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! 🦆🦆🦆😆😆😆

 

 

 

The Spring Flower Festival of Silvan

Is it coincidence, or simply careful planning by the seasons, that there are an abundance of tulips ready to view and appreciate in Silvan come the September school holiday period?

How is it, that it is so perfectly timed? Tulips are planted before the colder months, and Spring-time seekers, (and those on school holidays) get to reap the rewards of the superbly bulbed flower?

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I have wanted to go to the Tesselaar Tulip Festival for a long time. I was fascinated by the story of the couple from Holland by the surname Tesselaar, and how they had planted tulips in their Silvan property long after first settling in Melbourne, after the outbreak of World War 2.

 

It is a common story to me, at least, the background is. A couple with a dream, a wish for a better life and hope for the future, leave their homeland behind to find opportunity elsewhere… my parents did this too, only they didn’t end up with hundreds of thousands of tulips across a 25-acre property, with tourists traveling from far and wide to witness their floral beauty!

It is certainly a fairy tale story. The couple’s acreage attracted so many passersby over the years, that they eventually opened their farm to eager eyes for a coin donation… it has evolved to the huge floral attraction that it is today, with people travelling from all over the country (I saw the interstate license plates with my own eyes!) to see the tulips in wondrous bloom.

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Baby girl and I attended the tulip festival in the first week of the school holidays, and it coincided with the ‘superhero week!’ What is ‘superhero week’ you may ask? Well all I can ascertain is that PJ Masks were in town, and they got them on board plus added in a few more kiddie activities to make it ‘superhero’-like!

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The great thing about this festival, is that it is so versatile. Superhero week becomes ‘Get Active’ week (Mon 1st – Thurs 4th October), and the weekends have their own special themes, with the one just passed being the ‘Food Wine and Jazz weekend,’ and the next one (Fri 5th – Sun 7th October) being the Irish Weekend.

There is sooo much to do, and it ain’t all tulips either. As already noted, the event occurs over the school holidays, though it is longer than two weeks, and as an adult visiting with kids, you can be assured they will be kept busy! The main stages have constantly-changing entertainment, there are roving princesses, workshops where you can create sand art, learn how to drum… then there are reptile displays, a petting zoo, face painters, and did I mention, the tractor ride?

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Check out my SmikG facebook page for the super-cool video. Hey, as the tractor jumped forward in its start-up around the expansive tulip field, even the adults shrieked in giddy excitement alongside the kids. True story. It probably fits about, oh, 20 people, and lasts all of 5 minutes, if that much, as it does an upside down U shape around the field. It is a heap of fun, the kids could have cared less as we went past the tulips, instead getting excited by the open-air and opportunity to wave at other tulip-viewers outside of the tractor, and meanwhile the adults just took it all in, appreciating the beauty, and revelling in the happy shouts of glee from their offspring.

You HAVE TO DO IT!

Toilets, food and drink are a plenty. Dutch-style cuisine, of Poffertjes, or as you and I may call them, ‘mini pancakes,’ are a must, and The Kibbeling Express, a Dutch-themed fish and chip shop also prominently features in the grounds. But never fear, if none of that tickles your fancy, there are your other cuisines, of Mac and cheese, hamburgers, scones, gozleme, spuds, and of course…

ICE CREAM!

:):):)

It was a wonderfully lazy and self-indulgent 20 minutes or so that baby girl and I spent licking our cones and cups in the sun.

There are opportunities to buy souvenirs, take home gardening tools, purchase your own seedlings, and did I mention the potted tulips?

I bought a pot for myself to take home, and actually have repotted them with purpose… to have them last a long time. I got a small leaflet with some tips on how best to keep them going on, but any decent gardening blog online will give you similar tips on extending the tulips life.

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The fairy shop is another cute place for the kids to enjoy, with little unicorns and fairy paraphernalia decorating the walls of the store. Just try leaving this place with your girl empty-handed. I know, as we now own a magical glittery pen.

:/

The effects of keeping your child entertained while on holiday, I know.

And, the whole reason for going, the ‘piece de resistance’ if you will, of the actual event?

Why, the Tulips of course.

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They surround the festival, however the major drawcard sits amidst the large field with rows upon rows of different coloured bulbs. A large windmill sits at the far end of the field, and various works of art are spotted throughout, to provide your eye with an alternative to the wondrous colour before you… not like you need it, but it is nice to take a break and look at something else interesting.

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This festival is huge, so take precaution when deciding when to go. The cars just keep coming, there are parking people organising where you can park, and then depending on what time you arrive and where you have parked, there will most likely be a short walk for you to make, so if with littlies that get easily bored or tired, you may need to take a pram (or your shoulders will feel the weight!)

By no means should any of this dissuade you – it is a festival for both young and old, with plenty to do and see that will interest people of ALL ages! In my eyes, it is actually a pretty perfect family day out 🙂

 

The deets!

The Tesselaar Tulip Festival is a September – October annual event, coinciding with the bloom of the flowers (and the school holidays!) Check their website for actual dates and theme-specific weeks and weekends.

https://tulipfestival.com.au/

Their address is 357-359 Monbulk Road Silvan.

It runs every day for about a month of the festival’s duration.

Getting there by car takes some time if you’re from Melbourne or even on the other side of it… but once you are in the Dandenong Ranges, man it is a beautifully scenic drive. You could easily make a day of it, or two or three (or a mini-break!) as there are some quaint and exquisite village-like places that you travel through to get there… Sassafras, Kallista, Monbulk… You could be forgiven for wanting to stop about 6 times before reaching your destination, so tranquil and serene is your drive and environment. The views are always so magical in the Ranges, and the day we drove there I had to contain my excitement and nostalgia in going through parts of the world that I had visited with Hubbie many times before, as I have by myself too.

Prices:

Adults are $28, Concession holders are $24, and Children 16 and under are Free!

(Which is why it is such a kid-happy place!)

RULES

Yes, I even have rules. Well their not just mine, the festival insists, with a smiley policeman cut-out and everything… baby girl observed it too…

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Please, for the love of God, KEEP OFF THE FLOWERS. It may seem obvious to most, but most people would not jump behind a rope where there is a sign of a person jumping over a rope with a BIG LINE THROUGH IT.

I saw some people disobey the sign for the sake of the perfect photo, and man oh man did I wish for some Dutch police to take them away and whip them with Poffertjes until they bled like strawberry jam… for the sake of respecting the Tulips, take your photos in front of the rope and not behind it… it is there for a reason after all.

And look! What do you know, a beautiful photo that wasn’t taken while standing on precious bulbs.

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Face palm. Some people.

Tips:

Be prepared to be out ALL DAY. That means comfy shoes, an easy and light bag, and water/snacks of some kind. Yes you can buy it all there, but you don’t wanna be running off to the food trucks when you are in the middle of a field of tulips now, do you?

They have a car park, AND an overflow car park. I suspect I was in the overflow carpark, and that was on a Thursday of the school holidays. My point is… come as early as you can, or try to avoid weekends and public holidays. If the car parks are full, they suggest you drive out to one of the quaint towns for a bit and then come back to try again. This seems absurd due to the sheer number of cars that clearly can fit there… but as I said again, it was a Thursday. And it was practically packed.

Bring your hat, sunscreen and sunnies. It can get a bit dusty, so closed-toe shoes may be the way to go.

And lastly, the MOST IMPORTANT word of advice… take home some tulips. You won’t regret it, trust me 😉

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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?