We are so lucky to live in such a wonderful part of the world where there seem to be endless ways to entertain the children!! It’s no mean feat trying to keep everyone happy, all summer, but I’m pretty sure, this may be the answer to your prayers!!
This summer, Sovereign Hill is set to be busier than it’s been since the goldrush of the 1850’s. With brand new activities every day and the chance to win a $400 gold nugget every week, it feels like the gold rush is happening all over again! We cannot wait to get over to Sovereign Hill to experience some of the fun!
Each day of the week, for six weeks, a different adventure awaits. From ‘Make it Mondays’, to ‘Find it Fridays’, there is something for everyone to enjoy.
All of your favourite Sovereign Hill activities will also be on, including bowling, the gold pour, costume photos, as well as Sovereign Hill’s new sound and light show, AURA.
If you think you and the family would love to experience everything that’s on offer, you absolutely can!!!! Purchase a *Sovereign Hill Annual Pass, which provides you with unlimited entry to Sovereign Hill and the Gold Museum, 364 days a year, as well as discounted mine tours, coach rides, and other special offers.
MAKE IT MONDAYS – Try your hand at butter churning and cheese making, make your own block candle or help us sew the Eureka Flag.
TROTTING TUESDAYS – Meet the Sovereign Hill horses, get your photo taken with a Clydesdale and watch our horse team change over the horses that pull the Sovereign Hill vehicles.
WHATS’ THAT WHISTLE WEDNESDAYS – Learn about steam engines, take a tour of some ruins and hear stories of child miners on the goldfields.
TRADE THURSDAYS – Watch rare trades in action, have a go at the traditional process of Cyanotype, go behind the scenes of the Sovereign Hill coach builders.
FIND IT FRIDAYS – Rush to the diggings for the chance to discover a $400 gold nugget, take a photo with the Australia nugget (worth over $85,000) and see a coin press machine in action.
SWEET SATURDAYS – Take a walk around lollipop lane, take a photo with a giant jar of Raspberry Drops and join an exclusive hands-on experience in Brown’s Confectionery.
SOLDIERING SUNDAYS – Dress as a redcoat and join their parade, learn a Trooper drill and watch on as a mass license hunt takes place in the Red Hill Gully Diggings.
All the info
What: Sovereign Hill’s Summer Gold Rush
When: 26th December, 2019 until 27th January, 2020
Time: 10am – 5pm
Where: Sovereign Hill, Bradshaw Street, Ballarat, 3350
*Sovereign Hill Annual Pass
Child (5–15 years) – only available when purchased with an Adult, Family or Single Family Ticket/Pass
Concession* (To be purchased as Adult Pass)
Family (2 Adults and up to 4 Children)
Single Adult Family (1 Adult and up to 3 Children)
Conditions: Annual Pass is valid for 12 months from date of purchase. Current Annual Pass card and photo ID must be presented on each visit. This Annual Pass is not transferable. A surcharge may apply for entry to special events. Only the Annual Pass holder whose name is listed on this card is entitled to free entry to Sovereign Hill. Children must be accompanied by an adult. Discounts are not accumulative – only a single discount can be applied to purchases.
Extra charges apply for some activities and major events.
If you are a parent in Melbourne, you will have heard of the amazing gang at Friend in Me. If you haven’t, keep reading because you need to know about the wonderful work they are doing!
Friend In Me enhances social inclusion and spreads kindness in childhood in the effort to break the cycle of mental health conditions that derive from being ostracised from society. These guys deliver all the magic that is sadly missing from some children’s lives! Talk about AMAZING!!!
Friend in Me are on a mission to make sure that no child is left behind.
‘We want to children to be empowered to celebrate their uniqueness and have the confidence and the tools to build their tribe so they can go forth with life when they never thought possible. We are working and collaborating with organisations to have an impact on social change through our events and workshops.’ – Friend in Me
Friend In Me is having an end of year celebration at the iconic Melbourne Museum on Saturday, 14th December 2019 with some amazing acts including;
Headlining act by Harrison Craig winner of the second series of ‘The Voice’
Snow Queen Elsa
To join in all the fun at Melbourne Museum, in support of Friend in Me, you can purchase adult tickets for $30. All of the money will go directly to Friend In Me to make sure even more kids are supported! Kids are free (or gold coin donation).
