Adventure, baby!

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

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

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.

Bathurst With Kids: A Road Trip Stop Over

Bathurst With Kids: A Road Trip Stop Over - North-West NSW, Australia

We recently stopped in Bathurst for a stop over on our way to Dubbo from Sydney. I prefer, when doing long drives, to push on as much as possible to stop somewhere interesting for longer rather than doing a few short stops with nothing to see or do.

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Bathurst is a great country town with plenty to occupy families for a few days, so absolutely enough to make for a memorable stopover.

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Where to eat: The Hub Espresso Bar and Eatery
We loved this family-friendly cafe that served delicious, if somewhat pricey food for adults, and a kick-ass and very affordable menu for kids. My warm Sweet Potato Salad ($18.90) was incredible, and the kid enjoyed a 0.50c babycinio and Cheese melt ($5). The cafe handed us colouring in pencils and a kids’ menu to drawn on while we waited for our delicious food.

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The Hub Espresso Bar and Eatery
52 Keppel St, Bathurst, NSW
Phone: (02) 6332 1565
Hours: Daily, 7am-3.30pm
The Hub Facebook Page

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Where to play: Bathurst Adventure Playground
This incredible playground was a major hit. Designed with a dinosaur theme, it features plenty of activities for kids of all ages and abilities, such as a dual flying fox, large metal slide & toddlers double slide, large sand pit with water spout, maze, imaginative play cubby house, rockers and whirlygigs, climbing structure and rock wall, working sun dial. sound activated dinosaur noises, musical deck notes and dinosaur sculptures & footprints. There are excellent clean bathroom and barbecue facilities and also plenty of shade cover over various elements.

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Bathurst Adventure Playground
Durham St & Hope Street, Bathurst

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Where to get dessert: Annies Old Fashioned Ice Cream Parlour
The best way to finish the Bathurst experience is with a sundae from Annies old fashioned 1950s-style milk bar. The pink decor is to die for, and I highly recommend the local speciality, “Sofala Gold” ice cream. With 30 flavours to choose from, there’s bound to be something everyone in the family will enjoy.

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Annies Old Fashioned Ice Cream Parlour
82/86 George St, Bathurst
Annies Ice Cream Parlour Facebook Page

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

SEA LIFE Sydney Aquarium Penguin Expedition

SEA LIFE Sydney Aquarium Penguin Expedition, Sydney, Australia

It was a colder than usual summer morning today inside the brand new Penguin Expedition exhibit at SEA LIFE Sydney Aquarium. A chilly 6 degrees C is set to keep the brand new Gentoo and King Emperor penguins at a comfortable temperature in their new home.

SEA LIFE Sydney Aquarium Penguin Expedition

Visitors to the new penguin exhibition, which is inspired by Macquarie Island in the Southwest Pacific, can climb aboard a raft and sail around the rugged, sub-Antarctic environment. You might want to pack a cardigan if you really feel the cold, or snuggle up to the person sitting next to you. At the end of the ride there is a further viewing window to see the penguins up close.

SEA LIFE Sydney Aquarium Penguin Expedition

The penguins are quite spectacular when viewed in person – and larger than expected. King Penguins can grow up to 100 cm tall and weigh 11 to 16 kg, while the smaller Gentoos reach a maximum weight of 8.5kg.

SEA LIFE Sydney Aquarium Penguin Expedition

The Gentoo and King Emperor penguins recently moved up from SEA LIFE Melbourne Aquarium to start a dedicated penguin breeding program on site whereby marine biologists hope to produce some baby King or Gentoo penguins next year.

SEA LIFE Sydney Aquarium Penguin Expedition

The breeding program will provide insight and research into the way penguin colonies work and assist in their future conservation in the wild.

SEA LIFE Sydney Aquarium Penguin Expedition

As part of the new Penguin Expedition, visitors to SEA LIFE Sydney Aquarium will learn about the issues facing penguins in the wild and the simple ways they can make a difference, including reducing single-use plastic consumption. Education programs such as this are beneficial in inspiring the next generation to become healthy ocean ambassadors.

