music and lights and there was a loud “ooooooooh”… This was definitely worth the chilly wait. It was spectacular. All the building’s on the main street were glowing perfectly with Christmas themed lights projected onto their facades. It was really beautiful. The children were thrilled to be chasing the gingerbread man who kept popping up all over the place. The music, the lights, the children’s laughter, the entire atmosphere, all went toward making this a truly unforgettable evening for our family, and all the others around us. If only we had known about the overnight 4 star accomodation we could have avoided a tantrum, two overtired kids in the back of the car and a tense diversion through the McDonalds drive through!! The Wilson’s need in on the 2 days for 1 next year!!!

Sovereign Hill does it again!!!! Awesome in every way!


 Opening hours

Sovereign Hill- 1st July – 30th July 10am-7pm

Gold Museum– 9:30-5:30

Sovereign Hill Entry, including Gold Museum and Wonderlights

Sovereign Hill recommend visitors spend at least 4-5 hours to get the most out of their visit.

Adult  $59.50
Concession  $47.60
Child (5-15)  $27.00
Family (2 adults & up to 4 children)  $150.00
Single Parent Family (1 adult & up to 3 children) $107.00
Children under 5 admitted free. Red Hill Mine Tours are free.

Book Now!!

Christmas in July Packages! (yes you can stay overnight!)

Getting there is easy!!!

2 days for 1


STARS OF THE DAY: All the staff at Sovereign Hill are pretty awesome!!

★★★★★ “It is soooooo Christmassy, it reminds me of Granny’s house” Poppy- Head of the Fun Department- Wilson’s of Oz

★★★★★ “I’m so glad we waited in the cold cold cold” Monty- Director of Entertainment- Wilson’s of Oz

★★★★★ “By far one of the best family days out” Tim- Office Dogsbody – The Wilson’s of Oz

★★★★★ “Literally cant wait for next year! Loved loved loved the Wonderlights” Olivia – Captain of the ship – The Wilson’s of Oz

 

Free Family Sundays at ACMI – You’ll be kicking yourself if you miss out!

Another massive weekend for the Wilson gang! Definitely a cracker though!!

On Sunday we headed into town to have a peek at what ACMI had in store for this month’s ‘Free Family Sunday’. The Wallace & Gromit and Friends Exhibition has just opened so we knew we were in for some fun Aardman attractions.

My two nippers love all things Aardman so it was best behaviour all morning in anticipation. (That’s unheard of BTW).

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Free Family Sundays at ACMI (first Sunday of every month) let everyone and anyone dive into the museum free of charge. How awesome is that!! Due to the take-over by Aardman at the moment there was plenty of Stop! Motion Animation fun to be had.

First stop was Studio 1 where the children were able to immerse themselves in a world of ‘Claymation’, and have a heap of fun playing about with the green screen. The staff were really hands on and Tania made sure Poppy was in exactly the right position for the perfect shot. Monty was a little mystified by the whole thing and stood to one side, allowing his sister to go solo. She loved it!!!

Next we headed into ACMI’s cinema to watch Chicken Run. I’m ashamed to admit I had no idea there was a cinema here, and was pleasantly surprised at how brilliant it was. It felt really special to be in the Australian Centre for the Moving Image actually watching a film. I will be taking the children back for sure… in fact….. I may even go alone!! Shhhhh.


There was no holding the kids back once the movie was over; they had spotted the Stop! Motion Animation station and were desperate to have a go. Thank goodness Ryan was on hand to explain what they had to do. The children were carefully placing the jungle animals, taking a picture, moving them a little, taking another picture. Who knew they possessed such patience?!??! I’m not sure who got more out of this, the children or Mr.W. He was frantically downloading an app onto his phone so as they could do more of this over the holidays. The next big movie is currently being made…

There were craft activities, lots of Aardman classics to see, and in the museum (which is free entry all the time), a whole host of movie memorabilia and so much to learn about the history of moving image.   The children absolutely loved the old school video games, and Minecraft of course!!! They were flabbergasted at what the movies used to be like in the “olden days” and we even managed to spot “The Bg Dish” from our trip to The Parkes Observatory!!

Sadly time whizzed by and we missed out on a trip to the cafe! Shame as the food looked yum!!!

Safe to say we had a ball. ACMI is full to bursting with everything ‘motion picture’ you could possibly want. It’s wonderful for all ages, and a great chance to show the children just how far technology has come, and what really goes in to making the movies that we all enjoy!! A return visit is absolutely on the cards.