**Tickets include free entry into the Museum after the event so you can all make a day of it.
AUSTRALIA’S ULTIMATE FELINE FESTIVAL POUNCES BACK TO MELBOURNE WITH A 70% BIGGER SHOW AND AN INCREDIBLE LINE UP OF TALENT. BOOK TICKETS HERE!
This November, the hotly anticipated Cat Lovers Show returns to Melbourne for its second year at the Royal Exhibition Building, on Saturday 30 November and Sunday 1 December 2019. Let me tell you…we’re pretty excited about getting up close and personal with some super cute felines in the ‘Pat-a Cat zone’!!!
“Due to the overwhelming public response we received in our inaugural year, we are committed to presenting a larger and more exciting show this year. It will truly be the ultimate day out for any cat lover. 70% larger than last year, the show offers a plethora of opportunities to meet, interact and learn about wonderful felines and what makes them tick.” CEO and Show Founder, Jason Humphris.
The Cat Lovers Show is a veritable feline festival, featuring everything for and about cats in the one place, celebrating all aspects of ownership. A series of unique feline-inspired feature zones will offer visitors the chance to learn, be inspired and connect with fellow cat lovers. This will be a great chance for you and your family to learn more about your cat, or to decide whether a cat is right for you.
Educating owners on the many facets of cat wellbeing to ensure long and enriched lives remains a cornerstone of the show. Australia’s most renowned vets and animal experts including Dr Chris Brown, Dr Katrina Warren, Kelly Gill, Rose Horton, and new Bondi Vet, Dr Danni Dusek will present two days of free educational talks on the Royal Canin Stage focusing on cat health, breed information and advice on behaviour and training.
Cat trainer extraordinaire Catmantoo – aka Robert Dowlett – and his superstar felines ‘Didja’ and newcomer ‘Bindi’ are set to make an awe-inspiring appearance in the Black Hawk Colosseum. With their skateboards in tow, the world-record holding trio will take to the stage presenting a new series of entertaining tricks that need to be seen to be believed! Yes, that does say Skateboarding cats!!!
The Cat Lovers Show is committed to supporting animal shelters and rescue organisations that provide vital care to cats in need and assistance in finding fur-ever homes.
Talks by some of Australia’s most treasured vets and animal experts, including Dr Chris Brown, Dr Katrina Warren, Kelly Gill, Rose Horton, and Bondi Vet, Dr. Danni Duseks.
All your ‘cat questions’ will be answered in the Ask-An-Expert Zone, offering cat lovers ten-minute appointments with vets, groomers, trainers and breeders.
The opportunity to get up close with cats of all shapes and sizes at the largest ever Pat-A-Cat zone. MEOWWW!
You can learn everything there is to know about the importance of rescue and adoption and even start the adoption process at the Petstock Assist Adoption Zone.
Catch cat trainer ‘Catmantoo’ and his legendary felines Didja and Bindi, who are going to blow your minds with their skateboards and awe-inspiring tricks.
Kitty-Kristmas shopping lists will be completed with more than 150 exhibitors offering the latest and greatest cat products and services, new product launches and exclusive show specials.
The ‘Purrfect’ Match Zone will assist potential owners, giving details on over 50 different cat breeds to help you make informed decisions on which breed is right for your family.
Unwind at the Purrfect Paws & Prosecco Parlour with a glass of bubbles and kitty-inspired manicure by Clara H Nails; the ‘go-to’ Melbourne nail technician for super-stars Katy Perry and Serena Williams.
Little ones can get hands-on with feline themed arts and crafts, face painting and a funny photo wall at the Get Catty! Kitty-Kids Zone.
Entries for the Kitty-Cosplay CATwalk Fashion Purr-rade are now open for fanatics to join the cat cosplay community and adorn their best feline fashions. Sashaying down the CATwalk at the Black Hawk Colosseum, there will be a daily prize for the most feline-fabulous outfit.
The Cat Lovers Show is the first and only major festival in Australia dedicated to celebrating our fabulous felines whilst educating, entertaining and informing the passionate cat community.