SEA LIFE Sydney Aquarium Penguin Expedition

SEA LIFE Sydney Aquarium Penguin Expedition SEA LIFE Sydney Aquarium Penguin Expedition SEA LIFE Sydney Aquarium Penguin Expedition SEA LIFE Sydney Aquarium Penguin Expedition

Entrance to Penguin Expedition, including daily feeds and talks from dedicated keepers and trainers, is included in the cost of general admission.

SEA LIFE Sydney Aquarium
Aquarium Wharf, Darling Harbour, Sydney
Hours: Open daily from 9.30am
Cost: For the best deal, book online in advance. Walk-up price: Adults $42, Children (4-15yrs) $29:50
http://www.sealifesydney.com.au

We attended the launch of Penguin Expedition as a guest of SEA LIFE Sydney Aquarium.

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

Nubo Play Centre, Alexandria: Sydney’s Best Play Centres

Nubo Play Space Alexandria, Sydney

Today we checked out a gorgeous new play centre in Alexandria, Sydney, called Nubo. This space is like no other you will find in Sydney. While most play centres are a seething mass of running, crying sweaty children with parents either frantically trying to locate their wailing child or sitting having a coffee with their feet up, Nubo is a place of quiet and calm, even when filled with kids.

Nubo Play Space Alexandria, Sydney

What makes it so different? The purpose of Nubo is to let kids explore, create, rest and wonder. Each section of the centre focuses on a different purpose and activity that matches it, resulting in a space looks more like a children’s museum than a traditional play gym.

Nubo Play Space Alexandria, Sydney

While physical activity is certainly important and there are plenty of ways for kids to be active here, they can also build, get arty, indulge in pretend play and read books in the most gorgeous book nooks I’ve seen.

Nubo Play Space Alexandria, Sydney

Parents must supervise their kids at all time, and the result is a lot more engagement with offspring such as building with Magnatiles, making a grand old play doh mess or reading a book to them.

Nubo Play Space Alexandria, Sydney

Each area has a number of children allowed per activity and the physical ones have an age recommendation too. The whole centre caters for kids up to the age of 10.

Nubo Play Space Alexandria, Sydney

Several of the smaller rooms in particular are geared towards older kids, such as the upstairs party room which was set up with Play Sticks and suggestions of what to build with them when we visited, and the large climbing structure in the middle of the space.

Nubo Play Space Alexandria, Sydney

Younger kids can enjoy dedicated areas or play with the more complex activities along with an adult. With creative areas such as the Blue Room, set up with Magnatiles and Imagination Blocks, it’s the kind of play that parents can get into, too.

Nubo Play Space Alexandria, Sydney

Nubo is really a space that adults can enjoy being at almost as much as their kids will. It’s bright and light and relaxing (yes, relaxing!), with a large cafe space and fantastic facilities such as a feeding room for nursing babies and a gorgeous (!) dedicated kids’ bathroom.

Nubo Play Space Alexandria, Sydney

The cafe at the moment serves very healthy basic snacks such as salads, sandwiches and smoothies. In the new year they will have a dedicated kitchen installed and chef to make hot food on site. Nubo serves only healthy food and drinks – you’ll find lots of raw and whole foods here and very little sugar.

Nubo Play Space Alexandria, Sydney

During the week, Nubo staff, who are mostly former child care workers, run activities geared towards the younger set of under fives such as story time and craft activities. On the weekends and school holidays these activities change to become suitable for kids aged up to 10.

Nubo Play Space Alexandria, Sydney

At the moment these activities are included in the cost of admission but as they develop these events further into workshops that are run in series, they will be charged separately. So, for example, a kid can come for a weekly workshop without also paying to use the play space, but they can choose to pay for a bundle of both if they wish to do so. On the cards for upcoming workshops as they grow are robotics and coding for all ages, even the under 5s.

Nubo Play Space Alexandria, Sydney

We highly enjoyed our time at Nubo – yes, that’s right, the both of us.

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Nubo Play Space Alexandria, Sydney Nubo Play Space Alexandria, Sydney Nubo Play Space Alexandria, Sydney Nubo Play Space Alexandria, Sydney Nubo Play Space Alexandria, Sydney Nubo Play Space Alexandria, Sydney Nubo Play Space Alexandria, Sydney

Nubo
2/160 Bourke Rd, Alexandria NSW 2090
(02) 9317 3206
Hours: Daily 9am-5pm
Prices: $10 for 0-12 months, $18 for ages 12-24 months, $38.50 for 2 years and over. For multiple children it’s $30 each. Current special promotion running: buy one get one free for general admissions and free workshops until 31 December.
Get Directions
Parking: If you can score a spot marked “Nubo” it’s free. Otherwise it’s pay and display ($3 hour weekdays and two hours free on weekends).

