In 2018 fun legends, ReedPOP introduced Sydney to their most marvellous creation yet, Play World Australia. It was an event so large, so incredible, and oh so epic that the brand new, upcoming (even more amazing) event is going to blow you and your little ones away!
Presented by Nintendo, this 2 day event in Sydney, creates the most unique atmosphere for our littlest generation and allows them to play in a dynamic, fun and educational environment that is bound to get everyone excited!
Play World will light up Sydney’s ICC this October school holidays where, kids aged 4 to 12, can let their creativity and imagination run free. This is your chance to play with the latest games from Nintendo, go on a musical adventure with The Beanies, laugh until your belly hurts with The Listies, take part in drumming workshops and explore the world where kids’ imagination is the only limit.
With so much to explore from the minute you walk in, this high energy atmosphere entices you to the interactive and colourful exhibits inviting kids to laugh, play and dance all weekend long. Play World Australia gives kids the opportunity to learn and educate themselves on some crazy skills; from intricate coding with the experts from Code Camp to creating beautiful flower crowns with Sydney Flower School. Find some imagery from our 2018 event Here.
Where: International Convention Centre, Sydney, Darling Harbour, 2000
Play World Australia are proud to support Kids Helpline as the official charity partner, helping raise funds and awareness for the essential service they provide for young Australians. Kids Helpline is Australia’s only free, private and confidential 24/7 phone and online counselling service for young people ages 5 to 25. Find out more here
Let’s Laugh, Play, Sing and Dance Together on October 5th & 6th 2019!
It seems like an age ago that we left the rush of the city behind us and headed out into the Victorian countryside. A weekend of heavenly fresh air, family time and glorious Aussie bush exploring lay ahead of us, and let me tell you, the Friday night traffic wasn’t going to get me down.
We were heading to JoyBell Cottage, a much adored, family owned hideaway near Elaine, 117km from Melbourne. Elaine is small town located on the Midland Highway between Ballarat and Geelong. At the 2016 census, Elaine and the surrounding area had a population of 228, so we knew it was going to be blissfully serene. Hurrah!
Leaving the cities in Australia is a real eye opener to just how barren parts of this country are. I love that you can drive huge distances down under and see very little sign of life, just the odd kangaroo or lonely farm house. It seems to make every journey an adventure!
We arrived at our secluded little retreat in the bush at about 8pm, exhausted, but thrilled at the promise of total peace for the entire weekend!
We were so thankful to Sam, the owner, who had left a box of treats for us, and a beautiful welcome note from her children. This sort of personal touch is what JoyBell is all about! It really is like coming home. This was a beautiful start to what was going to be a really special weekend.
The story behind JoyBell Cottage
Every wonderful house has a story doesn’t it! JoyBell is no different! You can feel the warmth as soon as you walk in, and I’m certain it’s because of the love that has been poured into this house since it was bought by Sam and her husband.
Sam and her husband both grew up in the Aussie bush and wanted to give their children experiences that mirrored their own childhoods as often as they could. It took a year of searching for the right place but they finally found their little piece of paradise and purchased this beautiful cottage. They named it JoyBell after Sam’s mother in law Joy, who sadly passed away in 2017 from leukaemia. Joy was a passionate quilter, nature lover and raised her boys as a single mum. She was amazing, and her incredible quilting talents are in pride of place throughout the cottage!
JoyBell Cottage has 5 acres, so there is plenty of room to wear the children out, or go for a peaceful walk! There is a dam where we caught yabbies (tick off the bucket list) and plenty of room to ride bikes, explore the Australian bush and make the most of the beautiful outdoors on the doorstep!
Sam and her family have filled their lovely country cottage with Joy’s treasures, quilts and furniture, which have made it not only incredibly comfortable to stay in, but beautiful and welcoming. You can almost smell the freshly baked cookies as you walk into the kitchen. It is a true testament to the life of Sam’s mother in law, and knowing the story, and visiting the cottage, I think the name is absolutely perfect.
If you are looking to connect with nature and each other, this is the perfect weekend getaway. If you’re looking to get the children away from the tv and their iPads, this is the place for you. If you want to explore the Aussie bush, and have breakfast on the deck whilst listening to nothing but native birds, this is the place for you. If you want to see Australia at its most wonderful, this is the place for you.
JoyBell cottage is a rustic Australian bush home with three bedrooms, two bathrooms, a laundry room, a large family room, a games room and a kitchen diner. The decking is perfect for mealtimes, snoozing, reading, watching kangaroos hop past, and enjoying the outdoors! It is welcoming, relaxed and ready for anyone to enjoy. Why not treat yourself to a weekend in the bush! It doesn’t get any more relaxed or more Aussie than this!
‘Joy is the most magnetic force in the universe’ – Unknown
Buninyong is about a 20 minute drive from Joybell Cottage. The first thing that you’ll notice is the beautiful Town Hall and the incredible number of coffee shops! Oh and the peace too!
