Browsing Category

Holidays & Destinations

Holidays & Destinations

Lawson Lodge Wellness Retreat

April 24, 2017

Lawson Lodge is situated in beautiful Macedon. It is a stunning property that has luxurious country style accommodation and amazing facilities. Nurse, Stephanie Jinks grew up on the property and has a deep love for the land. Stephanie is passionate about all things wellness and her dream of hosting wellness retreats at Lawson Lodge recently became a reality.

I was asked if I would like to attend the first retreat and the timing couldn’t of been better. I was feeling very flat and needed something, a good dose of wellness sounded like the right tonic. I had never been to a retreat before and I was blown away by the experience. As soon as you drive onto the property you instantly relax and leave all your worries behind at the gate. Stephanie was so friendly and inviting. I was made to feel so welcome.

The Retreat included morning yoga and amazing workshops. One day Psychologist Sandra spoke to us about stress management. We also had Sarah from Luxton clinic come and talk about gut health, which I found very useful given that I have an autoimmune disease. There was also lots of free time to relax, massages were included and were located in a gorgeous little hut by the dam called “The Happy Hut.

The food was a big highlight, we were so fortunate to eat so much amazing, healthy and delicious food, all prepared by the talented Shelley from Truffle Pig Catering and Events. She uses locally sourced food and organic where possible. I couldn’t believe how content and energised I felt eating smaller portions of the right foods.

Lawson lodge has its own theatre, where we watched Embrace, all about body image. I found this quite confronting watching as a mother and what world our sons and daughters are growing up in, when it comes to body image.

The retreat was incredible and I highly recommend it. I would love to return and bring my family and friends to experience. Once the retreat was over I managed to take what I had learned back home with me. I have continued to do regular yoga and changed my diet to include some of the amazing foods that Stephanie introduced me too. Especially focusing on gut health. Overall I am feeling better than ever. This is an incredible break through for me, seeing as I have had lots of health challenges with thyroid and addisons disease over the past 18 months.

Life can get so busy that we look for quick fix answers while we race around after our children. I will be forever grateful for the opportunity to attend the retreat and the chance to stop and reflect on my physical and mental health. Stephanie even challenged me to climb up Mt Macedon. Something I could never of imagined doing. The buzz at the top was incredible.

For more info on Lawson Lodge Retreats please email Stephanie_Jinks@hotmail.com

Please note. I was a guest of Lawson Lodge.

Holidays & Destinations My Stories

Dreaming of Sri Lanka

September 30, 2016

Many people are extremely surprised when I tell them that I’m half Sri Lankan. My mother was born there and immigrated to Australia when she was just six years old. Being fair skinned and blue eyed, she’s not what you expect for a Sri Lankan. That’s because she’s Sri Lankan Burgher, a group that date back to the 1500’s when the Dutch and Portuguese sailed to the tear drop that is Sri Lanka in the Indian Ocean) to trade spices. I grew-up in Melbourne’s Sri Lankan community, eating my grandmother’s curries and sniffing their friends’ cheeks when they visited. Yes, sniffing cheeks! Sri Lankans don’t air kiss we sniff cheeks, just like Italians kiss both cheeks. It’s a beautiful custom and my kids greet my Sri Lankan grandmother this way.

Sri Lanka was the first country that I ever visited outside of my birth country Australia. I distinctly recall being a seven year old boarding the Air Lanka (now Sri Lankan Airlines) flight, including the flight attendants’ warm smiles and the pattern on the traditional sari uniform. I think this was the moment my desire to be a flight attendant started.

To read more visit http://blog.expedia.com.au/follow-your-roots-dreaming-of-sri-lanka/

Holidays & Destinations

Family Snow Trip to Falls Creek

July 15, 2016

 

My husband Ben and I recently took our children on a snow trip to Falls Creek in the Victorian Alpine region.  It was a really memorable, magical experience that I would highly recommend. Here are my top tips for a successful family snow trip to Falls Creek:

