HOT: Crocs Playcentre Derrimut, Unit 3 & 4, 21 Elgar Road, Derrimut

Crocs Derrimut Playcentre

Crocs Playcentre Derrimut is the newest addition to the Crocs franchise chain of indoor play centres all over Australia.

Being relatively new the equipment is clean and the spacious location is not overrun on the rainy weekday we visit.

The play centre is one large room with good sightlines to most areas. There’s only one gated entry/exit and the space is clean and well-lit.  

If your kids are comfortable with most of the equipment then you can confidently sit down and enjoy a break while they climb, jump, slide and ride (free wifi available!).

Crocs Derrimut Playcentre

Baby 2.0 begs to go on one of the motorised electric race cars ($2 a ride) then most enjoys riding the tricycles.

Crocs Derrimut Playcentre

In the Jungle themed play area there are your usual inflatables, tadalafil slides and climbing structures as well as a gated area for kids under 4 years (which requires active adult supervision).

Crocs Derrimut Playcentre

The Muffin Break on site is an addition that’s a step above your standard play centre fare.

Crocs Derrimut Playcentre

You’re not allowed to BYO food (baby food and formula excepted) and there are high chairs.  The toilets are remarkably clean and stylish, with a kid-sized toilet as well, and the change facilities are in a different room so both men AND women can do the changing!

Crocs play centre in Derrimut is a cut above your usual play centre and recommended if you’re local to the area. Access is easy and there’s free parking on site.


HOT Tips:

  • Pram-friendly;
  • Free unlimited off-street parking parking;
  • Entry fee includes unlimited play. No need to book;
  • Children and adults must wear socks. No socks no play;
  • You cannot BYO food and drinks, baby food and formula excepted;
  • High chairs, kids menu;
  • Change facilities;
  • Free wifi;
  • Party rooms and packages available;
  • Reserve a table for a minimum of 4 mums or dads Monday to Friday and receive $8 all day play (except school and public holidays or after 3pm on special event nights). Bookings essential;
  • FREE ENTRY between 9.30 – 10.30am on the first Thursday of the month when you share their post on Facebook;
  • Kids Disco Nights on 3rd Friday of every month from 5pm (except Dec        and Jan);
  • If you’re a regular visitor buy 10 entry pass for $80, valid at any Crocs Playcentre for any day (including weekends and public holidays).

Crocs Playcentre Derrimut, Unit 3 & 4, 21 Elgar Road, Derrimut (03) 9363 0872

7 days 9.30am to 5pm

Fridays until 8pm

School DaysGeneral Entry
Children 1-2 years$9.50$10.50
Children 3-5 years$11.50$12.50
Children 6+$12.50$13.50

FREE ENTRY FOR ADULTS AND CHILDREN UNDER 1 YEAR OLD

Twins entry – $8 per child Monday to Friday. $2 off the general entry price for twins on weekends, school and public holidays.

10 entry pass = $80. Valid at any Croc’s Playcentre on any day including weekends and public holidays.

HOT: Superhero Training Academy, School holidays at Gasworks Arts Park, Port Melbourne Town Hall, 333 Bay St, Port Melbourne

Superhero Training Academy by Gasworks Arts Park, Port Melbourne Town Hall, 333 Bay St, Port Melbourne

Gasworks Arts Park holds kids workshopevery school holidays and this summer we were invited to try out Superhero Training Academy!

As the theatre is undergoing renovations this class is held in Port Melbourne Town Hall. From the moment we enter it is an extremely fun and energetic atmosphere.

Superhero Training Academy by Gasworks Arts Park, Port Melbourne Town Hall, 333 Bay St, Port Melbourne

As well as the show the children learn how to dance and rap and even get the chance to do some arts and crafts and create their own superhero masks, shields and cuffs that they are able to take home. Parents and carers were welcomed to join in the fun for free.

Superhero Training Academy by Gasworks Arts Park, Port Melbourne Town Hall, 333 Bay St, Port Melbourne

During 90 minutes the kids participate in a three stage workshop and come together for the finale where they get to use their new superpowers to help save the day!

Superhero Training Academy by Gasworks Arts Park, Port Melbourne Town Hall, 333 Bay St, Port Melbourne

If you are looking for some great entertainment these school holidays Gasworks is holding other holiday activities on Friday 27 January at Gasworks Arts Park 21 Graham Street, Albert Park. Prices start at $25 per child and the programs include make Australian animals out of clay, fencing, magic, wand making, Van Gogh sun flower painting and Bollywood hula-hoop dancing.