Buninyong Town Hall – If you are there at the weekend, you must pop in and talk to the members of the Historical Society. They will tell you some fascinating tales of Buninyong’s past! One of my favourite facts was that ‘Buninyong’ is the aboriginal for ‘Man laying down with his knees up’ which is exactly what Mount Buninyong looks like!!
Book Cottage – Search out this wonderful little cottage bursting at the seams with $1 books. It is run by the local Lions Club, who make you feel like a long lost friend when you are joyfully flicking through all the books you have ever wanted!
In Buninyong there are more coffee shops than you could ever use in a weekend and a well stocked supermarket. You’ll find a play park, a skate park & a parkour park! Yes kids, it’s true!! Ace street art dons the walls and the botanical gardens are worth taking a stroll through. Buninyong also has a small art gallery and an outdoor pool, although we didn’t check these out.
Mount Buninyong Winery is a whole afternoon of adventure! So many games for the whole family to enjoy, and plenty of space for the kids to get outdoors whilst you sip some local wine and eat the most delicious pizza you ever tasted! Go smoked salmon, its AMAZING!!!
Since touch down in Australia, I have been incredibly aware of how desperately important it is for our whole family to protect our skin from the sun. We’re all very English in the skin department, me more than most! Keeping the kids protected is a mission (think Ethan Hunt) and it doesn’t get any easier the older they get! In fact, I think it becomes harder.
With 2 in 3 Australians being diagnosed with skin cancer by the age of 70, Australia needs a generational sun-safety shift.
Even big kids need to be sun safe!
Once your kids hit a certain age, they need to be able to take responsibility of being sun safe, however it’s not always a walk in the park! We’ve taught our two about applying sunscreen properly, why it’s important, and how often it needs re applying. We have gallons of sunscreen at the ready, enough hats to kit out a footie team, and ‘rashies’ of all sizes fill our swim cupboard. No matter how many hats we have, the kids always end up without one on their head! It’s a constant circus act of taking them off, throwing them back in the bag, hiding them, or “accidentally on purpose” forgetting them. I’ve tried everything. Like all children down under, they are used to the school’s ‘no hat, no play’ policy, but no matter how hard I try, as soon as they’re at home and the sun makes an appearance I’m wrestling with heads and hats. Too hot, too uncomfortable, uncool, itchy, scratchy… I’ve heard it all believe me!
My prayers might have been answered. We have just discovered the most beautifully made sun hats which are so soft and easy to wear, the kids actually kept them on…for hours! Yay!
“Like many parents, I know first-hand that teaching children to wear hats can be a trying time. I really wanted to make this life skill easier to learn. My research found that familiarising a baby early on with the sensation of wearing a hat is the first step in teaching responsible sun safety skills they keep for the rest of their life. I want to educate parents about this and provide them with the most comfortable and protective hats for children of all ages” Rachel Ellis founder of BedHead Hats.
Comfortable hats make a whole world of difference when it comes to keeping our kids sun-smart. Comfort and funky designs. Our kids are a little older now, and like the average 10 and 6 year old, they are all about the baseball cap, and give no thought to the lack of protection it gives. **I took photos of the sun hitting their necks whilst they had caps on, just to prove my point. #mumwin. This summer we’re ditching the caps!
Australia has one of the highest rates of skin cancer in the world. Not everyone realises that sun exposure in the first 10 years of life plays a large part in determining your lifetime potential for cancer.
Made with a resilient stretch cotton that grows with the child
Made to suit the hot Australian climate
Pram and baby carrier friendly
Soft around the neck
Providing both sun and glare protection
Great designs even for the biggest kids
Pony tail holes (Godsend)
Easy and comfortable to wear
Thanks to BedHead Hats, summer is looking like it’s going to be the least stressful for all Aussie (and expat) mums and most sun protected for all kids!!
Have a beautiful summer everyone!
Bedhead Hats is an Australian, family run business who are taking the sun hat market by storm, and leading the way in sun safety for kids. We just need a couple of adult prints now! *hint!!
Bedhead Hats established the ‘Protect the Potential’ initiative in 2017 to ensure that Aussie babies get the best start they can to live a sun-safe life. This year, with the help of charities, maternity wards and post-natal services nationwide, Bedhead Hats will provide $200,000 of sun-hats to babies who need them most.
Throughout Spring and Summer 2018, a selection of charities, maternity wards and post-natal services nationwide will be provided with UPF50+ newborn Bedhead Hats to distribute to new mums and bubs to start the sun-safety journey of Aussie babies. Additionally, as part of the ‘Protect the Potential’ initiative, Bedhead Hats will be giving away five baby hats a day until the end of Summer through social media.
All Bedhead Hats have a UPF50+ Excellent Protection rating, are made with a resilient stretch cotton that grows with the child and an anti-flop brim, all made to suit the hot Australian climate. Bedhead Hats are pram and baby carrier friendly; soft around the neck, while providing sun and glare protection.