  • Organise appropriate clothing– I invested in thermals for all of us and good quality ski socks. We borrowed all the ski gear from friends, including pants, jackets, beanies, gloves, goggles and snow boots. Layering in the correct insulated gear was the secret to keeping us warm and comfortable, which meant maximizing our time outdoors.
  • Be prepared for the car journey – We broke-up the long trip with a stop offs for lunch and a stretch. During the trip the kids entertainment involved playing the iPad that was pre-loaded with their favourite shows and apps, kids CDs in the car stereo, plus timeless car games like eye-spy and storytelling where you take it in turn to tell add a sentence. We also had them take in the beautiful changing surrounds by asking what they could see. Make sure you have their comfort items for sleeping. Finally, packing healthy snacks and drinks that were accessible and agreeable on their tummy’s considering the windy roads.
  • Book family friendly accommodation – We had the pleasure of staying at one of the most family friendly places we have stayed at anywhere – Trackers Lodge. Right from the outset Brian the Lodge Manager made us all welcome.
    As we arrived at dinnertime, the kids were taken off our hands and fed while being supervised by a lovely nanny at the Lodge (Abbey). This gave Ben and I the opportunity to have a pre-dinner drink at the bar at the other at the other end of the dining room and meet other guests around the open log fire. After the kids’ dinner they all moved onto the Kids Club room to watch a movie, do some craft and eat popcorn. With the kids sorted, Ben and I were treated to a lovely degustation dinner. It was nice to have some quiet time together after the 5-hour car ride with the kids. Over dinner we had a good chat to Brian, who was the perfect host, answering all our questions and making us feel right at home.
    With our hunger satisfied, we retired to our family bedroom, which consisted of bunk beds for the kids and a king-size bed for the parents. Our bathroom was newly renovated and the bath was impressive. Perfect to soak in after a day out in the snow. The best part was the view over the Village Bowl – stunning!
    Breakfast at the lodge was perfect, ranging from continental to full hot breakfast (and everything in between).
  • Enroll the kids in Ski school – Renault Ski Club was awesome and enabled Ben time to get out and enjoy the fantastic ski slopes. Our kids absolutely loved the Club as it was their first time skiing and they learnt so much in one day, due mainly to the fantastic instructors. There are half day and full day programs available. To find out more and book, visit the Renault Ski Club website.
  • Don’t try to do too much in your day – Being in a cold environment at altitude can be tiring for anyone. Stop for breaks and afternoon naps if need be. You want to make the most of your time, but you want it to be quality time, with happy kids, not tired grumpy ones. This is the big advantage of having accommodation on the mountain.
  • Choose Child Friendly Dining – We loved Elk at Fall restaurant. With a wide range of mouth watering and affordable options, you are spoiled for choice. I highly recommend the Sri Lankan chicken curry and Ben loved the pork belly. The kid’s meal options were the best on the mountain, real food that appealed to their taste buds. They most enjoyed toasting marshmallows on the open fire. Pencils and Paper were provided to keep them busy and we were made to feel very welcome by Barry and all his friendly staff. I’d recommend booking during peak times to ensure you don’t miss out, however they are open all day, so stop in anytime.

 

We had such a great weekend at Falls Creek, the family friendly ski resort certainly provided us with memories that will last a life time. We will definitely go back, especially since it has the best skiing in Australia. To help a lucky reader make their own life-long memory, I have teamed up with Trackers Lodge and we are giving away two nights free accommodation for a family of four. To enter visit my Instagram page.

For more information on Trackers Lodge, visit their website.

 

Note: I was a guest of Trackers Lodge, Renault Snow Club and Elk Restaurant.

Holidays & Destinations My Stories

Family Road Trip in the Mitsubishi Pajero Sport

June 13, 2016

More recently, I have been focusing my attention on visiting places closer to home. Places on my doorstep that I have previously overlooked, as I have always been quick to board a flight overseas. It’s nice to stop and have time at home and appreciate what we have here.  Victoria has so many wonderful places to explore. From the Dandenong Ranges, Macedon Hill Country and The Great Ocean Road, we truly are spoilt for choice.

Recently Ben and I attended a Wine Food Farm Gate evening on Searoad Ferries where we were treated to some amazing food and wine produce from both the Mornington (my home) and Bellarine Peninsulas (on the opposite side of Port Phillip Bay). We were so impressed with the taste of the Bellarine that we decided there and then that we would take the kids over for a family weekend.

In perfect timing, Mitsubishi then coincidently contacted me asking if I would like to review their brand new Mitsubishi Pajero Sport and go on a family escape. Jumping at the opportunity, I couldn’t believe it when the shiny new Mitsubishi appeared in my driveway. The features that I first noticed were the keyless start and amazing all-round sensors that gave me a birds-eye view whilst reversing.

