HOT: Brooklyn Reserve, Cypress Avenue, Brooklyn

brooklyn reserve

Brooklyn, a small suburb wedged between Tottenham and Altona North, is reputed to have the worse air quality in Melbourne (if not Victoria) thanks to the industry surrounding its residential streets.

The silver lining is that the neighbourhood park in Brooklyn Reserve has recently received an upgrade to its playground thanks to a $200,000 air pollution fine under the EPA’s IES (Innovative Environmental Solutions) scheme.

brooklyn reserve

This means that the playground now features a rainbow-hued 6 metre high climbing frame, an unexpectedly fast slide…

brooklyn reserve

a scooter track perimeter and exercise equipment.

brooklyn reserve

The playground adjoins a large grassy area for ball games or picnics and basketball court.

brooklyn reserve

There’s equipment for little ones too, with a smaller climbing fort, instruments and spinning carousel, sandpit and water pump.

brooklyn reserve

brooklyn reserve

A highlight is the double swing that faces inwards, allowing adults and kids (or two kids in this case) to face each other and swing.

brooklyn reserve

I like the different sculptures and explanatory panels extending kids’ curiosity beyond what’s in front of them.

brooklyn reserve

Facilities have also been upgraded with new barbecue shelters, though the nearest toilets remain the ones inside Brooklyn Community Hall and the Brooklyn Tennis Club, so don’t count on them being open all the time.

Click here for playground for older kids. 


HOT Tips:


Brooklyn Reserve, Cypress Avenue, Brooklyn

HOT: Meat the Greek, 105A Victoria St, Seddon

meat the greek seddon

Greek food doesn’t get much a look in Melbourne’s west despite the area’s long Greek heritage.  So it’s with some excitement that we try Meat the Greek souvlaki bar in Seddon.

The space is light and bright, with a few Greek flourishes – like the Mati bottles holding the table numbers – without being over-the-top Zorba the Greek.

We perch ourselves on one of the tall tables with stools but there are lower seating options along the banquette wall. There’s plenty of room to swing a pram and a few high chairs. The toilets are a tight squeeze though, you won’t be able to get a pram inside.

meat the greek seddon

The menu is simple one-pager of gyros/souvlaki, kids options of smaller servings for only $6, sides and drinks (not licensed). There restaurant’s heroes are the two large spits slowly grilling chicken and pork. Apparently, the Greeks don’t eat lamb in souvlakis so you won’t find a lamb gyro here.

meat the greek seddon

We try the chicken gyros ($9), with chicken freshly shaved off one of the two large spits. The meat is marinated in simple herbs and seasoning and has a smoky crunch to the edges. The souvlaki is large and stuffed with tomato, onion, tzatziki and chips ($12).

If you’re vegetarian then the saganaki pita wrap ($12) is also a winner, with two fat slabs of paprika-spiked grilled saganaki within a pita bread filled with delicious roasted capsicum, tomato and tzatziki. That’s something coming from someone who doesn’t normally like grilled capsicum!

The pita bread used in all the souvlakis is delightfully soft and fluffy. Turns out it comes from the small family business Mr Pitta in Thomastown, who supplies all of George Calombaris’ restaurants and other Greek establishments in Melbourne (pssst you can also buy them from Gourmet Deli House at Highpoint).

meat the greek seddon

The chips are Greek style and come adorned with feta and oregano ($5.50). I like the presentation inside a mini-colander, I might even try that at home!

My only gripe is that I hope they get rid of the plastic cups and start using washable reusable cups. Seeing that sort of unnecessary disposable waste brings out the eco-warrior in me.

Meat the Greek is a welcome return to Greek cuisine in Melbourne’s inner west. The food is tasty, cheap and will please kids easily. We’ll be back!


HOT Tips:

  • pram access;
  • high chairs;
  • children’s menu;
  • standard menu suitable for children;
  • toilet at the back is small and not easily accessible by pram;
  • nearest playground 5 mins walk at Harris Reserve; and
  • free street parking 1 hour.

Meat the Greek, 105A Victoria St, Seddon 90779369

Tue-Sun 11:30-8:30pm

HOT: STREAT Cafe, 66 Cromwell Street, Collingwood

STREAT collingwood

Tucked away in the industrial backstreets of Collingwood is a green oasis – the dining hub of hospitality social enterprise STREAT.

STREAT collingwood

STREAT is a Melbourne-based organisation that offers disadvantaged youth aged 16-25 a supported pathway from the street to a sustainable livelihood. Since it started in 2010, STREAT has trained more than 520 disadvantaged youth in hospitality across five cafe sites in Melbourne.

