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Far from a boring, predictable place to visit, Singapore is now a very appealing travel destination for Australian families.

Many years ago I did a stopover in Singapore en-route to Europe. I found it be ‘nice’, but, to be honest a bit dull. So when my husband suggested a family holiday to Singapore, I wasn’t overly enthused. When the time came to go, it was with some trepidation that I boarded our flight; however, I am happy to say it was completely WORTH IT. I can honestly say that it was one of the best family holidays we’ve ever had!

Highlights include

  • English is widely spoken
  • Clean and safe
  • Good, cheap public transport
  • Good shopping
  • Not much time difference

Top Tip
When planning your holiday, don’t book a transfer from the airport. These are ridiculously overpriced and taxis are cheap and readily available.

Sentosa Island

Where do I start?? This place just teems with fun and adventure. We did a ‘Swim with the Dolphins’ package and it was truly magical.

  • Dolphin Island
  • Adventure Cove Waterpark
  • S.E.A. Aquarium
  • Universal Studios
  • Underwater World
  • Singapore Cable Car

For more information visit

www.sentosa.com.sg

Singapore Zoo

This is a great zoo to visit. You can stroll around at your leisure or hop on and off the trams.

  • Jungle Breakfast with the Wildlife
  • Animal Shows
  • Animal Rides
  • Follow the ‘Feeding Trails’
  • Rainforest Kidzworld (bring your bathers!)
  • The Night Safari (one of the most popular tourist activities in Singapore)

For more information visit

www.zoo.com.sg

Explore the neighbourhoods

Did someone say shopping?

  • Chinatown
  • Little India (not that great for prams but good for cheap shoes!)

For more information visit

www.chinatown.sg

www.littleindia.com.sg

Gardens by the Bay

These are massive gardens spanning over 100 hectares.

Some of the gardens are free and some you pay to visit.

There is something for everyone here.

  • Cloud Forest (amazing)
  • Children’s Garden (Bring your bathers!)
  • OCBC Skyway
  • Supertree Grove

For more information visit

www.gardensbythebay.com.sg

Clarke Quay

This spot has a great vibe to it. It’s a terrific place to have dinner and relax.

  • Restaurants
  • Great cocktails!
  • Stroll along the waterfront
  • Catch a boat tour along the river
  • Watch and play in the fountain that shoots out water from the ground.

For more information visit

www.clarkequay.com.sq

Handy Hint
Singapore doesn’t follow the same school timetable as us. If you can avoid their school holidays it can sometimes be cheaper and less crowded.

Where to stay

There are several places that spring to mind, from bustling Orchard Rd to Clarke Quay and Sentosa.

  • Shangri-La’s Rasa Sentosa Resort (higher end hotel)
  • Novotel Clarke Quay (good mid-range hotel)
  • York Hotel Orchard Rd (good mid-range hotel)

Top Tip

If you want to save some money, go for something slightly further out.

Getting there

Direct flights take just over 8.5 hours and there are several to choose from.

For more information visit

www.singaporeair.com

www.qantas.com.au

www.flyscoot.com

One of the bests parts about summer is the food. Whether it’s the fresh fruits, vegetables, meats or cheeses, Summer’s all about stress-free entertaining.

These dishes are light, tasty and delicious and are sure to excite your tastebuds and there’s something for your breakfast lunch, dinner and dessert. Stay cool with an acai bowl for breakfast and keep things light with a delicious and easy Spinach, Walnut, Mint, Strawberry and Feta Salad. Let the flavours burst with the Seared Salmon with Asparagus, Pomegranate and Basil Oil for dinner and tantalise those tastebuds with a passionfruit semifreddo for dessert.

Cool down this summer with an Acai bowl. This popular super food smoothie bowl is packed with nutrients and will hit the spot this summer. The best thing is that you can add in the berries of your choice and change the toppings to your liking. These smoothie bowls are quick, easy and satisfying for breakfast or lunch. Delicious!

Ingredients (Serves 1)

  • 1 banana, frozen
  • 100g pack acai puree, frozen
  • 60 ml cold water                 

For garnish:

  • mint leaves
  • goji berries
  • chia seeds
  • shredded coconut
  • toasted muesli

Method

If you use a frozen pack of acai puree make sure you break it in a couple of places before you put it into a blender.

Add the frozen banana, acai puree and cold water into the blender and blend until smooth.

Pour out the smoothie mixture out into a bowl and garnish with mint, goji berries, chia seeds, shredded coconut and toasted muesli.

This vibrant summer salad is the perfect no cooking required meal. It can be an addition to your backyard barbeque grill party or simply served at home. This healthy salad is great for you to enjoy in the hot Australian summer.

Ingredients (Serves 4)

For the vinaigrette:

  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • 1/4 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1 tsp honey
  • 1/2 tsp Dijon mustard

For the salad:

  • 6 cups baby spinach
  • 1/2 cup walnuts, toasted
  • Small handful of mint, taken off stem
  • 2 cups of strawberries
  • 1/3 cup Greek Feta cheese

Method

1 To prepare the vinaigrette, combine the olive oil, balsamic vinegar, salt, honey and Dijon mustard in a jar and shake. Set aside.

2 For the salad, cut the strawberries into quarters and roughly chop the walnuts.

3 To assemble the salad put the spinach leaves, walnuts, mint and strawberries into a large bowl and then crumble over the feta cheese. Dress the salad with the vinaigrette just before you serve.

Impress your dinner guests this summer with this simple yet elegant meal, any night of the week. With the crispy skin of the salmon, the snap of the asparagus and pumping pomegranate this dish is sure to please. Quick and delicious.

Ingredients (Serves 2)

  • 1/2 red onion
  • 1 green onion
  • 1 pomegranate
  • 4 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 6 asparagus spears
  • 2 salmon fillets

For basil oil:

  • 1/2 cup packed fresh basil leaves, stemmed and washed
  • 1 tablespoon water
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil

Method

To make the basil oil, place the basil, water, garlic, salt and red pepper flakes in a food processor and pulse a few times. Then add the olive oil and blend until smooth. Set aside.

Slice the red onion and the green onion thinly and set aside.

3 Cut the pomegranate in half. Hold each half over a bowl, seeds facing down and tap the skin with a wooden spoon, squeezing a little to release the seeds.

Heat a large pan with a tbsp of olive oil, add asparagus and cook for 5 minutes or until tender.

