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.

circus oz

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!!


logo

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!!!

Expat parenting when anxiety joins the party!

So the big questions on this expat mum’s mind today are: Do our children suffer from being moved around? Can mental health issues become exaggerated with life abroad? How do we, as expats deal with our emotions when we’re far from home?

Initially I thought we were giving the children a great opportunity to be immersed in a different culture; a different way of life, to experience another country; however, it is slowly becoming clear to me the longer we are away, we may have done the wrong thing. Not just because of the upheaval, or because of the country we’re in, but because parenting in difficult, emotional situations when you are far from help and home, is almost too much to bear! (Yes, it’s been a big week in the Wilson household). Sometimes you just need the familiarity of home to help you in times of need.

Frustration

You all know we love Australia, we are head over heels in love with Melbourne and we have beautiful friends here. No matter what though, expat life is not easy, and adding an anxious child into the mix means I worry that we’ve made a mistake taking her away from a stable, familiar life.

I love the Aussie competitive nature, the ballsy personalities, the ‘no holds barred’ attitude, the “if you don’t like it…TOUGH” way of dealing with things, but not when it comes to people’s emotions and especially those of my children. I can’t help but think that those personality traits that I love, become ones that I find loathsome when dealing with children struggling with anxiety.

Would I have moved abroad knowing that my child would be made to feel like a baby for being nervous or anxious?  Would I have left home only to feel alone and overly sensitive when dealing with such a fragile child? The answer is, I’m not sure I would have taken the risk.

Before we moved I hadn’t given our emotional well being much thought. I had assumed (naively) that the way emotions were treated would be fairly similar everywhere. I assumed that whatever happened we could deal with it together as a family. I guess I hadn’t recognised just how much my family and friends did for us; emotionally…

What I really have trouble with is the lack of compassion in everyday life. Is compassion disappearing across the world? Will our children slowly lose the ability to be compassionate if they are not receiving compassion at the time when they most need it.

My main bugbear with the lack of compassion today, is how anxiety is dealt with, and how as an expat family we are struggling to deal with it; mostly alone. Anxiety is very, very real. A lot of people assume the kid hiding in the back of the classroom is just being a baby, not pulling their weight and should be trying harder. They’re making the mornings awkward by crying at the door; not getting involved in classroom discussions because they’re lazy; they’re being difficult by not grasping what they’re being taught straight away. I’m not sure that the severity of how anxiety affects a child’s whole being, and how it can damage their health as well as their education is fully understood. It seems impossible for some to comprehend that the confident, popular child in the playground finds the thought of separating from their mother, so distressing it makes them physically sick! Like I say, it’s very, very real.

I vividly remember the headmaster at Poppy’s first primary school, coming out of the door as soon as he saw her in the morning, grabbing her tightly by the hand, a kind, warm smile on his face, leading her in to school. The tears and upset leaving me, turned into happy waves as Mr Miller took her straight to her friends. He took a small step to take a huge weight off her shoulders and eased her happily into her day, which from then on started with a smile. A small gesture with a huge impact.

All it takes is a pat on the back to say “I understand and I’m here”, a smile, a wink, or a little note in their book asking if they need more help with something, rather than a scribbled message saying they’re just not good enough. Small changes, gentle persuasion and a warm hand would make the most incredible difference to an anxious child, far from home, and it’s so easy to do.

No matter the age of an anxious person, they should never be told they are “too old” to be behaving the way they are, or to “get on with it” like everyone else. The daily struggle, battling with their demons and their insecurities would be enough to stop a grown man go to work let alone a small child face school. The fact that some children even get to school is a huge achievement. If only we could create more compassion and a deeper understanding of what so many children and adults are going through, we could go a long way to helping sufferers of anxiety realise their potential, and believe in what they can achieve.

So for us, as an expat family, maybe the experience of mixing raised emotions with expatriate life will turn out to be a great big learning curve for us all, but one thing is for sure, we will be approaching every day with compassion, together, one step at a time, wherever we are in the world.

