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Fremantle: The Best of Perth, Western Australia

Fremantle, Perth, Western Australia

A port city that’s traditionally known for its maritime history, gorgeous Victorian architecture and remnants of the past, “Freo” is also the arts hub of Perth.

Perth, Western Australia

While Fremantle is our top choice of where to stay when visiting Perth, if you only have a day or two free to visit the area, you absolutely must make time to see these top four spots.

Perth, Western Australia

Fremantle Prison
WA’s only UNESCO world heritage-listed building has to be top of the list. Spend a few hours reliving the past on a tour: choose between “Doing Time”, “Great Escapes”, “Tunnels Tour”. “Torchlight Tour” and the “Arts Tour”. Make sure to drop by the Visitors Centre for an up close look at what life in the prison was like – on display are artefacts of punishment and reform, actual footage of prison life and informational panels depicting the prison’s history, riots, punishment and reform programs. Have you ever wondered if you have a convict in your family tree? Now’s the chance to find out: search for your convict ancestors on the convict database.

Perth, Western Australia

Fremantle Prison1 The Terrace, Fremantle,
9am – 5pm, 7 days a week (Closed Good Friday & Xmas day)

Perth, Western Australia

Cappuccino Strip
The place to see and be seen in Perth, the strip (also called “South Terrace” if you’re looking for it on your car navigator) is home to many cafes, restaurants and pubs, famous for it’s Italian origins and the state’s best coffee. Shop the locally made designer clothing stores, pick up a gift and browse books in this atmospheric part of town.

Perth, Western Australia

If you have a little one who believes in magic, be sure to visit The Picked Fairy shop. We loved it so much we went back twice!

Get Directions

Perth, Western Australia

Fremantle Markets
This busy indoor market dates back to 1897. It’s completely free to enter the markets to wander through the with stalls selling food, local produce, clothes and handicrafts. You’ll find a variety of food and good produced by locals – we found beautiful photography and artworks, fresh ripe fruit and delicious popcorn and chocolate. The atmosphere is lively thanks to the live music often playing inside.

Perth, Western Australia

Perth, Western Australia
Fremantle Markets
, South Terrace & Henderson St, Fremantle
Hours: The Yard Friday 8am-8pm, Saturday, Sunday and Monday public holidays 8am-6pm. The Hall Friday 9am-8pm, Saturday, Sunday and Monday public holidays 9am-6pm.

Perth, Western Australia

WA Shipwrecks Museum
Inside a restored 1850s-era commissariat building lives the foremost maritime archaeology museum in the southern hemisphere. The galleries contain hundreds of relics from ships wrecked along WA’s treacherous coastline, including the original timbers from the Batavia (wrecked in 1629) and countless artefacts from the Dutch shipwrecks Zuytdorp, Zeewijk and Vergulde Draeck.

WA Shipwrecks Museum, 45 Cliff St, Fremantle
Hours: Open daily, 9:30am-5pm (except certain public holidays)

More info on Fremantle.

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

Elizabeth Quay: The Best of Perth, Western Australia

Elizabeth Quay, Perth, Western Australia

A brand new area on Perth’s waterfront, Elizabeth Quay is in the process of becoming a vibrant destination for tourists with activities for people of all ages. Take a ride on the gorgeous traditional, handcrafted Venetian carousel, walk across the Elizabeth Quay bridge to the new maritime inspired playground Island Playground, or cool down with a run through the BHP Billiton Water Park.

Perth, Western Australia

Before heading home, grab lunch at a nearby restaurant, try a delicious scoop of Gusto Gelato and pose beneath the 8-story-high “Spanda” sculpture.

Perth, Western Australia Perth, Western Australia Perth, Western Australia Perth, Western Australia Perth, Western Australia
Perth, Western Australia Perth, Western Australia

Perth, Western Australia Perth, Western Australia Perth, Western Australia Perth, Western Australia

More info on Elizabeth Quay.

Get Directions

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

Cottesloe Beach, Perth, Western Australia

Cottesloe Beach, Perth, Western Australia
The most iconic of Perth’s city beaches, Cottesloe is also one of it’s most popular. Located midway between the Perth central business district and the port of Fremantle in Perth’s western suburbs, it’s only a 15 minute drive from the city centre. Located directly on a train line and equiped with bathrooms, cafes and plenty of shady trees, Cottesloe is the perfect beach to while away the day on.

