Disney on Ice celebrates 100 years of magic – Tickets on sale now!

As an expat, it’s amazing how old “traditions” are quickly substituted with new ones.

Disney on Ice has absolutely become a fun family tradition for us. In fact, it’s my all time best bribe for the kids. “Are we going again this year mum?”….. I use it in all sorts of cunning ways. “Nemo won’t be too happy to hear you haven’t fed our fish all week Monty!” Works a treat!

DOI-100yrs-Magic_80 Nemo 2

Hurrah for all us mama’s who love to bribe our kids, because Disney on Ice is winging it’s way to Australia, and this year it’s bigger than ever. Disney on Ice is celebrating 100 Years of Disney Magic this year, and boy are we in for a treat.

Disney on Ice

The ‘must see’ Australia tour, which is opening in Perth, will be running from 15th June to 23rd July 2018 and tickets are on sale right now

 “The 2018 tour of Disney On Ice will bring to life more than 14 timeless Disney tales including Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, Cinderella, Beauty and the Beast, Toy Story, The Lion King, Finding Nemo, Frozen and more’ – Disney on Ice 

DOI-100yrs-Magic_11 team (1)

‘Be dazzled by the magic of Disney’s Frozen with Anna, Elsa and the hilarious Olaf. Sing-a-long to over 30 of your favourite Disney songs including “Let It Go!,” “You’ve Got A Friend in Me,” and “Hakuna Matata.” Exciting moments from Disney Pixar’s Toy Story, Finding Nemo, Disney’s The Lion King, Beauty and the Beast, Aladdin and more will leave the whole family with memories that will last a lifetime’ – Disney on Ice

Bedazzle the family with the celebration of the century when Disney On Ice skates into your hometown.

TOP TIP: Get there on time so that the kids can help movie favourites Judy Hopps and Nick Wilde from Zootopia, investigate an off-ice caper to ensure the show starts on time.

A recent survey of more than 8,000 people revealed the most treasured childhood memory for them was a ‘specific family activity’ (55%)…

Grab your tickets and make sure you and yours are there to celebrate the legacy of Disney in this ice skating spectacular! Trust me, you don’t want to be THAT MUM, who forgot to book….  There’s no excuse to miss out! Make this your annual family tradition, spoil the kids, watch them watching in wonder and keep the magic of Disney alive in their hearts!

Olivia xx

‘Laughter is timeless, imagination has no age, and dreams are forever’ – Walt Disney


Disney On Ice celebrates 100 Years of Magic will open in Perth on 15 June 2018 and travels to Adelaide, Brisbane, Melbourne, Newcastle and Sydney through to 23 July.  Tickets are on sale now at www.Ticketek.com.au/DisneyOnIce.

2018 National Tour Dates

Perth – Perth Arena                                                                         15 – 17 June        (Fri – Sun)

Adelaide – Adelaide Entertainment Centre                          22 – 24 June           (Fri – Mon)

Brisbane – Brisbane Entertainment Centre                           29 Jun – 2 Jul        (Fri – Mon)

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 authorized ticketing agent for all cities is Ticketek (www.Ticketek.com.au/DisneyOnIce)There are significant risks in buying from other sources. 

Handhorf – A little bit of Germany in the Adelaide Hills

Located just 25 minutes from Adelaide, Handhorf is Australia’s oldest surviving German settlement and celebrated 175 years in 2014. It still has a strong German flavour most evident in the small goods outlets, bakeries, pubs, restaurants and cafes that line the bustling main street’ – Adelaide Hills.org  

Handhorf is a truly picturesque little town founded by Prussian Lutherans in 1839. It is so close to Adelaide, you really don’t need to leave it out of your trip. We visited in January, and the weather was lovely. We have been told that Autumn is spectacular too because of the wonderful colour of the leaves on the trees.


Driving in to Handhorf, it hits you how German this little town really is.  The bakeries are pumping out freshly baked pretzels, there are sausages hanging in the windows of the butchers, German flags proudly swaying in the breeze, and souvenir shops selling all kinds of Germanic keepsakes including huge beer steins. We particularly liked the aprons which made the children look like they were wearing traditional German costume…Monty liked playing the accordion… The shop assistant didn’t enjoy it quite as much!

I always find it fascinating to think that people came to Australia, seeking a safe place to rebuild their lives, and they ended up somewhere like this. The journey must have been daunting, such a huge trip. Then, to build a town so much like home, a community and a brand new life, it’s incredibly brave.

We visited The Handhorf Academy which is the regional centre for art and heritage. Originally a boarding school, and later a maternity hospital, this 19th Century Heritage building could tell some phenomenal stories of courage, excitement and fear as early settlers built their new lives.

There are four galleries, a migration museum and a shop selling locally handcrafted products.  This is also the home of the tourist information office, otherwise known as the place where Monty left his shoes.