STREAT collingwood

Their newest permanent site is a former manor from the 1860s and houses an expansive cafe, on site artisan bakery, coffee roastery, meeting spaces and function rooms.

STREAT collingwood

The best part is that it’s surrounded by a lush garden, a stark contrast to its industrial neighbours.  

STREAT collingwood

Other family-friendly facilities include high chairs and shelves of toys and books, though Baby 2.0 spends most of the time exploring the garden and trying out the hammocks and deck chairs

STREAT collingwood

STREAT collingwood

The food is absolutely stunning in terms of presentation and flavours. I highly recommend the Matcha parfait, scorched yuzu marshmallow, rice crunch ($18.50). I’ve never had a dish like it before in terms of the melding of flavours and textures and it’s like a (sort-of) healthy dessert on a breakfast plate.

STREAT collingwood

Also generously proportioned and healthy is are the white corn tortillas with broccoli molé, pickled carrots and roasted cashew crema ($16). The produce is super-fresh and while the dish is vegan it is full of fantastic flavour that a non-vegan will still enjoy.

STREAT collingwood

Baby 2.0 happily devours a giant flaky sausage roll ($12) and then for dessert we have a Genderbread Person. It’s not your typical gingerbread man and costs $12 because all profits allows a young person who identifies with being LGBTIQ to participate in the program. Each Genderbread Person comes inside a little booklet explaining the concept and Baby 2.0 and I have an interesting discussion about what makes up how a person feels about their gender.

STREAT collingwood

Hipster Collingwood is not an easy place to find a family-friendly place to dine and the spacious STREAT ticks all the boxes. Delicious food and coffee, wonderful surroundings, friendly staff – and a place where every dollar counts towards helping a young person in need.


HOT Tips:

  • Pram access;
  • High chairs;
  • toys;
  • Courtyard;
  • Standard menu suitable for kids;
  • Note parking is difficult to find in surrounding streets.

STREAT, 66 Cromwell Street, Collingwood (03) 9629 4222

Monday to Friday, 7am – 4pm

Weekends, 8am – 4pm

 

 

 

HOT: Gingerbread Village by EPICURE, Melbourne Town Hall, cnr Little Collins & Swanston Streets, Melbourne

 

gingerbread village

Visiting the Gingerbread Village is now an annual Christmas ritual for our family and one of our Christmas Activity Advent Calendar events.

gingerbread village

The popular display is open at Melbourne Town Hall from Friday 1 December to Sunday 24 December with extended opening hours of 9-8:15pm.

gingerbread village

Australia’s #1 Chocolatier, Deniz Karaca, and his team have put together more than 550kgs of gingerbread, 400kgs of royal icing, 165kg of marzipan, 880 mini Christmas trees and over 900 fun and mischievous characters (including some Disney princesses and superheroes and villains) to display our city’s famous landmarks.

gingerbread village

This year features St Kilda beach…

gingerbread village

Luna Park…

gingerbread village

Melbourne Cricket Ground…

gingerbread village

New structures include Flinders Street station…

gingerbread village

Young and Jacksons…

gingerbread village

..and Federation Square (Baby 2.0’s favourite).

gingerbread village

Try to visit at a quiet time (ie not a weekend or middle of the day) so you can really appreciate the detailed and intricate work.

gingerbread village

gingerbread village

gingerbread village

I ADORE the tiny books at this bookseller’s stand.

gingerbread village

Entry to the Gingerbread Village by EPICURE is by a gold coin donation and money raised goes to the Royal Children’s Hospital Foundation to help children facing serious illnesses.

Gingerbread village

After your visit there is gingerbread and other treats available for purchase – always a must!

Click here for more free Christmas events and activities in Melbourne’s CBD 


HOT Tips:


Gingerbread Village by EPICURE, Melbourne Town Hall, corner Little Collins & Swanston Streets, Melbourne

Friday 1 December to Sunday 24 December 9am – 8:15pm daily

Free, entry by gold coin donation.

HOT: Wrap / Party, QV Square, Level 2, QV Melbourne, corner Swanston and Lonsdale Streets, Melbourne

 Wrap Party QV

QV are saying sayonara to 2017 with a Wrap / Party from 6 – 22 December.

The 17 day program includes some really fun family-friendly (and most importantly FREE!) events that you can add to your Christmas Activity Advent Calendar or list of free Christmas events in the CBD.

