HOT: Wilfred and Smith, 23 Albion Street, Essendon

wilfred and smith

Wilfred and Smith is a popular local cafe in the middle of residential Essendon. It’s petite and the interior navigation may be tricky for prams, but it does have high chairs and a large disabled bathroom with change table to cater for families.

wilfred and smith

When it’s warm the cosy front courtyard is the best place to hang out with kids as there’s a little more room to roam.

The food is a cut above cafe standards, particularly given the size of the small kitchen.

We try the French toast topped with caramelised banana, bacon, berries and ice cream. It’s a decadent and prettily arranged dish. 

wilfred and smith

I have the black forest porridge – chocolate crumble sprinkled over a creamy oat porridge with raspberry/cherry compote. It’s soothing and filling, perfect for a wintery day.

wilfred and smith

The pastries and sweets are made on site and the doughnuts ($4.50) are big soft pillows of fried dough adorned with various toppings such as Nutella and espresso chocolate.

wilfred and smith

Perfect for a post-park treat with your Allpress Coffee! Wilfred and Smith is just a long walk/short drive from Montgomery Park and Essendon Traffic School.

wilfred and smith

HOT Tips:

  • Pram access mostly outside – you can get a pram inside but it’s small and there is a step;
  • High chairs;
  • Standard menu suitable for kids;
  • Disabled toilet with change table;
  • Long walk/short drive to Montgomery Park and Essendon Traffic School.

Wilfred and Smith, 23 Albion Street, Essendon (03) 9326 1553

Mon – Fri: 6:30am – 3pm

Sat – Sun: 8am – 3pm

Wilfred Smith Food & Drink Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

HOT: Bug Lab: Little Bugs, Super Powers, Melbourne Museum, 11 Nicholson St, Carlton

Something’s a-buzz at Melbourne Museum…it’s Bug Lab!

Discover the world beneath your feet with Bug Lab: Little Bugs, Super Powers, an exhibition which brings the secret world bugs to life.

Learn about and admire these tiny creatures with interactive hands-on activities, incredibly life-like large-scale sculptures and immersive soundscapes.

The exhibition presents six large-scale bugs: Orchid Mantis, Bombardier Beetle, Jewel Wasp, Dragonfly, Japanese Honeybees and Katipo. They are special bugs because they have evolved to have ‘superpower’ abilities, including camouflage, mind control, super speed, swarm intelligence and deadly venom.

The exhibition also brings the facts about how bugs are the leading inspiration for cutting-edge technologies such as fly-like collision-tolerant drones, nanotechnology based on butterfly wings and 3D printed objects created from silk.

There are also four immersive chambers where you can learn more about these bugs and the experience of seeing bugs close up and magnified to immense proportions is quite spectacular.

Bug Lab: Little Bugs, Super Powers is a creative collaboration between Weta Workshop, the five time Academy Award-winning creative studio behind The Lord of the Rings trilogy, Avatar and District 9, and the Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa in New Zealand. As such, you’ll notice how some of the text has been translated into Maori and there’s references to Maori culture.

The exhibition is set out in one large room, with plenty of space for prams (and little people) to roam.

Note that it is dimly lit, some of the bugs are very freaky when magnified to super-size and there’s a lot of ambient ‘squelchy’ noises…all of which may add up to scary sensory overload for a young child.

Older children who can read will have plenty of opportunities to learn from the numerous information plaques and to deep-dive into the activity tables, while younger kids will just enjoy the displays and hand-on activities. There’s also a bug slide at the entrance!

Visitors to Bug Lab: Little Bugs, Super Powers can also enjoy the 45 min documentary made on the life of a bug at Melbourne Museum’s IMAX theatre ‘Bugs: Might Micro Monsters 3D at $10 per person.

Watch more about Bug Lab: Little Bugs, Super Powers here.

HOT Tips:

  • allow 30-60 minutes for under 5s, up to 2 hours for older kids who can exerpience every activity table and read every plaque;
  • museum visitors can also see the permanent exhibition Bugs Alive!
  • Join Museum Members for discount entry;
  • Members will get the exhibition to themselves at an exclusive preview on Sat 1 July 8-10am;
  • visit the Pauline Gandel Children’s Gallery before/after for more family-friendly play;
  • for an extra $10, can head to IMAX Melbourne to view Bugs: Might Micro Monsters 3D;
  • Specially commissioned by Melbourne Museum, a group of large-scale bug puppets that represent each of the bugs featured in Bug Lab will be let loose in the museum on Sundays in August and September between 1 –3pm.

Bug Lab: Little Bugs, Super Powers, Melbourne Museum, 11 Nicholson St, Carlton 13 11 02

Friday 23 June till 15 Oct 2017
Daily 10am–5pm

From $14 per child to $70 per family. Family is recognised as 2 adults and 2 children or 1 adult and 3 children, where the children are aged between 3–16 year





What’s On – Friday 23 June to Thursday 29 June 2017

whats on melbourne

June is almost done – have you started planning your school holiday fun yet?  Check out what’s happening in Melbourne CBD and Melbourne suburbs for the winter hols.