Location: Royal Exhibition Building, Carlton
Dates: Saturday 30 Nov & Sunday 1 Dec 2019
Times: 9am – 5pm daily (N.B. the show is opening 30 minutes earlier this year)
Up to a 20% discount available for tickets purchased via the website
Event Management International (EMI) strongly encourages the cat-loving public to pounce on tickets as another sell-out Show is expected and a limited number of tickets are available each day to ensure cat welfare and an enjoyable experience for all visitors.
EMI recognises the health and wellbeing of cats is paramount, and encourages all visitors to respect the cats inside the Royal Exhibition Building. Whilst there will be many more cats than the previous year, attendees are encouraged to listen to handlers, pay close attention to event signage regarding cat welfare and respectfully interact with all animals.
Australian retailer The Reject Shop has just launched it’s fab range of wheelchair-inclusive Halloween costumes for children, part of a mission to become more inclusive and allow children of all abilities to be a part of special occasions. Can we get a “Hell yeah!!”
Partnering with national charity HeartKids, the range features two costumes that fit over a child’s wheelchair, and easily attach to it with velcro. With the puff of a magic wand, one of the costumes transforms the chair into a gorgeous princess carriage, while an ‘Ahoy Captain’ will see the other transform into a pirate ship. As every wheelchair is different, multiple velcro pieces are included with each costume to ensure that it fits.
“The Reject Shop has long been known as the place for affordable Halloween costumes, but we wanted to ensure that all children were able to join in the fun of Halloween celebrations,” says The Reject Shop’s Acting Chief Executive Officer, Dani Aquilina.
For the launch, The Reject Shop is collaborating with their charity partner, HeartKids, who is dedicated to working with children with congenital heart disease, who often find themselves in wheelchairs post-surgery and throughout their recovery stage.
“Our wheelchair-inclusive range is the first step in ensuring that inclusion and diversity are inherent in our organisation. We’re excited to introduce the range to parents and children this October, as part of our broader strategy to help more families live on a budget.”
“We’re thrilled to partner with The Reject Shop on such an important initiative,” says Rob Lutter, CEO of HeartKids. “These costumes will allow wheel-chair bound children a much needed distraction from their time in hospital, and the chance to simply be kids again and enjoy Halloween celebrations.”
Along with The Reject Shop’s full range of kid’s costumes, the Halloween wheelchair range will be available in selected stores nationally, just in time for Halloween.
Retailing for $49 each, it’s hoped that the range will make children in wheelchairs feel every bit a part of the Halloween celebrations.
When we landed in Sydney almost 5 years ago, it was probably the most overwhelming yet exhilarating time of our lives. Where would we live? Where would I buy my groceries? What is the traffic like? And most importantly, how on earth am I going to find the right school?
In order to settle into life ‘Down Under’ and get sorted with all the things necessary to ‘live’ as a family, we had given ourselves about 10 weeks leeway.
A few days after arriving, our relocation consultant, turned up! Lisa drove us around for three days looking for the best location in Sydney, to fit what we were looking for to build our new life. (A dream right??)… Yes, we were spoilt, but using a service like this, meant we landed on our feet in the perfect spot for the whole family!
I am well aware that lots of expats arrive in Australia without this kind of assistance, and that’s why I want to introduce you to a couple of amazing women who are dedicated to helping you find the perfect school & location for your family even if you’re not on Aussie soil!!
Steph is a mum to 3 kids, who lives in Bayside, Melbourne. Steph worked for 6 years at Kilvington Grammar before having her first child and taking 6 years off to expanded her family. She completed her masters while away from the classroom and got involved in community kindergarten where currently she is President. Steph went back to the classroom in 2017 working in the state system and now works 2 days a week teaching Year One. Steph loves teaching because no day is the same, the kids make you laugh and you’re always kept on your toes.
‘Teaching is so rewarding! Seeing your students ‘ah ha’ moments and pride in their success makes all the tough moments worthwhile’ – Stephanie Murphy
Claire is also a mum and has worked for 11 years in the Catholic system across different areas of Melbourne from Cheltenham to Melton and now based in East Malvern. She has her masters in ‘Inclusive Schooling’ and is currently working 2 days a week in Year 6. Claire has taught extensively in Prep and has been a transition coordinator welcoming children in at the beginning of their primary school journey. Conversely Claire has also taught 3 years in Year 6 and has seen her students graduate and transition to secondary schooling. Claire is a lover of learning, challenging herself to always think differently, try something new and see where it leads. She also has the most infectious laugh making it hard to not all end up in stitches.
