HOT The best Anzac Biscuits recipe by Donna Hay

I am a big fan of sharing foodie experiences with kids as it’s such a delicious and fun way to learn and spend time together. Every year the Melbourne Food and Wine Festival is like Christmas come early for me!

Here are my picks for events suitable for families in location and date order:

CBD / DOCKLANDS

  •       Crown’s Alfresco Kitchen at Crown Riverwalk 8 Whiteman Street, Southbank (Fri 27 Feb, Sat 28 Feb, Sun 1 Mar 2015) – Join us riverside to catch all the action, and taste the best offerings from signature restaurants like The Merrywell, Gradi, Sho dumpling, and sweet treats like Mövenpick ice cream and the renowned crepes from Crown Banquets. FREE.
  •       Kids’ Weekend at Pop Up Patch at The Little Veggie Patch Co’s Pop Up Patch (Sat 28 Feb 2015, Sun 1 Mar 2015) – The special ‘Kids’ Open Weekend’ will include hourly guided tours and free scarecrow-making workshops, Book one of the ticketed offerings: Edible Gardening Workshop is all about growing food and includes making a self-watering milk bottle planter, while Creepy Crawlies Workshop is hands-on, composting fun with worms and bugs to discover, plus making a terrarium from a plastic bottle. $20
  •       Pirates & Pimm’s – Adventure for Friends and Family at Polly Woodside 2A Clarendon St, Melbourne (Sat 28 Feb 2015, Sun 1 Mar 2015) – Find out all about the history of the ship and the period of sail in our gallery and learn all about the hardship and adventure of life at sea.There’ll be pirates to meet and storytelling for the whole family. Food will be available for purchase courtesy of CNK – Food Design. FREE.
  •      Grazing by the River at South Wharf Promenade (Sat 28 Feb 2015, Sun 1 Mar 2015) – For one delectable weekend, our chefs will come out of their kitchens to showcase what they do best, creating scrumptious food for their customers, this time served hawker style. On Sunday the precinct will transform into a Harvest ‘n’ Graze family friendly food, music and wine festival.
  •       Food & Fun with your Granny at Artplay (Sat 28 Feb 2015, Sun 1 Mar 2015) – Artplay and the Children’s Food Education Foundation present fun activities to get kids tasting, learning and thinking. The Snack Habitat Van will serve kid-sized snack foods and talk about “b”foods and bees. Create some bee-art, taste local honey and take home your own bee-friendly seeds. On Sunday learn some cool granny skills like making jams and pickles (2 classes only for 6-9 years and 9-12 years). $15 per person.
  •       Little Foodies Corner at Queensbridge Square, Melbourne (Sat 28 Feb, Sun 1 Mar, Sat 7 Mar, Sun 8 Mar, Sat 13 Mar, Sun 14 Mar) – mini budding bakers get their hands dirty in the kitchen with local baking specialists.  5-8 years or 9-13 years. FREE

NORTH / NORTH-EAST

  •       Kids Cooking Workshop at Rivers Lifestyle Centre, The Gallery 28 Kurrak Rd, Yarrambat (Sat 28 Feb, Sun 1 Mar 2015) – Primary-aged children get to dress up as mini chefs and learn from the team of friendly chefs and horticulturists at Rivers. $20
  •       Lunch with the Lions at The Royal Melbourne Zoo Elliott Avenue, Parkville (Sun 1 Mar 2015) – Enjoy lunch to the beat of African music with African-inspired food and drinks providing an authentic taste of lands far away. Exciting kids’ activities will include face painting and a chance to play African drums. $30-$150.
  •       Think Eat Talk Grow at University Square, University of Melbourne (Wed 4 Mar 2015) – Think, Eat, Talk, Grow will launch the new University Square Farmers’ Market, with foodie activities hosted by Richard Cornish and presented by producers, farmers and gastronomes from the University of Melbourne and Melbourne Farmers’ Markets. $0 – $40
  •       Kids Cook Lunch with George at Hellenic Republic Brunswick 434 Lygon St, Brunswick East (Sat 7 Mar 2015) –  kids will learn the art of kneading, mixing, stirring, preparing and presenting a two course menu for mum and dad. $55.