A visit is a must. Go in and be captivated by objects and stories relating to the lives of Hahndorf’s pioneering families. We particularly liked the outfits worn by the Lutheran children, the ladies ornate lace dresses, and the children were amazed by the furniture and an old pram.

After a bit of a walk and the purchase of some salami type sausages that nearly blew our heads off, it was time for a trip to the play park! We like to use Monkey Bars all over the world. No Monkey Bars are ever left out!

Once we were too hot to swing, we headed into the Seasonal Garden Cafe which was heavenly. Fresh produce from their own garden, and juices squeezed right there for you to enjoy! We lazed in the sunshine sipping on green juice, until Mr W’s phone ran out of battery, Monty squealed and Poppy insisted we head off to our next destination! Bliss ruined…

Top Handhorf hints

  • Take a walking tour of Handhorf if you have the time. They take about 90 minutes, but you get to visit places that the general public can’t. We love a guided tour, as you learn so much more about a place, and the children have to be quiet too! Win win!!
  • The Handhorf Leathersmith is a great shop! And if you walk right to the back, they have the biggest bunnies you ever did see! The kids will be asking you to buy them one all the way home!
  • There are plenty of cellar doors in Handhorf, and a craft brewery there too. Gulf Brewery are a micro brewery, who offer tastings at the cellar door, or for those who have a little more time, they pair food with beer for another truly Handhorf experience.
  • Handhorf is a shoppers heaven. The high street is filled with local craftspeople making wonderful wares. You can find anything from hand crafted leather wares to cuckoo clocks to toys, books and candlemakers. We just bought food, (surprise surprise) but were tempted by so much more! 

     Close by: 

  • One of Australia’s most famous artists, Sir Hans Heysen’s home is nearby on Heysen Road. Visit The Cedars, explore his garden, home and studio.
  • The Prancing Pony craft brewery is about five minutes away in Totness. If you didn’t get chance to sample the beers in Handhorf this is definitely worth a visit.
  • Beerenberg Family Farm has ‘pick your own strawberries’ from November to April. There’s also a wonderful shop selling a huge range of jams, sauces and relishes. Their website if full of lovely recipes too! (drool)
  • Wineries surround Handhorf, so there is no possible way you could miss out on sampling some of the Adelaide Hills local wines.
  • The children will love the Hahndorf Farm Barn. It’s a farm/wildlife park and a great place to spend a few hours. They have picnic areas, tractor rides and the children get to try their hand at milking a cow or even holding a python!! Family tickets for 2 adults + 2 children is $47


The Adelaide Hills are like a treasure chest, full of wonderful food, wine, beer, and adventure. It’s a fabulous place to spend time together exploring. Head to Handhorf and wind your way through the surrounding area slowly, taking it all in as you drive! You won’t be disappointed!

Flights – We flew direct to Adelaide from Melbourne with Tiger Air. For all four of us the cost was approximate cost $450

Car Hire – We hired a car through Avis at Adelaide airport – approximate cost $179 for three days.

Hotels – Adelaide and the surrounding areas have so much variety when it comes to hotels. Whatever your budget, it wont be hard to find somewhere that fits!

This photo caused a major tantrum “I’m not a girl and you made me the girl”….. Oh how we laughed… (not)

This Mumma is ‘Smash’ing ‘Back to School’

I know, it’s what, week three of the school holidays and we’re already thinking about getting our little darlings prepped and ready for another year! Another mammoth amount of time sitting in the classroom, reciting Haiku poetry and picking their noses. It seems as if no sooner have the holidays started we’re willing them to end.. Or is that just me?

Bags are already packed… (kidding, it’d be rotten by February!)
  • School shoes purchased – CHECK
  • Name labels are on their way – CHECK
  • The stationary order has been delivered, opened and scattered around the house – CHECK
  • Mummy’s almost ready for a mini breakdown – CHECK

It can only mean one thing… It’s time to think about packed lunch paraphernalia!!

If you’re anything like me, you’ll be heading off soon to purchase new lunch boxes and drinks bottles before terms starts; I mean the kids couldn’t possibly start a new school year with an old lunchbox! Actually mine can’t because I made the rookie mistake (AGAIN) of buying ridiculously rubbish lunch boxes which are now disgusting inside and have broken zips so they definitely need replacing! That and we no longer think ‘Dinosaurs’ are cool! When will I learn?

Much to Mr W’s joy, that will be the last time I make that mistake! The clever clogs at Smash Enterprises have not only created some seriously eye catching designs (even I want in on these), but they’ve also come up with Blue IQ, a mould resistant lining which means when we “wipe” the insulated lunch boxes clean, they’re giving us a helping hand…. ***Cue angels singing a chorus of Hallelujah’s to all us mumma’s!….

