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Australia

Five of the Best Desserts in Melbourne

5 Sweet Spots in Melbourne via christineknight.me

Melbourne is home to excellent food, particularly of the sweet kind. I didn’t have to look far to find these five delicious sweet desserts and sweet treats in Melbourne. While there are countless other amazing places to find handmade chocolates of exquisite desserts, these five are all in Melbourne’s CBD, making them easy to stop by if you’re only in town for a short visit.

Haighs Melbourne via christineknight.me

Haighs
Established in 1915, Haighs is Australia’s oldest chocolate retailer. The fourth generation, family owned company has locations around the country, with its flagship store located Melbourne’s historic Victorian building, The Block Arcade. Haighs are renowned for their high quality chocolate and related products. I can’t go past their Aprichocs (apricot covered by delicious chocolate) and their trademark chocolate frogs. Yum.
Haighs, Shop 7-8 The Block Arcade, 282 Collins Street, Melbourne

Chocamama Melbourne via chtistineknight.me

Chocoamama
This new store specialises in locally-made Australian confectionary and premium chocolate. Their specialities include chocolate shards with salted caramel, chocolate-covered raspberry lollies (so good!), and hand-made Turkish delight. Kids will love their “pick and mix” section, where you can choose your own lolly and chocolate mix.
Chocamama, 6 Degraves St, Melbourne

Doughtnut Time via christineknight.me Doughnut Time
I’ve been a convert of Doughnut Time for a while now. They are best know for their crazy doughnut flavours like maple bacon and nerds, as well as their funny names: the “Veruca Salt”, for example, is their salted caramel doughnut. Doughnut Time hand-dip their doughnuts in small batches so they are always super fresh. At $6 a pop they’re not cheap, but they sure are good!
Doughnut Time, 5 Degraves St, Melbourne

Hopetoun Tea Room via christineknight.me

Hopetoun Tea Rooms
Lovers of tea and cake have been lining up for a seat in this tiny tea salon since it opened in The Block Arcade in 1891, when it was set up for the Victorian Ladies Work Association. The tea room is a throw back to world of elegance and grace, with white China, delicate teas and exquisite cakes. We had a slice of pavlova and vanilla slice and they were perfection.
Hopetoun Tea Rooms, The Block Arcade, 1-2/282 Collins St, Melbourne

Koko Black Melbourne via Christineknight.me Koko Black CBD
A Melbourne-based family-owned business, Koko Black are chocolatiers who produce premium handmade, chocolate and gourmet desserts. As well as being a chocolate store, Koko Black is also a chocolate-focused cafe, serving up baked treats, a sweet degustation and high teas. While you can choose from their 7 locations across Melbourne, the CBD store on Collins st is very convenient.
Koko Black, 52 Collins Street, Melbourne

What’s your favourite sweet spot in Melbourne?

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

Novotel Melbourne on Collins Hotel Review

Novotel Melbourne on Collins via Christineknight.me

On our recent visit to Melbourne, we stayed at the Novotel Melbourne on Collins. It was our first time in the city with Cheese, and we since our plans for the long weekend were hitting up museums and galleries, we wanted to stay somewhere central, family-friendly and comfortable. The Novotel Melbourne happily ticked those boxes for us, and we really enjoyed our stay.

Melbourne

The Novotel on Collins has a superb location if you want to be right in the centre Melbourne. Located on trendy Collins Street, it’s very close to the art gallery, museums, Botanic Gardens, the MCG, Federation Square, the theatres and shopping. The location was absolutely perfect.

Novotel Melbourne on Collins via Christineknight.me

We chose a room with two double beds and it was the perfect size for our family of three. The hotel very thoughtfully provided us with a large crib incase we needed it. The room had a great little nook in the wall where the crib fit in perfectly.

Novotel Melbourne on Collins via Christineknight.me

Our room was larger than I’d expected, with plenty of space and a massive desk which we used for putting all of our computers and Cheese’s toys on.

Novotel Melbourne on Collins via Christineknight.me

The room also featured a large modern bathroom, free in-room wifi, an LCD flat-screen TV, a mini bar/fridge and tea and coffee making facilities. Our room overlooked the glass atrium of the currently-being-renovated Collins Lane fashion and retail centre.

Novotel Melbourne on Collins via Christineknight.me

I found our room to be extremely clean and neat, with bright, fresh paint on the walls and spotless linens. The bathroom was similarly spotless with plenty of big fluffy towels.

We were on floor 7, which is the same level as the gym and pool. We probably experienced a bit more foot traffic as a result, but not much.