SOUTH / SOUTH-EAST / BAYSIDE

  •       Mordialloc Food Wine and Music Festival at Peter Scullin Reserve Beach Road, Mordialloc (Sat 28 Feb 2015, Sun 1 Mar 2015) – local festival offers a wide range gourmet food vendors, wine, microbrewed beer, blues and jazz music across two stages. Lots of children’s activities, market stalls and an exhibition. $2 entry or $5 for family of four.
  •       Bright ‘n’ Sandy at Green Point Foreshore (Sun 1 Mar 2015) –   food and wine event for the whole family, including cooking demos, tastings, music and kids activities. $2.50 entry.
  •       Dandenong World Fare at Dandenong Market, 39 Cleeland St, Dandenong (Sun 1 Mar 2015) – Circumnavigate the globe at this enchanting “food fare” extravaganza. Experience the delicious abundance and tempting aromas of global cuisines and entertainment inspired by some of the world’s most exciting cultures. FREE.
  •       Port Phillip Mussel Festival at South Melbourne Market, Cecil St, South Melbourne (Sat 7 – Sun 8 Mar 2015) – Port Phillip Mussel Festival street party is back. Expect jazz, fun and mussels galore. Come to dance, bring the family, eat and drink, and be with friends. FREE
  •       Brunch By The Bay at Port Melbourne Beach, The Esplanade and Bay Street (Sun 8 Mar 2015) – entertainment for the whole family and mobile food vans, book a brunch box or Port Melbourne’s best ethnic food venues will be offering international brunch menus. Free entry or $15.00 pre-booked brunch boxes
  •       Kids’ Raw Food Class at St Ali, 12-18 Yarra Pl, South Melbourne (Sun 8 Mar 2015) – Let you kids Roar – raw food is natural medicine. Allow your kids to discover the healing powers of raw food in a fun, learning environment taught by Patrick Drapac from Pat’s Veg. Price $25
  •       Flavours at Grattan Gardens, Grattan St, Prahran (Sat 14 Mar 2015) – Celebrate Stonnington’s cultural diversity through tastes, sights and sounds. Be invigorated and inspired by market stalls, cooking demonstrations, entertainment and children’s activities in this fun day for family and friends. FREE

EAST

  •       Teddy Bear’s Picnic goes to the Circus at The Karralyka Gardens Mines Rd, Ringwood East (Sat 28 Feb 2015) – professional face painters, a jumping castle, Teddy Bear Biscuit and craft activities, a fabulous circus show, Teddy Bear’s Hospital, pony rides, fizzy drinks and popcorn too. $5 kids under 18 months free.
  •       A Global Gathering at Bridge Road – Various Venues (Sun 1 Mar 2015) – Discover the flavours of the world in a leisurely stroll along Bridge Road, calling into restaurants for a snack or drink and having your ‘passport’ stamped along the way. FREE
  •       Asian Market Tour & Dumplings at Box Hill Central 1 Main St, Box Hill (Sat 7 Mar 2015, Sun 8 Mar 2015) – Enjoy a family friendly guided tour through Box Hill Central’s Fresh Food Market sampling the tastes of Asia from stallholders. After the tour, roll up your sleeves for a hands-on workshop with local celebrity cooks, Carly and Emily Cheung, and make your own dumplings. $10-$20. Age 7+.
  •       Family and Fauna Picnic at Healesville Sanctuary (Sat 7 Mar 2015) – bush BBQ, Yarra Valley wine and cider tastings, face painting and games for the kids. $20-$35.
  •       Abbotsford Convent Pop Up Picnic at Abbotsford Convent, 1 St Heliers Street, Abbotsford Sun (15 Mar 2015) – Grab your friends, BYO picnic rug and join us on the grass for a delicious picnic hamper filled with a seasonal selection of treats and homemade lemonade. Price $35 – $55

WEST

  •       Pier to Plate at Seaworks at Seaworks Williamstown (Sat 28 Feb 2015) – Demonstrations and feasting during the day will take you through to music and entertainment into the night. $15 adult entry, kids under 16 years free.
  •       Autumn Harvest Festival at Mansion Hotel & Spa 320 K Rd, Werribee South (Sun 1 Mar 2015) – Enjoy a barbecue of locally sourced ingredients and indulge in some regional wine and craft beer. Bring the kids along for animals, face painting and more. $10 entry.
  •       Seddon Festival at Seddon Village, Victoria and Charles Sts, Seddon (Sat 7 Mar 2015) – Seddon Village comes alive at this boutique festival which is a true celebration of all things local. Featuring non-stop music, food and wine tastings and an abundance of kids’ activities and entertainment. FREE
  • Morning Tea with Alice at Fels Park, Yarraville (Sun 8 Mar) – The Hatter, the Dormouse, the March Hare and Alice are coming to tea. Bring the kids and join in this fun family event. Wear outrageously large hats, learn the Lobster Quadrille, drink tea out of large tea pots and join Alice in scrumptious cakes and other delights.
  •       Go West at The Maribyrnong Boathouse, 7 The Boulevard, Moonee Ponds (Fri 13 Mar 2015) – Meet MasterChef judge Gary Mehigan and recent MasterChef contestants at a twilight festival on the banks of the Maribyrnong River, celebrating the gastronomic diversity of Melbourne’s Western suburbs. FREE

