Adventure, baby!

Christine Knight

Christine is the editor of Adventure, Baby!

Canberra Travel Guide: The National Gallery of Australia

National Gallery of Australia, Canberra The National Gallery of Australia (NGA) in Canberra is often host to the most incredible art exhibitions, and is often the primary reason for us to base an entire visit to Canberra around.

On this trip, the exhibition was Versailles: Treasures from the Palace, which brought to life the incredible history of one of the world’s most famous (and fancy!) palaces. Featuring paintings, tapestries, sculptures, furniture and objects, this exhibition brought to Australia life in Versailles during the 17th – 18th centuries.

National Gallery Australia, Canberra, ACT National Gallery Australia, Canberra, ACT National Gallery Australia, Canberra, ACT National Gallery Australia, Canberra, ACT

While the exhibition has since finished, the gallery has a series of rotating exhibitions so whenever you visit there is something incredible and new to see, in addition to the permanent galleries.

National Gallery Australia, Canberra, ACT

The NGA is the national art museum of Australia and is home to than 166,000 works of art, including over 7500 works by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders.

National Gallery Australia, Canberra, ACT

In the Australian art section, the Ned Kelly series by Sidney Nolan have long been a favourite of mine to visit, as well as the works by Australian Impressionists such as Tom Roberts and Arthur Streeton on display.

National Gallery Australia, Canberra, ACT

Upstairs, a stroll through the European and American art collections reveals Impressionist and Post-Impressionist works including a lovely Waterlillies by Claude Monet and one of Degas’ exquisite sculptures of a dancer.

National Gallery Australia, Canberra, ACT National Gallery Australia, Canberra, ACT

The NGA also displays modern and contemporary artworks in the gallery, and on this visit the whole family was entranced by a video work by Pipilotti Rist, called Worry will vanish revelation. On display until August 20, 2017, this large-scale work takes up an entire room and is completely mesmerising.

National Gallery Australia, Canberra, ACT

Entrance to the NGA is free. Fees apply for special exhibitions only. I absolutely love free galleries when we travel as a family as it means there is no pressure on us to see everything to get our money’s worth – instead we can see one thing or a few, leave when the youngest member has had enough, and even return again to see something else the following day. We did this on our recent Canberra trip when, over the four days we were there, three of them included a visit to the NGA.

National Gallery Australia, Canberra, ACT

Visiting Art Galleries With Children
I’ve been visiting art galleries around the world since I was a child myself, so when Cheese came along, she was bundled up from a few weeks of age and taken along with me to continue my artist explorations. As such she is now, at age 5, an excellent art gallery companion. When we visit galleries we do so to observe the art together, even if it’s at a much faster pace than I would go if I was doing so alone!

National Gallery Australia, Canberra, ACT

I love to observe what stands out to her when we look around galleries. It’s rarely works that are famous that will draw my attention because I recognize them from being featured in other media. She will stop before works that I might completely miss and walk past, which was the case at the NGA.

National Gallery Australia, Canberra, ACT

We stopped for quite a while in the Indigenous section while she took in the works and asked questions about what was going on in them, and she could have stayed in the video installation room all day, asking me with every changing scene what was happening.

National Gallery Australia, Canberra, ACT

The NGA is extremely family friendly, from its accessibility to friendly staff and activities designed especially for children. We’ve often been at galleries where staff have kept a close eye on us and hovered closely to ensure we didn’t get to close to the art works. It was a relief at the NGA to be able to wander through the galleries without feeling like we were constantly being watched.

National Gallery Australia, Canberra, ACT

NGA PLAY
When we visited the NGA they had a fantastic area set up called NGA Play that was designed especially to engage children in art, craft and play activities relating to the Versailles exhibition. It was a lot of fun for all of us to get involved with making objects together as a family.

National Gallery Australia, Canberra, ACT

After this exhibit is removed, there will be a new interactive feature built in its place to engage visitors of all ages.

National Gallery Australia, Canberra, ACT

Sculpture Garden
Outside, in the grounds surrounding the NGA, are 26 sculptures on display by both Australian and International artists. It’s an extremely pleasurable experience to walk through the bush discovering these incredible works of art, and also a very easy way to introduce kids to art if you’re a bit nervous of taking them inside a gallery with their sticky hands.

National Gallery Australia, Canberra, ACT

On the south side of the gallery you’ll find a major new Skyspace by American artist James Turrell. The Skyspace is a viewing chamber that uses light to affect the way we perceive the sky. It’s a wonderful work that is really engaging as well as fun as one needs to move into, through and out of it, and each step taken reveals a different element of the work.

National Gallery Australia, Canberra, ACT National Gallery Australia, Canberra, ACT

NGA Cafe
Overlooking the Sculpture Garden the newly refurbished NGA café offers morning and afternoon tea and lunch options, children’s meals, plus a selection of wines by the glass, great coffee and sweet treats. It cost us $40 for a flat white coffee, two sandwiches, Vegemite toast, a fruit salad and an apple juice.

National Gallery Australia, Canberra, ACT National Gallery Australia, Canberra, ACT

National Gallery Australia, Canberra, ACT National Gallery Australia, Canberra, ACT

National Gallery Australia
Parkes Pl E, Parkes
Hours: Daily, 10am-5pm (closed Christmas Day)
Prices: Free
nga.gov.au
Parking: Free underneath the gallery on weekends.

Thank you to the NGA for media tickets to see Versailles: Treasures from the Palace. All opinions my own.

Christine Knight
Christine is the editor of Adventure, Baby!

Hotel Review: Novotel Canberra

Novotel Canberra, ACT Australia

We often stay at Novotel hotels when we travel because they are always to the high standard we expect from hotels in this brand’s family. The Novotel Canberra is no exception.

Novotel Canberra, ACT Australia

With its excellent location right in the centre of Canberra, the hotel is a fantastic place to stay when visiting Australia’s capital city. A short walk away you will find restaurants, shops, a pharmacy, convenience stores, taxis and buses. It’s an excellent place to base yourself for a Canberra visit.

