Yet another stunning beach in Sydney! Clifton Gardens is a suburb in Mosman, on Sydney’s north shore. The beach is where the suburb meets the sea, and it’s a gorgeous little secret that the locals have kept well for years.
Clifton Gardens features a gorgeous, sheltered beach, including a section with a shark net. There are minimal waves, making it perfect for kids. Large trees offer plenty of shade and there are BBQs available as well as picnic tables with shelter.
On the northern side of the beach is Bacino Café, offering coffee, juice and snacks. We brought out own and set up a picnic underneath the trees and next to the large, sheltered playground.
The beach has a big block of bathroom amenities for public use.
Driving is the easiest way to get to Clifton Gardens, but be warned that the metered parking is extremely expensive. On a Sunday it cost us $20 for three hours parking. If you can park further up on Morella Road parking is free, but it’s a bit more difficult if you have a kid in tow.
There is a flat path to ride scooters and bikes, and a walking trail from the south end of the beach that leads up into the bush-covered headlands and gives amazing views of the harbour.
Clifton Gardens Beach Get directions If you are travelling by bus, the best way to get there is by bus number 228 which stops near the entrance or alternative take bus number 233, 238 or 247.
I have to be honest, I call Easter the “chocolate holiday” and it’s my absolute favourite time of year, because I can eat ALL THE CHOCOLATE and have zero guilt about it. I also really love that Sydney puts on so many really fun events for families to enjoy and I can pretend that we’re doing them all for the kid.
With the exception of the Sydney Royal Easter Show, all these activities tend to sell out so I highly recommend booking in advance!
The Great CP Egg Hunt We love this annual Easter Egg hunt! A long-running favourite for Sydney-siders, kids follow a trail map around Centennial Park on a series of challenges to get to the end and claim their sweet prize (hint: it’s from Darryl Lea!). The focus of the five activities on the trail is getting kids active outdoors with old fashion activities such as egg hunts and egg and spoon races. Bring your camera for a family pic with the Easter Bunny and Easter Bilby at the end. The hunt sells out every year so book in fast.
Age: All ages Location: Learning Centre, Education Precinct, Dickens Drive, Centennial Park. Please see location map below. Times: Choose your start time between 9.30 am–2.45 pm. Please come at your pre-allocated start time. The course will take approximately 30-45 minutes to complete. Cost: $17.50 per map. Prizes and photos will only be available for Children with Trail Maps. Dates: Saturday 15 and Sunday 16 April More info: centennialparklands.com.au/whatson/events/the_great_cp_egg_hunt
The Australian Museum Egg Hunt
Take the family to the Australian Museum for a family EGG-stravaganza! Pick up a trail map and search for Australian animals and their eggs in the Museum galleries.
Age: 4 – 12
Location: 1 William St, Sydney
Cost: $13 Members child or limited early-bird price; $15 Non-Member child. Adults are free after general admission.
Date:15 April 2017 and 16 April 2017
More info: australianmuseum.net.au/event/school-holidays
The Great Garden Egg Hunt The stunning Royal Botanic Garden Sydney are the home of a fun Easter Egg Hunt where children will follow their trail map around the gardens and complete five activities along the way. There is a a photo opp with the Easter Bunny at the end.
Age: 3 – 8 Location: The Band Lawn, Royal Botanic Garden Sydney Times: Start times staggered every 15 minutes between 9:30 AM and 2:45 PM. The course will take approximately 45 minutes to complete. Cost: $17.50 Date: Saturday 15 April More info: rbgsyd.nsw.gov.au/whatson/egg-hunt
Egg-cellent Easter Trail: Vaucluse House This is Easter, old school! We felt like we’d stepped back in time enjoying traditional Easter activities from egg rolling to egg-and-spoon racing, as well as vintage sports and craft, at historic Vaucluse House. At the end of the activities kids can claim your chocolate treat before exploring the gardens, meeting the farmyard animals, and sitting down for a picnic lunch on the lawn. The tearoom is open for a splurgy Easter lunch, including their high tea menu.
