Melbourne Zoo – Speaking for the ones without a voice!

By 9am, the car was loaded up with the kids and a picnic, and Monty had already informed us that he was most looking forward to the Lions eating his big sister. He has a talent for kickstarting a good day! We were heading to the zoo..

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Melbourne Zoo opened in 1862, is the oldest zoo in Australia and the world’s first carbon neutral zoo! I know.. Amazing right!!  It has been on our list of places to visit for a while, and last weekend we finally got there to see it in all its glory! It is a truly magnificent zoo, and the conservation work they’re doing is incredible. It’s a fantastic place for a fun day out, and to learn about a diverse range of animals and their delicate ecosystems.

“Our mission is to be the world’s leading zoo-based conservation organisation” – Melbourne Zoo 

Sometimes when you visit a zoo you get the impression that the animals are bored or unhappy. Not here! The kids agreed that they would quite like to live here as “all the creatures look so happy!!” *their bags are packed…

We had all day to explore so we handed the maps to the small people and let them decide how we were going to get round everything. They love map reading and being in charge so this worked perfectly; one map each and we were off. The zoo is split into different zones, and incredibly easy to navigate. Thank goodness.

We started at the Gorilla Forest which I was pretty pleased about. Seeing the Gorilla sitting there staring back at us, was magical. This huge magnificent creature who was almost as fascinated with us as we were with him.

Next we saw the Seal keeper presentation. Monty was so fascinated by the Wild Sea exhibition and the enormous glass tanks, he did a runner to explore some more. The rest of us had a hairy 10 minutes of thinking he’d gone all Free Willy on us and was letting the penguins out!! Thankfully Mr W had located him by the time the seal was teaching us all about the dangers of balloons for our marine friends.

The day rolled on, more wonderful enclosures, stunning animals, and the weather was beautiful as we zig zagged our way around the zoo.  Our route made it pretty obvious the kids were in charge!

Before lunch we caught the Giraffe Keeper presentation which was fab. Giraffes are so graceful, and at Melbourne Zoo they seem so close. It was wonderful to see these majestic creatures. You can book a Giraffe Close Up when you visit and have a go at feeding them yourself!! I know my two would love this!

We spent about 5 hours winding our way through the animals. We saw every creature there was to see, we climbed the best climbing tree, we played on the grass, we picnicked, and the sun shone for our whole visit. It really was a perfect day out!

Highlights

The Butterfly House – the children were just bowled over that they could hold out their arms the butterflies would land on them. It was so lovely to see their little faces when their arms were full of butterflies!

The Palm Oil Supermarket- After visiting the beautiful Orang-utans we headed into the ‘supermarket,’ to learn about Palm Oil, and the devastating effect it is having on their habitat! We scanned every day items to see if they contained palm oil! This hands on, interactive display taught us so much, and it’s been talked about lots this week!

The Platypus-  This graceful, but cheeky looking creature, swimming around, really entertained us. How awesome are the Platypus?!

The Koalas – Hey, Koalas are always a bonus for us expats! They are so iconic, peacefully snoozing away in the trees. You have to look hard to find them!

The Elephants – We loved the way it felt as if we were in the jungle in Thailand when we visited the Elephants! Amazing animals! Poppy was confused as to why one of them had two trunks! She was mortified when I explained what the trunk at the back really was!

This is not a zoo created for us to stand and stare aimlessly at caged up miserable wildlife. This is a haven for saving species and teaching us all how we can make a difference, so that our children and our children’s children will know the true wonder of wildlife.

 

If we save our wild places, we will ultimately save ourselves – Steve Irwin


Don’t forget about Melbourne Zoo for the school holidays!!!

The What’s On page on the Melbourne Zoo website is full of fantastic activities coming up! *All Trolls fans need to check it out!!


FIGHTING EXTINCTION

Melbourne Zoo are a not-for-profit conservation organisation dedicated to fighting wildlife extinction. They do this through breeding and recovery programs for threatened species and by working with visitors and supporters to reduce threats facing endangered wildlife. You can get involved here!!

Opening Hours – 9am – 5pm every day of the year (Animal areas close from 4:30)

Location – Elliot Ave, Parkville, VIC 3052 Tel1300 966 784

Book Tickets Here!

 

The Pop Up Globe – He believed he could so he did!!!

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Picture courtesy of the Pop Up Globe

Walking up through the Sidney Myer Music Bowl in the darkness of the evening, you can spy a chain of bright lights through the trees. By the time you have found out what they are, you have been completely blown over by the sight of the Pop Up Globe standing high on the hill like a beautiful fair maiden from old London! I think I may have even gasped!

The venue is a feat of engineering, all coming together after a pop up story at bedtime and an inquisitive child in New Zealand asking daddy how they could visit the Globe Theatre themselves. Imagine your father making THAT happen!!! Hats off to the insanely brave and awesome Miles Gregory, who believed he could, so he did!

Last week we went to a performance of As You Like It, and boy did we like it! Walking into the Pop Up Globe sends a shiver down the spine of even the most hardy of men. A replica Jacobean Theatre built with mostly scaffolding in the middle of Melbourne, and you are almost thrown into 1614, and looking for a wench to serve you some mead.

We were seated in amongst the scaffolding, on a rather comfy cushion, directly in front of the stage. As soon as the music began I was right there, hanging on every word.