Wrap Party QV

Baby 2.0 enjoys multiple rides of the free Christmas Carousel (which isn’t just for kids) and strikes a pose at the spectacular Christmas balloon installation.

Other fun events include:

  • Saturday 9 December and 16 December – complimentary Pooch-mas Photography
  • Friday 15 December – The After Bar serving up FREE fruity and flirty cocktails and mocktails from 5pm until late.
  •  Wednesday 20 December – DJ Chango Phat (Victorian Champion, Australian Turntable Championships) spinning tunes from 4pm until 8pm while Schnitz will pop up with a bar serving craft beers and wine, plus some free Schnitz chips.

Wrap / Party,  QV Square, Level 2, QV Melbourne, corner Swanston and Lonsdale Streets, Melbourne

Christmas Carousel
Wednesday 6 December – Friday 22 December 12pm – 2pm4pm – 7pm

Christmas Balloon Selfie Station
Wednesday 6 December – Friday 22 December 10am – 8pm

The After Bar pop-up
Friday 15 December 5pm – late

Pooch-mas Photography
Saturday 9 December & Saturday 16 December 11am – 4pm

HOT: Ground Up: Building Big Ideas, Together, Scienceworks, 2 Booker St, Spotswood

Ground Up Scienceworks

Scienceworks has a new permanent children’s area dedicated to 0-5 year olds (so long, Nitty Gritty Super City) and it is awesome!

Ground Up Scienceworks

Ground Up: Building Big Ideas, Together is a screen-free space where little future innovators can develop foundational science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM). It’s part of Scienceworks’ $6 million gallery redevelopment in 2017-2018.

Ground Up Scienceworks

Ground Up uses sensory play, construction play and imaginative play to engagement science, engineering and coding skills – the skills of future jobs.

Ground Up Scienceworks

There’s also a particular focus on engaging girls in STEM activities, because research shows girls as young as four already have a gender bias in thinking about future careers.

Ground Up Scienceworks

So you’ll find that the space emphasises collaboration, uses gender-neutral colours and has a female ambassador, Dot.

Ground Up Scienceworks

Instead of screens children use simple machines and real materials to engage with scientific-technological concepts. There’s lots of opportunities to encourage testing, tinkering and problem-solving – like when your Mum refuses to help you build your wall when it’s taller than you….and so you build a stable pedestal instead!

Ground Up Scienceworks

While Ground Up is divided into three broad age and activity zones for 0-5 year olds, both Baby 2.0 (who’s almost 5) and Lady AB (who’s almost 7) enjoyed the gallery, including:

Ground Up Scienceworks

…Flight Tubes where children can create contraptions to fly in huge wind tubes…

ground up scienceworks

…Car Wash: where children use gears to activate giant blue car wash brushes, learning that small movements can have a big effect in a large environment….

 

Ground Up Scienceworks

…Build: based on the much loved exhibit from Nitty-Gritty, children can work collaboratively to build walls with foam blocks using conveyor belts, pulley-systems and wheelbarrows. This is Baby 2.0’s favourite activity.

Not to mention the hundreds of light-switches you can flick on and off!

Ground Up Scienceworks

My only niggle about the gallery is that there’s no natural light in a particularly dark corner of the museum. Can’t be helped given the design of the building – but maybe head outside for snacks and lunch. There are spacious accessible toilets and change facilities within the area.

Ground Up: Building Big Ideas, Together is a permanent gallery at Scienceworks. Adult entry to the museum is $14; children and concession holders receive free entry. There is no extra charge for the new gallery.

 


HOT Tips:

  • Pram parking is available at the cloakroom free of charge, along with storage for large bags;
  • You can park your pram inside the area, most parents seem to put their pram along the walls or  under the climbing structure, out of the way.
  • There are spacious accessible toilets and change facilities within the area.
  • Give yourself and your kids plenty of time to explore the new gallery. Baby 2.0 was there for 1 hours. It is aimed particularly at kids aged from birth to five but children (and adults!) of all ages will enjoy the space;
  • There is a small cafe offering drinks and light snacks; there’s also seating inside and out for people to eat. The kids lunchboxes ($9.50) are a hit with my kids and include a sandwich, fruit drink, choice of piece of fruit and cookie. If you’re a Museums Victoria member you get 10% discount and you can swap the fruit drink for bottled water.

Ground Up: Building Big Ideas, Together , Scienceworks, 2 Booker St, Spotswood

Daily 10-4:30pm

Adult $14, children and concession free

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