School Finder was borne from our own personal experiences. When I (Steph) was looking for a school for Henry (my eldest) I found not only were my choices limited (at the time we lived further down the Peninsula) but the variety of offerings was so diverse it was hard to really decide what I wanted. At the same time Claire had just had her first baby and so, as I searched Claire answered my phone calls about what I liked, what I didn’t and things I noticed while looking at different schools. 2 things were really clear – even with our teaching background, we still needed a clear criteria and set of parameters that met our children. Parents on tours with me spent most of the time smiling and nodding uncertainly, whilst I spent a lot of my time deciphering jargon for them.
After I had chosen a school for Henry and we were in the process of moving and finding him a kindergarten, we decided to write down some of the things that Claire did with me, informally, as a framework for what now we call our Welcome Survey. My husband built the website, we started putting our name out there and between friends, family and word of mouth our little start up was born and we began to get clients and test out our service.
‘In our first year we didn’t charge any of our clients, we wanted to see if what we did worked for families, we wanted to review and refine our service and build relationships with new people and schools. Now we have clients from all over Melbourne and interstate Australia. Including several international moves also’ – Stephanie Murphy
What services do you offer expat parents moving to Australia for the first time? Can you assist parents even when they have never visited the area?
When families move to Australia we want to ensure we talk to them about what the Australian school system looks like, how the calendar year & terms work, and educational approaches. We then walk them through the online resources they can access including MySchool, Find my school and bettereducation.com.au.
As with all of our clients, whether local or far away, we start by sharing our welcome survey which really identifies what parents are looking for in a school setting. We question the pragmatics of location, after school care, and canteen, to the values and ethos by which people raise their families and what they want from a school. We also question how much involvement a family wants to have in a school community.
Then, via Skype or if in Melbourne in person, we coach parents on how to use online tools, how to build a personalised criteria and how to write direct questions that relate to that criteria. If parents have never visited the area, we go for them and report back or book them in for when they arrive in Melbourne!
School Finder has 3 staggered packages depending on need. So if parents are happy after the one on one they are not locked into the next step. If we tour on behalf of the client we go with their criteria and questions and operate like a proxy for them. Schools are often really happy to take us through and because we are teachers who walk the walk and talk the talk, we can be quite direct in what the family is looking for.
If a parent was moving to Victoria, from overseas, what would be the reason they would choose your help?
For a family moving to Victoria we would start with the welcome survey then set up a Skype or Zoom meeting to chat and talk through the Australian schooling, personalised criteria and questions. We use multiple screens to teach parents how to use online tools and we discuss some of the issues with sites like bettereducation.com.au which is advertising heavy. This is the ‘Check In’ and is vitally important for introducing families to us and the Australian Education System.
Our next package up called the Line Up – sends us away from the check in to do the research and take the leg work out of ‘what’s out there?’ After we have done our research we come back to the client with 3-5 schools to tour, how they meet their criteria and contact/tour information all in one document ready to go. We also tour for our clients so if they have completed the Line Up, then they want us to tour, we can do that on their behalf, either charged as part of the full relocations package or by the hour depending on the clients needs. In some cases we have already toured the school so we don’t need to tour again but do some fact finding in terms of class sizes, entry points, availability of spots.
We try to keep our service really personal, so what we do for one client may not match the needs of another. We make sure we tailor our service to your family’s needs. Stephanie Murphy
In your opinion, what is the most challenging thing when helping overseas/expat families find the best school for their child?
Apart from the time difference which makes it near impossible to get on the phone to chat to the schools, we have found that expat families find the difference in the Australian and UK education models quite significant. That, combined with understanding the VCE end of the journey can be tricky.
Why do you think your services are important for parents moving to a new country?
