Wednesday, 27 July 2016

Red Centre - Our Top Ten Things To Do In Alice Springs

It's been a year since we had our epic road trip down to the red centre. Which makes me now officially the world's slackest blogger! I have had a lot of fun, however, sorting through all of our photos and reliving the wonderful memories we made.

We were in Alice Springs for about three weeks (hubby had a trial to run down there), so we had lots of time to explore and got the chance to revisit some of our favourite places. And then some days we just stayed in our pjs till noon and spent the afternoon at a park or kicking a soccer ball! We also loved the cold weather and getting the opportunity to rug up in jeans and jumpers - Bliss!

Here are our top ten, in no particular order... 

1. West MacDonnell Ranges
The top recommendation from all the local we spoke to was to explore the 'West Macs'. We decided to drive out to the furthest gorge we wanted to see first and then hop our way back. That way, if we missed any, we could just pop back out to the closest one later in the week! (Which we actually ended up doing.)

The boys had the most fun climbing and exploring. We did Glen Helen Gorge first...
Nice place for morning tea, huh?
The view of Mt. Sonder is just like it is in the paintings of Albert Namatjira. Those colours are so beautiful and totally unique to this part of the world...
Ormiston Gorge and Standley Chasm were magnificent too... 

2. Alice Springs Desert Park
The fauna (and flora) of central Australia are so unique and absolutely fascinating. The Alice Springs Desert Park has an amazing collection of birds, bats, bilbys, bettongs, bandicoots and endangered mala. We were lucky enough to get a Territorian pass and visited the park a few times. 

Highlights for us were seeing Thorny Devils (Rohan calls them Porny Devils - lol), the dingo sitting on Liam's feet and the bird show.

We even went on the nocturnal tour and got to see all those cute marsupials - and an echidna! - hopping around and/or having a snack. Lots of fun! 

3. Olive Pink Botanical Gardens
As well as having some pretty tasty food at the Bean Tree Cafe, the Olive Pink Botanical Gardens has some lovely walking trails. Our favourite was the big climb up the hill (which I somehow managed in high heeled boots!)
There are some stunning views of the town from the top...
More climbing fun for my little explorers.

4. Hermannsburg
Hermannsburg is the site of a Lutheran Mission that was established in 1877 and the birth place of Albert Namatjira. A lot of the original buildings have been preserved and it's fascinating to imagine what live would have been like back then. Such extreme conditions. Well worth the drive to see the collection of Namatjira family art and the watercolour paintings available for purchase too.

5. Royal Flying Doctor Service
The Royal Flying Doctor Service is an important part of Australia's history and continues to do amazing work for the people who live in the remote regions of this county. This tourist facility has a museum, cafe (with awesome gluten free cakes), an informative movie/hologram and a plane that you can climb through for a gold coin donation.

6. Museum and Art Gallery of Central Australia 
We had so much fun exploring the museum that I didn't take any photos! The highlights for us were the mega fauna and the super crocs display and movie.

We also loved the art gallery with more stunning Namatjira works, a great gift shop and the display from the annual beanie festival was incredible. So creative!
Also in this precinct is the Central Australian Aviation Museum and a cute little shop featuring artworks and craft from local artisans.

Could not get enough of the stunning wild flowers we saw everywhere around town, either. All the heart eyes for Sturt's Desert Peas...

7. Community Fun
When you're staying in a town for longer than two weeks I think it's essential to get involved in some of the local community events to really get a feel for the place. 

July in Alice features the Camel Cup and the Show. We also celebrated Territory Day with food, music and fireworks in the mall. 

You can see what's on in the Alice throughout the year here.

8. Cafe scene
Lots of time means lots of opportunities to explore the local cafes and restaurants. Our favourite was The Watertank Cafe. Quirky decor, awesome light fittings, great gluten free options and the best Chai Lattes in town.

9. Uncle Edy's Ice Cream
This is the only pic I could find (and it's a terribly unflattering and blurry shot) but we hit Uncle Edy's ice creamery a couple of times - even though the weather was freezing! Yummo!
The sweet shop two stores down was a favourite too!