“Living with anxiety is like being followed by a voice. It knows all your insecurities and uses them against you. It gets to the point where it’s the loudest voice in the room. The only one you can hear”- Unknown

Anxiety


 

The truth about anxiety (taken from Kids Helpline)

High levels of chronic anxiety can reduce your child’s capacity to respond appropriately or effectively to stressful situations, or even normal routine activities. A highly anxious person for example may experience constant physical feelings of panic and may seek to avoid anything that might trigger their anxiety such as:

  • being alone
  • going to school
  • talking in front of a group

Anxiety symptoms may be overlooked especially if a child is quiet and compliant. As a result, they may not receive the help and support they need, which may lead to problems with anxiety in adolescence and adulthood. Anxiety commonly co-occurs with other disorders such as depression, eating disorders, and attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).


The Statistics (Taken from Youth Beyond Blue)

  • Around one in 35 young Australians aged 4-17 experience a depressive disorder.
    Breakdown: 2.8% of Australians aged 4-17 have experienced an affective disorder.  This is equivalent to 112,000 young people.
  • One in 20 (5%) of young people aged 12-17 years had experienced a major depressive disorder between 2013-14.  
  • One in fourteen young Australians (6.9%) aged 4-17 experienced an anxiety disorder in 2015. This is equivalent to approximately 278,000 young people.
    Breakdown: 6.9% of Australians aged 4-17 experienced an anxiety disorder in 2015. This is equivalent to 278,000 young people.
  • One in four young Australians currently has a mental health condition.
    Breakdown: 26.4% of Australians aged 16 to 24 currently have experienced a mental health disorder in the last 12 months.5This figure includes young people with a substance use disorder. This is equivalent to 750,000 young people today.
  • Suicide is the biggest killer of young Australians and accounts for the deaths of more young people than car accidents.
    Breakdown: 324 Australians (10.5 per 100,000) aged 15-24 dying by suicide in 2012. This compares to 198 (6.4 per 100,000) who died in car accidents (the second highest killer).
  • Evidence suggests three in four adult mental health conditions emerge by age 24 and half by age 14
    Breakdown: Half of all lifetime cases of mental health disorders start by age 14 years and three fourths by age 24 years.

Where to go for help 

**Your GP should always be your first point of call…

UK

No Panic: 0844 9674848 Youth Helpline 0330 606 1174 (for 13 to 20 year olds open Mon to Thurs 4pm-6pm)
Helpline for anxiety disorders, panic attacks etc. Provides advice, counselling, listening, befriending and can make referrals. Local self help groups and produces leaflets, audio and video cassettes.

OCD Action: 0845 390 6232.  Information and support for Obsessive Compulsive Disorders (OCDs) and related disorders including Body Dismorphic Disorder (BDD), Skin Picking (CSP), Trichotillomania (TTM) – compulsive hair pulling.

TOP UK (Triumph Over Phobia)The OCD and Phobia Charity: 01225 571740
UK registered charity which aims to help sufferers of phobias, obsessive compulsive disorder and other related anxiety to overcome their fears and become ex sufferers, run a network of self help therapy groups.

Australia

Headspace : 1800 650 890

Free online and telephone service that supports young people aged between 12 and 25 and their families going through a tough time.

Kids Helpline :1800 55 1800

A free, private and confidential, telephone and online counselling service specifically for young people aged between 5 and 25.

Useful Websites

  • www.calmclinic.com – information relating to anxiety, panic disorder, stress and depression
  • www.dailystrength.org – Online community support for anxiety, mental health, and health related conditions.
  • www.haveigotaproblem.com – free resource for mental health and addiction issues created and run by the Tasha Foundation.
  • www.healthyplace.com – Information and support for those suffering from anxiety (American site).
  • www.menheal.org.uk
    A website for all men who suffer from depression or anxiety from all round the world.
  • www.nomorepanic.co.uk – Information for sufferers of panic, anxiety, phobias and ocds. Includes chat room and message boards. Also information relating to insomnia.
  • www.patient.info – Self help guides under Mental Health leaflets on panic attacks, phobias,anxiety,stress, obsessional compulsive disorders, relaxation exercises.
  • www.stressbubbles.com – struggling with depression, anxiety, mental health, some great healing tips from someone who has suffered with these issues herself.

We went WIIIILD at Wild Buggy!!

WB2

Saturday was looking like it was going to be stressful! Poppy’s team lost their netball game, Monty was in a foul mood and trying his best to ruin everyones day, and I was thinking we had probably chosen completely the wrong weekend to go on an adventure. Turns out no body wants to go “ANYWHERE”.