The weekend couldn’t arrive soon enough. The Pajero Sport truly is a car that makes you want to grab your family and head off on an adventure! We packed the kids, an esky of food & wine and an overnight bag in to the huge boot. When I say huge I mean the biggest boot I have ever seen!

As soon as the kids got in they snuggled in the spacious back seats and were glued to the in-built DVD player that played through Bluetooth headphones. This meant a silent car ride, so much so that it felt like hubby and I were off on a child-free adventure! Haha we wish!

We drove to beautiful Sorrento and caught the Searoad Ferry across Port Phillip Bay to Queenscliff. It was a calm day and the kids were looking for dolphins (which you can often see in the bay) and playing in the onboard playground which was awesome! The journey was so quick and such a novelty for the kids.

Once in Queenscliff we had a wander around the main street and found a gorgeous cafe in a nursery called the Courtyard Cafe. The pumpkin soup was delish and the kids loved exploring the little paths in amongst the plants. After lunch we stopped off at the Scandinavian Ice Cream shop. Delicious and good old-fashioned customer service.

We then all piled back into the Mitsubishi Pajero Sport and headed to Scotchmans Hill Winery where we were made to feel at home. The kids were given some colouring sheets and pencils whilst the adults were provided a personal tasting of some amazing, affordable wines.

Our next stop was our Air BnB accommodation, a little two bedroom beach shack in Indented Head. It had a new kitchen, carpeting and open plan living and for only $75 per night was great value.

I settled in with some of our wine purchases and a cheese platter, while Ben took the kids for a walk to the beach and playground. They saw a ship wreck and found many beautiful shells.

Dinner was at the Port Arlington Grand Hotel, which was a five-minute drive away. The meals were great and the venue was warm, cosy and child friendly.

The next day took off from where the previous finished, full of adventure on the road.  For lunch we drove out to Jack Rabbit vineyard where the views across the Bay to the City were breathtaking. Baby lambs played in paddocks to our left and to our right there was beautiful autumn coloured vines. The whole experience from beginning to end at Jack Rabbit was flawless. Our welcoming was friendly and professional, the wine exquisite and the food absolutely delicious. I highly recommend Jack Rabbit for an amazing family lunch.

Before heading back to our side of the Bay we called in to Terindah Estate for a tasting of their highly rated wines.

With the DVD player back on, we navigated the dirt roads of the Bellarine, feeling very comfortable sitting up high in our Mitsubishi Pajero Sport. Back onboard the Searoad Ferry we spent much of the trip watching the sunset across the Bay.

The final small stretch of our journey was the hour drive home from Sorrento. Both kids fell asleep, which meant hubby and I had some time to ourselves once again, so we connected my phone to Apple Carplay and played my favourite music as we drove home. I loved driving the Mitsibishi Pajero and highly recommend it for family adventures. For more information on the Mitsibishi Pajero Sport please visit the showroom.

Holidays & Destinations

Interview with Victoria Patchell – Indigo Surf and Yoga Retreats

March 8, 2016

Today is International Womens Day and I want to introduce you to a good friend of mine for over 20 years. Victoria Patchell, who  has recently followed her dreams and established  Indigo Surf and Yoga Retreats. Located in amazing destinations around the world including the Maldives and Java. Victoria believes that by getting away and ‘escaping’ it really rechargers you so when you return you have so much more to give. As Women we tend to think of everyone else first. Its so important to take time to feed your soul and recharge.Victoria has an energy that is so giving and relaxed.  I loved talking all things travel with Victoria when we recently caught up during her last visit home.

 

What is your favourite Destination?

Ooooh this is always a tough decision, as I love so many places. In taking consideration into all the things I love when travelling such as delicious food, nature, culture, friendly locals, great service and accommodation options. It would have to be the Wild Coast in South Africa. It is such a magical off the beaten track paradise where you find gorgeous empty beaches; abundant nature, incredible cuisine and the locals are kind and genuine. Here is the only place on planet earth I have been able to surf pristine turquoise waters in the morning and go on safari in the afternoon seeing wild Lions, Rhinos, Giraffes and Zebras. The Wild Coast really provides a once in a lifetime experience and the people there are just so friendly.

What do you love best about travelling?