Novotel Melbourne on Collins via Christineknight.me

Our booking included breakfast, so each morning we dined at the Lane Cafe on Level 6 – the same floor as reception. Breakfast was a tremendous buffet affair, with all manner of fruits, cereals, hot food and pastries on offer.

Novotel Melbourne on Collins via Christineknight.me

The egg station, where you could order eggs in any manner you liked, and the fresh juicer machine were popular, as was the “Popcakes” machine with the kids – a fab little machine that you can use to make your own pancakes with the push of a button.

Novotel Melbourne on Collins via Christineknight.me

While we didn’t order room service, I did notice that the Novotel Melbourne on Collins has a large menu to choose from, including food that kids will actually eat like toasted sandwiches, pizza, hamburger, fish and chips and spaghetti bolognaise at reasonable prices. The kids’ meals ranged from $9 to $12 which is pretty standard for most restaurants.

We found the staff at the Novotel Melbourne to be extremely friendly and welcoming. They made quite the fuss over Cheese, enjoyed (or seemed to enjoy!) chatting with her at breakfast, and really made us feel like valued guests. We saw a lot of other families with kids of all ages in the hotel, so it seems that we were not the only ones who thought that the Novotel was an ideal hotel to stay in with a family.

Novotel Melbourne on Collins via Christineknight.me

In the lobby, right near the check in desks and concierge, was the most fantastic electronic games table. The table had four different age options, so preschoolers through to adults could enjoy games tailored to their age group. The table proved very useful at times when a wait was in order – what a fun idea to place it in the lobby to keep kids (large and small!) entertained.

Novotel Melbourne on Collins via Christineknight.me

Please note that the hotel is currently experiencing renovations out the front and underneath. St. Collins Lane, underneath the hotel, and the entire front of the Novotel, are being renovated to become a premiere shopping destination that I imagine will be a fantastic draw for future hotel guests.

We didn’t mind the scaffolding, and were only woken once out of three mornings with building works at 8am in the morning. I had a look on the site and saw that the works are scheduled from 7am – 7pm, Monday to Friday and from 7am – 3pm Saturday. The only noise we heard was at 8am on the Saturday. Monday morning, not a peep! The development was due for completion at the end of first quarter (which is now) and I don’t have an update on when the new completion date is. Other that this one loud morning, we had an excellent stay at the hotel, and really, renovations can’t be helped. I imagine this one will be worth the pain when the new centre underneath opens up.

The photos below were all taken within a 15 minute radius walk of the hotel. As you can see, it’s incredibly central.

Melbourne Yarra River Melbourne Yarra River Melbourne Flinder's Station Melbourne Street Art Melbourne Tram Melbourne Melbourne Tram Melbourne

Novotel Melbourne on Collins
270 Collins Street Melbourne, VIC Australia 3000
Tel: +61 396675800
novotelmelbourne.com.au

We received a media rate when we stayed at the hotel, which means we received a small discount off our room price. We were not required to write a review or share our experience in any way. All opinions are our own.

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

Melbourne: The Ian Potter Foundation Children’s Garden

Ian Potter Foundation Children's Garden Melbourne via christineknight.me

A tip off from a friend led us to seek out the Ian Potter Foundation Children’s Garden, in the heart of Melbourne’s Royal Botanic Gardens.

Ian Potter Foundation Children's Garden Melbourne via christineknight.me

The Royal Botanic Gardens are a gorgeous place to visit in their own right – set over 38 hectares, the gardens are an oasis of peace in the busy centre of Melbourne.

Ian Potter Foundation Children's Garden Melbourne via christineknight.me

The Ian Potter Foundation Children’s Garden was opened in 2004, designed to encourage children to get their hands dirty and express themselves through play. The gardens are carefully planned to allow children to run free and wild within a contained environment. The gardens are gated so kids can’t escape, which also means you can really let them explore without worrying that they will do a runner when you lose sight of them for a moment!

Ian Potter Foundation Children's Garden Melbourne via christineknight.me

Children enter the garden and embark on a journey through a jungle, a bamboo forest, a kitchen garden and creek bed. There are mazes, rocks to climb, characters to meet and an ancient Grandmother tree to explore. A wide variety of plants are set around the garden to give kids the opportunity to discover the delights of nature in their play, and to spark curiosity in the world around them.