We were in the car, on our way to Heatherton and no one was talking to each other! The kids didn’t know where we were going, I’d kept it a secret, however I was ready to have my own little tantrum and leave them strapped into the car to go ‘buggying’ by myself.

We pulled into the car park, and in front of us was Wild Buggy, Melbourne’s driving adventure park, and it’s terrific track. There were hills, obstacles, huge splashy puddles, logs, stairs… The children gawped out of the window, eyes like two little owls; a buggy went flying past, and in chorus they said “I’m so sorry mum, can we go? Can we go?” It took all my might to stop myself telling them to stick it and make them sit there and watch Tim and I rocket through the course…

Once we were in, the kids had their safety briefing, both listening intently I may add; I filled out the forms, they were hair netted up, helmets on and eager to get into the bright blue buggys!! I was secretly wishing I was having a go too!

Each of the kids had an instructor sat next to them, guiding them round the course, and helpfully tapping the brake to stop them careering off into the grass. Thank goodness!!

The track has been upgraded recently, and looks amazing! There are tight twists and turns, a sheer faced wall, and plenty of lumps and bumps to get through. However, with the awesome instruction the children were able to get around it easily, pick up some speed and get airborne too. Can you imagine their faces?!

Monty is only 5 and Poppy 8, and they nailed it. I thought they may struggle to control the vehicle, or not be able to reach the pedals, but it was all good. The seats were adjustable, the seat belts held them tight, and they were soon dashing past us, over the rocks, up and down the stairs, and splashing through the puddles, madly cheering as they went.

Once they had run out of time, Tim and I got a treat and hopped in to have a test run! Now I really got to see what all the screaming is about. I am blatantly the better driver out of the both of us, so I took it steady to start with, just to get an idea of what I needed to do! My instructor Veronica guided me through, yelling “foot down, foot down” just at the right time, so as I could make the most of the track. Tim just smashed it in true ‘boy’ fashion! I didn’t tell him he was good of course!

Driving through this kind of terrain, through the water, and along the wall, is not something you get to do every day, and it’s not usually something that small kids get to try at all. Wild Buggy really is a fab experience for all ages and abilities, and I promise, you will be at “Gold Parent” status, for at least a few hours afterwards!!


Stars of the day: Aaron, Indrek, Rauno & Veronica!!

★★★★★ “The best thing I have ever done” Poppy- Head of The Fun & Games Department, Wilsons of Oz

★★★★★ “Can we go again, again and again a bazillion times?” Monty – Director of Entertainment, Wilsons of Oz 


All the information you need!!

Location: 433-453 Boundary Road, Heatherton, 3202, VIC

Tel: 1300 945 328

You can go on your own, as a group, or even have a birthday party at Wild Buggy!

Click here for pricing  details.


Say “YES” to new adventures 

The Big Freeze – Snow is coming to Melbourne!

the big freeze

Winter in Australia is the time of year when I get all miserable and terribly homesick! I’m pretty sure it’s because the weather isn’t as glorious as it is the rest of the year, and the leaves dropping from the trees transports me momentarily to the English countryside.

Winter 2017 down under is well and truly on it’s way. We have just over a week until it officially hits, but I’m already wearing fluffy bed socks and trackies to bed and the electric blanket is getting wayyyyy more use than the sexy undies…(I know, I know, Mr W is a lucky man!)

This winter in Melbourne we have so many wonderful things to celebrate, and get out into the cold for. The main attraction for The Wilson’s being The Big Freeze Festival. It’s a great way to experience the snow without actually forking out on a skiing trip!

The school holidays for me are always a mix of trying to keep the brats occupied, finding well priced entertainment, and juggling all sorts of different epic adventures to out wit other mothers. Lucky for me, and for Melbourne, The Big Freeze Winter Festival is returning! *I’m fist pumping and almost perfecting a twerk!

 


 All the info you need if you are joining us on this snow filled, icy, adventure:

This year the festival will be divided into two areas –

The Winter Precinct (ticketed)

This section will include snow play, snowball toss, snowfall forest, winter village, snow globe photo booth, polar bear slide, kids’ active challenge, circus skills workshop, construction play, art’n’craft activities and the brand new snow slides which will be two different heights to allow more children to enjoy the thrill of the ride.

The Community Precinct

This section will be free for the general public and will be hosting daily stage shows, an activity zone with Phillip Island Nature Parks, sports with Milo, food vendors and more.

