Road Trip the Stuart Highway with kids!

 

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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.

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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.

Just go!

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.


Tips: 

  • 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.
  • Take your first aid kit.
  • Prepare for the price of fuel!
  • Do a tour of Uluru. It’s worth the money!

“Tesco is ‘Smashing’ back to school!”

Smash Enterprises have only gone and created EVEN MORE bloomin’ awesome stuff for on the go eating in the UK!!!  We have been so thrilled with the products we’ve had from Smash so we were absolutely going to jump at the chance to tell all our UK friends about their newest range! Smash Enterprises are about to launch some super new products in Tesco, which you may like to check out.. ASAP…… Like NOW! Grab your bag, keys, water bottle (make it a Smash one), and hit Tesco’s please…

Wait till you see this…… **The caaaaat!!!! OMG!

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The end of the school year is a massive deal in the life of a kid and in the life of a parent too. That summer term is a killer! The most exhausting (and hot) term of the year, then they throw sports day in to the mix! Hellooooo! The children are tired, ready for a huge break, and in my case, I’m absolutely ready to throw all evidence of the school year in the bin, including the grumpy kids. The smelly lunch boxes and the disgusting pencil case *usually graffitied and full of pencil sharpening’s mixed with blu tac or slime. The little bits of rubbish, the scrunched up homework from week 7 and the reminder that for three weeks of the summer term your child lived on marmite sandwiches alone as the fruit is rotting in the bottom of the backpack. I have been known to open the bin and kiss goodbye to a whole heap of school paraphernalia only to regret not simply washing it come the new school year!

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This one comes with the lot!!

In all honestly, when it comes to my ‘back to school prep” I tend to leave it to the VERY last minute. Mostly because the summer holidays run away with me and I forget when term begins, but also because we all relax way too much and that relaxation turns our brains to jelly!

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Summer adventures…

However,  when I saw this new collection making it’s way into Tesco, I knew that it would definitely give me, and other UK Mums, the kick up the behind to get in early and sort out the lunch boxes for the new school year. If you’re the person in charge of school supplies in your home, this is where you can gain brownie points from your little darlings and take away the stress of “back to school”. Let’s be honest we all have a love/hate relationship with Back2School.

 

Not only have the clever Smash designers come up with some great new “only available in Tesco” designs, but they have kept those awesome features that us mums love about Smash products. The germ resistant liners, the nude food tubs to save us from the single use plastic and for those of us with older kids, the more funky styles that are so hard to come by. Anyone else have a fussy 10 yr old…? What a bizarre age that is! “I love glitter… I hate it, it’s so cool… it’s so uncool… oooh flowers…..!!”

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Holiday snacks

Tesco will be stocking a brand new range of awesome Smash products from Wednesday 25th July.. Yes, that was yesterday!!!! That means you need to grab your diary, NOW, cross out this afternoon’s play date, save swimming for another day, push the movies to tonight, and get to Tesco before they sell out. There truly is limited stock, it’s not a joke!

This Aussie style ‘lunch luggage’ is going to bounce out of the supermarket like a kangaroo chasing a wallaby, and you don’t want to be the only parent who forgot about the most ‘Smashing’ lunch boxes in town do you?

Show your kids your “Smash Attitude” and be one of the first parents in line for this new range.

When ‘big things’ happen – An Expat Dilemma

Living far from home

I often use the phrase ‘living far from home,’ in fact it’s one of my favourite hashtags! However, it confuses even me. I also tend to bang on about ‘home’ being where we are together, where the children and the Mr are. Home for me is where we live, work, play.. so therefore ‘home’ is Melbourne… isn’t it? Ah the Expat existence! Today I’m mulling things over so I thought I’d reach out for your advice.

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Does it matter where we consider home to be?

Probably not. Is it possible to have more than one home? Yes, I think it is. Why am I homesick when I am at home then? Can you see I’m battling with myself?

So many expats are ‘living the dream’ down under, living their “best lives” all tanned and throwing Aussie slang into their convo’s; yet lots of expats live this Australian life of sea, sun, snags, and surfing with…. regret, homesickness and longing.. Guess what! I’m one of them.

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No matter how long we’ve been here, it hasn’t got better.