As one of our clients recently said ‘You’ve been our woman on the ground’. Moving to a new country is exciting and daunting but when you’re migrating with children there are so many things to consider. Where do we live? How far is that really to work? What is close by? Do we want to go to the local school? Can we walk there? Is there childcare I like close by?
We believe we can give expat families a helping hand in understanding what Australian schooling is like and help them to feel a bit more ready for what they are arriving into when they get here.
Recently I was on a school tour and met a family who had arrived from Scotland 4 weeks earlier. The family had toured over 12 schools, been looking for housing in 5 suburbs and were still living in their AirBNB feeling utterly overwhelmed. Their kids were, on the whole, happy to be living in a new place but, their youngest was struggling without a routine.
Within a week we found them a school, helped them settle on a location to live and now 3 weeks on they are much more relaxed into Aussie life.
Claire and I got into teaching because we love helping people, forging good relationships and a great rapport with those around us and seeing the results. This is exactly what we do with School Finder. Stephanie Murphy
I understand that leaving your home can be overwhelming, let alone struggling to build a new life so far away! Claire and Stephanie have made this process a whole lot easier for you, so I hope you will support them in their crusade, to make expat family life a lot easier to build! Recently the team at School Finder have connected with a relocation company who specialise in Melbourne rentals (hurrah)! This means that they can help you find the right school and get you into your new rental stress free.
I’d love to hear how you found the right school for your new expat kids!
Your little builders are invited to LEGOLAND® Discovery Centre on Wednesday 11th September for a fun and inspiring morning with Playgroup Victoria to celebrate 50 years of DUPLO® fun!
The Ultimate DUPLO Playgroup will take place from 8:30am-10am, giving families with kids aged 0-4 the opportunity to enjoy building activities, storytelling, a visit from Emmett from The LEGO Movie (YAY!!!!), and enjoy the arts and crafts in the centre’s new DUPLO Farm Adventure zone at a discounted rate.
Playgroup Victoria and LEGOLAND Discovery Centre are hosting the special event to mark 50 years since LEGO created DUPLO, the big bricks for small hands.
DUPLO was designed to inspire toddlers to unlock their full potential through interactive, creative and playful experiences.
According to the LEGO Play Well Report, 95% of parents believe play is essential for children’s well-being and is a vital educational tool.
LEGOLAND Discovery Centre supports the important role Playgroup Victoria plays in bringing young children, parents, families and communities together to learn and develop through informal play and social interaction.
“Participation in playgroup positively impacts so much of children’s development as well as parent’s capacity to engage with their children through play,” Danny Schwarz, Playgroup Victoria CEO.
“LEGO is a wonderful tool that allows children to practice their fine and gross motor skills. Moreover, it encourages them to create, be curious, be innovative, share, imagine and play – all which feeds into their greater understanding of the world and its concepts,” Sinead Halliday, Playgroup Victoria.
The new DUPLO Farm Adventure zone at LEGOLAND Discovery Centre is an interactive experience where toddlers can let their imaginations run wild. Behind the giant barn doors, children can explore a multi-level farmhouse where they can build with DUPLO and climb, crawl, slide and swing!
To purchase tickets to the special event, enter the promo code “ultimateplaygroup” at www.LEGOLANDDiscoveryCentre.com.au. Families can stay at LEGOLAND Discovery Centre after The Ultimate DUPLO Playgroup concludes.
As well as DUPLO Farm Adventure, LEGOLAND Discovery Centre is also home to two thrilling rides, a 4D cinema and 11 LEGO build and play zones to keep kids of all ages entertained!
What: The Ultimate DUPLO Playgroup
Where: LEGOLAND Discovery Centre, Chadtsone Shopping Centre, 1341 Dandenong Rd, Chadstone, VIC 3148
When: Wednesday 11th September from 08:30-10:00 (families can stay after the event)
Cost: $25 per adult; $20 per child 3yrs and over, free for children 2yrs and under
I have two children at Primary school. I am “one of those mums” who hasn’t let either of them have a phone yet. Why would I? My son is 7, and my grade 6 daughter is 10. They’re never really in a situation where they need a phone. Not only that, I don’t want them to be able to access any form of social media without me being there. I don’t believe children under the age of 16 have anywhere near the right capabilities to understand or use social media in the right way! They’re still learning social etiquette in the playground for goodness sake, so why open up a whole other world where a simple “No!” can be completely misconstrued.