If you’re visiting Gasworks also drop into the kid-friendly cafe Priscilla Jones and check out Elizabeth Taylor: Queen of Celebrity Activism exhibition – it’s free and family friendly, open till Sunday 5 February.

Gasworks will be running Autumn school holiday activities from 14 April. For more information or to book head to www.gasworks.org.au ( 03) 8606 4202

Thanks to Tanya Husnu for her guest post! Tanya is a mother of five children and you can follow her adventures @melbaustralia


HOT Tips:

  • There is ample metered parking on Bay Street however there is limited free 2 hour parking on Heath Street.
  • Just a short walk from number 109 tram stop
  • Once you arrive you will need to attend the cashier desk to go to the performance as it is up on level one.
  • There is lift access for wheelchairs and prams;
  • There are many great cafes and eateries just a stroll down Bay Street;
  • If you’re visiting Gasworks also drop into the kid-friendly cafe Priscilla Jones and check out Elizabeth Taylor: Queen of Celebrity Activism exhibition until 5 Feb.

Superhero Training Academy, School holidays at Gasworks Arts Park, Port Melbourne Town Hall, 333 Bay St, Port Melbourne

 

HOT: KOOZA by Cirque du Soleil, Flemington Racecourse, Flemington

Kooza by Cirque du Soleil

Cirque du Soleil is back in Melbourne with KOOZA!

This is old school Cirque du Soleil that focuses on the  two traditional circus crafts- acrobatics and clowning.

The show begins with the Trickster arriving in a jack in the box (Kooza comes from the Sanskrit ‘Koza’ meaning box) delivered to the child like character of The Innocent. The circus unfolds with the Trickster bringing with him all sorts of characters to perform your favourite acts- high wire, contortions, hula hoops, bikes and many more.

The performance is perfectly intertwined with live music that has drawn inspiration from many styles and origins.

The King and his clowns were a crowd favourite, especially with the children in the audience. They brought humour and lightness to the narrative that, at times, did get a bit dark. Sharing the stage with the sweet Innocent, the clowns and the suave Trickster there are the skeletons, the demon clowns in their ring of death and a mysterious masked creature that pops up through man holes during the show. My seven year old adored the show and she was not the youngest there but there are some acts that may scare some young children.

Kooza by Cirque du Soleil

We really enjoyed KOOZA! Lately we have seen a lot of circus acts but this show managed to deliver new acts and a totally different spin on others. The costumes and set design are second to none and give the stage a feeling of a royal court in a distant, exotic land.

Kooza by Cirque du Soleil

All the fun is being held in the blue and yellow big top that is set up at Flemington Racecourse. Melbourne season runs until March 26 and the Perth season opens on April 13. www.cirquedusoleil.com/kooza for  information and tickets.

Thanks to Kelly Devoil, blogger and mum of two, for the guest post. You can follow Kelly’s adventures at Melbourne Minor, a parent and carer’s guide to arts, culture and quirk in Melbourne.


HOT Tips:

  • Parking available on site or there is a tram stop outside the racecourse.
  • Food, drinks and a very well stocked gift shop inside the tent.
  • the performance goes for 2+ hours (with a 25 minute interval in between) so might not be suitable for younger children;
  • the performance is in the round and set up with grandstand seats, all seats have great views. Kids can also request a cushion to lift themselves higher on their seat.

KOOZA by Cirque du Soleil, Flemington Racecourse, Melbourne

20 Jan – 36 March 2017

Tickets from $60

The HOT List: Top 10 tips for visiting Hong Kong with Kids

hong kong

I have a curious relationship with Hong Kong. It is my birthplace but I don’t have many memories of it (left when I was 6 years old). I look and speak Cantonese but I don’t dress or act like a Hong Konger.

As such, my advice about travelling to Hong Kong with kids combines a foreigner’s perspective on this intense city with a sprinkling of local knowledge about where to find respite.

Here are my Top 10 tips for travelling to Hong Kong with young children.

 

1. Airport transfer

Unless you’re hauling a lot of luggage the Airport Express takes passengers to Central in just 24 minutes. Quick and comfortable, trains depart at about 10-12 minute intervals.  It costs HKD$100 to Hong Kong station (there are 3 other stops) but if you book through Klook you get a 30% discount to HKD$70.

If you take the Airport Express to the airport you can check-in your luggage at Hong Kong and Kowloon Stations between 90 minutes and one day ahead of the scheduled flight departure time. You can leave any hand luggage you don’t want to carry around at the Left Luggage counter at Hong Kong and Kowloon stations.