Novotel Canberra, ACT Australia

The Novotel Canberra is a 4 ½ star hotel with 286 rooms. It’s located 0.2km from the city centre, entertainment and retail precincts and 8km from the airport. 24 hour room service is available, with healthy meal options, plus the hotel offers a complimentary in-room yoga channel with yoga mats available, a newly renovated indoor swimming pool as well as gymnasium, spa and sauna.

Novotel Canberra, ACT Australia

Reception is manned 24 hours a day, which is great for late and early check ins/outs. There is a small play area in reception for kids to play while adults are handling the paperwork.

Novotel Canberra, ACT Australia

Our room was light and spacious, with two queen beds, tea and coffee making facilities, a bar fridge and a great Angry Birds welcome gift for kids.

Novotel Canberra, ACT Australia

Wifi is offered for free to members (it’s free to sign up).

We always drive to Canberra and were pleased to see that we could park underground at the Novotel Canberra at a cost of $20/night. A bit pricey for parking, but the hotel locations is such that you would otherwise struggle to find anywhere near the hotel to park.

Novotel Canberra, ACT Australia Novotel Canberra, ACT Australia Novotel Canberra, ACT Australia

As always, we highly enjoyed our stay at the Novotel Canberra.

Novotel Canberra
65 Northbourne Ave, Canberra
Book your stay at the Novotel Canberra

I received a media rate for our stay. All opinions are my own. Affiliate links are used on this page. This means if you use a link to purchase or book something, I will receive a small commission at zero extra cost to you. Thank you for supporting Adventure, Baby!

Christine Knight
Christine is the editor of Adventure, Baby!

Why You Should Visit Universal Studios Japan

Universal Studios Japan

As I was heading off to Japan this week a friend commented to me that they’d never thought of visiting Universal Studios outside of Hollywood, as this is the original studio and why wouldn’t you visit any but the original?

It was an interesting question, and I have the answer! It turns out that each Universal Studios has unique elements that are special to that location only, so visiting each park you are able to experience attractions or meet characters that you are only able to in that specific location. If you’re wondering why you should visit Universal Studio Japan, even if you’ve been to both Universal parks in Hollywood and Orlando, here is your answer.

The World of Minions at Universal Studios Japan

Minion Park
The world’s largest Minion-themed attraction opened in March 2017. Take a spin on the incredible Despicable Me: Minion Mayhem ride, try Minion-themed snacks, watch the crazy Minions street show and meet the characters afterwards. It’s all Minions, all the time! More info on the amazing Minions Park here.

Universal Studios Japan

Cool Japan
The attractions in the Cool Japan section of the park are all based on iconic anime, video game, music, and manga titles produced in Japan. They change seasonally so there is always something new to see. The attractions are based on games and movies such as Resident Evil, Godzilla and, when I visited, Dragon Quest.

The Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Studios Japan

Black Lake in The Wizarding World of Harry Potter
While you can visit Hogwarts and Hogsmeade elsewhere, Universal Studios Japan is the only place where you can see Hogwarts overlooking the majestic Black Lake. Honestly, the view from here is incredible and watching the evening show with fireworks reflected on the lake is just amazing. More info on the Wizarding World of Harry Potter here.

Sesame Street
This is the place to go to meet all your favourite Sesame Street characters and take a spin on some similarly themed rides. The Count, Elmo, Cookie Monster and Abby Cadabby are all ready to meet guests with hugs. Universal Studios Japan is also home to Moppy, the adorable pink Japanese Sesame Street character.

Hello Kitty
It’s no surprise to find Hello Kitty here! She is everywhere in the park, from a life-size character you can meet and take photos with, to shops, merchandise and a design studio.

Snoopy and Friends
All the Peanuts characters are here, plus a Snoopy-themed cafe and ride for littlies. Charlie Brown, Snoopy and Lucy were all around for photo ops when we visited.

Universal Studios Japan Tickets
A studio pass grants you admission to the park and a Universal Express® Pass will shorten the waiting time for attractions. The admission ticket includes park entrance and use of all attractions in the park. You can buy tickets in advance from these travel agencies or on the day at the park. Ticket Booths are open from one hour before the park opens for business.

Hotel Universal Port, Osaka, Japan

Where to stay
I stayed at the offical Universal Studios Hotel, Hotel Universal Port, which is just a short walk from the park and about 10-15 min train ride from Osaka CBD. It has fantastic Minions theming in the lobby and a few of the rooms.

Hotel Universal Port, Osaka, Japan

There are plenty of food options outside the park as well as restaurants inside the hotels if you stay onsite. You could easily spend two days at Universal Studios Japan and if you do, it’s a good idea to stay at a nearby hotel to make the commute easier.

Get more info on my stay at Hotel Universal Port.

Universal Studios Japan
Japan, 〒554-0031 Osaka Prefecture, Osaka, Konohana Ward, Sakurajima, 2 Chome−1−33. Universal Studios Japan Online

How to get there:
Take the subway to Universal City station (JR Yumesaki line). Universal Studios Japan is about a 5-minute walk from there.

For more information on on Osaka and Universal Studios Japan, head to gdayjapan.com.au

Planning a trip to Japan? Get fantastic ideas for your Japan itinerary from Sher She Goes.

I visited as a guest of Universal Studios Japan and the Japanese National Tourism Organization. I genuinely loved the experience and all opinions are my own. Additional images courtesy of Universal Studios Japan.

Christine Knight
Christine is the editor of Adventure, Baby!

Hotel Universal Port, Osaka, Japan

Hotel Universal Port, Osaka, Japan

The Hotel Universal Port is the perfect place to stay for a visit to Universal Studios. Located a short stroll from the entrance to the park, it’s an easy place to stay for quick access and a fast homecoming – perfect for when you’ve had a long day at the park and just want to get back to your room and rest.

Hotel Universal Port, Osaka, Japan

Theming is something Universal Studios does particularly well, and the Hotel Universal Port is no exception. The outside has fantastic Jurassic Park theming, while the inside has a T-Rex-themed cafe plus the new Minions all over the main foyer.

Hotel Universal Port, Osaka, Japan

Minions statues, plushes and images are displayed all over the lobby, as well as playing the movies on a TV screen near a small soft play area for small children.