5 Using paper towel pat dry the salmon fillets then season with salt on both sides. Heat a pan over medium to high heat with 2 tablespoons of olive oil and put the salmon skin side down. Cook for about 2-3 minutes per side.

6 To serve, place three asparagus spears on a plate. Top with a piece of salmon skin side up and garnish with the red onion, green onion and pomegranate. Finish with a drizzle of the basil oil.

This frozen dessert is a fast and easy go-to summer dessert. With the texture of frozen mouse it is similar to an ice cream cake but without the fuss and preparation time. Just take it out from the freezer, slice and serve. Simple!

Ingredients (Serves 10)

  • 1 egg
  • 3 egg yolks
  • 150 gm caster sugar
  • 400ml thickened cream
  • juice of 1 lime
  • pulp of 3 passionfruit, plus extra to serve
  • 300ml whipping cream, whipped to serve

Method

Grease and line the base and sides of an 8cm x 22cm rectangular cake tin with plastic wrap.

2 Using an electric mixer, whisk the egg, egg yolks and sugar in a medium heatproof bowl until thick and creamy. While continually whisking, place the bowl over a saucepan of simmering water and whisk for 5 minutes or until mixture doubles in size. Remove from heat and set aside, allowing the mixture to cool.

Whisk the cream with an electric mixer in a bowl until soft peaks form. Add half the cream to the egg mixture and gently fold it in until just combined. Add the remaining cream, passionfruit pulp and lime juice and fold until just combined. Pour into the prepared pan and place in the freezer overnight until firm.

Turn the semifreddo out onto a serving platter. Drizzle with the fresh passionfruit pulp, cut into thick slices and serve immediately with a dollop of whipped cream.

The perfect blend of adventure and rejuvenation, Phuket is home to some of the best sun-kissed beaches, therapeutic spa centres, amusement parks, safaris and cable rides, making it a highly sought-after family-friendly destination.

From blue lagoons, pink sunset hues and pristine white sands to orange-robed monks and revered temples, Phuket is adorned with majestic sites to behold. The northern part of this island city is known for its tranquil environs with attractions like Koh Phi Phi, Phang Nga Bay and Patong Beach, while plenty of sun-kissed beaches welcome you down south. Yet that is not all – Phuket’s terrain also encompasses verdant jungles and panoramic mountains and cliffs with mesmerising vistas.

The city’s tropical climate is usually suitable for year-round travel as it never gets too cold here. November to February is the best time to visit this bustling city when it remains cool and dry, with temperatures increasing until May. Monsoons are quite wet – so if you can brave the rains, the months from May to October also offer good choices.

Travelling with kids? Take the time to indulge in some fun-filled water play.

Explore Phuket’s best water parks

 

Located close to the international airport, the Splash Jungle Water Park lies within a private resort property on the pristine sands of Mai Khao Beach.

Home to various exhilarating water slides, kids’ aquarium and other attractions, this water marvel is a must-visit place for kids and adults alike.

One of Phuket’s largest children’s clubs, Rawai Park Kids Club is a perfect blend of wet and dry play areas. From pools and water slides to ball pits and carousel, the park is a complete family-friendly extravaganza.

And if families are accompanied with older kids, Surf House Phuket is the place to hang out. Every surfer’s dream, this attraction lies on the most-popular Kata beach. With several bars and restaurants nearby, this place is surely a hotspot.

Pumping up the water sports scene in Phuket, Anthem Wake Park boasts of a minimum of three-cable water skiing options. Nestled amidst verdurous vegetation on a 50,000sqm lake, this beautiful park is another great joint for folks travelling with older kids.

If your kids are still unsatisfied with a day-long splashing activity, Phuket will surprise them with another range of thrilling attractions to immerse in.

Get ready for an adrenaline rush

 

Patong Go-Kart Speedway is a dream destination for all motor racing enthusiasts. Situated at the doorstep of Patong hill, the attraction boasts of a 750 m-long race track with adventurous curves and extended finish lines. Housing trendy bars and restaurants, this place is also a great hangout zone for non-riders. Perfect for kids and grown-ups, the speedway has a variety of kart options with altered speed options.

The island offers another heart-pumping experience for globetrotters at Flying Hanuman Phuket, which is a great way to admire the wilderness of the surrounding environs here. Featuring platforms, sky bridges, spiral stairways, sky rail and a 20-minute nature walk, the attraction allows travellers to explore nature from close quarters.

Call it zorbing, hill rolling or globe riding, Rollerball is one such place to feel a rush of adrenaline inside you. Lying on a hilltop overlooking the Kalim Beach, the place enables visitors to roll down inside a big plastic ball.

And if that is not all for an exhilarating experience, a tour of Phuket ATV will surely seal the deal. Spread across 350 acres of rugged terrain with rubber trees, beaches, mangroves and jungles, the centre is a fun place where families can explore the picturesque region on a four-wheeled bike.

After several exhilarating sessions at these marvels, hunger will definitely drive you crazy. And when you are in a city like Phuket, authentic mouth-watering Thai food is available in literally every corner.

Relish scrumptious Thai cuisine

 

Thai cuisine is not just food for the locals here; it is a celebration in itself. And that love gets reflected in its popularity worldwide. A Thai meal is a combination of four major seasonings – salt, sweet, sour, and spice – giving it its beautiful aroma which the world craves for. Be it the beaches, high-end restaurants or streets, the city’s every nook and corner is a great place to savour Thai food.

A melting pot of various cultures including Buddhist, Indian, Chinese and Islamic, Thai cuisine is a blend of several aromatic flavours.

A relaxing sun lounger by the beach is the best place to unwind after a thrilling day. While the cool breeze serenades your face, children can have fun making sandcastles.

Beach Calling

 

Phuket travel is incomplete without its pristine, sun-kissed beaches. Phuket truly beaches have it all. Children can enjoy some surfing at various surfing centres at the happening Kata Beach, parents can bask in the sun at sun loungers lined up there.

Another great family-friendly seafront is Kamala Beach, which not only offers therapeutic spas but is the host ground for the most iconic Phuket FantaSea Show.

And lastly, families can have a fun-filled picnic session at Karon Beach with activities like parasailing, volleyball and many more.

Children are powerhouses of energy. A relaxing beach getaway is not their idea of a perfect vacation. Adventure and thrill is what attracts them. Parents, on the other hand, prefer a laid-back beach sojourn amidst serene environs.

