The Wizard of Fed Square

Il Pom Italian
2 Swanston Street Melbourne (in Federation Square)

(Visited May ’18)

Wednesday. Late May. A cold weeknight.

What on earth could see me, my sister, and nephew, strolling the streets of the city, all of us so far from home?

Why… much like Dorothy, we were “off to see the wizard, the wonderful wizard of Oz!”

I had purchased some tickets to see this most revered and classic of stories in musical form, and in turn gifted sis and nephew for their upcoming birthdays…

I figure, it is SO HARD to buy for people nowadays. Give them an experience they won’t forget.

They’ll forget that organic magic goat soap you bought them 2 birthdays ago, but a decade on and you will never forget THE WIZARD.

We had all arrived a tad earlier for our show, with full intentions of having a happy, hearty dinner. After walking by The Regent and taking the necessary cheesy photo with theatre billboard behind us, sis told us she had recently been to an Italian restaurant with some friends in Fed Square. As it was coming recommended, we began the short walk there.

It was pretty deserted at 6pm. Still we wandered on through, observing the night lights, illuminated buildings and grand trees along the streets, ‘til we came to rest at Il Pom Italian.

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It was silent out, and we viewed a few people inside, also dinner early birds. We were tended to almost immediately by a waitress who we later found out was the manager. At first impression she seemed a bit forward, especially when laughing at our indecision on where to sit. Inside, outside, under heaters, under umbrellas… there was so much to consider on that almost Winter’s night, as it was still, the city looked beautiful, and we wanted to observe the scenery before us, but still be WARM.

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But we grew to love her. She was openly envious of our going to The Wizard of Oz, and we laughed constantly every time she was near. She was honest about alcohol given to minors, (when my sister politely asked the rules when kids are with parents, she said 15 for my nephew was too young in her book) and we all tsk tsk tsked at parents who decide to give their kids espresso martinis. That’ll knock ME out, let alone your kid!

We got some meals, again mentioning we had to be out of there by 7:30 (to exaggerated rolled eyes!) and I opted for something so simple, basic and fresh but sometimes, the simplest things really ARE the best.

Bambini di pasta – penne pasta w rich napoli topped w pecorino and torn fresh buffalo mozzarella

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And this was, THE BEST.

Such beautiful pasta. Cooked to perfection. Simple Napoli sauce. That buffalo cheese…. DRRRROOOOOLLLLL. I would go back to that restaurant only for that pasta.

Note to self (and everyone): when in Italy, do what Italians do.

When at an Italian restaurant, eat what Italians eat.

Therefore always go with their premium forte. It makes sense, right?

Everything about the pasta was perfect and made me so happy. We chatted and talked and made memories. Spending some quality time with my sister and nephew, bonding and sharing stories, was special, something you don’t get to do often in the busy-ness of every day, but more so, something we don’t get to do during a school/work weeknight! It felt like we were somehow cheating, but really, we were winning at life that night.

Our conversational juices really started to flow though, with… the MOJITO!

Pom’s Mojito – Bacardi superior rum, martini bianco, fresh mint lime and sugar, topped with Prosecco

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It was also, the BEST EVER.

I don’t know what drugs or sweetened syrup she put in there, as there was a distinct syrupy taste, but it was insane. It made me and sis, who also had one, feel like we weren’t drinking alcohol, as it didn’t taste at all strong, but then….

WHAM!

Right there in the head.

Goner.

That’s it, I’m out, thank you very much…

See ya later alligator!

I absolutely loved it.

We complimented the manager on the amazing cocktail, and I openly said I was a little “Wooo!” in the head. She showed her care but was still amicable, like that cool parent that lets you drink alcohol but still sets boundaries… She hadn’t let my nephew have any, but me, this grown-up adult was having one, and being told off in the process…

“No more for you!”

Okay Mum. 🙂 (Sheepish look ensued).