Egg-cellent Easter Trail: Elizabeth Farm
Explore Elizabeth Farm on an Easter-inspired kids trail. Try your hand at traditional Easter activities from egg rolling to egg-and-spoon racing, as well as vintage sports and craft, then claim your chocolate treat. After the trail, spread out on the lawn and enjoy a home-packed picnic or treats from the tearooms.
Sydney Royal Easter Show One of our fave events of the year! My family has been attending the Sydney Royal Easter show not just since I was a kid, but since my mum was a kid! it’s Australia’s largest annual event and attracts over 800,000 every year. The Sydney Royal Easter Show has been held annually at Easter since 1823 and is the perfect way for city kids to learn about the country through fourteen days of agricultural competitions, animal experiences, live entertainment, carnival fun and eating lots of delicious food. It’s a crazy, busy and expensive day, but we absolutely love it. Get my tips from 2016 and 2015 on how to have an amazing time at the show.
Age: All ages Location: Sydney Olympic Park Times: 9am-9:30pm Cost: Ticket deals available online Dates: 6-19 April More info: eastershow.com.au
Grounds of Alexandria Kids Easter Egg Hunt The Grounds is busy every day of the year, so you can imagine the chaos of a free Easter egg hunt! While the event is chaotic and I certainly wouldn’t take a littlie there or a stroller, it’s a lot of fun. The staff lay out literally thousands of eggs for kids to find. There were so many eggs the year we went that people were treading on them. The Grounds also has delicious Easter-themed treats in the lead up (their hot cross buns are so good), a massive chocolate Easter Egg to see and potentially eat when it is cracked open on Easter Sunday, and a whole host of fun workshops for kids over the entire school holidays.
Age: All ages Location: The Grounds of Alexandria, 7a/2 Huntley St, Alexandria Time: 8:30am Cost: Free Date: Saturday 15th April More info: thegrounds.com.au/Spaces/easter
Easter Family Fun Day
An all-age event in Penrith will see over 6,000 eggs hidden for kids to discover. Enjoy face painting, animal farm and interactive games or get dizzy on the carnival rides: an Unlimited Rides Pass is $12 online or $15 on the day.
Age: All ages
Location: ImagineNations Church, 1 Simeon rd, Orchard Hills
Cost: Easter egg hunt is free.
Date: Good Friday, April 14th
More info: inchurch.com.au/easter
Additional images courtesy of the Sydney Royal Botanic Gardens and the Australian Museum.
I’m thrilled to be trying what I think is the first 100% vegan high tea in Sydney, at the Radisson Blu Plaza Hotel. While I’m not vegan myself I am vegetarian and more than happy to eat vegan where available, so this high tea was an exciting one to try with a friend who is lactose and egg-free.
Eating high tea when you have a dietary requirement like this is often a major hassle (it’s even a major hassle if you’re vegetarian!) and it’s wonderful to see hotels like the Radisson Blu Plaza Hotel Sydney cater to people of all dietary requirements (they also serve a gluten-free high tea and kids’ high tea!).
A new vegan chef is behind the additional high tea menu. Chef June Liu joined the Radisson Blu Plaza Sydney after working for several years in other iconic vegan restaurants in Sydney and Sydney’s Inner West. She is passionate about vegan cuisine and healthy eating, which is evident in the new menu.
High tea is served on an elegant three tier stand in the relaxing Lady Fairfax lounge area. We are first brought a “welcome drink” of watermelon and red berry that is delightfully refreshing and a touch fizzy.
Tea orders are taken and we select from a menu that includes classic choices as well as more interesting ones such as the Queen Of Hearts Tea that I select. The menu describes it as Light spice of delicate, young rose buds atop the sweet full ness of China black tea.
Soon after, both the tea and food arrive.
Spiced lentil pies
Stuffed Moroccan pumpkin flowers
Sweet potato and cashew empanada
Grilled zucchini, asparagus and hummus sandwich
Avocado, alfalfa sprout and Spanish onion sandwich
The savouries are excellent. I’ve commented before on how well the Radisson Blu does these, and the vegan delicacies were no exception. It was so novel to have three entirely different pastries I could eat! My fave was the empanada – a touch of spice and filled with creamy pumpkin. The sandwiches were delightful triangles of light produce on fresh bread, exactly what should be served with a high tea.