Tickets are on sale NOW!!!!!

Great discounts apply for larger bookings, so organise your mother’s group or school friends to all attend together and enjoy the savings.

  • When: Saturday, July 1 – Sunday, July 9
  • Where: under the Big Top (and protected from the weather) at Fountain Gate Shopping (Cnr Princes Hwy & Brechin Drive)
  • Time: Winter Festival sessions run three times each day. Community Precinct open from 9am – 5:30pm daily
  • Cost: Free entry into Community Precinct. Winter Festival has a number of ticketing options available including a Child Superpass $29.50 (that includes a 4 Park Pass to Phillip Island Nature Parks valued at $28.50), Adults $19, Family $92 and extra savings for some afternoon sessions.

Check out the website for more info or just go right ahead and book your tickets here!!!!

Watch a video of all the action that’ll be hitting Melbourne

Find The Big Freeze on Facebook and give them a follow to keep yourself updated!

The Big Freeze Instagram is a great place to see all the fun that’s coming!!

If you would like to win a family pass to The Big Freeze Festival follow us on Instagram! The competition will be running from the 1st June!  

We are like a snowflake, all different in our own beautiful way- unknown

Sorry mum, the judges made me do it!!!

We get asked lots of questions about our decision to move to Australia. Why did we move all this way? Had we been here before? Did we know anyone when we came? Do we have family here? The truth is we’d never visited, and we didn’t know a soul! There’s only one real reason we chose Australia as our ultimate destination, and I’m pretty sure we’re not the only ones to have done this!

It all came down to a good few years of wintery nights, snuggled under a blanket on the sofa, chomping on Quality Street, listening to the rain outside; watching Australian Masterchef! Yup, it’s true, we chose to move to Australia because we were reeled in by Matt Preston, George Calombaris and Gary Mehigan. They pretty much personally invited us! From that fateful day when Julie Goodwin walked away with the title we were ready to up sticks and move to Oz!

logomasterchef

Tim and I sat and watched series after series, we’d store them up and have Masterchef marathons, almost wishing we could hop into the TV for a taste of that life they were all living. We longed for a supermarket like Coles, with it’s abundance of shiny, almost pretend looking fruit and veg, and immaculate stores. We wanted fish markets with people practically throwing oysters at us. We wanted markets like South Melbourne and stunning wineries where we could sit and relax after a day in the office; because that’s what Aussies do!! We wanted the beaches, the weather, the coffee shops, the restaurants, the food, the wine, the house, the glam friends, and the neckerchief… All that, and I was desperate to meet Maggie Beer. (Still hasn’t happened by the way!) Tim managed to get to series 6 before giving in and job searching in the Southern Hemisphere.

We can’t be the only ones?

There must be other people who have chosen their ultimate destination after being lured by a tv show? Surely we’re not the only family to have upped sticks and flown across the world because Channel 10 forced us to. There must be others who have been tempted somewhere by the ‘Masterchef lifestyle’?  For us Masterchef was like a high end immigration advert for Australia; to be honest they should jolly well stop showing it in the UK if they don’t want mass migration!

When Dallas was first aired in 1978 I wonder if people were madly hopping into their beaten up old Robin Reliant’s and heading to the travel agent in search of a bit of JR Ewing’s lifestyle. The Stetson’s, the shoulder pads, and the hairspray! What about Eldorado on TV in the UK  in the 90’s? Come on!!! I bet people flocked to the Costa Del Sol in search of Los Barcos in the hope of a new expat life, of tanning, twin sets and sundowners.

 

Sat on our sofa in Somerset, we were sure that the ‘Masterchef life’ was real; it was everyday Australia, and we wanted in on the action?

Well, it turns out Coles isn’t as shiny as it looks on the telly; and I can NEVER find what I want! Matt Preston isn’t readily available to hang out with me on a Saturday foodie session in town as I had so hoped he would be, and no one has whisked me off for a behind the scenes tour of the Cobram Estate Grove because my dinner last night was incredible and my plating was spectacular! Unfair right!!!!

I haven’t managed to fly in a hot air balloon over the Yarra Valley yet, or take my stove down to the Melbourne Rowing Club and cook a roast dinner in the blazing heat! But, (and it’s a big but….) 2 years into leaving our loved ones, we can see that the ‘Masterchef life’ that we were yearning for is here, it’s what we’re living, right now; only there’s no out of the blue appearances from Nigella!! (More’s the pity.)

