HOT: Brother Hen, 154 Pascoe Vale Rd, Moonee Ponds

brother hen

Brother Hen is a gorgeous family-friendly cafe in Moonee Ponds which is also the home to a few chooks.

The front room is cosy and warm, with wood panelling and the rumble of the tram providing window entertainment.

brother hen

If you’re there with kids then you’ll probably want to head out to the back courtyard, which is covered and heated so still usable on a winter’s day. Out the back you’ll also find a small tub of toys, the chook house filling the fresh eggs bucket daily and a veggie patch that provides produce for the kitchen.

brother hen

The two owners are both chefs and so the menu is really interesting and unique, with breakfast all day and lunch from 11am.

brother hen

With fresh eggs available barely 50m away you really must try a dish with eggs in it. I have the crispy fried eggs with a crunchy savoury granola, goats cheese, pumpkin hummus and truffle oil ($18). It’s a warming and filling dish with creative elements that elevate simple fried eggs on toast into a high dining experience.

brother hen

We also order the very pretty ricotta hotcakes, wreathed in pistachio crumble, berries and pink pashmak. If you have a sweet tooth these perfectly fluffy pancakes are not to be missed.

The cakes are all made on site and the coffee comes from Allpress.

On Friday and Saturday nights Brother Hen is also open for dinner and is fully licensed. The set up makes it perfect for a relaxed family meal where the kids can eat and play while the adults chat and relax. There are separate menu options available from 4:00 – 9:30pm.

Brother Hen is listed in the Small Ideas coupon book for families too. For other locations in Small Ideas click here.

Click here for more cafes with outdoor play. 

HOT  Tips:

  • Pram access;
  • High chairs;
  • Standard menu suitable for kids;
  • Kids menu;
  • Toys and books;
  • Undercover and heated courtyard;
  • Limited street parking; and
  • Walking distance to Queens Park.

Brother Hen, 154 Pascoe Vale Rd, Moonee Ponds (03) 9370 5326

Mon-Sat 7am to 3pm

Friday, Sat 4:00 – 9:30pm

Sunday 8-3pm

Brother Hen Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

What’s On – Friday 1 September to Thursday 7 September 2017

whats on melbourne

This Sunday 3 September is Father’s Day as well as Harry Potter Day as part of Melbourne Writers Festival. We’ll be combining the two celebrations! 






  • Party Time Eastland (Mon 4 Sep – Wed 6 Sep) – Join in the fun with Poppies for Grace’s PARTY TIME. A morning of party craft and games. Free for 3 to 5 years.
  • Yarra Valley Railway (Sun 3 Sep) – take a trip on the historic Walker RM22 Railmotor from Healesville to Tunnel Hill. Full review.
  • What’s In The Box Market (Sat 2 Sep) – fine art, handmade jewellery, tasty preserves, creative homewares and so much more under one roof.

lighttime scienceworks


  • LightTime Scienceworks (Fri 1 Sep onwards) – a collective of 11 Melbourne based artists who have created hypnotic and mesmerising works. Full review.
  • 2 Worlds Festival Geelong (Sat 2 Sep) – celebration of 2 cultures, indigenous and western, with a focus on bringing people together.
  • Newport Community Hub 1st Birthday (Sat 2 Sep) –  face painting, giant games, storytime, live music, art and craft activities and cake cutting at 10.30am.
  • Bakers United Baked Goods Only Market – (Sat 2 Sep) – Come and discover the latest baking trends at this one-day market – from freshly made croissants, delectable doughnuts, moreish brownies, scrumptious cupcakes, yummy slices and so much more
  • Essendon Traffic School (Sat 2 Sep) – mini road set up for kids aged two to ten years, complete with road signs, railway bells and traffic lights. Full review. 
  • Seddon Makers Market ( Sat 2 Sep) – talented makers who will have all your spring needs ready for you to snap up – jewellery, accessories, art, homewares, skin care, kids wear & toys, food and drink.
  • Lights Mirror Action Scienceworks (Sat 2 Sep – Sun 3 Sep) – use mirrors to reflect a laser past obstacles and onto a target.
  • Little Red Train Werribee (Sat 2 Sep – Sun 3 Sep) – take a trackless train ride through picturesque Werribee Park. FULL REVIEW.
  • Fathers Day Werribee Zoo (Sun 3 Sep) – enjoy the Father’s Day continental breakfast or special two course lunch held in our Meerkat Bistro before heading out on a Safari.
  • Little Kids Day in at Scienceworks (Mon 4 Sep) – A fun day especially for kids aged under 6 years, their parents and carers. Bring your little kids to Science works and enjoy a day of fun activities.
  • Bulla Hill Railway (Sun 3 Sep) – Every 1st and 3rd Sunday the ride this the dinosaur trail on the miniature railway. FULL REVIEW
  • Altona Homestead Devonshire Tea (Sun 3 Sep) – historical homestead is open every 1st Sunday for Devonshire Tea.
  • Mastermind Highpoint (Mon 4 Sep) – free creative workshops for kids.