Ian Potter Foundation Children's Garden Melbourne via christineknight.me

Ian Potter Foundation Children's Garden Melbourne via christineknight.me Ian Potter Foundation Children's Garden Melbourne via christineknight.me Ian Potter Foundation Children's Garden Melbourne via christineknight.me Ian Potter Foundation Children's Garden Melbourne via christineknight.me Ian Potter Foundation Children's Garden Melbourne via christineknight.me Ian Potter Foundation Children's Garden Melbourne via christineknight.me Ian Potter Foundation Children's Garden Melbourne via christineknight.me Ian Potter Foundation Children's Garden Melbourne via christineknight.me Ian Potter Foundation Children's Garden Melbourne via christineknight.me Ian Potter Foundation Children's Garden Melbourne via christineknight.me Ian Potter Foundation Children's Garden Melbourne via christineknight.me Ian Potter Foundation Children's Garden Melbourne via christineknight.me Ian Potter Foundation Children's Garden Melbourne via christineknight.me Ian Potter Foundation Children's Garden Melbourne via christineknight.me Ian Potter Foundation Children's Garden Melbourne via christineknight.me Ian Potter Foundation Children's Garden Melbourne via christineknight.me

The gardens have a clean bathroom right outside the gate, and a cafe a few metres away.

The Ian Potter Foundation Children’s Garden
Royal Botanic Gardens,

Birdwood Ave, Melbourne
Hours: 10am-sunset Wed-Sun (closed during term time on Mon & Tue). 10am-sunset 7 days a week during Victorian State School holidays and all public holidays.
http://www.rbg.vic.gov.au
Get directions

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

Austinmer Beach: NSW’s Best Beaches For Families

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

Sydney’s beaches often get all the attention. It’s easy to see why – they’re glamorous, hip and all over Instagram. Head an hour south out of Sydney, however, and you’ll find beaches that are just as beautiful, but without the crowds.

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

Austinmer Beach is one such beach. It’s one of Wollongong’s most popular beaches, located 25 minutes north of Wollongong’s CBD and under an hour south of Sydney. It’s an easy drive south, too. The beach is located off Lawrence Hargrave Drive, with a large, free carpark and cafes lining the road opposite.

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

Local families love Austinmer Beach, particularly the fenced in playground (sadly no shade cloth) that has plenty of activities for kids of a variety of ages. The rock pools are a major draw for this beach, too.

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

Located at the south end of the beach, they attract children and adults alike with their amazing ocean life. We spotted fish, a crab, sea snails, an anemone, and some freaky looking creatures that none of us could identify.

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

Also at the south end of the beach are two large ocean pools.

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

Where to eat:

Shell's Diner via christineknight.me
Shell’s Diner
An old-school fish and chips shop that makes fab lentil burgers and delicious fish and chips at a reasonable price.
Shell’s Diner: 106 Lawrence Hargrave Drive, Austinmer. Hours Mon-Thurs 7:30am-4pm Fri-Sun 7:30am-8pm

Austi Beach Cafe via christineknight.me

Austi Beach Cafe
A wide variety of breakfast and lunch options, plus gelato and afternoon tea. We highly enjoyed their fresh, warm scones.
Austi Beach Cafe: 104 Lawrence Hargrave Drive, Austinmer. Hours: Mon-Fri 8:30am-4pm Sat-Sun 8am-4:30pm

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

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

Austinmer Beach
Austinmer NSW 2515

  • Fenced playground
  • Bathrooms
  • Lifeguard (Sept-April)
  • Rock pools
  • Cafes
  • Ocean Baths

Get Directions

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

Kid-Friendly Cafes of out Sydney: Cafe Madeleine, Leura, Blue Mountains

Cafe Madeleine, Leura via christineknight.me

Leura is filled with cute little cafes, such as Cafe Madeleine, the place to go for your sugar fix in the Blue Mountains. The cafe is the sister site of Josophans – makers of fine chocolate.

Cafe Madeleine, Leura via christineknight.me

At Cafe Madeleine, you can enjoy a Fair Trade-certified chocolate-focused menu of desserts, brownies, waffles and hot chocolates, alongside modern Australian-style breakfast, lunch and High Tea menus.

Cafe Madeleine, Leura via christineknight.me

We dropped by the cafe after a bush walk and really enjoyed our casual lunch of Vegetarian Ricotta Tart & Salad (house baked ricotta tart with sage and sweet potato, served with a dressed side salad and local Hominy bakery sourdough bread, $16.90), Toasted Sandwich (Leg Ham, off the bone with tasty cheese & housemade chutney, on local Hominy Bread sourdough served with a dressed side salad $16.90), a Kids Sandwich (cheese toastie on wholemeal bread $5.50), Grannies Garden Berry Fruit Infusion Iced Tea, $4.50, Babycino, $1.50, Flat White, $3.60, Scones (two freshly baked scones filled with sweetened dried cranberries and Belgian chocolate chips, with double cream & jam, $10.50), and the Fresh Strawberries (served with a pot of melted Belgian dipping chocolate & freshly whipped cream, $10.90.

