Adventure, baby!


Kakadu Dreaming: My Travel Bucket List

Kakadu Dreaming: My Travel Bucket List via #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 #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 #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 #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 #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 #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 #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 #travel

24 Hours Kid-Free In Canberra

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

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

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

Silo Bakery #Canberra via Silo Bakery #Canberra via Silo Bakery #Canberra via Silo Bakery #Canberra via

Lake Burley Griffin #Canberra via

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

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

National Gallery of Art #Canberra via National Gallery of Art #Canberra via

Eightysix #Canberra via

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 Eightysix #Canberra via Eightysix #Canberra via Eightysix #Canberra via Eightysix #Canberra via Eightysix #Canberra via eightysix-canberra-11

East Hotel #Canberra via

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


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

National Gallery of Art #Canberra via

National Gallery of Art #Canberra via

Lake Burley Griffin #Canberra via

Lake Burley Griffin #Canberra via

National Gallery of Art #Canberra via

Eightysix on Urbanspoon

Silo Bakery on Urbanspoon

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

Gingerbread House: #KidFriendly Cafes #Katoomba #BlueMountains #Sydney via

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

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 Gingerbread House: #KidFriendly Cafes #Katoomba #BlueMountains #Sydney via Gingerbread House: #KidFriendly Cafes #Katoomba #BlueMountains #Sydney via Gingerbread House: #KidFriendly Cafes #Katoomba #BlueMountains #Sydney via

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

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 Gingerbread House: #KidFriendly Cafes #Katoomba #BlueMountains #Sydney via Gingerbread House: #KidFriendly Cafes #Katoomba #BlueMountains #Sydney via Gingerbread House: #KidFriendly Cafes #Katoomba #BlueMountains #Sydney via

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 Gingerbread House: #KidFriendly Cafes #Katoomba #BlueMountains #Sydney via

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.

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.


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

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

Sea World via

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 Sea World via

Movie World, Queensland via

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 Movie World, Queensland via Movie World, Queensland via Movie World, Queensland via Movie World, Queensland via Movie World, Queensland via Movie World, Queensland via

Aquaduck via

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 Aquaduck via

Other attractions:
Currimbin Wildlife Sanctuary
Wet ‘n’ Wild

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


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.


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.


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.


Surfers Paradise Marriot Resort, Queensland via

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

Surfers Paradise Marriot Resort, Queensland via

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

Surfers Paradise Marriot Resort, Queensland via

Surfers Paradise Marriot Resort, Queensland via

Surfers Paradise Marriot Resort, via

Surfers Paradise Marriot Resort, via

Older kids will enjoy the water slide feature, too.

Surfers Paradise Marriot Resort, Queensland via

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







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.


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

Surfers Paradise Marriot Resort, via

Surfers Paradise Marriot Resort, via

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

Where To Eat And Play In Brisbane With Kids

Where To Eat & Play in #Brisbane with Kids via While I spent a lot of my childhood summers on the Gold Coast, I’d never visited Brisbane. Absolutely no reason why, other than that the opportunity hadn’t presented itself until recently. After a blogging conference on the Gold Coast, I stopped through Brisbane on the way back to Sydney and spent two days exploring the best that Brisbane has to offer families. If you’re planning a trip to the Sunshine state, you could easily spend a couple of days enjoying Brisbane with the kids. Here are my tips on a fun family holiday in Brisbane: Where To Eat & Play in #Brisbane with Kids via Eat and play at Gasworks Plaza
Book a table at Buzz for lunch right next to the gasring. You’ll enjoy the delicious food (the quinoa salad was divine) and gorgeous interiors by local designer Anna Spiro of Black & Spiro, and the kids can run off steam in the adjoining park. Where To Eat & Play in #Brisbane with Kids via

Where To Eat & Play in #Brisbane with Kids via

Where To Eat & Play in #Brisbane with Kids via

Where To Eat & Play in #Brisbane with Kids via

After lunch, take a stroll down to the nearby riverbank. Kids can bike or scoot along the river, and will enjoy the street art and statue of Gloria the sheep, a tribute to the Teneriffe wool stores that lined the river in the early 1900s.
76 Skyring Terrace, Newstead

Where To Eat & Play in #Brisbane with Kids via Shop at Growing World, Emporium
This gorgeous children’s store is filled with educational toys and books from all around the world.
1000 Ann St, Fortitude Valley

Where To Eat & Play in #Brisbane with Kids via Rock out at the Brisbane Powerhouse
The redeveloped powerhouse is a centre for art and culture. Check out the (often free) events for families, or just drop by on a Sunday to experience live music and markets (the pop-up Suitcase Rummage markets are on once a month).

