Adventure, baby!

Christine Knight

Christine is the editor of Adventure, Baby! She loves cake, her tolerant husband and her busy preschooler.

Travel Guide: Rottnest Island, Western Australia

Rottnest Island, Western Australia

Words fail me when I try to describe why Rottnest Island is so special. “Majestic”, “breathtaking” and “spectacular” all sound like hyberbole, but they’re the best words words to describe this unique island that is an absolute must-see when visiting Western Australia. Whether you stay for one day or five, Rottnest will enchant, inspire and recharge the souls of your entire family – and leave you planning your next visit the moment the ferry departs.

Rottnest Island, Western Australia
The History of Rottnest
Rottnest is a small island off the coast of Western Australia, located 18 kilometres west of Fremantle. It is believed that Rottnest Island was separated from the mainland 7,000 years ago. There have been numerous artefacts found all over Rottnest that indicate it was home to Aboriginal people prior to the separation of the Island from the mainland.

Rottnest Island, Western Australia

The Aboriginal name for the island is Wadjemup, and it is a place of significance to Aboriginal communities. There are 17 sites on Rottnest Island listed under the Aboriginal Heritage Act 1972-1980.

Rottnest Island, Western Australia

Europeans discovered Rottnest Island in the 17th Century. Samuel Volkerson and his crew of the Dutch ship Waeckende Boey are believed to be the first Europeans who actually landed on the island in 1658, but it was William de Vlamingh, in 1696, who gave the Island its name after the abundance of quokkas he saw, mistaking them for rats. He named the Island ‘Rotte nest’ (meaning ‘rat’s nest’) and the name of the Island was eventually adapted to ‘Rottnest’.

Rottnest Island, Western Australia

From 1838 Rottnest was used as a penal establishment for Aboriginal people, with the prison officially closing in 1904, but with prisoners used to build roads and other works on the island until 1931. Ferries started bringing tourists to Rottnest in 1902, with the first public jetty being built in 1906 and further development for visitors following soon after.

Rottnest Island, Western Australia

Today, Rottnest is well known for its 63 beaches with sparkling white sand, superb snorkelling, happy quokkas and plenty of roads and history to explore.

Exploring Rottnest

Rottnest Island, Western Australia

Meet the quokkas
Taking a selfie with a quokka is often number one on the Rottnest Island bucket list for many visitors (including us!). The Aboriginal people living in the Augusta and King George Sound areas of the south-west of Western Australia gave the small marsupial it’s unique name. They are generally nocturnal, however they can be seen during the day hoping to steal food from tourists or resting in the shade under bushes.

Rottnest Island, Western Australia

While quokkas are incredibly cute, it’s important to remember that all plants and animals on Rottnest Island are protected by law. Wildlife should not be disturbed, rather observed from a reasonable distance. Please remember Rottnest Island is an A-Class Reserve and these beautiful creatures are wild and should not be touched, fed human food or provided an artificial water supply. More information available here.

Rottnest Island, Western Australia

That said, the quokkas are incredibly used to tourists and are very curious little critters. You will find them come up close to take a better look at what you’ve got in your bag (keep it zipped shut and any food sealed).

 

Rottnest Island, Western Australia

Swim at the beach
Rottnest is home to 63 glistening beaches and 20 secluded bays, each one more spectacular than the next. If you’re spending just one day on the island, I suggest picking one beach to swim and snorkel at rather than rushing to see them all. The most popular beaches for families are Ricey Beach, The Basin, Little Parakeet Bay, Little Salmon Bay and Geordie Bay.

Rottnest Island, Western Australia

We chose The Basin to swim because of its shallow clear waters. It’s also well regarded for snorkelling – if you don’t have your own snorkels and masks, you can hire them on the island at Pedal & Flipper.

Rottnest Island, Western Australia

A short walk along the coastline takes you to Pinky Beach, one of the prettiest beaches on the island, with the distinctive Bathurst Lighthouse in the background. If you keep walking up the beach and to the lighthouse, you’ll be rewarded by a gorgeous view, and a short walk back to the main settlement and ferry departure point.

Rottnest Island, Western Australia

Spot a New Zealand Fur Seal
From the new viewing platform at Cathedral Rocks, the resident New Zealand Fur Seals colony can be seen flipping and playing in the bay and basking on the rocks. Cathedral Rocks can be accessed by bike or by jumping off the Island Explorer bus.

Tour a lighthouse
Of the two lighthouses on the island, only the Wadjemup Hill lighthouses is open to the public. Tours are conducted daily for a cash-only fee.

Rottnest Island, Western Australia

Staying longer?
Take a segway tour, snorkel, play a round of golf or check out a movie at the cinema. There’s plenty to see and do.

Rottnest Island, Western Australia

Eating and Drinking
Bring large water bottles filled with ice cold water. While you can refill the bottles in the main settlement, the rest of the island is mostly free of drinkable water. If you are arriving for a day trip, bring plenty of snacks or picnic foods as the only areas to buy food are the main settlement and Geordie Bay. If you’re planning on biking around the island or doing the Island Express hop-on-and-off bus as soon as you arrive, both of these take hours and will leave you famished, so taking food is a must.