Bringing together the best of both worlds, the otherwise quaint island of Phuket offers myriad thrilling attractions, making it the perfect family holiday destination.

As summer comes to an end, the task of realigning your child’s routine for school can cause trouble, whether your little ones are starting kindergarten, or if they’re heading back to school after the long summer holidays.

7 essential items to have on the first day of school

1. School Shoes

Be sure to take your children school shoe shopping a few weeks in advance to the start of the school year. This will allow for your child to select the shoes that are most comfortable. It will also give them time to get used to them after a summer of flip flops and sandals

2. Lunch boxes

After using a lunchbox for a whole year, it may be time to buy a new and fresh one for your kids. Letting your children be part of the lunchbox and water bottle selection can be fun, as they can select lunchbox designs they love!

3. Sticker labels

Kids are notorious for losing for losing anything and everything! Ordering sticker labels with your child’s name and even year group ahead of the start of Term One is the perfect way to make sure your child’s belongings are labelled properly.

4. Name tags

Purchasing a unique name tag for your child’s backpack, sports bag and library bag is extremely useful for students when it comes to finding which bag is theirs in a sea of identical school bags. Name tags can include their full name, grade and an emergency contact in case the bag is lost


5. Pencil case

For many young students, buying a fun pencil case and filling it with stationery of their choice is one of the best parts about heading back to school. Be sure to equip your kids with all the necessary stationery including:

  • Lead pencils
  • Pens – black, blue and green or red.
  • Coloured pencils
  • A ruler
  • An eraser and sharpener
  • Highlighters
  • Protractor
  • Scissors
  • Glue stick

6. Packaged healthy snacks

Taking your kids shopping for healthy snacks for recess will allow them to choose what food they like. These can include popcorn, roasted beans or peas, rice crisps and oat bars.

7. Raincoat

It is important for your kids to carry a lightweight rain jacket to school each day so that they are protected in the case of rain.

More than 300,000 children start kindergarten in Australia every year.

Kindergarten:

For children starting kindergarten, this can be an extremely exciting, but also nerve-racking time. While it is important to lay a foundation for some independence, such as allowing children to pour their own cereal, making their bed or helping you choose their recess, it may be beneficial to do a practice run of the first day of school. This will help establish a functioning morning routine. Firmly establishing the new morning, bedtime and homework routines in advance to your kindergartner is vital so that they may transition as smoothly as possible.

Primary School:

Talk through expectations and goalswith your children as they start the next year of primary school. As your child progresses through primary school, ask them questions such as:

  • Will you participate in extracurricular activities?
  • How will you navigate new friendships?
  • What are some things that you want to change from last year?

Recount the difficulties they have conquered in the past and brainstorm additional strategies for how to approach them in the future. By talking through various scenarios, you can equip your child with confidence ahead of time.

As the summer holidays come to an end, it is essential to reaffirm daily schedules, as well as understanding your child’s goals, fears and areas of excitement about the upcoming school year so they may start the year with confidence, motivation and organisation!

Whether you’re trying for a baby or already pregnant, there are so many things you want to know. But how can you find safe and accurate advice?

When you’re trying for a baby or actually pregnant, there are so many things you want to know. What’s happening to my body? Should it be doing that? Just how is this baby going to get out?

The people around you may offer well-meaning advice, whether you asked for it, or not. The internet is also a place many of us go for information, but how do you know whether you’re reading safe and accurate advice?

Epworth Freemasons has been a leader in maternity services for nearly 30 years. Their midwives have decades of clinical and hands-on experience with mothers and newborns. Birth suite Nurse Unit Manager, Narelle Tunks, says that the vast majority of women search online for information.

‘The problem is that often what they find may not be safe or accurate. It can also lead to unnecessary concerns because what they’re reading doesn’t relate to their specific circumstances,’ she said.

‘We thought it would be a good idea to pool our knowledge and produce a series of short videos, covering some of the most frequently asked questions about pregnancy, birth and beyond. We’ve been thrilled to see our ‘Mobile Midwife’ series become a hit!’

‘Families can watch these videos when and whenever they need to. There’s information there on staying healthy during pregnancy, what to expect in hospital and when they go home. We run refresher classes for grandparents too, so these videos are also helpful for anyone who hasn’t bathed or changed a baby in a while!’

‘We know it can be pretty daunting leaving hospital with a precious newborn and hope that these videos can serve as a handy reminder, from a trusted source, on some of the things you need to know.’

‘If you do have any questions about your pregnancy, or after you’ve had your baby, please make sure you ask your midwife or obstetrician. There are no stupid questions. We want you to be healthy and feel supported through this truly amazing time in your life,’ Narelle said.

To discover the series of videos, head to https://landing.epworth.org.au/maternityvideos

By Dr. Adam Coulson

Would you let a carpenter operate on your child? (and why you shouldn’t trust your child’s healthcare to celebrity chefs, footballers’ wives & other charlatans).

Chloe was a beautiful infant child. Loved by her doting parents and grandparents. Chloe took several agonising days to die of whooping cough in a modern Intensive Care Unit in one of Australia’s best children’s hospitals.

Whooping cough is vaccine-preventable, Chloe was not vaccinated.

The year was 2004. Her death rocked me. I still see her pretty face.

More than 150 people have recently succumbed to Measles in New York State. The US had eliminated measles in 2000. Measles is vaccine-preventable.

Measles is not benign.

If one of our favourite children’s authors, Roald Dahl, were alive today he could recount how his eldest daughter, Olivia, died tragically of measles encephalitis (infection and inflammation of the brain) aged just seven years old in 1962. He was a passionate advocate of vaccination. He had reason to be.

Recently, Oregon State recorded its first case of tetanus in more than 30 years. The six-year-old unvaccinated boy spent 47 days in Intensive Care. Tetanus is vaccine-preventable. I have cared for patients suffering tetanus – an extremely unpleasant and life-threatening illness.

Australia has seen a surge in self-proclaimed “experts and champions” of anti-vaccination. Many of them have celebrity status. They make false and unsubstantiated claims about vaccination.

Make no mistake, these self-proclaimed experts lack any formally recognised training or education in health sciences let alone medicine. They are charlatans and should be called out. Would you allow a well-meaning carpenter to operate on your child?
After all, they’re good with tools. Would you?

