One of the most beautiful regions here in Victoria, Would have to be the Yarra Valley. Famous for its world class wine production and scenic views. It is Australian Landscape at its best and so accessible. Just one hour drive from Melbourne CBD. Making it popular with Victorians and International visitors alike. It is no secret that I enjoy flying. I have been an International Flight attendant for over 14 years now. There is a romance to being above the clouds and I am infatuated with the views from above. I could not think of a better way to see the Yarra Valley, than by floating up in a hot air balloon at sunrise.
I shared in the adventure with my friend Kate. We have been friends for over 20 years and although we are married with kids now, we still revert to our School yard banter when we get together. Our alarms went off at 3.30am and We were on the road by 4am with coffee in hand. At 5am we were on the doorstep of the Yarra Valley.Soon after, we arrived at Balgownie Estate Vineyard Resort and Spa, Where we we were welcomed by staff from Global ballooning Australia. After some quick paper work we were allocated into groups and driven out to a launching site where we met our pilot, Ronald.
It was exciting watching the hot air fill the balloons and then rise up into the morning sky. There were 16 passengers in the balloon including Kate and I. Everyone had a look of pure joy of their faces. The Yarra Valleys landscape below was putting on a spectacular natural show. We saw Kangaroos, live stock and abundant Bird life. I loved floating over the strawberry fields and of course the vineyards, which were glowing in their autumn colours. We were up in the air for an hour before softly landing back on the ground gracefully like a feather. After all contributing to helping pack up the balloon, we were driven back to Balgownie Estate where a Champagne Breakfast awaited. Our pilot Ronald joined our table and it was interesting to hear how passionate he was about hot air ballooning and how his journey began in the industry.
With the whole day still ahead of us, Kate and I headed off to explore a few local wineries. Yering is one of the more established in the region and it didn’t disappoint. I loved the 2012 Yarra bank Sparkling Cuvea and the 2015 Village Pinot Noir. We also visited the incredible Levantine Hill and Four Pillars Gin Distillery before stopping off at Yarra Valley Chocolaterie and Ice creamery, where we picked up some delicious gifts for our husbands and kids.Hot Air ballooning was a magical experience and I am so excited to announce that Global Ballooning Australia and myself are today launching a Mothers Day giveaway. It is for two people to go Hot Air ballooning in the beautiful Yarra Valley. You can enter via my instagram page @mumwithwings. Good Luck . For more information and to book your own Hot Air Balloon experience follow this link https://www.globalballooning.com.au
Note- Kate and I were guests of Global Ballooning Australia.
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.