Not the high-life, but you come out on tops for kids at Mt Baw Baw – Review

First Tracks at Mt Baw Baw

“I hope Baw Baw isn’t like it sounds” my eight year old giggles in the back seat of the car as we wind our way up the mountain of the closest downhill ski resort to Melbourne.

“It better not be” my husband replies.

I know what he’s thinking.  Skiing after-all isn’t a cheap exercise and he found the receipt and said something I can’t repeat about the $980 I paid for two nights in an en-suite cabin with one bedroom.

Then there was the $110 ski clothing hire (and $90 for gloves I bought), $30 ski and boot hire, $90 ski lesson for the eight year old, $60 ski lesson for the four year old, $60 for chains and $42 we were about to pay (daily) for parking.

Cascade Apartments

We stayed at Cascades Apartments http://www.cascadeapartments.com.au (apartment seven).  Our room had a fire, kitchenette, a lounge with two couches which fold out to beds and a small bedroom with a Queen bed and a large bunk overhead. Think old brick ski lodge – fairly dated, but clean and very comfortable.

The proximity is what won the kids over.  There was literally snow at the door, and you can don your ski gear and within a five-minute walk be tobogganing on the slopes.

There are a few dining options on the restaurant, but having your own food, particularly for breakfast, snacks and lunch is definitely worthwhile.

The Village Restaurant had a set menu of $40 per adult, while the Alpine Bar was ‘A la carte’ with typical pub style food, large portions and a relaxed atmosphere.

Kelly’s café is a great spot to grab some hot fast food (although the service wasn’t so fast  – 35 minutes for a couple of lamb wraps and some hot chips) but it’s conveniently located right near the Frosti Hollow Toboggan Park.

This is the only ‘dedicated’ toboggan area, but take a short walk around the village area and there are plenty of other areas to be found.

Great tobogganing for the kids Unfortunately 2013 didn’t turn out to be a great year for snow-fall, but it didn’t stop us spending hours tobogganing down the slopes until the snow turned to slush and mud – and then we kept going.

The ski instructors were fantastic and the kids were skiing with no poles down the small slopes within an hour.  There is a carpet tow lift, which gives the children a fantastic introduction to using a proper ski tow.

I think the reaction from my four year old, who had to be physically removed from the slopes, is testament to how much the children enjoyed it.

Being school holidays there were some great other activities too – face painting, cooking marshmallows over an open fire, a small circus style trampoline for the kids to do some flips, and fireworks.

The little village has a great feel to it, and even without the holiday activities, as a first time ski/snow introduction to kids, I’d think it’d be hard to beat.

So it’s an eight out of ten by us Baw Baw, and you certainly aren’t anything like your namesake.

———————

A few tips – buy chains for the car, check the ski report, take food so you can prepare meals as you wish, take cash (the power went out three times during our stay).

Accommodation options: http://mountbawbaw.com.au/accomodation/on-mountain/

Tobogganning Fun

Cascade’s is listed separately and isn’t part of the Mount Baw Baw accommodation offering as it’s just outside of the main gates of the mountain.

It takes about 2.5 hours to get to Mt Baw Baw from Melbourne.

Great tips for firs timers to Baw Baw: http://mountbawbaw.com.au/plan-your-trip/first-timers-info/

This blog post  is courtesy of Kirstie Bedford. Kirstie started her career as a journalist covering hard news, but always had a yearning to travel.

Working for Tourism New Zealand in her 20s she was lucky to visit some of the most remote and remarkable parts of her own country, hosting international media to many destinations only accessible by helicopter or boat.

When she got married, it was only fitting that instead of a beach resort, her and husband Dave spent five weeks trekking around Europe.

They returned to New Zealand and several years later moved to Australia, where they’ve been living for seven years, and where Kirstie works as a PR consultant focusing on the food, wine/beverage and tourism sectors.

Kirstie is also a committee member of the International Food Wine Travel Writers Association – Australasia.

