HOT: Dinosaur Time Machine, Wonderland Spiegeltent, 699 La Trobe St, Docklands

dinosaur time machine

Dinosaur Time Machine is an award-winning children’s theatre show that gives dinosaur lovers a fun and educational experience combining science with circus, puppetry and narrative.

It arrives as part of Melbourne Fringe in the relaxed environment of the Wonderland Spiegeltent. Kids are invited to sit on the floor while the adults sit around the semi-circle on fold-out chairs or in the booths.

dinosaur time machine

If you arrive into the tent before the performance kids can hold and touch dinosaur fossils 65 million years old (although it’s actually dino poo!).

The show’s premise is that the audience joins two time travelling scientists as they go back into the period of the dinosaurs.

At ‘Facty-fact’ intervals the audience learns interesting facts and science about dinosaurs and the world that they lived in. During the 55 minute show  there’s opportunities for audience interaction and it’s the kids are all very engaged – I watch as they creep closer and closer towards the stage area as the show proceeds.

Don’t expect the animatronic flashiness of Walking With Dinosaurs or Jurassic World – this is a simple show with simple props. The time machine is a cardboard box with rods and plastic seats.

The T-Rex head that appears at the end is the ‘wow’ moment and its realistic roaring have the kids wide-eyed.

Dinosaur Time Machine is not only educational but also funny and entertaining. It’s suitable for kids aged 3+ years though I think Baby 2.0 at 4 years is the perfect age as he’s able to suspend disbelief with the low-fi presentation and appreciates the wacky humour without cynicism.

Click here for more Melbourne Fringe Festival events for kids

HOT Tips:

  • Show runs for 55 minutes no interval;
  • Suitable for kids 3-9 years though I think better for the younger end of the age bracket;
  • Trams: 86 – Bundoora RMIT/Waterfront City Docklands; and
  • Nearest Train Station: Southern Cross.

Dinosaur Time Machine, Wonderland Spiegeltent, 699 La Trobe St, Docklands

Sat 23 Sep – Sun 1 Oct 1pm

Adults $24 Children/Concession $18


HOT: Horrible Harriet Live on Stage, Melbourne

Horrible Harriet is a character from a series of children’s books by Australian Children’s Laureate and author/illustrator Leigh Hobbs. The humorous tale of a wicked, wild and wonderful girl has now been adapted for theatre by CDP Kids Productions and is touring nationally, landing in Melbourne these September school holidays. 

I bought tickets to the performance at Whitehorse Centre Nunawading ahead of its main Melbourne season at Arts Centre Melbourne’s Playhouse from Wednesday 27 September – Saturday 30 September.

Horrible Harriet lives in the roof of her school and keeps teachers chained in the cellar to do her homework. When Athol Egghead lands in his hot air balloon, Harriet finally makes a friend. Just watch out for Mr Chicken who arrives to disrupt the whole show!

My kid-testers aged 4-6 years all give it a thumbs up and Lady AB said that she likes the disruptions the most (lots of panto-style shouting of ‘he’s behind you!’). As an adult, I find Harriet’s constant horribleness and dialogue rather stodgy  – but a child wouldn’t notice the repetition. It takes some time to set up the storyline before the arrival of Athol Egghead and then the energy of the play lifts off much more. 

horrible harriet

Nat Jobe plays the female character as a miniature Mrs Truchbull tyrant but my heart really warms to Kate Smith playing Athol Egghead as a more fully-fledged character than in the books.  Having said that, the visual highlight is definitely when Harriet makes her first entrance on a golden throne with puffs of smoke!

The show is recommended for kids age 3-8 years but I think the younger end of the age bracket will enjoy it more. 

Horrible Harriet is a production by CDP Kids Productions, the team behind the hit stage shows The 13, 26, and 52-Storey Treehouses, The Gruffalo and Mr Stink.

Note that Leigh Hobbs will be signing books at 12pm on Wednesday 27 September and 1pm on Friday 29 September. Bring your favourite book or buy one on the day.

HOT Tips:

  • Show runs 55 minutes no interval; and
  • production contains strobe lighting and haze;
  • suitable for kids age 3-8 years but I think the younger end of that age bracket will enjoy it more.