Chocolate cake with beetroot frosting
Salted caramel cheese slice
Mango passionfruit cake
Chocolate and hazelnut slice with lychee and raspberry
Roasted pumpkin and herb scones with soy cream and jam
I was pleased to see the scones were large and fluffy, with the same dry taste and texture that a scone should have. The soy cream was a wonderful addition as it’s rarely possible for people who can’t eat lactose or dairy to be able to enjoy whipped cream when dining out.
The sweets section was a delight for the senses with the gorgeous chocolate cupcake topped with the most delicious beetroot (again, SOY!!) frosting, and a mango cake that packed an incredibly fruity punch. The jelly was a bit tougher than I had imagined it would be (not sure what it was made with – pectin perhaps?) I don’t eat gelatine and was happy to know I was able to eat the jelly, even if it was a bit unusual texture-wise.
The salted caramel slice was very much like a little mini banoffee pie with the banana on top – a delectable morsel that was also super creamy even with no dairy in it.
The vegan high tea at the Radisson Blu Plaza Hotel is a fantastic addition to the Sydney food scene. I can’t say how wonderful it is to be able to sit down to a high tea and be able to eat everything on the menu, for people who don’t eat animal products for ethical reasons such as me, or for food intolerances and allergies such as my friend.
Traditional high tea
Served with tea and coffee, $54pp
Sparkling high tea
Served with a glass of sparkling wine, $64pp
Champagne high tea
Served with a glass of Moet & Chandon, $74pp
Please note that the vegan high tea requires advance booking. Walk-in guests with no booking who would like to order the vegan high tea may have to wait up to 45 minutes while the dishes are prepared.
The Margaret River region is well known for wine but not as much for being a family or relaxing holiday destination. The spectacular beaches, wildlife and fun activities, however, make it an incredible place to visit to enjoy the scenery, food and wildlife. We found plenty of things to do in Margaret River for the whole family to enjoy, from little kids to adults.
In and around Busselton
A popular town for families to vacation, Busselton has plenty to offer for entertainment. Check out the 150-year old Busselton Jetty – at 1.8km in length, it’s the longest timber-jetty in the Southern Hemisphere. Walk out or catch the little train to the end of the jetty to the Underwater Observatory, where life in a coral reef is on view. busseltonjetty.com.au
In and around Dunsborough A coastal town in the Margaret River region, Dunsborough has several cafes, bakeries, groceries stores and the like, set by a gorgeous, family-friendly beach.
A stunning beach known for its dazzling white sand and vivid, turquoise water. Eagle Bay is a great swimming beach thanks to its shallow, calm water. There is nothing else to do here but swim and enjoy one of the most beautiful views in the world.
Meelup Beach A fabulous family beach located near Dunsborough, Known for its calm water, Meelup also has excellent public change rooms, toilets and showers.
In and around Yallinup Yallingup is a popular tourist place to visit thanks to its stunning beaches and limestone caves.
A protected lagoon that’s perfect for swimming and snorkelling.
Yallinup Maze A fun place to drop by to have a run through their ever-changing timer maze, jump on the
bouncy castle and try a free puzzle or game in the puzzle cafe. yallingupmaze.com.au
Swings & Roundsbouts This winery has an incredible outdoor space with all kinds of old school play equipment. The food it a touch pricey: we paid $22 for a small pizza and $16 for a small plate of squid swings.com.au
Canal Rocks Walk across the timber pathway to the rocks and tide pools Canal Rocks is famous for. Swimming and snorkelling are popular here but be aware of the tide, currents and lack of lifeguards.