“Can I go back to school now mum?” – “Um, YESSS!’

The Wilson’s have been road testing some of these awesome products and I’m certain you will struggle to find anyone else making school lunch this funky, rubbish free, practical and totally kid proof!!  If that doesn’t excite you enough, the fact that they’re spill proof may just do it for you! (No more soggy sandwiches coming home uneaten! **does a little dance)

Rubbish Free Lunchbox

The Wilsons love anything that promotes “nude” (yes we do!) and we adore products that allow us to cut down on our waste! The kids are already loving packed lunches with their new lunch boxes, and I’m singing all the way to the dishwasher. Hurrah! Roll on 1st February when I’m really packing up and packing them off!

‘C’mon, say no to plastic wraps and foils and make every day a nude food day!’


The Wilson’s Reviews…..




Yes, she’s kissing her lunch box! The Stick It Slimline is a hit in this house…


Smash Lunch Box – Funky designs, detachable insulation, large capacity and the famous Sandwich Seatbelt. Available at selected Coles Supermarkets whilst stocks last – RRP $15

Nude Movers Rubbish Free Lunchbox – Eliminates the need for packaging. Three separate compartments, removable snack pods and dividers, and a ‘Sandwich Seatbelt’. Available at selected Coles supermarkets whilst stocks last RRP $12

Smash Stick it Slimline – Comes with stickers so the kids can personalise their lunch! Lined with Smash’s trademark ‘Blue IQ’ antimicrobial lining which inhibits the growth of uncontrolled bacteria, mould, and mildew. A strong durable zipper,(YAYYYY) and a soft handle for comfortable carrying. 100% free of BPA, phthalate and lead. Available at selected Coles supermarkets whilst stocks last RRP $12.50

You can find so many more Smash products at selected Coles stores whilst stocks last.

Check out the catalogue

Smash products can be purchased in these stores.

*Not all products are available at every store, so please check beforehand 

*Smash products sell out very quickly therefore some may not be available

*Not all Smash products are dishwasher recommended


We only review products that we love, we think are genuinely good quality and that we are comfortable recommending to our readers. All words are our own.

We hope you will love these products as much as us. 

#lunchbox #backtoschool #kids #parenting #expatmum #nudefood #reduce #reuse #smashenterprises #spillproof #school

Immigration Museum – British Migrants, instant Australians?


A new exhibition has opened it’s doors at Melbourne’s Immigration Museum  and I can say with all my heart, it’s one of the most moving exhibitions I have had the pleasure of visiting.

‘Between 1947 and 1981 nearly 1.5 million Brits arrived in an Australia that was predominantly white and British – it had worked hard to be so’ 

A few weeks ago I went along to a preview of the new exhibition ‘British Migrants, Instant Australians?‘.  We were treated to Devonshire Tea, a cup of Earl Grey, and some magnificent guest speakers, before heading in. It felt quintessentially British, although there was no driving rain or fog to be seen!

Paul Jennings, best known for his writing of many children’s books, got up to speak about his migration from the UK at the age of six. He told us of the distress he felt leaving behind his beloved Grandmother. Sitting there listening to his heartfelt words, I felt as if I was listening to my own children speaking in 30 years time. I could totally relate to his feelings of homesickness, longing, and upset at leaving the only home he’d known; I had a lump in my throat!

‘When I was six I left England, with my parents and my little sister Ruth, to come and live in Australia. That was in 1949. In those days, people came to Australia by boat. The one we came on was called the Ranchi. We sailed for five weeks before arriving in Melbourne’- Paul Jennings

His story was compelling, and a real tear jerker. It’s so easy to overlook what migration was to families back in the 40’s. It’s especially hard to consider what that journey must have been like whilst living in todays modern world of round the globe flights, and Skype calls! British Migrants in the 1940’s left home simply thinking it was ‘for the best!’  Expats still take this risk when they move far from home, although being more aware of the world possibly makes it less of a “culture shock”.

Red Symons also spoke about his migration from the UK.  He told us of his everlasting memory of stepping into a land with an immense amount of sky. The single storey houses, the flat landscapes, and the endless blue skies. His words made me wonder what my children will remember from our early days Down Under? That moment we arrived in the dead of night, the sights, the sounds, the smells, the accents. So different to home!

‘Newcomers from Britain had all  the advantages of a shared language, culture and history.  So fitting in should be easy. But reality is never that simple’

The thing that struck me most about all the speakers at the grand unveiling of the latest exhibition was how their hearts broke at leaving family and friends behind; yet they recognised the opportunity they had been given. They all got stuck in, pushed their homesickness and worries to one side and made the best of their new lives. They went over and above to “fit in”, they changed their accents and worked hard to build friendships. The chance to leave behind post WW2 Britain, the grey skies and limited job opportunities, for a land which had everything they could wish for in abundance was too good to ignore.