Horrible Harriet, Arts Centre Melbourne, 180 St Kilda Rd, Melbourne

Wednesday 27 September: 11am & 2pm
Thursday 28 & Friday 29 September: 10am, 12pm & 3pm
Saturday 30 September: 10am & 12pm

Auslan interpreted performance: Friday 29 September, 3pm

Relaxed performance: Thursday 28 September, 12pm

Tickets from $26.

The HOT List: Top 10 Tips for Visiting the Royal Melbourne Show 2017

Melbourne Show 2016

Every year Lady AB and I have a tradition of visiting the Royal Melbourne Show (23 September – 3 October 2017) and I look forward to our annual outing, with its mix of entertainment, agriculture, attractions and food. This year I pluck up the courage to also take Baby 2.0 – so here are 10 tips for tackling the show especially if you have kids under 5.

melbourne show

1. Arrive at 9:30am

The gates open at 9:30am and the CWA Cafe and Animal Farmyard are open at that time, with other pavilions opening at 10am and some rides already operating. If you arrive at 9:30am you can walk around and get your bearings, without the crowds and the noise. Note that the CWA Cafe will have a long (inefficient) line at 9:30am but the scones are worth it!

melbourne show

Of course, weekends are busier than weekdays so if you have the opportunity go in off-peak times.

2. Enter via Gate 6 if you can

Gate 6 on Langs Road is the best entrance for families with under 5s. It’s a small entrance and not near the train station so not many people know about it (fewer queues) and it leads right into the children’s area. It’s about as far away from the Showbag Pavilion as you can get if you’re trying to avoid temptation.

3. Take public transport or ride a bike

There’s a train station for Flemington Showgrounds that opens during special events which drops you off right at one of the entrances. Trams and buses also operate in the area.

melbourne show 2015

Better still, ride a bike! We cycle right up to the Gate 6, park our bike and stroll in. Riding home is a great way to decompress after the sensory stimulation of the show.

If you decide to drive show parking is $20 and it can be a bit of a hike to get from the car to the entrance. There are also limited spaces so if you don’t time your arrival carefully (see tip 1) – you either won’t be allowed in the carpark at all or you could be circling in nearby residential streets – and still have to hike to the entrance. Obviously arriving for 9:30am will help.

4. Agree a budget before you go

Budgets can really blow out at the show if you don’t agree with your kids beforehand how many rides/showbags/treats etc they’re allowed. It doesn’t stop the nagging but at least you can consistently refuse if it’s not been agreed. After a while I just say ‘I’m not answering that question’ every time a child asks to buy/ride something that isn’t pre-agreed.

melbourne show

We always go on the Giant Sky Wheel (despite an exorbitant $9 ticket) as it provides excellent views of the Showgrounds and Melbourne city and is a great way to absorb the atmosphere, colour and lights. We try to ride it before the official opening time of 10am.


5. Start at the Jayco Animal Nursery

melbourne show 2015

Lines can be long for the Animal Nursery, where you get to feed and pet farm animals, so head there first. You have to pay $2 for feed and there are hay bales to climb up and sit on to watch the action if your children (like Lady AB) get freaked out by being too close to animals.

melbourne show 2015

Afterwards, there are more farm animals to view in the outdoor Animal Farmyard. Sit under the shade of the beautiful blossom trees and watch the animals go about their business.

melbourne show

Other free animal-related activities are inside the Farmhouse where you can plant a seedling and watch dairy cow milking and sheep shearing demonstrations. We miss all of it because the kids are obsessed with milling wheat for flour!

melbourne show

For more energetic kids there’s a whole Kids Carnival. Having said that, see tip 4.