The actors made the story come alive, made it real; they made us laugh… properly laugh.  They took us right back to Shakespearean times, with some clever modern adaptions for everyone to enjoy. The sword fights, the love trysts, the dancing and the music, all performed in THE space it was made for.

With a talented cast of all male, all rounders, it was a night to remember. Michael Mahony as Touchstone was faultless, as was the rest of the cast. Having spent most of my English Lit classes being miserably confused, I am really excited that we have this wonderful theatre to take us right back, and engage us in the way Shakespeare wanted.

The Pop Up Globe is in Melbourne now until the 12th November.

‘I like this place and willingly could waste my time in it’ – As You Like It – Shakespeare

 

 

 

We already knew he was a-MAZE-ing…..!!!

Father’s day was a great excuse for us to celebrate what an awesome father my children have. No matter how fast life seems to fly, he is always the steady, calm, centre of our family. No matter what we face, he’s always able to approach everything clearly and sensibly. He is exactly what this family needs, as the rest of us are completely irrational and fly off the handle with absolutely no notice whatsoever.

Like a lot of dads, Mr W is at work most of the time. This means he doesn’t get the chance to feel completely drained by little people’s moaning, or absolutely broken from yet another tale being told. He doesn’t feel the pain of packed lunch making, or school uniform washing, or tantrums at bath time, or whinging about the walk home from school, or the distraught screams when I suggest we eat dinner before having ice cream…. This doesn’t make him any less of a father! It means his time is concentrated in to smaller, more magical and meaningful moments.

Sometimes I could scream as I imagine him, pottering around the office, hanging out at the water cooler, not a care in the world, whilst I’m wrestling iPads out of the clutches of two disgustingly grubby kids, whilst trying to force feed them some dense green vegetables. Why does he have to work so much????

However, I know Mr W is like a lot of parents out there;  working long hours, in stressful jobs, longing to be at home for bedtime story reading; desperate to be at the assembly to see the kids get an award; but good old Noreen has called yet another meeting….

The rat race gets in the way of life and gets in the way of parenting, but ultimately it gets in the way of Tim having those quality moments just as the children drop off to sleep, or as they run out of the school gates proudly clutching their latest masterpiece.

So this Father’s Day I made sure we spoilt him, and I also made sure the kids got the most out of some special Father time. We drove down to the Mornington Peninsula in the pouring rain with Tim blindfolded (the children insisted) and feeling queazy! We visited Boneo Maze and Mini Golf, where Tim played his Super Dad role perfectly.

He spent over an hour playing Mini Golf with the kids in the rain, Poppy scoring very diligently, and loving every minute.  He played tricks on the children, pretending to trip up and miss the ball. He made them belly laugh. He ran around the maze at full speed trying desperately to lose them, which they found hysterical. They played hide and seek, tiggy, and changed the rules of hoopla so we threw the rings over our arms, legs and heads. He picked them up and spun them around; as they flew you could see the adoration in their eyes. He followed them round on the carousel, watching them every second. We ran through the huge gardens, in amongst the blossom trees. Tim pointed out beautiful birds whilst the children sat attentively next to him in the bird hide taking it all in. They searched for their own special find to impress him.

We spent hours totally enjoying our surroundings, and embracing just being with him, holding his hand, catching him. I noticed Monty holding onto Tim’s leg as they walked the boardwalk, which verified just how wonderful it is to be a father, no matter what work makes you miss out on… We are so lucky to have him, and I adore how absolutely they burst with love for him.

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I’m solo parenting far, far from home this week, and I’m not cross that he’s away again! I’m happy that no matter how often he goes away, or how exhausted he is when he comes home; to us he is utterly wonderful, and we’re going to make the most of him when he’s home because he really is the best dad ever!!

Hope you all had a lovely Father’s Day too!

Olivia 

 

Boneo Maze is located on Victoria’s stunning Mornington Peninsula. The 27 acre wetlands are a beautiful showcase of the Mornington Peninsula’s indigenous flora and fauna, including many species of frogs and water birds.  Their passion for connecting people with nature inspires them to ever evolve in their connection to this beautiful natural environment. 


All the details so you can take your family to Boneo Maze

 

September School Holidays at Boneo Maze- If you are wondering what to do with the kids this school holidays, look no further!

Spring School Holidays mean Boneo Maze’s Adventure Zone is Back!  *Bungee Tramps, *Quad Tramps, *Pedal Boats and our *Rock Climbing Wall are all out of hibernation and are ready to test your skills. Spring into Spring with these high energy activities. Lots of arts and crafts, scavenger hunts, mazes, mini golf, jumping castle and carousel rides to keep the family entertained for hours.

*$5 per ride or *$15 for a 2 hour unlimited rides wristband


Other Dates for your diary…. 

Grand Final Weekend – Take advantage of the long weekend and head down to Boneo maze.  Enjoy Footy themed crafts, Scavenger Hunts, Mini Golf, Mazes, jumping castle, vintage carousel and our Adventure Zone.

Halloween – Booo ha ha…  celebrate Halloween early on October 29th with Boneo Mazes’ spooky themed activities. Balloon artists, face painters, kids crafts and costume competitions are all part of the fun. Make your own spooky mask, bob for apples and enjoy our spooky themed scavenger hunt!  Lots of prizes and fun to be had by every one!  Don’t forget the Adventure Zone is back open on weekends, Public holidays and School holidays! Rides start from just $5!!!