Cafe Madeleine, Leura via christineknight.me

We enjoyed the savoury food particularly, although I felt like it was a bit pricey. The tart was tasty, the bread soft and fluffy, the salad fresh and light.

Cafe Madeleine, Leura via christineknight.me Cafe Madeleine, Leura via christineknight.me

My iced tea was delicious – strong but without being sweet (I can’t stand sweetened drinks).

Cafe Madeleine, Leura via christineknight.me Cafe Madeleine, Leura via christineknight.me

Cheese loved her cheese toastie and babycino, which came with a chocolate rim inside, making it the most popular of babycinos of all time.

Cafe Madeleine, Leura via christineknight.me

The scones were the only disappointment of the meal. They were very sweet and more like cake than scones. We would have preferred more traditional scones that weren’t flavoured.

Cafe Madeleine, Leura via christineknight.me Cafe Madeleine, Leura via christineknight.me

The strawberries were the highlight of the meal – they were so fresh and sweet, and dipped in chocolate … mmmmm! So good!

Cafe Madeleine, Leura via christineknight.me Cafe Madeleine, Leura via christineknight.me
Highchairs: Yes.
Stroller storage: Yes.
Easy access: Yes.
Change tables: No.
Kids’ menu: Yes.

Cafe Madeleine
187a The Mall
Leura NSW
Phone: (02) 4784 3833
Prices: $$
Hours: Daily 9am-5pm

Cafe Madeleine Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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

Kakadu Dreaming: My Travel Bucket List

Kakadu Dreaming: My Travel Bucket List via christineknight.me #travel

With our relatively small population, you could be forgiven forgetting what a big country Australia is. It’s the 6th largest country in the world, about twice the size of the whole of Europe. From hip urban cities to deserts and wetlands, Australia is a country you need a lifetime to explore.

As a Sydney girl, I’ve seen a lot of the east coast of Australia. I’ve yet to visit an area that is high on my travel bucket list – the Kakadu area in the Northern Territory. Recently I learned a lot about the amazing nature and cultural experience Kakadu has to offer, and I can’t wait to visit when Cheese is a little bit older and ready for the adventure. I’ve put together a bit of information for you to start your Kakadu dreaming, too.

What is Kakadu?
Kakadu National Park is the largest park in Australia, covering almost 20,000 square kilometres. The park includes wetlands and rivers, and is home to around 2,000 plant species and wildlife from saltwater crocodiles to turtles and birds. Kakadu also features Aboriginal rock-art paintings dating to prehistoric times.

Kakadu Dreaming: My Travel Bucket List via christineknight.me #travel

Actually, where is Kakadu? How do I get there?
The easiest way is by coach tour or by hiring a car, and traveling from Darwin or Katherine. I just Googled how to get to Kakadu and, as a side note, it’s a 42 hour drive from Sydney, if you feel like an epic road trip.

Kakadu Dreaming: My Travel Bucket List via christineknight.me #travel

Where should I go in Kakadu?
The area of Kakadu I’m talking about in this post is called Gagudju. Gagudju Dreaming, part of Kakadu Tourism, is the largest collection of facilities catering to tourism in Kakadu and includes accommodation and various tours and cruises. It’s also an eco-certified ecotourism destination.

Kakadu Dreaming: My Travel Bucket List via christineknight.me #travel

Who should visit Kakadu?
Anyone can visit Kakadu, but it’s best suited for adults and families with kids eight years old and older. The adventure tours to see much of the beauty of Kakadu are limited to participants aged eight and over.

Kakadu Dreaming: My Travel Bucket List via christineknight.me #travel

What do I do there?
The three big things people travel to Kakadu to see are waterfalls, wetlands and indigenous culture. Yellow Water Cruises operate several cruises a day on Kakadu’s most famous wetland, Yellow Water Billabong, and has been awarded the winner of the 2012 Qantas Australian Tourism Award for Major Tour and/or Transport Operators. Spirit of Kakadu Adventure Tours use a modern fleet of 4WD vehicles for all day off-road adventures to visit the waterfalls, swimming holes and escarpments of Kakadu. Warradjan Cultural Centre gives insights into the culture, history and the effects of white settlement of the Bininj people in interactive displays and exhibitions.