Let’s think about that for a moment.
If your child needed surgery would you entrust their care to a charismatic and charming carpenter who lacked any formal surgical training? Would you?

Footballers’ wives might be good for a bit of lighthearted TV
entertainment but would you really turn to them for healthcare
advice?

Isn’t it reassuring that Australia has a rigorous system of surgical training and registration that guarantees the expertise and competence of  Surgeons?

So why do intelligent and well-meaning Australian parents
entrust their children’s healthcare to untrained professionals?

When childhood vaccination was launched in Australia during the last century parents had a lived world experience of the devastation that vaccine preventable diseases caused. From 1944 to 1954 polio was responsible for more than 1000 deaths in Australia. The reality of this disease was ever-present in communities. This devastating illness crippled and killed children. Its vaccine was welcomed. Many elderly Australians still live with
the devastating neuromuscular disability wrought by the polio virus.

Modern Australia, with its public health advances, has seen our communities thankfully grow healthier and safer. The lived world experience of the destructive power of vaccine-preventable diseases is no
longer in our consciousness.

Make no mistake, vaccine-preventable diseases kill
and are ready to strike the unvaccinated, and the “herd”, if vaccine
rates continue to decline.

Remember that the natural world isn’t all paleo and wholefoods. The natural world is life-threatening viruses and bacteria many of which are largely vaccine-preventable.

Would you want to be the parent that has to bury your child of an entirely vaccine-preventable disease?

Intelligent, caring and well-meaning Australian parents are right to question the healthcare their children are offered. So where should you turn for credible advice to answer your questions on vaccination?
I recommend that your “health home” should be your General Practitioner.

These highly trained doctors have undertaken years of postgraduate  medical training to specialise in providing holistic healthcare advice for
the whole family.

Australia has an outstanding system of primary healthcare that
allows consumers to choose their own General Practitioner. Take
the time to find a GP that you like & trust. Recommendations from
friends & family can be a good first step.

Would you want to be the parent that has to apologise to your child for their lifelong disability as the result of a vaccine-preventable illness?

The Royal Australian College for General Practitioners also has an informative website that provides advice on finding a GP in your area: https://www.racgp.org.au/information-for-patients/

Many General Practices undergo rigorous accreditation as
evidence of their quality. A list of these can be found at: http://www.agpal.com.au/for-consumers/ 

If you have a number of questions you would like to ask your GP about vaccination, request a long appointment to allow you the time to explore
your issues. Complex questions might require several consultations.

If your child has complex healthcare needs impacting on vaccination decisions your GP can refer you to a paediatrician or paediatric immunologist for more specialized advice.

Child health nurses are highly skilled registered nurses with postgraduate training and expertise in child health. They can be an invaluable source of credible advice on the healthcare needs of your child.

Make sure you entrust the healthcare needs of your child to credible health professionals with the appropriate training & qualifications.

You wouldn’t let a carpenter operate on your child? Would you?

About the author: Dr. Adam Coulson is a Practising Specialist Emergency Physician. He is a father to six children all of whom are vaccinated. The views expressed in this article are those of the author. The names and details of any patients have been changed to protect patient confidentiality.

It’s time to dust off those winter woolies and put a spring in your step as the days grow longer, the sun warmer and evenings balmy to have some family fun in Victoria.

Magical Melbourne

What better place to start than the grand old lady herself?

Highlights include

  • The Galactic Circus
  • Melbourne Zoo
  • Fairy Park (perfect for little princes and princesses)
  • Science Works
  • Melbourne Aquarium
  • The Queen Victoria Markets
  • Cooks Cottage
  • Federation Square
  • Melbourne Trams

For more information visit

www.whatson.melbourne.vic.gov.au/placestogo/attractions/familyfun/pages/familyfun

If it’s something more laid back you’re after, then why not take a picnic to the gorgeous Royal Botanical Gardens. A good place to start is the Visitor Centre which is on Birdwood Avenue, where you can get maps and information on how to spend your time.

Once there I recommend a visit to the Children’s Garden, a fantastic spot for children who love to get their hands dirty!

It has been designed specifically to help teach and excite children about the importance of conservation and caring for the environment.

Other highlights include

  • Guilfoyle’s Volcano
  • Lakes and Islands
  • Canna Bed Rain Garden
  • The Melbourne Observatory

 For more information visit

www.rbg.vic.gov.au

Accommodation

Like all cities, Melbourne has a plenty of accommodation, and apartments tend to be the most popular for families.

For more information visit

www.questapartments.com.au

www.oakshotelsresorts.com

www.mantra.com.au

Dandenong Ranges and Yarra Valley

What a wonderful place to visit. So much to do! The Dandenongs and Yarra Valley are home to a multitude of fun activities that the whole family can enjoy.

Highlights include

  • Hedgend Maze Healesville
  • Yarra Valley Chocolaterie and Ice Creamery Yarra Glen
  • Yarra Valley Dairy in Coldstream
  • William Ricketts Sanctuary Park
  • Binjarra Cultural Centre
  • Healesville Sanctuary
  • SkyHigh Mt Dandenong Restaurant and Attractions

For more information visit

www.skyhighmtdandenong.com.au

www.visitvictoria.com

Puffing Billy Steam Train

For all the little (and big!) train lovers out there Puffing Billy is a must. This well-loved steam train is over 100 years old and runs from Belgrave to Gembrook through the beautiful forests and gullies of the Dandenongs.

.For more information visit

www.puffingbilly.com.au

 Trees Adventure Glen Harrow Park

Fancy an amazing adventure? Ever felt like walking through the treetops? Then this is for you! Anyone from the age of four and above can enjoy this. Bookings are essential.

For more information visit

www.treesadventure.com.au/glen-harrow-park

 Top Tip

We all love a good playground, so see the link below for a great list of playgrounds and parks!

www.visitdandenongranges.com.au/things-to-do/picnics-playgrounds

Wineries

Where to start? You could spend months exploring them! Several places are family friendly and offer playgrounds and other activities.

Accommodation

  • Big4 Dandenong Tourist Park
  • Quest Dandenong

For more information on wineries and accommodation visit

www.visitvictoria.com/Regions/Yarra-Valley-and-Dandenong-Ranges

If you thought the snow fields were just for winter, you’d be wrong!