The exhibition holds some wonderful, heartfelt stories of lives well lived, cherished friendships, and of the “migrant” feeling of being ‘too foreign for home, too foreign for here, and never enough for both’.

Whilst wandering through the exhibition, I couldn’t help but go back to those nagging thoughts in my mind… “Will my children grow up feeling like this?” “Will they look back with sadness at what they missed when we moved?” “Will my children grow up with a constant longing in their hearts?” Honestly, I’m not sure. Today’s “migrant” is so incredibly different from those who arrived in Australia all those years ago. The world is so much smaller and the internet bigger than ever. We can keep in touch without lifting a pen, or licking a stamp, and we can see distant loved ones at the touch of a button.

I’m not sure my children feel any different to their peers. No one comments on their accents (anymore), no one really even asks them where they’re from. We’re learning we’re not that different after all. This is an indication of just how migration has changed. My children are not really seen as ‘migrants’ in the classroom! I’m not sure any of us are! Is an expat a migrant anymore?


Not only is this new exhibition a fantastic insight into the lives of thousands of migrants and their voyage to Australia, but it’s a real showcase of bravery, courage, and human kindness which will teach all visitors a lesson in the need to show compassion to people migrating to this wonderful country!

The Immigration Museum has beautifully showcased artefacts from treasured family collections, with words spoken by those families themselves. They have taken time to cleverly and sympathetically tell people’s stories of migration, with a mixture of mediums including handwritten letters, memorabilia and old posters promising a life rich in work and sun.

As an expat myself, who has brought my British children to Australia, I found the exhibition moving to say the least. I cannot begin to imagine what the 1940’s migrant must have thought arriving in this warm, far away land, with nothing but the bare essentials; some of them not knowing what to expect. To think that they came here and managed to build new lives, away from everything they had ever known, with no modern technology to contact home is just mind blowing to me. Honestly, their courage astounds me, and I highly recommend this exhibition.


‘British Migrants, Instant Australians?’ is open now and runs until 15th April 2018 at Melbourne’s Immigration Museum.

Tickets are included with Museum Entry

Adults – $14
Child to 16 years – FREE
Concession – FREE


X-Pat Files – The Thought of Not Doing It, Scared Me Most!!

Emma and Rich moved from the UK to Australia in December 2016. They live in a delightful little harbour city called Fremantle in Western Australia. Emma blogs about her travels and life as an expat at Distant Wanderers .  Here Emma tells her story about being more worried about not taking the plunge, than actually doing it!! 


If you’d have told me 4 years ago when I was planning a year of backpacking around Asia and Australia, that I would meet a British born Australian citizen the day after I arrived ‘Down Under’ and would end up moving to the other side of the world to be with him, I most definitely would not have believed you.  I was planning to spend a year travelling and then return home; never in my wildest dreams did I think that one day I would call Australia my home. When I met my partner, I was excited by the fact I’d met someone who shared the same inexplicable love for Australia, something I’d never been able to explain, but I knew part of my soul belonged there. Our mutual love for Australia, travel and adventure meant we instantly hit it off.

Fast forward a couple of years, living in the UK, we both knew that Australia was where we were meant to be. We had talked of going back for so long, and both being ‘doers’ and not just talkers, we took the plunge and booked a one-way flight. This, for me, made it seem much more real and as the months started ticking by I started to doubt whether I was doing the right thing.

Rich had lived in Perth before, so he didn’t seem as anxious. He knew what to expect and had a good network of friends there.

I had moments where I was terrified; giving up my entire life to start somewhere completely new, where I didn’t know anyone, where I wouldn’t have full working rights, where I would have issues with jobs, money and visas etc. I was feeling overwhelmed with the decision I’d made to move to the other side of the world and sad to leave behind my family, an amazing network of friends and a good social life. More than once, I wondered what on earth I was doing. I was a bag of nerves and frankly, a mess. It was probably a good thing that we’d already booked the flights as I most definitely would have backed out otherwise.

I started to research moving to Australia and soon realised that it was the very idea of not doing it that scared me the most.

I was more scared than I liked to admit about moving overseas, but the idea of living the rest of my life wondering ‘what if…’ filled me with dread. I had to keep reminding myself that this was a fabulous opportunity, one many people would love to have and I should run at it with open arms. It was scary, but it was also amazing and exciting and I knew home wasn’t far away if I wanted to go back; we at least had to try first.


We’ve now been in Perth for just under a year and I can honestly say that moving abroad was the best thing I’ve ever done. People ask me what it is about Australia that I love and why I moved here, but I think it comes down to more than just the place.

It’s stepping outside of your comfort zone and learning things about yourself, throwing yourself into a completely bizarre and new experience, learning about another country and ultimately, yourself.

