HOT: Valley Reserve, 80 Waimarie Drive, Mt Waverley

Valley Reserve Mt Waverley

Valley Reserve is a 15 hectare bushland serve in Mount Waverley and at its centre is a unique, award-winning adventure playspace. In 2016 the playspace won best new major playspace in Victoria and it’s nominated as one of Australia’s best playgrounds.

The vision is to create a SPARC – a Socially Inclusive, Playful, Active, Relevant and Connected – play space. The playground takes its natural bush setting as its inspiration and is built with mostly organic materials.

Valley Reserve Mt Waverley

It’s split up into four different areas, presided over by a different native animal.

Valley Reserve Mt Waverley

A King Parrot metal climbing frame welcomes toddlers to their play area, with a sandpit, carousel, swings, cubbies and climbing structures.


A wooden Yellow-tailed Black Cockatoo overlooks the main rope climbing course for teaching balance and climbing skills. A huge birds nest swing overlooks the course and it is hung quite high – watch out that you don’t hit your face when pushing (like I did)!


A stone carved owl is set amongst the two flying foxes and high platform/tree house. The upper area caters for more intrepid, adventurous children.

Valley Reserve Mt Waverley

In the quieter sandpit and dry creek course you’ll find a Eastern long-necked turtle set amongst the rock.

Valley Reserve Mt Waverley

The play space is a popular meeting spot for families and includes five shelters with tables and two unshaded barbecues.

Valley Reserve is a really unique play space, full of adventurous and natural elements to keep little and big kids happy. It’s worth a special trip as you’ll probably spend several hours there. Monash Council has also committed to funding an educational hub and nature play pods for schools and nature groups.


Click here for more of Australia’s Top 40 playgrounds.

Click here for another playground by the award-winning designers.

Click here for the best playgrounds for older kids.

HOT Tips:

  • Suitable for toddlers;
  • Suitable for older kids;
  • Some natural shade;
  • Water tap;
  • BBQ and picnic facilities
  • toilet block is outside the play space and has an accessible cubicle and baby change facility;
  • Walking paths throughout the reserve;
  • Free parking.

Valley Reserve, 80 Waimarie Drive, Mt Waverley


Santa’s Magical Kingdom – Giveaway!


Santa’s Magical Kingdom is returning to Melbourne from Saturday 19 November until Wednesday 23 December.

Santa's Magical Kingdom

The family-friendly event is a hot ticket on the Christmas calendar (previously years have sold out).  This year’s event will include a magical Christmas walk-through wonderland, Snow Castle and Activity Land and a Christmas craft area where families can decorate (and eat) gingerbread.

Santa's magical kingdom

Older kids will enjoy the Ferris Wheel, Santa’s Sleigh Ride and Australia’s largest super slide.

At the end of your designated session there is even a spectacular Christmas themed circus performance in the big top!

On certain days you can also celebrate Rudolph’s birthday. He will be joined by Mrs Claus, the Snow Queen, as well as Trolls:  Poppy and Branch to celebrate his birthday.  You will be able to meet and greet the Movie Stars – Poppy and Branch and every child will receive a special gift.

Santa’s Magical Kingdom tickets are on sale now 1300 307 740 and via Ticketmaster.

Santa’s Magical Kingdom, Caulfield Racecourse – Station Street, Caulfield East

18 November 2016 – 23 December 2016

Tickets from $35

Rudolph’s birthday

Mon 12 Dec: Session 1:  10am – 1pm

Tue 13 Dec: Session 1: 10am – 1pm

Wed 14 Dec: Session 1: 10am – 1pm

Thu 15 Dec: Session 1: 10am – 1pm, Session 2: 2pm – 5pm

Fri 16 Dec: Session 1:  10am – 1pm, Session 2:  2pm – 5pm


Thanks to Santa’s Magical Kingdom I have 12 x family pass (two adults and two kids) valued at $140 each, valid for the session on Friday 25 November 6-9pm.

To enter just follow the instructions. Competition closes Monday 14 November midnight and the two winners will be randomly selected. Winners have 48 hours to respond via email with their postal details.  Good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

The HOT List: Top 10 Family Travel Links on the Web – October 2016

October travel links 2016

This month’s roundup of the best family travel articles around web features sailing, castles and cool hotels.  