Rottnest Island, Western Australia

There are plenty of dining options on the island, from the General Store which has groceries and picnic supplies, to the bakery (our choice – they have fantastic pies, pasties and sausage rolls including vegetarian options) and more upmarket cafes and restaurants. You can’t leave without a scoop of Simmos Icecream.

Rottnest Island, Western Australia

Getting Around Rottnest Island

By Bus
Rottnest is a small island, but it’s a long way if you’re planning to walk or bike it. With children on a day trip, I would advise catching the air conditioned Island Explorer Service bus, which is what we decided upon. The bus makes continuous circuits of the entire island, so you can jump off at each point if you like to take a quick look. The buses run every 30 minutes and cost $50 for a family of two adults and one child. Tickets can be booked online, from the Visitor Centre or Main Bus Stop vending machines.

If you’re staying on the island, you can make use of the free Accomodation Shuttle Bus that runs between the main accomodation areas on the island.

Rottnest Island, Western Australia

By Bike
Exploring Rottnest by bike is also very popular, particularly when you’re staying a bit longer than just one day. If you have your own bike, you can bring it on the ferry across to Rottnest. If you need to hire one, you can do so from either of the ferry services before boarding or from Rottnest Island Pedal & Flipper.

Rottnest Island, Western Australia

By Foot
The main settlement is very walkable and even has two playground areas for kids. We walked from the main settlement to The Basin back again via Pinky Beach and the lighthouse.

If you’re after a more challenging walk, try the Wadjemup Walk Trail, which is made up of five sections (50km in total).

Where to stay
While we took a day trip to Rottnest Island, there are lots of accomodation choices should you wish to stay longer.

Rottnest Island, Western Australia

Getting there
There easiest way to get to Rottnest Island is the ferry. The ferries book up fast in popular seasons so be sure to book well in advance.

Rottnest Island ferry companies provide transfers to the island from Perth City, North Fremantle (Rous Head), Fremantle (Victoria Quay) and Hillarys Boat Harbour in Perth’s north. Rottnest ferries take approximately 25 minutes from Fremantle, 45 minutes from Hillarys Boat Harbour, or 90 minutes from Perth’s Barrack Street Jetty.

Rottnest Island, Western Australia

Rottnest Express
Phone 1300 467 688
Departs from Fremantle and Perth City
Bookings and Deals

Rottnest Island, Western Australia

Rottnest Fast Ferries
Phone +61 8 9246 1039
Departs from Hillary’s Ferry Terminal
Bookings and Deals

Rottnest Island, Western Australia

More info on getting to Rottnest Island.

Rottnest Island is also accessible by personal boat and airplane.

Rottnest Island, Western Australia

When travelling around the island, try the new, free Rottnest Island mobile app.

Sold on seeing Rottnest Island? Get more info on their website.

Rottnest Island, Western Australia

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Rottnest Island, Western Australia Rottnest Island, Western Australia
Rottnest Island, Western Australia Rottnest Island, Western Australia
Rottnest Island, Western Australia

There is so much more to see and do in Perth. Get lots of info and tips from Experience Perth.

Our ferry trip to Rottnest Island was thanks to Experience Perth and Rottnest Fast Ferries. We covered all other costs ourselves. All opinions are our own. 

Christine Knight
Christine is the editor of Adventure, Baby! She loves cake, her tolerant husband and her busy preschooler.

The Funatorium: Mad Hatter’s Tea Party at the Sydney Opera House

Funatorium: Mad Hatter's Tea Party at the Sydney Opera House

Join the maddest tea party in town this summer, with the Sydney Opera House’s brand new tea party with a twist – The Funatorium.

Directed by former Circus Oz Artistic Director, Mike Finch, the Funatorium is a wild show for kids full of top talents from the worlds of circus and cabaret.

Funatorium: Mad Hatter's Tea Party at the Sydney Opera House

Inspired by Lewis Carroll’s classic story, Alice’s Adventures In Wonderland, the Funatorium is a completely immersive, engaging and absolutely crazy cabaret that is designed to enthral the littlest guests and leave them wondering if what they’ve seen on stage is magic or trickery, or just absolute mayhem.

Funatorium: Mad Hatter's Tea Party at the Sydney Opera House

Kids who love the story will adore seeing some of their favourite characters brought to life, such as the Mad Hatter, March Hare and the Red Queen. Those who aren’t familiar with the story will still enjoy the show immensely however, as, just as the tea party in Alice in Wonderland is a manic array of nonsense, so to is this one. It’s funny, silly and breathtaking as a stand alone show.

Funatorium: Mad Hatter's Tea Party at the Sydney Opera House

The feverish blend of acrobatics, juggling, singing, hula-hooping, balancing, aerial acts, singing and comedic acts is the perfect mix of charm, delirium and total chaos. So, basically, the most perfect tea party a kid (or their parent!) could imagine.