Melbourne Cup Day/Weekend – Boneo Maze will be getting into the racing spirit with lots of arts and crafts for the kids.  They can design their own jockey jumpers, take part in colouring competitions, giveaways and prizes, scavenger hunts and all the awesome activities always on offer at Boneo Maze. Don’t forget about the Bungee Tramps, Rock Climbing wall, Pedal boats on the lake, mini golf, mazes and giant games garden activities too.  Bring a picnic or be tempted by the freshly made meals in the licensed lakeside café.


 

Opening hours-10am – 5pm, 7 days a week (General Entry Prices: Includes mazes, mini golf, wetlands and boardwalk, jumping castle and giant games garden.)

Location: 695 Limestone Road Fingal Phone: 03 5988 6385

Cost: Family $60 (2 x adults, 2 x kids) Adults $18 Seniors $16 Children $15 (3 – 17yo) Kids under 3 are free

Add Adventure Prices: (Includes bungee tramps, pedal boats, rock climbing wall and quad tramps)

*$5 per ride or *$15 for a 2 hour unlimited rides wristband

 Book your tickets now 

Life is short, buy the beach house!!

The longer we’re here in Australia and the more I speak to expats, the more I come to realise that we’re all caught up in the same constant whirlwind of mixed emotions. We’ve all moved away from home for whatever reasons, be it work, escaping the dreaded commute into central London, or just for the sense of adventure. We’re all having a beautiful time,  making the most of the wonderful things expat life delivers, however, we’re also all fighting the same inner demons. Pushing the incessant state of confusion to the back of our minds, only for it to rear it’s ugly head as soon as we shut our eyes at bedtime. Or is that just me?

I think being an expat in Australia holds far more questions and unknowns than expat life in other countries. We’re not here for a ‘project’, or a set amount of time, before being moved on again. So many people come to Australia as expats, quickly decide to stay here forever and become citizens; it’s almost expected. People are taken a back to hear that’s not part of your plan. ‘What? You want to give this up? What about the kids?!! Another upheaval?..But the UK is shit!!”  (Yes, we get that a lot!) This only goes to add to the confusion.

So the questions dance around my head, like a drunken couple on a wedding night dance floor:

  • “Have we done the right thing?” “
  • “Should we stay for good?”
  • “What if they don’t let us stay?”
  • “Is the education system better at home?”
  • “Have we made a mistake doing this at all?”
  • “Do I want to make friends, only to leave them behind?”
  • “I miss my friends and need to be closer to them.”
  • “I know I’d be happier all round at home”
  • “Who am I here for?”
  • “I can’t imagine moving home now, it just wouldn’t be the same.”
  • “I love our life here, I wouldn’t have it any other way”
  • “Oh the children need to be closer to their grandparents, we need to get home.”
  • “Life is easier at home”
  • “Oh I love the lifestyle here”
  • “The kids are so happy and settled”

It goes on and on and on. It’s as if you hopped off the plane and a “SHIT!!!!” button was pressed. Ta Dah, here is the ‘Expat Mum’ feeling!!  The feeling that you have done the wrong thing for your kids, your career… your marriage!!!!   However, in reality you’ve made an awesome choice and everyone is happy as Larry; so why won’t these feelings go away?!

Is it just me?

I’m pretty sure in my house no one else is giving expat life a second thought! Maybe it’s mum guilt on steroids? Maybe it’s a sense of longing for all the things I never appreciated, that I now don’t have the opportunity to embrace.  I’m well aware that it’s the ‘grass is always greener’ feeling. Some days, I desperately want to head home; yet at the same time I really don’t want to go!

I am slowly coming to realise this confusion I feel is all part and parcel of living so far away from so many people I love. That’s the only thing keeping me here on the edge of my seat, and it’s something all us expats need to keep pushing against! It can be all consuming at times.

Time to embrace it!!

I’ve realised that whether you’ve been a lifelong expat or have only been abroad for just a few years, you will have these nagging thoughts at times. It’s part of this rich life we have chosen. Ijeoma Umebinyuo’s saying ‘Too foreign for home, too foreign for here, never enough for both’ seems to ring true with me more and more these days.

I guess what I want to say to anyone reading this is, don’t push people away because you’re not sure how long you’ll be here, don’t miss out on doing that course because you may not need that qualification if you go home. Don’t live your life waiting for something else to happen, or for another move to take you away. Live your expat life as if you’re there for good. Build those friendships, make those commitments, buy that car, get a pet, choose that high school, because at the end of the day, no matter where you are, you don’t want to be missing out on the magic of living life to the full!

Baloo the Bear

Olivia xx

 

Our Whistle-Stop Review of Hong Kong Disneyland!!

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Hong Kong Disneyland sometimes gets a bit of a hard time from your avid Disney fans. If you have been to the States and visited Disneyland or Walt Disney World, then yes, you will be shocked to discover this somewhat small, quaint Disney Park. In my opinion this park is ideal for smaller kids, for first timers, and for those who aren’t too fussed about the epic thrill rides.

 

The Hong Kong Disney experience is just as magical; the kids adored seeing their favourite characters in the streets, and the shows, they loved the Iron-Man shaped waffles, and adored the rides. They had a true ‘Disney Experience’, and left the park after 7 hours with a whole heap of sweat dripping down their backs and oodles of Mickey Magic in their hearts.