6. Eat at Woolworths Fresh Food Pavilion and/or the Winning Tastes Pavilion

The Woolworths Fresh Food Pavilion is the midrange food offering, though you’ll still find some artisan, gourmet producers inside.

melbourne show

The famous $3 cheese toasties are still around but the milk is no longer – it’s now $5 for a toastie and a bottle of water. The pavilion is also next to the equestrian arena so you can grab and go and watch the equine action.

melbourne show 2015

The Winning Tastes Pavilion is the gourmet food offering and in the middle of the kids’ area. This year I find the offerings very expensive, though the fish and chips ($16) by Saint Peter and fish tacos (2 for $16) from Mamasita are admittedly delicious.

royal melbourne show

7. Dress in bright colours and take a photo

We visit the show on a cool and blustery day, so I have to buy an emergency onesie for Baby 2.0 (who is optimistically sporting a Tshirt and shorts). 
melbourne show
Turns out the dino outfit is a godsend for finding him amongst the crowds! If you don’t have kids that you can restrain in a pram then dress them in bright colours or headwear so you can spot them when they inevitably walk towards some new temptation.
Readers have also suggested the following advice for lost kids: ‘The most important thing if going to the show with kids (in
  • ‘I have my son, 3, a card with his name and my phone number on it and put it in his pocket. I told him that if he gets lost to go up to a grown up and give them the card. We got separated for 2 mins at the animal nursery and when I found him he had the card in his hand about to approach an adult for help’
  • ‘The most important thing if going to the show with kids (in addition to the wristbands) is to photograph them, in the clothes they are wearing on the day before you go. If you lose them, report to the “pie in the sky”, and show the photos. The photos are sent to the control room and on to security at all the gates. This is the advice from the safety manager of the Showgrounds.’

8. Bring a water bottle

Walking around the showgrounds is thirsty work and you don’t want to keep buying bottled water. Bring a bottle to refill and maybe some healthy snacks too.

9. Avoid taking babies or a pram

The showgrounds are big, busy and really over-stimulating after a while, especially in the sun. Each year we last about 2.5-3 hours.  Pushing a pram through crowds is no fun and at many places eg the Animal Nursery, the shows at the Farmhouse, you have to park your pram.

melbourne show

10. Showbag management

Either buy your showbags at the end or hire a locker in the public stand (a good midway point between all the attractions) so you’re not hauling stuff around everywhere.

What are your tips for enjoying the Royal Melbourne Show?


HOT: The Footy District, Harbour Town Melbourne, 440 Docklands Drive, Docklands

The Footy District

Footy Finals Fever has hit Melbourne and Harbour Town and the Melbourne Star Observation Wheel are hosting The Footy District school holiday program in Docklands.

The Footy District

Every day between 12-4pm  kids can test their footy skills in the AFL super game zone.

The Footy District

All activities are free and include interactive inflatable goals, training drills, a handball target wall….

….interactive obstacle course, a game activity cube plus a colouring-in station for the little ones.

The Footy District

On certain dates you can also meet and greet with AFL players, have a photo taken with the replica AFL Premiership Cup (I’m assuming not this Lego version!) and win daily AFL spot prizes.

The Footy District

The second week of The Footy District includes the addition of the Nintendo Switch & PlayStation 4 Gaming Zone.

Make it a day out by taking advantage of the shops and eateries of Harbour Town, the Melbourne Star Observation Wheel kids fly free* special during the school holidays and the AFL team colour night time lightshow.

Click here for more school holiday events this Spring.

Click here for more free school holiday activities. 


The Footy District, Harbour Town Melbourne, 440 Docklands Drive, Docklands

Saturday 23 September – Sunday 8 October

Daily 12-4pm

Under the Melbourne Star – AFL goals, training inflatable & handball target wall.

Next to Le Cirque Café, Harbour Town Melbourne  – obstacle course, game activity cube, colouring-in station.



WHEN: Saturday 23 September to Sunday 8 October 2017

TIME: 12pm to 4pm daily

  • Under the Melbourne Star – AFL goals, training inflatable & handball target wall.
  • In Harbour Town Melbourne next to Le Cirque Cafe – obstacle course, game activity cube, coulouring-in station.
  • Melbourne Star Kids Fly Free – *with every full price adult ticket, limited to one child ticket per one full price ticket purchased.
  • Daily AFL spot prizes.