Funatorium: Mad Hatter's Tea Party at the Sydney Opera House

Funatorium: Mad Hatter's Tea Party at the Sydney Opera House Funatorium: Mad Hatter's Tea Party at the Sydney Opera House Funatorium: Mad Hatter's Tea Party at the Sydney Opera House Funatorium: Mad Hatter's Tea Party at the Sydney Opera House Funatorium: Mad Hatter's Tea Party at the Sydney Opera House Funatorium: Mad Hatter's Tea Party at the Sydney Opera House Funatorium: Mad Hatter's Tea Party at the Sydney Opera House Funatorium: Mad Hatter's Tea Party at the Sydney Opera House Funatorium: Mad Hatter's Tea Party at the Sydney Opera House

Tips For Attending The Funatorium

Most searing is General Admission. Queues begin to form about 45 minutes before the show starts, so I would advise lining up early to get good seats.

Funatorium: Mad Hatter's Tea Party at the Sydney Opera House

Kids hungry? The snack bar has a Mad Hatter’s Kids’ Tea available for $15 that includes a juice box, small cupcake, popcorn, fruit and Smarties.

If you’re coming in on a week day, the cheapest option is bus and train to Circular Quay. On weekends, use Book-A-Bay to get a cheaper parking spot under the Sydney Opera House.

Funatorium: Mad Hatter's Tea Party at the Sydney Opera House

Give the kids plenty of time before and after the show to enjoy the free Summer Playground, which is run both inside and outside the Playhouse until January 29, 2017 and includes plenty of large games and a large sandpit.

Funatorium: Mad Hatter's Tea Party at the Sydney Opera House

The Funatorium
January 7 – 22nd, 2017
Recommended for ages 5 and up
The Studio, Sydney Opera House
Buy Tickets

Thank you so much to the Sydney Opera House for hosting us. All opinions are our own.

Christine Knight
Christine is the editor of Adventure, Baby! She loves cake, her tolerant husband and her busy preschooler.

The Beach at the Cutaway, Barangaroo Reserve, Sydney Festival

The Beach at Barangaroo, Sydney Festival

This summer in Sydney, you can visit a beach where you won’t get a sunburn or sand in your cossies. For the first time in Australia, The Beach, an interactive art exhibition, is available for Sydney-siders to play in an ocean made up of 1.1 million recyclable polyethylene balls, gently lapping against a 60-metre wide shoreline free of sand.

The Beach at Barangaroo, Sydney Festival

The Beach is the creation of Snarkitecture, a New York-based art and architecture collaborative practice, whose name is drawn from Lewis Carroll’s The Hunting of The Snark, a poem describing the “impossible voyage of an improbable crew to find an inconceivable creature.” In its search for the unknown, Snarkitecture creates architectural-scale projects, installations, and objects.

The Beach at Barangaroo, Sydney Festival

By transforming the familiar into the extraordinary, Snarkitecture makes architecture perform the unexpected – which is exactly what we experienced at The Beach.

The Beach at Barangaroo, Sydney Festival

To take a dip in The Beach, you can either do what we did, which is visit between 10am and 5pm and get free access, or skip the queues with one of their paid ticketed sessions. Every morning there is an all-ages ticket session from 9am-10am as well as an 18+ only session on Friday and Saturday nights.

The Beach at Barangaroo, Sydney Festival

We decided to arrive at 9:20am on a Sunday and thought we might be the first people there – how wrong we were. The line already had a lot of people in it, but we took turns waiting in the line and taking Cheese rock climbing around the Cutaway so time went fast.

The Beach at Barangaroo, Sydney Festival

At 10am on the dot we were ushered in and made a beeline for the area next to the shallow end. We had hoped to grab a giant floatie but sadly were too late. You are permitted to bring your own, but who can fit a huge flamingo on the train? People tended to latch on to the equipment and not let it go even when they’d stopped using it, so I had no problem asking someone who had finished playing with the one they’d held on to for a long time if we could have a turn, and similarly was happy to pass ours on to other people when we’d had one for a good amount of time.

The Beach at Barangaroo, Sydney Festival

At first leap in, the ball pit was somewhat scary for Cheese. At its deepest the ball pit is one metre deep, which is pretty much as high as she is. Initially it was a frightening experience for her to sunk under the balls and not be able to get back up again, but after she realised she wasn’t going to get hurt if she was swallowed by them, she started to really have fun and didn’t want to leave.

The Beach at Barangaroo, Sydney Festival

The ball pit was a lot more work than I had expected it to be! Once your feet are swept out from underneath you, it takes a massive amount of effort to stand back up and haul yourself out. I would say that’s my gym work out done and dusted for the entire week.

The Beach at Barangaroo, Sydney Festival

We had the most fun jumping into the pit both front ways and also backwards, and playing catch with the giant blow up balls. Cheese tried surfing on a huge ice cream cone floatie and found a bucket to fill and move balls around, including dumping them over her head, our heads, anyone’s heads.

The Beach at Barangaroo, Sydney Festival

There is a great little shallow end at one side of the beach that is perfect for wheelchairs and little kids. It’s nice for small ones to be able to sit and play with the balls without sinking to their heads, which is what happens in the main area.

The Beach at Barangaroo, Sydney Festival

Tips for visiting The Beach

If you lose something in the ball pit you will have to wait until they drain it at the end of Jan to retrieve it, so leave all valuables like phone, keys, loose jewellery in the buckets provided.