Oh, I know I say it all the time but…Melbourne, you never, ever let us down!! Another huge tick in the book for the “most liveable city in the world“.

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Time to go!!

Free Family Sunday

Location: ACMI, Federation Square, Flinders St, Melbourne
Date: First Sunday of every month
Cost: FREE Age: 5-12
Web: acmi.net.au 


School holiday workshops 3-15 Jul

A range of animation, film making and coding workshops for your little darlings!

Next free Family Sunday- 6th August: Winter Fantasy & Fables

Shake off the winter chill at the next fun filled family Sunday, exploring fantasy and fables through games, performance and song!


What ACMI says:

“From wielding a lightsaber to perfecting YouTube videos, our Family Sundays program is a unique interactive experience you can’t get anywhere else.

Perfect for kids of all ages, we’ll take families on a journey through the moving image with themed days exploring everything from superheroes and Star Wars to fantasy, fables and gaming.

Get the frames focused, buttons mashing and clay animated as we get hands-on with filmmaking and animation, live video game competitions, crafty projects and more.”

 

I’ve lost my mind and I’m pretty sure the kids took it!

This is my 6 months in Melbourne update…. At 7 months in. (It’s getting a bit like that… )

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I have been trying to get back on the “blog” but I don’t seem to be able to get time. It all boils down to being knee deep in a gazillion things, tied in with being a terrible forward planner. Well, that and the fact that the more settled we get, the more ordinary the days become. Wake up, pack lunches, school drop off, clean the house, do the laundry, go for a walk, school pick up, argument, tantrum, dinner in the dog, sofa, chocolate, bed. Repeat! (No dad we haven’t bought a dog!)

7 months after leaving Sydney and I have more grey hair than ever! I have gained about 10kg in weight (damn the cheese and wine parties) and I have also completely lost the ounce of control I had over my children.  It’s been one hell of a ride!

What sort of nutter family, move to the other side of the world, settle, love their new life… then up sticks and move another 876km to a city they don’t know? Well, we did, and 7 months in, we’re just about re-settled. We have made friends, had some great nights out, we know where things are, we have a lovely family doctor, we have finally bought enough furniture to fill the house…  Must be time for another move surely?

It’s not been plain sailing. Oh no! The children have really been pushing my buttons recently! They’re making the most of Tim being away during the week, ignoring the bedtime routines, throwing tantrums in public places, and eating more junk food than ever before. They are practically wild animals… They have no idea about give and take, which just results in them taking every last bit of my being, every single minute of every single day. This ensures Tim returns to a house of hell and three demented trolls on the sofa cringing when someone even dares so much as take a breath. There’s a marriage goal right there.

I have been home alone with the kids this week, so I have packed things in after school so as when we get home, I can rush dinner and we can all just go to bed. The sooner we’re all tucked up the better!

I took the little darlings to the local library on Wednesday as Poppy loves it there and I am desperately trying to get Monty reading.  He had other ideas. The trip to the story corner with Mummy turned into me chasing him up and down the Parenting and Self- Help aisles, smacking his bottom at every available opportunity. He was frantically pulling books off the shelves and I was trying to whisper/shout (which is really difficult BTW) but just growling “get awayyyy from the books….” like a drunk wicked witch. It ended abruptly when I stubbed my toe on the Harry Potter display table.  “Mum, you just said SHHH….. ITT… That’s shit!!” “Great sounding out buddy!!” Nailed parenting in a single moment! When we finally got home there was no wine in the house!!  I proceeded to ram chocolate down my throat quicker than a chubby kid with a hot dog, to calm my nerves… You see what the kids are doing to me!?

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As if butter wouldn’t melt

I then went on to have a sleepless night, worrying that it was all caught on CCTV and I would be hauled in front of the millions of “sunrise” viewers and hailed as some sort of psychotic wildebeest who has no right to be a mother. Yes, it was one of my finer moments.

So, apart from a few of those special moments, I think I am nailing ‘Motherhood in Melbourne’. Parenting far from home is not easy, in fact it’s pretty hellish at times. The most hellish being when you have had a gut full of it, and you need a break but you don’t know anyone well enough to a) see you in this state or b) hand your savage kids to.

Usually it’s the times when you’re nearly broken, you take the kids to the park for a bit of peace and quiet you see all the grandparents on duty! I sit there, almost demolished, sipping on my G&T disguised as a coffee in a keep cup, thinking about investing in some kind of teleporting device. That way I can get the old folk here at the click of a button, and then be able to send them back before they get too comfy! (Just kidding mum, really looking forward to your visit!!!)