The day we visited it was nearly 38 degrees and very humid, so I had made sure our bag was full of water, umbrellas and suncream. There is very little shade in the park, and I would highly recommend a fan of some description to keep you cool whilst queuing. Yes, the dreaded queues are the same as any other park. You can opt to get a fast pass at a few of the rides, which would save you a good deal of time in line. We did this at the Iron Man Experience and went straight in. It was fab! We were very sweaty by the time we got to ride 3 and the air con was a treat!

Hong Kong Disneyland is so much busier than it was when we last visited 7 years ago. Although it was a regular Monday in Hong Kong, the queues were longer, the crowds were bigger, and it took far longer to get lunch. This may have been as it was a public holiday in mainland China, or because the park is much more popular.

The set up in the park is just like the other Disney parks. The castle overlooks Main Street which is full of shops and restaurants. This is the perfect place for grabbing some food, and for purchasing all your Mickey Mouse souvenirs on the way out.

Hong Kong Disneyland is laid out in 6 different ‘Lands’.  Tomorrowland, Fantasyland, Adventureland, Grizzly Gulch, Mystic Point and Toy Story Land. Each one very different, with lots of fun attractions for everyone and it’s well worth trying to get through all of them. Monty (5) didn’t miss out on anything he wanted to do, and was thrilled that he was the right height for everything! There are so many great rides, our favourites included “It’s a Small World” the ‘Jungle River Cruise’, the Buzz Lightyear ride, and the Iron Man Experience!

The Wilson’s top ride!

The Iron Man Experience is a fairly new ride at the park. It’s a thrill ride, that takes you flying above and through the streets of Hong Kong, trying to save the city from attack. It’s incredible. One of the greatest rides we have been on. We would highly recommend it for all super hero fans.

Don’t miss out on a show!

Wondrous book

We stopped at the Storybook Theatre to see Mickey and the Wondrous Book, which was a mind blowing 28 minute stage show bringing the Disney classics to life. Although the characters were speaking Chinese, the children didn’t mind at all. I whispered the subtitles, and we all sang along to the famous songs. Disney really know’s how to put on a show.

Grab your spot for the parade!

The Parades are always a must see. We made sure we had a good spot for the 4pm parade, within reach of the shops aircon, right on the pavement, in the thick of it. The parade throws the park into a magical frenzy as everyone is waving and hollering at their favourite characters. The children’s faces were a picture. It is real life Magic!

The Wilson’s Top Tips for Hong Kong Disney

  • Get there early!! Before it even opens!
  • The train on the Disneyland Resort line from Sunny Bay Station is Disney Themed and worth a ride.
  • Plan your day, your breaks, and use the loo when you see it!!
  • Find out when and where you can see your favourite characters! It’s such a shame to miss them!
  • Download the app to check on wait times, browse maps and see schedules.
  • Leave your selfie stick at home. They aren’t allowed to be used in the park.
  • Check out the fast passes, and make use of them to avoid wait times. (Hyper Space Mountain, Iron Man Experience, and Winnie the Pooh!)
  • Get a good spot outside a shop door for the parade. You will feel the breeze of the air con every now and again.
  • Eat lunch early to avoid the rush at lunchtime. Have a big brekkie, as the food is super pricey!
  • You have the option to purchase a second day ticket when you book. If you have the time & energy, this would be good with kids, as it takes the pressure off.
  • Take lots of drinks, fans, suncream and cash.
  • Wave with all your might at the parade and you may get picked to join in!!
  • Hire a stroller, even if your little one loves walking. It can be tiring especially in the heat.
  • ‘It’s a Small World’ is by far the best ride for cooling down!!
  • Pick up a guide map, they are super handy, and the kids can show you where to go.
  • The park gets busiest after 3pm, so try and hit the rides you want before then.

All the details

Book tickets here!

 Standard Park Tickets- Choose from 1-day or 2-day tickets.

Starting from: HK$589 (Don’t forget you get in Faster with your eTicket)

Special Tour booking is here!

You can check out all the rides here.

If you need more information to help you plan your journey to Hong Kong Disneyland click here!

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Not sure they were ready to go home!! 

 

Ngong Ping 360 – Hong Kong

We visited Hong Kong for 5 days last month! We didn’t have a lot of time, but we knew whatever we did, it had to involve a trip to Lantau to have a go on the cable car! We were thrilled we did as this is by far one of the most wonderful tourist attractions in the world!!

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Ngong Ping Cable Car is a spectacular 5.7km bi-cable ropeway. It’s the first of it’s kind in Hong Kong, and well worth the easy trip across town to it’s very own train station.

We hardly had to queue with our fast pass (thank goodness as it was so hot), boarded the Crystal Carriage at Tung Chung, and crossed Tung Chung Bay, looking through the glass floor, down toward the water. (This sounds far more scary than it was.) The ride is serene. Gliding up toward North Lantau is spectacular. We had a beautiful clear, hot day, and the views were incredible. This has to be the best view available to tourists in Hong Kong. The 25 minute ride seemed to fly by, (excuse the pun). It was so special to be together in the cabin looking out over the vast South China Sea and the incredible North Lantau Country Park; a far cry from the bustling streets of Hong Kong in the distance. The journey also offers a breathtaking 360-degree view of Ngong Ping Plateau, the international airport, mountainous Lantau Island, and the beautiful Tian Tan Buddha. Before we knew it we had arrived at the top, and were hopping off into the heat of the village and straight to the freezer for ice creams.