I came across a quote online that struck me so deeply; it made me realise that what I had done was massive and I had been brave to follow my dreams.

‘Nothing is comparable to the new life in a new country. Though I am still always myself, I am changed to the marrow of my bones.’ – Unknown.  

Living overseas changes you, makes you appreciate and see things differently. You’re far away from everything and everyone you have ever known and loved and it can be lonely, overwhelming and tiring. However, when you stop to think about what you have accomplished, you realise how proud you are of yourself for uprooting and starting afresh.

I miss my friends and family so much and think about them every single day. I wish we lived closer so they could just pop in for a cup of tea. That’s the hardest thing about moving overseas. I try to fully immerse myself in daily life here; I want to feel as though I am making the most of the beautiful surroundings that are on my doorstep. Australia is a truly amazing place, the weather is stunning; the relaxed lifestyle and wonderful natural beauty are of course a massive bonus. I feel as though I belong here, that it’s home and that my life is here. I am joining clubs, meeting people, going out for walks and exploring this amazing place that I live. Though I miss my life back home, I have no desire to move back there any time soon. Rich and I try to get out as much as possible and explore as much of diverse Western Australia as we can, there’s so much to see and do, I don’t feel like I need to go on holiday– we have it all here!

London Court in Perth

Moving abroad is scary, but as they say, ‘Ships in harbour are safe… but that’s not what ships are built for.’

The idea of never fulfilling my dreams is far scarier and for me, I just think life is too short to not go after what you want.

We are lucky that we’ve been given such a fantastic opportunity to come and live in Australia but we made it happen, we made our own luck. If you’re scared or worried about taking the plunge and moving overseas, that’s OK, it’s perfectly normal. It’s scary, amazing, terrifying, and exciting all at once but it might be the best thing you ever do; the only thing anyone can ever do is try. If it doesn’t work out, at least you tried. If you’re scared, have a little faith that things have a funny way of working themselves out and it could be the most wonderful experience of your life.

Gondola ride on the Swan River

Thank you so much Emma.. What a great story, proving to everyone that it’s important to grab the bull by the horns and absolutely ‘Go For It’!! Olivia xxx

See Emma’s daily adventures on Instagram at distant_wanderers 


If you think you have a great “Expat” story to tell, contact me olivia@thewilsonsofoz.com and you may see yourself on here too!!!

#Expatlife #Expats #ExpatsinAustralia #lifedownunder #Expattales #XPatFiles #Perth #Fremantle

It’s my home, it’s my city & I love it!!

Tulip Coffee – Degraves Street

I’m currently sitting in a beautiful coffee shop in the lanes of Melbourne, sipping a Long Black and wondering what I used to do on Friday afternoons before we ended up here.. Melbourne is the most magical city. Just meandering through the laneways is enough to make me grateful for being alive. It’s that kind of place! It really does make my heart skip a beat! People everywhere; sightseers, office workers, artists, musicians, shop owners, even bloggers like me, immersed in their surroundings and getting all sorts of inspiration from the bustle around them. It’s hard not to be inspired here. There is just so much to love about this city; my city!

We’re fast approaching the end of another year ‘Down Under’ and there don’t seem to be any signs that we may be adventuring off to pastures new just yet.. Thank goodness. I am amazed at all the things we’ve squeezed in to our first year in Melbourne, and there’s still so much to explore.  I’m so full of love for how this city has become home to us so quickly!  I never would have imagined a few years ago that we would be here, doing this, and absolutely loving every minute!!

It seems like a lifetime ago we hopped off that plane in Sydney, to see what Australia had to offer. To dip our toes in the clear blue waters of the world famous Bondi Beach. The memories feel like a scene from a black and white movie.. Mr W, whisking us off to explore a warm and distant land. If it had been on the silver screen,  I’d have been played by Olivia De Havilland (Obvs), and Mr.W played by Humphrey Bogart! We’d arrive in the Southern Hemisphere, embrace each other at the bottom of the plane steps, and get chauffeured off to our glamorous new abode in Sydney Harbour.

In reality it was nothing like that!

Monty had spent the first 12 hours of the journey vomiting into supermarket carrier bags that I had cleverly stashed in my hand-luggage. Poppy spent 24 hours watching re runs of Peppa Pig, and I sobbed most of the way! By the time we landed in Sydney, we looked more like the Aadams Family than glamorous 1940’s movie stars. Hello Australia, we’ve arrived, and NO we’re not staying for long, I left my besties crying at Heathrow!!!

Now almost three years on from the landing, and…. wait for it… (*Mum grab a hankie)… I’m not sure I could….. go back……

I know, I know, it sounds a little ‘out there’! *All my friends are currently deleting my blog from their newsfeed, muttering “I told her she’d not be back”… Mum is sobbing into her cup of tea, and for some reason, I don’t feel too terrible… In fact, I feel relieved to have finally put it out there.