Where To Eat & Play in #Brisbane with Kids via

Where To Eat & Play in #Brisbane with Kids via

Kids can roam inside the powerhouse, spot some cool graffiti art and dance to indie-pop and rock bands. Make a day of it by enjoying an early dinner or glass of wine at Bar Alto. Grab a balcony table overlooking the river while babies are napping and older kids are playing with your iPhone or colouring in.
119 Lamington St, New Farm

Where To Eat & Play in #Brisbane with Kids via

Run wild at New Farm Park
Set the kids free in 18 hectares of gardens and open green space. The attached New Farm Park playground is a local family favourite with fortress-like constructions winding through huge fig trees.

Where To Eat & Play in #Brisbane with Kids via
No-fuss family dinner at Eat Street Markets
The perfect dinner option for families with no pressure for kids to sit down and behave. 60 industrial shipping containers have been converted into mini shops and restaurants. Choose your meal from local food vendors (Italian, Mexican, potato rings on sticks, sweet potatoes fries and much, much more is on offer) then camp out on astroturf covered giant blocks to enjoy live music while the sun goes down.
Macarthur Avenue, Hamilton

Where To Eat & Play in #Brisbane with Kids via
Book a free city tour with Brisbane Greeters
Our tour guide, AnneMarie White, was a local expert who showed us the best places to eat and shop in the James Street district with and without kids. A remarkable woman with a background in broadcasting, it was a pleasure to learn about Brisbane through her own experiences.

Where To Eat & Play in #Brisbane with Kids via
Chic shopping and dining at James St
Leave the kids with Dad for an hour or two while you check out local Australian designers and boutiques. Sass + Bide, Camilla, Zimmermann and more await your credit card.

Where To Eat & Play in #Brisbane with Kids via
Feeling peckish? Harvey’s Bar and Bistro is a great breakfast and lunch choice with or without kids.

Where To Eat & Play in #Brisbane with Kids via
If you’ve got a serious sweet tooth like I do, be sure to pick up a treat from the iconic Joceyln’s Provisions. While you’re deciding which delicious cake to order, poke your head inside their kitchen to see the pastry chefs hard at work.

Where To Eat & Play in #Brisbane with Kids via
Play time: South Bank Parklands
As well as being the cultural centre of Brisbane, the South Bank is filled with family-focussed entertainment.

Where To Eat & Play in #Brisbane with Kids via
Get arty at the QAGOMA
The Queensland Gallery of Modern Art is a top choice for adults and children. Most of the gallery is free entry, including the Children’s Art Centre. Their current major exhibition, “Harvest” (open till Sept 21) celebrates food in art and includes interactive features for older children, as well as kid-friendly art such as large sculptures and a Shangai supermarket installation.

Where To Eat & Play in #Brisbane with Kids via

Where To Eat & Play in #Brisbane with Kids via

Where To Eat & Play in #Brisbane with Kids via

Take littlies to the children’s exhibition, “Pattern Bandits” (open until Nov 2), where they can explore a world of colour, shape and pattern in a completely hands-on environment. The free exhibition features craft activities that can be taken home or left to be put on display. Kids will particularly love the kaleidoscope corridor where they can see their own faces turned into bright patterns.
Stanley Place, Cultural Precinct, South Bank

Where To Eat & Play in #Brisbane with Kids via

Segway Tours with X-wing
Older kids will love seeing Brisbane’s South Bank on a mini-segway. Zoom along the river bank with a helpful guide to tell you all about Brisbane.

Where To Eat & Play in #Brisbane with Kids via

Get a bird’s-eye view
Take a spin on the Wheel of Brisbane for a panoramic view of the city.


Streets Beach
This man-made beach with white sand and lifesavers is a summer oasis on the Brisbane river shore. It’s perfect for families, with shallow lagoons, sprinklers and crystal clear water.

