Saturday, May 8, 2010

Kidaddle Turns Guest Blogger

Head over to Adventures with Kids if you want to check out travel tips for all Australian capitals.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Kidaddle to Perth

We've been thinking about driving across the big red land to Perth in winter ... which makes Adventures with Kids and Childhood 101 compulsory reading ...

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Kidaddle to the Farmyard Nursery

I can understand the desire to avoid large numbers of children careering through the house. I can understand the desire to avoid having to prepare party food. I don't share these feelings, but I understand them. That said, I've not been impressed by the McDonalds or indoor play centre alternatives - it seems expensive for not very much.

This weekend will be second birthday party we've attended at the Farmyard Nursery. For our girl, aged six and obsessed with anything furry, it's her idea of bliss - rabbits, guinea pigs, cats, dogs, alpacas, ponies ... you name it to touch ... and lambs, piglets and kids to bottle feed. The boys love all of that plus the (disabled and very safe) tractor to climb on.

The facilities are great too - a barn, covered verandah, grassy play area with equipment - means there's plenty to do even if it's raining. There's a kitchenette and while some things can be provided, you can do your own food. The kids get a different and wholesome experience. Plus it's a family-owned local business - so it feels good to support them.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Kidaddle to the Canberra Festival - Government House Open Day

I knew I'd leave something out! Tania will be at Government House today for the Open Day. A great opportunity to hear her read Riley herself!

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Kidaddle to the Canberra Festival

As the hamster in Bolt said "It begins ..." (Am I the only adult who finds these characters amusing ... the hamster ties with the Penguins of Madagascar for me ...)

Back on subject: Happy Birthday Canberra!

As a Canberra Girl Born and Bred I have to promote the Canberra Festival, but it's not hard to do ... next week and weekend holds more than I could get my head around. For the kids and I, the highlights will be:
  • the balloons taking off at 0630 - any morning you like, 6-14 March, with the Lions Club people providing breakfast;

  • FlipArt in Civic Square, 12-14 March, for street and physical theatre (aerial displays, puppetry, roving acrobats, stilt-walkers);

  • the fireworks on Saturday 13 March;

  • the Lanyon Music Festival, Sunday 7 March with very family friendly timing of 5-7:30pm (take a picnic and enjoy local performing artists as the sun sets over the Brindabellas);

  • the sheep dog trials at Hall, 9-14 March;

  • the kids' fishing clinic in Lennox Gardens, Yarralumla on Saturday 13 March, followed by the Canberra Carp-Out on Sunday 14 March.

Bet we won't manage half of it!

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Kidaddle to the Royal Canberra Show

Ah, The Show.

It took some prior preparation.

Wallets had to be located. Money was handed out. The lecture was given about how the money was finite and once it was gone, it was gone. Separate advice was provided that each child could have one - repeat one - showbag, in addition to the money provided for rides. Another lecture was delivered about how unfortunate the meltdown in the Showbag Pavilion had been last year and if the performance was repeated, there'd be no showbag at all. Final lecture reminded us all that everyone had their interests. If Mum wanted to drag everyone through the Craft Pavilion, and Libby wanted to sit and watch the hacks for an hour, well then that was something that had to be borne with stoicism.

And with that we were off. Despite great intentions about "an early start", we failed to arrive before 1030 on the Saturday and paid the usual price of the furthest car space from anything and the hottest part of the day.

We also failed, for the second year running, to be at the Racing Pigs at the appropriate time.

Negatives aside - we enjoyed the Farmyard Nursery, Sideshow Alley (despite some fear in the fairly benign Seaworld), the Superslide, and a calm and relatively quick decision to go with the Mario and Hello Kitty! showbags. Best of all was the Panning for Treasures - $7 saw each child allocated a pan and a flower pot full of dirt, which disintegrated slowly in the paddling pool as they swirled their pans to reveal a fantastic array of treasures: a Chinese coin, a 1951 penny, a bracelet, polished stones and some gold flakes ...

It may be hot and dusty and crowded and testing, but it is a tradition of sorts and the closest we get in Canberra to a country fair (not counting the Hall Markets). It's just one of those things that has to be done.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Kidaddle to the Botanic Gardens

Photo by sridgway.

I was surprised by the kids' reaction when we ended up at the Botanic Gardens by default a couple of weekends ago. I really didn't expect them to be too enthused. We had kitted up for a day on the little kids' water slide at Club Blue. It never occurred to us to check that the slide was open and it wasn't. Canberrans will understand when I say that we are Southside people and really weren't sure what to do as an alternative on the Northside.

Nanna suggested the Botanic Gardens and I had a sinking feeling ... this really wasn't going to be an adequate substitute, but I was so wrong. Why? Heaps of interesting paths and bridges and waterfalls and rocks to discover let the kids' imagination run wild. Nanna and I found a bench, threw a packet of sandwiches at each child and let them go for it. They spent two hours clambering all over rocks, racing leaves down rivulets and watching the lizards swimming in a pond.

I have to say it was paradise for a parent - a decent coffee to be had a few metres away while watching the kids play in the open air, making new friends and coming up with the most fantastic "adventure" scenarios based on little more than some rocks, water and a few sticks.

I'm sure I've though it before and I'll no doubt need reminding again: keep your expectations low and give the kids the opportunity to enjoy the simpler things in life.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Kidaddle's Three Best Kept Travel Secrets

Dee at Travel and Travails has dobbed us in to expose our three best kept travel secrets. This fantastic idea came from Tripbase.

