Tuesday, 29 August 2017

Kid-Friendly Attractions in Melbourne

This post took me longer than usual to compile because there really is so much to do in Melbourne that's awesome for the whole family! We love Melbourne so much that we'll probably keep going again and again!

This list is probably not exhaustive but these are my top picks for kid-friendly attractions in Melbourne =)

21 Kid-Friendly Attractions in Melbourne:

Philip Island
The following attractions are located at Philip Island:
  1. Penguin Parade
  2. Koala Conservation Centre
  3. Churchill Island Heritage Farm
  4. Pannys Amazing World of Chocolate
  5. The Nobbies

[1] Penguin Parade

Penguin Parade

The Penguin Parade is one of the key attractions at Philip Island. You'll get to see the Little Penguins coming home from their dinner and burrowing into their homes. The kids loved watching the penguins up close!

[Address] 1019 Ventnor Road, Summerlands, Victoria 3922
[Admission Rate] Adult $25.70, Adult 3 Park Pass $43.60 (more details here)
[Details] Click here to read our full experience at Penguin Parade

[2] Koala Conservation Centre

Koala Conservation Centre

The Koala Conservation Centre is part of the 3 park pass that we bought, which includes Penguin Parade and Churchill Island Heritage Farm. Depending on your luck, you may not be able to see koalas up close. You might want to visit Healesville Sanctuary (details later) for a better view of the koalas.

[Address] 1810 Philip Island Tourist Road, Cowes, Victoria 3922
[Admission Rate] Adult $12.80, Adult 3 Park Pass $43.60 (more details here)
[Details] Click here to read our full experience at Koala Conservation Centre

[3] Churchill Island Heritage Farm

Me trying my hand at milking a fellow nursing mummy at Churchill Island Heritage Farm

The Churchill Island Heritage Farm lets you observe sheep shearing as well as try your hand at milking a cow. Very hands on, educational and fun for kids!

[Address] 246 Samuel Amess Drive, Churchill Island, Newhaven 3925
[Admission Rate] Adult $12.80, Adult 3 Park Pass $43.60 (more details here)
[Details] Click here to read our full experience at Churchill Heritage Island Farm

[4] Pannys Amazing World of Chocolate

Panny's Amazing World of Chocolate
Beautiful town made entirely of chocolate!

If you're a chocolate lover like me then you MUST visit Pannys Amazing World of Chocolate! Everything is chocolate in there and you'll even get to make your own chocolate and eat it! Yummy!

[Address] 930 Philip Island Road, Newhaven Victoria 3925, Australia
[Admission Rate] AUD 15/adult, AUD 10/child (4-16 years old)
[Details] Click here to read our full experience at Pannys Amazing World of Chocolate

[5] The Nobbies

At The Nobbies

At the edge of The Nobbies is an island where seals hang out and you can see them if you had binoculars. There is also a new attraction called Antarctic Journey that you can visit. Otherwise, you can also enjoy the boardwalk and amazing view like we did =)

[Address] 1320 Ventnor Road, Summerlands, Victoria 3922, Australia
[Details] Click here to read our full experience at The Nobbies

[6] Puffing Billy Railway

Puffing Billy Railway
Dangling my legs outside was really cheap thrill but well, I loved it! :D

The Puffing Billy Railway is a must especially if your kids love trains! We got to hang our legs out of the carriage, watch the lovely countryside go by and thoroughly enjoyed the ride!

[Address] 1 Old Monbulk Road, Belgrave, Victoria 3160, Australia
[Fares] Depend on destination, check full details here
[Details] Click here to read our full experience at Puffing Billy Railway

[7] Yarra Valley Chocolaterie

Yarra Valley Chocolaterie & Ice Creamery

If you're a fan of chocolate, ice-cream and an awesome view then Yarra Valley Chocolaterie & Ice Creamery is for you! This is a great place to stop for afternoon tea before moving on to your next destination =)

[Address] 35 Old Healesville Road (cnr Melba Highway), Yarra Glen, VIC 3775, Australia
[Opening Hours] 9am – 5pm
[Details] Click here to read our full experience eating chocolates and ice-cream at Yarra Valley Chocolaterie & Ice Creamery

[8] Yarra Valley Gateway Estate

Strawberry-picking at Yarra Valley Gateway Estate

The Yarra Valley Gateway Estate is great for picking strawberries at the end of autumn/start of winter where most farms would have been out of strawberries. You can visit wineries and other attractions at Yarra Valley at the same time.