Hotel Universal Port, Osaka, Japan Hotel Universal Port, Osaka, Japan Hotel Universal Port, Osaka, Japan Hotel Universal Port, Osaka, Japan Hotel Universal Port, Osaka, Japan Hotel Universal Port, Osaka, Japan Hotel Universal Port, Osaka, Japan Hotel Universal Port, Osaka, Japan Hotel Universal Port, Osaka, Japan Hotel Universal Port, Osaka, Japan Hotel Universal Port, Osaka, Japan

If you are particularly mad about Minions you can stay in a Minions-themed room as well.

The regular rooms, which is where I stayed, are standard hotel rooms. Mine had two twin beds, but there are larger rooms available that suit families in size. Each room has a standard bathroom, free Wifi, a TV, fridge and tea making facilities.

Hotel Universal Port, Osaka, Japan Hotel Universal Port, Osaka, Japan

I found the room to be comfortable and contain everything I needed for a short stay. I also enjoyed the excellent view of the park out of the window! It put me right into the mood for visiting the park.

Hotel Universal Port, Osaka, Japan

Breakfast was included in the package and was a highlight each morning. The breakfast buffet served up around 90 dishes, all of which were traditionally Japanese as the hotel caters mostly to local tourists. A map available at the entrance explains the layout in both Japanese and English so it’s easy to understand where everything is, and each dish is labelled both with a name and ingredients in both languages too. A word of warning – the labels are not 100% accurate so approach items like dumplings with caution if you have dietary restrictions.

Hotel Universal Port, Osaka, Japan

The hotel has a casual cafe in the lobby area that serves traditional Japanese food such as udon noodles and so forth, which is great to grab dinner from after a long day at the park. They also serve amazing looking cakes if you’ve got a sweet tooth like me.

Hotel Universal Port
Japan, 〒554-0031 Osaka Prefecture, 大阪市此花区Konohana Ward, Sakurajima, 1 Chome−1−111
http://www.hoteluniversalport.jp/en

I stayed at the hotel as a guest of Universal Studios Japan. All opinions are my own. 

Christine Knight
Christine is the editor of Adventure, Baby!

The Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Studios Japan

The Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Studios Japan

The magical world of Harry Potter at Universal Studios Japan is a must-visit for fans of the books and movies. Inside the Wizarding World of Harry Potter, the village of Hogsmeade and Hogwarts have been faithfully recreated for fans to immerse themselves inside the story.

From the entrance to the world, it’s clear that this is a distinctly seperate part of the park from the other attractions. Harry Potter theme music plays as you walk up the path, lined by trees and featuring the famous Flying Ford Anglia from Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets. It flashes its lights and honks as it lies crashed into a tree – a sign that you’re about to embark on a magical adventure through the world of Harry Potter.

The Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Studios Japan

Inside the entrance to Hogsmeade lies the Hogwarts Express steam train. You can take a photo next to the train and with its conductor, or if you walk around the corner you can have your photo taken inside a replica of one of the train’s carriages.

The Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Studios Japan

Nearby, Butterbeer, in various varieties, is available for sale, as are plenty of other Harry Potter-themed food, clothing, and, of course, wands. Hogsmeade village is lined with shops each selling various items.

The Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Studios Japan

Visit Honeydukes sweetshop to buy your own Bertie Bott’s Every-Flavour Beans™ and Chocolate Frogs™, and Ollivanders™ for your very own wand. A small alleyway next to Ollivanders is where you can line up to see a wand choosing a wizard.

The Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Studios Japan

The main restaurant in this part of the park is Three Broomsticks™, a tavern-themed eatery where you can buy Butterbeer in a collectable take-home mug and traditional British dishes such as fish and chips and shepherd’s pie.

The Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Studios Japan

Outside, the dining area has the best view of Hogwarts castle in the park, overlooking the Black Lake – a feature that is unique to Universal Studios Japan. The dining area is a great place to watch the evening light show from as there are minimal crowds.

The Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Studios Japan

A brand new feature of the park when I visited was “Wand Magic”. After buying a special magic wand from Ollivanders, visitors are able to cast their own spells in the village.

The Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Studios Japan

The Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Studios Japan

At various points around Hogsmeade such as a window, stone wall and in a back alley, muggles wishing to be magicians can chant special spells, wave their wands and, if they’re performed the words and actions correctly, watch magic happen before their eyes.

The Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Studios Japan

There are two rides in the Wizarding World of Harry Potter: Flight of the Hippogriff™, which is a small, family-friendly rollercoaster, and Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey™ in 4K3D, which is the main attraction.

The Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Studios Japan

To enter this ride, one must walk through Hogwarts™ School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, which as been recreated with extraordinary attention to detail. Pass through Dumbledore’s office, the Gryffindor™ common room and the Defence Against the Dark Arts classroom before embarking on a thrilling journey on Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey™. The ride is incredible, and completely immerses riders in a magical journey.

The Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Studios Japan

A new evening light show is also on offer for guests. The show plays twice and I would strongly recommend arriving early to mind a place at the front where you can see the action.

The Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Studios Japan

The show takes place above eye line however, with projections on the castle, so even if you’re not right at the front you’ll be able to see the magical experience very well.

The Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Studios Japan

The Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Studios Japan The Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Studios Japan

The light show is a perfect way to end a day at Universal Studios Japan – it’s exciting, awe inspiring and extravagant, and leaves guests on a high as they make their way to the exit.

The Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Studios Japan The Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Studios Japan The Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Studios Japan The Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Studios Japan The Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Studios Japan The Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Studios Japan The Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Studios Japan

Note: On weekends and busy days, guests must collect a free, timed entry ticket for entrance into The Wizarding World of Harry Potter™ at a designated time.

Universal Studios Japan Tickets
A studio pass grants you admission to the park and a Universal Express® Pass will shorten the waiting time for attractions. The admission ticket includes park entrance and use of all attractions in the park. You can buy tickets in advance from these travel agencies or on the day at the park. Ticket Booths are open from one hour before the park
opens for business.