Even though the kids are driving me round the bend, and Tim is working away every now and again, all is dandy really! We’ve been exploring Melbourne, visiting as many wonderful places as we can nail over the weekends, and planning some exciting trips in and around Australia for the not too distant future. If my nerves can cope! (Keep it here!!)

We’ve just hit day 795 of our Aussie experience, and have 669 left until our visa expires and we’re sent packing. Sounds like ages, but if the last two years are anything to go by, we need to get organised!  Even though it felt like we left the UK in a bit of a rush, these things take a lot of planning… And a lot of chatting about. My favourite bit about any move, I love a chat!! “Shall weeeeee?? Um… No! Shall weeeee? Um no maybe not!! Do weeee? Um… not sure… What about ….? Um… Yeah…. Maybe!!”

That’s sums up our conversations; in between 90 minute bulk saved episodes of Australian Masterchef. I’m not sure it’s healthy to be living precariously on the edge of the sofa, waiting for a decision to be made about our future, but there’s something to be said for the adventure. Not knowing what’s in store over the next few years is just as exciting as it is unnerving. So here’s to the next 669 days, and all we can cram into them…I think I will be spending the rest of the day Googling “life on the other side of the expat bubble”; just in case…  Life after Oz…. if indeed there is such a thing for The Wilson’s, and if the children survive the next 669 days of course!!!

Parenting is saying the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. Oddly enough that’s the definition of insanity! Coincidence? I think not! – Unknown

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Olivia xx

Circus Oz- Model Citizens

 The Wilson’s battled through the Thursday night traffic, with much moaning and groaning from the back seat, to make it to the Big Top at Birrarung Marr in time to see Circus Oz performing ‘Model Citizens’. We were bursting with eagerness to get through the doors. I’m thrilled to report it was absolutely worth the road rage and the 3 little arguments. This was the first Circus Oz performance we have seen, and the first show under it’s new artistic director Rob Tannion. 2017’s spectacle focussed on how to be a ‘Model Citizen’ down under. The show gives us all a glimpse into ‘run of the mill’ life in Australia and what it really takes to be a true model citizen.

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The set was every shade of blue you could picture. The entire cast were on stage, dressed in remarkable costumes, like a troop of pre-programmed ‘conformity’ dolls. The show had started and there was no going back. We were hit with acrobatics, aerial swings, front flips, back flips, stunning movements on the silks, sheep running about the stage being chased by a sheep dog. At times it was madness, but we were hooked.

 

For me, the most fascinating and mind boggling parts of the show had to be both Jarred Dewey’s trapeze act and his ‘contortion irons’. His strength and flexibility were unreal up in the air and when he was creeping around the stage with large steaming irons attached his feet, bending his body like nothing I have ever seen.

Olivia Porters eerie juggling act gave the children the creeps, but was clever and moving. Poppy was mesmerised by the hula hooping goddess that is Freyja Edney, I was just incredibly jealous, and was adamant I was going to get myself a hoop or five. (Still haven’t BTW.)

Luke Ha’s balancing act on top of a tower of credit cards was brave. He stands high above the stage, taking terrifying selfies before tumbling to the ground in a ‘mountain of debt’.

Monty’s favourite performer, Mitch Jones (or the pink man with the tattoo arm… as he is now known) performs a daring mid-air pyjama straitjacket escape, after his nightmare of being trapped in suburbia counting sheep. I could see the children’s eyes like dinner plates, watching as Mitch swung precariously above the audience, desperately wriggling his way to freedom.

Jeremy Hopkins’ “Weber song” (in the tune of Waltzing Matilda), made us laugh and cringe at the same time. His ‘missus’ drinks wine straight from the box wearing nothing but an apron; as he sings “And he sang as he washed off the grease and lit the mozzie coil: who’ll come and worship my Weber with me?” Genius!!!

 

The kids loved the oversize scissor hoop jumping, the bouncy giant peg, and the matchbox boat which is rowed out of the sky and on to land, by Mitch using two giant matchsticks.

 Alex Weibel Weibel is the legend who manages to stay out of trouble whilst spinning madly in a web of tangled ropes, only to hop up on top and play his violin whilst tightrope walking. Mind blown right there.

