Monday, 13 October 2014

Melbourne - a family-friendly city we love

Melbourne is one of the most family-friendly cities in the world, with lots to see and do. Here are 6 fun activities to take the kids to and you can easily find them all over Melbourne. We stayed in the Mornington Peninsular area as that was the only place where we managed to find accommodation for 30 people under one roof, and it turned out to be a really lovely part of Melbourne to explore.

1. Visit a Farm or Wildlife sanctuary

The first thing that came to mind for the kids was to get up close and personal with kangaroos and koalas. We went to Moonlit Sanctuary which was just a short drive from our rented house. They have kangaroos, wallabies, koalas, emus, tasmanian devils and many more Australian animals. They even conduct evening tours, which has to be booked in advance.
Feeding wallabies
Moonlit Sanctuary

Admission fees:
Child (4-15 years): $9
Adult: $18
Under 4: Free
Family: (2A 2C): $48

Operating Hours:
Daily 10am - 5pm (except Christmas Day)

Address:
550 Tyabb-Tooradin Road
Pearcedale, Victoria 3912, Australia

www. moonlit-sanctuary.com
"Who, me?"
2) Outdoor family fun

The Enchanted Maze Garden is a huge gardens filled with lots to do. The kids came here mainly for the tube slides which is suitable for both children and adults. Kids under 5 have to sit with an adult, and there is a maximum weight of about 100kg. I normally wait at the sidelines and watch while the hubs accompany them, but the kids kept telling me "Mum, it's not scary at all, not even for you" that I dared to give it a go. Yup, they were right, and it was pretty fun doing it together with them. Only thing is it might be quite hot during summer to drag the tube up the slope. We had a brilliant time as we went during the beautiful spring weather.

You can easily spend half a day here as there are indoor and outdoor mazes and other simple game-like structures dotted around the park. There is also tree-surfing, which is like our forest adventure, where you are harnessed and navigate an obstacle course high up around the trees. They have fixed timings for tree-surfing, and it's better to book in advance. There is a cafe on the grounds, right at the entrance. Everyone has to pay to enter the grounds, even if you just sit at the cafe.
Kate zooming down with her daddy
The Enchanted Maze Garden

Admission fees:
Adult: $29
Child (3-17) $19

Operating Hours:
Most parts of the park: 10am - 6pm
Some slightly earlier or later. Full details of operating hours, click here.

Address:
55 Purves Road
Arthurs Seat

www.enchantedmaze.com.au
Maze hedges
3) Horse riding

Initially, we wanted to ride all the way to the beach, however that would have taken us 2 hours so we settled for the trail ride which lasted for an hour. This is also suitable for the entire family. After we came back to Singapore, #3 told me she has changed her mind. She doesn't want a dog anymore. She wants a horse. And she's going to name her Caramel. I'm sure I will hear no end to this.
Younger ones on the smaller horses (background)
Gunnamatta Trail rides

We went for the Trumans Bush Ride (50 - 55 mins)
Suitable for beginners (min 6 years old)
$70 adult / $60 child

Operating Hours:
About 9.30am - 4pm
Advance booking necessary
(They require a booking deposit via credit card)

Address:
Corner of Truemans road and Sandy road, Fingal, Vic 3939

4) Go Karting

You might think Go-karting = speeding. However, it is up to you to control the speed, and even our aunt who is in her 60s tried it. Both the men and the kids enjoyed themselves so much that they went back again the next day!

We went to Le Mans Go Karts which happened to be the newest and largest go karting track in Victoria. As we had a big group, the adults did a 30 lap race. The kids were broken up into ages, with the teenagers doing a 30 minute race while the little ones did just 10 minutes. There are ample sofas and chairs indoors for those not joining in to wait and they sell light snacks and drinks.
#5 thoroughly enjoying himself
Le Mans Go Karts

Rates:
10 min $23 (8 - 15 years) $32 (16 - adult)
20 min $42 (8 - 15 years) $57 (16 - adult)
30 min $57 (8 - 15 years) $75 (16 - adult)

Operating Hours
Sunday - Thursday 10am-11pm
Friday & Saturday 10am-11.30pm

Address:
11-55 Waterview Close
Dandenong South VIC 3175
www.lemansgokarts.com.au
7 year old niece did the small track (background)
5) Bush walking

When we told the kids we were going to Point Nepean National Park for a walk, they looked incredulous. Walk? While on holiday? Weren't we running short on time with plenty more to do? In the end, they enjoyed the walk. Lots of little animals and birds to spot, ending at the beach for a nice family photo, and the cool weather contributed greatly to their enjoyment of the walk.
Point Nepean
6) Free playgrounds

We chanced upon this marvellous Rye community playground right by the beach. It looks like a dream playground and it was indeed conceptualised by the kids themselves, funds were raised by the community and the entire playground was built in 5 days by 700 skilled volunteers.

Where: Rye foreshore, Point Nepean Road, Rye.
Playground by the beach
Not forgetting the food.

When in Melbourne, we always make a stop in Chinatown for yum cha. The hubs used to frequent Sharksfin Inn when he lived here ages ago, so it was a must-visit for him. The selection is wider and they still serve them pushed out on trolleys. My all-time favourite yum cha item is this deep fried meat dumpling with a chewy crust, and these are the best I have found so far!

Another must-eat for us in Melbourne is the Vietnamese pho and we stopped by Springdale for it. Quick, fuss-free and satisfying meal, especially lovely eaten on a cold evening.

We thoroughly enjoyed our vacation with the extended family and I'm sure we will be back again someday! #3 is already making plans for her future - she wants to set up a cafe in the countryside with horses grazing nearby.


~ www.mummyweeblog.com - a blog on parenting 6 kids in Singapore ~

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