I don’t pine for the UK, I don’t miss ‘Britain’, I’m not craving monster much crisps, or proper gravy. I don’t miss the rain or the M25..  I pine for my friends. Those life long friends, those college friends, the friends I made when I first became a mother. The friends who know me inside and out, the friends I can be my real self with.. The friends I call when things get tough. I’m craving the time spent with cousins, the children really knowing their relatives, their godparents and their long lost friends they left behind.

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Grandad

You may or may not have heard I lost my beloved Grandfather this weekend. He was a  my absolute favourite human.. *sorry kids.  Losing him has sparked a weird sense of unease about our expat life. Losing this dear, dear man has made us question what we are doing so far away from our loved ones.

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This loss to our family has made our house eerily quiet, our hearts truly heavy and our minds dance all over the place. How long do we sacrifice our ‘connections’ to live under sunnier skies? How many years do we want our children living 24hrs away from the people who love them most? How much longer do we miss out on time with our friends? How many more Christmases do we want overseas and not sitting around the fire with a mulled wine and loved ones? Does Aussie life bring us enough to sacrifice so much?

Living on the other side of the world has its perks don’t get me wrong, it’s just every time I try and justify this beautiful life, I find myself saying “yeah but we have that at home” and “yeah but if we were doing that at home we’d be with X, Y and Z.”

I’m forever second guessing… everything!

I’m not second guessing because we are unhappy in Australia, I am second guessing as I can’t help but feel that we have been away long enough, and now we need to be closer to our village. When things go wrong, or sad things happen, I feel a pull toward home. I immediately make overseas phone calls, I send emails and messages across the pond, and right now, it’s making me feel like that’s where we should be. Permanently.

Living as an Expat in Australia, comes with so much adventure, and being in Melbourne, the most liveable city in the world is such a blessing. We have so much more at our fingertips here down under, but is that enough to be giving up all we had at home? Shouldn’t life’s adventures be enjoyed with the people we love, the people who know us best, the people who miss us too?

So, where does this all end up? Who knows. Can we really do the big pack up? Could we really repatriate back to Blighty? Would we even be happy or have I got my rose tinted specs on? Have you done it? I’d love to hear your thoughts!

Beach bums

Olivia xx

 

National Lamington Day – How many can you eat?

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You don’t think your tastes would change that much when you move abroad. I honestly never thought my kids would be taking Vegemite sarnies to school, or eating meat pies like they’re going out of fashion. I also never thought we’d ever get used to Lamingtons after trying my first one three years ago! Hey, the Brits are renowned cake bakers, we know our shizzle when it comes to baking, and the Lamington was like no cake I’d ever tasted before….. However…..

Tomorrow, July 21st, Australians and a few of us expats too,  will be taking time to savour and celebrate the coming of age of an Australian classic, the humble Lamington.

It’s National Lamington Day and I know what I’ll be tucking into frequently tomorrow! 

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Adriano Zumbo’s Tiramisu Lamington

The sweet treat has been tantalising Aussie tastebuds for more than 100 years, and the list of flavours is endless. The Wilson’s are ready and willing to try as many as we can before the visa runs out!! 

Lamington Lowdown

The first ever Lamington cake was made in 1900, most likely for the wife of Queensland’s eighth governor, Lady May Lamington. Made by either the Lamingtons’ French patisserie chef, Armand Galland, or well-known Brisbane cookery teacher Amy Schauer, regarded as ‘the Nigella Lawson of her time’.  We all love a Nigella!! The sponge cake was dipped in chocolate and liberally sprinkled with shredded coconut. Lord and Lady Lamington were said to be so impressed by the cake, that it was regularly requested at Lamington House. If only we all had our own baker… 

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THE LOWDOWN ON LAMINGTONS

  • National Lamington Day is celebrated on July 21.
  • The Lamington cake was first made in 1900.
  • The exact story of the invention of the Lamington is disputed. Some people think it may have been an accidental recipe after being dropped in a chocolate mixture.
  • The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade lists the lamington as an Australian icon (along with the meat pie and Vegemite HURRAH), and former Queensland premier Anna Bligh has declared this special cake a Queensland icon.
  • Toowoomba in Queensland is the home of the 2011 Guinness World Record for the Largest Lamington, weighing over 2,361 kilos.
  • A Lamington recipe first appeared in the Queensland Country Life publication in 1900. A recipe then appeared in a Sydney newspaper in 1901, and a New Zealand newspaper in 1902.
  • The world record for the longest line of Lamingtons was set in Adelaide in 2015, with 20,000 (yes that says 20 thousand) pieces of Lamington snaking over 1,073 metres long. The former record was held in England with a Lamington line that measured 885 metres. Who knew the Brits loved Lamington so much?
  • Susan Day makes so many Lamingtons each year that if you laid them end to end, you’d make it from Melbourne to Sydney – hands up who’s coming on that road trip? 