At the Airport Express ticket counter also buy an Octopus prepaid tap and go cards for public transport and sundries. We start our cards with HKD$200, note kids from 3-11 years have to pay ½ price. For our trip the grandparents gifted the kids a SmileyWorld Octopus ornament so they can wear and tap their own transport fares.

You can get a refund for the return of the card at the end of the trip.

If you’re taking a taxi just be aware that traffic jams can mean the fare is hugely expensive. If you have some local knowledge (or a helpful Airbnb host) it may be preferable to book a private car pickup.

 

2. Find accommodation out of the central area

On our first visit to Hong Kong as a family we decide to stay somewhere central. For 3 adults and 2 children we rent this Airbnb apartment in Wan Chai, right in the heart of the party and entertainment district.

The positive of the location is that public transport, convenience stores and eateries are all in close proximity. We also get to explore a bit of local Hong Kong culture through Wan Chai Market, the cooked food centre at Lockhart Road and the morning fitness regimes at Southorn Playground.

hong kong wan chai market

The negative of the location is the size and noise. Our apartment is relatively spacious by Hong Kong standards but tiny by Australian standards. I feel like we were all on top of each other and we are always forced to leave the apartment before the kids start climbing the walls. Also there is a bit of traffic noise from the front room even though the road doesn’t have buses or trams running along it.

Next time I visit Hong Kong with kids I’m going to stay out of the main commercial areas – Wan Chai, Admiralty, Central, Causeway Bay, Tsim Sha Tsiu. Maybe Repulse Bay or another stop somewhere along the new South Island MTR line with direct connection into Admiralty. Even the ‘suburban’ areas are convenient for shops and eateries as Hong Kong is such a densely populated city and as long as you’re close to the MTR it’s easy to get to the commercial areas quickly.

If you book Airbnb use my discount link to get $50 off your first booking (I also receive credit) www.airbnb.com.au/c/jwatts3?s=8

3. Use public transport

 

hong kong

Public transport in Hong Kong is generally fast, efficient and cheap. With your Octopus card you can travel on any mode of public transport easily.

I think public transport in Hong Kong is a tourist attraction in itself. There are 6 must do public transport experiences:

star ferry hong kong

  1. Ride the Star Ferry across Victoria Harbour, one of the most relaxing ways to see and experience Hong Kong. Apparently the view from Tsim Sha Tsiu (Kowloon) to Central or Wan Chai (Hong Kong Island) is better but either way is really find with kids.
  2. Take a double decker bus to the Mid-Levels or the Peak. My kids LOVE sitting in the front seat of the double-decker buses for the view and I find it much easier to orientate myself on a bus than in a subway. The buses all have English stop by stop announcements too so they’re easy to navigate. A bus that winds up the Mid-Levels towards the peak takes a particularly winding route that can be fun (if you don’t suffer from motion sickness). For more scenic bus routes in Hong Kong click here.
  3. Ride the Peak Tram. Hong Kong’s oldest public transport vehicle takes a gravity-defying trip up to Victoria Peak, Hong Kong’s highest point. Pre-purchase discounted tickets via Klook or avoid the queues and combine the your ticket with other attractions via Klook.
  4. Ride a double decker tram. It’s a bit squashy, a bit hot, but trundling on a double-decker tram is a quintessential Hong Kong experience.
  5. Take the MTR. Hong Kong’s subway is fast and clean and will transport you to longer distances quickly. Just avoid the intense squash of peak hour. For short distances (eg one or two stops) I prefer the bus.
  6. Ride the Central to Mid-Levels Escalators. The world’s longest escalator takes commuters from Mid-Levels in the mornings and from Central to Mid-Levels from 10am. There’s lots of shops and eateries enroute too.

Just note that the green mini buses can be more difficult to navigate than the double decker buses. The bus stops are not always apparent, you’re allowed to flag them down but only in designated areas and they don’t always have English signage.

 

  1. Avoid peak hour

Peak hour is normally weekdays 7:30-9am and if you can avoid travelling by MTR then do so. The exchange stops of Central and Admiralty are particularly crowded because it’s the financial and business district.

Note about prams and the subway. Subway stations will normally have at least one elevator to get you from ground level to platform – but you may not be at the right entrance for such a facility. In such cases you will have to bounce or carry a pram down stairs so it’s a two-person job. It is sometimes easier taking the pram on the escalator, though technically you’re not supposed to.