Kakadu Dreaming: My Travel Bucket List via christineknight.me #travel
Gagudju Crocodile Hotel, Jabiru. Kakadu NP accommodation tourism hospitality architecture IHG
Photographer: David Hancock. Copyright: SkyScans

Where do I stay?
While there are several types of accommodation (including Yellow Water Camping and Cooinda Lodge) families will the Kakadu Crocodile Hotel which is, as the name suggests, shaped like a giant crocodile. The hotel has a beautiful outdoor (and shaded!) pool and is the perfect spot to stay while exploring Kakadu National Park. The hotel is a relaxing, air-conditioned place to take a breather after your days out adventuring. Food-wise, you can enjoy modern Australian cuisine in air-conditioned comfort, enjoy a full Australian breakfast, snack and lunch menu, buffet, and a la carte dining.

Kakadu Dreaming: My Travel Bucket List via christineknight.me #travel

When should I go?
Kakadu has two seasons: wet and dry. The wet season is November to March and the dry is April to October. Depending on when you go, there are different experiences to try. The dry season is the most popular time of year to visit, when most of the sites are open for tourists. Hotels are more expensive during this season. If you visit during the wet season, you can expect to see spectacular floods and storms with fewer visitors. While some attractions are closed during the wet season, popular areas such as Nourlangie and Yellow Water are open all year round. Plan your itinerary online.

Are you dreaming of Kakadu too? What’s on your travel bucket list?

This post was produced in conjunction with Gagudju Dreaming.

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Kakadu Dreaming: My Travel Bucket List via christineknight.me #travel

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

24 Hours Kid-Free In Canberra

24 Hours Kid-Free In #Canberra #holiday #travel #australia via christineknight.me

Canberra is often overlooked as a quick weekend away from Sydney and surrounds. Once known as the place you visit on school excursions, Canberra has come along way and is now alive with innovative art exhibitions, hip restaurants and spectacular scenery.

I usually make trips like this as a family, but on this occasion I was desperate to see an exhibit that I knew my preschooler wouldn’t be keen on, so my parents kindly watched her for a night so the husband and I could skip on down to Canberra and check out the James Turrell exhibit at the National Gallery of Australia. We only had 24 hours to spend in the city, we had a tight itinerary that allowed us good food, nature and culture.

Silo Bakery #Canberra via christineknight.me

Lunch: Silo Bakery
This little bakery is so popular that bookings for lunch are advised, and if you’re dropping by for one of their famous pastries, get there early or you’ll go home empty handed. The bakery is on the pricey side (our meal of two dishes, two tarts, two coffees and a tea came to $66), but the food is absolutely delicious – making it worth the money especially if you’re not in Canberra very often.

We ordered: Jamon, squid ink salami & tomato bread ($24), Tarte Flamiche ($20 Flemish-style leek & cheese pastry on an endive salad), Rhubarb pastry, Banana Carmel Tart.
Silo Bakery: 36 Giles St Kingston ACT 2604. Hours: 7am to 4pm Tuesday to Saturday

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Lake Burley Griffin #Canberra via christineknight.me

Afternoon stroll: Walk around Lake Burley Griffin
We stayed in a central hotel, just a short walk from Lake Burley Griffin. Our hotel also had free bikes for customers to use during their stay, which would have been perfect to ride around the lake. We walked instead, and enjoyed the late autumn colours, the swans and generally peaceful stroll around the lake as we walked towards the National Art Gallery.

National Gallery of Art #Canberra via christineknight.me

Cultural visit: National Gallery of Australia
I love art, so it never seems like an odd thing to do to drive down to Canberra just to see an exhibition. The National Gallery of Australia gets a lot of spectacular exhibitions that don’t come up to Sydney, such as the current one, James Turrell. The National Gallery also has a great permanent collection worth seeing, with an impressive Sidney Nolan collection, as well as modern art works by masters like Degas, Monet and Dali. The permanent collection is free to see, as is the sculpture garden outside. The Turrell exhibition we saw, his retrospective, was nothing short of spectacular.
National Gallery of Australia: Parkes Pl, Canberra ACT 2600

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Eightysix #Canberra via christineknight.me