Hope you find it useful and interesting, I’d love to hear your feedback!

Family Friendly Melbourne

  1. The best Airbnb accommodation in Melbourne – time for a staycation?
  2. Gorgeous photos of Kryal Castle by Naomi Loves
  3. Emirates Stakes Day (Family Day) fashion inspo by Styling the Tribe
Photo by

Photo by

Family Travel – Regional Victoria

4. What do you get when you cross two small children, one mum, and a giant ship that goes between Melbourne and Devonport, Tasmania?

5. Geelong is the perfect destination for sunny days – but what if it’s raining?

6. A Maze ‘N’ Things Phillip Island has a new attraction – Magic Manor!

Family Travel – Interstate and Overseas

  1. Best things to do in Bali with kids – a useful one-stop infographic
  2. 14 Weird and Wonderful Family hotels from around the world –  how cool does Llamas Pyjamas sound?
  3.  A Mum’s Guide to Babymoons – everything you need to know if you’re planning a babymoon
  4. How The Modern Minimalist travels with children

For previous family travel roundups click here.

What travel articles have you read this month that have inspired you?

HOT: Servery and Spoon, 137-139 Waverley Road, Malvern East

Servery and Spoon, 137-139 Waverly Road, Malvern East

Servery and Spoon is a spacious family-friendly cafe in East Malvern and it serves its well-heeled clientele well with an all day menu as well as a deli and foodstore next door.

Servery and Spoon, 137-139 Waverly Road, Malvern East

For kids they have pram space, high chairs and a menu pasted into a Little Men book. Genius really, as it acts as a menu as well as entertainment while the food arrives. We read through several books/menus as we sip on the Go Green smoothie ($10.50).

Servery and Spoon, 137-139 Waverly Road, Malvern East

The burger is great but, as is always the case I find with pulled pork burgers, it is too sloppy and juicy for my liking. The sharp and tangy slaw is a nice contrast.

Servery and Spoon, 137-139 Waverly Road, Malvern East

The French toast is actually a jaffle with an apple and cinnamon mixture inside. It makes the bread soggy but the whole mouthful delicious, sort of like a McDonalds apple pie doused in berries.

Servery and Spoon, 137-139 Waverly Road, Malvern East

Baby 2.0 cannot resist the display case filled with brightly coloured old-school cakes so we share a lemon and blueberry cake.

Servery and Spoon, 137-139 Waverly Road, Malvern East

The providore sells fresh produce, take home meals and delectable treats in cute packets. It also branches out into homewares, giftware and even beauty products.
Servery and Spoon, 137-139 Waverly Road, Malvern East

Servery and Spoon, 137-139 Waverly Road, Malvern East

HOT Tips:

  • Pram access;
  • High chairs;
  • Children’s menu;
  • Standard menu suitable for kids; and
  • Limited free street parking.

Servery and Spoon, 137-139 Waverley Road, Malvern East 03 9571 7495

Cafe open Mon-Fri 7am-4pm, Sat & Sun 8am-4pm.

Food store open Mon-Fri 9am-6pm, Sat & Sun 8am-4pm

Servery & Spoon Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

What’s On – Friday 28 October to Thursday 3 November

whats on in melbourne

It’s Halloween and a long weekend for the Melbourne Cup – perfect timing for some spooktacular Halloween events in Melbourne! Also don’t miss the last of the Children’s Week events all over Melbourne (Saturday 22 October to Sunday 30 October) and have a great week!