Hotel Universal Port, Osaka, Japan

Where to stay
I stayed at the offical Universal Studios Hotel, Hotel Universal Port, which is just a short walk from the park and about 10-15 min train ride from Osaka CBD. There are plenty of food options outside the park as well as restaurants inside the hotels if you stay onsite. You could easily spend two days at Universal Studios Japan and if you do, it’s a good idea to stay at a nearby hotel to make the commute easier.

Get more info on my stay at Hotel Universal Port.

Universal Studios Japan
Japan, 〒554-0031 Osaka Prefecture, Osaka, Konohana Ward, Sakurajima, 2 Chome−1−33
Universal Studios Japan Online

How to get there:
Take the subway to Universal City station (JR Yumesaki line). Universal Studios Japan is about a 5-minute walk from there.

For more information on on Osaka and Universal Studios Japan, head to gdayjapan.com.au

Thinking of heading to the Wizarding World of Harry Potter in Orlando? Get tips on saving money, time and hassle here via the Barefoot Nomad, and here for an excellent overview of visiting with kids via the Kid Bucket List.

I visited as a guest of Universal Studios Japan and the Japanese National Tourism Organization. I genuinely loved the experience and all opinions are my own. Additional images courtesy of Universal Studios Japan.

Christine Knight
Christine is the editor of Adventure, Baby!

Minion Park at Universal Studios Japan

Minion Park, Universal Studios, Osaka, Japan

The mischief-loving Minions have a new home at Universal Studios Japan.

“Minion Park” has recently opened inside Universal Studios, and is proudly the largest Minions-themed attraction in the world.

The World of Minions at Universal Studios Japan The World of Minions at Universal Studios Japan

The World of Minions at Universal Studios Japan

Inside the plaza, the mayhem of Minions reigns supreme. Try a Minion-themed snack, pose for a photo, watch a Minions show and jump on the brand new Despicable Me Minion Mayhem ride.

The World of Minions at Universal Studios Japan

The plaza is so full of Minions that it’s difficult to know what to look at first. Do you pose for a photo with a Minion?

The World of Minions at Universal Studios Japan

Or do you try a snack? I absolutely loved these Minion-inspired cookies from the Delicious Me store. They have a biscuit base and a choice of fillings. I selected the cream with fruit and the cookie tasted like a delicious fruit tart.

The World of Minions at Universal Studios Japan

The World of Minions at Universal Studios Japan

Other Minion-themed snacks include a fluffy pork bun, banana and caramel-flavoured popcorn in the cutest collectable carrier, and Minions-themed hamburger at The Happiness Cafe.

The World of Minions at Universal Studios Japan The World of Minions at Universal Studios Japan

The Despicable Me Minion Mayhem ride is the centerpiece of the plaza. It’s an incredible ride featuring hyper-realistic projections that takes you whirling through the chaotic world of Minions. It’s a heart-stopping, thrilling ride that is fun, fantastical and you’ll absolutely want to jump straight back on and ride it all over again.

The World of Minions at Universal Studios Japan

The World of Minions at Universal Studios Japan

Dotted around the plaza are Minion-themed shops and statues that are incredibly fun to shop for Minions goodies and get a great selfie with.

The World of Minions at Universal Studios Japan

Stop by Sweet Surrender for unique Minions plushies, food, clothing and toys. They’re incredibly cute and make for great souvenirs to take home.

The World of Minions at Universal Studios Japan The World of Minions at Universal Studios Japan

A Minions street show completes the new attraction. The show is performed multiple times a day and is filled with chaos, fun and mayhem, just what you would expect from the Minions!

The World of Minions at Universal Studios Japan The World of Minions at Universal Studios Japan The World of Minions at Universal Studios Japan The World of Minions at Universal Studios Japan The World of Minions at Universal Studios Japan The World of Minions at Universal Studios Japan

After the show you can get a photo with the Minions if you feel like braving the crowds. I would advise seeing if you can find out what times the Minions appear in the plaza for photo opportunities throughout the day instead of lining up after a show.

The World of Minions at Universal Studios Japan The World of Minions at Universal Studios Japan The World of Minions at Universal Studios Japan The World of Minions at Universal Studios Japan The World of Minions at Universal Studios Japan The World of Minions at Universal Studios Japan

The World of Minions at Universal Studios Japan The World of Minions at Universal Studios Japan

The World of Minions at Universal Studios Japan

Tips for visiting Minions Plaza
Be early! The Minions area is incredibly popular and was busier when we visited than the Harry Potter section of the park. I would recommend heading there as soon as the park gates open.

Get into the spirit! Wear anything Minions-themed that you own and you will fit in well with the crowd.

Try a bit of everything! The snacks are all quirky and fun. I loved the biscuit and popcorn as I have a sweet tooth.

Get to the show early. It’s super popular too with people sitting on the ground in preparation well in advance of the show time.

The World of Minions at Universal Studios Japan

Universal Studios Japan Tickets
A studio pass grants you admission to the park and a Universal Express® Pass will shorten the waiting time for attractions. The admission ticket includes park entrance and use of all attractions in the park. You can buy tickets in advance from these travel agencies or on the day at the park. Ticket Booths are open from one hour before the park opens for business.

Hotel Universal Port, Osaka, Japan

Where to stay
I stayed at the offical Universal Studios Hotel, Hotel Universal Port, which is just a short walk from the park and about 10-15 min train ride from Osaka CBD. It has fantastic Minions theming in the lobby and a few of the rooms.

Hotel Universal Port, Osaka, Japan

There are plenty of food options outside the park as well as restaurants inside the hotels if you stay onsite. You could easily spend two days at Universal Studios Japan and if you do, it’s a good idea to stay at a nearby hotel to make the commute easier.

Get more info on my stay at Hotel Universal Port.

Universal Studios Japan
Japan, 〒554-0031 Osaka Prefecture, Osaka, Konohana Ward, Sakurajima, 2 Chome−1−33. Universal Studios Japan Online

How to get there:
Take the subway to Universal City station (JR Yumesaki line). Universal Studios Japan is about a 5-minute walk from there.

For more information on on Osaka and Universal Studios Japan, head to gdayjapan.com.au.