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SONY DSC

This year the Lunar New Year is Thursday 19 February 2015. Our family will be celebrating the Year of the Goat (or Sheep) because we’re half Chinese.

Even if you’re not of Asian descent it’s a great time in Melbourne for festivities and yummy food! Here’s a list of Chinese New Year events in Melbourne in date order. The are all free and generally family-friendly (just be aware of crowds and loud firecrackers):

  • Victoria Street Lunar Festival Richmond – Sun 1 Feb, 11am-10pm. While technically the Vietnamese celebrate Tet there’s a large enough Chinese-Vietnamese population for Victoria Street Richmond to hold a CNY celebration. It’s very popular and gets a bit crowded but the street is closed off for food stalls and performances.
  • East Meets West Lunar Festival Footscray – Sun 8 Feb, 10am-10pm Hopkins St Footscray. This is the celebration we’ll be attending as it’s in our neighbourhood! Food stalls, games and rides will fill the street.
  • Crown’s Riverwalk Hawker’s Bazaar – Fri 13 Feb – Sun 22 Feb 11am-11pm Outside Crown Complex, Southbank. Chinese street food and entertainment by the Yarra. Some Crown restaurants will also have special CNY menus.
  • Box Hill Street Festival – Sat 14 Feb, 1pm-1am Market St & Main St, Box Hill. Box Hill is another Asian enclave in Melbourne and they’ll be celebrating CNY with cultural performances, game,  amusement rides and food.
  • Springvale Lunar New Year Festival – Sun 15 Feb, 9am-9pm Buckingham Ave, Springvale. Springvale has a large Vietnamese/Chinese population and this CNY festival coincides with Australia Day, so two holidays in one! See martial arts displays, lion dances, folk dancing and of course lots of Asian food stalls.
  • FCA Melbourne Chinatown Chinese New Year Festival – Mon 16 Feb – Sun 1 Mar. The big celebration in Melbourne, with the opening ceremony on Sun 22 Feb followed by the Dragon awakening ceremony and parade.
  • Prahran Market – Sat 21 Feb 163 Commercial Rd, South Yarra. The Market is offering a range of free cultural activities including children’s cooking activity, lion dance, Chinese music.
  • Chinese New Year at Noble Park Racecourse (Sat 21 Feb – Sun 22 Feb) – Chinese Lion Dance, Firecrackers, Traditional Folk Music, Dancers, Martial Artists and much more.
  • Chinese New Year at Federation Square (Thu 26 Feb – Sun 1 Mar) –  interactive performances, make your own dragon and free Tai Chi and Health Qigong demonstrations, mahjong lessons and a full stage program on 1 March with live music, dancing and a colourful performance.
  • Glen Waverley Chinese Lantern Festival – Sun 1 Mar, 10am-9pm. Kingsway, Glen Waverley. International food stalls, cultural performances and activities.

Also try these family-friendly Chinese restaurants for a special CNY meal:

David’s 4 Cecil Street Prahran

Tao Tao House 815 Glenferrie Rd Hawthorn

Golden Dragon Palace 363 Manningham Rd Lower Templestowe

Shark Fin House 131 Little Bourke St Melbourne

How will you be celebrating The Year of the Goat  in 2015?

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olivers garden

Oliver’s Garden Cafe in Moonee Ponds combines the best features of a child-friendly cafe. It’s spacious and well-furnished with numerous high chairs, there are lots of items on the menu (including a kids menu) and best of all, it’s located right next to a large playground.

olivers garden

No wonder that it’s filled with families, prams and happy kids.