  • MPavilion (Fri 28 Oct  – Sun 18 Dec) – An event hub, a meeting place and an invitation to experiment, each MPavilion brings creative collaborators together to present a free, four-month program of talks, workshops, performances and installations from October to February.
  • Play Pod State Library of Victoria (Fri 28 Oct – Wed 30 Nov) – Play Pod is the SLV’s program for children aged under 8 years with activities to read, create and play. There’s a new theme every season and for Spring 2016 it’s inspired by Mr Chicken Arriva a RomaREAD THE REVIEW.
  • The Art of Banksy (Fri 28 Oct – 8 Jan 2017) – More than 80 works will be on display, presenting the largest collection of Banksy artwork ever seen in Australia.
  • Viktor & Rolf For Kids NGV (Fri 28 Oct – Sun 26 Feb) – interactive children’s gallery exhibition developed by designers Viktor & Rolf.
  • Smurfs Exhibition Harbour Town (Fri 28 Oct – Sat 24 Dec) – Meet Smurfette, Lazy Smurf, Clumsy Smurf, Papa Smurf, Painter Smurf and many more.
  • Food Truck Rally Queen Victoria Market (Sat 29 Oct – Sun 30 Oct) – Every Saturday and Sunday, Queen Street is closed to traffic to make way for a fun, safe, family friendly activation space with buskers and food truck.
  • Sesame Street Presents Elmo’s Super Fun Hero Show (Sat 29 Oct – Fri 4 Nov) – Elmo and the gang are on a mission. Super Sparkleheart, a cheerful caped visitor, takes the friends on a joyful musical journey to discover the mysterious inner super power that will make every one of them an everyday super hero.
  • Under 8s Ice Fun (Sun 30 Oct) – unique toddler experience in shoes or skates.
  • Shocktoberfest Kids’ Sunay (Sun 30 Oct) – Munich Brauhaus will have a prize for the best kids’ Halloween outfit, face-painting and colouring-in activities, and trick or treat goodie bags on arrival.
  • ACMI Family Games Day (Sun 30 Oct) – Children and families explore a range of exciting new and emerging technologies through a range of gameplay opportunities, coding and design workshops, hands on activities and talks.
  • Village Popcorn Day Federation Square (Mon 31 Oct) –  Melbourne’s biggest popcorn dispensary at Federation Square . Join your favourite Halloween characters and Kernel Popcorn Mascots who will be handing out FREE Village Cinemas Halloween edition popcorn to all. All moviegoers will receive a FREE large popcorn with every ticket purchase at all Village Cinema locations.
  • Artplay Inside Out (Wed 2 Nov – Thu 10 Nov) – Use all sorts of inspiring materials to create an artwork or build a play space with your little one. READ THE REVIEW.



  • Bayside Food Truck Fiesta (Thu 27 Oct – Mon 31 Oct) – full bar, live music and a rotating roster of over 20 of Melbourne’s finest food trucks.
  • Habitots Halloween Party (Fri 28 Oct) – Dress up in costume and join us to celebrate Halloween in the best way we know how – with lots of mess, lots of creativity, lots of smiles and fabulous sensory activities for even your youngest bubs. 
  • A Night at Ripping Lea (Fri 28 Oct) – Pick out your best costume for a night of frights, fun and entertainment at our spooktacular Halloween party. Enjoy live music, eerie house tours, food trucks and a bar on site.
  • Treat Streets St Kilda Halloween Festival (Fri 28 Oct – Mon 31 Oct) – FREE street entertainment for the whole family across both streets including, an outdoor cinema screening The Addams Family at 8pm, Inflatable slide, roving performers, musicians, face painting, trick or treating and much more!
  • Spooktober St Kilda Town Hall (Fri 28 Oct – Mon 31 Oct) – two haunted houses, an inflatable Spooky Mansion Slide, games, face-painting and even Cackling Cupcakes & Cookie Decoration workshops. WIN TICKETS
  • Hank Marvin Market (Sat 29 Oct) – weekly Saturday market with awesome playground at Alma Park.
  • Halloween Storytime Readings St Kilda (Sat 29 Oct) – Dress up in your favourite costume and come by our St Kilda shop for a special, spooky story time. There will treats (or maybe tricks …) for everyone.
  • Halloween Extravaganza Fundraiser Hampton (Sat 29 Oct) – trick or treating, costume contests, face painting, games and plenty of food.
  • Oakleigh Greek Glendi (Sat 29 Oct – Sun 30 Oct) – Huge Greek festival with performances and food stalls.
  • Luna Dark at Luna Park (Sat 29 Oct – Mon 31 Oct) – blood and guts galore, roaming zombies and other ghoulish surprises that will be sure to give you a fright as well as a howling performance from The Strays!
  • Moorabin Toy Library Messy Play Day (Sun 30 Oct) – messy play, face painting, bouncy castle and more.
  • Diwali Dandenong Market (Sun 30 Oct) – celebrating the Festival of Lights with a fun day of free entertainment for the whole family
  • Como House & Garden Market (Sun 30 Oct) – Spend the day playing games of croquet on the lawn and exploring a variety of market stalls featuring handmade, local and vintage, jewellry, arts and crafts in the beautiful surrounds of Como House and Garden.
  • Halloween Costume Party Boneo Maze (Sun 30 Oct) – dress ups, face painting, twisted & terrifying balloon artists, witch hunts, games, tricks and treats
  • Wilson Botanic Park Berwick (Sun 30 Oct) – The first event, ‘Trick or Treat Spectacular’, 3pm to 6pm, provides a safe environment for kids to Dress Up and trick or treat around the park. The second event, ‘Halloween Scare Park’ 7pm – 10.30pm, is recommended for ages 14 years and over. Wilson Botanic Park will transform into a spooky playground, where ticketed patrons will enjoy live music, dancers, sound and light displays, food trucks and an unbelievable walking ghost train over 1km long.