With two young boys her travels are a bit closer to home these days, but her bucket list grows by the day and she hopes to one day cross them all off the list – sharing her experiences as she goes.

LinkedIn: http://au.linkedin.com/in/kirstiebedford
Twitter: @kirstiebedford
Blog: https://foodwinetraveltips.wordpress.com/author/kdjm/

10 Places to Take the Kids in the Second Half of 2013

Now that the first half of 2013 has passed (and how fast did it go?!), it’s time to start thinking about where you can take the kids on holiday in the second half of the year. Have you been on holiday already this year? If so, perhaps something relatively local will appeal. If you are yet to take a break, maybe something a little further from home is on the agenda. Regardless of the type of holiday you’re looking for, here are 10 great places to take the kids on holiday for the rest of 2013.

The Great Barrier Reef

1. The Great Barrier Reef
The large majority of kids have the same thing in common: they love swimming and they love wildlife! Where is the best to combine the two? The Great Barrier Reef. Known for its colourful coral and abundant wildlife, this is one of the most spectacular natural attractions on the planet. This is a great place for your first scuba lesson, and the kids will have great opportunities to learn such as those at Green Island. June to December is also the peak time for whale watching!

2. Magnetic Island
Magnetic Island rests just offshore of North Queensland and is a popular holiday destination because of its natural beauty, entertaining things to do, and picture-perfect weather – escape the cold! Besides the sailing, fishing, walking & water sports that you and the family can enjoy, the kids will especially love swimming in the sheltered waters of Horseshoe Bay. You won’t be able to wipe the smile off the kids’ faces!

3. Melbourne
Although it is winter in Melbourne, the city is at its vibrant best during this time of year. The AFL season is in full swing, with blockbuster games being held at the MCG every week. If the kids are new to the sport, they’ll be amazed at the huge crowds that gather every weekend. Head to Luna Park for a day of thrills, and be sure to catch the fireworks in the Docklands precinct that happen at 7:00pm every Friday night in July!

4. Surfers Paradise
Yes, it’s an oldie but a goodie! If you can manage to take the kids out of the school holidays period, then you’ll find the usual hustle & bustle of Surfers Paradise to be less than usual and far more relaxing. Clearly, the big drawcards for kids are the themeparks – Dreamworld, Seaworld, Movieworld and Wet’n’Wild. During peak periods, the lines to get into these parks can be enormous – head there during the quieter periods and spend the day laughing your way through the rides all day with the kids!

5. Ayers Rock
Locals in Alice Springs say that the best time to visit Ayers Rock is during September. Take the kids to see this natural wonder (the largest free standing monolith in the world!) and it will be sure to take their breath away. Make sure you climb Ayers Rock with them and when you get to the top, call someone special. Grandma would love a call from her grandkids while standing on top of Australia’s most iconic attraction!

6.  Mt Buller
Not fussed about the cold? Think the kids can handle it? Then why not take them to one of Victoria’s best ski resorts for families – Mt Buller. With over 300 hectares of ski fields and a huge variety of beginner trails, it is the perfect place to introduce the younger ones to the thrill of skiing or snowboarding. You’ll have them asking to come back every year!

7. Phillip Island
This popular tourist destination just 90 minutes from Melbourne is choc-full of kid’s activities! The big one is the Penguin Parade, where you can sit and watch hundreds of fairy penguins waddle their way up the beach to their sand burrows. A guaranteed kid-pleaser! Phillip Island also boasts a wildlife sanctuary, as well as a well renowned maze that will keep the kids busy trying to find a way out! Mini golf is also available with the maze

Dolphin at Monkey Mia

8. Monkey Mia
This world famous attraction in Western Australia should be high on the list of places to take the kids. It is famous for its dolphin interaction experience, where you get the chance to get up close and personal with wild dolphins. If you’re lucky your child will be picked to feed the dolphins as they come up into the shallow waters. An unforgettable experience that they will remember the res t of their lives!