 

Ngong Ping Village

Walking out of the cable car terminal and into the village you feel serenity straight away. The village is set on stunning Lantau Island, and within easy walking distance of  the Cable Car Terminal, Hong Kong Big Buddha and Po Lin Monastery. The sun was beating down, I was so glad I had smothered everyone in suncream, and had an umbrella in my bag. The ice creams gave the children a little more energy to get through the village to the attractions so off we went.

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“This amazing culturally themed village that connects to Ngong Ping Plaza has been designed and landscaped to reflect the cultural and spiritual integrity of the Ngong Ping area.”

There is plenty to do up here, we spent four hours making the most of what’s on offer. There are plenty of great places to eat and drink, there’s even a Starbucks up there for all you fans. If shopping is your thing, you wont be disappointed. Everyone is catered for, from kids toys, to souvenirs, to camping equipment to very ornate (pricey) chopsticks. Take your wallet!!

 THE BIG BUDDHA

Catching the first glimpse of the Big Buddha from the cable car,  sitting majestically next to the Po Lin Monastery on top of Mount Muk Yue was staggering. It’s 34m tall and absolutely can not to be missed. This trip had to be done before it got any hotter so we headed there first! We got to the bottom of the 268 step staircase, it was 38 degrees and really humid, the children were already sweating and groaning, but there was no way we weren’t climbing. Boy we were glad we did. (Even Mr W, who had to carry the children the last few steps!)

‘The imparting fearlessness of the right hand indicates the compassion to save all sentient beings from their sufferings; the ‘fulfilling wishes’ mudra of the left hand, resting on the lap, implies the vow to grant blessing and happiness to all.’

Once at the top, you are not only in amongst hundreds of important Buddhist relics, you are surrounded by the most wonderful, endless views of Lantau and the South China Sea. It really is like no where else on earth! Nothing could possibly beat this view!

Motion 360 – Little Ants Adventure

Once we’d made our way slowly to the bottom of the staircase, sipped a beer in the shade whilst the kids finished their second ice cream of the day, we hot footed it to the air conditioned cinema and watched Little Ants Adventure; a 5D movie about two little ants Xiaoding and Taotao, who are learning to fly. If you get motion sick, this may not be for you, however it is fantastic and would be a shame to miss out. The movement of the chairs, the wind in your hair, water being sprayed in your direction, it feels like you’re really flying through the trees with the little bugs, and the children were hooked! 5D really is terrific!

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(You have the choice of seeing Discover Lantau instead if you aren’t with the kids. This 5D film takes you flying over the Big Buddha, underwater swimming with Chinese dolphins and on a magical spaceship adventure.)

Stage 360  – Secrets of the movies revealed

We knew both children would love this show, and we were right. As soon as we saw the costumes on display, the children started ninja kicking each other in the queue! Luckily, the showtimes were incredibly prompt so there wasn’t quite enough time for injuries. The show delivered everything it promised! Real stunts, sword fights and special effects secrets. There were ninjas, fire, awesome flying stunts, and some pretty cool sound effects made by our own stunt woman Poppy! Yes, she got up on stage and had a go at creating the sword fight sound effects! A great show for all the family, in Chinese and English. The theatre is like everywhere in Hong Kong, spotlessly clean, and nice and chilly.

Walking with Buddha

 Another exhibition which we experienced was ‘Walking With Buddha’. The air conditioned theatre was enough of a draw to get us in. The story is told of Siddhartha Gautama, who became Buddha, and his path to enlightenment. Sounds heavy, but it’s a very child friendly cartoon which we all enjoyed. You can read about it here: Walking with Buddha- Experience the Path to Enlightenment

 

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We finished the day with the fantastic drumming performance, a beautiful bowl of noodles and dumplings, and headed home for a cold, cold shower!! Ngong Ping is a must visit for all visitors to Hong Kong!!!

Olivia xx


We visited on the 360 Fun Pass (Book Now)

The Wilson’s would highly recommend this pass for families visiting Ngong Ping. It includes:  Round Trip Cable Car, Motion 360, Stage 360 & Walking With Buddha
 
STANDARD CABIN ROUND TRIP
ADULT $255 ($290 from 1/9/2017 #)
CHILD*$170 ($180 from 1/9/2017 #)(3-11)
SENIOR▲ (65+) $200 ($220 from1/9/2017 #)
CRYSTAL CABIN ROUND TRIP
ADULT $325 ($370 from 1/9/2017 #)
CHILD $245 ($260 from 1/9/2017 #)
SENIOR $275 ($300 from 1/9/2017 #)

# Price is applicable for travel date from 1 September 2017.

Prices are shown in Hong Kong dollars (HK$). Infants aged between 0-2 years inclusive are free of charge.

* Child must be accompanied by an adult aged of 15 or above. Ticket holders may be requested to present proof of age.

▲Senior fare is only applicable to Hong Kong residents aged 65 or above. Ticket holders must present their Hong Kong ID card or Hong Kong Senior Citizen Card as proof of age.

Click here for all the details on how to get to the cable car!!!
The Ngong Ping Website is a great place to start planning your trip!

Wallace & Gromit and Friends – ACMI

We had a pretty crazy weekend last week, full of kids birthday parties, blue lollies, fizzy drinks, popping candy (I know!!!!) and, shock horror a few disastrous tantrums..*Need to convince my folks to move to Australia and take over!!

We did however manage to have a few serene and pretty special hours in ACMI visiting the Wallace & Gromit and Friends exhibition. 