Habitots Albert Park



The HOT List: Top 13 Places To Go with Kids in Canberra

Canberra kids

Every Australian and visitor should visit Canberra, our nation’s capital, at some stage, just to appreciate where the political power in the country resides.

Even if politics is not your thing it’s a family-friendly destination, as it’s easy to get around with car and there are plenty of places to play and visit for a long weekend or a week.  

Here are my Top 13 places to go in Canberra with kids.


  1. Airbnb Canberra

Airbnb Canberra

We book a family home in the central suburb of Reid through Airbnb. The cosy heritage cottage is in a prime location across the road from Glebe Park and Canberra Centre shopping centre.

Airbnb Canberra

It contains 4 bedrooms (one bedroom comes off the master bedroom), two bathrooms, kitchen and laundry, a large backyard with swing set and a small basket of toys.

Airbnb Canberra

Book your first trip via Airbnb and get $45 off (I can a referral bonus too).



  1. Parliament House

Admittedly not the most exciting destination with little kids but if you have older children then learning all about how parliament works is a must-do. Welcome tours are free while some more in-depth or specialist tours eg to the private gardens are paid.

Parliament House Canberra

Parliamentary sitting days: 9.00am (Monday and Tuesday) and 8.30am (Wednesday and Thursday) – 6.00pm.

The Public Galleries in the Chambers are open whenever the Houses are in session.

Non-sitting days: 9.00am – 5.00pm  


  1. Questacon

Questacon, King Edward Terrace, Parkes, Canberra

Australia’s best science museum is a place to inspire curious minds. Experience hands-on fun and learning with experiments, demonstrations and displays. FULL REVIEW


  1. Museum of Australian Democracy at Old Parliament House

Play Up, Museum of Australian Democracy at Old Parliament House, 18 King George Terrace, Parkes, Canberra

Heritage building with a fantastic indoor children’s play and learning area ‘Play Up’ which explores the UN’s Universal Rights of Children. FULL REVIEW

Reader recommendations:

  • National Museum of Australia In the museum’s KSpace Primary school aged children can build a robot using touch screens and then learn about Australia’s history.
  • Australian War MemorialDiscovery Zone where kids can dress up and become immersed in the lives of soldiers, submariners, helicopter pilots and more.
  • Cockington Green – see the world in miniature with a model village and model versions of iconic buildings.
  • Yarralumla Play Station –  36-hole mini golf course, Petite Park Petting Zoo and Miniature Railway.



  1. Pod Playground at National Arboretum

Pod Playground National Arboretum Canberra

The National Arboretum is home to a collection of rare and endangered trees but for families the main attraction is the unique Pod playground, one of Australia’s best playgrounds. FULL REVIEW.


  1. Boundless Canberra

Boundless Canberra

Canberra’s first fully accessible playground is fenced, large and centrally located near the banks of the lake at King’s Park. FULL REVIEW.