It’s pretty hot in the ball pit, and sweaty work getting in and out. Take lots of water and leave it with your bag on the beach.

If you arrive early for the first session you will wait the least amount of time during the day as once you are in you can stay as long as you want. Most people stay around 45 minutes, but we stayed for an hour and a quarter.

There is no pass to leave and return, so go to the bathroom beforehand.

There are baby changing facilities available in the restrooms outside, opposite the elevator.

You can take your phone/camera into the ball pit but be very careful not to drop it. I would suggest taking a camera with a neck strap.

There is a coffee cart and food vans outside for before/after snack attacks.

Strollers must be left in the designated parking area outside The Beach.

The Beach at Barangaroo, Sydney Festival

Final important Q&A thanks to the Barangaroo website

ARE BALL PITS UNHYGIENIC?

GermBLOCKTM antimicrobial balls have been used to create The Beach. This safe, powerful agent provides antimicrobial protection for everyone against 50 different germs and bacteria for the life of the ball. It cannot be rubbed, scrubbed, or wiped off. Each ball is moulded from 100% recyclable nontoxic materials.

The Beach at Barangaroo, Sydney Festival

CAN THE BALLS BE RECYCLED?

Yes, in fact The Beach balls have already been recycled once thanks to the generous assistance of the Vinik Family Foundation and The Beach Tampa. The Sydney Festival is working with local plastic recycling services to make sure every single ball is recycled after the event. They are composed of a nontoxic Low Density Polyethylene (LDPE) which makes them a “Type 4” Plastic for recycling purposes.

The Beach at Barangaroo, Sydney Festival

ACCESS

The Beach provides wheelchair access by way of an accessible ramp that can accommodate guests using a push or electric wheelchairs. Guests will have full access to all areas of the shore, out onto the piers and onto a shallow ball area along one of the mirrored walls. This area is clearly marked with white and grey flags. Between these flags, the balls have a maximum depth of 250mm. This will allow guests to remain in their wheelchairs and move around the balls. Check out this great blog post on Have Wheelchair Will Travel for more info.

The Beach at Barangaroo, Sydney Festival

HOW DO I GET THERE?

There are entrances to Barangaroo Reserve from Towns Place, Hickson Road, Munn Street Reserve and Merriman Street. The entrance to the Cutaway is near Hickson Road and Nawi Cove.

Public transport: Catch the train to Wynyard and Circular Quay and walk (approximately 1.1km). The closest bus stops are on Hickson Road at the Nawi Cove entrance, and are serviced by routes 324 and 325, which depart from Town Hall; and route 311, which runs between Central Station and Argyle Street.

By car: An underground carpark is located off Towns Place. You can also park on Hickson Road.

The Beach at Barangaroo, Sydney Festival

The Beach at Barangaroo, Sydney Festival The Beach at Barangaroo, Sydney Festival The Beach at Barangaroo, Sydney Festival The Beach at Barangaroo, Sydney Festival The Beach at Barangaroo, Sydney Festival The Beach at Barangaroo, Sydney Festival The Beach at Barangaroo, Sydney Festival

The Beach at the Cutaway, Barangaroo Reserve
Dates: 7–29 January, 2017

Free Entry
7–8, 10–15, 17–22, 24–29 January from 10am–5pm
Tue–Sun, closed Mondays
Last admission for free entry at 3:30pm

All Ages Ticketed Sessions
7–8, 10–15, 17–22, 24–29 January at 9am-10am
Tue–Sun, closed Mondays
Tickets only valid for stated session times
Cost: $15 pp

The Cutaway at Barangaroo Reserve
Hickson Road Entrance
Barangaroo 2000

sydneyfestival.org.au/2017/beach

Christine Knight
Christine is the editor of Adventure, Baby! She loves cake, her tolerant husband and her busy preschooler.

Wattamolla Beach, Royal National Park, NSW, Australia

Wattamolla Beach National Park, Sydney, NSW, Australia

One of the absolute best things about living in Australia is the stunning natural environment we live in. A hour and 15 minutes south of Sydney is a gorgeous spot called Wattamolla, located in the Royal National Park.

Wattamolla Beach National Park, Sydney, NSW, Australia

While it’s well-known as a spot to swim, snorkel, picnic and generally laze about, it’s also an historic area, with “Wattamolla” being the name the local Aboriginal people gave it many years before Europeans arrived.

Wattamolla Beach National Park, Sydney, NSW, Australia

“Wattamolla” means “place near running water” – a highly appropriate name for an area that is a cove, lagoon and beach. In 1796 Matthew Flinders, George bass and William Martin came across the cove while exploring, and recorded its name as “Watta-Mowlee”, but is today spelt Wattamolla.

Wattamolla Beach National Park, Sydney, NSW, Australia

Today, Wattamolla is a popular spot for families, as well as groups of all ages, due to it’s wide variety of activities to do there. The beach has sparkling clear water, edged by rocks that are fun for climbing.