We’ve been meaning to get right into this for a while now, but just haven’t had the chance! I am so thrilled we haven’t missed out. With more than 350 objects on show from sketches, to clay models, to the actual sets from some of the movies, it really is an incredible view behind the scenes of all things Aardman. It is breathtaking to see just how much work, and detail goes in to making these intricate models which become such beloved characters when animated. To see them close up is marvellous. I could see the children were fascinated from the moment we walked in.

In amongst the jaw dropping 50 sets, stands the 5 metre tall ship from The Pirates! Band of Misfits. You really have to see it to believe it! The children loved the Shaun the Sheep sets, and loved seeing “Fowlers” hut from the movie ‘Chicken Run’. Every little detail has been thought about, which is astounding. The wallpaper in Wallace’s house, the clothes on Mrs Tottington, the bra hanging from the pirate ship’s washing line!!  This is every kids dream, and enthralling for any older animation fans too!

Mr W was walking round with his mouth wide open…. Not a pretty sight, but at least he was enjoying himself. In fact, I think he may now be a super fan, especially as he has revealed he is related to the VERY FAMOUS, SUPER TALENTED Peter Lord!! *Oh now you tell me!!

 

Once we’d finished watching clips, checking out the sets and the little characters inside, and looking at the many sketches, we headed in to the studio to make our own animation! Our kids love this!! They both took their time and carefully made “Splodges,” and the animation they produced, by themselves, was immense!!  Tip: Make sure you receive your emailed movie before you leave the table! It’s such a shame to get home and find out it hasn’t sent! *Bad mother award…. 

This exhibition makes me feel proud (and warm and fuzzy) to be British! The incredible work straight out of Bristol which has entertained kids and adults alike for 40 years, is here in ‘Marvellous Melbourne’, so get on it!!!

Location: ACMI, Fed Square Running until Oct. 29 Daily: 10am-5pm Tickets: $19 to $24 


What else is on??

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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.

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.

Location: ACMI, Federation Square, Flinders St, Melbourne
Date: First Sunday of every month
Cost: FREE
Webacmi.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!

7 Alternative Father’s Day activities Dad will actually love!

Ok, so it’s Father’s Day AGAIN, (do they get it twice a year?) and I want to help you choose something a little different, that Dad will actually thank you for!!  No crap mugs, no car washing kits, and fun for everyone, especially the main man!

Melbourne has so much to offer this weekend, it was truly hard to choose the 6 favourites… here goes…


Four Pillars Gin Distillery

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Dad will jump for joy when he takes his blindfold off as you’re driving into the carpark of Four Pillars! In fact, Mum probably will too! Send him on a tour of the distillery, let him have a few little tasters, then Mum can chauffeur him home like the king that he is!  (Make sure you call ahead as they need to know who’s coming…)

Spiffing Gift Idea

Location: 2a Lilydale Road, Healesville VIC 3777 Australia Tel: 03 5962 2791

Opening hours this Sunday: 10.30am – 5.30pm


Boneo Maze

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Make your booking and allow Dad to let his hair down in amongst all the Father’s Day fun. There will be a BBQ, beer and plenty of fun and games including mini golf! Come on.. Who doesn’t love mini golf…? A great chance for dad to spend some quality time with the gang, whilst mum enjoys the newly licensed café! Believe me the cafe is magic!! *You can thank me later….

Even Tiger Woods would be happy with this gift idea!!

Location: 695 Limestone Road Fingal Tel: 03 5988 6385 Opening Hours: 10-5pm


bad shepherd‘Bad Shepherd is all about tempting you with fine craft beer and complementing that with a menu heaving with smoked meat delicacies and good ol’ fashioned comfort food’ . Let us lead you into temptation.

Bad Shepherd Brewing Company –  Ok, so ‘ewe’ve missed out on booking dad in here for Father’s Day because they’ve had people ‘flocking’ to get booked in… but, if you booked up for another day it would be a pretty rad present for dad to wake up to!! Not only can he enjoy plenty of delectable beers, the menu looks scrumptious too.  You could even get a gift voucher and let dad decide! Take away beers & merchandise are popular choices!

Click for a ‘Flocking’ good gift idea!! (ok, ok I’ll stop)

Location: 386 Reserve Road, Cheltenham, VIC Tel: 03 85553175

Email: info@badshepherd.com.au Opening Hours: 12-9pm


YMCA Fathers Day Fun Run

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It’s a little known fact that in 1910, the YMCA invented Father’s Day to recognise the important role they play in our society. So it makes sense to pull dad out of bed and stick his singlet over his head!

What a suprise for ‘Super Dad’! You can walk or run or skip or hop the 5km or the 10km course around the Tan, and you get to raise funds for a fab charity at the same time! When you’re done, drag Dad to Alexandra Gardens to play games and enjoy the bubble soccer, YMCA kids programs, petting zoos, skateboarding, live music and more!

Hahah if we booked this for Mr.W he would choke on his DAD Toblerone; however….

Register Here! (The 10km starts at 8am and the 5km at 9:30am Happy Father’s Day!! )

Get one of these racey gifts before they “run” out!!! 


ACMI 

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When I saw the line – ‘Craft your own comic book or graphic novel at the comic creation corner, and play a range of narrative based video games in our Games Lab’ I knew this would be a winner for Father’s Day! ACMI have gone and done it again, they’ve organised yet another awesome Free Family Sunday!! Click the link to see what else is on offer!

