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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Arabian Sandcastles by the Bay

Now, that doesn’t sound right, does it? We should be in a desert when it comes to any kind of Aladdin-inspired tale, am I right?

Well, not if we are talking about the ‘Aladdin & The Arabian Tales’ event currently being showcased at Sand Sculpting Australia on the Frankston Waterfront. Baby girl and I headed over last week to check out the magnificent sand creations, and see what all the fuss was about. Plus school holidays ‘killing time,’ and what the hell let’s just go out and have some January fun…

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The Genie-rific (see what I did there?!) event is a several months long attraction, running up until the 25th of April, and is located along the great winding part of Nepean Hwy that shows off the curved and stunning beauty of the Frankston beach and coastline, and now also, the sky- high sculptures made of sand and clay that are inhabiting the area for the next little while down South.

Once in, baby girl and I went fairly quickly through the sand sculptures part of the exhibition. Sure, we could have taken photos at every sculpture, and sure, we could have read every piece of info on each sculpture there, and SURE, we could have stood for 5 minutes per sculpture just staring, and analysing, and critiquing/appreciating all of its magical sand glory.

But she is 4. That was NEVER gonna happen.

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The sand creations ARE marvellous. Very intricate, detailed and let’s face it, size DOES matter, as the sheer magnification of these things just makes them all the more incredible and fascinating to look at. I read up a little here and there when baby girl was within sight, and then when she ventured off to play in the sandpit on the far left of the event, I had to leave my study at home and follow.

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The sandpit offers relief for parents and kids alike, with a couple of umbrella’d tables available to rest those sandy feet. (Yep, I went there again). This area is probably best suited for the younger kiddies, probably no older than 7 or so.

What I did realise after my quick and brief walks around the sculptures, was that they were based on the traditional Ali Baba and Arabian Nights stories, and as such, there were no actual Aladdin movie-based displays to see there. Initially a bit of a letdown, if only because I love the movie and knew baby girl would have understood / been able to relate to it all a bit more from her Disney-fests, but thats just how it was, there was no false advertising, as the brochure did showcase the traditional sculptures. Nonetheless, she still pointed out with glee at an Aladdin and Jasmine-like sand sculpture sitting atop a magic carpet, so that was pretty cool.

Between the entrance and the sandpit, was a marquee with some free activities and games for the kids to enjoy – think tables with Lego, bowling pins, and a life-size Connect Four game.

There were two girls also there providing free face painting for the kids (or as in baby girl’s case, hand painting!) and then to the far right of the marquee, a café, with lollies and drinks for both young and old to satiate their naughty hunger pains on, but the main attraction, ice cream, which baby girl did have later on right upon us leaving, and where she promptly told me multiple times that I was not allowed to share in on her icy cold treats. So just beware, parents.

But, the best part of our visit there had to be from the other marquee. Located at the far right of the exhibition, after entering, was another activities tent, but this one, more dedicated to the sand tasks at hand.

Here there was some sort of clay creation on one side of the room, that kids could literally get their hands into… that we didn’t try out. Instead we headed over to the counter to discover just what baby girl could do since she had a special pink band from our purchase of a Super Pass ticket for her, and we soon found out she could fill a sand jar, and create sand art.

There was coloured sand of all kinds on each table to explore and be creative with, and so she filled up the jar first, before proceeding to the sand art.

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This was more time-consuming, as it required peeling off the yellow paper to reveal a sticky substance beneath that the sand would stick to… shake it off, and hey presto, your coloured sand remained!

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Sure, it WAS messy. This is sand peoples. Not only was it all over the tables (the girls working there were doing a fantastic job of cleaning up after people had left though!), but the floor was sand too. I would never ever EVER willingly take my daughter to a sandy place that WASN’T the beach, so for me to be having a ball there? Unheard of.

But so, so true. It was the highlight of the day. I had left my sandy reservations at the door, and baby girl and I had a truly beautiful time, peeling back sections of the picture, applying coloured sand, and watching it slowly transform to something bright and magical.

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We were both really happy. This section is probably best suited to kids showing an interest in art, up to adult age. So maybe 4 onwards, but if your younger littlies are patient enough to stick out the end result, go with it. I could see many parents enjoying the creativity as much as their brood, so it really is a fun activity for all, including the older kids.

I left thoroughly pleased, and baby girl even thanked me for taking her to see the sand castles. Aww 🙂 A heart-clawing gratitude post on the above experience can be found at my other blog here, but keep reading below for all the deets you sooo need…

Where: Frankston Waterfront, 510N Nepean Highway Frankston

When: Now ’til April 25th 2018. 10pm ’til 4pm every day, except for school holiday periods when they close at 6pm.

Parking? There are 4 hour ticketed parkings available all along the Nepean Highway, or else turn into the Frankston Waterfront parking near the big playground/Sofia’s and you should be able to find something.

Price:

Adults $11

Kids standard entry $9; Super Pass $18.

Concession also available.

The Super Pass entitled baby girl to the sand art and sand jar without us having to pay extra at the counter… however if you decide on the basic entry, you can then choose to pay for however many sand arts/sand jars you wish to for your child inside, so it is not an either/or situation.

The sand art and jars are all about a couple of bucks each, and the only other addition she got was a little packet of pencils and activity book to fill out, which for a 4 year-old, she wouldn’t do much with. In my opinion (especially if you have a toddler), pick the $9 entry and then see what your child wants to do activity-wise, if anything. The $18 price was a bit silly considering we could have chosen basic entry and then gotten the same jars and art we did for a few dollars less…

Anything else?

YES. Wear thongs. Please for the love of God. I wore ‘nice’ sandals, and let’s just say… yep. They were nice.

Due to the time of year, bring a hat, especially for the kids, and sunscreen too. The golden sandcastles can be very glare-y.

Final word:

Although with child, viewing the sandcastles can be kind of a super short trip, the bonus additions of the sand art activities, sand pit, other kids games and free face painting (and there are also sand art-making workshops which we weren’t there for) there is honestly something for everyone here, both young and old. The babies can play in the sand pit, the toddlers and older kids can engage creatively with some sand creations, and the adults can take more time and pleasure (if kids allow!) to discover the wonderful world of Ali Baba in sand-form.

A great day out for all, and then… you also have the beach nearby. Somewhere to continue practicing your sand-castle making. Why, you can’t really lose, can you?