  1. The Hamlet


A food truck park is always a winner with my family because everyone gets to pick what they want to eat. The Hamlet is a permanent fixture in hipster Braddon and is filled with food vans, a gallery and other pop ups.


We try Peruvian street food from Mr Papa and love the crumbly pastry of the empanadas. The kids are kept amused by the pinball machines and the barbers tucked in the corner.

The Hamlet Braddon Canberra

The Hamlet, 16 Lonsdale street, Braddon +61 407 283 218

Wed-Sat 12pm- 9pm

Sun 12 -3pm


  1. Frugii

Frugii Braddon Canberra

What child can resist gelato and cakes? The quality hand made gelato and sorbet is stored in pozzetti tubs and their also famous for their filled choux pastries.

Frugii, 28 Lonsdale Street, Braddon +61 438 366 368

Tue-Sun 12pm-11pm


  1. The Cupping Room


Hip cafe serving mostly nearby ANU students and staff. If you have kids it’s better to hang out outside as the inside seating is rather tight and definitely difficult with a pram. The kid’s menu is small but there’s plenty on the standard menu to offer.

The Cupping Room Canberra

Oh and the milkshakes are huge! I ordered a standard red velvet milkshake split into two cups ($8) and look what came out for each child!

The Cupping Room 1/1-13 University Ave, Canberra +61 2 6257 6412

Mon-Fri 7AM–4PM

Sat-Sun and public holidays 8am-3pm


  1. Jamie’s Italian

Jamies Italian Canberra

The experience for children is great, for adults not so much. A colouring-in sheet doubles as a children’s menu and for $9.50 the kids get a generous bowl of spaghetti and meatballs (though the meatballs are on the hard side), a side salad and a secret prize for eating all your greens!

Jamies Italian Canberra

The downside is the service is patchy and the standard menu is expensive for the quality. Thus it’s only somewhere I would recommend if you/your kids love the Jamie Oliver brand or you’re looking for an easy family dining experience and don’t care too much about the quality of the food or service.  

Jamie’s ItalianCanberra Centre, 125 Bunda St, Canberra +61 2 6268 0400

Daily 12–9PM


  1. Local Press

Local Press Kingston Canberra

My favourite cafe experience in Canberra. Local Press  is a wholefoods cafe with a healthy and inventive menu – the green smoothie, waffles and black rice are all recommended.

Local Press Kingston Canberra

The setting is just gorgeous too, with vintage and nautical inspired decor and water views from the Kingston foreshore boardwalk. If you sit outside there are rugs too. Pram access, high chairs and a disabled toilet at the back.

Local Press Kingston Canberra

Local Press, 81 Giles St, Kingston +61 2 6162 1422

Tue-Fri 7:30AM–4PM

Sat-sun 8am-5pm


  1. Portia’s Place

This Cantonese restaurant is a Canberra institution and a bit of a pollie hangout at night. But go early when they open at 5pm and you’ll have the place to yourself. Try their signature Peking duck wraps and other popular dishes such as the scallops with ginger and shallots and stuffed eggplant.

The staff seem to enjoy having kid in their restaurant and Lady AB and Baby 2.0 loved the fortune cookies and even Freddo Frogs at the end!

Portia’s Place 11 Kennedy St, Kingston +61 2 6239 7970

Daily 11:30AM–2:30PM, 5–10PM


  1. Joe’s Bar

Joes Bar East Hotel Griffiths Canberra

A moody, cool hangout in the East Hotel Griffiths. It’s got a sophisticated wine bar sort of vibe so it’s not suitable if your kids still need high chairs and plastic cutlery. Otherwise go early when the adults are at work and take the kids to enjoy brilliant antipasto boards and hand made pasta.

Joe’s Bar 69 Canberra Ave, Griffith ACT +61 2 6178 0050

Daily 12 noon til late


Reader recommendations:

  • Old Bus Depot markets – every Sunday the market hosts food stalls and sellers of unique handcrafted wares.

Where are your favourite places to stay, visit, play and eat in Canberra?

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