A Tot-ally Messy Time

I had been wanting to go to this play centre and area of discovery for both tiny tots and bigger kids for a while now. The reasons were three-fold:

  • It was in my town.
  • I have a child, and wanted to see how much fun it would be for her, and
  • I wanted to compare it against The Hungry Peacock, where I had been to twice since my first visit as part of a blogging experience in 2016.

It was a little bit cheeky, but I went in with these thoughts in mind. Which was superior? Which would keep the kids entertained more? What was, similar? I have it on insider knowledge that the peeps who started The Hungry Peacock with the existing owners, well they had wanted to do things a different way and clearly had other kids play area ideas in mind… and so The Messy Shed rebelliously was born from those peeps, to formulate those ideas into reality.

It was the Autumn school hols that saw me take baby girl along to meet with her two cousins and their Mum, for a midweek visit. We were booked for a 10:30am session, as there are times that you pick online, or when you call in… however on arrival we decided to also add the play centre addition, for an extra $5. The kids would get messy and creative and do all kinds of things for 45 minutes, before continuing the fun in the play centre area, for as long as they liked.

We got in nice and early, so the 3 girls, two aged 5 and one at 2, had a good go at exploring before more kids arrived.

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Sorting in a scavenger hunt.

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Water play and squirting.

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Sand art and castles.

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Pretend house.

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Make your own tube tunnels.

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Various games and tasks.

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And my fave… the swing!

This one got pretty busy after baby girl had her go, and the line turned long very quickly. Kids climbed onto a low hammock type swing, tummy down, and were given a piece of chalk to draw on the floor with while they pushed themselves around with their feet… even I wanted to do that one!

To my amusement and wonder I noticed a nearby corner where a kids hairdresser was located! It was partitioned from the rest of the messy area, but was clearly visible… why, how CLEVER.

Play, and then… “let’s cut your hair Tommy!”

😉

Lots of Mums had gotten coffees from the nearby café offering café-style simple treats and drinks, but we wanted to save ourselves, and wait for after…

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45 minutes was plenty of time for our girls, and perhaps too long. Our older girls in particular were finding themselves walking around and repeating the same tasks, and I had to wonder then, had they outgrown the ‘messy play’ stage, or was it something else?

I thought of the two times I had taken baby girl to The Hungry Peacock, and quickly realised… The Messy Shed had activities geared slightly towards the younger child. The Hungry Peacock, the older child.

As soon as the 45 minutes were up we were off, grabbing a table in the adjoining room so we could watch our kiddies run around an indoor playground, and drink coffee and eat some chips while doing so.

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They were having a great time, but I don’t need to tell you that… playcentre, kids, they are synonymous with GOOD TIME.

We were there for a while when we saw the side door to the right of the large room, that seemed to be the gateway for another play area…

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It is called Totsville, an interactive town, where kids can act out different roles usually assigned to adults, but in smaller form, so they can join in on the exploration and fun! We saw a number of kids going in and out, and after seeing some adults on the other side supervising their broods, we decided stuff it, ‘let’s also go to Totsville.’

Baby girl’s cousins Mum bought us ‘access’ and so we went to wait for the hour to be up so the last group could head out, before we could go in.

And after discussing with her how we thought The Hungry Peacock had more activities for our 5 year old girls to be enjoying, suddenly, we were eating our words.

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It was really, really good.

They stayed in there for the whole hour, not bored at all. They put on uniforms, acted out roles as roadworkers, postal service workers, vets, sailors, and café assistants amongst other things. We helped them out and played with them at times, letting them cater to us with their ‘pretend’ coffees.

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😉

It was a great time, and a terrific concept… the only issue we found was, for a play area that was only garnered for those who paid to enter, with new groups accessing it on the hour, well there was no one keeping score.

We counted a whole lot of kids who went in and out, not accompanied by any adult, and with no staff nearby to check.

Had those kids really paid? Were they bored by it? Could we have gotten away with not paying either?

Of course we did pay, but yet we felt a little foolish after seeing the free-for-all for Totsville and all the kids coming and going as they pleased. Otherwise, the concept was terrific. Staffing in that area… not so much.

After that, the girls had a few more runs through the play centre area, and then it was time to go… we had possibly exceeded our longest ever time for a play catch up, it was hitting 3 hours, and The Messy Shed was closing!

Was that a good sign? Yes, yes it was. 🙂

The deets:

The Messy Shed is at Factory 4 & 5, 1 Watt Road in Mornington

It is open 9:30am to 2:30pm every day of the week.