Wattamolla Beach National Park, Sydney, NSW, Australia

Then there’s the lagoon deeper into the cove, which is perfect for little kids to swim in. It’s shallow and calm, so kids of all ages can paddle, swim and play at its shore safely. Adults love to bring giant floats and canoes to the lagoon and wile away the day floating around.

Wattamolla Beach National Park, Sydney, NSW, Australia

A pretty waterfall flows over the rocks at the back of the lagoon, and is a popular spot for daredevils to jump from into the water below, despite a large fence being erected and big warning signs cautioning people not to dive or jump from the rocks.

Wattamolla Beach National Park, Sydney, NSW, Australia

Tips For Visiting Wattamolla
Arrive early! Wattamolla is extremely popular and there is limited parking near the beach. We arrived at 10:30 and the parking lot was almost completely full. I would suggest arriving no later than 9:30 to enjoy the beach with few people there.

It’s a 250m walk from the car park to the beach along a narrow rocky path with lots of stairs.
There is no stroller access or paved path on the beach.

The lagoon is edged with plenty of trees to set up a blanket and picnic spot, but many visitors choose to bring their own tents with them.

There is no food available at Wattamolla, so bring a picnic with you down to the beach, or use the free barbeque areas near the parking lot to make your own lunch.

There is also no water available, so bring plenty with you.

While there are bathrooms at Wattamolla, they are located next to the parking lot so go before you walk down.

The beach is free to visit but entry to the Royal National Park costs $12 per vehicle per day and payment is cash only.

There is little to no mobile reception at Wattamolla.

The Royal National National Park is open 7am to 8.30pm but may have to close at times due to poor weather or fire danger.

Beaches in this park are not patrolled, and can sometimes have strong rips and currents.
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Wattamolla Beach National Park, Sydney, NSW, Australia Wattamolla Beach National Park, Sydney, NSW, Australia Wattamolla Beach National Park, Sydney, NSW, Australia Wattamolla Beach National Park, Sydney, NSW, Australia Wattamolla Beach National Park, Sydney, NSW, Australia Wattamolla Beach National Park, Sydney, NSW, Australia Wattamolla Beach National Park, Sydney, NSW, Australia Wattamolla Beach National Park, Sydney, NSW, Australia
Wattamolla Beach National Park, Sydney, NSW, Australia Wattamolla Beach National Park, Sydney, NSW, Australia

Wattamolla Beach
Royal National Park, Coast Track, Sutherland Shire NSW 2232
More info
Get Directions

Christine Knight
Christine is the editor of Adventure, Baby! She loves cake, her tolerant husband and her busy preschooler.

Sydney’s Best Shows For Kids: Swamp Juice

Swamp Juice: Sydney's Best Shows For KidsThese school holidays, treat the kids to Swamp Juice, the award-winning show that’s toured the world and is now coming to Sydney this January.

Swamp Juice is a ridiculously fun shadow puppetry show for kids aged seven and up. It was a sell-out hit at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, with theatre critics calling the show “ Innovative” and “memorable”, from the Times, and “Breathtaking… Wonderfully enchanting… A heartwarming, funny show for children of all ages”, from the Evening Standard.

Swamp Juice: Sydney's Best Shows For Kids

The show creatively makes shadow puppets out of bits of rubbish and household objects to tell the story of bickering snails, a neurotic snake and an opera singing mouse with a jaw-dropping 3D finale! This is a swamp like no other!

Swamp Juice: Sydney's Best Shows For Kids

Swamp Juice is presented in Australia by Monkey Baa Theatre Company, based at the Lendlease Darling Quarter Theatre in Sydney. We’ve been seeing their excellent productions for the past two years, and are always impressed by the exciting, inventive and fun shows that they put on for kids.

Swamp Juice: Sydney's Best Shows For Kids

Monkey Baa is actually Australia’s widest-reaching touring company, having conducted over 25 national tours to 135 regional and remote communities across every state and territory of Australia, 3 international tours and over 2,500 performances, and engaged with 1.2 million young people. It’s Monkey Baa’s goal to provide young people with fantastic theatre experiences no matter where they live or what their economic situation might be.

The company is also passionate about showcasing Australian cultures and stories, and work hard to create shows that offer young people a truly multifaceted reflection of the world we all inhabit.

SWAMP JUICE

A Bunk Puppets production, presented by Monkey Baa Theatre Company

Where: Lendlease Darling Quarter Theatre, Terrace 3, 1-25 Harbour Street, Sydney (opposite the Darling Quarter children’s playground)

When: 17 – 21 January, 10.30am & 12.30pm

Suitable for: ages 7+

Duration: 55 minutes

Tickets: $29 adult/child; $104 family of 4; $125 family of 5

More info: http://www.monkeybaa.com.au/shows/swamp-juice/

A Day In The Darling Quarter #darlingharbour #Sydney via brunchwithmybaby.com

What’s nearby?

After the show, check out the Darling Quarter playground directly opposite the theatre and enjoy lunch in one of the area’s many cafes, or bring a picnic and enjoy it in the sun on one of the many green areas.

This article was produced in conjunction with the Monkey Baa Theatre Company. All opinions are, as always, my own. We genuinely love their productions and think readers will enjoy their new show.