Dinner: eightysix
This little restaurant is so hot right now that by 6:30pm it was jam packed (highly suggest you make a reservation). The food is upscale modern Australia, with innovative dishes like the Daffinois & Dukkah Wafer, $6, Steak Tartare with Wasabi, $24, Duck Bun (with hoisin & hot sauce $8), Pumpkin Tortellini with Rocket, $30. Delicious food, excellent service. Not cheap, but high quality and worth the splurge. The cocktails were magnificent – my $30 Honey Blossom i had was so potent I had a slight buzz the following morning. We stayed for dessert and had the Margarita, $14, (which was a sour sorbet and meringue piles on top), and the Banoffie Pie, $17,  which was the perfect mix of sweet pie crust, caramel and whipped cream, interestingly topped with pretzels.
eightysix: 11 Elouera St, Braddon ACT 2612. Hours: Mon 6pm-10pm, Tue-Sat 12pm-2:30pm, 6pm-11pm, Sun 9am-3pm, 6pm-11pm

Eightysix #Canberra via christineknight.me Eightysix #Canberra via christineknight.me Eightysix #Canberra via christineknight.me Eightysix #Canberra via christineknight.me Eightysix #Canberra via christineknight.me Eightysix #Canberra via christineknight.me eightysix-canberra-11

East Hotel #Canberra via christineknight.me

Accommodation: East Hotel
We stayed at the East Hotel in Kingston. It was very well located, modern and clean. The hotel had fun touches like complimentary bikes, refreshing lemon water and jelly snakes in the lobby, and a variety of family-friendly amenities like Xboxes and boardgames – it was unfortunate we were travelling minus the child and didn’t need to use them. Each room at a small but functional kitchen area, so you could stay here longer and buy groceries to cut down the cost of eating out.
East Hotel: 69 Canberra Avenue, Kingston ACT Australia 2604

east-hotel-canberra-1

Breakfast: East hotel
We were going to head to a different cafe for breakfast, but were short on time so had breakfast at hour hotel. It turned out to be a good deal. As guests of the hotel it cost us $15pp to have a hot breakfast including made-to-order eggs, baked beans, hash browns, bacon, sourdough, coffee, tea, pancakes. The food was fresh and delicious, and it was so easy that we were happy with our decision.

#Canberra via christineknight.me

National Gallery of Art #Canberra via christineknight.me

National Gallery of Art #Canberra via christineknight.me

Lake Burley Griffin #Canberra via christineknight.me

Lake Burley Griffin #Canberra via christineknight.me

National Gallery of Art #Canberra via christineknight.me

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

The Gingerbread House: Kid-Friendly Cafes, Katoomba, Blue Mountains

Gingerbread House: #KidFriendly Cafes #Katoomba #BlueMountains #Sydney via christineknight.me

On our recent Blue Mountains drive we stopped off at The Gingerbread House for afternoon tea after several recommendations from friends. It’s the sweetest cafe, housed in a beautifully restored 100-year-old church. As you can guess from the name, The Gingerbread House is all about sweet things – milkshakes, Serendipity ice-cream, cakes, cookies & gingerbread. They do have light savoury food, by the way, but it’s the sweet things they’re well known for.

Gingerbread House: #KidFriendly Cafes #Katoomba #BlueMountains #Sydney via christineknight.me

The Gingerbread House is owned by the creators of Josophan’s Fine Chocolates, so they obviously know a thing or two about the sweet things people go crazy for.

Gingerbread House: #KidFriendly Cafes #Katoomba #BlueMountains #Sydney via christineknight.me Gingerbread House: #KidFriendly Cafes #Katoomba #BlueMountains #Sydney via christineknight.me Gingerbread House: #KidFriendly Cafes #Katoomba #BlueMountains #Sydney via christineknight.me Gingerbread House: #KidFriendly Cafes #Katoomba #BlueMountains #Sydney via christineknight.me

Inside the church is an adorably styled gingerbread house containing a sweet shop filled with lollies, and a mix of small and large communal tables. You can also sit outside and soak up the sun while the kids play in the gingerbread cubby house.

Gingerbread House: #KidFriendly Cafes #Katoomba #BlueMountains #Sydney via christineknight.me

On our visit, we enjoyed a chocolate gingerbread man, a vanilla malt milkshake, a slice of chocolate cake with salted caramel frosting, an affogato with Serendipity caramel ice cream, and a scoop of Serendipity ‘Death by Chocolate’ ice-cream (which has just been awarded Champion Premium Ice-cream at the Sydney Royal Cheese & Dairy show).