Are you dreaming of a childfree vacay with your gal pals?
Are you desperate to say goodbye to the laundry and school run, and lay by a pool, sipping Manhattan’s like an extra out of Sex in the City with your long lost mates from back home? Isn’t it about time you took a break and spent some quality time with your friends, minus the hubster and the kids? A relaxing break, being all classy and beautiful? This could be the chance to really be you again, to rekindle old friendships long left behind.
Well, it turns out when the media were telling us ‘Mums’ that we all deserved.. no… needed a ‘Mumcation’ they were thinking of classy trips to the local winery, or Yummy Mummies sipping Chardonnay in hot tubs chatting about Florence’s ballet lessons. They weren’t thinking about the millions of Expat mums who would be rushing to the airport, gagging for a bag of pickled onion monster munch, clutching their passports, heading home for a week in the pub with the girls.. I’m here to fill you in on the reality of The ‘Expat Mumcation’…
The reality of an Expat ‘Mumcation’
I’m currently ‘drying out’ in Hong Kong airport after my very own Expat ‘Mumcation’, and let me tell you, it’s not pretty. I’m sweating, my stomach is churning, I’ve got the shakes and the bags under my eyes are way more impressive than even the best Louis Vuitton cases.. My fake tan has almost completely disappeared, my perfectly shaped eyebrows have started sprouting, and I have just broken a nail. My hair is greasy, my jeans are way too tight and I have a broken tooth. I feel (and look) like the guys out of ‘The Hangover’
Just over two weeks ago I gleefully waved farewell to my two little darlings in Melbourne and headed off on a ‘Mumcation’ to the UK to celebrate the wedding of a dear friend. I had just under three weeks of freedom ahead of me and was pumped, preened, waxed, and feeling tip top. Having planned this trip for months, I’d had time to give myself a good talking to about my behaviour on my upcoming trip.
“You’re an adult Olivia, there’s no need to go crazy”
“It’s important that you’re sensible Olivia, you have two small children who need you”….
Well. It turns out that when you go on a ‘Mumcation’, whether it’s in Barbados, Benidorm or Bognor, you just can’t help yourself. I joked about behaving like a 14 year old, but totally lived up to it. I was child free, I had a wad of cash in my pocket and the barman was gonna get it… “double G&T’s all round”…. oh dear god…. Even typing that is making me queasy.
I had landed at Heathrow after a 26hr trek from Melbourne, squeezed my ‘bestie’ and headed to Windsor for a “quiet night” before Saturdays Hen Do… After a very civilised dinner, lots of giggles and catching up, we decided to have a walk before bed. Turns out the local pub did 2-4-1 cocktails, so we had 18. At 3:45am we found ourselves down some back alley with a bunch of 17 year olds, smoking and begging the bouncers to let us in an already closed nightclub. It wasn’t pretty. I was free as a bird, for the first time in ages and my behaviour was, quite frankly, unacceptable.
19 days later and it turns out my liver isn’t thanking me for the 2 whole bottles of gin, 27 tonics, 4 bottles of prosecco, 6 bottles of Sav, 102 Sambucca shots, 34 tequila shots, an entire tube of Mango flavoured Berocca and one whole box of Alka Seltzer. My heart is barely pumping due to the 29 pork pies, 18,000 Cadbury chocolate buttons, 22 Menthol cigarettes (I don’t even smoke) and about 72 packets of Salt & Vinegar Squares.
I lost count of the cans of coke I guzzled (wtf) just to get over the hangovers.. My dentist is going to poke me in the eye. I ate scampi and chips about 8 times.. because my daughter misses it?? Do you see what I’m getting at? Most mums will get together with their local friends, pop to a hotel in the city, have a few too many, totter back to their room, and get up for a leisurely brekkie, before making their way home to their little darlings. When your best friends are 10,000 miles away, there is no “weekend break”; it has to be at least two weeks, involve binge drinking and excessive calorie consumption. You basically have to make up for the 3 and a half years you’ve missed out on, when it comes to food, drink and shopping. *whoops.
The truth is, we all need to see our friends, spend time with them, and make the bloody most of it while we’re there, because it doesn’t happen very often. If that means almost dying in the process, well, hey, it is what it is… You know what though.. No matter how useless my body is, lying here in my tiny bed at the airport, no matter how many wrinkles I have added to my forehead, no matter how wrecked my organs are, I would do it all over again… No matter how much my heart ached for my babies, no matter how much I missed my husband, no matter what I may have missed out on, I wouldn’t change a thing.