Aside to the misunderstandings that come about from a simple text message, smartphones and social media can have seriously detrimental effects on our children’s emotional wellbeing. Alongside increased stress and anxiety levels, children have been shown to have dramatic changes in how they see themselves and measure their self-worth. So why would Primary Schools allow mobile phones through the gates? Well, how the hell can they stop it? This week (three weeks after I wrote this article) it seems that the Victorian Government are finally taking steps to ban mobile phones in all Victorian schools. This has caused lots of chat, mostly from parents who are understandably concerned about their children being left without any way of contacting them.
Just like most primary schools, our school has a “no mobile phone” policy. It’s all very clear! When you come into school, you switch your phone off and hand it to your teacher, who locks it away until the end of the day. Or, you can hide it! You can leave it on, hide it in your bag and bring it out at school swimming when you and your mates want to make a TikTok video. Or you can sneak it into your bag when you go on grade 4 camp, and make Instagram stories of your mates being silly in their underwear. Come on, who cares who’s watching our 9 year olds running around half naked? Oh hell, let’s go the whole 9 yards and make some Instagram posts with our girlfriends in front of the mirror in the change rooms. Who cares that poor old Sally is nude in the background? Her mum won’t mind!!
It’s all good and well for primary aged child to have a phone so that parents know they’re safe when they’re walking home, however, when our children are at school, I think we’re allowed to expect that they are safe too, and not being subjected to all the nightmares of social media and the internet? It should go without saying that they aren’t being filmed for Instagram, or photographed for Snap Chat shouldn’t it?
I think as parents, we’re well within our rights to know that when the bell goes, and school begins, children are not uploading to their socials, taking photographs or subjecting other children knowingly or not, to any kind of online activity.
According to Bully Zero Australia Foundation, one in eight Australians experience cyberbullying.
It’s not about being paranoid; it’s about keeping our whole community safe.
Do we need to send primary aged children through metal detectors at the school gate? Probably not. Do we have an all-out ban on phones, and expect our children to walk home with no way of being contacted? No, absolutely not. Do we need to stop our most vulnerable children accessing the help they need through a device, no way! Therefore, the only way teachers can ever get a handle on mobile phone usage at school is by us parents taking control. Now!
We need to talk to our children about their devices and how they are using them. We need to make sure our children are being honest and using their phones in a safe and respectful way. We need to teach our children the importance of handing their devices to a member of staff, and absolutely make it their responsibility to do so. If they can’t be responsible enough to do that, they shouldn’t have a phone!
Mobile phones can take bullying out of the playground and into the home.
You only have to scroll apps like TikTok to see how many children (and I mean Primary aged) are using their devices in school time. It’s not only a worry for the safety of your own child, but for the children in the background who are completely oblivious to the fact they are “Insta famous”.
We mustn’t ever underestimate privacy. It’s supremely important when it comes to our very young children. “Private accounts “still reveal all sorts of information about a child, and do not stop online bullying!
Of course there’s a limit to what schools can do about children who sneak their devices into the playground. Without bag searches, metal detectors or honesty, teachers are being blindsided every day. This is resulting in our children not having a completely safe environment in which to learn, away from the pressures of social media and the worst of the internet.
The village needs you!
Our primary school children don’t understand the dramatic implications of their online behaviour. They don’t see the harm in hiding their phone in their bag and taking the odd picture of their friends in the playground. We don’t need an all out ban, we need to teach our children the importance of honesty!
It’s our responsibility as parents, to keep our children safe, however, it’s also our responsibility to make sure the children around them are safe too.
It’s not our job to toughen our children up to face a cruel and heartless world. It’s our job to raise children who will make the world a little less cruel and heartless – L.R. Knost
The NVG Winter Masterpieces this year is a sight to behold and one for the whole family to see. Not only does this incredibly well curated exhibition house 8 Terracotta Warriors, it is also home to approximately 170 pieces of stunning work, old and new.
The Terracotta Warriors are often referred to as the eighth wonder of the world, and The National Gallery of Victoria has brought them to Melbourne, so that we can see them, close up. This is honestly, not to be missed!