Mt Hotham

  • Horse Riding
  • Bushwalking
  • White Water Rafting on the Mitta Mitta River
  • Mountain Biking
  • Visit the Onsen Retreat and Spa at Dinner Plain

Accommodation

  • Davenport village in Hotham.
  • Dinner Plain, 10kms away, is a good alternative.

For more information visit

www.mthotham.com.au

Falls Creek

  • Canoe on Rocky Valley Lake
  • Horse Riding
  • Ride the Trails
  • Segway Tours
  • Golf
  • Wineries
  • Gliding

 For more information visit

www.fallscreek.com.au

Mt Buller

An easy three hour drive from Melbourne, Mt Buller offers a perfect summer escape.

Highlights include

  • Mountain Biking
  • Bush Walking
  • Horse Riding
  • Chairlift Rides
  • Four-wheel Driving

Accommodation

Arlberg Hotel – Has a kids stay free offer and a kids area with a pool table and x-box. It also has a kids ‘chill zone’ with bean bags, meals and movies

 For more information visit

www.mtbuller.com.au

Mt Baw Baw

  • Mountain Biking
  • Fishing
  • Hiking
  • Bush Walking

Accommodation

For something different, why not try ‘Glamping?’

For more information visit

www.mountbawbaw.com.au/glamping

The Great Ocean Road

This is one of the most stunning ocean drives I’ve ever been on. Some of the amazing things on offer include:

  • Bells Beach
  • Apollo Bay
  • Kennett River Koala Walk
  • Cape Otway
  • Port Campbell National Park
  • The Twelve Apostles
  • Tiger Moth World, Torquay (Lots of fun!)

If you feel like a swim then head to the famous Bells Beach or take a stroll along the Surf Coast walk.

For more information visit

www.visitgreatoceanrd.org.au

www.travelvictoria.com.au/regions/greatoceanroad/

 Accommodation

There are plenty of choices on this route, from caravan/holiday parks, B&B’s, apartments and resorts.

For more information visit

www.big4.com.au

www.topparks.com.au

www.greatoceanroadtrip.com

The Grampians

The Grampians have much to offer families, from camping, scenic walks, animals and more.

Highlights include

  • Little Desert National Park.
  • Grampians National Park
  • Mt Arapiles
  • McKenzie Falls.
  • The Stawell Gift at Easter

For more Information visit

www.grampianstourism.com.au

 Halls Gap Zoo

Halls Gap Zoo is Victoria’s largest regional zoo.  It has a, giraffe, water buffalo, meerkats, rainbow lorikeet and more. Why not consider ‘adopting’ one of their beautiful animals? How awesome would that be!

Accommodation

Halls Gap Lakeside Tourist Park.  Here you can camp, stay in a cabin or rent a house!

For more information visit

www.hallsgapzoo.com.au

www.hallsgaplakeside.com

Phillip Island

What a gorgeous spot with lots of things to do. With everything close together you don’t have to spend ages in the car going from place to place.

 Highlights include

  • Phillip Island Chocolate Factory. Yum yum!
  • A Maze’n’Things
  • Antarctic Journey
  • Churchill Island Heritage Farm
  • Wildlife Coast Cruises
  • Caldermeade Farm and Café

Penguin Parade

Who doesn’t love a cute penguin? Every day at sunset the penguins arrive and strut their stuff while waddling over to their burrows. Truly awesome.

Top Tip

During peak times, pre-book tickets to avoid missing out.

 Accommodation

  • A Maze’n’Things Holiday Park
  • The Waves Apartments

For more information visit

www.visitphillipisland.com

Mornington Peninsula

The Mornington Peninsula is renowned for being a popular holiday destination with lots to do.

Highlights include

  • Diving, fishing
  • Swimming with dolphins
  • The Moonlit Sanctuary Wildlife Park
  • Wineries
  • Sunny Ridge Strawberry Farm
  • The Big Goose
  • Visit village markets
  • The Enchanted Maze
  • Cape Schanck Lighthouse and Museum

For more information visit

www.thebellarinerailway.com.au

www.visitmorningtonpeninsula.org

Top Tip

Follow the link below for a comprehensive list of food and wineries in the Mornington Peninsula.

www.visitmorningtonpeninsula.org/foodandwine

Accommodation

  • Ocean Blue Coastal Retreats (Some of these are even pet friendly)
  • Trumans Cottages (Mostly pet friendly)

For more information visit

www.familyfriendlyaccommodation.com.au/mornington_peninsula

Victorian Goldfields

Gold was discovered over 160 years ago…will you be the one to make the next big find??

Highlights include

  • Ballarat – See the Lal Lal Falls
  • Bendigo – Vintage ‘Talking’ Tram Tours
  • Castlemaine – Old Castlemaine Gaol
  • Heathcote – O’Keefe Rail Trail,
  • Maldon – The Maldon Lolly Shop. An old time shop filled with sweet treats galore!

For more information visit

www.visitvictoria.com/regions/Goldfields

Sovereign Hill

Pan for gold at Sovereign Hill! Sovereign Hill is a living museum with working exhibits. It’s home to shops, schools, gold digging, underground mines and more. It’s been named Australia’s best ‘Major Tourist Attraction’ three times.

For more information visit

www.sovereignhill.com.au

Accommodation

For something different why not stay at Kryal Castle? It’s located approximately 8km’s east of Ballarat. Kryal Castle is a replica medieval castle with plenty of shows and attractions.

For more information visit

www.kryalcastle.com.au

The Murray Region

The Murray River is Australia’s longest river and a great place to visit. It’s home to wonderful wineries and gourmet food as well as many other exciting things.

Highlights include

  • Fishing
  • Watersports
  • Paddle steamers
  • Houseboats
  • River Cruises
  • Port of Echuca Discovery Centre

Swan Hill Pioneer Settlement

Swan Hill is a town that carries a rich pioneer heritage. The Pioneer Settlement will really help you to embrace Australian history. You can chat to people from a bygone era while cruising the Murray on the PS Pyap. In the evening, enjoy a light and laser show.

For more information visit

www.pioneersettlement.com.au

House Boating

Hire a houseboat and be your own captain! Kids and captains alike will love an adventure like this. You might just have to stop at one of the many wineries though!

Accommodation

Lots to choice! Houseboats, tourist parks, resorts, camping and more.

For more information visit

www.murrayriverhouseboats.com.au

www.visitthemurray.com.au

Look for the Good – What is a ‘gratitude jar’ and why do we all need one?