After some more chatting and memory-making, sis paid (her treat for us that night) and we went off, for our date with the ruby red shoes.

Food: 9/10. Wham bam thank you Maam. Beautiful and simple Italian. Deeelicious.

Coffee: N/A for me.

Ambience: So quiet that Wednesday weeknight. There were diners inside, but we were the only ones to brave the cold. The silence was perfectly to our liking. Warm heaters nearby, twinkling lights of the city before us… it set the mood to talk about magic.

People: Couples and friends inside. I’d imagine a few after-work dinners would happen here.

Staff: Our waitress/manager was fantastic. A ball of fun and highly entertaining to talk to. The right head of house exists there.

Price: About $120-$130 for what my sister forked out – that’s 3 mains, 2 alcoholic drinks, a lemonade and a coffee. A bit high for sure, but we aren’t in Kansas anymore Toto, and the pasta outside of our ‘burbs happens to be stuff you try to get lost for. Kudos.

Advice: If you haven’t worked out what to eat, please for the love of God, eat the pasta and have a mojito! You are most welcome, in advance. 🙂

In a nutshell: I loved this place, and more so because it was the prerequisite of the magic that occurred after…

I would definitely go back, and how much easier if I could just tap my ruby shoes 3 times…

“There’s no place like Il Pom Italian.”

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Il Pom Italian Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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Don’t be a Goose…

Geese. Why did it have to be geese?

I was alarmed by the large, long-necked birds. Someone in my family once told me of a story from their childhood, and how they had been intimidated by geese at a farm… in fact geese tried to attack this family member! Do you know how they retaliated?

By summoning up all of their courage, grabbing the neck of one of the geese, and swinging it wide around and around in a circle before letting go, in a bid to say to that goose, AND all of the rest: “Don’t Mess With me.”

The family member in question was never bothered by this avian kind AGAIN.

Can you see how detrimental it is then that this story followed me over to The Big Goose farm, in the Spring school holidays?

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Why did it have to be geese?

But there were other animals to see and many other things to do. After we paid at the entry, one of us getting in for free due to my voucher from the Mornington Peninsula Penny Saver voucher book, we fed some donkeys and cows right on the entrance walk up…

Bypassed some more geese… (quickly)
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And had a look at the great old map to see where we would begin our day’s journey.

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(Baby girl pointing out where she wanted to go!)

Due to proximity, it was to be The Big Red Shed.

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All matter of small farm animals could be found in this petting barn, with keepers around to help with the more delicate of animals, such as young baby chicks. There was even a reptile room with lizards and snakes, for the more slithery-inclined folk amongst us.

We then headed towards the tractor ride. It was free and included in the ticket, but we had to wait the span of 20 minutes or longer, as the queue was long, and we watched two truck loads head around the grounds before it was finally our turn.

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Granted this was only because it was school holidays and a spectacularly sunny day, so I imagine if you were to arrive at a quieter time there would be no delays in jumping on board.

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It wasn’t the most awe-inspiring of truck rides, but for kids, yeah it was good. ‘Freebies’ are always welcome, and we got to view the camels as we rode past them too. It was generally a ride of the grounds and some passing animals in their enclosures. If you miss it, it’s not the be all and end all.

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What we did pay extra to do, which I did up at the entry window, was an extra $5 for a pony ride. The line for this is beside the tractor rides, and even though it was fairly cheap, because it was additional the line wasn’t long and soon baby girl was strapping on her helmet.

Oh my Lordy. So bloody cute. She took to it like a horse to saddle 😉

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At this stage we were both having a great ol’ time in the sun. It was impossible to walk by the jumping pillow, without jumping…

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So of course that is what she did. The jumping pillow area has an assortment of tables and green areas for parents to sit and chill while their offspring go psycho. And be assured, there was a ‘Big Goose’ staff member jumping alongside the kiddos, just making sure, you know, things didn’t get out of hand… we don’t want outrageous big jumpers now, do we?