Cai Guo-Qiang: The Transient Landscape, presented in parallel with Terracotta Warriors: Guardians of Immortality has just opened in Melbourne, and is running until 13 October, 2019.
Arguably the world’s most exciting contemporary artist, Cai Guo-Qiang’s features his brand new masterpieces, created using gunpowder! The videos of how this was achieved are fascinating, and the children are guaranteed to love the theatre of it all.
‘Using gunpowder brings me closer to nature and even the universe. Of course at the moment of ignition the explosion is instantaneous… but gunpowder has its origins in minerals that took hundreds, thousands or millions of years to form.’– Cai Guo-Qiang
As if the gunpowder creations and the Terracotta Warriors aren’t enough to thrill, Cai Guo-Qiang has created 10,000 porcelain birds, each one suspended from the ceiling as if mid flight. These birds have been created solely for this exhibition. This monumental installation of 10,000 suspended porcelain birds, create a three-dimensional impression of a calligraphic drawing of the sacred Mount Li, the site of the ancient tomb of China’s first emperor, Qin Shihuang, and his warriors. It is a sight to behold!
As with many of the NGV’s exhibitions this is absolutely a child friendly one! Alongside the exhibits you will see detailed explanations specifically targeted at a younger audience. Perfect for all budding art lovers!
It seems like an age ago that we left the rush of the city behind us and headed out into the Victorian countryside. A weekend of heavenly fresh air, family time and glorious Aussie bush exploring lay ahead of us, and let me tell you, the Friday night traffic wasn’t going to get me down.
We were heading to JoyBell Cottage, a much adored, family owned hideaway near Elaine, 117km from Melbourne. Elaine is small town located on the Midland Highway between Ballarat and Geelong. At the 2016 census, Elaine and the surrounding area had a population of 228, so we knew it was going to be blissfully serene. Hurrah!
Leaving the cities in Australia is a real eye opener to just how barren parts of this country are. I love that you can drive huge distances down under and see very little sign of life, just the odd kangaroo or lonely farm house. It seems to make every journey an adventure!
We arrived at our secluded little retreat in the bush at about 8pm, exhausted, but thrilled at the promise of total peace for the entire weekend!
We were so thankful to Sam, the owner, who had left a box of treats for us, and a beautiful welcome note from her children. This sort of personal touch is what JoyBell is all about! It really is like coming home. This was a beautiful start to what was going to be a really special weekend.
The story behind JoyBell Cottage
Every wonderful house has a story doesn’t it! JoyBell is no different! You can feel the warmth as soon as you walk in, and I’m certain it’s because of the love that has been poured into this house since it was bought by Sam and her husband.
Sam and her husband both grew up in the Aussie bush and wanted to give their children experiences that mirrored their own childhoods as often as they could. It took a year of searching for the right place but they finally found their little piece of paradise and purchased this beautiful cottage. They named it JoyBell after Sam’s mother in law Joy, who sadly passed away in 2017 from leukaemia. Joy was a passionate quilter, nature lover and raised her boys as a single mum. She was amazing, and her incredible quilting talents are in pride of place throughout the cottage!
JoyBell Cottage has 5 acres, so there is plenty of room to wear the children out, or go for a peaceful walk! There is a dam where we caught yabbies (tick off the bucket list) and plenty of room to ride bikes, explore the Australian bush and make the most of the beautiful outdoors on the doorstep!
Sam and her family have filled their lovely country cottage with Joy’s treasures, quilts and furniture, which have made it not only incredibly comfortable to stay in, but beautiful and welcoming. You can almost smell the freshly baked cookies as you walk into the kitchen. It is a true testament to the life of Sam’s mother in law, and knowing the story, and visiting the cottage, I think the name is absolutely perfect.
If you are looking to connect with nature and each other, this is the perfect weekend getaway. If you’re looking to get the children away from the tv and their iPads, this is the place for you. If you want to explore the Aussie bush, and have breakfast on the deck whilst listening to nothing but native birds, this is the place for you. If you want to see Australia at its most wonderful, this is the place for you.