9. Sydney
If you’re stuck for ideas and you want somewhere easy to visit, Sydney is the answer. Australia’s most popular tourist destination has an amazing variety of activities to keep the kids entertained. The Sydney Observatory will take your children on a journey to the moon and back, while the Sydney Aquarium features all-Australia sea life that will have them fascinated for hours. If your littlies have a favourite celebrity, visit Madame Tussauds and see a perfect wax version of their idol!

10. Port Arthur
Port Arthur in Tasmania is an historic site and is an important part of Australia’s history. Educate the kids with the amazing stories & events that have taken place here. A kids activity book is provided for the young ‘uns on arrival, to help them understand what has happened in the past and how it affects them today. There are many displays that allow children to interact – their knowledge of Australian history will double after a day at Port Arthur.

Authors note:
Matt Pruys manages the Holiday Ideas section for HomeAway.com.au, the world’s leading online holiday rental accommodation network.     

A Family Weekend in Phillip Island

Countless families from around the world plan to visit the great city of Melbourne, but sometimes, the crowds can feel overwhelming. A great way to break up a city holiday is to escape from the hustle and bustle for a few days and see a different side of the region. Phillip Island is a great option because it is just two hours from the city centre, and it offers a host of fun activities that children of all ages can enjoy. Whatever your budget or your interests, there is plenty to see, do and explore on Phillip Island.

Staying in Phillip Island

Affordable Camp Grounds

Phillip Island is a destination that caters to families on a budget, and those who want to enjoy the great outdoors will have plenty of opportunities if they opt to stay in one of the camping sites. If you choose, you can camp in tents, but there are also cabins with beds and even electricity for a more comfortable stay. Camping is a lot of fun for children, and it can be a great way to put you close to the outdoor recreation activities like swimming at the beach or walking along Cape Woolamai.

Luxury Hotels

If luxury is important to you, you will love that Phillip Island boasts a number of upscale options that families can enjoy. Cliff Top Boutique is a smaller but truly stunning accommodation choice, but families are often even more excited about the amenities at the nearby Silverwater Resort. Although some of the hotels can be pricey, they are still typically cheaper than the accommodation in Melbourne, which is a huge plus for bigger families or anyone trying to save a little money on their holiday costs.

Family-Friendly Rental Homes

If you want to enjoy a holiday in a new location but still have all the convenience of home, a rental home might be the best accommodation option for you on Phillip Island. This will give you more privacy than a hotel, and parents often appreciate the extra space to spread out and let their children play. In some cases, you might even be lucky enough to choose a rental home with a private pool, a fully equipped kitchen or a large outdoor dining area.

Attractions on Phillip Island

A Maze ‘N Things

Although there is no shortage of fun attractions for families on Phillip Island, one of the top choices is A Maze ‘N Things, a cleverly named park that is ideal for children under the age of 12. The large outdoor maze is the highlight, but the facility also boasts an illusions room, a miniature golf course and a giant room full of puzzles. Visitors of all ages will love Lolly Lips, the ice cream and confectionery shop right onsite.

Penguin Parade

Image Courtesy of NOAA Photo Library – Flickr

Perhaps the one thing that all visitors to Phillip Island should experience is the Penguin Parade. This amazing event takes place each evening, and it is unlike anything else you might have seen before. At sunset, hundreds and sometimes thousands of penguins walk right from the ocean to their nests on the shore, and attending the Penguin Parade will give you amazing views of the whole event. Children and adults alike will love this breathtaking nightly event, and the price is reasonable. Expect to pay $20 for adults and $10 for children, but discounts are available during certain low seasons throughout the year.

Phillip Island Wildlife Park

To see as many of Australia’s native animals as possible all at once, visit the 60 acres of the Phillip Island Wildlife Park. Over 100 different species call this their home, and visitors will love the opportunity to see koalas, kangaroos, wallabies and other native species. Children can actually pet koalas and feed birds, which makes it an interactive experience that they won’t soon forget.