The newsfeed on TV and our social media seem to be filled with disasters on both a large and small scale. We face a constant barrage of awful stories from the most remote corners of the globe.

Gloom and doom seems ever-present each time we power up a device. It seems like we are surrounded by bad news everywhere we look.

I think to be fair, in the past we had less exposure to news items. There was the daily paper or the 6 o’clock news broadcast. Any truly important newsworthy items could be found in one of those two sources.

“The newsfeed on TV and our social media seem to be filled with disasters”

Now that we have a 24 hour a day 7 days a week news-cycle, the content in these feeds need to be constantly added to and updated. Items that in years before were considered local news now find their way into the worldwide news feed.

It has been shown in the research that anxiety and depression is on the rise among all age groups – but particularly in teens. This is a world-wide phenomenon. It isn’t limited to our street, our neighbourhood or our community.

“Anxiety and depression is on the rise…particularly in teens”

This worries me as an individual but it worries me so much more as a mother.

You see, our kids live their lives on their mobile devices – laptops, iPads and the ever-present mobile phones, which means that they see this negative narrative constantly.

“Our kids live their lives on their mobile devices”

I read recently that the greatest weapon we have in our safeguarding our mental health is choosing our thoughts wisely. This resonated with me.

We can choose to look at, and focus on those dark and awful news stories or we can choose to refocus and shine a light on the good and positive things in our lives. I know that sounds like a really big task but it can be as simple as very small daily or weekly ritual or habit.

For years now I have tried to help my kids with looking for joy and light in their day – every night at dinner we each share our “three good things” about our day.

They don’t have to be great achievements or world-changing events. They can be as simple as being grateful for a lovely meal cooked for them or sunshine on their face on the way to school or a kind word from a friend.

All those tiny little good things add up!

So last year we had a tough year. Not massive big disasters, but seemingly many little small scale challenges and hardships that just wore us all down little by little. Wow, were we happy to see the end of 2018!

So over the Christmas break I made a gratitude jar for my desk. My idea was that each time we have cause to celebrate we pull out one of the little tags inside and write down our good thing and drop it in the jar. Once again, I am not talking Nobel Prize winning type occasions.

“Each time we have cause to celebrate we…write down our good thing”

“As simple as  a girls lunch or coffee with lovely friends or getting joy from meeting a stranger’s puppy on the beach, finding some lovely sea glass, watching rosellas on our bird feeder whilst we eat brekky, or one of our fabulous  kids coming home from university for the weekend!”

“I am not talking Nobel Prize winning type occasions…[it can be] as simple as a girls lunch or coffee”

All good positive events – I bought a fab pen to drop inside and added a bunch of blank cards ready to collect our good moments.

At the end of the year (or hey, before then if we are having a really bad day) we will pull out all the little tags and review our pile of golden sunshine!

Re-focus!

My plan is that at the end of the year I will buy a cheap and colourful little notebook and glue the tags in to make a collection of all of our highlights and to clear the jar ready for the year ahead. I can see this jar is going to bring us much joy in the years to come.

So we know that life is full of challenges and celebrations …. moments good and bad.

Life is good, not perfect, right!

Our gratitude jar is not about having no hardship or having a perfect “instagrammable” life  but simply about choosing to focus on our blessings.

Our little gratitude jar has now become a favourite gift for friends and family. The kids drop a few tags into the jar before we gift it telling the person some of the things they LOVE and are grateful for about the person

There is no greater gift than the gift of being loved and appreciated.

Our Gratitude jar is enriching not only our own days but the strengthening the relationships we build.

Kathryn is a wife and mother to 4 children. The family have now settled back in Australia after time spent in Hong Kong and The United Kingdom. Her aim was always to have the children raised in an Australian household – even if that was overseas. The challenges faced and blessings enjoyed whilst living in foreign cultures and adjusting and adapting helped to shape her gratitude focus. Kathryn is a medical sonographer and in addition to working in her chosen profession she also works in the family business. She is passionate about photography and enjoys capturing the beauty of the coastline in her local area in her free time. Her passion for photography and travel have also combined to see her published on the topic in online travel publications.

 

Yvette Clarke, an internationally-renowned Wellness Consultant, Empath, Light Worker and Soul Room Specialist, shares how she is able to help break through emotional barriers and explains why the parental word is so important in developing healthy self esteem in our children.

I have been blessed with the unique gift of acute empathic perceptivity, which allows me to feel and hear the subconscious emotions of my clients as though I am them.

I help women suffering from low self-esteem cut through confusion and trauma to create clarity, understanding and best of all personal empowerment, allowing them to take back control of their emotions and their lives.

For over 20 years I have had the privilege of being invited into a sacred place – the inner self – where everything that makes a person who they are is stored; I call this place The Soul Room. In this room, I come to converse with the subconscious emotional layers of the human body. In here I shine a light on the suppressed hidden beliefs and emotional injuries causing conflict and obstruction to my clients’ wellbeing, happiness and success. My job is to give voice to the subconscious self so that it can be heard and not shoved under the proverbial carpet.

I have sat with thousands of emotionally-scarred, disempowered women, who don’t understand why they bring into their lives the same bad experience – or relationship – over, and over, again. These experiences come wrapped in a different package each time and initially appear to be different than before, but once she is caught up in the euphoria of ‘duplicitous nice’ being shown to her, the relationship partner appears to have metamorphosised into someone who becomes unkind, cruel and detrimental to her already delicate self-esteem.

She loses her voice and becomes a doormat to others. This causes her self-esteem to become even more diminished than before, she becomes fearful of making another wrong choice, her anxiety levels reach catastrophic heights and she wonders what it is about her that has this continue to happen… What is wrong with HER?

Her friends don’t understand either. They wonder why such a lovely, caring and kind woman would continue to attract abuse and mistreatment.

I have been asked by numerous women over the years why they can’t break this cycle and here is the reason from a soul room perspective.

It all comes down to the power of the PARENTAL WORD. The words from a parent can make or break a child’s belief in themselves. These parental words will stay with this person for the whole of their life replaying in the background of their subconscious mind and within the emotions of the inner child self. They will replay like bad Christmas music that has become stuck in your head after you’ve done your Chrissy shopping at a major department store.

It’s like that song that just keeps replaying over, and over, again in the background of your mind and no matter what you do, it’s stuck in there.