This week we’re going to check out the new Bug Lab exhibition at Melbourne Museum, Model Citizens by Circus Oz and Winter Solstice: Festival of Welcome at Federation Square. Plus I’ll be popping up at Mastermind Highpoint with Book Swap Bike to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the publication of Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone. Have a great week!


  • Winter Solstice Courtyard Immigration Museum (Fri 23 Jun) – live music from polyrhythmic future-soul artist Nai Palm, lead performer of Hiatus Kaiyote. Share winter warmers with friends, including mulled wine, whisky, and spiced chocolate.
  • Winter Solstice Light Show (Fri 23 Jun – Sun 25 Jun) – For five evenings in winter, Melbourne’s newest icon – 888 Collins Street – will come to life in a spectacular festive light display in celebration of Winter Solstice.
  • Circus Oz Birrarung Marr (Fri 23 Jun – Sun 16 Jul) – high-voltage acrobatics and explosive aerial antics.
  • Queen Street Plaza (Sat 24 Jun – Sun 25 Jun) – A place to sit, eat, have a drink and enjoy free family entertainment right in the heart of the city.
  • Winter Solstice: Festival of Welcome (Sat 24 Jun) – performances, unique stalls, enjoy beautiful light installations and sample a range of traditional international foods.
  • City Library Book Sale (Sat 24 Jun) – Grab yourself a bargain on some fabulous pre-loved books.
  • NGV Unplugged (Sun 25 Jun) – Each Sunday afternoon for six weeks, Jae Laffer (The Panics) will host a session in the exhibition space with a live performance by local musicians.
  • Melbourne Design Market (Sun 25 Jun) – Melbourne original design market happens twice a year.
  • Sunday Family Funday Munich Brauhaus (Sun 25 Jun) – mobile farm experience, face painter, kids’ entertainer and yummy food at Munich Brauhaus.
  • Slide, Skate and Chill (Fri 23 Jun – Thu 31 Aug) – undercover riverside ice rink and toboggan slide. Full review.
  • Aladdin the Musical (Fri 23 Jun – Sun 22 Oct) – Disney film turned into lavish musical. Read the review.
  • Play Pod State Library of Victoria (Fri 23 Jun – 5 Sep) – 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 for Winter 2017 it’s inspired by Penguin Problems. Full review.
  • Once Upon a Time: The Sleeping Beauty (Tue 27 Jun) – special one-hour version of a storybook ballet is performed live on stage and narrated by one of the central characters.
  • Winter Night Market Queen Victoria Market (Wed 28 Jun – Wed 30 Aug) -crackling fires, mulled wine and a revolving line-up of roving entertainers and live music, over 30 street vendors and designer and artisan stalls. READ THE REVIEW.


queen victoria market


  • NICA Circus Showcase (Fri 23 Jun – Sat 24 Jun) – The phenomenal imagination, athleticism and humour of Australia’s next generation of circus talents will be on show when NICA presents Circosis: Left Brain, Right Brain. Last weekend.
  • Micador Warehouse Bundle Sale (Fri 23 Jun – Sat 24 Jun) – up to 50% off stationery and craft materials.
  • Storytelling Festival Glen Eira (Fri 23 Jun – Sun 9 Jul) – diverse events that celebrates stories and those who tell them.
  • MAP 57 St Kilda (Fri 23 Jun – Sun 30 Jul) – St Kilda’s favourite “triangle” will be converted into a glittering entertainment venue this winter, playing host to a pop up ice rink, comedy, theatre, music, food stalls, carnival rides and more.
  • Hank Marvin Market (Sat 24 Jun) – weekly Saturday market with awesome playground at Alma Park.
  • Matariki Dandenong Market (Sun 25 Jun) – Performances, Ta moko face painting. NZ Street Food.
  • Mornington Railway (Sun 25 Jun) – Climb aboard the Mornington Railway steam train for a fun-filled outing.
  • Fairy Petunia South Melbourne Market (Wed 28 Jun) – free storytelling, drawing, face painting, games, bubbles and more.




HOT: Aquativity, South Bank, Brisbane

Aquativity is the water play park at Brisbane’s South Bank and it’s a must-do for any visit to Brisbane.

Aquativity South Bank

Luckily Brisbane experiences balmy weather for most of the year which means you can enjoy Aquativity in almost any season (though admittedly my kids are much hardier than me about cold water!).

Aquativity South Bank

Integrated into the large pool system are jets galore, from small ones bubbling in arches, tall ones spurting high and a dump bucket.

Aquativity South Bank

There are also play elements referencing the Brisbane River and its suburbs, the native mullet and dugong species and the interesting pattern of the river catchments.

Aquativity South Bank

The pool is about waist-height for 5yo Lady AB so will be too deep for babies. 

Aquativity South Bank

There are very shallow areas suitable for young children and the map area with its constantly flowing water and small spouts is perfect for crawlers.

Aquativity South Bank

The site and surrounding areas also provide barbeques, cafe, picnic areas, public toilets and drinking fountains.

Aquativity South Bank

If you’re in South Bank don’t miss the Riverside Green playground, one of Australia’s Top 40 playgrounds.