Oliver’s Garden Cafe is located in a rambling heritage listed cottage and Queens Park is one of the prettiest parks I’ve visited in Melbourne. There’s even a large central lake with spurting fountains for viewing pleasure.

olivers garden

 

I visited with fellow blogger Veggie Mama on a sunny day and was lucky enough to snag an outside bench table right by the playground, as the inside space was very small. Our kids immediately made a beeline for the slide while we organised high chairs and menus through the handy coffee window.

olivers garden

The food we tried ranged from great to ok. The large milkshake made with yoghurt came out properly cold in a tall metal cup. My brown rice balls were three loosely compacted balls of rice studded with pumpkin then lightly fried. The pumpkin gnocchi was the least successful as the sauce was similar in taste and texture to tinned pumpkin soup. From the kids menu, the fairy bread, waffle and toast with vegemite were exactly as you’d expect. If I wasn’t so distracted keeping an eye on the kids I would have had more time to ponder the menu and next time I would choose differently.

olivers garden

While there is an indoors dining area Oliver’s Garden Cafe is definitely an outdoor destination so good thing the weather is warming up.

Features:

  • Pram access;
  • High chairs;
  • Change table (in public toilets nearby);
  • Kids menu;
  • standard menu suitable for kids; and
  • Playground and gardens.

Oliver’s Garden Cafe, Queens Park, Cnr The Strand and Mt Alexander Rd, Moonee Ponds (03) 9372 0438

Monday to Friday – 8.30am – 4.30pm

Saturday & Sunday – 9am – 4pm

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deep oceans scienceworks

School holidays are over but there’s still heaps to explore in the city! Here’s this week’s list of what’s on for families and under 5s in Melbourne. (Photo from our visit to Deep Oceans at Scienceworks).