Christine Knight
Christine is the editor of Adventure, Baby! She loves cake, her tolerant husband and her busy preschooler.

My Six Travel Resolutions for 2017

2017 Travel Resolutions

Thanks Girl Tweets World for the inspiration for this post. I spend so much time thinking about where I’ll be going that I don’t spend much time considering how I should be doing it, which is just as important. At the moment I don’t have a solid plan of where 2017 is going to take us but, when it does, I will be travelling with these ideals in mind.

Phuket Day Trips: Two Sea Tour of Phang Nga Bay & James Bond Island

Travel responsibly
By this I mean visiting places ethically and leaving nothing but footprints behind. There are so many gorgeous parts of the world that I long to visit, but tourism is destroying them (I’m thinking of Phi Phi Island in Thailand right now, but there are many others). For me, travelling responsibly means choosing hotels that take care of the land they are built on, are culturally sensitive and aware, and selecting travel companies for tours that are ethical and environmentally friendly. For example, when we travelled in Thailand we avoided activities that exploited animals and selected tours that were environmentally friendly, such as the Two Sea Tour of Phang Nga Bay.

Elephant Nature Park, Chiang Mai, Thailand

Raise awareness
It’s a huge privilege and responsibility to work in the media, and I have always tried to use whatever platform I’ve been writing for to promote causes that are close to my heart. My dearest hope is that the writing I produce on subjects such as the plight of the elephants in Chiang Mai will change just one person’s mind about travelling ethically vs unethically themselves. I hope in 2017 to be able to raise awareness to more causes, particularly related to animals and tourism.

Thailand Travel Guide: 5 Must-See Temples in Chiang Mai

Travel deeper
I love to discover the cultural heart of countries that we visit. Usually this means avoiding anything really touristy and setting out to discover the history and heart of the area. With a small child in the past I have neglected this at times in favour of taking my daughter somewhere easier that she would enjoy, but that she could do anywhere back at home – for example a water park with slides because she would get immediate enjoyment and it’s easy, vs taking her temple hopping in Chiang Mai, which surprisingly she absolutely loved.

Cheese came home from our Thailand trip having learnt about religion, Buddha, monks and the importance of not riding elephants. It wasn’t lost on me how much more she learned doing travel such as this vs things like amusements parks. My goal in 2017 is to use our travel to learn more about each destination and the people who live there and completely skip the other stuff.

Melbourne Tram

Travel local
We can’t afford to fly around the world as much as I’d like, but we can do more local travel, which is something I want to focus more on in 2017. There is plenty to explore in our own country that we have yet to introduce the Cheese to that I think we will all love, so Canberra, Melbourne, Perth and Brisbane + Sunshine Coast are all on the itinerary for the year (if you have any hot tips on things to do in these area that are off the beaten path, please let me know!).

Austinmer Beach: NSW's best beaches for families via christineknight.me

Travel cheaper
We are hopefully buying a house in January so we will need to cut back on spending. This will mean that I have to be thrifter day-to-day, which is a good thing, and also research free/cheap travel ideas. I’ll be spending more time researching things we can do for free when we travel, both locally and abroad, so you’ll notice more content coming to the blog as a result of this that will help with budget travel plans. I hope to discover free museum days, cheap ways to get around, ideas for exploring nature, the best deals for attractions and hotels and share them with you.

Disney Aulani Resort & Spa via christineknight.me

Switch off
This will be the hardest for me! I find it absolutely impossible to stop taking photos, writing down notes and filming videos to relax and enjoy the moment. I rarely find travel restful because I’m always trying to capture everything to produce great content later – the downfall of your passion also being your career! I finished 2016 absolutely burnt out however, and I see that in 2017 I need to schedule time to stop documenting and just enjoy and relax, as hard as it might be to do.

 

What are your resolutions? Do you make them?

Christine Knight
Christine is the editor of Adventure, Baby! She loves cake, her tolerant husband and her busy preschooler.

Hunter Valley Gardens Christmas Lights Spectacular

Hunter Valley Gardens Christmas Lights Spectacular

If you’re visiting the Hunter Valley over December and January, you simply must see the gorgeous Christmas Lights Spectacular at the Hunter Valley Gardens.

What started as a small display of lights in Australia’s largest display garden six years ago has turned into the Southern Hemisphere’s biggest and most breathtaking display of over 2 million lights.

Hunter Valley Gardens Christmas Lights Spectacular

The show is designed with families in mind, with roaming entertainment, a Christmas Lights Fun Zone with inflatables, jumping castles, an arcade alley and 35 metre long Super Slide, Santa’s Workshop (open until New Year’s Eve) and nightly performances by children’s musical group Little Scallywagz.

Hunter Valley Gardens Christmas Lights Spectacular

This year’s light displays feature world landmarks, a 6 metre giant present tree, north pole and nativity scenes, Cinderella’s castle, the Mad Hatter’s Tea party, an under water scene, with the absolute faves for us being Candy Land and the Fairy Garden.