If you’re a Lamington lover, then tomorrow is your lucky day!

If you’re in Australia you can cheat and head to Coles to get yours, however if you’re enjoying the sunshine in the UK, get your BAKE on and enjoy Lamington Day with this recipe for homemade Lamingtons!!

Let me know what you’re doing to celebrate!

Olivia xx

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Donna Hay’s Lamington’s (Recipe link above)

Stationary that’s light years ahead of the rest!!

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Ever since I was a child I’ve had this almost obsessive craving for brand new stationary. Not sure if it was the newness, the smell, the thought that maybe with a brand new pad I could create a masterpiece. I would convince my parents to spend shed loads of money on new pens, notepads and all sorts of wonderful files and folders, under the premise of lots of hard work that term! Um… I would start off well.. I’d immaculately write my name on said items, then spend the rest of the year scribbling boys names and enormous love hearts all over them. Pretty sure “I love East17” was in amongst it. My kids are no different, however the stationary today is much cooler.

What’s new?

Nothing’s really changed in my love of stationary, I buy a lot, and I manage to keep it tidy for a few days…. However, Big W have just got a brand new range of stationary which I’m certain will save me from scrawled memos and lost invoices forever!!! Yes, the clever peeps at ‘Smash’ have been at it again. This time they’re making the whole family fall in love with endless supplies of dreamy desk delights.

‘This new range is out of this world! ‘Imagine, Explore and Inspire’ your next ‘Master Plan’ (and your ‘Plan B’!) with our new Neo Galaxy Stationery Range.’- Smash

What do we love about this stationary in particular?

Apart from my inner magpie loving the “shinyness” of the Neo Galaxy range, I also love that they have thought of everything. The quality is great (there’s no way those folders are tearing under the pressure of NAPLAN, or the binders will buckle under the weight of all my endless paperwork) and the designs are suitable for all ages. The kids really loved the space designs, the colours and the stapler…. of course…. The sticky notes don’t curl up like other brands, ***HURRAH, and excuse me whilst we tear up over the incredibly cute little paper clips…..

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Yes, the Wilson’s have been checking out the new Neo Galaxy range of stationary, available from the 15th July in Big W… just in time for back to school, or even for you mamas out there whose home/work life needs some pimping.

Best things about this particular range?

It’s unisex! Yes, it’s purple, but in our house and many across the land, purple is super cool for one and all!

It’s funky no matter your age! The whole family like this range, which makes sharing a little tricky, but means we all have matchy, matchy coordinated workspaces.. Pretty sure I’m still the only one actually working here though!

I have styled the kids desks to show you why it’s definitely good for all…

So, bottom line is….. head down to your local Big W and get your hands on some of this Neo Galaxy stationary before it disappears in to a ‘black hole’ (or other people’s homes). You’ll be thrilled with it, and the kids will love you to infinity and beyond, I promise xx

Tell them you love them “to the moon and back” with a desk full of Neo Galaxy stationary!

Available in store at Big W from 15th July 2018

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Everyone LOVES a sticky note!!

Asda are”Smashing” packed lunches for the UK!!

ASDA_BTS-UK18Since Smash Enterprises smashed their way into the UK, they are making shopping for lucnch gear a whole lot easier for frazzled parents to cope with.  The Wilson’s are huge fans of the collections, and every year we crush on them a little more than the last! *How do they do that??

UK friends, hold your breath!

You are about to get their newest range, hitting ASDA stores from today!!!

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This skate look is pretty cool for all ages!!

Asda are stocking brand new Smash products right now…..

…which your kids are not only going to love, they are going to be begging you for! Every base is covered, from unicorn lovers to dinosaur fans, to your more grown up “style conscious” kids. I know first hand how hard it can be “it has to be a BLUE DINOSAUR WITH GREEN LEGS MUMMMM” Yes, more awesome stuff for on the go eating, for even the fussiest kids around!

Stop the press…… **The sequins!!!!!