 

  1. Download Uber

Uber is an international taxi, private car and rideshare app which I use regularly in Australia. It’s easy, quick and convenient.

I use Uber in Hong Kong to get to the airport with kids and luggage instead of taking the Airport Express. It’s cheaper than a standard taxi plus I can track a car’s progress and the cars and drivers are vetted and rated and I get billed to my credit card so I don’t have to fuss about with the right money.

Note that in Hong Kong child seats are not required by law but of course recommended (more info here). As such, you can use UberX vehicles with kids even thought they are private citizen’s cars.

Sign up to Uber with my referral code ‘cnoub’ to get $10 off your first ride.

 

  1.  Eat well

hong kong dim sum

Hong Kong is an international city so if you choose to you can eaten (good) Western food the whole time.

However, it’s worth trying some quintessential Hong Kong dining experiences:

  • Yum cha – there’s high end and low end options. We choose to go to Maxim’s Palace at City Hall as it’s spacious, with great views of the Hong Kong Wheel and the food is pretty good.

Hong kong maxim's palace city hall

  • Won ton noodles – It’s worth seeking out won ton noodles even though the restaurants can often a bit squashy and with no English menus. Just point! The most famous chain is Mak’s Noodle.
  • Egg puffs – a street food that’s best eaten fresh, these Hong Kong style waffles are the throwback to my childhood.

hong kong ice puff tin hau

  • Hong Kong desserts – sweet soup and glutinous rice balls are two of my favourite Chinese desserts. We try the famous steamed egg and milk puddings at cranky Yee Shun Dairy Company and the sesame and almond soup at Ching Ching Dessert.

hong kong dessert

  • Cha chaan tang – what do Hong Kongers eat for breakfast? Traditionally congee (rice porridge) but often a mish-mash of Western and Chinese food at a Cha Chaan Tang (Tea restaurant). Lady AB and I become regulars at the one in Wan Chai Market where she gets a fried egg, sausage and white toast and I get instant noodles with processed ham with tea for just HKD $34.
  • Dai pai dong – really more of a late night venue, with street food galore at rowdy, messy ‘cooked food centres’. Best to go with a recommendation and a blind eye to the dirty surroundings.

hong kong dai pai dong

For food research I like to use OpenRice, the Zomato/Urbanspoon equivalent in Hong Kong with user reviews. Many of the reviews are in Chinese but a few in English so you’ll get the gist. I find English-dominant sites like Tripadvisor/CNN etc provide more of an ‘expat’ view of the food scene in Hong Kong.

 

  1. Prepare for nightlife

hong kong disneyland

Hong Kong is a late night city – everything opens late and stays open late.

This poses problems with our early-rising crew, not aided by the 3 hour time difference which means 4am wakeups.

In the mornings we take advantage of no crowds to visit produce markets (normally open 6am) and park playgrounds to kill time before most things open at 10am.

hong kong wan chai market

  1. Hire a pocket wifi

If you are using a smartphone save on international roaming and data fees by renting a pocket wifi for your time in Hong Kong. I find it invaluable as we can search Google Maps on the go, check emails for ticket information and communicate with each other via iMessage or Whats App whenever we get separated or lost!

I book through Klook, the cheapest company I could find for 7 day hire with 1GB data usage for HKD$60. You pick up the pocket wifi at the Airport Arrivals terminal and drop off at the same place. Easy.

 

  1. Book ahead for attractions

hong kong disneyland

If you’re visiting the big theme parks Hong Kong Disneyland and Ocean Park Hong Kong then book ahead to get discount tickets sent to your email/mobile and avoid waiting in queues.

 

  1. Find some quiet

hong kong park

Hong Kong is an intense, noisy and busy city and when you’re travelling with young kids you need to find some respite.

It’s highly likely that your accommodation will be too small to hang out comfortably for long periods so seek out playgrounds inside parks, Hong Kong Central Library (including the Toy Library) and the Star Ferry.

kowloon park hong kong


Note: This post contains Klook affiliate links. If you purchase via affiliate links there is no extra cost to you and I receive a small commission. I used Klook in Hong Kong with no problems and saved time and money! Check out all the discount activities, tours and attractions they offer here.

 

HOT: Summer Pirate Playground, Harbour Town Melbourne, 440 Docklands Drive, Docklands

Pirate Playground Harbour Town

Ahoy me mateys! Pirates have run aground at Harbour Town Melbourne and you can join in free pirate playground activities and experiences at the shopping centre’s Summer Pirate Playground from 16 January – 26 February.