We shop at beautiful markets, we have wonderful seafood at our fingertips, great restaurants, coffee shops to die for, and wineries dotted all around us. We can go on foodie tours, hot air balloon rides, visit distilleries, and even go to The Press Club and be cooked for by George after all..

Whether it’s crazy or not, we got hooked, almost like someone somewhere was putting Adriano Zumbo in front of us, week in week out, just pushing us toward this sweet life we are embracing!  I have no doubt that falling in love with a TV show is a great way to find your perfect destination.

So put your custard creams down, pause the telly, jump onto google and start investigating. You never know how far the next series will take you!

 

As soon as you start to follow your dreams, the sun shines brighter, the flowers smell sweeter and everything has more meaning – Olivia xxx

Deloraine, some glow worms and that’s a wrap!

Our final full day in Tasmania, and the clouds were looking threatening to say the least. We were up early, the kids were outside in the cold, chasing bunnies and watching the kangaroos hopping about in the mist! The Central Plateau is breathtakingly beautiful.

We headed to Deloraine. It was cold, really foggy and we were dressed like a bunch of city kids who’d been magically transported to ‘huntin’, shootin’ fishin’ country! Whoops!! We were in for a wet day too, so our highly impractical runners and Poppy’s brand new shoes from Seed were not going to cut it.

The fog was so thick that we didn’t get to see much of what we were driving past, but we did manage to get a good view of lots of sweet little houses hidden in between the trees, smoke billowing out of the chimneys, and piles of logs out front. It almost makes me want to sell everything and move to rural Tasmania. It looks like a peaceful existence; maybe when, I mean, if the kids leave home!

The dirt track finally turned into road after about 45 minutes, and as per usual the kids were “STAAAAAARVING” so we were straight into the Deloraine Town Cafe Bakery for a huge hot chocolate after what seemed like quite an adventurous journey through the elements! Once we’d warmed up, trashed the cafe, and just about destroyed the tourist information, we were set with fists full of leaflets, and ready to get going!!

First stop, The Melita Honey Farm . Turns out the honey farm is a very small shop, full to the brim with all things honey. Out the back of the shop they have a cute little room with all sorts of information about honey bees, where the children can see the bees in their hive, and learn all there is to know about the little buzzy creatures. Unfortunately we learnt diddly squat about honey bees as we were too busy digging in to the tasters, covering our last set of clean clothes in stickyness, and ‘tantruming’ about not being allowed an ice cream.  I swore under my breath, purchased a pricey ice cream and headed for the Mole Creek Caves, praying I could leave them behind in a sort of Stalactite dungeon.

We were warned that the caves keep a steady temperature of 9 degrees, so we needed to wrap up warm! Monty did a great job, he had so much honey on his clothes he had managed to create another layer by picking up all sort of bits of fluff, leaves, crumbs, and food wrappers! Comfortable walking shoes were another good idea… Um!!!

We chose to visit the Marakoopa Cave. We were desperate to see the famous Glow Worms. I was pretty excited.  That was until we were entering the cave and I realised just how slight the paths are, and how low we had to duck to get in. Palpitations were starting, then Poppy needed reassuring.. I took a deep breath and thought about it rationally. If it floods (because ALL CAVES FLOOD) we’re all gonna die so there’s no point freaking out too much! “We’ll be fine darling, come on!”

It was incredible. Rebecca our guide was brill! She explained everything in so much detail. It was hard to believe coral grew here 450 million years ago when Tasmania was tropical. Rebecca even managed to get us a good look at the Tasmanian Cave Spider, which the kids were thrilled about! I spent the rest of the tour convinced it was on my back.

We were dazzled by sparkling crystals, reflection pools, stalactites and stalagmites. The darkness was intense. The magnificent cavern known as the ‘Great Cathedral’ is jaw dropping and a must see. When Rebecca turned out the lights for us to adjust our eyes and really see the glow worms, we were amazed. It was as if we were looking at a beautiful clear starry night. The roof of the cave was covered in teeny little glowing creatures. Truly spectacular.

If you’re going to the caves, be sure to allow yourself an extra 15 minutes to enjoy the enchanting Fern Glade Walk from the ticket office parking area to the cave entrance. You will not be sorry! It’s a spectacular walk, even with slippery boots on, and a child who insists on skipping on the edge of the river bank.