Where To Eat & Play in #Brisbane with Kids via

Stop for a bite at South Bank Surf Club
After a swim at Streets Beach, stroll the the nearby Surf Club for a relaxed fish and chips.
30aa Stanley Street Plaza, South Bank

Where To Eat & Play in #Brisbane with Kids via
Sweet Treats at Cowch Dessert Cocktail Bar
Brisbane’s first dessert and cocktail bar offers build your own fro-yo, ice cream and a range of other sugar-coma inducing desserts.
2/179 Grey Street, South Bank

Happy Birthday To Me! A kid-free weekend in the Hunter Valley

Hunter Valley Spicers Retreats via akissgoodnight.coThis year, there was only one thing I wanted for my birthday – a break. Mum and Dad very kindly agreed to watch Cheese for the weekend so Alec and I could have a few nights to relax. Our first kid-free weekend in three years!

Hunter Valley Spicers Retreats via

We drove up to the Hunter Valley for the getaway. I booked us a room at the Spicers Vineyard Estate – a beautiful little retreat in Pokolbin. Our room was large, with a fireplace and spa. Our package included two breakfasts and a dinner in their restaurant, Botanica, and complimentary minibar.

Hunter Valley via

The property is set in 25 acres of vineyard and bush, and we took a leisurely stroll around the boundary each evening at dusk. Which, by the way, is the perfect time to see the wild kangaroo families as they come out.

Hunter Valley Pokolbin Chocolate Company via

During our stay in the Hunter we dropped by the Pokolbin Chocolate And Jam Company, the Smelly Cheese Shop, two of the Hunter Valley Chocolate Company locations and two wineries: Tempus Two and Audrey Wilkinson.

Audrey Wilkinson Winery Hunter Valley via

I adore moscato, and chose these wineries based on their production of the sweet wine of my choice. The Audrey Wilkinson cellar door is a bit off the main track, but worth the extra drive. St up high on a hill, the view out over the wine country is spectacular.

Hunter Valley Muse Restaurant via
Muse Restaurant

Since we were child-free, we indulged in a LOT of food, including two dinners out: Muse Restaurant on my birthday, and Restaurant Botanica the following night. Muse was the perfect restaurant for a fancy, special night out. It was like a fine dining establishment in the city. Delicious creative dishes (I had a kale risotto with winter vegetables), with a friendly, relaxed vibe.

Restaurant Botanica was more relaxed, and perfect for a Sunday night dinner. The food was simpler and perfectly prepared. After the previous day of rich, complicated food, the elegant and slightly more traditional fare at Botanica was exactly what our stomaches craved. Dessert was donuts and cinnamon ice cream. Absolutely a treat.


The last mention on our food extravaganza is Sabor In The Hunter, a dessert bar that popped up while we were away. For lunch (!) one day, Alec and I indulged in the Medley Tasting Plate, which included Opera slice, Mini Lemon Curd meringue in a sweet pastry, Strawberry mousse & mixed berry compote topped with Strawberry, Mini Gianduja layers and a caramelised nut triangle tart. Indulgence complete.

Sabor In The Hunter via

The really great thing about the weekend was being able to spend time with Alec and just take a breath. We talked more than we’ve talked in years, and had energy to focus on each other for the first time in what felt like forever.

Spicers Hunter Valley via
In-room breakfast at Spicers

The three days/two nights was the longest I’ve spent away from Cheese so far. We called in regularly and spoke with her and my mum – she was absolutely happy and chirpy the whole time, running my parents off their feet while charming them simultaneously. When we arrived back home I felt like I had more energy to spend on her than I usually would, the break away really refreshing me.

So it was pretty much a perfect birthday.

Hunter Valley via Hunter Valley via Hunter Valley Muse Restaurant via Hunter Valley Spicers Retreats via Hunter Valley via Hunter Valley Birthday via

Brunch & Play at Cafe 2773; Glenbrook, Blue Mountains

Cafe 2773 #glenbrook #bluemountains #sydney #Australia #kidfriendly #restaurants vi

A drive to the Blue Mountains makes a great city escape. On our most recent expedition, a friend recommended we break our journey this time at one of her favourite finds, Cafe 2773 in Glenbrook. The cafe is almost exactly halfway from where we were starting our journey in Sydney’s south-west, and our final destination (Katoomba), so it seemed like a good idea to try it.