Pirate Playground Harbour Town

At the Neverland Adventure Experience you can clash swords with Peter Pan in the foam pit…

Pirate Playground Harbour Town

….take a walk through Treasure Island and meet characters from Peter Pan….

Pirate Playground Harbour Town

….and participate in pirate craft inside the giant Neverland tall-ship with different activities every week.

Pirate Playground Harbour Town

We were also invited by Harbour Town to experience a special pirate-themed Enterprize Tall Ship, sailing from Melbourne City Marina just across the road from Harbour Town. The Enterprize is a replica of John Pascoe Fawkner’s Schooner Enterprize – the ship that sailed from Van Diemen’s Land (Tasmania) in 1835 with the first permanent white settlers that started Melbourne.

Pirate Playground Harbour Town

Pirate Playground Harbour Town

A sail on the Enterprize Tall Ship is a fun way to admire Melbourne and its surrounds and there are regular sails leaving from Docklands,Williamstown, Mornington and Geelong, sometimes with pirates aboard! The public summer sailing schedule is here.

Pirate Playground Harbour Town

For more pirate fun in Melbourne check out this playground and this playground.


HOT Tips:

  • in busy times you may need to wait to enter the playground if it’s near capacity. I suggest going right at 11am or close to 2pm;
  • the craft village is inside the tall ship;
  • playground is not shaded so wear a hat and sunscreen;
  • craft activities are different every week so check the schedule;
  • Harbour Town has pram access, baby change facilities and feeding areas;
  • accessible via free tram zone, Southern Cross station or 2 hour street parking and $10 all day parking; and
  • The Enterprize has public sails from Docklands, Williamstown, Mornington and Geelong and fees apply.

Summer Pirate Playground, Plaza near Degani Cafe,Harbour Town Melbourne, 440 Docklands Drive Docklands

Neverland Adventure Experience and Pirate Craft Village open Mon 16 Jan – Sun 29 Jan 11-2pm and every weekend in February 11-2pm

Australia Day treasure hunt 26 Jan 11-6pm

HOT: Australia Day at Government House, Government House Dr, Melbourne

Australia Day Government House

Every year on Australia Day, the official residence of Victoria’s Governor-General, Government House, opens its doors and the gardens to the public.

Australia Day Government House

It’s one of the best things to do with kids on Australia Day and all the activities are free!

This is the one opportunity for the community to visit the historic house and its extensive gardens and so the lineup can be long ahead of the gates opening at 9:30am. My tips is get there around 9am with snacks and sunscreen – there’s normally someone handing out balloons along the queue and street entertainment.

Australia Day Government House

Generally the forecourt area host displays from community services such as the Royal Flying Doctor Service and Country Fire Authority.

Australia Day Government House

Kids can have the opportunity to visit the inside of a RFD plane and to ride a CFA fire engine.

Australia Day Government House

Last year Collingwood Children’s Farm had a penned area to pet some of the animals.

Australia Day Government House

Inside the building Inside the Brick set up an amazing Lego display of Government House as well as free Lego play. That was the only part of Government House we saw as the kids were not so interested in touring the building. You can access it from the side entrance without having to go through all of the house.

Australia Day Government House

Australia Day Government House

Various sporting clubs also have try-out activities, include croquet and tennis and AFL plus free face painting.

Australia Day Government House

Australia Day Government House

For refreshments there are various food trucks and cheap and delicious scones from the Country Women’s Association. Otherwise BYO picnic and enjoy the live music throughout the day on the West Lawn.

Australia Day Government House

Just outside Government House other Australia Day festivities include the multicultural Australia Day Parade down Swanston St/St Kilda Road and the RACV Australia Day Festival Kings Domain.

Australia Day Government House

Australia Day Government House

Click here for all events happening in Melbourne for Australia Day.


HOT Tips:

  • Government House is 1.5 kilometres and a 20-minute walk from Flinders Street Station. There is no vehicle access to Government House;
  • Parking is limited and parts of St Kilda Road are closed off for the Australia Day parade. If you arrive early you may find a paid parking spot further down St Kilda Road or surrounding streets;
  • Bring hat, sunscreen, water as there’s not a lot of shade;
  • Arrive at 9am to beat the queues;
  • Free entry
  • Access is pram friendly.

Australia Day at Government House Government House Dr, Melbourne

9.30 am to 3.30 pm.

Self-guided tour of the State Apartments 10.00 am to 3.00 pm             

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