Since Phillip Island is just two hours from Melbourne, it makes sense to extend your holiday slightly and enjoy this scenic and family-friendly destination. With so much to do, visitors of all ages will enjoy Phillip Island.

This article was provided by Stephen Frazer, Travel Expert

Lorne, VIC as a family holiday destination

Coming into Lorne

As a destination, Lorne really has something for all the family. From the natural beauty and walking trails in Angahook State Park to the stunning, patrolled surf beach for safe swimming (4 Dec 2010- 26 April 2011); art galleries, festivals, spas, designer shops and all the essential services are within easy reach.

With sporting events, quality restaurants, children’s playgrounds, foreshore activities and even whale watching, Lorne offers visitors the opportunity to connect with nature, de-stress, indulge passions and most importantly, enjoy family life.

For unwinding in the great outdoors, stay at Lorne Bush House Cottages and enjoy the friendly native birds and wildlife or Lemonade Creek Cottages, where owner Ray can advise intrepid families on the best local bushwalks. If self-catering, visit Foodworks for all your barbeque essentials.

Pack a picnic of fresh bread rolls and seasonal fresh before a stroll down to t he beach, where Dad can take surfing lessons with the kids at Club Lorne. Mum can enjoy the stunning views from the beach or visit the Lorne Country Club on the hill for a spot of tennis….or just to enjoy the view.

At beautiful Erskine Falls in Angahook State Park you can walk and take in the scenery, or take a group kayaking lesson on the Erskine River. The littlies will love feeding the ducks off the foot bridge and the bigger kids can race each other, or Mum and Dad, in the paddle boats – there are so many ways to spend the day with the whole family together.

If you fancy a bit of time away from the water for a change, catch a movie at the historic Lorne Theatre or browse books by the sea at Lorne Beach Books.

Along the main street there are plenty of boutiques and lovely bars and restaurants, like the laid back ba ba lu Bar; the perfect spot to while away a relaxing afternoon. Treat the kids to a freshly baked crust later at Pizza Pizza or an ice cream from Lick and Sip if they’ve been on best behaviour!

Keep in touch with what’s happening all year round in Lorne by visiting the Love Lorne website and signing up for the e-newsletter at www.lovelorne.com, join Lorne on Facebook at www.facebook.com/We Love Lorne or follow Lorne on Twitter at twitter.com/welovelorne

Mt Baw Baw Alpine Resort – Little Mountain, Big Family Value

Husky Rides

Mt Baw Baw Alpine Resort – the season starts 11 June

From 11 to 13 June, get the family up the mountain for the first weekend of the snow season. It will be jam packed with activities including tobogganing, snow shoeing, marshmallow toasting, hot chocolate, kids giant games and our very own Baw Baw’s Got Talent.

Don’t forget to get your photo taken with Frosti the Frog, Baw Baw’s evergreen mascot!!

Mt Baw Baw, is known for having the cheapest Lift Tickets in Victoria  – a family of four being able to drive right up to the slopes and ski for under  $200 midweek!   Visiting the snow does not have to break the family budget with Value Packages offered to help with purse strings.

Only 2 ½ hours from Melbourne it’s the best family destination this winter!   This quaint Alpine Village offers loads of snow fun –it offers sightseeing, tobogganing, ski and snowboarding, Husky Dog Sled Rides, Snowshoeing, Kids Club Activities and some of the best Family Value Accommodation available at the snow. Mt Baw Baw is most certainly a Little Mountain, jammed packed with Big Value this 2011 Snow Season.

Visit Mt Baw Baw, anytime and discover the hills are alive, all year round!

Mt Baw Baw big air bag and Freestyle Boarder

Mt Baw Baw provides families hours of active entertainment that will ensure a fulfilled day!  In addition to the ski slopes there are 10km of cross country skiing tracks and lots of different terrain parks to practice Freestyle Skiing including The Big Air Bag (a 15m air cushion), for older kids to practice their freestyle and aerial jumps!

Get Mushing with Husky Rides all winter season whisking families around the spectacular scenery of Mt Baw Baw by their own team of huskies.