 

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

How Do I Afford To Travel So Much?

How Do I Afford To Travel So Much?

This is a question I’ve been asked pretty regularly, so here it is for anyone else who is interested too.

We Live Leanly And Save
This is the main way we travel. We save money by not spending it a lot on other things. We live in a small place, don’t have a giant mortgage to pay off, and don’t buy a lot of stuff. We don’t go out a lot and have fancy dinners or buy anything that’s overly expensive.

Disney Aulani Resort & Spa via christineknight.me

We Travel Off-Season
I am always looking for the best travel deals, be it airfares, hotels or attractions. I get everything discounted if I can and travel outside of peak dates to get them. Our Aulani stay, for example, was a “stay four nights get one free” deal and included a $250 resort credit because we stayed a week before their peak season started. With attractions, I am relentless at looking for discount vouchers and Groupons. My daughter is also still young enough that we can travel outside of school holiday times without it being a drama.

Sculpture by the Sea, Bondi, Sydney, Australia

We Only Have One Small Kid
One kid is pretty easy to tuck into travel plans. The flight is an extra big cost, but otherwise she doesn’t cost anything extra yet for accommodation because we fit into a standard hotel room, and gets into a lot of attractions for either free or a substantially discounted rate.

Observations on living in New York christineknight.me

Extending Business Trips
Most of our USA trips are extensions of my husbands work trips. We tag along where possible and then stay longer to make the most it. For example on our recent trip to New York, our accommodation was covered by my husband’s work since that’s what he was there to do, while the kid and I had a ball site seeing.

Staying at the Zoofari Lodge, Taronga Western Plains Dubbo Zoo, Australia

Hosted Stays
I very rarely get hosted stays or discounted media rates for hotels, but they do occasionally happen (I make it very clearly when I do!). I more frequently get media passes for attractions, which, again, I mark extremely clearly in my blog posts.

I hope this answers the question! Any more questions, throw them at me!
 

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

Luxury On The Savannah: A Stay at Zoofari Lodges Taronga Western Plains Zoo, Dubbo

A Stay at Zoofari Lodges Taronga Western Plains Zoo, Dubbo, Australia

Spending the night overlooking an African savannah is a life-long dream of ours. While a family trip to Africa is on the bucket list and many eons away, we discovered that it is possible to have an incredible local experience that is as close to Africa as it’s possible to get, without actually leaving Australia.

Staying at the Zoofari Lodge, Taronga Western Plains Dubbo Zoo, Australia

We recently spent the night at the luxurious Zoofari Lodges at Taronga Western Plains Zoo in Dubbo. The 15 African-style lodges are at the edge of a large “African savannah” paddock where giraffe, zebra and eland roam freely.

Staying at the Zoofari Lodge, Taronga Western Plains Dubbo Zoo, Australia

We stayed in one of the Animal View Lodges which have verandahs opening up to the savannah view and fit four people. If you have a larger group, the Bushland View Lodges sit just behind these cabins and fit six people in each, with a queen bed, two singles and a sofa bed.

Staying at the Zoofari Lodge, Taronga Western Plains Dubbo Zoo, Australia

The lodges are all brand new, with gorgeous features and facilities, including a king split bed and pull out sofa bed, private ensuite, coffee and tea making facilities, mini-bar, fridge and shaded veranda with outdoor furniture. All bedding, linen and towels are provided.

Staying at the Zoofari Lodge, Taronga Western Plains Dubbo Zoo, Australia

Staying at the Zoofari Lodge, Taronga Western Plains Dubbo Zoo, Australia

Surrounding the lodges is plenty of bush, which adds to the feeling of being glamping on a safari, and it’s just a short stroll from the lodges up to the equally luxe Zoofari Lodge Guest House, where guests can relax in the pool, with a drink at the bar, or playing games in the lounge area.