In and around Margaret River Town
Margaret River Chocolate Company
Kids will enjoy the free chocolate samples while adults try to choose between the many varieties of chocolate on offer (good luck, it’s a tough choice!). Stop by the cafe for breakfast, lunch and sweet snacks. chocolatefactory.com.au
Woody Nook Wines
A great place for lunch with the family, the outdoor Nookery Café has delicious food, a kids’ menu and a grassy play area with swings. woodynook.com.au/
The locals call it ‘Cowtown’ thanks to the 42 life-sized fibreglass Friesian cows and calves that have been placed all over the streets. The locally made goods are excellent –
sample nougat, chocolate, ice cream, fudge, olive oil and fresh produce.
In and around Augusta Augusta is the most south-western town in Australia and near Boranup Forest, Jewel Cave and Hamelin Bay.The town is a popular destination for snorkelling, swimming, SUP, canoeing and whale watching – between June and August around 35,000 whales pass along this coastline.
Boranup Karri Forest
An absolute must is to drive through the towering karri trees. The forest is a 25 minute drive south of Margaret River town along Caves Road. Stop by Cafe Boranup to break your trip. More info on the forest and cafe here.
Leeuwin Lighthouse The most south-westerly point of Australia, it’s a must to see even if you don’t want to pay the$8pp entry to the grounds to walk around the base. It is however the tallest lighthouse on mainland Australia and overlooks the point where two oceans meet.
Hamelin Bay Friendly stingrays frequent this bay, attracted by the fish remnants dropped by fishing boats that use the boat ramp on at Hamelin Bay. A gorgeous beach for swimming, snorkelling, kayaking and photography, this beach also has public bathrooms and a nearby holiday park with a kiosk. Get more info on Hamelin Bay here.
It’s a must to hire a car in the Margaret River region. We hired ours from Australian company Redspot.
Where to stay
We were lucky that we bunked in with relatives during our visit, but I would suggest staying in Busselton or Dunsborough for a central location on the beach, or in Augusta for a few days in that region.
This post contains affiliate links. That means if you book a hotel through a link on my site I will receive a small commission for referring you to that website. It won’t cost you a cent extra. Thank you for supporting Adventure, baby!
This year has a big one in our family with the little one starting full time kindergarten. I had been thinking this change would actually lead to an increase in my productivity as I’d have two extra days to work, but something quite the opposite has happened.
It turns out that five straight days, week after week, of early mornings and school runs has actually put me into a massive creative rut that I’m struggling to lift myself out of. It’s not that much more than last year, so why the rut?
Last year Cheese was in preschool three days a week, leaving us two days together during the week to sleep in, see friends and family and generally not have to be on a schedule of any kind. Now, suddenly, I find myself chained to a tight schedule again five days out of seven, even though I work from home and don’t have to start work at any particular time. Ironic, is it not, for a remote writer to be chained to a schedule again?
This is what my days look like now that school is in.
6:20am: Alarm 1 goes off. I press snooze and roll back over.
6:30am: Alarm 2 goes off. I peel off the sheets and get out of bed.
6:30-7am: Instagram. Yes, that’s right, I use this half an hour to Instagram. I’ve worked out that the majority of my audience is online at this time so I post and comment to ensure my photos are reaching people at the right time online. This is also why my Instagram posts have a large number of typos. I also drink a lot of caffeine during this time.
7am: Make Cheese’s lunch, lay out her school uniform.
7:15am: Wake Cheese up and give her breakfast (she only eats yoghurt for breakfast so at least it’s easy!).
7:20am: Jump in the shower and get myself ready for the school run.
7:30am: Get Cheese dressed for school.
7:45am: Leave the house and drive Cheese to school.
8:30am: Leave Cheese at school. Drop by Coles and pick up whatever groceries we need and drive home.
9:30am: Home and finally can start the day with a bowl of yoghurt. I see a pattern here. Work until 12pm on anything from replying to emails and writing for blog to pitching and writing freelance assignments or copywriting gigs.
12pm-12:30pm: Lunch! Usually two boiled eggs and maybe some cheese and crackers and an apple.
12:30pm-2pm: Finish up work followed by any other errands that need running like going to the post office, photographing products, editing images and responding to more emails.
2pm-2:15pm: Get ready for school pick up by packing snacks or clothes for swimming.
