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?