For further info call them on (03) 5975 2080, or alternatively go to their website for more information or to book a session – www.playatthemessyshed.com.au

Messy play sessions are at 9:30am, 10:30am and 11:30am. They last for 45 minutes and are $10, but pre-walkers are FREE!

The play centre access is $7 per child, or $15 if purchased in a Messy Play/Play centre combo.

Totsville is $10 for an hour of exploration.

You can throw a birthday party for your child there, and there is a hairdressing corner… contact them at the info above for more details.

Tips:

Definitely book! Messy play sessions can get busy!

From my personal experience, the messy area is better for younger kids, though the swing is a pretty cool contraption.

The indoor playground is great for kids of all ages (watch out for the top tunnels as little ones can get stuck up there, have an older child on hand is great!)

Totsville is great for all kid ages too, with a slight emphasis on older kids, as they discover, act out and experiment with the mini-sized world around them.

My final verdict?

Hmm, a tough one to weigh up. There are pros for both The Hungry Peacock and The Messy Shed.

Peacock has ample room surrounding their proper café. The Shed has a café, with seating surrounding the play area.

They both have messy sessions… I feel Peacock is geared slightly towards older kids, with the Shed aimed at the younger tikes.

The Shed has Totsville… Peacock has outdoor play areas (play subject to weather of course) and play equipment in and around the café (separate from the messy area).

The Shed has a hairdresser… Peacock has a refurbished church for hire.

Both do birthday parties.

Peacock also does kids classes and a school holiday program.

Where does all this leave my conclusion?

For a more in depth review of The Hungry Peacock, click here to go to my review of the place.

Other than that I can say this with assuredness.

Both have a place.

The Messy Shed messy area is great for younger kids, while the play centre and Totsville ideal for older kids on cold and rainy days, where you can sit and watch them, protected by the elements, enjoying some café fare and a coffee.

The Hungry Peacock’s messy area I think is better suited to older kids. The inside and outdoor areas are for both, and for a decent feed I would go here. Also, on a sunny day, it would be lovely to sit out.

Both places are very different, yet cater for almost identical things.

Yet I think there is enough dirty play for both to exist. 😉

 

 

 

 

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Sweet Shards at Sunny Ridge

The ideas for school holidays can sometimes feel lacking, or too-familiar, or too boring…

“let’s go to the park”

“let’s go to the library”

“let’s go to the movies,”

And although these are all great ideas, things I would do again and again, we all need something different sometimes, don’t we?

And even though it ain’t strawberry picking time, it doesn’t mean you can’t go to a strawberry farm, right?

I mean, part of it was for my own indulgence too. Other than strawberries (yum) and other café indulgences (drool) it was to satisfy my own little curiosity, something that has been brewing for years and years, ever since my very first visit to Sunny Ridge with Hubbie, while I was pregnant with baby girl.

Back then it had been high strawberry picking season. I had picked myself a punnet (or two), gotten some other take-home goodies, and also indulged in a most fabulous strawberry sundae on that superbly warm day.

Before…

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And, after.

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Both myself and growing baby girl had been in agreeance: delicious!

So this time we headed on down again, at the end of week one of Sunny Ridge’s school holiday program, which unbeknownst to her, was her second visit 😉

Week one saw an activity where kids could let their inner Jamie Oliver/Heston Blumenthal/Nigella Lawson soar with a creation of what was basically, a giant chocolate freckle!

(Maybe even Gordan Ramsay, if the chocolate was not melted to the right temperature?) 🤣

The workshop started at 10:30am, with the general café and store opening to the public at 11am as per their Winter timetable (see website for opening times below).

A small group started off, soon growing into a large group of kids ranging from about 2 to 9 years of age, with parents to boot, each expressing their foodie selves onto their own personal piece of melted chocolate on a plate…

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Throw in some things like honeycomb, coconut, cocoa pops, and of course freeze-dried strawberries along with their own cup of mini marshmallows, m&ms and other little chocolatey goodies…

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The decorating part took as long as the fussy or not so fussy kids allowed. Let’s say, about 15 minutes. Into the giant freezer it then went, and while they waited for their chocolate to set, the colouring paper came out.

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A nifty idea and cute little activity to keep them busy as they waited for their take-home treat.

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I have to say at this stage, the staff were pretty awesome. There were two main women helping out, one was the host of the crafty bit, going around and getting personal with the kids and their creations, while also providing some sweet feedback, and then there was another one who was busy running around putting plates in the freezer, and hurriedly attending to kids with a sharpener for the flat colouring pencils. Top marks for care factor.

I was meanwhile, busy eyeing off the corner coffee machine and the specials up on the wall. DRRROOOOLLLLL.