I visited as a guest of Universal Studios Japan and the Japanese National Tourism Organization. I genuinely loved the experience and all opinions are my own. Additional images courtesy of Universal Studios Japan.

Christine Knight
Christine is the editor of Adventure, Baby!

Tinkerbell and the Dream Fairies

Tinkerbell and the Dream Fairies

“I can see a fairy!” the children scream as a pair of wingers flutter through the trees. We are sitting on a picnic blanket in Sydney’s Royal Botanic Garden waiting for the performance of Tinkerbell and the Dream Fairies: Adventure to Bubble Land to begin. The stage is the lawn in front of us, a fitting location for a production about the adventures of fairies.

Tinkerbell and the Dream Fairies

The fairies flutter to the “stage” and the show kicks off with catchy songs sung by gorgeously costumed and very talented fairies. The children are captivated seeing their dreams come to life before them – real fairies in a real garden! The adults relax and enjoy their children’s joy.

Tinkerbell and the Dream Fairies

This is a “theatre” where there’s no need to hush your little one or beg them to sit still in a seat. Dancing is allowed, interaction encouraged. This production is a dream come true not just for kids but for their parents, too. With age appropriate content, gentle music and a relaxed environment, this is a show for families to truly enjoy themselves.

Tinkerbell and the Dream Fairies

Tinkerbell and the Dream Fairies: Adventure to Bubble Land arrived in Sydney for the Easter holidays fresh from a sell out tour in London’s Kew Garden. Created by the award winning artistic director of the Australian Shakespeare Company, Glenn Elston, Tinkerbell and the Dream Fairies was imagined especially for a young audience after years of experience creating theatre in magical garden settings.

Tinkerbell and the Dream Fairies
The storyline for the show is simple: the adventurous Tinkerbell happens upon the fairies from A Midsummer Night’s Dream. Travelling from the Dream Land, the cheeky Mustardseed, fluttery Moth, daring Cobweb and sweet Peasblossom all go on a magical quest with Tinkerbell to find her wings,  learning about the different worlds they are from along the way.

Plenty of upbeat songs and dances pepper the show, with simple actions the young audience are able to follow. The fairies from A Midsummer Night’s Dream drop in and out of Shakespearean language which lends a poetic tone to the dialogue, but amazingly in a way that the children were still able to understand and be engaged by what was going on in front of them. I would call this a young child’s first introduction to Shakespeare!

Tinkerbell and the Dream Fairies

There is no set seating for this performance, just a large space to throw down a picnic blanket to enjoy the show. After about half an hour of singing and dancing, the fairies encourage the children to join them on a seperate part of the lawn where bubble machines are set up.

Tinkerbell and the Dream Fairies

There is much bubble-popping and dancing by the children, followed by forming small groups to assist the fairies in their quest to find Tinkerbell’s wings. How lovely for kids to join in the action rather than being forced to sit for an entire performance! It was not at all surprising to read afterwards that the show was developed with early learning experts to ensure it truly engages and inspires young minds and bodies.

Tinkerbell and the Dream Fairies Tinkerbell and the Dream Fairies

After the show the fairies returned to meet their fans and have a photo opp. These talented young performers gave an enchanting performance that many of these children will remember for a long time to come.

Tinkerbell and the Dream Fairies Tinkerbell and the Dream Fairies

Tinkerbell and the Dream Fairies: Adventure to Bubble Land
The Royal Botanic Garden, Sydney
Dates: Sunday 9 to Sunday 30 April
Times: 10am & 12.30pm (No Shows Good Friday/Easter Monday)
No Shows (Monday 24 – Friday 28 April)
Prices: $25 for weekday/Sunday performances; $30 Saturdays
Group price 4 tickets $90 weekday/Sundays & Saturday $110
Bookings: shakespeareaustralia.com.au and ticketmaster.com.au
Cash and card sales available at the on-site box office unless sold
out, box office opens one hour prior to each performance.

We were provided with tickets for reviewing purposes. All opinions my own. Additional images courtesy of Shakespeareaustralia.com.au.

Christine Knight
Christine is the editor of Adventure, Baby!

East Hotel Canberra + Agostinis Restaurant

East Hotel Canberra + Agostinis Restaurant Australia

The very instagrammable East Hotel is our fave place to stay in Canberra. It’s a vibrant, contemporary, very artsy hotel, in the perfect location for a stay in our nation’s capital.

East Hotel Canberra + Agostinis Restaurant Australia

Located only 2.3 km from Parliament House and 2.9 km from the National Gallery of Australia, the East Hotel is what I would class as walking distance to all the major attractions we like to hit up in Canberra. When we travel with the little one we taker her scooter so the distances are still manageable for her, and a good amount of exercise for us.

East Hotel Canberra + Agostinis Restaurant Australia

The hotel is fantastically designed to appeal to a wide range of people – from young hip couples thanks to its visual appeal, to families wanting more space and amenities. The free lollies and fruit at reception doesn’t hurt its popularity either – it’s hard to tell who liked the lollies more, the kids or the adults!

East Hotel Canberra + Agostinis Restaurant Australia

A big draw of the East Hotel, beyond the contemporary aesthetic, are the bright rooms that feature either kitchens or kitchenettes, balconies, free limited Wi-Fi and Nespresso machines. There are one and two-bedroom apartments that have full kitchens, and fantastic rooms for kids with bunk beds, bean bags and Xbox 360 video game consoles.

East Hotel Canberra + Agostinis Restaurant Australia

We had a one-bedroom apartment with a king bed and fold out bed in the living room, with a full kitchen. It was a huge room for the three of us, compared to the amount of space we usually have in a hotel.

East Hotel Canberra + Agostinis Restaurant Australia East Hotel Canberra + Agostinis Restaurant Australia East Hotel Canberra + Agostinis Restaurant Australia East Hotel Canberra + Agostinis Restaurant Australia The full kitchen is amazing and means we can buy plenty of food and make our own stuff, cutting down massively on the costs of eating out – as well as making sure we always have something on hand for the fussy five-year-old to eat.