Cafe 2773 #glenbrook #bluemountains #sydney #Australia #kidfriendly #restaurants vi

2773 was everything I’d been promised. The cafe seemed like the type of place I would frequent in the Inner West, which was somewhat surprising to find in a tiny little town on the outskirts of the mountains. Despite it being an absolutely freezing day, the cafe was packed. Diners braved the outdoor tables, prevented from getting frost bite by a few heat lamps. We requested an indoor table because it was frigidly cold, and only had to wait about 15 or 20 minutes for one to finish up and be cleared. If the weather had been finer, the perfect place to dine with children is actually outside, at a table overlooking the playground area.

Cafe 2773 #glenbrook #bluemountains #sydney #Australia #kidfriendly #restaurants vi

While we were waiting, E kept warm by running around the little play area like a maniac. A few steps past the play area lay some pens with piglets and chickens — another great entertainment device not unlike the famous Grounds in Alexandria.

Cafe 2773 #glenbrook #bluemountains #sydney #Australia #kidfriendly #restaurants vi

The menu at 2773 focuses on use of local organic produce, with an extensive selection of local beer and wine. And, as a plus for parents like us who love great food, 2773 pride themselves on being a family-friendly venue for the local community to enjoy.

Cafe 2773 #glenbrook #bluemountains #sydney #Australia #kidfriendly #restaurants vi

Cafe 2773 #glenbrook #bluemountains #sydney #Australia #kidfriendly #restaurants vi

Cafe 2773 #glenbrook #bluemountains #sydney #Australia #kidfriendly #restaurants vi

We ordered E the kids’ Egg On Toast (usually comes with bacon and sausage, $10), and a Babyccino, $1.60. After we ordered her food we realised we hadn’t even asked how it would be cooked, so asked our server when she came back for our orders. After we were informed it was usually fried and asking if she could have it scrambled instead, it was no problem to have our order changed, despite it being pretty much done.

Cafe 2773 #glenbrook #bluemountains #sydney #Australia #kidfriendly #restaurants vi

E’s babyccino came with sprinkles and a freckle chocolate on the site. She was so delighted. Chocolate for breakfast!

Cafe 2773 #glenbrook #bluemountains #sydney #Australia #kidfriendly #restaurants vi

Alec and I ordered Green Tea (China Jasmine) $4.00 and a Latte $3.90, and the same meal: the design your own breakfast option. Our choices were: Toast (sourdough 2 slices, $4), 2 Eggs (poached, fried or scrambled, $7), Spinach ($3), Roast Tomato ($3), Avocado ($3), Haloumi ($3).

Cafe 2773 #glenbrook #bluemountains #sydney #Australia #kidfriendly #restaurants vi

Cafe 2773 #glenbrook #bluemountains #sydney #Australia #kidfriendly #restaurants vi

Cafe 2773 #glenbrook #bluemountains #sydney #Australia #kidfriendly #restaurants vi

Cafe 2773 #glenbrook #bluemountains #sydney #Australia #kidfriendly #restaurants vi

Our food was absolutely delicious. Perfectly poached eggs, soft sourdough with crispy edges, a giant hunk of haloumi cheese. What really topped of our already fantastic experience was the staff. Our server came over multiple times just to check on how E was doing and to make sure she couldn’t bring us anything else to make our dining experience even better.

A truly wonderful breakfast, and we will make it our regular stop when driving to the mountains from now on.

Last Bite: Great food in an environment where kids can run free. 

Highchairs: Yes.
Stroller storage: Yes.
Easy access: Yes.
Change tables: No but there is a low shelf/table in the ladies that could be used in a pinch.
Kids’ menu: Yes.

Cafe 2773
19 Ross Street,
Glenbrook, NSW
Phone: 02 4739 5908
Hours: Mon-Wed 7.30am-4.30pm, Thu, Fri & Sat-7.30am till late, Sun 7.30am-5pm

2773 Glenbrook Cafe on Urbanspoon

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

On our first family trip to the Blue Mountains we were looking forward to stopping in at The Gingerbread House which has gained notoriety for its whimsical fairytale setting and its attention to detail in being child-friendly. We chose the Winter Solstice to mark our journey as Katoomba is filled to the brim with people celebrating from all walks of life, a parade down the centre of town and its overall festival vibe.