Staying at the Zoofari Lodge, Taronga Western Plains Dubbo Zoo, Australia

All guests of Zoofari are given two day admission to Taronga Western Plains Zoo, with check in at the lodge between 2pm and 3pm in the afternoon. We chose to spend the night before at a nearby motel and arrive at the zoo before the gates opened the following morning.

9 Tips For Visiting Taronga Western Plains Zoo, Dubbo, Australia

We spent the morning and lunch time driving and cycling around the zoo (you can read more about our experience and tips for visiting Taronga Western Plains Zoo here), and then drove our car out of the zoo and around the corner to the Zoofari Lodges at check in time.

Staying at the Zoofari Lodge, Taronga Western Plains Dubbo Zoo, Australia

Our assigned cabin was called “Bongo”, after the endangered African antelope, and we became the “Bongo” family for the duration of our stay.

Staying at the Zoofari Lodge, Taronga Western Plains Dubbo Zoo, Australia

During cooler weather, there is often an afternoon behind the scenes tour of the zoo for Zoofari guests, but we visited on a scorchingly hot and our tour was instead scheduled for 8pm in the evening. In the mean time, we relaxed and enjoyed the gorgeous facilities. We watched the giraffes munch on snacks and the water buffalo and ostriches roam around the paddock, then wandered up to the guest lodge for a cool drink.

A Stay at Zoofari Lodges Taronga Western Plains Zoo, Dubbo, Australia

The guest lodge has an excellent swimming pool, but due to an unfortunate leg grazing incident by my daughter earlier in the day, we were house-bound. I was a bit worried she’d go stir crazy in the lodge, but it was set up incredibly well, catering for both adults and kids at the same time.

A Stay at Zoofari Lodges Taronga Western Plains Zoo, Dubbo, Australia

While the guests without kids sat around the bar and had a cocktail, or lounged on the verandah and read a book, we found plenty of colouring in and toys for Cheese to play with, and she even learnt the rudiments of chess.

A Stay at Zoofari Lodges Taronga Western Plains Zoo, Dubbo, Australia A Stay at Zoofari Lodges Taronga Western Plains Zoo, Dubbo, Australia A Stay at Zoofari Lodges Taronga Western Plains Zoo, Dubbo, Australia A Stay at Zoofari Lodges Taronga Western Plains Zoo, Dubbo, Australia

At 6pm complimentary wine tasting was served, along with canapés. After sampling delicious wine from the local region (I really enjoyed some sweet wine from Mudgee), we sat at our assigned seats at 6:30 to enjoy dinner – an African-style banquet.

A Stay at Zoofari Lodges Taronga Western Plains Zoo, Dubbo, Australia

Before the meal, I had a quick chat with the chef about dietary requirements, as she wanted to make sure that my daughter and I were able to find enough food to eat. The banquet is very meat heavy, so if you’re not big on meat I would advise doing similar. I really appreciated the level of concern shown for ensuring there was enough food for both myself and the picky child. The chefs in the end made special kids meals for the little ones present – fish and chips for Cheese, and nuggets and chips for another little fellow.

The dishes were brought out on large platters to share: salmon pesto pasta with chick peas, roast veggies (these were amazing!), Moroccan lamb with three berry couscous, garden salad and African rump chicken. I was served the three berry couscous on its own as well as two giant stuffed mushrooms on plates just for myself.

As each platter was eaten, more were brought out, so there was an endless amount of food if you were feeling particularly hungry. Dinner was included in the price of the Zoofari experience, but any drinks were an added extra cost. We found the price of drinks to be pretty reasonable however – the happy hour special cocktail was $10, regular cocktails $14 and a glass of wine $7.50.

Dessert was served after the dinner platters were taken away – again, African-style dishes for the adults such as cake and pudding, with plain vanilla ice cream and topping for the kids.

A Stay at Zoofari Lodges Taronga Western Plains Zoo, Dubbo, Australia A Stay at Zoofari Lodges Taronga Western Plains Zoo, Dubbo, Australia A Stay at Zoofari Lodges Taronga Western Plains Zoo, Dubbo, Australia A Stay at Zoofari Lodges Taronga Western Plains Zoo, Dubbo, Australia

When dinner was well and truly over, we watched the sun go down over the savannah from our balcony, and it was suddenly time for the night tour. (Please excuse my lack of photos of the meal and night tour, it was too dark to get any decent shots.) The tour left at 8pm sharp and started with a visit to Cuddles, the only African elephant in Australiasia. Our tour guide, Stephen, had an enrichment toy filled with food for her. A little rattle of the toy and she came lumbering our way, so we were able to see her right up close.