[Address] 667 Maroondah Highway, Coldstream, Victoria 3770, Australia
[Admission Rate] FREE (strawberries are charged by weight)
[Details] Click here to read our full experience picking strawberries at Yarra Valley Gateway Estate

[9] Paynes Orchards

My girl was super excited to pick apples fresh from the trees for the first time at Paynes Orchard

For apple-picking, Paynes Orchards is the orchard to go. There are rows and rows of apple trees with plenty of space for the kids to run and pick apples!

[Address] 372 Bacchus Marsh Road, Bacchus Marsh, Victoria 3340, Australia
[Opening Hours] Thursday to Sunday, 10am – 3pm; Closed on Monday to Wednesday
[Details] Click here to read our full experience at Paynes Orchards

[10] Naturipe Fruits


If you've got limited time and want to do it all in just one place, then you can consider Naturipe Fruits. They sell everything from strawberries to apples, depending on the season. There's even a bouncy castle and live singing to entertain visitors!

[Address] 638 Bacchus Marsh Rd, Bacchus Marsh VIC 3340, Australia
[Details] Click here to read our full experience at Naturipe Fruits

[11] Great Ocean Road

Great Ocean Road
The Anglesea Riverbank Outdoor Facilities Project
(Address: 127-143 B100, Anglesea VIC 3230, Australia)
Split Point Lighthouse
(Address: Federal St, Aireys Inlet VIC 3231, Australia)

You can't go to Australia without visiting the Great Ocean Road, which goes from Melbourne all the way to Adelaide. It's a really long road with lots to see so do be realistic and take into consideration your return journey when planning how far to go on the Great Ocean Road.

[Address] Great Ocean Road
[Details] Click here to read our full experience at Great Ocean Road

[12] Buxton Trout & Salmon Farm

Catching fish at Buxton Trout and Salmon Farm

If you are the outdoorsy type, you can consider fishing for your own trout and salmon at the Buxton Trout & Salmon Farm. You only pay to rent their rods and for whatever you managed to catch (if you catch more, you pay more). It was a really fun experience for the hubby!

[Address] 2118 Maroondah Highway, Buxton, VIC 3711, Australia
[Opening Hours] 9am - 5pm
[Details] Click here to read our full experience at Buxton Trout & Salmon Farm

[13] Healesville Sanctuary

The key attraction at Healesville Sanctuary
Taking a photo with the Koalas

In my opinion, Healesville Sanctuary is the best place in Melbourne to see Koalas up close. If you pay a fee, you'd even get to enter the enclosure and come within an arm's length of the koalas. It was quite an experience for the kids! There are also other animals to see and even an animal hospital where you can see live surgeries if you're lucky!

[Address] Badger Creek Road, Healesville, Victoria 3777, Australia
[Opening Hours] 9am - 5pm everyday
[Details] Click here to read our full experience at Healesville Sanctuary

[14] Myuna Farm

My girl petting a miniature horse at Myuna Farm

Although there are no performances at Myuna Farm as compared to Churchill Island Heritage Farm, there were more animals to see. We got really close to a donkey, camels, pigs and even minature horses. The kids had a great time!

[Address] 182 Kidds Rd, Doveton VIC 3177, Australia
[Admission Rate] Singles AUD 8, Family of four AUD 28. Children under 1 are FREE.
[Opening Hours] 10am - 4pm
[Details] Click here to read our full experience at Myuna Farm

[15] Pure Peninsula Honey

Pure Peninsula Honey
Close up of the bees

The Manuka honey we got from Pure Peninsula Honey was seriously the best honey ever! We totally regreted not getting more and definitely will return again if we had a chance. They also have a bee observation room for the kids to watch the bees at work, which was really fun and educational for the kids.

[Address] 871 Derril Rd, Moorooduc, 3933 Melbourne, Australia
[Opening Hours] Open 7 Days, 9:00am - 5:00pm
[Details] Click here to read our full experience at Pure Peninsula Honey

[16] Melbourne Museum

Melbourne Museum
Children's Gallery

We loved Melbourne Museum! It was one of the best museums we have visited! There were cool exhibits of dinosaur bones, various animals and even the human body. They also had the best Children's Gallery! Our best kid-friendly museum, i.e. National Gallery Singapore (read about our experience here), pales in comparison (sorry guys, it's a tough act to follow)!