So here we go, grab the kids, are you ready?

1. Waikite Valley Thermal Pools, Rotorua, New Zealand

Waikite Valley Thermal Pools is a "must do" if you're travelling with the kids between Taupo and Rotorua (10 minutes off the main road and well sign posted). Using the natural geothermal water (no chemicals added), the complex sports a splash pool, a sit 'n' soak pool, a garden pool and two private pools.

We landed there at 6pm with the kids, having been tipped off that the pools stay open 'til 9pm and the Ponga Tree Cafe in the complex serves fantastic kids meals.

So picture it: cold, raining ... drizzling in that bone chilling wintry way. In we went and the kids hardly paused long enough to take off their clothes before they were in the toasty warm water. We soaked ourselves and our aching bones for an hour, before repairing to the cafe for nachos, pies, soup (laksa!) ... perfect! When we got back to our fabulous farm stay, the kids were asleep before their heads touched the pillows.

We went there three nights in a row!

(By the way: adjoining the pools complex is a small 20 site camp ground with shower, laundry and kitchen facilities.)

2. Jasmin, Punchbowl, Sydney

Ever spent time in Syria-Lebanon ... then got home to Australia and yearned for the authentic cuisine? Here's where you find it. It's a classic case of follow the locals and eat the food they eat ... Jasmin is clearly popular with every Arab in the Punchbowl vicinity, and why not? They have all the classics - hommos, babaghanoush, grilled chicken with divine garlic mayonnaise, pink pickles, kebabs, fattoush, kofteh ... all the staples - and the BBQ plate is perfect for feeding a family of four for lunch for under $20. But it's the fateh that got me - that fabulous brunch dish of grilled meat, pine nuts, tahina, yoghurt and toasted Lebanese bread. I felt I was once again in the Hotel Sham in downtown Damascus, with a short Arab coffee at my side and a bubblepipe not far away ...

If the food weren't enough - the interior decorating is fantastic - faux marble and outstanding murals of the Cedars of Lebanon and the Sydney Opera House. You'll wonder if you have fallen into a black hole and popped out in Beirut.

This is the perfect lunch stop on the way into Sydney from Canberra - look for the Boulevarde in Punchbowl and you can't miss it. You park at the railway parking opposite and enjoy the local ambiance.

3. Houseboating on the Murray

We boarded our boat ... the Margaylea ... and enjoyed four days of gentle drifting, fishing, watching the river banks glide by. Put it this way: it was a real holiday for everyone principally because the kids did not require entertaining and everyone has to see the Murray, from the river, once. is what you're looking for ...

Kidaddle is tagging:

Author Tania McCartney
The Planning Queen
Red Cordial Revolution
It's the things that make you go mmmm
Amman Man

Friday, January 29, 2010

Tania McCartney: Far South Coast of New South Wales

Tania's getting around - she's covered a lot of the South Coast with kids in January ...

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Kidaddle to Tidbinbilla

Photo courtesy of kookr.

If you're like me, your anxiety has been growing since Christmas about the prevalence of indoor entertainment and how you must do something about getting the kids outside.

We've made a resolution: an active outing every weekend. Note the emphasis on the active. And we started with Tidbinbilla Nature Reserve. The kids have always enjoyed the fantastic playground there, complete with flying fox, water course and super slides, but we're branching out. The Sanctuary was built after the fires in 2003 and it's wonderful - a series of ponds attracting and nurturing birdlife.

There's no need to do a four hour "challenging" hike up front: just take the kids on the hour walk around the Sanctuary, and don't miss the side walk up the rocks (an extra ten minutes) or the kids' river crossing. We'll aim to up the ante each time, but this was a good start. Admittedly, there was plenty of whingeing initially, but as soon as we stumbled on something slightly interesting, they forgot their pain (!). We repaired to the playground afterwards for a simple sausage sizzle - if the BBQs are as oversubscribed as they were today, keep going past the playground, there are more electric BBQs down at Webb's.

Note: While I think of it, for the family who wants to get out and about beyond the heavily serviced, an investment in a trangia is worth it. Means a cup of coffee is a cinch, but extends your lunch repertoire to anything that can be heated in a small bowl: we've done hot dogs and instant noodles in winter.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Kidaddle to the Namadgi

Every time we head South, we go through the Namadgi National Park, and we ALWAYS stop at Brayshaw's Hut, at the kids' insistence. Something about the historic alpine huts really fires the imagination - the fireplace, the verandah, the story board about Stephen Brayshaw living there into his seventies (and a macabre interest in the fact that he fell from a horse while visiting his brother and died of exposure not far from home).

We had to laugh last time we were there: they careered down the paddock to the hut - first time on their own - and came back with a chorus of "look what we found!" They'd purloined the visitor's book, not having the slightest idea why there might be a book and a pen there.

It's a beautiful atmospheric part of the country, and makes for a pleasant, yet thoughtful, stop on the road to Adaminaby. We can't get enough of the High Country, nor can the kids. If you're Canberra-based, explore the alternative route South. It's worth it.

Monday, January 4, 2010

Kidaddle to Wiseman's Ferry

Hot and not a lot for kids to do here. The ferry provided four minutes' entertainment ... and I can see how a dip in the river, a boat trip ... and the odd ice cream would be amusing, but this would not be my destination of choice with children under ten.