East Hotel Canberra + Agostinis Restaurant Australia

While the popular “Kid Cubby” rooms, that feature the bunk beds, Xbox 360 and other fun stuff were all booked out for our stay, we still really enjoyed the extra toys, games and books the staff thoughtfully put in our room for us.

East Hotel Canberra + Agostinis Restaurant Australia

We stayed over Easter weekend and the staff very thoughtfully held a free Easter egg hunt for the guests.

If biking is your thing, the East Hotel offers free bike rental at reception, including kids bikes.

East Hotel Canberra + Agostinis Restaurant Australia East Hotel Canberra + Agostinis Restaurant Australia East Hotel Canberra + Agostinis Restaurant Australia East Hotel Canberra + Agostinis Restaurant Australia

Parking is available under the hotel for $10 a night. Check the website for special offers, however, as I happened to find a voucher just as I was checking in that gave me free parking plus two free drinks from Joe’s Bar in the lobby.

East Hotel Canberra + Agostinis Restaurant Australia

An added draw for the hotel is the brand new restaurant that lives on the base level of the hotel, Agostinis. This gorgeous Italian restaurant has beautiful decor, a welcoming vibe and, most importantly, delicious food.

East Hotel Canberra + Agostinis Restaurant Australia

Guests of the East Hotel can order room service from Agostinis by dialling hotel dining on the room phones. Our meal arrive quickly and was honestly the best room service we’d probably ever had.

East Hotel Canberra + Agostinis Restaurant Australia

We also chose to dine in the restaurant the following night because the room service was so good, and had a wonderful evening in this very family-friendly, chic restaurant. The staff were friendly and attentive, the food exceptional.

East Hotel Canberra + Agostinis Restaurant Australia

From the menu we selected the Insalata Caprese Con Burrata (heirloom tomatoes, Burrata cheese, basil & Agostinis’ olive oil, $15), the Spaghetti Al Pomodoro E Basilico (fresh house-made pasta with tomato, garlic, basil, $18) and the Capricciosa (prosciutto cotto, mushrooms, artichokes, olives & Fior di Latte mozzarella, $24). For the little one, she had one of the kids pizza and pasta meals $15 each (including a drink and gelato for dessert).

East Hotel Canberra + Agostinis Restaurant Australia East Hotel Canberra + Agostinis Restaurant Australia
East Hotel Canberra + Agostinis Restaurant Australia East Hotel Canberra + Agostinis Restaurant Australia East Hotel Canberra + Agostinis Restaurant Australia East Hotel Canberra + Agostinis Restaurant Australia East Hotel Canberra + Agostinis Restaurant Australia East Hotel Canberra + Agostinis Restaurant Australia East Hotel Canberra + Agostinis Restaurant Australia East Hotel Canberra + Agostinis Restaurant Australia East Hotel Canberra + Agostinis Restaurant Australia

I would highly recommend dining at Agostinis regardless of where you are staying in Canberra!

East Hotel
69 Canberra Ave, Kingston ACT
Book your stay at the East Hotel

We received a media rate when staying at the East Hotel. We have previously stayed paying the full rate. All opinions are my own. This post contains affiliate links, which means I will receive a small commission if you book using my links. It will not cost you any extra. Thanks for supporting Adventure, baby!

Christine Knight
Christine is the editor of Adventure, Baby!

Beauty and the Beast High Tea and Stay at the Sofitel Sydney Wentworth

Beauty and the Beast High Tea and Stay at the Sofitel Sydney Wentworth

A tale as old as time has captured the imagination of a new generation. I never thought when I sat down to watch Beauty and the Beast in a movie theatre in 1991 that 16 years later I would be sharing the same classic experience with my own daughter.

Beauty and the Beast High Tea and Stay at the Sofitel Sydney Wentworth

The Sofitel Sydney Wentworth hotel is heritage-listed 5-star hotel located in the heart of Sydney’s CBD and shopping district. We often stop by for high tea because they are brilliant at theming them to current cultural events such as the release of the new live action version of Beauty and the Beast. (In the past I’ve enjoyed their Sleeping Beauty and Archibald high teas, run in collaboration with the Australian Ballet and the Art Gallery of NSW).

Beauty and the Beast High Tea and Stay at the Sofitel Sydney Wentworth

This tea could not have been a more perfect fit for my little Belle-want-to-be. She is deep in the “Disney princess” stage and was enchanted at the beautiful decorating inside the Sofitel Sydney Wentworth hotel.

I couldn’t hold her back as she fluttered from one themed area to the next – from the gorgeous rose inside the glass dome at the check in desk to the roses and books in the foyer and the gigantic rose inside the Soiree, where the high teas are served.

Beauty and the Beast High Tea and Stay at the Sofitel Sydney Wentworth

Our table was made up with exquisite attention to detail: rose-shaped napkins in the tea cups, themed menus and a gold leaf runner that all hinted at the enchantment to come.

Beauty and the Beast High Tea and Stay at the Sofitel Sydney Wentworth

A Beauty and the Beast activity pack kept the little one well and truly occupied until our food arrived. The look on her face when she saw the platters of rose-themed goodies? Priceless. The smile says it all.

Beauty and the Beast High Tea and Stay at the Sofitel Sydney Wentworth

Savouries
Tomato tartlet
Roasted Angus beef on whole wheat bread
Salmon gravlax and tomato on Viennese baguette
* Vegetarian alternative to these were two avocado and tomato sandwiches

Beauty and the Beast High Tea and Stay at the Sofitel Sydney Wentworth

Desserts
Strawberry tartlet
Rose and Raspberry Religieuse
Passion cheesecake
Berry macaron
White chocolate dome

Homemade scones
Cream and homemade jam

Beauty and the Beast High Tea and Stay at the Sofitel Sydney Wentworth

The children’s high tea was almost the same as the adult one, with one less sandwich and the white chocolate dome replaced with a more kid-friendly cupcake with a rose on top.

Beauty and the Beast High Tea and Stay at the Sofitel Sydney Wentworth Beauty and the Beast High Tea and Stay at the Sofitel Sydney Wentworth

As the high tea is light on savouries with more of a focus on the sweets, I would recommend having this high tea as an afternoon tea rather than as a substitution for lunch.