[Address] 11 Nicholson Street, Carlton VIC 3053, Australia
[Admission Rate] Adult AUD 14, Children 3-16 years old FREE; 
Adult AUD 27, Children 3-16 years old AUD 14 (with one IMAX show)
[Opening Hours] Daily 10am – 5pm, except Good Friday and Christmas Day
[Details] Click here to read our full experience at Melbourne Museum

[17] St Kilda Adventure Playground

St Kilda Adventure Playground
The kids loved climbing up and sliding down at the playground

I insisted on bringing the kids to St Kilda Adventure Playground even though the hubby wasn't keen because it was highly raved about by other visitors. It was also not your typical playground that we can find anywhere in Singapore or even Australia. The kids really enjoyed themselves running, jumping, swinging and flying!

[Address] Neptune St, St Kilda VIC 3182, Australia
[Opening Hours] 3.30 - 6.00pm (Monday to Friday); 
12 noon - 4pm (Saturday, Sunday & Public Holidays)
[Details] Click here to read our full experience at St Kilda Adventure Playground

[18] Luna Park Melbourne

Luna Park Melbourne

We didn't actually ride the rides but we did get a picture at Luna Park Melbourne, an old school theme park that looks like it just walked out of a horror movie. I definitely recommend visiting at night. It's more fun when it's creepy! =D

[Address] 18 Lower Esplanade, St Kilda VIC 3182, Australia
[Admission Rate] 13+ years old AUD 49.90, 4-12 years old AUD 39.90, 0-3 years old AUD 17.50
[Opening Hours] Different timings everyday (check the details here)
[Details] Click here to read our full experience at Luna Park Melbourne

[19] Brighton Bathing Boxes

The kids loved jumping up and down Brighton Bathing Boxes

Just a short 15 minute drive from Melbourne city is Brighton Beach, home to the very famous and iconic Brighton Bathing Boxes. The super colourful little houses, the rolling waves and the clear blue sky make it a great place to take lots of Instagram worthy photos with your kids. The one I took with mine became my Facebook profile picture for months (#truestory).

[Address] Dendy Street Beach, Dendy Street and the Esplanade, Brighton, Victoria, 3186
[Details] Click here to read our full experience at Brighton Beach & Brighton Bathing Boxes

[20] Half Moon Bay

Half Moon Bay
Climbed up the rock for this family photo

We decided to visit Half Moon Bay last minute and did not regret our decision. Although it's not as colourful as Brighton Beach, it's still really beautiful and calm. It's a must visit if you're a beach person.

[Address] Half Moon Bay Drive, Black Rock VIC 3193, Australia
[Details] Click here to read our full experience at Half Moon Bay

[21] St Kilda Little Penguin

St Kilda Pier
Little penguins at the St Kilda Breakwater

And finally, if you don't want to pay to see the Little Penguins at Philip Island, guess what? You can see the St Kilda Little Penguins for FREE at St Kilda Breakwater, which is located at the end of the boardwalk at St Kilda Pier. There were a few times where the penguins actually walk out right in front of us. So cool!

[Address] Harbour Esplanade, St Kilda VIC 3008, Australia
[Details] Click here to read our full experience of penguin viewing at St Kilda Breakwater


And that's my top recommendations for attractions in Melbourne. Do also check out our recommendations for food and accommodations in our past trips to help you plan for your trip:
Have fun in Melbourne! =)


This post is part of my series on Kid-Friendly Attractions Around the World and my travel page, MADPSYCHMUM TRAVELS, where you can find other family-friendly itineraries!


Click on each city below to read our top picks on kid-friendly attractions in Asia and beyond:
(this list will be updated as we go along)

Wednesday, 16 August 2017

Getting on the Terrarium Craze

Honestly when people started making terrariums around me, I wasn't at all interested. It looked cute but that was it. Even when my colleague/ friend asked me to join her in an MSF organised workshop on lamp and terrarium making, to be absolutely honest, I only signed up because of the lamp and the class was cheap (yes, I'm a cheapo at heart!! *laughs*). The terrarium was just a good side dish but not the main course, if you know what I mean.

Making the lamp from scratch out of copper materials
My finished lamp! So proud of myself!

And then I was introduced to the world of terrariums. I liked that the workshop focused more on caring for the plants rather than the decoration. That resounded with the gardener in me and made me pay more attention.

Making my first terrarium

There are basically two types of terrariums: open and closed.

The contents and care that you need to provide for them are slightly different so for the sake of this post, I will cover mainly closed terrariums because open terrariums are similar to most indoor plants.

I preferred to keep my terrariums in office where there is no chance that my kids can break them. And since the other colleagues were interested in making some as well, we held a mini workshop at one of the conference rooms.