I love so many aspects of travel and am so grateful that I have been able to explore the world. Travelling reminds you that no matter what culture you come from we all speak the same language. A smile, kindness and laughter go a long way and can create connection with someone on the other side of the world of a foreign language. For me this is sharing a sandwich with a stranger on a bus from El Salvador to Guatemala. I also love the sensory indulgence of travel. It is just so fulfilling trying something new every day, when you are travelling you are constantly surrounded by new smells, sights, sounds and people. Breakfast in a foreign country even provides the opportunity for adventure and what a great way to start a day.

What was your first travel experience?

I was 19 years old with a one-way ticket to Glasgow, Scotland and $500.00 AUD of savings. I was on my way to reunite with my first love. Feeling excited and nervous my first travel conundrum was how I could possibly look fresh and dazzling on arrival after making a 36-hour journey (this was not possible, but he welcomed me none the less). Once I arrived the adventure truly began. I worked in Glasgow at a smoky Aussie pub for a 2 months until the nocturnal life became too much and then evacuated to the fresh mountain air of the French Alps. In the Alps I started my journey learning to snowboard and developed my deep fondness for wine and cheese. During this time I worked as a chalet girl and cook. For the next year I lived and worked around France and explored the coast surfing and working a variety of jobs. The most exciting job was ‘gardener for the Sultan of Oman’ at his palace near Paris. I was so grateful and lucky for this incredible opportunity and during it I learnt so much about getting out of my comfort zone and committing to the unknown, something I had never done before.

What was your youngest surf school student?

The adorable Byron from Canada, who was 3 years old, what a cutie! He loved surfing and was just so fearless and trusting. He stole my heart. It forever blows my mind how quickly kids can learn with the right encouragement and support. For kids under 10 years old we always teach with 2 instructors to 1 child so when we push the child on a wave we have a ‘pitch and catch’ technique which ensures the confidence and comfort of both the kids and there parents.

Why do we need to escape?

Everyone needs to escape, no matter how content you are in your regular environment it’s so important to get away and reconnect with yourself. I have always believed you are responsible for the energy you bring to every space whether it is with your family, friends or colleagues. By getting away and ‘escaping’ it rechargers you so when you return you have so much more to give. One of my clients recently sent a thank you email after she returned home to her family. Her words really moved me as she stated before she came on the retreat her tolerance to her kids and husband was short’ and she felt her’ resources where depleted’. However after returning from her ‘Escape’ she was reinvigorated with energy and love for her family and felt like she was now being ‘the mother she wanted to be’ as she had the energetic supplies and perspective.

What if I have never surfed or done yoga?

Awesome, well you are in for a treat. Over the years I have had countless clients compare there first wave to many great things but one of my favourite quotes was from a client that surfed her first green wave; ‘surfing is like sex, you hear everyone talking about it but catching that wave was like having my first orgasm, I finally understood what all the fuss was about’. Yoga is also an incredible release to those that try it for the first time. As a mother or just a woman in general we are always running lists and should, coulda, wouldas through our mind. When you practice yoga you become so set on the practice all the mind chatter disappears and for the first time in a while your mind is free.

Are beginners welcome?

Beginners are welcomed with open arms. In fact the majority of our destinations are selected due to their fantastic conditions for learning to surf. Our team of awesome surf coaches love nothing more than getting someone surfing for the first time or ‘popping their surfing cherry’ as we say. However you must be warned surfing is addictive and often once you start you can’t stop. This often results in a hot bod, excessive bikini purchases and additional beach vacations. All great things we feel.

What s your life mantra?

Do something you have never done everyday and live life knowing ‘your passions are not an accident they are a calling’. Doing something you have never done everyday is much easier to do than it sounds. One day it could be a new type of tea and the next could be a nude cartwheel or surfing in high heels… Its up to you, but living with this mantra keeps life interesting and opens you up to new experiences and personal growth.

 

I highly recommend you check out her website for more information on upcoming retreats. http://indigosurfescapes.com

Airports & Flights Holidays & Destinations

Interview with Karen Edwards from Travel Mad Mum

February 20, 2016

Hi Karen,

I love your blog and your message. You are a nurse from the UK married to a New Zealander and currently on Maternity leave. Sounds normal. However you are spending your Maternity leave travelling around the world! Not just a holiday here and there for a month or so. You are actually backpacking through Asia and constantly on the go with your bub in tow. You are certainly inspiring parents all over the world that their travelling days do not have to be over just because they have a baby. You have made International headlines all over the world. This is a message I strongly believe in too and I have loved following your journey on your blog and instagram page Travel Mad Mum.