That’s not to say I don’t yearn for my girl crew, and I don’t miss lots of things about the UK; it’s just that Australia, well Melbourne.. oh gosh I’m so sorry…is home now….

It had to happen eventually. There had to come a time when we all started to think of Australia as “home”.  Expat’s all over the world; since being an expat was even a thing, have always struggled with knowing where home really is. I’m sure people stop themselves calling their host country ‘home’, so as not to upset Aunty Brenda, or to keep hold of friends who have promised to disown them if they don’t return!!! The pressure to have just one home, and not love anywhere else as much.. or dare I say it.. MORE, is too much to handle. It’s a strange feeling, as if I’m letting the whole of the UK down, by saying “thanks anyway, but I think we’ll stay put”. I’m sure that’s what makes my stomach churn and mimic homesickness. It’s possibly not that I’m missing the chips and gravy with mushy peas, or the local pub with the log fire, it’s the terror that I’ll be cast aside and never welcomed home with open arms again! I’m a traitor, fair and square!!

We never came here with the intention of staying forever, but you can’t help but build a life for yourselves, and your children. You can’t help but make friends; close friends. You can’t help but join clubs, get jobs, volunteer, join the school committee, find a local pub, join sports teams, become part of a community… You can’t help but make a new life, and somehow that’s what we’ve done. (And no, I still don’t resemble Olivia de Havilland)

We came here for four years, and now with only 14 months left on our visa, I am truly panicking about what will become of us all if we do have to leave our…. ‘home’??

The UK isn’t our home any more. Is it?? We left a life behind, and have created something different, something new, something exciting, something we’re certainly not ready to let go of.

I think what I’m trying to say is, no matter what we do, or where we go, we will always be in a position where we’re living without something or someone. And without doubt, in this crazy ‘expat’ life, we just have to go with the flow; think about what we really, really want, and as selfish as it sounds not give anyone else a second thought! We have one life, one chance at getting it right and only we know ‘where‘ we’re happy! For The Wilson’s, now… dare I say it….? I think we’re home.

“The most beautiful things in life are not things. They’re people, and places, and memories, and pictures. They’re feelings and moments and smiles and laughter” – Unknown

Olivia xx



Lantern Ghost Tours – Melbourne

lantern GT

The chance of getting Mr W to join me on a ghost tour was pretty remote. Not only is he a huge sceptic but he tends to poo poo all things ‘spooktastic’. I left it to the last minute and then told him where we were going!! I got him to Federation Square for 8:30 and it turns out he really enjoyed our night… and he felt a few chills too…Shhhhh!

We met our guide Chloe at the ‘Information Point’ opposite the iconic Flinders Street Station, there was a huge group of us but we were on our way, dead on time.. (no pun intended!)

The tour was a 2km walking tour of the city of Melbourne, the weather was perfect and the trams and party goers were out in force! They absolutely did not distract us from Chloe’s magical way of story telling, we were all hanging on her every word.

Melbourne’s history is fascinating, the Gold Rush brought so much good, and with it, so much evil to Melbourne.  The Lantern Ghost Tour was as much a history lesson as it was an insight into the gruesome goings on in times gone by. We learnt of people like Baron Swanson also known as Frederik Deeming (possibly Jack the Ripper) , Frederick Federici and the Prima Donna Nellie Melba. We heard the tragic tale of a little Alma, who was found murdered in the old “Gun Alley”, and her suspected murderer Colin Campbell Ross who after 86 years has been pardoned thanks to modern DNA investigations.

‘Journey back to old Melbourne, a time when the spices of China Town masked the smoke of  the opium dens, poor houses supplied bodies in the name of advancing medical science and famous opera singer Federici gave his most dramatic performance, plummeting to death in front of his audience.’

Chloe let us know when we were heading for a particular place that has attracted lots of ‘spiritual energy’ on previous tours.  People have been known to faint, feel pain in their heads and the incredibly bright lights in Gun Alley (now known as Pink Alley) have flickered with little Alma’s ghostly presence. We all watched on as Chloe used divining rods to try and contact Alma, and ask her a few questions. Sadly the group didn’t seem too keen on coming forward and having a go themselves; maybe we were all a little too worried, as there was definitely a strange atmosphere at that point in the tour.

We wound our way through the many streets, listening to tales in mysterious alley ways, and alongside the famous Melbourne Club, the Hotel Windsor, Princess Theatre and Parliament House. It seemed like we had left no spooky stone unturned.

Chloe ended our tour in Cohen Place in the centre of China Town where we all stood as a group under the circle of lights to purify ourselves and rid ourselves of any spirits who may have latched on to us whilst we were treading their paths.

The stories were enthralling, the city was magnificent and the goosebumps were real.