Free Burton Learn to Ride Clinic on Wednesday 13 July where you get expert tuition and try Snowboarding for free. Includes free equipment hire and is ideal for beginners aged 6 years and over.

For those after a relaxing end to the day, or simply wishing to pamper themselves while the rest of the family get active, there is the Wellbeing centre with its outdoor Rock Spa Pool, Sauna, gym and Massage.  Lie back in the Rock Spa Pool and watch the world go by as you sip a glass of Champagne. Follow that with fine dining at the a la carte Village Central Restaurant, which is the perfect place to sit and enjoy the Mt Baw Baw Mountain to Sea vista.

Baw Baw Mountain

There are lots of things to do at Mount Baw Baw – it’s not every day you get the chance to leaving the CBD after breakfast and be doing snowboarding tricks, in a huskie driven sleigh or just taking in the breathtaking views from Mt Baw Baw before lunch.

For all Information on what Mt Baw Baw can offer you, call our Guest Services team on 03 5165 1136 or visit mountbawbaw.com.au.

Mt Baw Baw strongly advise you call ahead to book a Massage and check operating times of all activities. All outdoor activities are always subject to the elements. Ski rates include Lift Ticket & Gate Entry and do not include Ski Hire or Lessons.

Lego Workshops and Lego Birthday Partys for kids

Lego Education Centre

Last school holidays my eldest son did a Lego Workshop at the Lego Education Centre in South Brisbane (they are also in VIC) and it was great. He got to build huge lego masterpieces and challenge his lego building abilities!

I have just discovered that the Lego Education Centre does not only run school holiday programs but also has great things happening all year around.

Sunday Funday – Each Sunday the Centre runs a Sunday Funday where they encourage a child to bring a buddy, dad, or nanna/grandad for some serious building fun. Each Sunday they have a different theme, for example lego community, mad machines, space odyssey, fantasy fun.

Each session is 45 minutes long, they run at 11am, 12 noon and 1pm and are $5.00 per person. Suitable for kids 4+. Note at least 1 adult must be present per 3 children for these workshops.

Lego Birthday Party – The Centre also has a Lego Birthday Party Program where your child and their friends spend 1 hour creating lego masterpieces around a theme. Birthday Party themes include Wacky Wheels, Medieval Madness, Lego Grand Prix, Mad Raging Robots, and many more and parties can be catered for age groups – age 4-6, 7-9 and 10+.

The Birthday child also receives a free gift and all party guests receive a lego brick name badge to keep. The Centre creates a great party atmosphere with birthday candles on a lego brick! A minimum of 10 children is required at $12 per child.

Note the Lego Education Centres are not like the Legolands around the world that have more of a theme park feel. They are an educational centre that give children the opportunity to build some fantastic lego structures in a guided environment.

Currently there are two Lego Educations Centres, one on Merivale Street, South Brisbane, QLD and one on Hall Street, Moonee Ponds, VIC, visit the Lego Education Website for further information and bookings.

Warrnambool, VIC with kids – review

Logans beach at Warrnambool

Warrnambool offers a relaxing break out of Melbourne with all the advantages of a large country town combined with the attractions of the beach.  We drove the 3.5 hour trip along the A1 with Michael, 11, for an inexpensive and refreshing five night trip during the July school holidays.

Where To Stay

Warrnambool has a wide range of accommodation available, from luxury townhouses to backpackers hostels.  We stayed at Figtree Holiday Village which offers accommodation ranging from powered campsites to motel-style brick apartments.  Figtree is clean, quiet and family-oriented.

The self-contained cabins and apartments have cooking facilities so you can prepare home cooked meals for picky eaters. Staff are friendly and helpful, and can recommend local activities.  In poor weather, kids are easily entertained with the heated indoor pool and spa or games room, and better weather encourages use of their tennis courts and children’s playground.

What To Do

Hopkins Falls – Hopkins Falls is a half hour out of  Warrnambool and it too seems like a world away, a quiet spot where you can watch the waterfalls or walk along the river looking for platypus.