Gingerbread House: #KidFriendly Cafes #Katoomba #BlueMountains #Sydney via christineknight.me Gingerbread House: #KidFriendly Cafes #Katoomba #BlueMountains #Sydney via christineknight.me Gingerbread House: #KidFriendly Cafes #Katoomba #BlueMountains #Sydney via christineknight.me Gingerbread House: #KidFriendly Cafes #Katoomba #BlueMountains #Sydney via christineknight.me

The cake was mine, and I found it to be just the right mix of dense, moist chocolate cake, with thick caramel frosting for my taste. I loved the milkshake (nice and malty), as did Cheese, who stole mine off me. Alec enjoyed his affogato (said the ice cream was great) and Cheese devoured her ice cream (as the official “eat the rest of the cone when the kid is done” person, I can confirm that the chocolate ice cream was really, really good, too!).

Gingerbread House: #KidFriendly Cafes #Katoomba #BlueMountains #Sydney via christineknight.me Gingerbread House: #KidFriendly Cafes #Katoomba #BlueMountains #Sydney via christineknight.me

The Gingerbread House is delightful and delicious – the perfect stop for a treat on your next drive to Katoomba.

Highchairs: Yes.
Stroller storage: Yes.
Easy access: Yes.
Change tables: Yes.
Kids’ menu: Yes.

The Gingerbread House Cafe
56 Lurline St (Cnr Lurline & Waratah Streets),
Katoomba NSW 2780
Phone: (02) 4782 6958
Prices: $
Hours: Daily 9am-5pm
Get Directions

Linking up with Grace and Bron.

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

Travel Guide: The Gold Coast With Kids

As a child, most summers my family made a trek to Surfers Paradise on the Gold Coast for our annual holiday. I have great memories of wandering up and down the boardwalk, playing in the sand and going to the theme parks. Surfers Paradise and the Gold Coast in general are still great destinations for families wanting an easy beachy holiday, as we discovered when we visited for some fun in the sun.

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Getting there
We booked a cheap flight online (try Webjet or Zuji) and had a very easy, fast trip. Pros: it’s fast. Cons: if your hotel isn’t walking distance from everything you want to see, you’ll need to shell out a lot of money in expensive shuttle buses or take public transport. You can also do the traditional driving route. Pros: you have a car at your disposal when you get there. Cons: you might have to pay for parking at your hotel, and the drive up is loooooooong.

What to do on the Gold Coast with kids:

Gold Coast With Kids via christineknight.me

Beach
The number one attraction in Surfers, and it’s FREE! Take a sun shelter, sand toys and plenty of sun screen.

Sea World via christineknight.me

Sea World
Out of all the theme parks, this was the best for little kids. Lots of animals exhibits and shows like the seals pictured above, a few rides such as the carousel and the Viking Revenge Flume, and great character shows and meet and greets with Dora The Explorer and Spongebob Square Pants.

Sea World via christineknight.me Sea World via christineknight.me

Movie World, Queensland via christineknight.me

Warner Bros Movie World
Movie World has a great section for younger kids with smaller rides and a splash area for hot days. Several of the rides require kids to be over 100cm still, so for kids age 3 and under the ride choices are limited. The character shows and parade however are a lot of fun for littles, and run all day long.

Movie World, Queensland via christineknight.me Movie World, Queensland via christineknight.me Movie World, Queensland via christineknight.me Movie World, Queensland via christineknight.me Movie World, Queensland via christineknight.me Movie World, Queensland via christineknight.me Movie World, Queensland via christineknight.me

Aquaduck via christineknight.me

Aquaduck
For a short outing (it goes for an hour, departing from the middle of Surfers Paradise), the Aquaduck is great for for kids. The duck takes a drive along side the beach, and then takes to the water to give a tour of the glam houses on the lagoons. The best part for Cheese was getting to drive the boat.

Aquaduck via christineknight.me Aquaduck via christineknight.me

Other attractions:
Currimbin Wildlife Sanctuary
Wet ‘n’ Wild
Dreamworld

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

Surfers Paradise Marriot Resort & Spa: Queensland’s Best Kid-Friendly Hotels

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When you have a three year old, your holidays are a little different than they were pre-kid. My needs in accommodation, for instance, have changed significantly. What I now look for is a fantastic pool, close proximity to the beach if we’re on the coast, a suite of some kind so we can close the door to our sleeping child after we put her to bed and watch some TV together while we eat, breakfast included and friendly, considerate staff. The last one obviously is pure luck. The others, I discovered through extensive research, were all features of the Surfers Paradise Marriot Resort & Spa.