When baby girl seemed to be getting overly decorative with her drawing, (it must have been at least 20 minutes) I gently prompted her by telling her that we would get some drinks and treats when she finished…

And suddenly she was finished! Fortunately so too was her chocolate freckle, as the host went into the freezer and brought it out all set and ready to eat!

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What a fantastic and fun idea. Melted chocolate on a plate? Who knew? (Actually we all know, chocolate is delicious).

The deets!

Sunny Ridge Strawberry Farm is located at 244 Shands Road, Main Ridge

During the Winter school holidays and in general during their ‘off’ season, which is May – October, they are open Friday to Monday, 11am – 4pm (plus public holidays and VIC school hols)

In the ‘on’ season (sunshine time!) from November – April, they are open 7 days a week, 9am – 5pm (excludes some public holidays).

‘Pick your own strawberries’ is available during the ‘on’ season. You pay for entry (kids 4 and under are free) and pay for the strawberries you pick.

***In the second week of the school holidays from July 8th to 12th, kids will be making their own hanging strawberry origami and berry page munchers! Starting 10:30am, this fun activity is only $12!***

Check out their website here or call 5989 4500 to book.

And let’s not forget the cafe…

They have a selection of strawberry-themed and other warming desserts on offer, and their food store displays a range of strawberry jams, biscuits, candles, chocolates, candies, and other local fares from the region…

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Even if you don’t like strawberries, there is something for you:

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We got a deliciously scented strawberry body cream, and a fresh but sweet soap.

You know how I said baby girl was perfectly happy with me eating strawberries when she was in my tummy? Well she ain’t so much a fan nowadays… never mind, because…

You know how I said we were getting treats after her activity?

SCONES!

HOT CHOCOLATE!

COFFEE!

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It was amazingly warming enjoyed in the crisp and sunny Winter’s air. There is nothing quite like sitting amidst nature and taking some time out to satisfy your sweet tooth.

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Let me finish on this image…

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Sweet. 🍓

P. S. The chocolate freckle was, AMAZING!!!! 😋

The Toy Shop with the lot

Do you ever do that thing, where you “go to bed,” but then end up sitting up propped by your pillow, the glare of your mobile lighting up the room as you look up holidays, articles on awards ceremonies, and other odds and ends like play centres and Feng Shui practices in the home?

Guilty as charged.

I think I find it a soothing way to unwind before I actually lay my head down to sleep, though I know most experts (actually, ALL) would argue that it is a bad, bad thing, to have that amount of bright light affecting your sleeping rhythm so close to bedtime. Doesn’t seem to affect me though. 😜

And I find I do get answers to all of my daily questions!

Europe IS a cheaper travel destination in September… Tom Gleeson did make fun of the logies, and insult Karl at the same time… Feng Shui says a winding path to your front door is ideal (yes!) and… Amazing Toys, has a lot of really cool things these school holidays.

Backtrack. Amazing Toys has a lot of really cool things, all year round. And they are only located a short drive from my house. True story.

I spent a lot of time on my phone late one weeknight, as I madly clicked buttons on their website, discovering all the wonderful ways in which I could spoil baby girl… for her birthday party? For presents? For the school holiday program?

And then the clincher… themed hair cuts.

WHAT?!

And so, we found ourselves on day 2 of the July school holidays, getting ready to get her hair cut PJ Mask style.

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Let’s be clear, it wasn’t like she was getting a Gecko-style do or even an Owlette-style V-shaped fringe… but this enormous toy store/hairdresser’s/birthday party destination and place of general kids fun, was having a themed week, whereby kids could get salon treatment, in the form of hair cuts and ‘up’ dos, amongst other cute additions, all in a PJ Mask styled salon.

It was too good to pass up.

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Firstly, brilliant idea. It’s a fun and safe place for kids where they can be surrounded by what they love, what is familiar to them, to ease any kind of stranger-cutting-your-hair worries, any over-sensory stimulation, or even just to make them feel special and spoilt… not like that doesn’t happen on a daily basis, let’s be honest.

But it is a fun activity, especially for the school holidays.

It was baby girl’s first professional hair cut, having had it cut for years by the MIL, so this was a different kind of ‘first.’

Her hairdresser for that day, started off by painting her nails… 3 colours alternating as baby girl’s choice. 💅

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Next, as they dried, she was propped up in the barber chair, to let her nails dry further as her hair was cut. 💇🏽‍♀️

Finally, the ‘up’ do – half up, half down.

STUNNING! With the obligatory spray of glitter of course. ALWAYS glitter.✨

The salon experience, which lasted about half an hour, with baby girl thoroughly entertained by PJ Masks on the screen the entire time (yay for distractions when hair brushing is involved!) was topped off by a balloon, lucky dip and lolly pop as well.