We laughed, really, really laughed. We laughed so hard it hurt. We sat round the table and shared meals together after years apart. We talked for hours about our children, our lives, about everything. And, we laughed a bit more. We had time to be us. We spent time doing things we wanted to do, without time restrictions, play dates or bedtime routines. I watched my friend marry her love, and we all ugly cried to Oasis’ Wonderwall at the disco…
I guess what I am trying to tell you is that when you take your ‘Expat Mumcation’, do it in style, because it’s over in the blink of an eye, and you’ll be back on the other side of the world, reading “The Tiger Who Came To Tea” thanking your lucky stars you did it…. and survived…
I know, I know, road tripping with the kids sounds like a holiday from hell to some people. “Are we there yet” being shouted over and over, popcorn covering the back seats, umpteen toilet breaks and cries of “I’m booooored” interrupting “The Greatest Showman” soundtrack. However, if ever there was a trip we have done, that we could recommend to you, this would be it.
If you get the pleasure of “are we nearly there yet” on the way to the supermarket, this is probably not the holiday for you YET! Some days we were smashing out 700km+ which is not a distance for the fussy traveller! There is no amount of iPad time that can fill that space, so be prepared to play games, sing, write journals, wildlife spot, and throw in a few obligatory arguments into the mix.
Travelling through the red centre of Australia, was not only a great big tick on the bucket list, it was without doubt the trip of a lifetime. Nothing could compare.
Our top reasons to road trip with your gang
Family time – Yes this is a cert when you’re ‘trapped’ in a car or van with the family. This is the trip to do if you’d like to spend time together, lots of time. There are no kids clubs, it’s just you guys, a few dead kangaroos and the road ahead, but this is what makes it so perfect. As contrived as it sounds, we all learnt so much about each other. We had hours and hours to talk, sing our favourite songs, tell jokes, play games and really immerse ourselves in each other. Life gets in the way of these beautiful moments and a road trip is the perfect way to rekindle lost time. It’s amazing what you talk about when there are no emails distracting you and no YouTube on the tv.
Scenery – Driving through the centre of Australia is like being on a David Attenborough shoot. The dingo’s running past, the Emu looking up to see who is frantically waving out of the Campervan window. The colour of the earth changing so dramatically to that deep, warm red that is so quintessentially Australian was amazing. That same red earth that we soon learnt would be ingrained in our clothes, shoes and skin. Every now and again we would stop on the side of the road and Monty would hop out and find a pile of Kangaroo bones, or a half eaten eagle. The enchantment on his face at his latest haul of treasure to take back to school was priceless. The scenery is like nowhere else on earth, and we were right there, in the thick of it, treading the same ground as people have been for thousands of years, and it felt so magical.
Sightseeing – The beauty of road tripping the Stuart Highway is that you get to see places and speak to people you would never meet if you flew this route. The incredible salt lakes, the vastness of the outback, the eagles soaring above us as we sped up the only highway going North. Road tripping allowed us to follow the signs to places we hadn’t planned to visit, and stop at free camping sites because the scenery was particularly spectacular. Road tripping gives you the freedom to make your own way, in your own time, and stay the extra night if you fancy it. This is one of the reasons it’s a great holiday when travelling with kids.
Adventure – As our journey went on, none of our excitement waned. I was sitting on the edge of my seat, watching the red earth fly by the van. The children were in the back, faces up against the windows, a live wildlife show, eyes wide and mouths open, shouting “dingo” or “eagle” every now and again! The view is like a movie set. The scenery, unbelievable.. This is the outback. The real outback. It’s almost too beautiful to put into words. Driving the Stuart Highway is nothing less than epic. The adventure of scrambling through incredible gorges, tiptoeing across water holes, laying your hands on Uluru and looking at ancient aboriginal cave paintings. Free camping, building campfires, finding roadside treasures and footprints of creatures long gone. We loved lying in the red dirt at night, star gazing up at the most breathtaking skies you have ever seen. There is almost too much adventure out there to tell you about.
New Friendships – We stopped at every roadhouse along our journey. They were all so different but each one had the same collection of people huddled around the fuel pumps. The drivers of enormous trucks getting a much needed break after hours on the road. There were travellers, refuelling and stretching their legs, batting flies, eating a much needed piece of homemade cake, or sipping on a cold beer. The atmosphere at these roadhouses was awesome. Everyone is there on an adventure and trying desperately get some wifi. People chat to each other, you hear wonderful stories of what’s to come, and swap tips for your onward journeys. A regular servo turns into a hub of storytelling and the birthplace of new friendships.
Journals – These books are so special. The hours the children spent in the back of the van drawing their surroundings, writing little scripts about what we had seen and sticking in leaflets and ticket stubs from the tours we’d been on. They are filled with adventures, stories and bursting with tales which we will all remember for years to come. I can picture us holding these books in twenty years time, when our children have their own children, telling tales of the Dingo we saw, the mine we climbed in to, or the dreamtime tales from Uluru. To have pages and pages of aboriginal dot paintings that the children created after visiting Uluru, is such an incredible keepsake that we wouldn’t have got any where else.