While African elephants are not yet endangered, their numbers have been decimated in recent years due to poaching for their ivory tusks, at a rate of around a hundred a day. Eliminating the demand for ivory is the only way to stop poaches – remove the market and you remove the threat to the elephants. It’s tough hearing about the plight of these amazing animals and feeling helpless to do anything about it, but education is always the way forward. We need to know, and we need to teach our children, too.

After visiting Cuddles, we were taken to meet the hippos, who were happy to chow down on the food we brought while we learned about them and the work the zoo does in animal conservation.

Next on the tour was meeting endangered bongo, whom we hand fed carrots. Feeding a bongo is quite the gooey experience, as they love to have a good lick of the hand after eating the food offered. Pretty extraordinary, to be up close and feeding such a unique animal in the dark! We learned that there are only 200 of these herbivores left in the world due to the destruction of their habitat to mine for coltan, a metallic ore used in mobile phones. It was a stark reminder as to how we are destroying the wild even without realising it, and we were urged to recycle our mobile phones so the coltan can be removed and reused.

Our last stop on the night tour was to visit the white rhino, the second largest land animal. Using a red torch we were able to see him even in the dark, as we listened to the sad story of how the rhinos are being poached into extinction for their horns. Taronga has a breeding program in place to assist in the regeneration of the species, but the rhinos are particularly difficult animals to breed, making it a long, hard process.

Back to the cabins and to bed, it was an incredibly peaceful nights sleep until the sun came up just before 6am and the light began to stream into the cabin. There aren’t many things more beautiful than watching the sunrise, and seeing the glowing red ball rise over the savannah and highlight the animals eating their breakfast was breathtaking. A few classic Aussie wild animals joined the African ones, so our savannah included kangaroos, cockatoos and even some bush bunnies all enjoying the dawn light.

Staying at the Zoofari Lodge, Taronga Western Plains Dubbo Zoo, Australia Staying at the Zoofari Lodge, Taronga Western Plains Dubbo Zoo, Australia Staying at the Zoofari Lodge, Taronga Western Plains Dubbo Zoo, Australia Staying at the Zoofari Lodge, Taronga Western Plains Dubbo Zoo, Australia

The morning behind-the-scenes tour kicks off at 7am sharp. Mindful of the kids who aren’t able to last till afterwards for breakfast, we were given milk and cereal to tide her over.

zoofari-blog-5 Giraffe feeding at Taronga Western Plains Zoo, Dubbo, Australia zoofari-blog-6 Our first stop was also the highlight, hand feeding carrots to the giraffes. They are behind a fence for our protection, their long necks enabling them to learn over and extend their long blue tongues to take the carrots from our hands. Looking up and seeing a gigantic giraffe head coming towards you is quick an unnerving experience, particularly for the younger members of the group.

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Cheese was a bit scared to feed one on her own (not surprising considering how small she is compared to them), but placing her on my hip made her feel bigger and more confident, and she declared “feeding the blue tongued giraffe” to be her favourite part of the Zoofari experience.

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After the giraffes we met the black rhino, of whom there are only 2000 left in the world. Unlike the placid white rhino, the black rhino is more aggressive – he even looked angry through the bars, which I was extremely grateful for. Our guide fed him a large plant brand near the fence so we could watch him eat as we learned about the story of the rhinos.

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From the rhinos we moved on to the lemurs. The Madagascar lemurs are the most endangered animal on the planet right now due to the destruction of their rainforest through illegal logging as well as hunting. It’s so sad to hear, and we watch the two lemurs at the zoo play happily in the early morning light, unaware of the plight of the rest of their species.

9 Tips For Visiting Taronga Western Plains Zoo, Dubbo, Australia

The meerkats are up next on the agenda, one of our favourite animals. Meerkats have exploded in popularity after the Meerkat Manor TV series, as well as a TV ad that we are apparently the only people in Australian to have not seen. If you’re aged 10 or older, you can book in for a meerket encounter later on in the day.