All I can say is that we are lucky we chose to arrive early at The Gingerbread House because no sooner had we claimed our table in the sunny outdoor courtyard did all other vacant tables evaporate and space was a premium. Jenson and Isla had fun exploring the generous outdoor playground which was exceptionally maintained with a large cubby house and play equipment whilst we waiting for our morning tea.

The Gingerbread House - #kid-friendly #cafes - #Katoomba, #Sydney via
Jenson playing in the cubby house, Photo by Katia Barker
The Gingerbread House - #kid-friendly #cafes - #Katoomba, #Sydney via
Isla at play, Photo by Katia Barker

Our order of scones (choc chip with a hint of ginger with jam and fresh cream $7.50), fresh baked muffin (raspberry and white chocolate $4.50) and kid’s milkshake ($3) arrived quickly and was mouth-wateringly fresh. The food and drink were demolished quickly so Ross and Isla played outdoors whilst Jenson and I went about exploring the magical candy emporium.

The Gingerbread House - #kid-friendly #cafes - #Katoomba, #Sydney via
Ginger & Choc Chip Scones $7.50, Raspberry & White Choc Muffin $4.50 and Kids Milkshake $3.00

Jenson was like, well, a kid in a candy shop, with eyes as big as saucers and was more than happy in helping select a treat for each of us. He proudly carried these off for take-away.

The Gingerbread House - #kid-friendly #cafes - #Katoomba, #Sydney via
Candy! Photo by Katia Barker
The Gingerbread House - #kid-friendly #cafes - #Katoomba, #Sydney via
Like a kid in a candy shop, heaven! Photo by Katia Barker

The Gingerbread House is perfectly situated for a long lazy cafe session with plenty of kid-friendly options from toast to sandwiches and those with a sweet tooth are well-catered for with cakes, muffins and ice-creams on offer. We barely took advantage of all the dining options, and skipped coffee this time as we already had our hit but will definitely be back again to sample the delights further.

Last Bite: The Gingerbread House ticks all the boxes for a kid-friendly cafe and should be on everyone’s must do list for a visit to the Blue Mountains.

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

The Gingerbread House
56 Lurline Street (Cnr Lurline & Waratah Streets),
Katoomba NSW
Phone: (02) 4784 2031
Prices: $-$$
Hours: Daily 9am-5pm
Get Directions

Date Night in Sydney

On our recent trip back home to Sydney (another post on that coming later) Alec and I had a special night – our first away from E. Not Alec’s first time away overnight, but definitely my first, and our first together. Monumental! And all thanks to my wonderful parents who volunteered to baby sit their granddaughter even though she had a fever that required them getting up through the night and then my mum sleeping with her the rest of the night. Bless you Mum and Dad, you’re the best!

It was so wonderful to have some time with Alec to reset our relationship and to spend a bit of time enjoying Sydney again together. I found a great deal on a hotel we stayed at for my 30th birthday in The Rocks – the Langham (it used to be called The Observatory Hotel). The hotel is a beautiful old-school place, really luxurious and comfortable at the same time.

We kicked our night off walking around The Rocks, picking up treats for later at the Guylian Chocolate Cafe, and then with dinner at Pony, a restaurant that wasn’t there last time  we were in town, and was absolutely amazing. Really delicious food (my ricotta pasta was perfect), kick-ass cocktails, and a fantastic vibe that was upscale trendy without being too try-hard.

Something that really struck me on this trip back is how much the food culture in Sydney has changed. There are lots of really hip new cafes and restaurants around town now – and all throughout the suburbs – which made for some culinary adventures that reminded me of how amazing Australia’s produce is.

After our delicious dinner and potent cocktails, we head back for an early night and rented a movie (we never get to watch movies anymore!).

The following morning, after breakfast at the hotel restaurant, we dropped by La Renaissance Cafe (the place to go for French pastries) to pick up treats for my parents, then head back on home.

One thing to be said for being back home, it’s great to have some more than willing babysitters!