New experiences & Noodling – Coober Pedy is a funny old town, almost a little like you have stepped back in time, but, by far the best hours we spent on our road trip were noodling in a barren patch of ground just off the high street. Noodling is sifting through the dumps left by the miners and specking is walking slowly along staring at the ground looking for any signs of colour. A very eager gentleman at our camp site told us that noodling was allowed as long as you don’t take a shovel, and showed us on the map where he had collected a jar full of tiny gems. The kids LOVED noodling. I was less enthusiastic, mainly because of the flies, and the fact that I couldn’t find a single sparkly stone. After an hour or so Monty had enough gems to give one to every kid in his class. I was panicking that we were about to give 22 kids our little fortune, but nevertheless he was adamant they weren’t for us! Noodling is completely free, and one of the days the kids remember most about our trip.
Our kids are very used to road trips. I would say this is a must if you want to explore Australia by road! However you plan to road trip; caravan, car, campervan, bus, motorbike or even bicycle, (yes there were a few) get out there and see the magic of the Australian outback. It may seem like a mammoth feat with children but believe me, it was our greatest adventure yet, and I know it will be yours too.
This is not a cheap holiday.
We flew from Melbourne to Adelaide, where we hired a Britz campervan. The van came with everything we needed to be comfortable. We just had to stock up with food and hit the road.
When you weigh up the cost of the trip vs the experience it was totally worth it, but no, it wasn’t cheap! In fact it’s one of our most expensive trips to date and we were only away for 13 days. *Fuel is eye wateringly expensive in the outback.
Campsites were fairly reasonably priced, be prepared for some to be a lot more expensive than others.
Make sure you book you Uluru campsite first! It gets busy. **The IGA is amazing.
Free camping is FREEEE and super fun!
Take lots of pens, books, games and music to keep you entertained.
Be prepared for no wifi or phone signal. Download movies and games onto your devices, and tell your boss you aren’t contactable.
Stock up with plenty of food and drinks. Eating certainly passes the time and roadhouses aren’t cheap!
Take a decent camera, the pictures will be wonderful.
Pack warm clothes, it gets COLD out there
For anyone who suffers with nosebleeds.. Take tissues. The air is DRY! We learnt the hard way.
Before we go any further… Coles have definitely not sold out of scones, or cucumbers.. So your party will go ahead as long as you don’t wear out your flag waving, butter spreading hand before Saturday!
Are you one of millions of Expats across Australia going nuts for the upcoming nuptials of possibly the most bizarre (but gorgeous) couple on the planet? I feel like we’ve only just got over Eurovision and we’re straight back on it with the flag waving and frantic public displays of patriotism!
I would love to say I am all over this wedding, but I feel very disorganised. I’m almost beginning to panic.. As if I’ve got a real invite. *Trust me, I would have been on a massive diet if I had!
I feel like maybe I should have made as much effort as my expat friends, but…. I just haven’t. I don’t have cupcakes waiting to be baked, I am not planning on whipping up cucumber ‘sarnies’ and a cream tea and I probably won’t be attending any parties, although I think at last count I had been invited to 6. Yes 6! Not because I’m popular just because all 6 of my friends are having parties!
Watching the world (and Australia) in particular going all out for this wedding makes me wonder whether Expats become more patriotic and possibly more Royalist once we’ve left the country?
Us expats are marking our territory, and making sure you all know Meghan is going to be “OUR PRINCESS”! We want to make it bloody clear that (although she’s American, and we’re in Australia) she belongs to us Brits now and we’re gonna throw the biggest bloody party in our garage (because that’s where the big telly and the beer fridge is) with beef snags, (because that’s all we can get) and loads of our expat mates, because like I said, we’re BRITISH and we own this bloody wedding!
I wonder if we would all be frantically covering our houses in bunting, buying new outfits and getting Meghan loves Harry tattoos if we were living in Berkshire? Would we be charging into our local Tesco’s in Guildford demanding the highest quality cucumber for our “Royal Wedding Party”? Would we be buying job lots of these ‘Hazza and Meggie’ cozzies for all our girlfriends if we were back in Blighty?? Brrrrr just the thought of it… Is Britain going as nutty about this as us lot overseas?
Here, in the land down under, Brits in their thousands are gearing up for a mammoth ‘sesh’ in front of the telly on Saturday night! Please don’t forget though we will not be listening to the legendary Huw Edwards charming us through every step of the wedding, we will be watching Aussie coverage of the Royal Wedding! This has enormous potential to turn out to be an infuriating 6 hours of drunken Aussie students being interviewed on Pall Mall holding inflatable Kangaroos! Yes, it may leave much to be desired if their current coverage from Tower Bridge is anything to go by! *Please prove me wrong Channel 7!
When Kate and Wills got married in 2011, I had a party at my house and wore a shirt made out of a Kate Middleton tea towel,” – Edwina Bartholomew from Sunrise
I totally love the magic of a royal wedding. The costume, the carriages, the surprise attendees.. “Whaaaat, Elton isn’t invited”… (I’m sure he is btw). I love the precision timings, the tabloid gossip and the ‘sheer class’ that only the British can bring to a Royal Wedding. In the UK it will feel very different to here. The ceremony doesn’t get going until 9pm Down Under, so we’ll have waited a lot longer than the UK, and the anticipation will have been building..aaaaaallllll day!!