The parental word has the same effect on your child self as that background music does, the only difference is the Christmas music won’t harm your self-esteem, the negative parental word will.

Without realising it, the parent has the power to subconsciously brainwash their child into feeling inadequate, incapable and downright unlovable.

Without realising it, the parent has the power to subconsciously brainwash their child into feeling inadequate, incapable and downright unlovable.

I have had the most beautiful, healthy women sit in front of me telling me how fat and ugly they are, they can’t even see their actual body shape because all they hear in the back of the mind replaying over and over again is the parent’s criticism of their physique and weight. The continuous jabs at a tiny bit of tummy fat has now created a woman who binge eats and then throws up to keep slim. All she is a distorted image of herself, fed by the niggling of parental criticism. As an adult, it doesn’t matter how much she is told how beautiful she is, the internal child state is stuck, glitched on the relentless parental music telling her she is fat.

As children we are emotional sponges, we absorb into ourselves the emotions and wording repeating itself in the home environment. We are like steaks marinading in criticism sauce.

When a child’s point of view is repeatedly dismissed, or their emotions are conveyed to them as drama, this teaches the child that their feelings have no value and that their emotions are ridiculous. As an adult they are likely to attract a partner who will treat them the same way the parent did.

As children we are emotional sponges, we absorb into ourselves the emotions and wording repeating itself in the home environment. We are like steaks marinading in criticism sauce.

When a child is treated with irritation when they speak, as adults they often attract relationships that treat them with the same tactic of abuse.

When a child is told continuously what is wrong with them and what they didn’t get right, they become excessively self-critical or they become very critical of others.

The parental word is so very, very, important to the innocent child. This child will remain inside your children for their whole lifetime. This child needs to be encouraged to believe in themselves, they need to be reminded how much they are loved – and loved for simply being them – not love earned from behaving in a manner that pleases the parent.

The innocent child needs to hear that they matter to you and that you are willing to listen to their feelings when needed, without prying into everything that is private and personal to them.

The greatest chance our children have of growing into emotionally healthy adults with a healthy self-esteem is from them feeling that no matter how big they mess up, your love for them will not be diminished.

If the final siren signalling the end of school for 2018 and the start of the lengthy summer holidays fills you with dread, don’t panic. Offspring has done the hard work for you, compiling many of the wonderful events and activities taking place around Perth to keep the whole family entertained all summer long. All you need to do is choose what to do first!

‘Tis the Season

The summer holidays mean some big seasonal events are on the cards with Christmas, New Years and Australia Day just waiting to be celebrated.

Christmas

Forrest Place Christmas Carnival

Kick off the festive season early with a kids’ carnival November 24 and 25 featuring free rides and games and a visit from Santa. This event is very popular and very worthwhile.

Christmas Pageant

Everyone loves the iconic Christmas pageant with its breathtaking floats, dancers, television personalities and of course Santa. This year, in its 46th year, the pageant will be bringing its magic to St Georges Terrance on December 1 from 7.30pm.

Santa’s Enchanted Wardrobe

Inspired by the fantasy world of Narnia this is one for the whole family. Opening at Claremont Showgrounds December 1 and running selected days until December 24 you will enter a world of adventure deep in the forest, meet Mr Beaver, rescue Mr Tumnus, help the elves and meet Santa.

Christmas Maze

Elizabeth Quay will be home to a giant Christmas Maze where you will have to help find nine missing reindeer. Open December 8-16 from 10am-3pm.

Christmas Nativity

Experience the story of Jesus’ birth from December 19-21 from 6.30pm told with a real life nativity scene, over 100 performers, live animals and carols set on the beautiful grounds of the Supreme Court Gardens.

Lotterywest Christmas Symphony

Replacing the traditional Carols by Candlelight, the West Australian Symphony Orchestra presents Lotterywest’s Christmas Symphony, a City of Perth celebration with Variety, the children’s charity, on Saturday December 15 from 5pm at Langley Park. Bring a picnic to this one!

Lights and decorations

City:

Explore your city with two mapped journeys on the Christmas Lights Trail. Visit the Christmas tree with over 46,000 lights representing those who called Lifeline’s 13 11 14 number in the last 12 months. The trail comes to life November 16-December 24 every night from 6pm. Find the map at www.visitperth.com.au/en/events/christmas-lights-trail

Local:

Checking out the local Christmas lights on a hot summer night has become a family tradition for many. Check out Buggybuddy’s interactive map to some of the best displays www.buggybuddys.com.au/things-to-do/christmas-lights-perth

Theatre

City:

• Don’t miss the West Australian Ballet’s performance of the beloved classic Christmas tale The Nutcracker at His Majesty’s Theatre, November 16-December 9.

• The Charlesworth Ballet Institute presents the enchanting Sleeping Beauty at Crown Perth December 14 and 15.

• Every Saturday night leading up to Christmas you can grab a free festive flick on the big screen at Northbridge Piazza. Bring a picnic, grab a beanbag and watch out for those roaming elves!

Local:

• If a modern theatre is more your style, a retelling of the Dr. Seuss classic The Grinch is hitting cinemas from November 15. So merry whatever to you!

New Year

Northbridge

Welcome in the new year with free activities for the whole family at the Northbridge Piazza and Perth Cultural Centre with a movie, street performances and early countdown for families, December 31 5.30pm-9pm.

Streets Happy Zoo Year

The 2018 line up of Dinosaur Train, Shimmer and Shine and the Grinch are bound to draw big crowds along with the opportunity to explore the zoo and wrap up the new year with an early 8pm countdown. This event sells out fast.

Australia Day

The City of Perth Skyworks is an iconic Australia Day celebration and can be seen from various vantage points across the city. Grab the family and a spot at Langley Park, Supreme Court Gardens, Kings Park, South Perth Foreshore, Point Walter or Lake Monger on Saturday January 26 2019.

Check guides closer to the date as smaller firework displays are often held in regional cities including Mandurah and Rockingham.

Tourism Hotspots

You don’t have to be a tourist to enjoy the hotspots in Perth.

Swan Valley

• Enjoy a game of ‘supa-golf’ at the Oasis Supa Golf and Adventure Putt

• Take in a long lunch at one of the many wineries, restaurants or breweries – Mandoon Estate and Homestead Brewery have designated play areas.