Perth, Western Australia

We loved the beach’s clean white sand and beautiful clear turquoise water, and particularly the grassed areas behind the beach with plenty of tall pine trees for shade. A short walk around the rock line gives a fantastic view of the striking art-deco Indiana Teahouse building that is a Cottesloe landmark featured on many post cards and tourist brochures.

Perth, Western Australia
Perth, Western Australia
Perth, Western Australia Perth, Western Australia Perth, Western Australia Perth, Western Australia Perth, Western Australia Perth, Western Australia Perth, Western Australia Perth, Western Australia

More info on Cottesloe Beach.

Get Directions

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

Travel Guide: Perth With Kids

Perth, Western Australia

Perth, capital of Western Australia, is a laid back city with plenty for the whole family to enjoy. From the gorgeous weather to the stunning beaches, natural beauty and cosmopolitan city centre, Perth is an easy place to visit, relax and just chill out with the family.

Perth, Western Australia

Cottesloe Beach
The most iconic of Perth’s city beaches, Cottesloe is also one of it’s most popular. Located midway between the Perth central business district and the port of Fremantle in Perth’s western suburbs, it’s only a 15 minute drive from the city centre. Located directly on a train line and equipped with bathrooms, cafes and plenty of shady trees, Cottesloe is the perfect beach to while away the day on.

Perth, Western Australia

We loved the beach’s clean white sand and beautiful clear turquoise water, and particularly the grassed areas behind the beach with plenty of tall pine trees for shade. A short walk around the rock line gives a fantastic view of the striking art-deco Indiana Teahouse building that is a Cottesloe land mark featured on many post cards and tourist brochures.

More info on Cottesloe Beach.

Rottnest Island, Western Australia

Rottnest Island
An absolute must when visiting Perth, Rottnest is an island off the coast of Western Australia, located 18 kilometres west of Fremantle. Take a day trip to “Rotto”, where you’ll come face-to-face with the world’s happiest animal, the quokka, swim on some of the world’s most gorgeous beaches and even spot a New Zealand fur seal or two. One day at Rottnest is never enough!

Rottnest Island, Western Australia

More info on the perfect day at Rottnest Island.

Perth, Western Australia

Elizabeth Quay
Brand new area on Perth’s waterfront, Elizabeth Quay is in the process of becoming a vibrant destination for tourists with activities for people of all ages. Take a ride on the gorgeous traditional, handcrafted Venetian carousel, walk across the Elizabeth Quay bridge to the new maritime inspired playground Island Playground, or cool down with a run through the BHP Billiton Water Park.

Perth, Western Australia

Before heading home, try a delicious scoop of Gusto Gelato and pose beneath the 8-story-high “Spanda” sculpture.

More info on Elizabeth Quay.

Perth, Western Australia

Fremantle
A port city that’s traditionally known for its maritime history, gorgeous Victorian architecture and remnants of the past, “Freo” is also the arts hub of Perth.

Perth, Western Australia

Visit Fremantle Prison, WA’s only UNESCO world heritage-listed building, grab a coffee from one of the many cafes on the Cappuccino strip or take a stroll through Fremantle Markets for fresh produce, food to go and baked goods, local arts and crafts and live music.

Perth, Western Australia

If you have a little one who believes in magic, be sure to visit The Pickled Fairy shop.

More info on Fremantle.

Perth, Western Australia

Kings Park & Botanic Garden
Let your wild thing roam free at Kings Park, a 4.06-square-kilometre park on the western edge of Perth’s CBD. If you’re driving through the park, pull over at the car park near the entrance to enjoy stunning views of the Swan and Canning Rivers, the city skyline and the Darling Ranges. It’s easy to spend a full day in Kings Park enjoying bush walking, the Botanic Gardens and the many children’s discovery play areas.

Perth, Western Australia

The highlight of Kings Park for us was Synergy Parkland, a recreation area featuring dinosaur-era themed play equipment, water play, and multiple climbing structures. There is a cafe and bathroom facilities in the park plus plenty of shade.