Once we’d made it back to the car, and got ourselves some snacks for a picnic in our cabin, (we weren’t risking the bar again), we headed back, along the dirt track to the Great Lake. What was a pretty blind journey in the fog this morning, was now a sensational trip through the sublime wilderness. The views across the plateau, the little bridges over bubbling streams, the wildlife, the space, each little lake with a fisherman waiting for a catch. All this had been hidden, we had no idea just how superb the surroundings were, until now. The fog had lifted and we were amazed.

The little huts we passed this morning were now alive with people getting ready for the darkness to set in, and we were peering out of the windows at them, just like the locals peering at us when we arrived. What I’d give for a few days in one of those little fishing huts!!

Last night in the cabin, and a feast of Tasmanian delights we had hunter gathered on our journey. We had cheese, local sausage, wine, fresh bread, strawberries, pate, and perfectly squishy avocados. That was all to accompany the huge bag of popcorn that the children had foraged for themselves. We were tucked up in the huge bed, with the electric blanket on, watching local tv and munching. The best way to spend the last night of any holiday!

After a slight delay behind a local flock of sheep on the way to the airport, then a quick pit stop to see if Monty really wanted to get out and be left behind as he was insisting, we were parked up at Launceston airport! The holiday blues were already setting in. We were absolutely not ready to be going home yet! We still had so much more exploring we wanted to do. We still had room in our tummies for more Tassie delights, believe it or not.

We hopped aboard our Jet Star flight, and stared out of the window, bursting with love for Tasmania. Take off and a very quiet 50 minutes. Seems like we may have tired the kids out after all!

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Here’s to the next trip and the next time we’re all together experiencing something new! That’s the best thing about family travel. Who cares about the the exhaustion, the melt downs, and the pile of laundry once we’re home, we’ve just been somewhere incredible, and we get to go try someplace new next time!!! 

 

 

 

 

Hobart to the Central Plateau with a detour for cheese!

 

tassie map

After an epic first day in Tassie, and still with full tummies, we decided to head into Hobart for a small brekkie, and a last minute look around before heading to the Central Plateau.  Breakfast was a “cruffin” (croissant pastry made into a muffin! I KNOWWW) and a coffee at the very cool Brooke Street Pier. We’re ready for day 2!

First stop – Mawsons Huts Replica Museum

The Mawson’s Huts Replica Museum is situated in central Hobart, also known as the “The  Gateway to Antarctica,” just 50 metres from Constitution Dock. A couple of photo’s and a little kick of the penguin (don’t ask me why he does things like that, I have no idea) and we headed indoors.

The museum was opened on the 102nd anniversary of the departure from Hobart of the Australasian Antarctic expedition 1911-14 led by Douglas Mawson. The huts here are replicas of the ones still in Cape Denison – Antarctica – constructed in 1911 by the men of the Australian Antarctic Expedition. Hurrah, Poppy has been learning about Mawson at school as part of their “explorers” topic, so this visit was epic parenting!!!

We were greeted at the entrance by Warwick, who talked us through a photo slide show and explained in great detail the trials and tribulations of the Australian Antarctic Expedition and about the conservation work still going on at the huts. I had goose bumps just thinking about what a struggle it must have been for those brave young men back in 1911. Warwick made the visit come alive; he filled us all with eagerness to get into the huts and see for ourselves the living conditions the men were subjected to out there on the ice and learn about the work they were doing.

Once inside, you can see just what life was like for the explorers, it all becomes real. Pictures of thick ice under the beds gave us chills. Poppy was fascinated by the typewriter and sat like Angela Lansbury from Murder She Wrote, whilst the rest of us explored. Jeannie another member of staff told us about her own visits to the huts as part of the conservation team. She was truly incredible. It’s not very often you meet someone who has been to the Antarctic, let alone taken part in an incredible expedition to almost follow in the footsteps of one of history’s greatest explorers. We read stories of each man on the 1911 expedition, saw their meal plans, felt the blankets, saw the sledges that were used. It was truly one of the most fascinating museums we have ever been in.  There was so much to learn about a rarely mentioned, incredibly heroic Australian explorer, and visiting was also a great way to help raise much needed funds for the conservation of the huts. A must see if you’re heading to Hobart!