Beauty and the Beast High Tea and Stay at the Sofitel Sydney Wentworth

We both really enjoyed the variety of sweets. My favourites were the passion cheesecake with its tart notes of passionfruit and the exquisite rose and raspberry religieuse topped with delicate gold leaf, while Cheese loved the berry macaron, the rose cupcake – not to mention the avocado and tomato sandwiches, of which she ate all, even mine.

Beauty and the Beast High Tea and Stay at the Sofitel Sydney Wentworth Beauty and the Beast High Tea and Stay at the Sofitel Sydney Wentworth Beauty and the Beast High Tea and Stay at the Sofitel Sydney Wentworth Beauty and the Beast High Tea and Stay at the Sofitel Sydney Wentworth Beauty and the Beast High Tea and Stay at the Sofitel Sydney Wentworth Beauty and the Beast High Tea and Stay at the Sofitel Sydney Wentworth
After the kid polished off her food and completed the activity book we took a walk around the hotel to see the rest of the Beauty and the Beast theming. A Belle-inspired dress rests in the back of the foyer, near the entrance to the Wentworth Library, where a special corner has been set aside to become “Belle’s Reading Corner”.

Beauty and the Beast High Tea and Stay at the Sofitel Sydney Wentworth Beauty and the Beast High Tea and Stay at the Sofitel Sydney Wentworth Beauty and the Beast High Tea and Stay at the Sofitel Sydney Wentworth
We sat and read through all three versions of Beauty and the Beast that were available, then decided it was time to check into our room.

I’ve never had a hotel check in into a room feel like a special experience before, so it was a first for me, too, when we were presented with a gorgeous silk rose along with our room keys.

Beauty and the Beast High Tea and Stay at the Sofitel Sydney Wentworth

Inside our junior suite on the 12th floor, another surprise awaited us – a delightful display of rose cupcakes, a Beauty and the Beast book and activity pack, plus the masterpiece of the theming, an Enchanted Rose Bluetooth Speaker that played music from our phones and lit up like magic.

Beauty and the Beast High Tea and Stay at the Sofitel Sydney Wentworth Beauty and the Beast High Tea and Stay at the Sofitel Sydney Wentworth Beauty and the Beast High Tea and Stay at the Sofitel Sydney Wentworth Beauty and the Beast High Tea and Stay at the Sofitel Sydney Wentworth Beauty and the Beast High Tea and Stay at the Sofitel Sydney Wentworth Beauty and the Beast High Tea and Stay at the Sofitel Sydney Wentworth

I’m not exaggerating when I say that we spent a lot of time that evening just playing with the speaker ….
Beauty and the Beast High Tea and Stay at the Sofitel Sydney Wentworth Beauty and the Beast High Tea and Stay at the Sofitel Sydney Wentworth Beauty and the Beast High Tea and Stay at the Sofitel Sydney Wentworth Beauty and the Beast High Tea and Stay at the Sofitel Sydney Wentworth

Beauty and the Beast High Tea and Stay at the Sofitel Sydney Wentworth Beauty and the Beast High Tea and Stay at the Sofitel Sydney Wentworth

After a night sleeping on some of the most comfortable beds ever, we head down stairs for breakfast in the Garden Court. A buffet breakfast is included in our package, as is a complimentary dinner for kids up to age 12. The buffet has a fantastic array of breads, cheeses, meats, cereals, fruit and yogurt, with a hot section where you can also order eggs, waffles, French toast and pancakes to order.

Beauty and the Beast High Tea and Stay at the Sofitel Sydney Wentworth Beauty and the Beast High Tea and Stay at the Sofitel Sydney Wentworth

We check out of the hotel rested and enchanted after our special Beauty and the Beast night at the Sofitel Sydney Wentworth. Most of our hotel stays are purely functional, but this one has been special. As we walk out of the lobby, Cheese turns to us and says, “We have special memories here”. That we do.

Beauty and the Beast High Tea and Stay at the Sofitel Sydney Wentworth

Beauty and the Beast High Tea prices:

$69* per adult
$29** per child

$79* per person including a glass of sparkling wine
$89* per person including a glass of Veuve Clicquot

*Subject to availability and conditions apply. Available daily in Soirée 11am till 5pm until 30/06/2017. Bookings are required. Accor Plus discount does not apply.
**Available for children aged 3-12 years, includes “Beauty and the Beast” activity kit.

Offer available during the promotional period 9 March – 30 June 2017

Sofitel Sydney Wentworth
61-101 Phillip Street, Sydney
Contact 02 9228 9188 for reservations

Thanks so much to Disney and the Sofitel Sydney Wentworth for hosting us for this magical experience. All opinions are my own.

Christine Knight
Christine is the editor of Adventure, Baby!

A Day at the Sydney Royal Easter Show

A Day at the Sydney Royal Easter Show, Sydney

It’s our third year bringing Cheese to the Sydney Royal Easter Show, and I’ve lost track of how many times I’ve been since I was a kid. It’s a highlight day for us every year and previously I’ve written my tips for the show with a little kid.

This year I wanted to share how we spend our day at the show.

A Day at the Sydney Royal Easter Show, Sydney

9:15am: Park in P8. I wish we could manage the public transport because it’s included in the ticket price, but it’s just too hard from the area where we live. The $25 parking fee is a necessary evil for our day at the show, and it always makes me happy at the end of the day when I have a super tired kid to know we can just jump in the car and get home quickly.

9:20am: We already have our tickets (buy them in advance for a bit of a discount) so we head in. We try to get into the Woolworths Dome to use the bathrooms but discover everything is still closed! It’s the first year we’ve been too early to get into anything.

A Day at the Sydney Royal Easter Show, Sydney

9:30am: The Animal Walk is a fave of ours so we head there first, and line up at the first animal pavilion waiting for the doors to open. We stroll past the sheep and into the chicken pavilion where we make a beeline for the freshly hatched chicks in the incubator. Cheese wants to pat a chick, but it doesn’t open until 10am so we tell her we will come back and keep going.