10. Reptile Centre
Like the Desert Park, the Reptile Centre is home to some of the red centre's endemic species. They have a collection of some of the world's deadliest snakes and the massive Perentie. Rohan's fave? The Top End Saltwater Crocodile which are found here at home and not in central Australia and which he's seen SO many already! Ha! I love him waving to Terry in this pic. Didn't so much enjoy the massive tantrum when it was time for this tired three year old to say goodbye to Terry (they were closing and we had to drag him out!)

There are so many more things I could write about but I'm sticking to ten! We just loved Alice in winter and can't wait to go back!

Please note that Uluru, King's Canyon and the Devil's Marbles are located well out of Alice Springs and all deserve their own post because they were so incredibly amazing. Promise it won't be a year before I blog about them! ; )

Wednesday, 1 June 2016

Pregnancy Essentials

I thought I'd take a moment - while it's all still fresh in my memory - to share a few things that I think are pregnancy essentials. I'm not just talking products, but things you need to plan for if you're 'up the duff'! 

1. Nutrition
I believe that good food choices are the most important thing we can do for our health. I've had Feeding the Bump for all of my pregnancies and just love it. It's a cookbook arranged in trimesters as the recipes feature particular nutrients that are essential for that particular stage of pregnancy. And they're delicious - we've used this book non-stop for ten years - especially the Spice-crusted Salmon with White Bean Puree. Plan your meals and make sure you have everything on hand to prepare yourself lots of healthy snacks too.

2. Sleep
This gets harder as time progresses and your belly increases but the best way to improve the quantity and quality of your sleep is to be comfortable. Now, this will vary from person to person and, I've found, from pregnancy to pregnancy. With one baby I liked a body pillow, another a Belly Bean and this time around very flat regular pillows (on each side for if I rolled over) and one between my legs helped take the pressure off. Plus another pillow under my head to help ease the indigestion! Experiment and see.  

3.  Exercise
Keep it gentle and don't increase the intensity of your current workout. If you don't exercise regularly try adding in gentle walks in the fresh air or try a prenatal yoga class (led by an expert!) 

Sadly, due to sacro-illiac joint disfunction, I wasn't allowed to exercise this time around and it was really awful! Mentally, as well as physically, gentle exercise helps a lot.

4. Skin Care
Moisturising the bump every day can help prevent stretch marks and help your skin bounce back. All of my stretch marks are from puberty and I wish I'd moisturised regularly then! For this pregnancy I used Vanessa Megan's Mumma's Bubba Bump Oil. It felt and smelt just divine and I'm even using the little bit I have left on Evie's dry skin too. 

Also, exposing your skin to gentle morning or afternoon sun is a great way of getting the Vitamin D you need too.

5. Knowledge
Knowledge is power. Read as much as you can about childbirth, recovery, baby care and breastfeeding. I think this book about birth skills is amazing and would have made my first, natural birth - and therefore further births - very different had it been around before hand. 

If you know someone with a baby - or someone who has successfully breastfed their bub - talk to them or watch them feed if you can. It's a skill that takes a lot of practice and the more you know about correct attachment the more chance you have of succeeding. 

6. Photos!
Take lots of bump pics - even if they're dodgy bathroom selfies and even if they're just for you. You'll regret not having documented this special time if you don't. This was my biggest belly yet...

So, tell me! What are your expert tips? Are you currently expecting?

Saturday, 28 May 2016

Introducing... Evangeline Lily

We have a new family member and it's a Girl!

Please allow me to introduce to you my daughter, Evangeline...
Yes, she arrived a month ago, but I know you'll all forgive me for not having blogged sooner. I've been fortunate enough to be able to forget about the rest of the world and spend the last four weeks in a blissful (yet, sleep-deprived) baby bubble.

Here are some of my favourite photos from Evie's first day in this world...

She's got some pretty smitten big brothers...
Hamish smiles just like this every time he looks at her or talks about her...
We are tired but happy, I'm healthy, she's thriving and we're all so very, very much in love.