A Lantern Ghost Tour is a great way to learn about a city, to see parts of it you would not ordinarily see and to get a real feel for a time long gone.

I must say, I was glad to be hopping on a tram, with the bright city lights guiding our way, knowing we weren’t going to be crossing paths with any grave robbing, body snatchers.

Gosh, thank goodness for our relatively safe and somewhat boring existence in 2017!

All the info 

Whatever you’re looking for, even if you haven’t decided the list of incredible tours is here!!  Choose a stroll around the city, or for the ‘super brave’ a night in one of Australia’s most haunted prisons!

Cost – Prices start at $29 and go up to $184 for overnight paranormal investigations.

Age – 12+

Location – Sites are located across Victoria, New South Wales, South Australia and Queensland! 

ContactTelephone – 1300 390 119 Message Lantern Ghost ToursHere

You can find Lantern Ghost Tours on FacebookInstagram – YouTubePinterest – and Twitter Hurry along and Check them out!



12 Things You Might Not Know About Japan – By Erica Louise

I’ll be honest, I felt a little nervous about going to Japan as a family. Our kids are quite young; 3 years and the other turned 9 years whilst we were away.  We’ve travelled overseas with them before, but Japan is just so different from anywhere else in the world. How would we all cope?

I worried about what they’d eat, both being incredibly fussy eaters; they don’t eat sushi and aren’t particularly fond of plain rice or noodles. I worried about the 10-hour day time flight and what I would do to entertain them for that long. How would the kids deal with culture shock?  Particularly Mr.3, who on our last trip to Bali, asked to go home constantly for three days straight!! I questioned how we’d get by with literally no Japanese. What would happen if the kids needed the toilet and we didn’t know how to ask for the nearest loo?

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I needn’t have worried at all. We did just fine. The kids ate and were far more experimental with their choices. Thanks to the in-flight entertainment the 10-hour flight didn’t seem quite so bad. Thankfully our 3yo only asked to go home twice; and then said he didn’t want to go home when it was time to. Oh, and public toilets are all over the place and easy to get to; we had no near-accidents whatsoever.

I must say, organising a walking day tour of Tokyo on the first day turned out to be a huge saving. This helped us get our bearings of the vastness of Tokyo and showed us how to conquer the (incredibly efficient) public transport service.

In the following couple of weeks of our adventure, I took note of the surprises our trip to Japan unveiled. Almost every day I took note of something new. I imagine staying longer would unveil even more.

Here’s my list of unexpected discoveries during our family trip to Japan:


  • You’ll be hard pushed to find a rubbish bin. In Melbourne, we’re so used to throwing our litter away in public bins. In Japan, there are no bins. Well that’s not entirely true, you might be lucky enough to find one in a convenience store (7 Eleven or equivalent) and occasionally on the platform of a main railway station, but not often. There are no bins on the subway, no bins in parks, no bins in public spaces. None. You take your rubbish home with you. This proved to be fun when Mr.3 didn’t want to finish his banana. Smelly times after walking the streets of Tokyo for hours on end. Despite this, you won’t find any stray litter in the streets. Japans streets are clean beyond belief.  


  • Mount Fuji is not always capped with snow.  Call me naive but I thought Mt. Fuji would be snow-capped year-round. Wrong. We got to see Mt. Fuji from the bullet train window when travelling from Tokyo to Kyoto. (Top tip: get a window seat on the right side of the train when travelling to Tokyo. You’ll spot Mt. Fuji after about an hour out of Tokyo, but only for 10 minutes before it’s out of sight again). When travelling in September (Autumn), Mt. Fuji was not snow-capped, but still an incredible sight to see regardless.


  • There are queues for everything. Japanese are incredibly polite, they also love a queue. Dare I say more than us Brits and that’s saying something. It is not uncommon to see queues out of the door of a cafe, restaurant, vending machine, ticket booth or public toilet. We once queued for 45 minutes just to get a frappe from Starbucks. I kid you not. On the subway, passengers wait patiently in file. There are wait lists at popular venues, you must put your name down on the list, if you don’t, you miss out. We learnt the hard way when the kids missed out on the fabulous play area in the National Museum of Nature and Science in Tokyo because we didn’t put our names down when we first arrived.


  • Despite being so busy, Tokyo is quiet. I don’t usually consider my kids to be super loud, but in Japan they seemed like the loudest children in the universe. Japan, Tokyo especially, is densely populated. You’d expect it to be horrendously busy and loud. Busy it is, but loud? Not really. Japanese people are quiet. You’ll notice when walking around the city that many locals are heads down, faces buried in their mobile phones. Families, friends and couples talk quietly to each other. I don’t recall hearing anyone shout during our two week stay. I felt quite embarrassed by the volume of my kid’s voices at times.