For the adults, Model Citizens is a mix of incredible strength, clever circus skills, politics, humour and a true show of coming together to make life work. For the children it was more about the fire eating, the trapeze, the high kicks, the juggling, the knife throwing, balancing, handstands, the tattoos, the pink hair, hula hooping, and umpteen people flying through the air at break neck speed in a pair of giant undies. I could hear the children gasping, their eyes shining bright like little light bulbs, mouths wide open like goldfish. Is there anything better than that?

As an expat in Australia, living life precariously on a visa, it was interesting to see the circus take on the idea that in order to become a citizen in the lucky country, you must conform to a certain standard.  ‘Shape up or ship out’. Model Citizens is a little political, a little moving, a little terrifying at times, but definitely a whole heap of wonderful.

Both acts are staggering and Model Citizens is definitely ‘edge of your seat’ kind of entertainment. Grab the kids and get over to the Big Top…. Now…..

“Be the ringmaster, it’s your life”- Life is a circus

 


Our Stars of the show:

Jarred Dewey & Olivia Porter

★★★★★+★ “The best show EVEEEERRRR” Poppy- Head Talent Spotter, The Wilsons of Oz

★★★★★ “I love the pink man, the sheep and the big undies?” Monty – Director of Entertainment, The Wilsons of Oz 


All the info:

Model Citizens – Circus Oz 
Dates: 20 June – 16 July 2017
Duration: 2 hours (including 20 minute interval)
Venue: Circus Oz Big Top
Location: Birrarung Marr, Melbourne (between Federation Square and Batman Avenue)
Tickets $30 – $95 (plus booking fees)
Bookings: ticketek.com.au

Show the circus some love:

Credited with revitalising a traditional art form in a uniquely Australian way, Circus Oz is a rock ‘n’ roll, animal-free circus that has influenced the development of circus arts around the world since its foundation in 1978. Circus Oz undertook its first and critically praised international tour in 1980 and has continued touring to over 100 cities and regions in 27 countries – playing to over 4 million people.
Twitter @circusoz 
Instagram @circusoz

A Good Time For All.

Circus Oz’s flagship program shares the joy of circus, making a meaningful difference to the lives of many in our community who are facing financial, cultural or societal barriers.

A donation of $120 provides tickets for an entire family to experience Circus Oz under the Big Top.
$45 gives one person the opportunity;
$1,200, a whole community;
and $40,000 will provide free tickets for an entire Big Top audience.

Please, please donate today!! 

Photo credit Rob Blackburn

The Wilson’s took flight on The Melbourne Star Observation Wheel!!

There’s no doubt about it, the Melbourne Star Observation Wheel stands proud in the Melbourne skyline, and so it should. It’s a beauty, and only one of four giant observation wheels in the world, hence why The Wilson’s were desperate to get on board.

We hopped on a tram to Docklands, which to be frank is the rear end of Melbourne (in my humble opinion).  You go to Docklands is to visit the wheel, or to go to Artvo; then you get back on the tram. (Melbourne is one of the world’s most beautiful and vibrant cities, and when there is soooooo much better on your doorstep it hard not to be a spoilt brat…!)

Once we’d herded the kids past the ice creams and through the rather grand gates, we were shuffled in to have the obligatory photo. You know, the ones where they superimpose fireworks behind you and make it look like you’re having a smashing time, before you’ve even experienced the attraction. The photos that I always love and Mr W always refuses to purchase!! So, after a quick “Cheeeese” we were sent on our merry way to queue for the “flight”. We chose a good day as we didn’t have to queue long at all; I was surprised as the weather was magnificent, and it seemed like an ideal afternoon to be up in the sky. The staff were all great and we even managed to get a few cheesy jokes from the man checking our tickets. The kids were rolling with laughter as we headed into our shiny cabin!

The view from the Melbourne Star Observation Wheel is pretty much what you’d expect from a 40-storey observation wheel parked “behind” Melbourne and right next to the docks. The first ten minutes don’t really give you anything apart from a view of lunchtime in Costco. However, if you can ignore the shopping centre roof tops, the car parks, and all the air conditioning units glistening on top of the buildings below, then you will enjoy this 30 minute flight.

Once you gain some height the views across the water of Port Philip Bay, toward the Mornington Peninsular are stunning.  Although the docks aren’t very pretty, they managed to bring back fond memories of our arrival in Australia and the much anticipated wait for our own container. The breathtaking sight of the Dandenong Ranges and the You Yangs Regional Park, is a huge plus to the flight.  The children enjoyed using the map alongside the compass in the roof of the cabin, and we all found the facts about Melbourne and the wheel interesting. The panoramic views from our bench made it easy for us all to see, and there was plenty of space for Monty to roll around on the floor having a little meltdown 23 minutes in.