HOT: Frontier Park, Frontier Avenue, Rockbank


Frontier Park

Woodlea housing estate in Rockbank is continuing its development of amazing playgrounds with the addition of Frontier Park.

Frontier Park

The park is designed with the state of art infrastructure and has three big tree houses. These tree houses are connected by rope bridges with three long twisting tunnel slides swooshing down to the rainbow-coloured soft fall.

Frontier Park

There is also a covered sandpit area with a pump and surrounded by a water play area.

Frontier Park

a shallow channel which is linked by water sprays, chutes and a dam.

Frontier Park

Moreover, there are numerous swings…

Frontier Park

…an accessible carousel…

Frontier Park

and a ropes/obstacle course set amongst a patch of nature play.

Frontier Park

Baby 2.0 particularly loves riding and scooting on the small skate park and surrounding blue basketball court.

Frontier Park

Within the park there are  spots for picnics and BBQs with large undercover shelters as well as public toilets.

If aren’t not organised to BYO food a highlight of visiting Woodlea is a well-maintained cafe Go West which wouldn’t be out of place in the inner city.

Frontier Park is a fantastic  playground full of fun equipment and great amenities that make it a great day out.

Click here for Woodlea Adventure Playground.

Click here for more playgrounds suitable for older kids. 

Click here for more free water play in Melbourne. 

HOT Tips:

Frontier Park, Frontier Avenue, Rockbank







The HOT List: 10 Best Playgrounds in Melbourne for Older Kids

If you have older kids or kids who are adventurous and happy to tackle a challenge then here’s my pick of the 10 MORE great playgrounds in Melbourne for older kids, to add to my previous guest post of the 10 best playgrounds in Melbourne for older kids over at Planning With Kids.

  1. Bayview Park

Climb up the huge hill, clamber all over the wooden pirate ship then take a ride down the loooong slide.

Bayview ParkAlamanda Boulevard, Point Cook


  1. Alma Park East

Alma Park East playground, Alma Rd, St Kilda East

This sprawling playground has a tree-house, long flying fox and high rope climbing frame.

Alma Park Eastplayground, Alma Rd, St Kilda East


  1. Montrose Community Playground

montrose playground

An imaginative space with lots of opportunities to climb and swing, including two climbing rope climbing pyramids and a spinner swing.

Montrose Community Playground, Montrose Recreation Reserve, 950 Mt Dandenong Tourist Road, Montrose


4. Ballam Park

Ballam Park

Ballam Park has been revamped with a fantastic new skate park and basketball court, parkour equipment and a huge fort with slides galore.

Ballam Park, 260R Cranbourne Rd, Frankston


5. Booran Reserve

Booran Reserve

A $10 million playground with a huge climbing frame and tall slide, lots of water play and equipment for adventurous climbers.

Booran Reserve, Cnr Booran Rd and Glen Huntly Road, Glen Huntly


  1. Ruffey Lake Park

Ruffey Lake Park, 99 Victoria St, Doncaster

There are three playgrounds at Ruffey Lake but the highlight is the large, shaded wooden playground with numerous ramps, poles and a long slide up a hill.

Ruffey Lake Park, 99 Victoria St, Doncaster


  1. Bicentennial Park Chelsea

Bicentennial Park Chelsea

The centrepiece of this playground is two big mound slides, with lots of play equipment surrounding it including climbing frames, swings, balance bridges and a little village of huts.

Bicentennial Park Chelsea, Scotch Parade, Chelsea


  1. Bayswater Train Park

Bayswater Train Park

Look out for the full size red steam engine! Then check out the large high wooden structure with bridges, slides, ladders and climbing walls. On the side you’ll find new climbing equipment plus a new scooter/skate area.

Bayswater Train Park, Marie Wallace Bayswater Park, Mountain Highway, Bayswater


  1. St Kilda Adventure Playground

st kilda adventure playground

A supervised adventure playground with a big aeroplane cockpit, trampolines, flying fox, cubby house, pirate ship, metal half-pipe – all built out of recycled materials.

St Kilda Adventure Playground, Neptune St, St Kilda


10. Maritime Cove

maritime cove port melbourne

A beach-side playground with full sand flooring, water play sprays and lots of wooden structures and repurposed maritime equipment to climb.

Maritime Cove Community Park, Perc White Reserve, Cnr The Blvd and Todd Rd, Port Melbourne

Where is your favourite playground in Melbourne for older kids?

HOT: Funtopia, 98 Hampstead Rd, Maribyrnong

Funtopia Maribyrnong

Funtopia in Maribyrnong, close to Highpoint, is an amazing play centre for kids with two different ‘worlds’ to choose from – playground world and the climbing world. It’s the newest venture for the folks behind TunzaFun Xtreme (in Knox and other locations) and we were invited for a sneak peek before the official opening. 

Funtopia Maribyrnong

Both of the worlds have outstanding features with modern play centre equipment. Check out this huge 5m volcano climb with a speed slide!