Perth, Western Australia

More info on Kings Park.

Scitech
Take future engineers and scientists to visit Scitech, an interactive science museum located in West Perth. Scitech’s programs are aimed at kids aged up to 12, with a goal “To increase awareness, interest, capability and participation by all Western Australians in science, technology, engineering and mathematics.”

More info on Scitech.

Art Gallery of WA, Perth

Art Gallery of Western Australia
Part of the Perth Cultural Centre, the Art Gallery of Western Australia has been educating and engaging the public since opening in 1895. The gallery runs monthly kids programming as well as school holiday activities and has a permanent interactive drawing space for families.

More info on the Art Gallery of Western Australia

Getting around

We hired a car because Perth is quite spread out. You can catch the train to get around (more info here) and in Fremantle use the free CAT bus.

Perth, Western Australia
Where to stay

There are numerous options for accommodation in and around Perth. I would recommend staying in Fremantle as there is plenty to do and it’s very kid-friendly, but Perth CBD is also very central.

Heading out after dark? We are early birds but if you’re after some night life, check out these tips.

Additional image courtesy of the Art Gallery of Western Australia

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

The Best of Melbourne for Families: Scienceworks

Scienceworks Melbourne via christineknight.me

On our recent trip to Melbourne we were so happy to find several museums and galleries that catered particularly well to children. Scienceworks, in the suburb of Spotswood, was one of them. This museum is basically a kid-focussed science space, filled with interactive exhibits designed to get kids thinking about their bodies, the cities they live in, and how they can effect the future.

Scienceworks Melbourne via christineknight.me

Scienceworks is a bit of a trek from the CBD. While it’s possible to catch a train or ferry there, it was quickest to catch a taxi. Melbourne has introduced “Miki” cards for public transport that require an initial fee to buy, plus placing more money for fares onto the card. There are no “day ticket” equivalents for visitors, meaning if you want to get public transport it’s going to cost you! Ferries are also pricey, so we decided to take the 15-minute taxi ride.

The museum is broken up over two floors, with elevators and stairs joining them. The whole museum is completely accessible for strollers and wheelchairs. There were so many empty strollers parked around both floors that it was hard to move without tripping over one, that I actually wish they had a stroller parking bay to leave a bit more space for people to walk!

Scienceworks Melbourne via christineknight.me

The lower level has more traditional exhibits: Sportsworks, where you can test your body against famous Australian athletes (can you run as fast as Cathy Freeman?) and try your flexibility, strength and reflexes, Think Ahead, where kids can design a world of tomorrow, including what our future cars will look like, and a temporary exhibit. When we visited, the temporary exhibit was Alice’s Wonderland, a fun, completely hands-on play space filled with illusions, puzzles and imaginative play.

Scienceworks Melbourne via christineknight.me

Scienceworks Melbourne via christineknight.me

Upstairs is the Nitty Gritty Super City, where kids can be the architect, captain and builder of their own cities. It’s a space popular with toddlers and preschoolers as it’s full of imaginative play elements that small kids can easily manipulate.

Scienceworks Melbourne via christineknight.me

Scienceworks is home to the Melbourne Planetarium, which sadly was broken on the day we visited. It’s a shame as it looks amazing! The Planetarium has a 16-metre high domed ceiling and a 7.1 surround sound system. Visitors can choose between seeing more educational content about stars and constellations, or something a little more tiny-kid-friendly, such as their current cartoon about a dog who wants to go into space.

If you have a child aged 6 or over, you’ll be able to visit the Lightening Room and watch a live light show that simulates the awesome power of mother nature, including lightening.

Scienceworks Melbourne via christineknight.me

Outside the museum is a little cafe that serves basic lunch foods, including a kids’ lunch box: $8.80 for a sandwich, juice and corn chips. Kids will spot the two large playgrounds out of the window. Between these two playgrounds and the amazing exhibits inside, your kids won’t ever want to leave!

Scienceworks Melbourne via christineknight.me

Scienceworks
2 Booker St, Spotswood
Daily, 10am-4:30pm
Online

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

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

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.

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.

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.