Hunter Valley Gardens Christmas Lights Spectacular Hunter Valley Gardens Christmas Lights Spectacular

Observant visitors will notice a few new additions in the gardens – animatronic dinosaurs who are on display to tell people about the new Mega Creatures display coming to the Hunter Valley Gardens from Jan 2 – so if you visit in Jan, you’ll get both displays at the same time.

Hunter Valley Gardens Christmas Lights Spectacular

Tips for visiting the Christmas Lights Spectacular

  • Buy your tickets in advance to avoid the queue.
  • Arrive when the gardens open at 6:30pm. This will give you plenty of time to walk around the gardens while it’s still light enough to see the actual garden, get some food, and play in the fun zone until it gets dark enough for the lights to truly shine.
  • Keep a close eye on kids in the fun zone. We had no problems but there can be lots of big kids on the inflatables at the same time as the little ones.
  • Enjoy the roving entertainment! Our daughter loved this the most, especially the hula hoop lawn in front of the waterfall section.
  • Walk around the gardens for a second time when it’s dark. The lights are completely the focus when it’s dark and are really spectacular!

Hunter Valley Gardens Christmas Lights Spectacular
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More information

Christmas Lights Fun Zone
Open from 6:30pm – 10:00pm, $7.50 per person
Slide is for children over 120cm tall.

Food & Beverage Area
Open from 6:30pm – 10:00pm
Food includes woodfired pizza, pasta, German kitchen, snack foods, churros, coffee.

Roaming Entertainment
From 6:30pm – 9.30pm

Little Scallywagz Show
7:30pm & 8:30pm

The Christmas Lights Spectacular is on display 4th November – 26th January 2017
Cost: Family Pass (2 adults + 1 child) – Night Only
$72.00, Family Pass (2 adults + 2 children) – Night Only
$92.00

Gates open 6.30pm – 10.00pm
General Gardens open 9am – 4pm during the Christmas Lights Spectacular

Hunter Valley Gardens
Address: 2090 Broke Rd, Pokolbin

Mercure Resort Hunter Valley Gardens

Where to stay
We highly enjoyed staying the night at the nearby Mercure Resort Hunter Valley Gardens. The hotel is a very short 7-minute walk from Hunter Valley Gardens. The large, bright and clean rooms feature satellite TV, Wi-Fi (paid), minibars, fridges, tea and coffeemaking facilities and balconies. The pool in the centre of the resort was extremely popular with families.

Mercure Resort Hunter Valley Gardens
Mercure Resort Hunter Valley Gardens
2090 Broke Rd, Pokolbin
mercurehuntervalley.com.au
Get Directions

We were given complimentary tickets to see the light show at the Hunter Valley Gardens. We loved the display and all opinions are my own. We also received a media rate, which is a slightly reduced rate, when staying at the Mercure Resort. I was under no obligation to write about either the light display or hotel. 

Christine Knight
Christine is the editor of Adventure, Baby! She loves cake, her tolerant husband and her busy preschooler.

Room On The Broom: Sydney’s Best Shows For Kids

Room On The Broom The Stage Show

Room On The Broom is a classic story, written by Australian author Julia Donaldson. The story has been adapted into a gorgeous stage show that has returned this December to the Sydney Opera House to wow children and their accompanying adults with its wit, joy and fun.

Room On The Broom The Stage Show

The very simple story of a witch and her cat who are happily flying on their broom until a stormy wind blows the witch’s hat, bow and wand away is a lyrical adventure performed with clever dialogue and catchy songs by a colourful cast of endearing characters.

Room On The Broom The Stage Show

This lively performance with gorgeous puppetry takes the audience on a delightful journey to find the lost things, make new friends, and come face-to-face with a dragon.

Room On The Broom The Stage Show

Along the way, the characters learn the importance of friendship, sticking together and realise that there is, in fact, room on the broom for everyone. A very simple story with an important message for us all. No matter our kind or creed, there is room for us all.

Room On The Broom The Stage Show

Room On The Broom is a highly engaging show for children ages three and up. Limited seats are still available to its two remaining shows.

Room On The Broom The Stage Show

 

Room On The Broom
Sydney Opera House
Dates: 9 – 23 December
Prices: Standard $30 – $40, Insiders $24 – $32 (Booking fee applies per transaction)
Tickets: sydneyoperahouse.com

We were guests of the Sydney Opera House for reviewing purposes, and were under no obligation to write about our experience. Both the kid and I really enjoyed this show and highly recommend it.

Photos care of the Sydney Opera House.

Christine Knight
Christine is the editor of Adventure, Baby! She loves cake, her tolerant husband and her busy preschooler.

Brickman Wonders of the World Sydney – LEGO Exhibition

Brickman Wonders of the World Sydney - LEGO Exhibition

If LEGO is your kids’ jam, then you simple must take them to see the new Brickman Wonders of the World LEGO exhibition in Sydney this summer.

Brickman Wonders of the World Sydney - LEGO Exhibition

Brickman Wonders of the World features over 50 amazing LEGO sculptures of famous landmarks such as the Empire State Building, Arc De Triomphe and the Great Wall of China, taking visitors on a fascinating journey through history through time.