Monday 2 October to Sunday 8 October

12pm to 4pm daily

Harbour Town Melbourne adjacent KFC



Alex Rance, Richmond Football Club – Wednesday 4th October 1pm to 2pm

Alex Fasolo, Collingwood Football Club – Friday 6th October 1pm to 2pm

Tom Mitchel, Hawthorn Football Club – Saturday 7th October 1pm – 2pm



Your opportunity to have a photo taken with the replica AFL Premiership Cup, plus enter for

the chance to win a major AFL prize in our Instagram competition.

Wednesday 4 October

12pm to 4pm

Harbour Town Melbourne Kids Play Area next to Le Cirque Cafe




HOT: Beci Orpin Spring Studio, Eastland, 171-175 Maroondah Hwy, Ringwood

    Sponsored by Eastland

For every day of the September school holidays at Eastland, kids will be entertained by Beci Orpin (Melbourne author and crafter) and her guest teachers for FREE arts and craft workshops as part of the Beci Orpin Spring Studio.

The workshops are inspired by all things spring, outdoors and nature to tie in with Spring’s warmer weather and sunshine.

Workshops include creating bug houses, jumping jacks, animal mobiles, giant paper flowers, terrariums, flower crowns, pet rocks, kites, DIY tote bags and more. The workshops feed kids imaginations and keep their little hands busy while having fun. Parents are able to sit back and relax while the kids participate in the 45 minutes workshops.

Classes are suitable for ages 5 and up (under 5 can participate with help from an adult), all materials are provided and no bookings are required – just drop in!

In addition to the Beci Orpin Spring Studio other Eastland retailers are running interactive workshops throughout the September school holidays for children to learn and play including Grill’d Burger Masterclasses, Young Designer Workshops, Build-A-Bear Workshops, Robinsons Bookshop Story Telling, Chocolate Workshops by Sisko Chocolate and more.

In addition, Eastland offer fantastic services for parents all year round including numerous indoor play areas, discounted valet parking from Monday – Wednesday, premium parents rooms throughout the centre, parcel valet services and hi-speed wifi.

Beci Orpin Spring Studio, Eastland Shopping Centre, Opposite Commonwealth Bank, Level 1, 171-175 Maroondah Hwy, Ringwood

Saturday 23 September – Sunday 8 October 2017
Monday – Wednesday 10am – 4pm
Thursday and Friday 10am – 7pm
Saturday and Sunday 10am – 4pm
Workshops run every hour on the hour for 45 minutes


HOT: Genoa Place , 31 Genoa St, Moorabbin

genoa place

Genoa Place a cafe tucked away in the back streets of industrial Moorabbin – blink and you’ll miss it.

As you enter the front room it’s set out a bit like a fish and chip shop or sandwich bar – not too exciting.

However, push to door through the kitchen to the back area and you’ll discover a sunny courtyard for families.

genoa place

There are three small tables and an Astro-turfed corner with a blackboard and toys (as well as the small toilet).

The breakfast menu is egg-heavy and the lunch menu looks to be more interesting. However as we’re there before 12pm I order the Israeli eggs ($16) and porridge with berries and honey ($10).

genoa place

The porridge is generously-sized, pretty but rather stolid – I like my porridge softer and runnier. The Israeli eggs come on a substantial platter with avocado, feta, hummus, tuna, tomato and cucumber chopped salad, natural yoghurt plus two fried eggs. It’s a huge feed for $16.

genoa place

In my opinion the food at Genoa Place is decent without being very exciting and the prices are very reasonable. The main drawcard is the play area and when it’s rainy they have a basket of toys and books for indoor play too.

genoa place

If you have a Small Ideas membership Genoa Place offers a 15% discount.

For more cafes in Melbourne’s south-west suitable for families try Franks.

Click here for more cafes with outdoor play. 

HOT Tips:

  • Pram access but you will need help getting up the few stairs to the back area. The doorway is also narrow so not suitable for double prams;
  • High chairs;
  • Outdoor play area with toys and blackboard;
  • Toys and books indoors;
  • Kids menu;
  • Standard menu suitable for kids;
  • Free street parking.

Genoa Place , 31 Genoa St, Moorabbin 03 9913 8480

Mon-Fri 7-3pm

Sat 7:30-3pm

Sun closed

Genoa Place Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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