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The last stop on our morning tour is to meet the elephants up close as they’re are having their morning beauty routine. Every day the elephants are washed thoroughly and given a bit of a pedicure, which we were able to watch up close inside the elephant enclosure. The elephant keepers were happy to give us some information on the elephants and answer our questions about their care and habits.

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We were all basically starving by that stage, so it was back to the guest lodge for a big buffet breakfast. Unlike most buffets, this one has food being constantly cooked out the back and brought into the dining area, so everything is constantly fresh and hot. The guests enjoyed scrambled eggs, pancakes, toast, granola, yogurt, cereal, bacon and breakfast buns that included poached eggs, spinach and roasted baby tomatoes (there was also a version with a sausage in it if you preferred it with meat). It was an absolute feast and we ate up, knowing we had a long drive ahead of us.

Staying at the Zoofari Lodge, Taronga Western Plains Dubbo Zoo, Australia

After breakfast it was time to pack up and check out of the lodge by 10am. Many guests stayed on the next day to explore the zoo using the complimentary bikes or hiring a Zoofari electronic cart ($89 for the entire day, exclusively for Zoofari Lodge guests).

Staying at the Zoofari Lodge, Taronga Western Plains Dubbo Zoo, Australia

It was sad to say goodbye to our amazing cabin and the lovely people who we met during our stay, but oh what an experience we had!

Staying at the Zoofari Lodge, Taronga Western Plains Dubbo Zoo, Australia

Staying at the Zoofari Lodge, Taronga Western Plains Dubbo Zoo, Australia

Staying at the Zoofari Lodge, Taronga Western Plains Dubbo Zoo, Australia

In 2017 Taronga Western Plains Zoo will be opening a new Pridelands exhibit with 20 lions roaming over five hectares, and the option to drive through it on a small bus. We hope to return for this exhibit opening and stay again in this gorgeous, unique accomodation.

Staying at the Zoofari Lodge, Taronga Western Plains Dubbo Zoo, Australia

More Information On Zoofari Lodges

Rates for one night accommodation in an animal view lodge starts from $309-$399 per person for adults, from $49-$79 per person for children aged 1 – 4 years old and from $149-$179 for kids aged 5 – 15 years old.

Bushland View Lodges start from $269-$359 per person for adults, from $49-$79 per person for children aged 1 – 4 years and from $149-$179 for kids aged 5 – 15 years old.

Staying at the Zoofari Lodge, Taronga Western Plains Dubbo Zoo, Australia

Rates are for one night accommodation and are fully inclusive of:

Two day admission to Taronga Western Plains Zoo
One night accommodation at Zoofari Lodge
Exclusive behind the scenes tours with a Zoofari Guide
African style canapés, banquet dinner and dessert
Buffet breakfast
Standard bicycle hire for two days
10% discount at the Zoo’s Souvenir Shop
10% discount voucher for Bakhita’s Café
10% discount on additional Animal Encounters

Staying at the Zoofari Lodge, Taronga Western Plains Dubbo Zoo, Australia Staying at the Zoofari Lodge, Taronga Western Plains Dubbo Zoo, Australia

A Stay at Zoofari Lodges Taronga Western Plains Zoo, Dubbo, Australia

Staying at the Zoofari Lodge, Taronga Western Plains Dubbo Zoo, Australia

Zoofari Lodges at Taronga Western Plains Zoo Dubbo
Obley Rd, Dubbo NSW 2830
Online
Get Directions

Heading to Taronga Western Plains Zoo? Read our tips on having an incredible experience.

We stayed as guests of the Zoofari Lodges. All opinions on this incredible experience are our own. 

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

A Merry Christmas with Minted Holiday Cards

A Merry Christmas with Minted Holiday Cards

Every year since Cheese was born, I’ve printed photo Christmas cards for our friends and relatives. I love receiving gorgeous photo cards from our friends, and hope that they, similarly, enjoy receiving our holiday wishes for them in the mail.

This year, I designed our cards with Minted, a US company specialising in gorgeous stationary.

Minted has some excellent features that I really like and wanted to share.

A Merry Christmas with Minted Holiday Cards

1. A large variety of cards to choose from
There are hundreds of cards to make a selection from. Literally too many to look through!