All for the, wait for it… awesome price of $30.

😮

It was totally worth it, to see the look on her face.

These themed weeks happen on a regular basis, with Emma from the Wiggles, My Little Pony, Belle from Beauty and the Beast, and Toy Story, among many others, all featuring, so you can be sure to catch a theme your littlie will love.

And if a more ‘basic’ package is what you’re after, you can get a few less frills, still themed, for $20.

😲😲

The thing that got me about this store, is how it is a well-thought out hub for all things kids. Not only a place for kiddies to get their tresses cut… not only a toy shop, (and a HUGE one at that)…

But it is also a place that houses workshops during the school workshops: think craft, painting, dancing sessions, anything a little tike, all the way up to a primary school aged kid would like – they have something here for everyone to entertain in this most prolific of “I’m bored” weeks a year!

And to top off the kids quadfecta of entertainment, there are the BIRTHDAY PARTIES.

Many themes and styles are available – think princess, superhero, disco and high tea. You can choose the theme and character to match… so for example, you can have a Frozen disco, or Frozen pamper party. Most themes can be suited and adjusted to the birthday kid, so just check out their website or give the staff a call to see what can be done.

So much lies behind the front doors of this small shop front in Mornington!

The deets:

Amazing Toys is at: 45 Mornington Tyabb Road, Mornington

They are open 9am to 5pm every day of the week.

Hairdresser

Standard kids cuts are available throughout the year and start from $15.

Themed weeks are on at certain intervals, usually school holidays – but check their web site for availabilities.

For these themed weeks, the standard package gives you a hair cut, glitter or funky hair spray, lucky dip, balloon and lollypop for $20.

For the Delux package, which is the addition of a hair ‘up’ do, and pretty nails or tattoo, the price is $30.

Women are also catered for here (keep the kids busy while you get pampered!) with cuts ranging from $30-$60, and colours starting at $45 for short hair.

The blokes are even looked after (!), with basic cuts starting at $20!

Kids birthday parties are available – call for more info on (03) 5976 8889, or check out their website at amazingtoys.com.au

Workshops are also a mainstay – Mums, Dads, dance mums, even you yourself can learn how to become an expert in braids!

A school holiday program emerges every end of term – these range from $2.50 to $15, but some workshops can fluctuate to $30, and include things like crafts, pampering, painting, dancing, sand art… anything really to keep those hands and toes busy!

And none of this includes the TOYS!

There is so much more in store, trust me you won’t regret it!

That is just, amazing!

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! 🦆🦆🦆😆😆😆

 

 

 

Green servings at Red Hill

Green Olive at Red Hill
1180 Mornington-Flinders Road Main Ridge

(Visited October ’17)

Our winery exploration continued. We had a free Sunday in October, and though a bit dreary at first, it was also a mild day.

We would wine and dine then.

I had heard about some kids activities, such as duck feeding and trampoline jumping on these Main Ridge fields, and when I saw I had a token for free duck food, it make up my mind EVEN more.

Ok, so really? We all know I didn’t need the duck food token to get ourselves quacking on over.

It was the promise of this:

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Once we had driven some distance through endless tree views, and then parked and walked down a long and sloping uneven gravel surface to the restaurant below us, only then did we get a chance to sample some of the above.

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Ahhh.

It was a busy day. We were amazed just how so, and managed to quickly nab ourselves a table outside where it was free for the picking. The inside tables were all full and reserved, and there were quite a few of them too. We grabbed one just outside of the main doors, and proceeded to try and open up the umbrella as precarious drops from the darkening heavens floated on down.

It never rained though, and so we were able to relax.

It is an order-up-at-the-counter establishment. Once we looked through the menus, scanned out toward the vineyards, and looked through the menus again, I headed on inside to place our orders.

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The store is inside as you line up to order, featuring all of the farm-made produce such as their dukkah, olives, oil, and other fine deli produce. Positioning is fantastic especially on a day like that was, as you had a lot of time to fall in love with the various olive bowls, gourmet pastas and even body creams up for sale as you waited in line.

Fantastic strategy for them. Not a good thing FOR ME.

But I controlled myself, and focused on the outcome ahead of me. Order the food. It took a good while, but finally I was at the counter and baby girl and I were ordering our drinks and food.

Which brings us back to the above image. Now as Robert Zemeckis would be proud to hear me say, Back to the Future.

I got some drawing paper and pencils from a ’help yourself’ area inside the café, and then as baby girl got drawing, we observed the quirky garden elements/accessories around us as we waited for our drinks, which took a bit as they were so busy… A 2017 Moscato for me, and a Mornington Peninsula Pale Ale for Hubbie:

It was fabulous. A sorta sunny Sun-day, out with the fam, enjoying the increasing Melbourne warmth, wine… why, it was divine.