 

The Drive

We apologised to the kicked penguin, bought a few postcards, and got in the car, to begin the next leg of our journey! We were going South first via Kettering, Birchs Bay, Randalls Bay in the Huon Valley, past Eggs and Bacon bay, all the way round back to Hobart then off up to visit Richmond Gaol, and on to the  Central Plateau. Our journey took us via some great places. We found a beautiful little grocers heaving with local produce and beaches bursting with oyster shells, the views were breathtaking. “It’s like Scotland, it’s like Iceland, it’s like Wales…” No, it’s like Tasmania. It’s perfect! And we’re in love!

Our reason for driving South was to drive the coast a little, and to visit Grandvewe, Tasmania’s only sheep milk ‘cheesery’. It was where Tim and I could taste cheese and sip Gin whilst the kids feed the sheep! We have our priorities right!

Well worth the drive; the kids were grubby, chatting about sheep poo and happily chomping on blueberries; our purchases are making the car reek of cheese, but hey, we’re on our way!!

 

We were running a little late after all our stops, so I rang ahead to the Central Highlands lodge, to check we’d be in time for dinner! We were told in no uncertain terms “the kitchen closes at 7!”

We couldn’t have driven any faster as the road had run out of tarmac and we were bumbling along the dirt, frantically trying to avoid all sorts of mysterious wildlife. Every now and again Monty would shout “RAAAAAT”, Tim would swerve and the little possum would watch us fly past like lunatics! The children found this hysterical, I was a wreck.

We’re here!

It was pitch black and thick with fog when we arrived at the lodge. There to greet us was yet another enormous furry Possum hanging from the bar window, and a crowd of locals, peering through the glass at us as if they’d never seen anyone round here before. We walked into the reception/bar.. silence… Um… I looked at Tim, Tim looked at Poppy, Monty burped.. The landlord mumbled something from behind the bar, then proceeded to ignore us for ten minutes as we desperately tried to order dinner before the kitchen closed. We felt awkward to say the least. It didn’t help that we all proceeded to get the nervous giggles. My shoulders were shaking, and tears were rolling down my face, I just wanted to get the room key and go hide..

We had a family cabin waiting for us, so we ate quickly in almost silence, with the other guests who were uncomfortably keeping themselves to themselves. We backed out of the bar, smiling and waving, to blank stares.. We escaped to the cabin! Ahhhh it was cosy beyond cosy!!! There were heated blankets, thick duvets, and a basket with our breakfast in it ready for the morning.

 

As bizarre and frankly standoffish as our greeting was; even though everyone managed to make us feel like we’d waltzed into their living room unannounced; we had the best night’s sleep, in the most comfy beds.  We woke up refreshed, with incredible views across the Great Lake, kangaroos bouncing outside our window and were ready for more Wilson antics on Day 3!

We’re heading to Deloraine and the Mole Creek Caves before another night in the cabin! Look out!!


 

Mawsons Huts Replica Museum: Cnr Argyle and Morrison St, Hobart, TAS, 7000  Tel: 1300 551 422 or (03) 6231 1518 Email: info@mawsons-huts-replica.org.au       Ticket Prices: Adult:$12 Concession:$10 Child (up to 16):$4 Family :$28

Grandvewe Cheesery59 Devlyns Rd, Birchs Bay, TAS, Australia Tel: (03) 62674099  Email: info@grandvewe.com

     Richmond Gaol: 37 Bathurst Street, Richmond TAS 7025 Tel: (03) 6260 2127                                                            Email:                                                              Tickets: Adults: $9 Children: $4 Family: $22 (2 adults and children under 17)


Central Highlands Lodge7795 Lakes Highway, Miena TAS 7030 Tel: (03) 6259 8179 Email: highlandslodge@bigpond.com.au

Hobart – Bikes, MONA, and a whole heap of Pirates!

Helmets on and we were ready to embark on our epic bike ride!

It is about a 13km ride to MONA, a good chance to work off the tonne of food we had eaten in the market, and well worth the aching legs. The children loved it, we all did. The freedom of being able to hop on a bike is fab, the views, the wind in your hair, it was one of the most wonderful days we have had together. We were able to use a bike track all the way to the museum so it was perfectly safe, and we could stop whenever we needed to. I would definitely recommend hiring bikes, we will be doing again for certain! It’s a great way to see a city!