 

What inspired you to do it? To spend your entire maternity leave travelling?

I had travelled extensively before having Esmé and always had this vision of having my baby with me in a backpack exploring the world. Esmé was also a surprise, Shaun and I had travel plans so we just did things a little back to front. Now we are getting married this year.

What is in your carry on luggage for your baby that you just couldn’t live without while you are flying?

Dummy, her cuddly toy, western health conscious baby snacks, tui natural balm for relaxing baby and phone for pics.

 What is your advice to parents thinking of following in your footsteps?

Plan finances well in advance and make the decision early so you have time to work to your goal. It will be tough going through packing up your home with a new born, just need to remember you will reap the rewards very soon.

Research destinations and avoid malarial areas.

Get good travel insurance

Keep packing to a minimum, you don’t need everything with you

The earlier you go the easier it is

Try to breastfeed for immunity and ease of having to sterilise
everything

Bring a baby carrier

What is your top tip for flying with babies and staying sane?

Load the iPad with educational apps and favourite cartoons. Not an ideal way of managing busy baby but it keeps them quiet and that’s the main aim of getting through the flight.

Where is your favourite destination?

When I’ve travelled by myself I would say Croatia

When I’ve been with Esmé
I would say Vietnam

Which is the most child friendly country you have visited? Why?

I have two and for different reasons. The Vietnamese are incredibly friendly and just love western babies. I guess it’s because they don’t see them so much. They are so helpful and caring

In Taiwan, they are not so forward with their affection, however, the infrastructure really supports parents with very well set up nursery rooms just about everywhere. Equally the hotels there really make a big effort with baby cots, baths, pottys and toiletries when you are coming to stay with a little one.

What has been your biggest challenge while travelling with a baby?

Not being able to give Esmé social opportunities with other children regularly. I feel she missed out on that.

What did you learn from that challenge?

I am not sure how we could have got around that. I guess I needed to ensure we were stimulating her enough in other ways which was certainly the case.

Most babies thrive on routine. How does this work when you are constantly travelling and on the go?

We still had a routine we just didn’t have the same room every night. We left London when she was too small to get jet lag. We then slowly skipped back through Asia where the time difference might only be an hour. The baby carrier was the biggest life saviour if we were moving during nap times. She happily slept on me.

What do you have to say to people who say that your baby wont remember any of it?

I’ve had a lot of that. I say we have developed her from a sensory perspective. She is very sociable and adapts well to a changing environment. Baby’s develop the most in their first year of life. The experience of seeing a different sight every day in my eyes must be beneficial in comparison to my alternative choice of sitting in my flat in London during the winter, both of us going stir crazy.

Would you do it all again?

I would love to. Firstly hoping to get married this year and then maybe try to extend our family if we are lucky enough. We would use our mat leave in the same way

Where to next?

This year we have Ireland, Cuba, South Africa and a local holiday in the UK
Sent from my iPhone

Thank you for taking time to answer my questions. You are a very inspirational traveling mother and I hope others are inspired by your story and follow in your footsteps.

Safe travels,

Jade

You can follow Karen and Esme’s adventures  here http://travelmadmum.com/stories/

and on instagram https://www.instagram.com/travelmadmum/

 

 

 

Airports & Flights Holidays & Destinations

Bali with Toddlers – My top 10 Tips

February 3, 2016

Bali is the most popular overseas destination for Australian families, the main reason why – it’s so easy. It is in close proximity to us, affordable, has great accommodation and abundance of amazing restaurant options, plus gorgeous weather and people.

We have taken our kids to Bali (at times by myself) since they were babies and now the eldest is six we have tallied up at least half a dozen trips. For those thinking of venturing to this paradise, here are my tips on what to consider.