2:15-3pm: Drive to the school and park.
3pm-5:30pm: Take Cheese to the playground or swimming.
5:30-6:30pm: Home. Clean out the lunch boxes and cook dinner.
6:30pm-7:30pm Eat dinner all together.
7:30pm Cheese has books read to her.
8pm-9:30pm: Attempt to get Cheese to sleep.
9:30pm-9:45pm: A few minutes to relax.
9:45-10pm: Get ready for bed.
Rinse and repeat.
Now I’ve broken it down I can see what’s happening and why I’m in such a rut! I spend most of the day either doing domestic chores or childcare, no matter my creativity is zero!
You might be asking where is the husband in this picture? He does one pick up and one drop off a week and we alternate reading books and putting Cheese to bed at night, but honestly it’s a small drop in the ocean of things needing to be done.
Now I’m working from home five days a week I’m starting to feel lonely working all by myself, so that is also contributing to the rut.
Is there an answer to getting out of this rut and getting creativity back? I don’t honestly know. I am going to try to get out more to meet with fellow creatives and try and perhaps break up the morning with working from a cafe near the school before rushing to do more chores and driving back home. Will that help? Why knows?
What about you? Have you been in a creative rut? Do you have any words of advice?
A must-see on a road trip through the Keys, the Marathon Turtle Hospital is a small, non-profit organisation dedicated to the rehabilitation of endangered sea turtles.
The Turtle Hospital is home to over 50 sick and injured turtles who are undergoing various stages of treatment, rehabilitation, or have been deemed unsuitable to be released into the wild and so have become permanent residents.
In order to meet the turtles you must book in for a tour of the facilities. The tour lasts around 90 minutes and includes a presentation on the various turtle breeds and the threats they face in the wild, a tour of the hospital facilities, and, what everyone had been waiting for, meeting the turtle patients. The majority of the turtles end up in the hospital after bodily trauma (such as being hit by a propeller blade) or sickness suck as infections or tumours.
Several of the turtles have what’s called “bubble butt” where an accident, such as a boating incident, has damaged their shell, letting air in underneath it, giving them the appearance of a “bubble butt”, which causes the turtle to float.
Turtles with bubble butt have weights affixed to them to help them balance out and give them the ability to swim underneath the water once more.
At the end of each program guests are invited to feed the permanent residents – not touch them, mind you, but throw their favourite pellets to them as they swim happily in the pool underneath.
Because they are a working hospital, you must be part of one of the guided educational programs in order to visit the turtles. Reservations are highly recommended.
The Turtle Hospital 2396 Overseas Hwy, Marathon, FL Prices: Adults: $22, kids 4-12 years old: $11, under 4 free
Sydney’s history hides itself in plain sight. Scattered around the sparkling harbour and lush bush are pieces of a past that was built on the backs of convicts sent to the colonies to pay for their crimes committed far across the ocean.
It’s easy to forget the past when you’re faced with the present and future. Sydney is a vibrant city renowned for its pristine beaches, foodie scene and wildlife – but scratch beneath the surface a little and you’ll find two hundred years worth of history ready to be explored by the next generation.
Cockatoo Island is one such place that is sitting right there in the middle of Sydney Harbour, rich with the past and full of tales to tell. Before the First Fleet arrived at our shores, the island was frequented by sulphur-crested cockatoos and the Eora people, Aboriginals from Sydney’s coastal region. They called the island Waremah and would have used it as a base to fish from, making their canoes from the bark of the red gum forests that once covered the island hill.
In 1839 the Governor of the colony of New South Wales, Sir George Gipps, chose Cockatoo Island as the site of a new penal establishment and put convicts to work building prison barracks, a military guardhouse and official residences – a rather less idyllic island life than the previous residents had enjoyed.
In the 175 years that follow, the island is used as a jail for “the worst of the worst”, a graving dock, a site for a girls’ reformatory, and a major shipbuilding site.
After the closure of the last ship dockyard in 1992 the island lay dormant until the Sydney Harbour Federation Trust restored the island and opened it to the public in 2007.