At 8:59pm we will finally see the bride and at 9:00pm on the dot we will be glued to our screens as she walks down the aisle at the wedding of the Century (sorry Kate)! Union jack flags covering the house (and the ute), and G&T (*make that beer) fuelled women in ballgowns and tiaras, passing out in their living rooms before Meghan utters the words “I do”…
So Harry may be funking (yes that says FUNKING as in FUNKY!) up the Royal Household by marrying a super hot American ACTRESS who has been divorced… **GASP, and the Royal family may be curling their toes in their brogues as they walk into St Georges Chapel on Saturday, but I think it’s wonderful, and it seems like a bazillion other expats do too! If only Clarence House could arrange an overnight wedding next time so as we can watch it with our breakfast…in bed!!
I opened Google this morning and it told me that there are 258 days remaining until the end of the year. Thanks Google, you’ve reminded me that all those things I have promised myself that I would get done in 2018 aren’t moving as fast as I’d like, and it’s woken me up to just how blinking fast this year is going!
So, just over 100 days into 2018 and The Wilson’s are ten months off the end of our visa! Yes ten months!! I know!! I can almost see it sitting on the horizon, sarcastically beckoning me toward it.. Bastard!! It’s insane. Ten months left until we need to vacate the country. Well… we get 12 weeks after that date to officially get out before we become illegal immigrants, but yeah, we’re on a tick, tock, tick, tock, countdown right now.
I guess like most families who came to Australia on a 457 visa, (before Mr Turnball abolished it.. Thanks Malc!) we kind of assumed four years away from home would be enough, and we’d be ready to go home. Or, if we weren’t ready to go, we would have at least put some plans in place to stay for a while longer…. Um…. *insert tumbleweed! We have no plans as yet; we have no contingency plan if we don’t get extended and I literally have no idea what we will do or where we will go…. (I can hear some of you muttering “this woman is insane”) Truthfully, this really only came up in conversation in the car this morning with just ten months to go.. ‘What the actual @£$%’ I hear you say!
I know! It seems a little irresponsible not to plan or prepare everyone for the possible big life change ahead, however I’m still in the ‘live for the moment’ stage, ‘running around in my underwear because I’m so excited to be here’ stage; and I can’t for the life of me snap out of it. I’m telling myself “hey, it may never happen, let’s just go to the beach and not think about it” and “ah well, if it’s gonna happen we may as well make the most of life in Oz and go out for dinner… and NOT talk about it”… therefore allowing the thought to slip to the back of my mind for a while longer; because if you don’t talk about something it doesn’t happen right?
Potentially however, we have ten months left until we need to go! Ten months until our practically native Australian kids have to move again. *Truth: Every time we stay in a hotel Monty asks “how long are we living in this house Mum?” In ten months time, we may have our passports in hand, and be heading off to pastures new.. or old, back to our friends, my girl gang, who knows?
I just took a sip of water and glanced up at my friends faces smiling down on me from the last postcard they sent from the UK! A sudden gulp! Honestly, just over three years ago, whilst we were hugging, and wailing as they were waving us off on our adventure, I remember distinctly telling everyone (myself included) “it’s not forever, it’s only four years… If that!!”
However now, sitting here, the kids at school, friends round the corner, things planned, work life thriving… it’s hard to imagine leaving Australia. It’s hard to imagine going through all those goodbyes again, only this time with our new found friends.
The uncertainty of living on a visa and not being secure in the knowledge we can stay is a huge thing. Even though I push it to the back of my mind, it’s a big deal for any expat family.
Living life as an expat is such a treat. We get to explore, see new things, and experience new adventures; but part of me wonders whether the time has come for us to be thinking about a ‘forever home’ for our family. A place that the children can say they’re “from”… A place that we can settle, properly settle in, put pictures up on the walls without worrying about the landlords reaction, plant what we like in the garden, paint the walls whatever colour we like, and design a space for our growing family. Somewhere we can stay and know that we’ll not be moving again. Part of me thinks that maybe the children need to be more settled. Maybe we all need it, but I don’t think any of us really want it!
Having said all that, the thought of having a ‘forever home‘ terrifies me. The thought of buying a house, moving in, and thinking “right that’s it, we’re here!” makes me come over all cold. I hear people saying “oh we’ve just bought our “forever home” and before I congratulate them, all I can think is ‘you poor, poor thing”. Forever stuck in one place seems so final..
Maybe I’m frightened to settle somewhere because it’s not in my nature. Maybe our family is supposed to keep moving. Maybe that’s what’s written in our stars! Maybe I’m scared to make life so static because it means long distance friendships are definitely a forever thing. It means guaranteed travelling to visit loved ones, rather than the comforting possibility of one day relocating to be closer. If we decide on a forever home, it means one way or another, we’re closing one door, and locking it tight and I don’t want to do that! I like the idea of being able to move when we want, go where we want, experience life somewhere else if we want to. I like the romantic idea that ‘one day’ we’ll go ‘home‘, but not just yet!!!