HOT Tips:        

  • get there early and set up home base in one of the pavilions than sit between Aquativity and the Streets Beach so you can supervise both areas easily;
  • Aquatic areas are suitable for babies, toddlers and older children;
  • Bring your own bathers – children under 10 have to be actively supervised and children under 5 needs to be within arms reach. You’ll need to get into the water!;
  • Lifeguards patrol all areas;
  • Pets are not allowed in the water;
  • BBQs and picnic areas;
  • Public toilets;
  • Drinking fountains;
  • South Bank is accessible by bus, train and car; and
  • Nearest car-parking is at South Bank underground carpark.

Aquativity, South Bank, Brisbane

Open on weekends and school holidays from 10am until 5pm


The HOT List: Top 12 Free Winter School Holiday Events in Melbourne

winter school holidays melbourne

School holidays can be an expensive affair, so here’s a list of my Top 12 free school holiday events for Winter.

  1. LEGO City Play Zone Harbour Town (Mon 3 Jul – Sun 16 Jul) – free giant life size LEGO City Play Zone with free building, ipad games, photo ops. Full review.
  2. Bricks 4 Kids at Fed Square (Mon 3 Jul – Mon 17 Jul) –  On selected days during River Rink, kids’ can challenge themselves in Bricks 4 Kidz LEGO building workshops.
  3. Inflatable Futures Eastland (Mon 3 Jul – Sun 16 Jul) – Explore the inside of a wormhole, learn about inflatable habitats or play on the surface of a distant planet. Through a series of interactive sculptures, kids aged between 2-12 years old will be encouraged to take a journey into the unknown.
  4. Make Do and Mend (Sat 1 Jul – Fri 14 Jul) – See how people used resources around them to make the best of scarcity during World War II in this free exhibition at the Shrine of Remembrance.   
  5. Fiona Hall: Uneasy Seasons NGV (Fri 30 Jun – Sun 8 Oct) – interactive and immersive exhibition for children at NGV International. Full review.
  6. The Inspire9 Dream City (Sat 1 Jul) –  join me and Small Scapes as we create a dream city out of cardboard and recycled materials as part of 9Fest. You can also drop in from Mon 3 Jul – Sat 8 Jul to continue building!
  7. Imaginary Architecture (Thu 6 Jul – Sun 9 Jul) – Artplay are taking over Kensington Town Hall to build a mega mini city.
  8. Captain Cook’s Compass Trail (Sat 1 Jul – Sun 16 Jul) – In this adventure at Cooks’ Cottage, kids will learn how a compass works and go on a lost items hunt.
  9. Storytelling Festival Glen Eira (Thu 22 Jun – Sun 9 Jul) – suite of diverse events that celebrates stories and those who tell them.
  10. Wheeler Kids (Tue 4 Jul – Thu 13 Jul) – literary kid-friendly events. Also check out the book readings, launches and bookish activities at The Little Bookroom.
  11. Melbourne Library Service (Mon 3 Jul – Fri 14 Jul) – classes, workshops performances and stories. In addit, on don’t forget your local library service will often hold free school holidays events (they’re too numerous to note here).
  12. The Forest of Light Highpoint (Mon 10 Jul – Fri 14 Jul) – Explore the Forest Of Light, an interactive installation brought to you by Victoria University’s Skunk Control and take part in free science and technology themed workshops.

Also check out the following lists for free inspiration:

Click here for school holiday events in Melbourne’s CBD.

Click here for school holiday events in Melbourne’s suburbs.

HOT: Footscray Finds, Footscray Library car park, 56 Paisley St, Footscray

footscray finds

Footscray Finds is a monthly market and car boot sale located in the Footscray Library Car Park. It’s held every third Sunday from 8am and finishes by 1pm, before the library opens at 2pm. 

footscray finds

I’m not expecting anyone to be around at 8am but it’s already full of families browsing the preloved clothing, toys and fresh produce.

Footscray Finds

There are numerous car boot stalls plus local food vendors, food trucks and stalls from local businesses. Stallholders can apply for either car boot or a 3 x 3m marquee space (BYO marquee and all equipment), for $50 per space.

Footscray Finds

If your kids have left you bleary-eyed then your first stop should be the coffee van – before the crowds arrive!

We buy pastries and bread…

footscray finds

…a Western Bulldogs hand-knitted tea cosy…

Footscray Finds

…and I want the traffic lights – a perfect prop for The Inspire9 Dream City!

Footscray Finds

Footscray Finds has a wonderful local atmosphere – it showcases local small businesses and it’s a gathering place for the inner west community.

Footscray Finds

I buy goods from my neighbours, the grannies who are part of the Footscray Library knitting club and the local florist.

I’m sure Footscray Finds will become more popular as word spreads. Put the next dates in your diary and set your alarm!

Footscray Finds, Footscray Library car park, 56 Paisley St, Footscray

3rd Sunday of each month 8-1pm – 16 July, 20 August, 17 September, 15 October, 19 November, 17 December 2017

80 car boot spots at $50 each

Free entry to shoppers

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