Tuesday, 12 April 2016

Capital Fun - Our Top Ten Things To Do In Canberra With Kids

There are so many things to do in our nation's capital! On our recent trip we had an amazing time seeing as much as possible and we have come up with a list of our Top Ten Things To Do in Canberra as a family with young children.

So, here they are, in no particular order...

1. Questacon - The National Science and Technology Centre

We loved it here so much we went twice! Heaps of hands-on fun. We liked making shadows...
...playing with the air tubes, solving puzzles and the free-fall drop. Hamish must have gone on this slide at least thirty times!

2. Pod Playground at The National Arboretum

We found our way here somehow straight from the airport and it was the best place to have found! The kids got to run, jump, climb and swing their way through this incredible playground before we had lunch at the cafe which has a beautiful view toward the city and Lake Burley Griffin. The bonsai display was beautiful too. And I had a lot of fun in the gift shop! 
3. Parliament House

The ultimate stop for homeschoolers! We joined the free tour and got to explore this beautiful building...
...and learn a little about how our government works.
We all enjoyed going up onto the roof to get a closer view at that enormous flag that you can see from nearly everywhere around the city...
...but had the most fun rolling down the grass on the roof! Honestly, the softest, lushest grass I've ever felt! Had to set my piggies free in that glorious green too.

4. The National War Memorial

I wondered how the kids would cope with a visit here. I worried it'd be a bit overwhelming or even boring for them. It does house a really, really large collection of memorabilia and information about all of the conflicts Australia has been involved in - and you'd probably need two full days to see it all fully.

The sections we chose to visit were meaningful enough to respectfully engage the children and incredibly well presented. The tomb of the unknown soldier and the poppy walls were incredibly moving.
They even have a dedicated area for kids, called The Discovery Zone, where they can experience what life would have been like on a submarine, in a muddy trench and flying a helicopter...
Don't miss the visual media exhibits in Anzac Hall. Brilliantly done.

5. Cockington Green Gardens

Miniature English villages, incredibly detailed replicas of famous buildings from around the world and stunning gardens. We had a fun morning exploring.

6. The National Dinosaur Museum

Just down the road from Cockington Green is the National Dinosaur Museum - at must for any family with as many dino fans as ours.

The garden full of sculptures had us excited on arrival. Especially Spinosaurus...
The inside boasts the largest collection of dinosaur exhibits in the country - including some roaring, moving models that were a huge hit. They even had a quiz trail that you could complete as you explored the exhibits. We learnt a lot.
Be sure to throw the phrase "post-mortem contraction of the posterior neck ligaments" into the conversation so you sound like an expert ; )

7. The Australian Institute of Sport

The boys headed out here for a tour one morning while this exhausted, pregnant lady had a much needed rest.

They were super impressed by the facilities - especially the incredible pool, though the boys would have loved to have spent more time playing with the interactive exhibits.

8. Patissez

I'd heard about the freak shakes at Patissez (pronounced Pat-i-say) before we left home, so a visit here was definitely on our must do list. We had to wait half an hour for a table at the Manuka store at lunch time but it was worth it!

While the collection of cakes - including gluten-free choices - looked incredible we could not go past the shakes and ordered a Cookies and Cream, Golden Gaytime and Nutella version. OMG!

The burger (on a gf bun), the chilli dog and the pancakes were also incredible. 

The kids and I ended up paying a second to visit to the city store before we left too. 

9.The Carillion/Kings Park/Commonwealth Park

We were in Canberra for Australia Day and popped down to Kings Park to watch the fireworks.
We came back to hear The Carillion bells during the day and spent some time exploring and playing in these beautiful gardens that surround this side of the lake.

10. Sky Zone

You may already have a trampoline park in your home town but this was our first ever visit to one and we loved it!
And being school time we practically had the place to ourselves...
Awesome fun!

There are so many other things that could've made the list but these were our favourites. Have you been to Canberra? What's your must-see?