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The jumping pillow was also beside a tyre maze course which we didn’t get to try…

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… only because after so many activities and time in the sun, I absolutely imposed a shade and food curfew.

Lucky us there was a café on site.

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The Rotunda Cafe houses a variety of day hot specials alongside other lunch regulars, and I got a calamari salad while baby girl got chips. It was nice to be out of the sun for at least a bit, and I had to promise baby girl that we would be back for that ice cream everyone was walking out with.

Next… the reptile show!

Now this was pretty interesting. The guy running it was very informative and engaging as we sat with the kids watching snakes crawl up his arms, legs, body, the wall… it was interesting yet freaky stuff. Baby girl even got called alongside some other kids to hold this giant long snake’s body, but at the sight of it she freaked out and pulled the pin immediately.

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You won’t be surprised to hear we soon left and got ice cream. Ha ha. But the show was, really quite good.

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With our ice creams we now scoured the grounds, free from any activities or set places calling us.

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We looked into bird enclosures.

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We went into another petting zoo enclosure and fed A LOT of goats.

We appreciated the serenity of the scenery.

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And we carefully stayed away from all the wild wandering geese on the grounds, more so after observing all the signage telling us to watch out for them!

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(duly noted goose in background!)

It had been a really full couple of hours, and having not even been there all day, I felt I had already gotten my money’s worth from the (half) entry price. As a final resort, baby girl went into the playground area, which was a crafty set-up of climbing apparatuses, a high enclosed bridge that led to a winding slide, and a grand selection of things to climb, swing, jump and land on.

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A great play area, in that it was completely enclosed from the sun, and any foul weather on what might be an otherwise cold and rainy day. Many families and parents were set up around this area, as not only did it provide shelter from any elements, but its enclosure meant it was safe.

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A mini golf area led out back out to the entrance we had walked in from, but really for us, it was time to go. We had worn ourselves out and were quite happy to be escorted by some geese at the gate…

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We walked that much faster out of there after remembering the words of a boy from the reptile show, who had kindly offered the nuggets of info that some of the geese had been posed to attack since people were getting too close. Thanks little dude. I needed to hear that.

The deets!

The Big Goose is at 233 Mornington-Tyabb Road Moorooduc.

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They are open Wednesday to Sunday in the warmer months

Thursday to Sunday over Winter

But on the school holidays they are open every day!

Times? 10-4pm.

Prices: Adult $18, Children $14 (under 2 is free), and Seniors $14

Check their website at www.thebiggoose.com.au for more info on family entry prices and updated info regarding seasonal entry times.

What else is there?

Well we didn’t get to see it all because there is really so much to see and do. Apart from all of the above that we got to experience…

You can buy some kangaroo food and walk through the wildlife park to feed them.

You can get wet at the splash park!

You can throw a birthday party or host a function.

And for super keen Geese, there is even an annual pass you can purchase which will save you loads.

Tips:

There is a lot of dirt and sand around. Closed-toe shoes will save you from dirty feet.

Sunscreen and hats are a must in warmer months, especially if you have to wait in a queue at all. A drink bottle won’t hurt either.

You can even bring your own picnic and enjoy on any of the grassy areas… but you won’t be able to get past that Rotunda café ice cream 😉

Watch out for the Geese!

With both indoor/outdoor areas, areas to keep all kids, both young and old entertained, with places to sit and eat and relax, this place really is a great one-stop shop for the whole family. And for the price to enter, it is relatively cheap for what you can get if you spend the whole 6 hours there.

The Big Goose really does have it all. And unfortunately for me, that also means ACTUAL Geese! 🦆🦆🦆😆😆😆

 

 

 

An Enchanting Time

The crazy Christmas lead-up in early December saw me say “no, I want MORE mayhem!” as I headed over to my second bloggers meet-up at The Enchanted Adventure Garden.