JoyBell cottage is a rustic Australian bush home with three bedrooms, two bathrooms, a laundry room, a large family room, a games room and a kitchen diner. The decking is perfect for mealtimes, snoozing, reading, watching kangaroos hop past, and enjoying the outdoors! It is welcoming, relaxed and ready for anyone to enjoy. Why not treat yourself to a weekend in the bush! It doesn’t get any more relaxed or more Aussie than this!
‘Joy is the most magnetic force in the universe’ – Unknown
Buninyong is about a 20 minute drive from Joybell Cottage. The first thing that you’ll notice is the beautiful Town Hall and the incredible number of coffee shops! Oh and the peace too!
Buninyong Town Hall – If you are there at the weekend, you must pop in and talk to the members of the Historical Society. They will tell you some fascinating tales of Buninyong’s past! One of my favourite facts was that ‘Buninyong’ is the aboriginal for ‘Man laying down with his knees up’ which is exactly what Mount Buninyong looks like!!
Book Cottage – Search out this wonderful little cottage bursting at the seams with $1 books. It is run by the local Lions Club, who make you feel like a long lost friend when you are joyfully flicking through all the books you have ever wanted!
In Buninyong there are more coffee shops than you could ever use in a weekend and a well stocked supermarket. You’ll find a play park, a skate park & a parkour park! Yes kids, it’s true!! Ace street art dons the walls and the botanical gardens are worth taking a stroll through. Buninyong also has a small art gallery and an outdoor pool, although we didn’t check these out.
Mount Buninyong Winery is a whole afternoon of adventure! So many games for the whole family to enjoy, and plenty of space for the kids to get outdoors whilst you sip some local wine and eat the most delicious pizza you ever tasted! Go smoked salmon, its AMAZING!!!
Whether you’re a seasoned visitor or a Ballarat Gold Fields virgin, you’ll want to get all over their Easter Holiday fun!
We’ve been informed that the blacksmith needs a new apprentice, there are animals to be fed and Brown’s Confectionery Manufactory have lollies that can’t make themselves! You and the children better rush up there and get to work!
This Easter holidays, between Sat 6th April and Mon 22nd April, Sovereign Hill are exploring the working life of the goldfields. Relive history and discover the lost trades with a range of exclusive workshops and free events that will transport you and the kids back to the busy goldfields of Ballarat. Genuinely a fascinating day out for all ages!
Here is a list of the fun you and the gang can get involved in:
Pour your own Candle: Become a candlemaker at Hewett’s Candle Works and learn how to make your very own candle. Hear about the secrets of good candle making, and let Sovereign Hill’s experienced candlemakers guide you through the process. You get to take a candle home too!!
Make your own rope: Using traditional methods, try making a rope, and then see if you can turn your rope into quoits. Will you beat Sovereign Hill’s champions at a game? We hope so!!
Become a Blacksmith: Join Sovereign Hill’s talented Blacksmiths and try your hand at forging. You’ll all be taken through the basics of blacksmithing and learn about the history of this trade on the Ballarat goldfields. A great story to take back to school after the holidays!
Where did photography come from? Come and see a ‘camera obscura’ and learn how the romance with the captured image began. Sovereign Hill’s photographers will give you an enlightening insight into how images were created and how cameras evolved over time. This is a mind blowing for the modern day child!
Sweet Experience: Brown’s Confectionery Factory is hiring! You’ll have to get your uniforms on and help Sovereign Hill make some butterscotch lollies. Smell, touch, and roll your own lollies while learning about the sweet treats of the goldfields.
Spokes and Wheels: Watch the talented wheelwrights machine and assemble the components of a wooden wheel using the latest in 1800s wheel making technology. Then try finishing your own spoke with hand held tools.
Belt making: Back in the 1800s, everything was made by hand and even the simplest piece of clothing had a story to tell. Go back in time and join Sovereign Hill to craft your own belt using traditional methods at Sovereign Hill’s leather harness workshop.
See, we told you… there’s no way you’re going to find yourselves at a loose end this Easter! More fun to come in the next few days!! Keep it here!
The Lost Trades program will run from Saturday 6th April until Monday 22nd April, 2019.
**Many of the Lost Trade workshops need to be pre-booked, so to find out more, or to make a booking, visit www.thestoryliveson.com.au