Since its reopening it has been used as a site for major films (see below for more details), events and art exhibitions, as well as a place for Sydney’s locals and visitors alike to discover the forgotten tales of its former residents.
In 2010 Cockatoo Island, together with 10 other historic convict sites in Australia, was inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List, ensuring its stories will be preserved for all future generations to learn from.
A visit to Cockatoo Island is perfect for the whole family, for people of all ages and abilities. It can be as relaxing or active as the participants in your group want it to be. We visited with our very active five-year-old and have plenty of tips for those visiting with a similarly energetic party!
Bring the scooter
The island has plenty of flat cement ground for kids to scoot everywhere on. While we were reading the fine details on the history of the island, the kid was scooting off a storm and having the time of her life. There was no complaining about tired legs or being bored, just one very happy scooting child.
Pick up a kids’ activity pack
Ask at the Visitor’s Centre when you get off the ferry for a free kids’ activity pack. It sends kids on a treasure hunt around the island in a quest to find various clues and complete activities that engage them in the history of the island. Love it when you can blend education with some fun.
Break for lunch
You’re free to bring your own picnic lunch and enjoy it on the island, but we really enjoyed our late breakfast from Societe Overboard, one of the two cafes on Cockatoo Island. Societe Overboard is right near the ferry terminal and serves breakfast plus lunch items (we ordered the Brekky Roll for $9.50 and the Euro Bruschetta for $16.50).
The second cafe is the Marina Café & Bar which is located just a short stroll through the Dogleg Tunnel from the main ferry wharf or through the Main Tunnel from the campground. Their menu offers pizza, nachos, toasted wraps and more, including vegetarian options.
Stay the night
While there is comfortable accomodation available in the gorgeous heritage housing, the most fun to be had is glamping overnight in a tent with a killer view! The Cockatoo Island staff set up the tent and bedding, even providing toiletries from Appelles Apothecary.
All glampers have access to hot showers and communal camp kitchen with ten BBQ areas, fridges, microwaves and a boiling water system.
Imagine life as a convict The Convict Precinct on Cockatoo Island is a lesson in the harsh living conditions and deprivations endured in prison labour.
Convicts were put to work quarrying stone, building prison barracks, a military guardhouse, granary silos and official residences, forged their own prison bars and constructed the Fitzroy Dock with their bare hands, often waist deep in water and shackled with leg irons. It’s easy to imagine the despair faced by the convicts who lived in appalling conditions on the island when you see first hand the brutal life they endured.
Escape to the past down (kinda creepy) tunnels
There are two tunnels that cut through the middle of the island, Tunnel 1 and the Dogleg Tunnel. Both were built in 1915 to facilitate the movement of workers and materials from one side of the island to the other, and were later modified to become air-raid shelters during World War II. The Dogleg tunnel is seriously spooky as it has a giant kink in the middle (the “dogleg” for which it is named) so when you enter the 180m tunnel you can’t see where it ends.
Take in the view
Walk up the hill or steep stairs (your Fitbit will thank you for it later) to Biloela House for stunning views of Sydney Harbour.
The sandstone house was built in 1841 and intended for the island’s Superintendent, hence the gorgeous location and building. If you have time (and patient children) go inside Biloela House to check out the Shipyard Stories exhibition.
Leave the kids in solitary confinement
I kid, I kid! Seriously though, a brief look into these cells where prisoners were kept as punishment will give you and the kids a very quick education in how bad it would have been to be a convict on the island.
Get a glimpse at Australia’s navel history
Cockatoo Island was also the site of one of Australia’s biggest shipyards that operated between 1857 and 1991. A walk through the yard will leave you in awe at the pure size and scale of the ships built here – and the cranes are always a favourite with the kids.
Play a game of chess
A life-size chessboard is set up near the ferry terminal for anyone to play – it’s the perfect way to teach young ones the rudiments of the game.
Spot movie filming locations In 2008 X-Men Origins: Wolverine was filmed on Cockatoo Island. If you look carefully you’ll be able to see the remnants of the film set where the island was used as Stryker’s laboratory and a “mutant containment area.”