I suppose what I’m trying to say is that for this expat family and all the others out there, who maybe haven’t completely settled on a place to stay put, or signed their life away on a house because it’s in the right catchment for high school, or who don’t seem to have any life plans that include a particular location; we actually do have our forever home. We’re already living in it. Our forever home is right here, right now, and wherever we are together in the future. Our family is our forever home! It doesn’t have to be bricks and mortar, it doesn’t have to be staying in the same place for the rest of our days, we are in our forever home all the time, no matter where on the map that may be this year!! Our forever homes are dotted all over the world, wherever we want them to be, as long as we’re together.
‘A ship is safe in harbour, but that’s not what ships are built for” – Unknown
Just to add some immediate irritation to your reading, I want to let you know I am writing this poolside, overlooking Melbourne at Crown. I’d like to say I was lying here in a bikini, all tanned, sipping on a large cocktail, but I’d be lying. After a few too many amazing Melbourne burgers, too much wine, and over the top stress chocolate eating, I am actually lying here, fully clothed, bollocking the kids for jumping in the pool every so often! Believe me, it’s bliss compared to being at home and bollocking them for putting their dirty hands on the walls or stealing spoonfuls of Nutella out of the pantry! *Only mum is allowed to do that….
Mr W booked a staycation for this weekend. Oh I can’t tell you how much I was looking forward to this. Just getting away from the laundry is good enough for me to be honest. Staying in your own city means you can really switch off, put your feet up and relax. No stress to get up early and sightsee, no fast paced trips round the local museums, no dragging your kids out of the pool because you have four more “must see” spots to visit before check out.
Don’t get me wrong, I absolutely love going away, exploring new places, trawling the kids round ancient monuments, and making them try obscure foods that make their faces scrunch. This though, is just so good.
The Wilson’s were “staycation” virgins until now. As you know, we love travelling, and we’re usually quick to save our cash to go somewhere new… I’m now thinking staycations could be a regular thing for us. How many amazing hotels can we try in Melbourne I wonder?
We checked in to Crown yesterday, all ready for a snooze filled weekend. Poppy had played a game of netball, Monty had been to a birthday party at Extreme Air and the Mr and I have been working full on for weeks. We were all exhausted. We got to the room and leapt into bed. Aren’t those black out curtains in hotels AMAZING?! You can convince the kids it’s actually bed time even though it’s blatantly 5:45pm. The snooze sesh didn’t last long. Living in Melbourne means the kids know exactly what is downstairs and they were absolutely fighting the zz’s and hyper for the movies, and the roulette and blackjack tables… Kidding! We only gamble responsibly, usually a Friday night, after lots of wine, and a boogie!
Mr W and I reluctantly dragged ourselves out of bed… Of course the first thing we had to do was eat, because we actually can’t go anywhere without eating… We went to Guillaume. For those of you who don’t know this restaurant, it’s introduction on the website says:
Inspired by the popular neighbourhood bistros of Paris, Bistro Guillaume offers a menu rich with French classics in a stylish setting on the Crown Riverwalk. The service style is relaxed and diners are encouraged to sit back and enjoy good French food and wine in an unpretentious atmosphere.
The food is amazing, the service was beautiful…. If only the customers were as unpretentious as the restaurant promises it is. One of my pet hates about eating out is that if you have children, people seem to think you have to eat in shit restaurants. As soon as we walked in you could feel the eyes. Couples in the ‘Autumn of their lives’, turning to look. To be fair Monty looked like he’d been dragged through a hedge backwards and Poppy hadn’t even sat down before she was spreading butter on the bread, and herself, however….
The food and wine was divine. We ate, the kids made the most of the wifi, and we left. Oh I love French food and free internet connection.
Yesterday was a warm day in Melbourne. 32 degrees and super windy. We didn’t need to be out and about so we made the most of the pool on the 27th floor. What a view! The kids quickly made some friends so Mr W and I chilled on the loungers whilst the other parents were on pool duty.. (remember that awesome tip right there)… Got to love a hotel pool.
Room service was a must on our staycation. There is nothing more satisfying than siting in your undies, air con blasting, nice and warm under the sheets, watching trashy tv and eating a huge club sandwich! Total bliss right there. As soon as I had taken my last mouthful and was ready to lie down, the kids were up, dressed again and begging to go for a walk… Arghhhh I must try harder to teach them the art of hotel relaxation! *someone have my kids for the weekend!!
Off we went back down in the elevator, two VERY tired kids, one sleepy dad and a very full, rather swollen mum.
Gradi are holding a pizza festival this weekend. Poppy is a Gradi superfan so she was thrilled, although way too full of schnitzel and hot chips from the room to be eating any pizzas. Monty begged and begged for a $50.00 toy car off the Ferrari stand (Formula 1 is coming to Melbs) and threw a huge ‘tanty’ when I said no!