The commentary throughout, tells you of all the beautiful sights that Melbourne has on offer. You are almost taunted with tales of elegant Victorian buildings, which are out of sight,  the wondrous MCG, which you can’t see, and the laneways, which are hidden in amongst a maze of towering buildings. In fact, you can’t see many of the famous sights that Melburnians hold dear.  Is that a let down? A little. The Observation Wheel definitely isn’t in the right location to highlight Melbourne, but it does do it’s absolute best to highlight everything you can see. What the Melbourne Star gives you is a tranquil trip, together with your loved ones, above the waterfront precinct, and the buildings of this utterly wondrous, awe inspiring city;  and I bet, if you went at night, with the buildings below in darkness, and all the twinkly lights of the city guiding you through the sky, it would be an incredibly romantic, and truly unforgettable experience!

Melbourne Star at night

‘Once you have tasted the taste of sky, you will forever look up’ – Leonardo Da Vinci


All the info

Opening times: 365 Days a Year!!

May to August 11am – 7pm daily
September to April 11am – 10pm daily

Christmas Day and ANZAC Day 1pm – 10pm

Location: 101 Waterfront Way, Docklands, Melbourne

Ticket Pricing: Information on ticketing is all here, There are so many different options to choose from, so check them out!

Whats On??

Skate & Fly these school holidays.

Free game of Glow Golf  *on landing.

starwheel9
Pretty happy to see the Lego wheel in the gift shop, made by the incredible Ryan McNaught AKA The Brickman ! 

 

 

Holey Moley the hangover was worth it!!!

” THEY’VE SET THE PAR HIGH WITH THIS ONE. GET READY FOR THE CRAZIEST ROUND OF MINI GOLF YOU’VE EVER PLAYED.”

Wow, Sunday completely disappeared whilst I lay in bed nursing an whopping Gin/Mini Golf hangover. What a night we had at Holey Moley!

For those of you that don’t know about the awesomeness that is Holey Moley, let me tell you; you haven’t lived until you’ve picked up a putter here! Yes, it’s true, you can mix an insane game of mini golf, (or putt putt putt putt putt if it’s me playing), with incredible cocktails and pumping tunes. Imagine the fun we had.

As expat parents, it can be tricky for us to get out of the house without the kids in tow. Thankfully this weekend we had them chained to the kitchen sink so as we could enjoy some free time without the wretched little beasts. (Don’t worry, we organised a babysitter).

We walked through the doors of Holey Moley with hoards of keen ‘par-tee’ people, the DJ was blasting out some rad tunes, there was a great vibe, and we were ready to hit the course, and the bar.

All the holes are cleverly thought out, well named, and heaps of fun. I started badly, not managing to get my ball in Hole 1 without kicking it, and after more and more trips to the bar, I got worse and worse. This absolutely didn’t ruin the fun, if anything I was entertaining the group. We spent a lot of the time doubled up laughing, trying to get our balls around all sorts of crazy obstacles including piles of croquet mallets, nana’s mobility walker, and a group of gophers. There was a Pac-Man hole, a Wizard of Oz hole (personal favourite), even “Blaaaarghbie’s Scream House” which was littered with beheaded barbies and dolly prams. Spooky!!

Saturday night was really busy, there were parties and large groups, couples enjoying date night, and small groups of friends like us. I noticed a real mix of ages too which is pretty cool! No matter how busy it was, we never felt like we were waiting long for our turn, and the game ran smoothly, even with trips to and from the packed bar. The only annoyance of the evening was that my team mates were doing really well, getting plenty of holes in one, and smashing the course as I was struggling to get my bright pink ball anywhere near the flags.. “How many shots was that Olivia?” Thank god for the Caddy Shack Bar  and their delicious refreshments. (You can check the bar menu here.)

Holey Moley claims to be Australia’s best mini golf course. Par none!! I reckon they may be right!  This place a must visit, in my humble opinion!

We ended the night, visors on, score card filled, drinking Espresso Martinis and gobbling pizza. Come on… Life doesn’t get better than that, surely!!


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Location: 590 Little Bourke St, Melbourne VIC 3000

Tel: 1300 727 833

Opening Hours: Monday to Friday 12pm – late, Saturday & Sunday 10am – late

Prices start at $16.50 per person for 9 holes

Party info is all here!

Holey Moley are open in Brisbane and Melbourne, coming soon to Adelaide and opening on the 6th July in Sydney so get booked in!!!