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Smash are experts in Back to School! We know what kids need at different stages of their school life, and we know what parents expect from the products they buy. Parents love the reliability of Smash.’  – Smash Enterprises

Summer is well and truly here for the UK (how hot has it been??) and it’s the perfect time to get some of that Back2School stuff done before the kids are on holidays and whinging in your ears. Buying all the ‘lunch gear’ as soon as it hits Asda means that not only have you ticked one chore off the list of many, the kids can spend the summer holidays outside exploring nature, and eating on the go with one of the funkiest lunch collections on the market! Come on, we all love the kids going outside to play…..all day!

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Have a lovely day son!!! *locks door behind him

When the kids and I saw this new Asda collection from Smash, we knew that it would be a hit. There’s a design for every child, the drinks bottles have great new matt colours which are really funky, and Smash have come up with even better ways to keep your kids food fresher than ever before. We love the gel packs for keeping food at the right temperature, and the magic lining that makes sure the germs are kept at bay! Happy mum right here!

If your job title this summer is ‘person in charge of lunches’ this is where you can get ahead of the game, and nail a Back2School job too. Let’s be honest we all have a love/hate relationship with the constant holiday food consumption, so why not grab an awesome new lunch box and serve up ‘packed lunches’ every day this summer. *Lunch that they make THEMSELVES!!! What’s in the box is what they get, FULL STOP!

 

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Asda will be stocking this brand new range of awesome Smash products from 10th July.. That’s today!! Like… NOW!! There’s no excuse to miss out!

Throw the kids at Granny and head to Asda before they sell out. Stock is limited so don’t wait until tomorrow! This Aussie born lunch style is not going to be around long enough for you to leave purchasing until the last minute.

Show your kids your “Smash Attitude” and be one of the first parents in line for this new range.

Olivia xx

Disney on Ice is here- Get your skates on before it sells out!

We went to ‘Disney on Ice Celebrates 100 Years of Magic’ last night at Hisense Arena in Melbourne and we’re pretty sure your little Disney fans will love you forever if you book tickets!! This is promising to be one of the top winter holiday activities.

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The show starts with a bang as always; everyone loves an opener, however, there’s not much getting away from Disney’s tried and tested formula, even for this celebration of ‘100 years of Magic!’  (Expect lots of Frozen!) Do not despair though, you’ll be relieved to see a couple of new faces, such as Genie from Aladdin and Mulan. This is where the talent of the skaters really comes out. An enormous Chinese Dragon, flying across the ice, not a paw out of rhythm.  *Our favourite part of the show!

The audience was a sea of Elsa dresses and Mickey ears, glowing swords and sparkly wands. My kids are “too old to dress up” apparently, and they were definitely in the minority, so don’t be afraid to let loose and dig out your Cinderella ballgown!!

The show was like all Disney on Ice shows before it; no expense spared (maybe that’s why it’s a pricey night out). A full snow storm, exciting pyrotechnics, top-quality costumes, and an insanely talented cast of ice dancers.

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Full of energy, full of Disney magic and full of all your favourite Disney characters…. (**Apart from Moana….Sad face!) Disney on Ice 2018 should absolutely be on your holiday to-do list.  With a whopping 14 stories told, 30 classic Disney songs belted out, and wonderful props, including a sweet little boat which takes some very excited audience members out onto the ice and an enormous turtle; who’d want to miss that??

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Disney On Ice celebrates 100 Years of Magic 

 Tickets are on sale now at www.Ticketek.com.au/DisneyOnIce.

2018 National Tour Dates

Melbourne – Hisense Arena, Melbourne                                5 – 10 July          (Thurs – Tues)

Newcastle – Newcastle Entertainment Centre                    13-15 July               (Fri – Sun)

Sydney – Qudos Bank Arena, Sydney Olympic Park          18- 23 July             (Wed – Mon)

Feld Entertainment encourage patrons to source tickets through the authorised ticketing agents appointed by our Disney On Ice venues. The authorised ticketing agent for all cities is Ticketek (www.Ticketek.com.au/DisneyOnIce)There are significant risks in buying from other sources. 

School holiday’s in Melbourne sorted!

The school holidays can be a costly couple of weeks for us parents. Trips to the movies can cost an arm and a leg alone and only kill 2 hours of the day! Noooo! We live in such an awesome city, full of free activities, great galleries, wonderful winter fun and plenty of bargain foodie delights to keep tummies full! There is no need for you to feel financially frazzled this winter break!