  • Yes, it is expensive in Japan but the food is reasonable. Unlike many other Asian countries, Japan is not a cheap destination by any means. That said, it’s the accommodation, travel and main tourist attractions that eat up most of your money. Food is reasonable. If you choose to eat in one of the many eateries off the main streets, you can eat a good meal for a fraction of what you’d otherwise pay. Convenience stores are also excellent for snacks, sandwiches, hot food, sushi and pre-packaged foods. We often bought lunch from a convenience store (they are everywhere) back at our hotel and would eat well for around $20.



  • Occasional English word. I found it funny to hear random English words thrown into conversations or to see an English word in text somewhere. Not a major thing, but funny nonetheless. It also surprised me how many people spoke broken English, even a homeless man (a rare sight) who once asked us for food by saying “hungry’. It’s easy to get by with zero Japanese knowledge, although it’s always worth a try if you do know the odd word or two.


  • There aren’t many birds around in the city. I’m so used to seeing little birds around Melbourne. Pigeons at the train stations, sparrows, Indian Minor birds and seagulls. So much so, I barely notice them. That said, in Japan I couldn’t help but notice the lack of feathered friends. No little sparrows and rarely any pigeons. Pigeons seem so rare in fact, that my eldest son even took photo evidence when he did see one. A Japanese parent pointed to a sole pigeon at the train station, gaining the attention of her smiling son. I can only assume the lack of birds is due to the lack of litter around, as per point no.1.



  • Japanese convenience food is packaged to the max. Japanese convenience food and products are seriously over packaged. Bananas individually wrapped in plastic, little face washers in restaurants given out with chopsticks or cutlery, all individually wrapped in plastic. Biscuits in convenience stores, individually wrapped, sometimes inside another wrapper, and then boxed. Considering litter is at an absolute minimum on the streets and there are hardly any rubbish bins anywhere (as per point no.1) I found this quite contradictory!



  • Japanese TV is absolutely nuts. This isn’t really a huge surprise I know, but when your hotel’s TV is filled with Japanese shows you get to see how cray-cray it really is. My 9yo couldn’t stop laughing at a kid’s morning programme with a TV presenter dressed in a pink cow costume, sitting in a bath with no water. His co-presenter? A talking blue chair. This is just the start, TV shows for adults are just as hilarious. Hours of entertainment right there.  


  • There’s a button on the Japanese toilets to give you privacy when you poo.  Japanese toilets are so far advanced that I’m surprised the rest of the world hasn’t caught on. With buttons to wash your bum and bits, heat your seat and warm the water, these loos are super tech. The one function that made me giggle the most?  The music note button. I thought this might play a tune while you pee. Not so, it’s a button to mimic the flushing of the toilet, without the flush happening. I therefore assume this drowns out the noise if one needs to do a number two without fellow toilet goers noticing.  Funny eh?


  • There’s a huge American influence in Japan’s main cities. In Tokyo and Kyoto there are Starbucks and McDonalds all over the place. They are super busy too. What is the most popular spectator sport in Japan?  Sumo wrestling you might think.  Nope, it’s baseball; a sport most commonly thought of as an American pastime. When strolling around the cities I couldn’t help but notice American clothing shops and stores dedicated to Hawaiian themed goods, too. In travel agent shop windows, I noticed holidays to Hawaii heavily advertised. American influences are alive and well in Japan.



  • Smoking is permitted in restaurants. With the ban of smoking in public spaces in the UK and Australia, I found it quite confronting dealing with smoking in restaurants in Japan. It can be quite uncomfortable eating food with my family whilst a neighbouring table would spark up a ciggie or two. Not a big deal to a local, but to a non-smoker, this can be challenging. What I would say though, is this didn’t happen all the time, only once or twice during our stay.


Despite the secondary smoke with our dinner, we absolutely loved our time in Japan. It’s a new favourite destination and I hope you consider the ‘Land of the Rising Sun’ for your next family holiday.

Have you travelled to Japan before?  If so, what surprised you the most? 

Erica x


Erica is a British Expat living in Melbourne, Australia with her two sons, husband and little black rescue cat. She left Hertfordshire for brighter skies and Bayside living, and spends most of her time writing and exploring all the cool things to do with kids in Melbourne and beyond.  Follow her Melbourne adventures on her website KidTown Melbourne and catch all the latest Melbourne fun on Facebook and Instagram too!!!

Melbourne Zoo – Speaking for the ones without a voice!

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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


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

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

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

Book Tickets Here!


The “Bloomin Great” Ocean Road!!!!


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Highlights of the trip

 The Australian National Surfing Museum– Torquay

You can read about our trip to the museum here

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

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

Bells Beach

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

Top Eats:

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

Apollo Bay Bakery

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

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

Open 7 days a week


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

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

Opening Hours

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


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

Olivia xx