A Merry Christmas with Minted Holiday Cards

2. A personalised card preview tool
You can easily upload your own images to see what the cards will look like with your favourite shots in them.

A Merry Christmas with Minted Holiday Cards

3. Photo manipulation
It’s super easy to zoom in and out and crop the images to suit the cards, and there’s an option for “auto enhance” too.

A Merry Christmas with Minted Holiday Cards

3. Customisation options
Add foil, change the colours, change the text from “holiday” to “Christmas” greetings. There are so many options for each card.

A Merry Christmas with Minted Holiday Cards

4. Save and review later
One of my fave features, you can save all your designs and then view them all at once so it’s easy to compare them and choose your favourite.

A Merry Christmas with Minted Holiday Cards

5. Free recipient addressing
It’s really easy to upload a spreadsheet with your family and friends’ addresses in them, and they are printed on the envelopes FOR FREE! My handwriting is appalling, so I really appreciate this.

A Merry Christmas with Minted Holiday Cards

6. Digital proofing service
This is great for the nervous orderers among us – when you’re printing a lot of expensive cards, it’s reassuring to know there is someone looking over them and checking you haven’t made a silly mistake. If you choose not to use the proofing service you get a $10 discount and get your order 2 days faster.

A Merry Christmas with Minted Holiday Cards

7. Frequent discount offers
When I ordered mine they had a 20% off sale, with the code in a banner across the top of the site.

A Merry Christmas with Minted Holiday Cards

8. The quality is gorgeous
I’ve ordered from Minted before and the quality is just stunning. When you compare them to much cheaper places you can get cards from, there is no quality comparison at all. You get what you pay for – which is, in this case, gorgeous cards your family and friends will keep long after the holidays are over.

A Merry Christmas with Minted Holiday Cards

9. International shipping
I was stoked to see they shipped to Australia! It costs $20 for their standard international mail, but that’s pretty regular for getting something shipped all the way Down Under.

I can’t wait to get my cards! I will show them off on social media when they arrive.

Wanting to order your own gorgeous holiday cards? Make sure you do so while there is still time at Minted.com.

Thanks to Minted.com for the complimentary voucher to try their card ordering service. I’ve ordered from Minted in the past and have always been extremely happy with their quality and service so was more than happy to share my experience with others.

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

9 Tips For Visting Taronga Western Plains Zoo Dubbo

9 Tips For Visiting Taronga Western Plains Zoo, Dubbo, Australia

Visiting Taronga Western Plains Zoo in Dubbo is a road trip many Australian families have made over the past 40 years, since the zoo opened in 1977. The zoo was opened initially to provide more grazing and breeding space for large animals such as elephants and antelopes, with 35 animals from six countries.

9 Tips For Visiting Taronga Western Plains Zoo, Dubbo, Australia

While the design of the zoo has remained the same, with open-range with concealed moats separating the animals from visitors, the zoo expanded significantly after a big financial investment from the government into both Taronga zoos several years back.

9 Tips For Visiting Taronga Western Plains Zoo, Dubbo, Australia

Both Taronga zoos focus on conservation, and at Dubbo you’re able to see their breeding plans in action. We visited in late spring and were treated with many babies around the zoo, including zebra, 10 wild dog pups, giraffes and Sabai, the three-week-old Asian elephant calf.

9 Tips For Visiting Taronga Western Plains Zoo, Dubbo, Australia 9 Tips For Visiting Taronga Western Plains Zoo, Dubbo, Australia

Also on display were the Galapagos tortoises and their babies – the first juveniles I’ve ever seen. Classified as “vulnerable” due to their decline in numbers, it was remarkable to see the tiny tortoises doing their best to bring their species back from the brink of extinction.

9 Tips For Visiting Taronga Western Plains Zoo, Dubbo, Australia

The zoo is home to many endangered animals that can be seen up close around the park. With Taronga’s focus on conservation comes education – the more people who know about the plight of these animals and care enough to make a difference themselves, the better chance we have of saving these species from extinction.

9 Tips For Visiting Taronga Western Plains Zoo, Dubbo, Australia

Endangered animals at the park include the Asian elephants, black and white rhinoceros, the bongo, of which there are only 200 left in the wild, and the Sumatran tiger. All of the money you pay at the zoo for everything from admission to souvenirs, goes back into the upkeep of the animals and their conservation programs.