Here are some ideas of things to do in Melbourne this holiday, to not only create fun but also sneak some education in there too! Not all of the activities below are suitable for every age, so make sure you check beforehand.

Art Play

ArtPlay is a wonderful place where children (babies to 12 year olds) can explore their creativity and share unique artistic experiences with professional artists who have a wonderful connection with the little ones. My kids (6 &9) have both thoroughly enjoyed workshops here.

Art Play put on more than 300 workshops, events and performances every year, so they are definitely experts in their field.  There are short workshops for young children and extended creative experiences for older children. The artists, workshop content and participants reflect Melbourne’s diversity.

Bookings are required for most workshops, however there are also free drop-in events available. You can check out the ‘What’s on’ page to see if there is something that takes your fancy, but please make sure you book before heading into Melbourne as these workshops are very popular!

Melbourne Sights Free Walking Tour – Be a tourist!

Join one of these FREE walking tours in the city of Melbourne and you’ll uncover the incredible history and explore a range of sites in Australia’s cultural capital. You get a guide dressed in bright green so you can’t miss them, and they will impart all their knowledge on this friendly Melbourne tour. Your guide will give you insights into the people, places and events of this city. If your kids are happy to walk and you’d like to get some culture into them this school holidays this is a great way to see our beautiful city and learn something new. I got my kids to take a pad and pen so they could write down interesting things they learnt and we researched later! Highlights include the lane ways, art, cafe culture and hidden bars so you can experience Melbourne like a true local.

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Tours run EVERY DAY at 10:30am and 2:30pm and start at the statue of Sir Redmond Barry in front of the State Library of Victoria, and last 2.5 – 3hrs.

Disney On Ice

Make this a ‘Melbourne family tradition’ and go and see this incredible show. Disney on Ice is back this year at Hisense celebrating 100 Years of Disney Magic. Read all the info here! 

Dialogue in the dark 

Brought to you in partnership with Guide Dogs Australia, this exhibition will give you and your kids, the chance to step into the shoes of a person with low vision or blindness. You’ll experience Melbourne like never before, learn about yourselves, and have fun along the way.

Dialogue in the Dark™ is a sensory journey set in total darkness. It’s an incredible experience where you step out of your comfort zone and take on the challenges of a bustling, simulated Melbourne in the dark. How would you respond to sensing your everyday world, rather than seeing it?

Over the course of an hour, you’ll discover:

  • How to find your bearings and move in complete darkness
  • How to identify the world through a variety of senses
  • How to communicate and collaborate with other people, without visual cues
  • How you respond to the challenges of Melbourne in the dark

Book Tickets Here! 

SENSE & SIGHT PACKAGE – See Melbourne in two unique ways for one great price.
Take a sensory tour through Melbourne in complete darkness, then catch a birds eye view of the city as you fly high on the Melbourne Star Observation Wheel. (Select the “Wheel Deal” option on your preferred date.) (Children under the age of 5 are not permitted)

 

Shrine Kids

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Yes. Another free event! Free and educational is even better!! That’s what we like! Shrine Kids is an anytime activity for primary school students, that encourages kids and their families to learn about Melbourne’s Shrine of Remembrance together.   To support this, they have introduced a number of ways for your family to engage.  Shrine Kids being the most popular.

Activity cards (Four to choose from : Unlock the Secrets! Discover How Things Work! Use Your Imagination! Solve the Mysteries!)  and explorer kits are a sure fire way to engage your child’s imagination and their desire to learn about this special place. The Explorer Kit satchels include a bundle of awesome goodies to aid successful and happy exploration. I know where we’re headed this holiday!

Enchanted Adventure Garden – Great for all ages!

Get outside!!! Located on the Mornington Peninsula, a short drive from Melbourne, this adventure garden is a hit with the whole family. Beautiful gardens, mazes to lose the kids in, and tree surfing for everyone. Not only that, they also have the tube slides  (read my tale of the tube slide here) which are hysterical. There’s a hedge maze, spectacular gardens,  a sculpture park, tube slides, canopy walk & a 3D indoor maze. We love the tree surfing (you can read how we got on here), but there is so much to see and do, don’t feel like you must send them up into the trees.. although they’ll love you forever! Check out the tickets here! If you love a bargain and will visit more than once, you should look at getting an annual membership which gives you great discounts as well as entry all year round! Hurrah, pay this holiday but not the next few!