Cockatoo Island was also transformed into Japan’s most notorious Prisoner-Of-War camp Naoetsu during the 2013 filming of Angelina Jolie’s film, Unbroken.
If you drive 25 minute south of Margaret River town along Caves Road in Western Australia, you might be forgiven for thinking you’ve stumbled across fairy land. Suddenly rising from each side of the road are towering karri trees, some over 60m in height, with bright white trunks, filling the valley below.
If you keep a look out on the eastern side of Caves Road you’ll find The Karri Lookout, which is an ideal place to pull over, photograph and then wander into the forrest in search of wildflowers, orchids, funghi and, of course, fairies.
The forrest is also home to many species of birds, so keep an eye out for a Purple-crowned Lorikeet, Splendid Fairy-wren, White-breasted Robin, Crested Strike-tit, Golden Whistler and many other birds.
A bit further into the forrest will bring you to Cafe Boranup, which is a great place to break for lunch or tea and scones. They serve wholesome food, housemade cakes, chutneys, jams, coffee and tea.
You might also spot a Splendid Fairy (blue) Wrens while you’re dining. The cafe also has disabled facilities, information on what to do nearby, a little playground for the kids and couches with books and board games.
Next to the cafe is the Boranup Gallery, which is a great place to admire or buy works by local artists.
There is a part in Moana, the Disney movie that is on serious repeat in our house right now, that moved me to tears. Stay with me, I promise it’s relevant. It’s when our family’s new favourite heroine, Moana, sees her grandmother’s spirit stingray appearing to guide her at her lowest moment and help her discover who she truly is. The ray, symbolising her grandmother, is a powerful reminder that we are never alone, that we carry our family with us at all times, even if they’re not physically present. Cue tears, lots of them.
Afterwards, I found myself wondering why choose a stingray for this spirit animal, of all the creatures in the ocean? There are a lot of awe inspiring animals to choose from, after all.
A few weeks later, when I make my way to Hamelin Bay and see these incredible creatures for myself, I discover animals that take my breath away with their size, speed, grace and beauty. Stingrays are truly majestic, magnificent creatures, and I can see why Disney chose this animal to represent a person who is so strong and kind.
When I tell people that I met stingrays up close, they have reacted with comments like, “Wow you’re so brave!”, which made me realise that rays are misunderstood by many people to be dangerous, aggressive animals.
They’ve had a bit of a bad rep after the unfortunate death of Steve Irwin in 2006, by a stingray barb to the heart. He was incredibly unlucky as there have only been three recorded deaths in Australia due to stingrays, including Steve Irwin, with the other known stingray deaths in c.1930 and 1988 (also as a result of a direct sting to the heart). It is believed that there has only been 17 fatal stingray attacks worldwide, so your chances of being killed by a stingray are very, very, very slim.
Stingrays are actually incredibly docile creatures and can be friendly and curious, as I found when I met the gentle wild rays of Hamelin Bay.
Hamelin Bay is located in the south end of Western Australia’s Margaret River and is a popular place for families to come to stay at the nearby Hamelin Bay Caravan Park.
A group of stingrays has been visiting this bay for years, attracted by the scraps from the fishing boats that use the boat ramp and jetty on the beach.
Your chances of spotting a ray are highest in summer but they are known to visit all year round. Groups range in size between 3 and 10 rays, swimming up and down the beach on patrol.
The stingrays are absolutely massive, with a wing span of up to one metre across. They are completely unafraid and swim right up to the shallows. As these are wild rays, there is no guarantee that they will be there when you visit, but the beach is so stunning that it’s a good place to visit even if you don’t spot a ray.
There are two types of stingrays found in Hamelin Bay. The smooth stingray is the largest of the world’s stingrays and is dark grey or black and round in shape. Of the two stingrays, the smooth is the more likely to approach visitors on the beach.
The eagle ray is diamond shaped with distinctly pointed wings and is often a paler shade of brown or browney-grey or even blue-grey rather than black.