• Sample some sweet delights from the Margaret River Chocolate Company or Whistler’s Chocolate Company.

• Challenge your family to join Taylor Tortoise on a race around the valley. The Amazing Valley Chase is a fun scavenger hunt, beginning at the Swan Valley Visitor Centre in Guildford and taking around three hours complete. Download an instruction sheet (or collect one from the Visitors Centre). Designed for families and kids 5-12 years old www.swanvalley.com.au

Fremantle

• Take in the many street performers, unique foods, flavours, colour and shopping at the Fremantle Markets.

• Every Saturday in summer from 5pm enjoy the hawker food delights on offer at the Sunset Markets, South Beach. Listen to live music and let the kids enjoy the animal farms and face painting.

• Are you brave enough to tour the historic Fremantle Prison?

• Get up high on the Esplanade Ferris Wheel and take in Fremantle in all its glory.

• Finish the day grabbing a bite at the iconic Cicerello’s and visit the giant fish tanks housing over 50 species of marine life all collected in Fremantle waters.

Hillarys

• Visit the amazing Aquarium of Western Australia (AQWA) home of Australia’s largest single aquarium and walk-through underwater tunnel. You can touch fish, sharks and other marine life. You can watch the Mer-jestic Mermaids January 2-19 and be entertained by Pirate Pete. Book early for this event.

• The thrilling rides of Sideshow Amusements are back and trading every day during the holidays.

• Or catch a ferry over to Rottnest Island.

Rottnestthis little island offers big things

• Hire a bike to explore the island your own way or jump aboard the shuttle

• Look out for the furry little guys that live here. Quokkas are said to be the friendliest animals on Earth (and they don’t mind taking a selfie with you!)

• Enjoy the pristine waters of the many beaches around the island where you can snorkel, paddle, sunbake or take a nap!

Sport, Sport, Sport

We love our sport and there is plenty of opportunity to play, watch and enjoy this summer.

Watch:

• Hopman Cup – tennis royalty Serena Williams and Roger Federer will make this summer’s Hopman Cup the biggest ever. Kicking off December 29-January 5 at RAC Arena, this is definitely one you don’t want to miss.

• Big Bash League – the cricket season is here. Cheer on the Scorchers at the new stadium during their seven home matches kicking off against Adelaide on Boxing Day.

Play:

• It doesn’t get much cooler in summer than inside an ice arena and Perth is lucky enough to have a couple of choices – Xtreme Ice Arena (Mirrabooka); Cockburn Ice Arena (Bibra Lake) and Perth Ice Arena (Malaga). Check websites for summer school lessons and special events.

• Grab your bathers, towel, hat and sunscreen and head for the water. Perth is surrounded by world renowned beaches that don’t cost a cent. If you prefer less sandy pursuits, there are plenty of water play centres to check out:

• Adventure World

• Cockburn Arc

• Scarborough Beach Pool

• Beatty Park Leisure Centre

• Maylands Waterland

• Kalamunda Water Park

• Elizabeth Quay BHP Billiton Water Park

• Whiteman Park

• The Maze, home of Outback Splash

Educational Experiences

Have fun while you learn!

• The Western Australian Museum is currently closed while a new museum is being built, but you can still find exhibits in the Discovery Zone in the State Library of WA and the Perth Concert Hall. Plus the museums in Fremantle are offering plenty:

• WA Maritime Museum (Fremantle) – the highly anticipated 180-degree Ningaloo dome theatre is coming December 28-January 31. Bookings are essential. The Under the Sea theme will continue with craft and workshops along with junior fishing clinics.

• WA Shipwrecks Museum (Fremantle) – whale craft, touch tables of whale bones and storytelling sessions will celebrate the 40th anniversary of the end of whaling. Most activities are free.

• Aviation Heritage Museum (Bull Creek) – with over 30 civilian and military aircraft this is a definite for any aviation enthusiast.

• The Perth Mint (East Perth) – take the tour to find out your weight in gold, watch molten gold being poured, see the world’s largest one tonne gold coin and learn about gold mining legends. Suitable for all ages.

• The Art Gallery of Western Australia (Perth) – enjoy the exhibits or check out the local Aboriginal culture activities and create your own canvas masterpiece. Bookings online at www.artgallery.wa.gov.au

• Scitech (City West) – enjoy a family day out or book an activity in the CSIRO Lab school holiday workshops. Suitable for children 4 to 16 the activities including viewing nights at the Perth Observatory, STEM workshops and supercomputer tours. For more information visit www.scitech.org.au

• The Gravity Discovery Centre (Gingin) – a bit of a road trip but you will be thrilled with the hands-on opportunities for young and old. Visit www.gravitycentre.com.au for opening times and entry.

Animal lovers

Enjoy a family day wandering the zoo. Perth Zoo turned 120 this year and has been overtaken by dinosaurs, including a six metre tall T-Rex, to raise awareness of animal extinction. Zoorassic Park runs until January 20, 2019.

If a lower key wildlife experience is more your thing to get up close and personal with our furry friends check out:

• Caversham Wildlife Park (Whiteman)

• Armadale Reptile and Wildlife Centre

• Swan Valley Cuddly Animal Farm

• Cohuna Koala Park (Byford)

• West Australian Reptile Park (Henley Brook)

Exploring Locally

• Parks – whether on foot, grabbing the bikes to explore further afield or heading off in the car to discover new horizons, a day at the park is the simplest way to burn of extra energy and catch up with friends. Try www.kids-around-perth.com/perth-playgrounds for reviews including facilities and directions.

• Shopping centres – most shopping outlets will offer school holiday attractions. The events are usually themed, craft or activity based and suitable for younger children. Check local guides for times and bookings.

• Library – a gold mine of entertainment with many offering free activities during the holidays, not to mention free books to borrow! Check with your local library as places are often limited.

Fun at Home

The school holidays shouldn’t be about always being entertained. Kids need the chance to recharge after a long year in the classroom so spending a few unstructured days at home will give everyone the chance to chill out.

If you need ideas on things to do at home, start a ‘Boredom Buster Box’ and get everyone to contribute ideas from grand plans to build a cubby house or redecorate a room, to watching a movie or a movie marathon, a puzzle or family game night, reading a book, walking the dog, playing with new toys from Christmas, or visiting friends and relatives (you could also throw in a few chores).

*Please check relevant guides and websites for booking, costs and times as events may be subject to change.