  • Accommodation– Think about what kind of accommodation will suit your family. A room with balcony that faces onto a pool or garden is a good idea as you can sit outside while your toddler naps and you are not stuck indoors for hours. Trust me I learnt this the hard way. If you have a toddler and are staying at a hotel or villa with a pool, most don’t have pool fences so consider how you can protect your child, e.g. book a room upstairs.  Those with babies requiring a port-a-cot, make sure to request this when you book your accommodation.  I never brought my own and had no problems – one less thing to carry!
  • Area – Choose the area where you stay in Bali carefully. If you want busy and noisy go to Kuta. If you want bigger holiday resorts try Nusa Dua. My preference is Seminyak as it is busy but a lot more relaxed and boutique style, e.g. villas and world class eating. If you want to really escape the hustle and bustle head up to beautiful Ubud for a remote retreat.
  • Travel Stroller – Pack a travel stroller and a baby carrier with you and alternate using them. It does get hot using a carrier but it is easier than dealing with uneven footpaths, although the stroller is great as baby can rest while you walk. I always bring a mosquito net as it also provides shade. Fly babee would be perfect.
  • Insect Repellant and sunscreen –Always bring with you kids rid and sunscreen.  Test this out on your child before you go to make sure they don’t have a reaction. Remember to re-apply throughout the day.
  • Pool Toys – Bring your own pool floatation devices to give you some freedom. Also pack some bath or pool toys to keep them entertained. They are light to pack and you will have hours of fun in between playing with frangipanis that float through the pool and meeting other kids. Bliss. I always bring some other small toys and drawing equipment to give them some inside activities to have a break from the sun or the rain.
  • Nanny – This isn’t for everyone but it is something I highly recommend. On my last trip to Bali I was traveling solo with my 5 and 2 yo and a recommended nanny came to help me for a couple of hours each afternoon. It was the best $AUD 12 I spent. I could go get a massage and pop into the supermarket or Circle K to get some supplies while my son had his afternoon nap and my daughter watched some Indonesian cartoons.
  • Dining– Child friendly dining in Bali is a breeze. The Balinese believe that the younger a child is the closer they are to God. I have found when ever I have gone into a restaurant in Bali the staff of both genders and all ages, always dote and play with my children. It really makes you feel, welcomed, relaxed and happy. My favourite places to dine with toddlers in Seminyak include: La Lucioala which is right on the beach so that toddlers can run and play on the grass in front while you dine.  Motel Mexicola is great if you go early. The design of the place is a sensory overload. Your little one will be amazed by the colours and have a great time dancing, while you enjoy a margarita. Being lively also means your toddler’s noise blends in.
  • Itinerary-There are lots of day trips and adventure parks in Bali including waterbom and bali zoo that you can head out too if you feel up for it. Generally I just like to relax by the pool with my kids. They absolutely love it. We always start our day with breakfast at Sea Circus then we spend the entire morning in the pool. We have some quiet time in the afternoon and head out for an early dinner.
  • Bottles – I sterilise my bottles using boiled bottled water and sterilisation tablets (I recommend Milton brand). I always give extra bottles to my babies and toddlers when we fly or are in warm climate. I can’t stress enough how important it is to keep them hydrated.
  • Nappies– If you can, pack enough nappies from home, including swimming nappies (on the way home you can use the spare space in your suitcase for all your shopping). I liked my certain brands and that way didn’t have to worry about leaking. If running low all Circle K shops sell nappies, that way I could save my trusted brand for the flight home.
  • Denpasar airport –This is a new modern airport and my experience has been that families get fast tracked through. You must purchase a visa on arrival in the terminal. Follow the signs and make sure you have 35 USD each for the visa. I always organise US dollars before I fly out.

 

Bali is a fantastic place for you to start traveling with your child. It’s set up for tourists and your every need as a young family is catered for. I hope my Bali with Toddlers tips provide you some inspiration and confidence to visit this beautiful place.

Airports & Flights Holidays & Destinations My Stories

Darwin

October 13, 2015

I have travelled to many countries outside of work with my family, but over the last couple of years I have got into a bit of a Bali rut, flying at least half a dozen times to this easy to get to, value for money and enchanting place.  However, this time we needed to mix it up a bit, after all, traveling is about experiencing new places,  I booked flights to a destination in my own country – Darwin.  I had never been before and it has always been on my list. After all, if you never never go, you’ll never never know, right? Here is my summary of our travels to our most northern capital:

 

PRE TRAVEL – I spoke to the kids about heading to a tropical destination and showed them Darwin on a map.  They voted for pool time and I wanted relaxation, so we chose Sky City Resort based on its amazing pool areas.  I also reached out to an ex-colleague who is a Darwin local and he gave me some great tips.  With newly purchased sun-smart swimwear for the kids, pool games and some poolside wear for me, we were all packed into one lightweight wheelie bag.  Finally, with flights booked and the car booked in at Andrew’s Airport Parking, we were ready to go.