I always think it’s best to know before you go, so if you’re heading out to Taronga Western Plains Zoo soon, these tips might help you out.

9 Tips For Visiting Taronga Western Plains Zoo, Dubbo, Australia

1. Plan to spend two days there
One day is pretty rushed and there is a lot to see and do, including free talks by keepers as well as upgraded activities that cost a bit extra. Admission for two days is included in a one-day entry, so it also makes your money go further.

9 Tips For Visiting Taronga Western Plains Zoo, Dubbo, Australia

2. Book a bike or buggy
You can get around the zoo with your own car, but what’s the fun in that? The most popular mode of transport is an electronic buggy ($69 for 3 hours). To secure one, arrive at least 10 minutes before opening time as they book out fast.

9 Tips For Visiting Taronga Western Plains Zoo, Dubbo, Australia

Our favourite way to see the zoo was by bike, as it allows you get off the main road and ride through the bush trails as well as getting some exercise. You can bring your own bikes or hire them ($15 for a bike, $25 for a bike with kid seat, $29 for a bike with caboose for the entire day).

9 Tips For Visiting Taronga Western Plains Zoo, Dubbo, Australia

3. Arrive early
The animals are most active in the early morning. On a hot day, by midday the animals are all snoozing in the shade, so it’s worth your while to be early.

Giraffe feeding at Taronga Western Plains Zoo, Dubbo, Australia

4. Book an animal encounter
The cheapest and most fun is the giraffe feeding for $7 per person. Who doesn’t want the chance to feed one of these majestic creatures? More info on animal encounters here.

9 Tips For Visiting Taronga Western Plains Zoo, Dubbo, Australia

5. Follow the keepers’ talk schedule
The scheduled talks start early in the morning when the zoo opens and continue around the zoo path, so you can easily just go from one to the next. The main benefit in this is the keepers usually feed the animals at the same time as their talk so you can see them close up and active. We visited the hippos, for example, before the talk and couldn’t even see them in their large enclosure. When we returned for the talk, the keeper had them right up near the visitors’ platform showing off their massive teeth.

9 Tips For Visiting Taronga Western Plains Zoo, Dubbo, Australia

6. Bring your own food
While there is a cafe at the entrance and a kiosk halfway around the 6km circuit, the food at the zoo is basic and expensive. There are plenty of picnic spots around the zoo in the shade so if you can bring your own food I would highly recommend it.

9 Tips For Visiting Taronga Western Plains Zoo, Dubbo, Australia

7. Book online
If you book your tickets online, you get 20% off entry fees. You can also book animal encounters online – and I highly advise you do so well in advance of your trip, as the popular ones book up very quickly. Book your tickets here.

Best Western Bluegum Motor Inn, Dubbo, Australia

8. Book accomodation in advance
We drove up from Sydney the day before and stayed the night in the excellent Best Western Bluegum Motor Inn. For $175 a night we were given an upgrade to a gorgeous newly renovated family room with air conditioning, one queen and two single beds, a fridge with no mini bar (hooray!), free internet, complimentary water, milk and apples. The motor inn is right in the centre of Dubbo, only a few minutes drive from several restaurants and a large Coles, plus there is a park with a playground across the road. It’s an 8 minute drive from the Best Western to Dubbo zoo.

Staying at the Zoofari Lodge, Taronga Western Plains Dubbo Zoo, Australia

9. Splurge on a Zoofari Lodge
This was hands down one of the most incredible accomodation experiences we’ve had. We stayed overnight in a Zoofari Lodge within the zoo – a luxe cabin situated right on the edge of an African savannah where giraffe, zebra and eland roam freely.

Staying at the Zoofari Lodge, Taronga Western Plains Dubbo Zoo, Australia

Watching the sun go down and come up again the next morning over this gorgeous landscape is an experience that won’t be forgotten. (An animal view Zoofari lodge costs from $309 per adult per night. More info here.)

9 Tips For Visiting Taronga Western Plains Zoo, Dubbo, Australia

Taronga Western Plains Zoo
Obley Rd, Dubbo NSW 2830
Hours: Daily, 9am-4pm
Online
Get Directions

We received entry as guests of Taronga’s Zoofari Lodges. All opinions and tips are 100% our own.

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