MONA

The Museum of Old and New Art stands proudly on the waterfront, surrounded by vines feeding the Moorilla Winery. We parked our bikes, gasping for a glass of wine, and made our way to the bar.  The kids spotted the enormous trampoline, with bells on.. (literally)… and bolted! “Maybe later” Tim reassured me with a rub on the shoulder.

When we told people we were heading to MONA with the kids, we had a few funny “really??” looks. Yup, it’s an art museum, and yeah our two are VERY temperamental! Uh huh you’re right, they have a whole wall dedicated to perfectly sculpted, life size “fanny’s” (actually entitled Cunts… and other conversations, but hey… the kids….), but there are also a gazillion (1900 to be exact) other collection pieces that they found just as fascinating as the lady bits. Monty particularly liked the fat car, although missed the point entirely. Poppy adored the bit.fall which was a waterfall that spells out words on the descent. She also missed the point, who cares? I didn’t go into it, as it would have resulted in an iPod/technology discussion that I was in no fit state to begin having not been allowed a glass of wine. She was just fascinated by the mechanics of the piece.

Bitfall.jpeg
“Everyone loves bit.fall. Funnily enough, this annoys the artist, Julius Popp, who has something serious to express—about technology, human perception and the saturation of our brains with information we cannot properly process, or respond to with integrity—and he feels that if people love his work too much, they will miss the message. Irony, much?”

 

As with most activities kids take part in, they went in with completely open minds, and came out with heads full of interesting talking points. Like the one about the museums digestive system that actually poops on time every day, the models made out of video tape (they’d never even seen a video), and the giant head with all sorts of craziness and flashing lights inside! They were taken aback by room after room of incredible “things”. The fact that they had complete control over the device round their necks known as ‘The O’  made it all the more thrilling for them. They got to click on the + or the x to say whether or not they liked the art that was nearest them, they could listen to music and words. Poppy could be heard bellowing “click on the “ArtWank’ button guys” (a cock and balls icon) encouraging us to read all the arty details. What do you think Monty’s favourite word that day was!?? I’m so sorry MONA team, I’m pretty sure the “O” data would have been interesting to say the least after our visit!

The Wilson’s had a fantabulous time, we ambled through everything, we bought a magnet, covered the cafe in croissant crumbs (so sorry) and sipped on ginger beer like we were the Famous Five! It was bloody brilliant. Don’t be shy folks, take your kids to MONA, just don’t mention the C word…

Croissant!!!! You dreadful bunch!!

The way back!

Like with most journey’s the trip back seemed to go a lot faster than the one going. After the fun 13km bike ride back to Hobart, we sadly returned our bikes, and I gleefully skipped to the nearest wine bar! Yay for me! Pearl and Co was the perfect place to sit back, sip wine and soak up some Hobart waterfront views whilst gorging on hot chips.

We ended Day 1 with dinner at The Drunken Admiral Seafarers Restaurant. (Check the gallery).

Walking in we were surrounded by pirate and seafaring memorabilia, it was like a museum. You could barely move for ships wheels, fishing nets, old tin cans and skeletons. It’s a wonderful atmosphere. Luckily, this was definitely not another one of those “themed diners”. The menu was fantastic. When our meal was placed in front of us we were delighted. It was one of the best seafood platters we have had and the children’s fish was proper fish, not that reconstituted stuff!! My Creme Brûlée was insanely good! Great recommendation from the waiter!

I am so glad we booked ahead as the restaurant was full to bursting. It’s obviously got a great reputation, and the stories we were told about how haunted it is, only goes to make this place even more exciting. Well worth a visit, a great evening made even better by the wonderful staff!!

Ah time for bed, a cheeky bar of chocolate under the sheets after the kids have dropped off, and a whole heap of excitement about day two in Tassie….. Although I do feel a little sick after so much gobbling!! When will I learn?


 

Hobart Bike Hire– 1A Brooke Street, Hobart Waterfront, Hobart, TAS, 7000             Tel: 0447 556 189

                             MONA 655 Main Rd, Berriedale TAS 7011 – Tel: +61 3 6277 9900                                  Tickets: Adult: $25 Under 18: Free

Drunken Admiral Seafarers Restaurant17-19 Hunter Street, Old Wharf, Hobart Town, TAS 7000 Tel: (03) 62 341 903