A Film-tastic Gift Idea


Father’s Day Car & Bike Show

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If Dad’s a bit of a petrol head then this will be the treat for him! Take a drive to St Kilda for the Greatest Show on Wheels at the 4th Car and Bike Show on Father’s Day 2017.

It’s a free public event featuring bands, a kids’ clown show, Luna Park Markets and plenty of food to fill dad’s tum along Acland St.

Gift for your wanna be Mark Webber right here!! 

Time: 10am – 5pm Location: Acland St Village, St Kilda (next to Luna Park) Cost: Free, no need to book!!!


Holey Moley 

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Look, I know Father’s day should be all about the kids, but hey, we all need a break sometimes!! Organise a babysitter and take the father of your babies to Holey Moley for a night to remember!  27 holes of insane indoor mini golf, with a huge bar, serving up some of the yummiest cocktails in town! I took Mr. W and he loved it! (More because I was terrible and he thrashed me but hey!)

Location: 590 Little Bourke ST, Melbourne, 3000 Opening times: Mon-Fri 12pm till late Sat-Sun 10am- late Cost: $16.50pp for 9 holes

A ‘Hidden Bar Tour’ could have the winner gift for Dad this Father’s Day!! 


 

Whatever you decide to do, have an awesome time!!!

 

‘Dad – A son’s first hero and a daughters first love’

Olivia xx 

Just tell him “I’ve Gotcha4life”

When you up sticks and move to the other side of the world, you look at all the wonderful things you and your family are about to experience. You look at the kid friendly spaces, the education system, the museums, the food, the commute, the holidays… The list goes on. What you don’t do, (and for good reason perhaps) is look at the negatives, like the crime rates, or the statistics when it comes to mental health.

When we moved to Australia, we were well aware that we had done very little ‘proper’ investigation into where we were going. We had toured the Sydney Opera House using Google Earth and found the Opera Bar, but apart from that we were running blind. Some may say we’re mad, but that’s just the way we did it.

Now in our third year of life down under, we have just about got into the swing of things. The driving still gets me, (the undertaking (Grrrr)), but we’re pretty much used to everything that Australia throws at us and we adore it! We feel very privileged to be here. There is however something that sits uncomfortably at the back of my mind.

It’s no secret that my daughter has struggled with anxiety, and that it got a whole lot worse before it got a whole lot better.  I thought it was maybe because we took a while to access the right help, or maybe it was just not really something people are used to dealing with here. I remember being heartbroken when I overheard her being told not to be a “baby”; and we wonder why kids try and hide it… At one stage I felt so out of my depth, I was sure that anxiety and depression just weren’t very common here. I was wrong. It’s very common here, but rarely talked about. I’ve since learned it’s worse when it comes to men and boys! Why? Why are males not getting the help they need? I investigated. The more I searched, the more I heard about suicide in children; young males (yes boys too) in particular.

An article from the Huffington Post last year, and the terrifying thing is, it’s got worse. 

I was horrified when I read article after article about male suicide in Australia. Every three hours someone takes their own life in ‘The Lucky Country’. Thousands of young, healthy males are ending their lives, because they feel like they have no other option.

More than 3,000 Australians took their lives last year; and 76% were men.

I have a son, who is growing up in a country where male depression and suicide is almost brushed under the carpet and not being talked about even nearly enough. Suicide is the number one way for young Aussie guys to die and no one was really talking about it, until now.

“Mateship is great, and I love my mates, but certain topics are off limits. They’re either too embarrassing or the bloke has learned through his interaction with the older blokes in his life, to be stoic and keep his problems to himself, suck it up and get on with it. Unfortunately we can only “get on with it” for so long before something breaks.” – Gus Worland

Thank the lord for Gus Worland!! This legend; together with a few more awesome humans including Hugh Jackman, has set up the charity Gotcha4life; a charity we all need to get behind and learn some lessons from. Gotcha4Life not only funds training for Lifeline Crisis Support, they strive to improve mens mental health by driving the message home to people in all sorts of ways. Most importantly, Gotcha4life go in to schools and talk face to face with boys about what it is to be a man in Australia today. ‘This program drives acceptance and understanding of the challenges facing males of all ages’. As a mum, this in particular pleases me no end!!! This charity is here to help put an end to our boys becoming yet another statistic.

So whether you’re an expat in Australia, or a true blue Aussie, man or a woman, it’s more important than ever before to get on board. Speak to your boys, listen to your boys, man or m’aam hug your mates, and we can all help turn the statistics on their heads. There really is no harm in telling your friends or your kids “I Gotcha 4 Life”.

Olivia xx

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 Click to get involved

Date for your diary: National Man Hug Day on the 16th March 2018.

You can read about each and every one of the five pillars of Gotcha4life here

 

 

G4L

‘Raising Men’s Mental Health – with the goal of saving lives and making a significant impact in raising the mental state of boys, men and their families’ 


If you or anyone you know needs help or support contact: 

Lifeline on 131114

Beyond Blue on 1300224636.

Carers Australia on 1800 242 636 (Short-term counselling and emotional and psychological support services for carers and their families in each state and territory.)

Headspace  on 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 on 1800 55 1800 (A free, private and confidential, telephone and online counselling service specifically for young people aged between 5 and 25.)

MensLine Australia on  1300 78 99 78 (A telephone and online support, information and referral service, helping men to deal with relationship problems in a practical and effective way.)