Only ‘crazy’ was not what I felt as we wound up higher and higher up Arthurs Seat road, watching the Eagle chairlifts hover over us temporarily as they made their casual descent/ascent…
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and ‘crazy’ was not what I felt as we first passed Bowens Point

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And then Franklins Lookout

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Murrays Lookout

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and then finally, Chapmans Point

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It was serene, with a small dose of beautifully scary as I viewed the perilous drop from the cliff face. No, my memories of last travelling on that stunning Arthur’s Seat Rd hill, were from about 7 or so years ago before baby girl came along, when Hubbie and I, having not even considered the words ‘Sea change’ then, were heading to our beautifully intimate Arthurs Seat hill accommodation for the night, and as I observed that it was pitch black and almost scary how there were no lights around, he turned to me devilishly and gave me his best ‘Michael-Jackson-as-possessed-zombie-in-Thriller’ face look, to which I screamed and started to cry.

So no. These views were NOT scary compared to that strong memory.

And crazy was suddenly so far from mind, so removed from my being, that the Christmas rush was only a faint memory as we parked and observed the car park and surrounds…

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And I realised, we are not in Kansas anymore baby girl. But that’s what happens when you come to the Mornington Peninsula now, is it?

Us bloggers were greeted to a lovely morning tea and a brief introduction to all that the Adventure Ground is, and does.

Immaculate gardens, picnic area galore, mazes, Adrenalin-junkie fun, kids paradise, relaxing walks, and even a sweet-tooth’s dream! Why, is there anything Enchanted didn’t cover?

I was soon to find out. Off I went with baby girl with my map of the grounds, my critical eye out and ready for my review…

Statues – tick. √

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Finely trimmed hedges – tick. √

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Brightly coloured flowers – tick. √

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Ok, so this was all well and good for the adult eye, but I needed to keep my daughter happy, and looking at trees was something she had not grown to appreciate as yet.

We followed a path and soon found ourselves in the Turf Maze, a fantastic and relaxing premise based on a practice by Monks in the Middle Ages, used as a meditative tool as they would walk around and around in repetitive circles in silence, aided only by their feet and their thoughts. I got baby girl started on one end as I started taking photos of… the trees.

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I LOVED that tree. Just l♥ved. I developed some serious tree envy as I took several dozen photos of it, and baby girl skipped through a few maze lines, and then was suddenly at the exit of the maze.

Right-o. I don’t ‘quite’ see her meditating in that space, but at least it kept her somewhat busy.

I had promised her a playground (with absolutely no idea whether they had one or not – massive parenting risk), and so that is what we were looking for when we came across this sign.

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It seemed the only fun active activity we could do together, in lieu of getting my 4 year old to tree surf by my side, which I was not going to do solo (again, parenting-risk doing it ALONE). Zip-lining was out too.

W observed the tree surfers in the trees up ahead of us, blending in quite nicely I might add, and immediately decided I would come back there with my adventurous, scare the living daylights out of me Thriller-seeking Hubbie.

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Finding the tube slides was fairly easy, as it is actually hard to ignore five 100-metre long slides that steep down from the hill decline.

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There are tube slides for littlies, from 4 and up, so baby girl could have very well gone on it by herself, since the smaller weight actually makes them travel down slower… but no. I decided to take her with me on the adult ride…

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and then plummet down super fast while I thought “oh shit we’re going to flip.”

We didn’t. In fact we went up twice, and on our second trip down the tube turned backwards, so that I really was freaking then “we’re going to flip! We’re going to flip!”

WE DIDN’T. It was the best fun, but the fact of having to haul a huge tube up a steep hill, carrying a fairly heavy handbag, in heat, and while wearing inappropriately heeled shoes, well, it kind of influenced me to cap the tube slides at TWO.

Baby girl was left thoroughly captivated. And yet still, as we headed off down some other paths to explore, she had not forgotten about that damn playground I had promised.

She looked here and there

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She did the usual whine and moan and unsatisfied toddler routine. Damn me. Why had I gone and said something I had no clue about?