Other great value for money/free activities that The Wilson’s love:

ACMI run Free Family Sundays, and entry to the main gallery is free for everyone. You only pay for the special exhibitions. Wonderland is currently on ($65 family ticket) and we would highly recommend! Open daily from 10am.

Cooks Cottage – The oldest building in Australia, built in 1755. This is a popular Melbourne tourist attraction, because of the surroundings and the incredible story! This building was originally located in Yorkshire, England, and built by the parents of Captain James Cook. The cottage was brought to Melbourne by Sir Russell Grimwade in 1934. Astonishingly, each brick was individually numbered, packed into barrels and then shipped to Australia where it was lovingly rebuilt. (Approx. $18 for a family ticket)

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National Gallery of Victoria always free to the public. They have some great school holiday activities. Check them out here!

Royal Botanical Gardens Melbourne & Cranbourne Entry to the gardens is free and they are well worth a visit. The gardens in both Melbourne and Cranbourne are open 7:30am (great for early risers) until sunset. Explore, walk or run off steam, take a picnic and make a day of it. Plenty to see with more than 8,500 plant species from around the world, sweeping lawns, tranquil lakes and majestic trees, all home to an amazing range of wildlife.

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 Have a great winter break in Melbourne!!

OzPanto – British Expat fun at its best!!

 

SLEEPING BEAUTY A KNIGHT AVENGER’S TALE

Sleeping Beauty tells the story of Princess Aurora, who by a single prick of her finger is put to sleep for 100 years. Doomed by fate, only a Prince’s sweet kiss can break the spell and awaken the sleeping beauty. 

 

The Wilson’s rugged up and headed into Melbourne to the Comedy Theatre for opening night of Bonnie Lythgoe’s latest Oz Panto, Sleeping Beauty! What a fab family night out!

For all you British expats out there, you will be pleased to hear this is proper British panto… with a sprinkling of Oz! If you’re anything like me you’ll get all homesick this time of year. It feels like we should be celebrating all things Christmas but it’s June and not even remotely Christmassy! Having said that, this pantomime is absolutely the perfect ‘winter’ pick me up for the whole family! OzPanto is by no means a cheap imitation of panto; this is true, old fashioned pantomime with all the singing, dancing, cracking jokes and cheesy lines. It’s exactly what winter in Australia needs!

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Our faves:

Rhonda Burchmore plays the wicked fairy ‘Carabosse’. Rhonda stole the show with her terrfying presence, huge voice and her incredible legs. Yes I said it! Green eyed monster right here! Carabosse brought the theatre alive with “Boo’s” every time she stepped on to the stage, just as panto should be.

Kev Orkian as ‘Silly Billy’ made us all belly laugh. There were tears streaming down our cheeks at points throughout, and it was all down to his impeccable timing and hilarious stage presence.

The Dancers -Wow, the incredible dancers. The children were full of energy and super talented. Absolute stars in the making.


 

British Expats or Aussie this is a must see! For the Brits it will take you back to your childhood, and for the Aussies, it’s a wonderful introduction to the timeless art of British Pantomime.  Bonnie Lythgoe has brought the true magic of pantomime all the way to Australia for our families to enjoy, which means our expat kids aren’t missing out on what used to be a family tradition back home!

Grab your tickets now!

You’re guaranteed dazzling costumes, stunning sets, magic, breath taking special effects, side splitting comedy, and sensational musical numbers. A massive hit for all ages.

www.ozpanto.com


Melbourne

VENUE: Comedy Theatre, 240 Exhibition Street, Melbourne

DATES: Friday 29 June – Sunday 8 July

PRICES: VIP $89.95 / A Reserve $69.95 / B Reserve $59.95 Plus Family tickets available

BOOKINGSTicketmaster.com.au or 1300 11 10 11

 Sydney

VENUE:  State Theatre, 49 Market Street, Sydney

DATESFriday 13 July – Sunday 22 July

PRICES: from $52.95 to $97.95 plus Family tickets available

BOOKINGSTicketmaster.com.au or 1300 139 588

Coles sell out of scones as Expats stockpile for their Royal Wedding parties!! *Kidding (can you even buy scones in Coles?)

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!

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Kevin Cruise going all out for Eurovision!!

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?

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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”…

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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!!

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