AT THE AIRPORT – We arrived early (as I like to do) and by instruction of ground staff, we checked in our trusty travel stroller with our bags and swapped it for an airport one.  With time on our hands we were able to stop for a coffee and babycinno at the book shop, which serves the best coffee in Melbourne domestic departures, the give-away being the number of crew there.  One quick toilet stop and it was time to board.

FLIGHT  – The  QANTAS crew were fantastic, we were given pillows and blankets, plus activity packs for my kids.  The food on board included vegemite and cheese scrolls that were a hit with the kids. later into the flight the crew’s walkthrough with juice and biscuits was timed perfectly as the kids were becoming restless.  Content, the kids had a little doze, and before we knew it we were landing in Darwin.  On the return flight my daughter was sick. I had a sick bag ready for this. I always recommend you keep them open and near when you are travelling with kids. There is no warning, Just “mum, I’m going to be…”

TRANSPORT- We claimed our stroller from oversized baggage and our bag from the carousel and headed outside to a taxi rank. Being September, it was hot and dry with a lovely breeze.  When arriving somewhere new I always like to ask locals for tips and taxi drivers are a great source of information, so I asked away.  The driver was really laid back and full of local knowledge.  After I laughed off his first suggestion of the pubs in Mitchell Street he went onto suggest the markets and Crocosaurus Cove.  All up, the drive cost about $25 dollars – the local advice was free!

ACCOMMODATION – When we arrived at SkyCity Darwin, the entrance was very understated and dated, but certainly tropical.  We were assisted with our bags and went to check in, which was manned by polite, but not overly friendly or effective staff, e.g. minimal explanation of the hotel’s facilities.  Fortunately, our experience improved with our room that boasted a view of the stunning beach, although unfortunately it was off-limits due to deadly jellyfish.  Lucky for us we had two amazing pools to choose from, an infinity and lagoon pool –kids were in heaven!  Dining options within the resort were limited to an average buffet (although the kids loved the chocolate fountain) and a really lovely Italian restaurant.  The Pistachio ice cream was delish.

MINDIL MARKET- Everyone tells you to check out Mindil Markets when you go to Darwin.  It certainly is a unique experience, but I am not sure it lived up to my heightened expectations.  The market is right on the beach, where you grab your food from the stalls and find a spot to eat on the sand.  I had fresh oysters and some Chinese food.  I was picturing it to be a bit more theatrical, with people cooking in front of you, flaming woks, multitude of fresh food smells, etc.  Unfortunately, most food was pre-made and sitting in bain-maries.  What was lost in the theatre of food was made up by the patrons who created a relaxed, eclectic vibe, with lots of backpackers intermingling with local, hi-vis wearing workers.  The convenience of being next to our accommodation was also a plus.

SUNSET- I love the sun so much that I named my son Sol (latin for sun).  Sunsets always mesmerise me and Darwin did not disappoint.  I have never seen a sunset so red and then so purple, which put it on par with my previous favourite in Jamaica with its oranges and reds.  Having this view from our hotel, restaurants and pool was pretty special.

CROCOSAURUS COVE – One day we headed into town, Mitchell Street reminded me a lot like Asia.  There were chain coffee shops in between rows of big open bars and pubs.  In the middle of all that was Crocosaurus Cove.  There we saw some of the largest saltwater crocodiles on the planet, with aquarium style viewing enabling you to see them up close, which was pretty mind boggling.  My children also had the unforgettable opportunity to hold a baby croc.  This is a must see and I would recommend going in the morning before it gets too hot.

 

Darwin was a great little holiday and I’m glad we had the chance to experience the Northern Territory and explore more of our wonderful country.  I would have liked to see more of the amazing surroundings, like Litchfield National Park, however traveling solo with the kids this time I opted to stay close to the hotel.  Overall, I believe it’s important to learn about other cultures, but it’s also vital to understand and experience your own country.  Also travelling domestically is so much easier and quicker than going though international procedures.  Although the total cost was a lot more expensive than Bali, I’m glad we did something different this time.