The setting was fabulous, but how would the food fare?

The food is tapas style, but we weren’t overly hungry so we were content to get a piece for each of us and share as we pleased. It was hard to find something for baby girl, so we ended up getting some bread and dip, used the dip ourselves and let her dig into the bread. Ahhh, good ol’ carbs.

Beetroot hummus dip, extra virgin olive oil, farm dukkah, ciabatta

and alongside that was Hubbie’s selection of a BBQ Pulled Pork open sandwich, pickled carrot, chilli salt

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And then my choice was Egg frittata filled with garden vegetables, farm made capsicum relish

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They were tapas, and they were presented nicely, but for what we got, we felt $12.95 each was a tad steep. The group of rich older Italians behind us (don’t ask how we know, we just do) also agreed. The older man who reminded Hubbie of his old boss, was saying loudly how they had just spent $200 on tapas between the group of them and were still hungry (see that’s how we know, typical Italians).

Although the food was ok, not amazing but still good, we were still infuriated by the antics of another fellow European on a nearby table. Don’t ask me how I know, I just know. She was with her husband and child, and she was wearing white pants.

You know who wears white pants? Really young teenage girls, extreme beach-dwellers (generally pensioners)… and Europeans.

Also we could hear a slight accent.

She was really horrible. She had a gripe about something, and I do not lie, but she complained and had two different waitresses come over to listen to her whinge on at least 5 separate occasions. She would not let up. It was upsetting to witness for the poor waitresses, and she looked a total mole so I was in total support for the staff. We were trying to eavesdrop as all good people do, thinking she clearly wore the (white) pants in the relationship, when her husband even started up! OMG just go away. Their problem was food-related, and though I wasn’t exactly dancing myself in the seat from the taste sensations in my mouth, I also wasn’t a horrible person to blame the waitress for thinking my meal should be otherwise. There is a way to distribute criticism, and white pants lady, her way was just SHIT.

Hubbie and I were so peeved at their unrelenting and non-stop negativity that WE almost told them to leave. It affected our mood, but we got coffee and dessert and tried to put her white pants and snarky voice behind us.

The cappuccinos were satisfactory as was the babycino (established by how quickly she smashed it down), and the ice cream also so. We held the sauce on the ice cream for baby girl, and I had the coffee crème brulee with biscotti on the side which most definitely had the caffeine kick, whereas Hubbie had a counter brownie – not anything amazing he said.

After that was done we soon claimed our duck food with voucher (detouring off to the in-ground trampoline below the café that baby girl went psycho on for 5 minutes) before we headed down to the lake.

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It had been a mixed duck-bag of experiences. The setting was amazing and worth the visit. We weren’t sure about the food, and were wondering if we had ordered something else, whether that would have been more to our liking.

These thoughts were on our minds as we headed back home…

Food: 7/10. It was ok, but compared to the scenery before us, it was slightly underwhelming.

Coffee: 7.5/10.

Ambience: It was a very relaxed yet refined vibe. Very refined. You were amongst the vineyard and trees and all-round greenery, and yet this greenery had $ attached. See below.

People: We were in Main Ridge, and the people representing showed us we were not in Kansas (or Mornington) anymore with their super designer threads and fancy-schmanc handbags.

Staff: They were exceptionally busy, but good. The manager or boss (don’t ask me, I just know) helped fix our umbrella for us, and the rest were just doing their job on that exceptionally busy Sunday.

Price: I wasn’t keeping receipts each time we ordered, and the girl behind the counter wasn’t offering either – a clever tactic perhaps to keep you from keeping score, or just busy? – but I kept score, and it tallied to about $95. A bit much for tapas, even with alcohol included. That price should have given us larger meals.

Advice: 1) Sit outside on a sunny day, 2) if going on the weekend with a larger group perhaps best to book ahead, and 3) just keep in mind that you might need to order multiple tapas to fulfill your hunger. The accompaniment of wines will make you need MORE.

In a nutshell: It is a lovely place to while the day away on a sunny day, whether with family or friends, or let’s face it even by yourself as all busy Mums will attest. And it is super kid-friendly in the ‘activities’ department, what with the drawing accessories, trampoline and duck feeding on offer, as well as all the walks you can take exploring the grounds which we didn’t end up doing.

The food store itself gives me reason to go back, but food wise, I’ll probably check out all the other Hills on the Peninsula, Red or otherwise, before going back to taste-test their other menu options…

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Green Olive at Red Hill Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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! ↑↑↑