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As members of the Entertainment Book, we were able to get a great deal on a 1-bedroom Executive Suite. It included a king sized bed (we asked for a rollaway bed for Cheese), 1.5 bathrooms, a corner ocean view, complimentary valet parking and access to the Elandra Retreat Club where we were treated to a complimentary continental breakfast every morning, and wine and hors d’oeuvres in the evenings.

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First impressions of the Surfers Paradise Marriot – it’s a large hotel, only one or two blocks from the beach, but also right on a lagoon, so it’s basically surrounded by water on all sides. The pool is a huge drawcard for families, probably because they have not just one pool, but two. One is a saltwater pool that has live tropical fish in it and a waterfall feature. Guests can swim among the fish – BYO snorkel or buy one at the hotel. The salt water pool is fantastic because it had a large shallow area, perfect for little kids who can’t swim yet to be able to splash and play confidently in the water.

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Surfers Paradise Marriot Resort, Queensland via christineknight.me

Every morning at 9:30am, guests can meet poolside to watch staff feed the tropical fish. Guests with snorkels can watch from the water as the fish gather in big clumps for their morning feed.

Surfers Paradise Marriot Resort, Queensland via christineknight.me

Surfers Paradise Marriot Resort, Queensland via christineknight.me

The second pool is chlorinated and runs in a long, winding shape. One end features a grotto with spa – you can enter it through another waterfall. This pool also has a current that sweeps swimmers in a loop – a lot of fun for kids in floatation devices to get swept around the pool with zero effort.

Surfers Paradise Marriot Resort, Queensland via christineknight.me

Surfers Paradise Marriot Resort, Queensland via christineknight.me

Surfers Paradise Marriot Resort, Queensland via christineknight.me

Surfers Paradise Marriot Resort, via christineknight.me

Surfers Paradise Marriot Resort, via christineknight.me

Older kids will enjoy the water slide feature, too.

Surfers Paradise Marriot Resort, Queensland via christineknight.me

Our room was fantastic. The view from the living room, bedroom and even bathroom was spectacular.

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The bedroom and living areas were well furnished in an elegant, minimal fashion. The bathroom was spectacularly big and featured a massive spa bath with a killer view. The bed was comfortable, pillows a little on the soft side for us, and the only bad thing I can say about the facilities was that while most of the bathroom had been renovated, the shower was a bit old and could have done with a refurbish. The living room included a little kitchenette area which was great for preparing basic meals for Cheese. A little fridge, sink and tea/coffee-making facilities – no toaster though.

Since Cheese is an uber picky eater, most nights we would return to the hotel and make her a simple dinner like a sandwich and fruit, and then, after she was put to bed, either order room service or local takeaway. The hotel was great with providing us with extra plates and cutlery to make her meals each day.

The inclusion of the Elandra Retreat Club access turned out to be one of the best parts of our stay. A lot of the guests who also had access to the club also had kids, so each morning we would arrive at breakfast and Cheese would disappear to play with other children while we ate. The food was a simple buffet, all fresh, including breads and spreads, warm pastries, bagels, meats, yoghurt and fruit, plus hot dishes like eggs, tomatoes and hash browns. Two staff members were usually on duty each morning – usually the same two – and they were just the sweetest people we could have possibly hoped for. The staff were always so kind and considerate, and really enjoyed engaging with the kids. As a result, breakfast every day was a really fun experience.

In the evenings, from 5:30pm – 7:30pm, the Elandra Retreat Club held a kind of drinks hour, with complimentary wine and snacks. While I was concerned initially that this wouldn’t be the best idea to take a rambunctious 3-year-old to, it turned out that all the families came and had a drink while their kids downed the cheese, crackers and fruit each night. It was a pretty chilled out affair, and the club had a great layout that meant adults who wanted a bit more adult time rather than toddler time could sit far enough away that they could admire the view and enjoy a drink in peace.

During the day, when we weren’t swimming we headed on down to the main area in Surfers Paradise (a 10-15 minute walk) to grab lunch or took a trip to one of the nearby theme parks for a change of scene. The location was perfect for an extended stay on the Gold Coast.

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To sum up, our stay at the Surfers Paradise Marriot Resort & Spa was just about perfect. We had such a wonderful, relaxing and fun time, and can’t wait to return for another Queensland stay.

Surfers Paradise Marriot Resort, via christineknight.me

Surfers Paradise Marriot Resort, via christineknight.me

Surfers Paradise Marriot Resort, via christineknight.me

Surfers Paradise Marriot Resort & Spa
158 Ferny Avenue
Surfers Paradise QLD
Phone: (07) 5592 9800
Get Directions

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