The climbing world is an indoor rock climbing area with 40 climbing walls starting from beginner to advanced level. Children from 4+ years are able to enter the climbing world.

Funtopia Maribyrnong

Climbers are guided by the professional staff inside the climbing world although the harness system allows climbers to clip on safely themselves without supervision.

Funtopia Maribyrnong

Many of the same walls found at TunzaFun Xtreme are inside Funtopia.

Funtopia Maribyrnong

Playground is unique playing arena and one of the biggest indoor playground arenas in Australia, with over 650sqm of play space. It has been custom-designed to be long and skinny, so that parents have good sight lines to even the furthest back corner. It’s also big enough for adults to climb inside without hunching over double.

Funtopia Maribyrnong

The playground world has an Australiana theme and includes a vintage Melbourne tram and the Sydney Harbour Bridge…

Funtopia Maribyrnong

….the Great Barrier Reef ball pit and ball cannon zone…

Funtopia Maribyrnong

…and the Uluru rock climbing wall.

Funtopia Maribyrnong

The equipment includes different mazes, slides and tunnels specifically designed for the kids to improve their physical activity and to start learning the skills to enable them to use the climbing walls effectively.

Funtopia Maribyrnong

Funtopia Maribyrnong

Funtopia Maribyrnong

Funtopia Maribyrnong

A section of playground world is designated for toddlers under 2 years where they can enjoy climbing, sliding, rocking and playing on soft mats.

Funtopia Maribyrnong

Playground world is fully supervised – there is only one entry and exit and the toddler area is separated from the main structure. The staff supervising both the worlds are very professional and friendly.

Inside Funtopia you’ll also find a café called Mr Spriggins serving specialty coffee, delicious waffles, all-day breakfast and more. Mr Spriggins is open to customers who do not wish to climb or play at Funtopia

Depending on your interests your entry fee can include just climbing world, just playground world or both worlds. Whatever you decide you’re guaranteed to have fun!

HOT Tips:

  • Free car parking;
  • Two separate play worlds – entry fee is separate for each world;
  • Playground World suitable for kids 1+ years;
  • Climbing World suitable for kids 4+ years;
  • BYO socks or purchase socks for $2
  • on-site café called Mr Spriggins;
  • Mr Spriggins is open to customers who do not wish to climb or play at Funtopia.
  • Party packages available, including a disco room!
  • Special packages for school holiday groups and school excursions.
  • Book ahead to avoid disappointment. All bookings can be made on the website.

Funtopia, 98 Hampstead Rd, Maribyrnong 9317 0413

9am – 6pm Sunday – Thursday

9am – 9pm Friday & Saturday

Playground World – Monday – Friday $10 / Weekends, public holidays and school holidays – $12 all day

Climbing World – $18.50 per climber for 1 hour of climbing plus a 15 minute safety briefing

Climbing World extras –

  • Jump – $5
  • Slide – $5
  • Jump & Slide – $8

HOT: Toot Toot Toys, 637 Centre Rd, Bentleigh East

Toot Toot Toys is an awesome train-themed toy store with the benefit of a cafe and gated play area at the back.

If you have young kids who are train-mad then Toot Toot Toys is the perfect hangout on a wet or cold day. It’s hidden away in a quiet strip of shops, making it perfect for mothers groups and family catch ups while the kids are kept amused.

The play area is fun and welcoming, with lots of colourful murals and charming bunting. There are plenty of tables and chairs, plus a comfy couch, for the grown-ups to rest. It is also fenced so little tikes can’t escape!

Baby 2.0 is a Thomas the Tank Engine fan and I find that playing with trains and construction block eg Lego calms his very active body and mind.

The play space has four train tables, a Duplo play table, doll’s house, cubby tent and various other toys like a kitchen tea set.

We spend more than 90 minutes there and he’s reluctant to leave.

The basic cafe sells coffee, tea and ready made snacks as there’s no kitchen. Note that they only use takeaway cups so BYO your own reusable cup. No outside food is allowed in which means it normally clears out by lunch time – so that’s the best time to visit to have a space to yourself!

The toilets are of course child-friendly too, with smaller seats, change table and step-stools.

Toot Toot Toys  is a great place to hang out with toddlers and preschoolers, particularly those into trains.  They sell Australia’s largest collection of Thomas the Tank Engine & Friends products, with more than 800 items.

Plus you can can pick up your next toy or birthday gift from the enticing shelves of the toy shop – they don’t only sell trains! You can also buy their toys online.

Click here for more cafes with indoor play. 

HOT Tips:

  • The play area is open whenever the shop is open
  • Pram access;
  • High chairs;
  • Change facilities;
  • Toys and games; and
  • Standard menu suitable for kids.

Toot Toot Toys, 637 Centre Rd, Bentleigh East (03) 9563 9649

Mon-Fri 10-5pm

Sat-Sun 10-4pm

Closed public holidays                   


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