Saturday, 20 October 2012

Seville Park Water Play, east of Melbourne

After last weekend the minimens' little legs were tired and the weather less certain so we decided to do something a bit less strenuous.

Hubby had been to Seville Park last year when the water was turned off at the water play so we thought we'd give it a go. It's a normal park in the yarra valley area except that 60 odd years ago the local residents decided to build themselves a swimming pool (there's a great photo of Miss Victoria in her swimsuit and high heels parading past the appraising towns women sitting fully dressed in the bleachers at the opening ceremony).

The pool got old and the council replaced it a year or so ago with a water play area. It's just a park on an unprepossessing bit of land in a not particularly attractive setting, but the water play makes the 30 minute drive out from our place in the eastern suburbs just about worthwhile.

Seville Park Water Play
At first site I admit I was a little disappointed, I'd built it up in my mind to be more than it was. And the setting, largely unfenced and in one looks like a light industrial area was not what I'd had in mind. Even worse, the water wasn't flowing! Groan! That probably explained why the place was completely deserted.

I did remember though that there was supposed to be a secret button somewhere so we decided to have a quick search.


Although the place is a decent size we hoped it wouldn't be too well hidden! Nothing too obvious but there were to pictures like this splash above on the ground at different ends of the wet area, each with a hard centre. You can't feel anything when you stand on them but within about 30 seconds it starts!
The fountains to the left, nearest the boulders, come on first. The rest follow in a sequence lasting a few minutes varying the location, number and height of the fountains and creating little rivers as the water flows away.

First fountains to come on

The minimen absolutely loved it. We'd brought a change of clothes so we let them run through to their hearts content, enjoying the squeals when the got caught out. Before long another family joined in who lived close but didn't know it was there as it only gets turned on in the summer.

Little Fountains
The whole thing is meant to represent a river system from mountain to sea.

The Mountain
The Rivers
The Upper River

The Delta
Out To Sea
The minimen loved the boulder area of the Delta as much as the fountains, and spent a fair amount of time running through these tunnels. They were dry while we were there but no idea if they always are.
We probably spent two hours there all told and even then the minimen werent ready to leave. There was a little play park too but the kids completely ignored it.

Marks for this place? If you live within half an hour or less, and its a nice sunny day, warm enough to let the kids get wet then I'd recommend it. I'd think it would be packed in summer but probably making it even more fun for the kids, and its somewhere to go for an hour or so. The main negative was a smashed glass bottle on one of the paths exiting the wet area but I suspect/hope during the summer proper it will be better maintained.

We'll go again but not often and only on days when we want to get out but haven't got any other plans. Probably best for pre-teen kids.

Seville Water Play Park
Corner of Warburton Highway and Monbulk-Seville Road, Seville.
Opening Hours (as reported at the time of the blog, check the website for updates)
Not lockable. Water is turned on during summer months.
Yes, free parking adjacent to the park.
Yes, basic. Baby changer was broken during our visit.
Café/ Refreshments
Picnic/ BBQ area
Plenty of grass and a picnic table. The website says there is BBQ but we didn't notice it.
Gift Shop
No, wouldn't expect one, just a park.
Definitely a park where active supervision of the kids is needed. There is also a creek a little way behind the park.


Sunday, 14 October 2012

Point Nepean National Park

Beautiful views, wildlife, time on the beach and history in one lovely package

Today was the day we seem to have been waiting for since we slipped into Spring over a month ago. There was a chill in the air in the morning but also the promise of sunshine, blue skys and on my word, warmth!

View from the pill box
A picnic was packed and we headed south down Mornington Peninsula right to the very, very end. We were tempted to stop at some of the beaches en route but stuck to our plan and how glad we were.

Entrance is free, as is parking. You really can't miss it, there is only really one road by this point and it runs straight into the park.

We parked up in the entrance car park and headed straight over to some sunny picnic benches. (BBQs also available if you prefer.)

We'd been there previously and hadn't been allowed to take the car past this point and so had walked with a double buggy to the Quaratine Station. Now that was a fairly uninspiring trek to and from along the side of the road (the station itself was worth the visit).

This time we wanted to get all the way to the end so after our picnic we headed to get tickets for the tractor and carriages that runs up and down between the main points of interest. We should definitely have done this first. The regular tractors have been temporarily replaced by a single minibus which only leaves once every hour and fifteen minutes. And we had just missed one by less than ten minutes. D'oh!
Former Quarantine Jetty at Beach Entrance
Fortunately they have also permanently changed their policy on allowing cars a little way in and we were able to drive up as far as the Gunner's Cottage. From there it's an easy (500 m) walk past the cemetery to the beach.

The beach was wonderful! Sandy, clean, fairly deserted and beautiful. We walked along a couple of kilometres stopping every now and again to let the minimen dig in the sand while we drank in the view. It really was glorious and the minimen weren't even aware they were walking quite a long way for their little legs.


Beautiful, deserted beach

At the end of the beach it was a climb up through enchanting, twisty narrow paths surrounded by bush, very different but equally lovely and as we got higher there were some amazing views of the coastline.

At the top we were rewarded with an old pill box which the minimen (and full sized man) were thrilled by. I found it a bit dank but they were soon shooting each other through the narrow openings.


I'd call them Butterfly Flowers, no idea what they really are??