MindSpot Clinic on 1800 61 44 34 (An online and telephone clinic providing free assessment and treatment services for Australian adults with anxiety or depression.)

QLife on 1800 184 527 3pm-12am (QLife is Australia’s first nationally-oriented counselling and referral service for LGBTI people. The project provides nation-wide, early intervention, peer supported telephone and web based services to diverse people of all ages experiencing poor mental health, psychological distress, social isolation, discrimination, experiences of being misgendered and/or other social determinants that impact on their health and wellbeing.)

Relationships Australia on 1300 364 277 (A provider of relationship support services for individuals, families and communities.)

Support after Suicide

Information, resources, counselling and group support to those bereaved by suicide. Education and professional development to health, welfare and education professionals.

Support groups and online forums

Talking about what’s going on with others who understand – or may be going through something similar – can really make a difference.  Black Dog Institute have a list of support groups in every state and territory that can help you connect with groups of people who meet regularly to discuss their experiences, their problems and their strategies for coping.

The beyondblue online forums are also a great way to connect with people online, in a safe and anonymous environment, to discuss anxiety, depression, suicide and a range of life issues. Anyone in Australia can participate in discussions, connect with others and share their experiences with our community.

6 Awesome, Alternative family adventures you may not have considered!!

Have you grown tired of the same old beach holiday?

Rest assured, there are plenty of destinations worldwide that are unexpectedly perfect for a different kind of family adventure. Here are six suggestions that may spur you on to pack the cases and get away.

 

A tropical getaway in Bali

 

It may not seem like the kind of destination you’d consider for a family holiday, being renowned for the gap year students that flock in their masses to the island in the summer. But Bali has so much more to offer than tropical beaches and a warm climate – take the Treetop Adventure Park, for example, where you and the little ones can run loose and climb trees, ride zip lines and swing on ropes. As an insider tip, remember to wear comfortable clothes and sturdy shoes.

Of course, Kuta is the hotspot of the island and it’s where you’ll likely find the most activity. Everything from malls to bars and restaurants can be found here in Bali’s most popular beach town. If you’re wanting a mix of excitement as well as a laid back atmosphere, it’s the place to go. 

Exploring Thailand’s beaches

 

Again, Thailand is not the first destination on many families’ lists due to its immense popularity with young, solo travellers. But don’t be deceived – there are plenty of spots to be discovered within the Asian paradise that you’d be silly to miss out on. The beaches are some of the best in the world, and the kids will never forget the time they rode an elephant in one of the many Thai retreats available.

There’s so much to do beyond the surface in Thailand, too – take Ayutthaya, for example. Once the biggest town in the entire world, a Burmese invasion in the 18th century left it burnt to the ground. Now, the site is a collection of still-majestic ruins and buildings left for the kids to explore to their heart’s content.

 

A laid back escape to Ibiza

 

Ibiza isn’t just a destination for the rowdy party animals looking for a summer getaway. Stray away from the strip to discover a beautiful island with a strikingly calm atmosphere compared to what you may be expecting. Delectable restaurants line the sun-tinged shores, where turquoise waters lap at white sands.

It’s a perfect destination for those who want a quieter kind of beach holiday. Where places such as Spain and Portugal have become hugely popular with families, Ibiza largely remains a hidden treasure. Consider staying in a traditional farmhouse for an authentic and laid back stay on the blissful island – after all, this family called it “stylish but relaxed.”

 

Traversing the land of Patagonia

 

For a true sense of adventure, Patagonia is the hotspot. Massive mountain ranges and gorgeous wildlife aren’t the only reasons to come here, but they’re good enough – it’s here that you’ll find the Andes, the largest continental mountain range in the world. The challenge of climbing a mountain may just be one your kids embrace, and it would certainly make for a cool story when they’re home.

Three quarters of Patagonia lies in Argentina, so feel free to stray into the country and explore all it has to offer. Chile is on the other side, with Calama perhaps being the closest city to the mountains. Tourists rarely come here, meaning you’ll be free to explore an authentically Chilean destination that boasts the largest open-pit mine in the world.

A Disney-filled trip to Hong Kong

 

Although Hong Kong itself is a gorgeous and exciting region, laying at the very southeastern tip of China, there’s going to be one thing that stands out to the kids – Disneyland. The resort is hugely popular with visitors all over the world, offering some of the most well-known attractions such as It’s A Small World.

Head away from the park after a magical day to explore the vibrancy of the inner city. Find some of the best street food in between the marvellous skyscrapers that tower into the clouds, and if you want that Instagram-worthy shot of your trip, you’ll get it at Victoria Peak. It rises nearly 2,000 feet above sea level, giving you a panoramic view as far as the mountains of Kowloon.

 

Seeing the bright lights of Las Vegas

 

You may be understandably baffled when someone suggests Las Vegas for a family holiday. The gambling capital of the world may seem like the complete antithesis of an ideal getaway with the kids, but look beyond the casinos and big spending and you’ll find unique attractions and sights that deliver endless fun.

A simple walk down the dazzling four-mile long strip is enough for some, but it’s when you explore the many hotels that you discover Las Vegas’ true potential. Consider the Venetian, where you’ll be able to sail through an artificial Venice in a gondola – check out some great photos of what to expect. And make sure you catch the Bellagio’s water show that takes place every evening. It’s a breathtaking spectacle that has become the unofficial main event in the city.