CBD/DOCKLANDS

  • The Smurf’s High Tea at The Langham, Melbourne (Fri 30 Jan) – The Langham, Melbourne, is turning blue – and you should too! Dress up and come along to The Smurf’s High Tea.
  • The Little Mermaid 3D at ACMI Kids Flicks (Fri 30 Jan) – Join Ariel the mermaid and her underwater pals for a big adveture as part of a 25th anniversary screening. Part of ACMI’s curated program of children’s films. READ THE REVIEW.
  • My Neighbour Totoro at ACMI Kids Flicks (Fri 30 Jan) – classic children’s anime from master Japanese animator Hayao Miyazaki. Part of ACMI’s curated program of children’s films. READ THE REVIEW.
  • The Boy Who Loved Tiny Things Exhibition at ArtPlay (Fri 30 Jan – Sun 1 Feb) – Become a scientist of the imagination as you explore, catalogue and help create a fantastical museum of tiny things.
  • The Giant Opera Dress Up Box (Fri 30 Jan – Thu 5 Feb) Create your own themed dress-up from a swag of costumes provided by Opera Australia.
  • The Flag Foundry (Fri 30 Jan – Thu 5 Feb) – decorate your own fabric flag during the course of the  SummersaltFestival, with each new flag joining the constantly growing canopy.
  • ‘Uptown’ brown (Fri 30 Jan – Sat 31 Jan) – musical machine which permits an athletic fellow to play multiple instruments at once.
  • Minute exhibit (Fri 30 Jan – Sat 31 Jan) – The teeniest tiniest one-minute puppetry shows for one in the world’s smallest theatre.
  • Drum It Up! at ArtPlay (Fri 30 Jan – Sun 1 Feb)  – Use recycled materials to construct a drum, learn the basics and perform with the ArtPlay Kids Band!
  • Games (Fri 30 Jan – Sun 8 Feb ) – Melbourne-based Circus producing high-quality work which explore relevant and meaningful ideas while showcasing elite physical skill. Free.
  • Altogether Now at ArtPlay (Fri 30 Jan – Tue 17 Feb) – Be guided through a play-scape full of little surprises and big delights, and lots of play, movement and fun.
  • Something fishy (Sat 31 Jan) – Experience the mysteries of the sea! Enter the stomach of a whale and discover the secrets of life in the deep with Born in a Taxi’s Something Fishy. Immersive, transformative and intimate.
  • The Picnic (Sat 31 Jan) – 15 minutes of music, gags and spectacular costumes.
  • Where the wild things sing – AN URBAN PUPPET SAFARI (Sat 31 Jan) – An urban safari walk through the streets of Southbank where opera and puppetry collide in an adventure full of surprises.
  • The Mudcakes (Sat 31 Jan – Sun 1 Feb) – quirky, funtastic, highly interactive music show will have monkeys big and small up singing and dancing. Quirky, funtastic, highly interactive music show will have monkeys big and small up singing and dancing.
  • Cocoloco (Sat 31 Jan – Sun 1 Feb) – cabaret performance and street theatre with a twist.
  • Encounters (Sat 31 Jan – Sun 1 Feb) – Encounters brings art, technology and people together in a weekly outdoor interactive digital art space in the VCA Courtyard.
  • Pirate Sunday at Polly Woodside (Sun 1 Feb) – Dress as a pirate and come help us search for hidden treasure, play tug of war and have your face painted.
  • Scarecrow Making – Fed Square Pop Up Patch at Federation Square (Sun 1 Feb) – Bring the kids to Fed Square’s rooftop veggie garden, Pop Up Patch, and help them make their very own scarecrow to take home.
  • Little Sparrow Market at Federation Square (Sun 1 Feb) – 60 artists, designers and makers selling their wares in the Federation Square atrium. I’ll be there too with my business CycleStyle!
  • NGV Summer Sundays (Sun 1 Feb) – enjoy free entertainment in the Sculpture Garden every Sunday in February.
  • Sharpshooters (Sun 1 Feb) – Three incompetent villains, a keyboard, a musician and an old bank vault are bringing the silent movie era to the streets of Southbank.
  • World Tutu Day at Arts Centre Melbourne (Mon 2 Feb) – fun lunchtime event presented by The Australian Ballet School in support of ballet education.
  • Shaking Egg Hunt at ArtPlay (Wed 4 Feb, Thu 5 Feb) – You and your baby are invited to shake your way through song, dance and games, but first you must find those eggs!
  • Gong Garden (Thu 5 Feb) – Discover the sounds, sensations and philosophy of these fascinating instruments and join in improvised musical play with internationally acclaimed gong artist Michael Askill.
  • Golden Mirror Carousel at NGV International  (Fri 10 OCt – Mar 2015) the spectacular life-size Golden Mirror Carousel offers visitors to Federation Court a powerfully different physical and mental encounter than its traditional fairground counterpart. READ THE REVIEW.
  • Romance was Born  Kids Project at NGV International (Fri 17 Oct – Sun 22 Mar) – This contemporary project for kids provides the ideal platform for designers Luke Sales and Anna Plunkett to share their whimsical and compelling vision with visitors of all ages. READ THE REVIEW.
  • Emily Floyd: The Dawn for Kids at Ian Potter Centre: NGV Australia (Fri 21 Nov 2014 – Sun 1 Mar 2015) – In ‘The Dawn for Kids’, Emily Floyd invites visitors to experience two interactive spaces that encourage creativity using letters and words. READ THE REVIEW. 
  • Disney Fairies Trail at Royal Botanic Gardens Melbourne (Sun 30 Nov 2014 – Sat 28 Feb 2015) – During summer you can experience the Gardens like never before. Download the app and start looking for Disney Fairies hidden in the Gardens!
  • ArtPlay Backyard at ArtPlay (Wed 14 Jan 2015 – Sun 22 Feb 2015) – Come and play in the ArtPlay Backyard.

NORTH / NORTH-EAST 

SOUTH / SOUTH-EAST / BAYSIDE

  • My Little Pony at Hoyts Jnr Frankston (Sat 31 Jan – Sun 1 Feb) – Twilight is busy adjusting to her new wings and her new role as a princess! Just then before the Summer Sun Celebration, Princess Celestia and Luna go missing.
  • Summer Sessions at Ripponlea (Sun 1 Feb) – relax with music, old-fashioned games and a picnic in the picturesque surrounds of Rippon Lea Estate.

EAST

WEST

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HOT: The Venny Kensington Adventure Playground, 85 Kensington Rd, Kensington

January 28, 2015

The Venny is a free communal backyard and play space located at JJ Holland Park in Kensington. The project was built for the local high density, low socio-economic neighbourhood, with a communal backyard and child support services. It is one of five staffed adventure playgrounds in Melbourne and the only one in the city’s west (the […]

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Weekly diary: I am, You are, We are Australian

January 26, 2015

Australia Day is not just a national day to commemorate of a historical event but for me a personal celebration of what it is to be Australian. This photo was taken on the day my parents and I became Australian citizens. Having Australian citizens who were not Anglo was such big deal in Launceston that […]

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