In the gun house at Fort Pearce
From there it was onto the observation point with its fantastic views, and Fort Pearce with its solid history. We'd returned to the road by this point but all you have to worry about are cyclists and the one bus. There are loads of cyclists and its a really good way of exploring the park due to its size, although you definitely miss out on some highlights too.

This was where we stopped as it was another 1.5 km or so to Fort Nepean right at the end. It would have been worth it but the minimen were starting to show signs of tiredness and we still had a decent trek back. If you haven't bought tickets from the entrance car park you can't hitch a ride back with the bus BE WARNED. And anyway, it's nice to have something new to look forward to next time. And there most definitely will be a next time.

We decided to return via the road as the fastest route for three and four year old legs. Good decision as it turns out, we were rewarded by our first ever siting of an Echidna (well live and not flat anyway). He was hunting ants and I'm not sure he ever noticed our presence. I'm used to British hedgehogs so he seemed huge to me!

We spent about 4 and a half hours on the trek through Point Nepean National Park, plus about an hour and a half travel each way from eastern Melbourne. We spent money on petrol and we gained some fantastic photos, memories and a whole sea urchin shell. And due to a little preplanning we got home tired, happy and with tea pretty much on the table. A great day!


Point Nepean National Park
Point Nepean
Vic 3944
Opening Hours (as reported at the time of the blog, check the website for updates)

Opening hours are extended during peak periods. Walking and cycling access into park at all times.

Point Nepean Information Centre

10:00am -5:00pm

Vehicle access to park

8:00am -5:00pm


10:00am -5:00pm

Open every day except Christmas Day

Yes, free parking at the entrance to the park, and inside at Gunner's Cottage.
Yes, at the entrance, at Gunner's Cottage. There may be more but we didn't see them. One at Port Pearce would be a good idea.
Café/ Refreshments
Not that we saw. There were drinking fountains in places.
Picnic/ BBQ area
Plenty of grass and several picnic tables and BBQs.
Gift Shop
Not really. An information centre though at the entrance.
If you want to use the bus for your return, buy tickets on your way in. Make sure you have plenty of water with you. Watch out for snakes, we saw a little one.


Sunday, 30 September 2012

Royal Australian Airforce Museum (RAAF) Point Cook

Old Planes, Very Old Planes, Flying Display and all for Free!

Our little family of four headed down to Point Cook, south west of Melbourne, on a mission to view all things flying.

Our minimen L and J uphold the gender sterotypes of being fascinated by anything with engines, wheels or flashing light. Hubby is pretty happy in this enviroment too, and hey even I won't turn my nose up at a mini free flying display!

Picnic in coolbag we headed out to get there at about 12:30, to give us time to have a nosey round the museum before the little flight demonstration at 1pm.

The museum is actually located within RAAF Base Williams so entry is through the barriers at the base entrance. You drive your car through but adults should take some photo ID as the driver at least will be expected to sign in. (No need to get out of your car there's a gate keeper who'll come across as you pull up to the barrier.)

As you park the main entrance to the museum is just across an internal road, pretty quiet but still some occasional traffic to watch out for. The main entrance takes you straight into a retail opportunity BE WARNED! From there it's through into two big hanger areas full of flying machines. They're mainly from the First World War onwards so there's a real variety on view.

Behind the hanger are some concrete bleachers. I'd suggest getting out there a few minutes early as otherwise you might struggle to find a seat. Not too early though because they're concrete. Which is hard. And cold. Did I mention hard?

We were sitting just the other side of this fence. The pilot gave us a quick bit of chat about the plane and aircraft. Apparently the plane you see varies based on who is there and who is visiting the airport. The display doesn't happen if the weather is too bad, but then you probably wouldn't want to sit out and watch anyway.

The pilot talked us through his precheck then started the engine Very Loudly in front of us which the kids loved.

The display lasted about 15 minutes. Another guy from the museum kept up the commentary while the pilot put the plane through its paces. Upside down flying, barrel rolls and loop the loops performed right under your nose. Well, maybe a bit above them but you know what I mean. Close! Honest, it was a lot closer than it looks in the picture.

After the display we trundled round the hanger where they were restoring some planes, or rather climbed up to a viewing platform to look down in it (don't attempt with a pram or pushchair). Finally another hanger with some odd old planes and helicopters like this one that looks like a converted submarine.

We returned to the gift shop at the end where my minimen were immensely pleased with pencil sharpeners masquerading as planes (and actually they haven't noticed the sharpeners). Also balloon powered helicopters and a pin to add to my collection of places visited. A total of $18 spent.

All in all a good couple of hours, especially as we took advantage of the picnic tables outside to enjoy a bit of sunshine.

RAAF Museum
RAAF Base Williams
Point Cook Road
Point Cook
Vic 3030
Opening Hours (as reported at the time of the blog, check the website for updates)
Tuesday to Friday: 10am–3pm
Weekends and Public Holidays: 10am–5pm The Museum is closed on Mondays, Good Friday and Christmas Day
Yes, free parking across the road from the museum (within the base itself).
Yes, inside the museum, clean and tidy during our visit.
Café/ Refreshments
NO. Definitely room for something here.
Picnic/ BBQ area
Plenty of grass and several picnic tables complete with parasols.
Gift Shop
Yes. Small but with a good variety of items, obviously mostly plane related but something for all budgets. Takes cash or cards.
Make sure you have photo ID, this is a military base and you have to sign in as you go through the entrance.