Whale Watching – In winter, Southern Right Whales calve at Logans Beach whale nursery.  Binoculars and warm clothing are a must because you could find yourself standing in the wind at the lookout for quite a while. Even if the whales are not visible, it is a striking location with views along the southern coast and stairs down to the beach from the lookout offer children a chance to play on the sand.

Trail Riding at Rundells – Ideal for beginners, Rundells offers trail rides on Dennington beach.  Hard hats and boots are provided and a 1.5 hour trail ride takes you through flat pastures to sand dunes and then onto the beach.  Michael had never ridden before, but ponies are perfectly chosen to suit the skill of the rider.

Lake Pertobe – Lake Pertobe is a 20 acre site just outside the town centre.  The lake has paddle boats, trikes  and motorised boats for hire, there are barbecues and picnic tables, a playground and maze, and the popular flying fox.  It is a wonderful place to pass a sunny afternoon with children.

 

Cafes and Shopping

Pancakes at Figsellers

Figsellers Cafe in Liebig Street quickly became our favourite brunch spot because of its friendly staff, quick service and outstanding thickshakes, pancakes, risotto and omelettes.  The Heritage Sweet shop is a treat, and a stop in the Rivers outlet can yield some great clothing bargains.

Tips

Street parking in Warrnambool is mostly metered or ticketed, so keep some change handy.

The above post is courtesy of Frances Gaffney. With a wealth of life experience and a fix-it mentality, Frances is a big picture person.  She is an expert at turning problems on their head and shaking loose possible solutions, juggling business and functional needs for the optimum outcome.  Having grown up with good grammar, rounded vowels and correct phrasing drummed into her, she is also a stickler for proper language and great communication.

Working in the Commonwealth Public Service gave Frances great experience at rewriting corporate and personal material to suit their various purposes, and she has since become passionate about the power and accessibility of information in the digital age.  Seeing the enormous amount of information available online that masquerades as expert advice but is ridiculous, unethical, illegal or just plain stupid, Frances believes strongly that while one person may not change the web, you can take personal responsibility for whatever you publish for yourself and your clients and ensure that the information you provide is backed up by proper research and effort.

Copywriting and article writing provide an opportunity to indulge Frances’ insatiable curiosity on a wide range of topics, and to help people and businesses communicate their message in ways their customers will understand and be inspired by.

Frances loathes text-speak and lazy spellers, but ironically loves Lolcats – the premium meme of both forms of linguistic atrocity.

Please visit the Haggus and Stookles E-store.

If you enjoyed reading this blog, you will probably enjoy this also:

Gold Coast theme parks with a toddler – Review

Kid friendly cafes in Melbourne – a fantastic guide

We have come across a great new website, http://littleeats.com.au/, which provides Melbourne Yummy Mummy’s (and Daddy’s too) with reviews on the latest and greatest kid-friendly cafes around Melbourne.

They’re aim is to equip Mums and Dads with information so they can head to a kid friendly cafe. As we all know, if the kids are happy and entertained, then the experience is more relaxed and enjoyable for everyone!

This website is a quick and easy to follow guide which reviews the cafe and the services they provide – highchairs, change tables, easy pram access, separate kids menus, the kid-friendliness of the staff, play areas, activities or toys provided, as well as prices and the overall atmosphere of the place.  When reviewing the cafes, little eats follows a simple checklist, which looks at not only what services are on offer but how friendly and accommodating the staff are with kids.

They mainly cover cafes that do breakfast, brunch and lunch, all over Melbourne as well as a few fun spots out of town too.

Little eats is sure to help mums and dads have fun getting out and about exploring Melbourne’s cafes, eating and enjoying time with little ones!

Please visit the Haggus and Stookles E-store. We sell adorable  Baby Utensils, and some other high quality products for eating with your children.


More interesting posts you will surely enjoy reading:

School Holiday Fun – Tips for Kids Activities