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(Baby girl going all 14 year-old hormonal on me)

I stopped to view some interesting sculpture art along my tree-lined walk.

Art and sculptures from Aboriginal, Australian and European artists collided and worked magically together in this most wondrous of gardens.

And then we got to another maze, the Blue Gum Gallery, and I followed a fast baby girl around it, as she laughed at how incompetently slow I was.

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This cheered her up somewhat, and since by this stage we were close to the café from where we had started our walk, it was soon time to go, and clearly I had come across no such playground from the depths of my imagination. I shut down another protest from her with an insane idea, but it worked.

“Do you want lollies?”

And just like that, a 4 year-old’s face lit up.

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We went inside, paid $5 for a cup, and filled it to the brim with all kinds of devilishly sickly sweet goodies. She ate them slowly in the car, stopping every so often to mumble “mmm, yummy…”

Parenting done right. 😉

The deets!

The Enchanted Adventure Garden

55 Purves Road Arthur’s Seat

General Park Entry for Adults: $30; Child/Seniors $20

this includes:

Mazes, Giant Garden Brainteasers, captivating Gardens to picnic at and view in all of their pristine natural glory;

Tube slides – of which there are 6 to choose from: 3 Big Twisters, 2 Straight Giants, and 1 Kids Only slide. Kids need to be 4 to ride on the Kids slide on their own, any smaller and they must ride with an adult.

Canopy Walk – a suspended path that brings you in amongst the trees, that runs through the park, ideal for small children, older people and people with prams.

a 3D indoor spooky maze – pop on your 3D glasses and watch things pop out at you! Ideal for teens and older kids.

Plus MANY more fun things to discover as you meander around.

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Both kids and adults alike can experience the Tree Surfing on offer. The little nippers course is for kids aged 4-12, though kids aged 4 and 5 need an adult to accompany them on the course.

The tree surfing has various degrees of difficulty for both amateur and professional, mild and reckless adult thrill-seekers alike! Includes bridges, zip lines, obstacles and tree platforms, prices for both Nippers and Grand Tree Surfing courses start from $50 for Adults, and $40 for Children/Seniors, with a 2 hour limit per activity.

But if you need your adrenalin rush and lack the time, need not fear! The Tree Zip Line may be just what you need, and those competitively charged, you can even Zip alongside a friend and see who gets to their destination first! Prices are $40 for Adults, $30 for Children/Seniors.

Active wear highly recommended for these ACTIVE activities, and closed-toes shoes a MUST!

I must reiterate again, despite baby girl’s temperamental attitude towards a lack of playground, there ARE kid-friendly activities and things to do, and they abound. However on that day there were several tree-top renovations happening up above, getting all geared up for the crazy holiday season, and so a couple of areas of the Gardens appeared incomplete. The above is an indicator of what is up on offer, but isn’t a complete list, as there is also a Children’s Maze, something we didn’t see on that day but I think would be perfect for a curious baby girl.

Tips:

Need I say again, closed-toed shoes?

Make your life easy and don’t wear heels.

More advice? Carry light. When I hauled that tube up the hill twice, in my heeled shoes carrying my heavy handbag, I developed lower back pain two nights later and immediately knew where it had come from.

For God’s sake don’t be like me, wear appropriate footwear, pack light, and carry the tube as unforcefully as you can. Or bring Hubbie along and he can do it.

And if all else fails, remember…

LOLLY SHOP.

(Mwa ha ha!)

At first glance perhaps pricey on entry, but when you see all the beauty and fun, relaxation and learning that these Gardens have to offer, you will see that it is well worth the price.

Our visit there was rushed, so I cannot wait to go back and explore some more.

And for something different, an alternative and highly entertaining present would be the Tree Surfing and Zip Lines as a fabulous and inventive gift idea.

So, what are you waiting for… Upwards! ↑↑↑