Laying out all the materials that we need

The steps to making a terrarium, whether open or closed, are the same. The only difference is the type of soil you use.

The first step is adding Small Rocks or Stones that serve as  drainage for your terrarium. Ensure that there are little gaps between the rocks for water to filter through.
The second step is adding Sphagnum Moss and Activated Charcoal.
Sphagnum moss is required for separating the soil from the rocks while the activated charcoal helps to deodorise and prevent mold from growing in your terrarium.
The third step is adding the Soil.
The soil should be loose and easy water drainage for closed terrariums.

Once you're done, you can add your preferred indoor plants (we chose fittonias because they do really well in terrariums) and decorate with adorable figurines!

The end result of my super cute, Chinese-garden themed, closed terrarium
Closed terrariums of different shape and size

My little office garden keeps on growing!! =D

  • Clean regularly to ensure that there are NO WATER DROPLETS or condensation above the soil in your terrarium -- excess moisture will cause mold and the leaves of the plant to rot
  • Closed terrariums can maintain its own ecosystem; water them once a month or when needed -- if water droplets observed, do not water
  • Touch the leaves -- if paper-like, your plant is receiving adequate moisture
  • Check that your decoration pieces are suitable in a moist environment -- metal and certain clay are not suitable as they will rust or grow mold

As long as you continually monitor your terrarium and ensure that it does not have too much moisture, your closed terrarium will maintain itself with minimal effort.

OPEN terrariums, however, are like all indoor plants who require watering at least once a week. Take note not to over water, especially if they are in an air-conditioned environment where the air is maintained at a constant humidity and temperature.

Succulents are awesome for open terrariums as they look good and are super easy to maintain.

I have FIVE terrariums now and counting! Hahaha (^_^)

Why don't you give it a try? Who knows, you might get addicted like I did! =P


If you are thinking of starting your own garden, do check out my series on BC & Mad's HDB Garden where I share our journey in becoming gardeners in our own home! =)

You can also read more about my green journey before I blog about it on Instagram via the hashtag #bcmadgarden and #madofficegarden! =)

Monday, 7 August 2017

Our Little Kitchen Helper

As you know, although we have a beautifully renovated kitchen, I'm hardly in it except to organise the cupboards/pantry or grab my favourite food from the fridge. Instead, the Mum-in-law is the Head Chef in our house and she calls most of the shots in the kitchen, much to our relief!

Recently, she has been getting my girl to help out in the kitchen a lot more, probably because she didn't want my girl to end up as clueless in the kitchen as her mother.

My girl was doing such a good job that I decided to get her the TOPPKLOCKA Children's Apron and Chef's Hat from IKEA to look even more professional!

Left: She looks so good in her chef's apron and hat!;
Right: Getting right to work sitting on the MASTERBY Light Blue Step Stool. I really love this stool because it is of the right height and sturdy enough to be used for both standing and sitting. Very useful for little kitchen helpers! =)

The girl was helping the Mum-in-law make fried wantons today, something that was easy enough to do.

My girl demonstrating how to lay out the wanton skin
The Mum-in-law got her to mix the filling in the plastic KALAS bowl so that there's no chance that she'll break them =)
Putting just enough filling on the wanton skin using her KALAS spoon, before folding the wanton skin in two to wrap the filling.

The challenge for kids (and even adults!) is knowing the right amount to put in thr wanton! Too much filling and the wanton will burst, too little and well, let's just say you're eating the skin more than you're eating the wanton! *laughs*

Laying out all the finished wanton on our FARGRIK plate
She really enjoys making wantons to fry!

The Mum-in-law will fry all the wantons once she is done. Although I don't have a picture of the final product because we finished them so quickly (we were too hungry), I can assure you that they were so delicious!

The girl was also bugging me to buy popsicles for her but instead of buying them, the cheapo me decided to get her to make her own!

Very excited that she will get to make and eat her own popsicles!

I am so lazy that we decided to use whatever sweet liquid I can find in the fridge, which turned out to be a can of Fanta Orange that we got for free from one of our hotel stays in Malaysia.

All we needed was a can of Fanta Orange and the Popsicle Maker from IKEA
Training her hand-eye coordination by pouring the drink into the Popsicle Maker
Putting her Popsicle Maker into the freezer

A few hours later, her popsicles were ready!

She absolutely loved them!

She wants me to teach her baking next and I have decided to learn just for her sake! Will update the blog, wish me luck! =D


Disclosure: An IKEA Gift Card was received from IKEA Singapore for the purposes of this post. No monetary compensation was received; all opinions are my own.
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