When we visited the rays we stood in the water for a while watching them swim past in absolute awe. One of the smooth rays came up to check me out as you can see in the photo, and rubbed against me as it swam by. Absolutely incredible.
Visiting the Hamelin Bay stingrays was an amazing opportunity for Cheese to meet the spirit animal from Moana in real life and see for herself what a precious creature it is. Another animal to be observed, enjoyed from a safe distance, and protected.
Tips for visiting the rays
Stingrays generally only attack if they feel threatened, so don’t approach them in the water and be careful not to tread on them.
You can swim at the beach and snorkel, but be aware that there are no lifeguards on patrol.
There are public bathrooms available in the parking lot.
With younger children, have them watch the rays safely from the shore rather than venturing in for a closer look.
Reinforce with older children that the stingrays are wild animals and are such are unpredictable. Have them stand still in the water and let the rays come to them if they want to.
The best season to see the stingrays is summer when the water has less seaweed and is calmer.
Visit in the morning between 9am-10am or afternoon when the boats are returning for your best chance to see them.
The stingrays at Hamelin Bay are protected and must not be harmed. Please report any incidents if you witness people harming the rays.
I would advise not trying to touch the stingrays, but to observe them instead. One might find you interesting enough to come up and say hello, as one did to me! You never know your luck.
Getting to Hamelin Bay
Hamelin Bay is located in the south of the Margaret River Region. It’s about a 15 minute drive north of Augusta or 25 minute drive south of Margaret River Town. Drive south down Caves Road right to the very end or, if heading north from Augusta, turn left at the junction of Bussell Highway with Caves Road.
The drive is doable in one day, or you can stay the night at the The Hamelin Bay Caravan Park.
One of the most defining moments of my childhood was a trip we took when I was nine to Egypt. It was amazing. I will never forget seeing the pyramids and sphinx in Giza, and learning about their ancient world became an obsession I’ve never managed to shake.
I was thrilled to see the Powerhouse Museum’s new exhibition for autumn is Egyptian Mummies: Exploring Ancient Lives because, let’s be honest, it’s not so easy to pop over to Egypt to teach your kids about these kinds of things.
The exhibition is really best for kids aged 7+ but I would also say it depends on the kid. We saw children with their families of all ages enjoying it, so I would advise making a judgement call on your own circumstances.
Egyptian Mummies: Exploring Ancient Lives is on display until 30 April 2017, making it a perfect outing in the upcoming school holidays. The exhibition gives visitors the chance to meet six ancient Egyptian mummies and see how the latest technology has enabled us to go beyond the wrappings and discover the lives and customs of these people from the past.
The six mummies were selected from the British Museum collection. They lived and died in Egypt between 1800 and 3000 years ago – the information gathered on their lives is on display alongside their 3D CT scan visualisations allowing visitors to not just view for themselves the amazing end result of mummification, but also see what lies underneath – and fully appreciate the whole mummification process.
Through the exhibition visitors will learn about the lives of regular people in ancient Egypt. What is the mummification process? What were their beliefs? What do the symbols in their artworks and on their coffins mean? Quite simply, it’s all fascinating.
I would suggest visiting the exhibition with kids on a Sunday for the museum’s Egyptian Mummies: Family Sundays.
Each Sunday in March, from 10am–4pm, kids can enjoy ancient Egypt through a fantastic kids play area complete with a dig zone, building area, oasis for reaching and craft area. During the school holidays the dig zone will be open every day.
On an upper level you’ll find Senet, what is possibly the world’s first board game, recreated for you to have a go. It looks kind of like chess, ancient Egyptian-style.
You might even come across a mummy or pharaoh wandering around the museum.
More information about the Egyptian Mummies exhibition:
The presentation of this exhibition is a collaboration between the British Museum and the Museum of Applied Arts and Sciences.
Visitors are advised that this exhibition contains human remains and CT scan images of mummified human remains.
Strollers must be parked at the cloaking desk on level 3 of the Museum prior to entering the exhibition.
Prices: Adult $27, Concession $25, Child (4–16) $16, Family (2 adults and 2 children or 1 adult and 3 children) $65.