A Day at the Sydney Royal Easter Show, Sydney

9:45am: In the goat pavilion we stop to watch the goats being judged. “Why is one better than another” Asks Cheese. “Why did that one win?” We have no idea about the intricacies of goat judging so we do what any good parent does and ask her, “Why do YOU think that one won over the rest?”.

A Day at the Sydney Royal Easter Show, Sydney

9:50am: In the pig pavilion we are a few minutes early to pat the baby pigs. The benefit of being early – it’s so empty everywhere! The downside – nothing’s open! We wait for the pigs since it’s only 10 minutes.

A Day at the Sydney Royal Easter Show, Sydney

10am: Pat a pig time! We sit down and a herd of piglets charge towards us in search of food.They like to nibble on shoes and bare toes, so be quick with your feet.

A Day at the Sydney Royal Easter Show, Sydney

10:15am: We enter the Woolworths Food Farm pavilion. It’s one of Cheese’s favourite places at the show. We spend the next hour and 15 minutes grinding wheat, shaping dough, watching pies back, “pollinating” flowers, climbing into the giant tractor and playing with the farm toys. She doesn’t want to leave. I buy a cored apple in a coil ($2) and a pear smoothie ($4) for us to share.

A Day at the Sydney Royal Easter Show, Sydney
11:30am: It’s off to meet the in laws for lunch near the Woolworth Fresh Food Dome. They’ve managed to grab a prime table in the shade while they were waiting for us, which is a massive score. We all have the same meal for lunch – a cheese toastie and flavoured milk ($5) and corn on the cob ($5). Alec buys a $5 coffee then moans about the price.

A Day at the Sydney Royal Easter Show, Sydney

12:15pm: Cheese gets restless so we head off to explore more and leave her dad chatting with the grandparents. We head into the Woolworths Fresh Food pavilion to check out the fruit and vege displays. Cheese can’t quite believe that they’re all made from food and you can eat them.

A Day at the Sydney Royal Easter Show, Sydney

12:30pm: We walk into the Home, Garden & Lifestyle pavilion next door. Cheese climbs into a police car with glee then makes a beeline for the Artline stall where we stock up with textas each year. It takes a good 15 minutes to get her to finish her drawing so we can leave. We keep walking through the new Pet Pavilion next door but we can’t see much. The cats are behind a high barrier and a net. Better for the cats’ stress levels I’m sure, but hard for us to see anything.

A Day at the Sydney Royal Easter Show, Sydney

1:15pm: We exit the pavilion and I see what I think is a great photo opp with balloons and the ferris wheel in the background. I beg Cheese to stand in a spot while I take photos and she counters me with a bargain: “I’ll stand in front of the balloons if you let me have one.” I say OK without checking the price, then spend the rest of the day hauling around a $20 BB8 balloon that attacks people we walk past thanks to the strong breeze.

A Day at the Sydney Royal Easter Show, Sydney

1:30pm: We head back to the Pat a Chick station in the chicken pavilion and line up. There’s lots of lining up this year as it seems like every Sydneysider also thought today would be an excellent day for the show. The chicken display is put on by Steggles and they ply us with merchandise. It’s a bit awkward being vegetarian and just wanting to pat a chicken, not eat one.

A Day at the Sydney Royal Easter Show, Sydney

1:45pm: We finally make it to the front of the line and meet the chicks. They’re only three days old and cheeping like mad. I hope we don’t freak them out too much. The photographer is super kind and not only takes a really lovely photo on her own camera that gets emailed to us and sent to their print station for free printing but also takes one on my camera too. You can never have enough photos with everyone in them.

A Day at the Sydney Royal Easter Show, Sydney

2pm: Lining up again, this time at the Farmyard Nursery. The line moves quickly though and we are in the nursery buying a $1 cup of animal feed before too long. The pavilion is absolutely jam packed with people – so many it’s literally impossible to move without running into people, sheep, goats or chickens. The big goats are aggressive and freak Cheese out. We run interference for her so she can feed the smaller animals that don’t headbutt.

A Day at the Sydney Royal Easter Show, Sydney

Cheese just wants to hug everything – no goat or chicken is free from her hugs this year, even though I’m sure they wish they were.

2:30pm: We keep going on the animal walk through the dairy pavilion and to the horses. We see cute calves, cows being blowdried and and majestic horses being led past.

A Day at the Sydney Royal Easter Show, Sydney

3pm: It’s showbags time! The pavilion is teaming with people and I pick up Cheese so she can see the displays above the heads. I know it’s a better idea to get the showbags first and then dump them in a locker for the day, but the anticipation of the show bags being at the end of the day is just too much fun to do it any other way. We have a two showbag rule each year. Cheese likes the character bags and chooses two very expensive bags filled with various types of plastic and paper: The Littlest Pet Shop ($28) and the Tokidoki bag ($26).

3:30pm We sit down at the dog pavilion for some rest. Cheese empties out her showbags to play with while we watch the dogs being judged. It’s a blissful half hour watching shiny dogs trotting past. We need more food so delve into the snacks that I had brought with us – pistachios and Vita-weats with Vegemite, and drink our water that we brought in refillable bottles. It’s crazy hot so I buy us a Gaytime ($4) and chocolate Paddle Pop ($3) to share.

A Day at the Sydney Royal Easter Show, Sydney

4pm: We are all shattered and decide to hobble back to the car. My Fitbit tells me I did about 11K steps but honesty it feels like more! We’ve spent the whole day here and I still feel like there is more to see than we were able to get around to.

4:15pm In the car we are happy we forked out the $25 for an easy trip home. Cheese says, “That was the best day I’ve ever had!” which makes the sore feet, empty wallet and crowd navigating all worth it.

A Day at the Sydney Royal Easter Show, Sydney

The Sydney Royal Easter Show is on at Sydney Olympic Park until Wednesday, April 18, 2017.

1 Showground Rd, Sydney Olympic Park
Online

We received media passes to attend the Sydney Royal Easter Show. All opinions are my own.

Christine Knight
Christine is the editor of Adventure, Baby!