Turned out to be a beautiful evening stroll in this wonderful city! Mr W ended up carrying a sobbing Monty through the hotel, Poppy and I waddling behind begging him to slow down. This race to the lift was made so much worse by the fact that the Crown on a Saturday night is filled with romantic couples, laughing at each others jokes, super slinky show gals and plenty of bars bursting into life… * exactly where Mr W and I would rather be at this precise moment… In to the elevator…. Bed time!!
Sunday morning, after a great sleep, and hurrah no hangover, it’s time for the hotel brekkie! *insert dancing mama emoji right here! This is a big one for us. The Wilson’s love a hotel breakfast! Poppy always heads straight for the sweet pastries and the hash browns, Monty just gets a huge pile of bacon and a pain au chocolate, Mr W and I do the strategic breakfast buffet eating. Start one end and make sure you’ve tried at least one of everything before going back to the start again! We’ve mastered the art I can assure you!
So sadly we’re just one more swim before we go; before we head back to normality, back to the laundry and back to preparing the school bags for another week. You know what though, I wouldn’t have it any other way; despite the bags under my eyes, and the little tears on my cheek as we hand back the room key….. Staycations are absolutely my new fave thing. Enjoying hotels in your own city, not even leaving the building if you don’t want to, has to be one of the best breaks ever!!
Thank you Melbourne, thank you Crown, thank you Mr W… Here’s to another staycation really REAAALLLLY soon! Pretty please!
‘Sometimes a break from your routine is all you need’ – Unknown
We booked our stay direct with Crown, you can use this link , although there are many other sites you can use.
We collect Crown rewards which allow us to get points on all our purchases in the Crown, and give us free parking. You can join here for free! Worth doing if you visit Crown here in Melbourne or Perth!
If you’re thinking of travelling to Melbourne anytime soon, make sure you check out Crown; not just for your accomodation but for entertainment, family fun, restaurants, bars and the world famous casino. A must see in Melbourne.
The Jewish Museum is located in St Kilda, and easy to find. We headed in and straight up the stairs to the sound of Amy Winehouse’s beautiful voice in the distance.
“This isn’t an attempt to tell people what my sister was like, or what kind of people my grandparents were, or to force my opinions on you. This is a snapshot of a girl who was, to her deepest core, simply a little Jewish kid from North London with a big talent who, more than anything, just wanted to be true to her heritage.”
Like millions of people I’m a huge Amy Winehouse fan so this exhibition was a must see for me. She was such an intriguing character and absolutely someone who got to me. I loved her music, her voice, the sound as if from another era. In my eyes she was a true talent.
Amy Winehouse (1983 – 2011) was an incredible singer and songwriter but far beyond that and evident throughout the exhibition, she was all about ‘family’; hugely proud of her home (London) and her Jewish roots. The exhibition feels so personal. As if you’ve walked into her bedroom and you’re thumbing through her things.
The memorabilia on show feels too ‘young’ to be that of someone who has passed. The iconic outfits, giving a real sense of just how tiny Amy was. Amy’s belongings sit in a vast white space; her school uniforms, photographs of her with her friends, her records, and her guitar, all a stark reminder of a life well and truly cut short. A life filled with so much drama, yet essentially she was a proud Jewish girl with a strong sense of family and traditional values.
Amy Winehouse: A Family Portrait is a personal and intimate exhibition which explores Amy Winehouse’s inner world, and the influences that shaped her career and personal life – Jewish Museum
Through this exhibition Alex Winehouse celebrates his sisters life and heritage, and allows us to explore her world and everything that influenced it. There are lovely family trees, old photos, and stories of her family who left Belarus in the late nineteenth century, and headed to London, where Amy was to grow up and fall deeply in love with her city.
Amy won five Grammy Awards and had numerous hit songs including Rehab, Back to Black, and Valerie before dying tragically at the age of 27 in 2011.
Amy Winehouse: A Family Portrait honours Amy’s memory and achievements, and provides a personal portrait of her family life and Jewish heritage; things that were not always visible in her public life.
“The Jewish Museum is perhaps an unexpected venue for an exhibition about Amy Winehouse, but Amy’s brother, Alex, was adamant that this was the best place to tell her story, because being Jewish was so much a part of who she was.” Jewish Museum of Australia Director Rebecca Forgasz
Since launching in London in 2013, the exhibition has toured internationally from San Francisco to Vienna, Tel Aviv and Amsterdam, with huge success. The Jewish Museum is the only place in Australia to host the Amy Winehouse exhibition and they are very excited to share this fantastic show with us lucky Amy Winehouse fans.
Grab your tickets before it’s gone!!!
Amy Winehouse: A Family Portrait
Adults: $12 (18+)
Children: Free (5 and under)
Children: $6 (6+)
Concession: $6 (students, pension card holders, Health Care card)
Family: $27 (2 adults, 2 children or 1 adult, 3 children)
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!
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!
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.
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!