Brickman Wonders of the World Sydney - LEGO Exhibition

The exhibit has been curated by the only LEGO® Certified Professional in the Southern Hemisphere (and one of only 14 in the world) Ryan McNaught and his team.

Brickman Wonders of the World Sydney - LEGO Exhibition

Brickman Wonders of the World Sydney - LEGO Exhibition Brickman Wonders of the World Sydney - LEGO Exhibition

While most exhibits are “look but don’t touch”, this one is incredibly well thought out and very interactive for kids. Several of the sculptures have large bricks pits built around their base, encouraging kids to build their own pyramid, race car or Leaning Tower of Pisa. I thought we would be in an our in an hour, but we honestly could have stayed inside building for most of the day.

Brickman Wonders of the World Sydney - LEGO Exhibition

The sculptures feature are more than just statues, too. When looked at closer, they reveal amazing set ups with tiny LEGO people in the scenarios that are even more fascinating than the buildings themselves. We searched for “Leo the explorer” in each sculpture, with the aim to discover them all and enter to win a prize at the end, and in the process found ourselves swept up in the tiny detailed lives of the LEGO people in each creation. The level of detail is extraordinary.

Brickman Wonders of the World Sydney - LEGO Exhibition

The only downside to the exhibition is that there are no bathrooms or food available inside, so you need to exit the exhibition for both. While they will allow children to exit and return again for “bathroom emergencies” when we asked if we could get some food for the kids and then go back inside again the answer was no. My advice: Go first thing in the morning or straight after lunch when kids can last the longest without food.

Brickman Wonders of the World Sydney - LEGO Exhibition

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Brickman Wonders of The World
ICC Sydney, International Exhibition Centre, Exhibition Hall 1
20 December 2016 – 5 February 2017

Open daily. Booking is advisable.
Tickets on sale now at http://www.ticketek.com.au
http://www.brickmanwonders.com.au
Prices: Adult $35, Concession $30, Family of Four (Admits 4) $95, Junior (age 4-16) $25. Kids aged 3 and under are free.

We were provided with tickets to see the Brickman show for reviewing purposes but were under no obligation to write about the experience. I genuinely enjoyed the show and am planning to return over the summer.

Christine Knight
Christine is the editor of Adventure, Baby! She loves cake, her tolerant husband and her busy preschooler.

Circus 1903 – The Golden Age at the Sydney Opera House

Circus 1903 – The Golden Age at the Sydney Opera House

From the creators of the biggest-selling magic show internationally, The Illusionists, and the award-winning puppeteers of War Horse comes Circus 1903, a show that blends the best of both predecessors into a breathtaking performance inspired by the golden age of circus.

This all-age show features turn-of-the-century circus acts with a modern twist. Authentic period costumes and careful set design combined with dangerous and jaw-dropping acts left this theatre goer and her five-year-old daughter completely captivated, often gaping in awe, and occasionally hiding behind our hands when some of the more thrilling acts were being performed.

Circus 1903 – The Golden Age at the Sydney Opera House

The cast of talented performers have been sourced from all over the globe – strong men, contortionists, acrobats, knife throwers, high wire and tumblers. So much incredible talent left our hands numb from clapping and cheering.

Circus 1903 – The Golden Age at the Sydney Opera House

Traditional circuses of this era used live performing animals such as elephants – an incredibly inhumane practice that is thankfully dying out. Circus 1903 does an excellent job of paying homage to the magnificent animals that spent their lives entertaining the public through incredibly innovative puppetry.

To say that the moment with the enormous elephant puppets on stage is show stopping would be an understatement. The clever puppeteers did a tremendous job bringing these enormous pachyderms to life, creating true works of art that are beautifully nostalgic as well as exciting to watch.

This is a truly captivating circus extravaganza that is perfect for audiences of all ages.

Circus 1903 – The Golden Age at the Sydney Opera House

TOUR FAQ

Q:  Is this family friendly?  Can I bring my kids?

A:  Absolutely.  This is a show for all ages!

Q:  Does Circus 1903 feature a live elephant?

A:  No. The elephants featured in Circus 1903 are puppets, brought to life by the talented team at Significant Object (the award-winning puppeteers from War Horse). Circus 1903 is a very unique show in that it takes aspects of the traditional circus but puts a fresh, innovative and more humane spin on them. One of those new directions is using carefully constructed and realistic puppets in place of actual animals.

Circus 1903 – The Golden Age at the Sydney Opera House

Circus 1903 – The Golden Age at the Sydney Opera House

CIRCUS 1903 – The Golden Age of Circus
Concert Hall, Sydney Opera House
Sunday, December 18 – Thursday December 29, 2016.
Prices: Standard from $74.90, child from $48.90 (plus transaction fee of $5 – $8.50per order)
Bookings: (02) 9250 7777 or sydneyoperahouse.com
More Info: sydneyoperahouse.com/whatson/circus_1903 or circus1903.com

Circus 1903 – The Golden Age at the Sydney Opera House

We attended the show as guests and under no obligation to promote or write about it. We generally absolutely loved the show.

Christine Knight
Christine is the editor of Adventure, Baby! She loves cake, her tolerant husband and her busy preschooler.