We visit Canberra an awful lot, due to many of our family and friends living down there. So we kinda know it inside out - well we think we do. But everytime we visit we always discover a new kid friendly gem! It's that sort of place, always evolving and always so much fun.
We also spend quite a bit of time eating out in Canberra because their foodie scene is particularly good, and as a result there sometimes isn't much coin left to do anything else. So we thought we'd put together our list of family friendly things to do that are FREE or very cheap! So here they are in no particular order:
THE POD PLAYGROUND and the NATIONAL ARBORETUM
WHAT: This is Canberra's coolest playground where you can spend a good few hours whilst your kids explore every square inch of it. The Visitor's Centre also has hands on activities for kids, and there are numerous walks throughout the Arboretum that the whole family will enjoy. Make sure you check out the Labrinth Garden and also the Children's Garden.
WHERE: Forest Drive, off Tuggeranong Parkway, Weston Creek
COST: Entry is FREE, however, paid parking applies from 9am until 4pm daily at the rate of $2.10/hr with a maximum of $7.80 for a day
CAFE: Yes - Sprout Cafe & Conservatory Restaurant
PRAM FRIENDLY: Yes, but might be easier to wear/carry your babe when doing the walks
COMMONWEALTH PARK and the TUNNEL PLAYGROUND
WHAT: This 34.5 ha park is home to interesting sculptures, hidden walks and ponds as well as lots of perfect picnic spots with some BBQ facilities available. It's also the home of Floriade in Spring. The "Tunnel Playground" is a like an underground playground, where kids can crawl through stone tunnels and also up and over them.
WHERE: Albert St, Parkes
CAFE: Yes - The Deck at Regatta Point
PRAM FRIENDLY: Yes
KINGS PARK and BOUNDLESS PLAYGROUND
WHAT: A lovely park that contains a fantastic fully enclosed and fully inclusive playground suitable for kids aged 10 years and under. There are lots of picnic spots available as well as great views of Lake Burley Griffin, the Carillion etc.
WHERE: Wendouree Drive, Parkes
PRAM FRIENDLY: Yes
NATIONAL MUSEUM of AUSTRALIA
WHAT: This stunning modern building is home to a collection of stories, artefacts and exhibitions that celebrates everything about Australia and its history. Children will love the "KSpace" where they can participate in hands on, interactive activities.
WHERE: Lawson Crescent, Acton
CAFE: Yes - Museum Cafe
PRAM FRIENDLY: Yes
MUSEUM OF AUSTRALIAN DEMOCRACY
WHAT: Located in Old Parliament House this fabulous hands on museum is great place to take the whole family. Parentals will love seeing all of the history of the different rooms of the house, and kidlets will love filling out the interactive booklets, dressing up in costumes and playing in "Play Up" - a kids only zone!
WHERE: 18 King George Terrace, Parkes
COST: $2.00/adults - $1.00/kids (kids under 5 are free) - $5.00/family
CAFE: Yes - Terrace Cafe & Hoi Polloi Restaurant
PRAM FRIENDLY: Yes
NATIONAL GALLERY of AUSTRALIA
WHAT: Australia's premier art gallery is very welcoming of families and they have a special space for kids called NGA Play. The outdoor sculpture garden is also another favourite spot for families to hang out whilst their kids explore all the nooks and crannies of the area, as well as the fascinating sculptures.
WHERE: Parkes Place, Parkes
COST: FREE! (except for major exhibitions)
CAFE: Yes - NGA Cafe & Street Cafe
PRAM FRIENDLY: Yes
THE AUSTRALIAN WAR MEMORIAL
WHAT: This is our National Memorial to fallen soldiers from every war that the Commonwealth of Australia has been active in. Even though the Memorial is quite sombre they actively encourage children of all ages to learn about our war history with a special Discovery Zone just for kids. Families will also love trying to find the names of family members who may have served our Country in the past on the beautiful poppy wall (Roll of Honour).
WHERE: Treloar Crescent, Campbell
CAFE: Yes - Poppy's Cafe
PRAM FRIENDLY: Yes
AUSTRALIAN NATIONAL BOTANIC GARDENS
WHAT: Full of striking native gardens, bushwalks and discovery trails for kids, this is a great place to get outdoors in Canberra. They also host fun night time adventures like the Dino Stampede! They have an indoor space at the Information Centre where kidlets can chill out and do some colouring in or reading.
WHERE: Clunies Ross St, Acton
CAFE: Yes - Pollen Cafe (it's stunning!)
PRAM FRIENDLY: Mostly
WHAT: The HQ of Australia, here you can explore all of the public areas of the house, go on a guided tour, and even sit in on the Senate or House of Reps, when they are in session. The gardens are also a great place to take the offspring for a massive run around.
WHERE: Parliament Drive, Canberra
CAFE: Yes - Queens Terrace Cafe
PRAM FRIENDLY: Yes - and you can even hire strollers and wheelchairs for free!
WALK/SCOOT/RIDE AROUND LAKE BURLEY GRIFFIN
WHAT: It costs absolutely nothing to walk around this impressive Lake. For little legs we recommend doing the Bridge to Bridge walk. It's about 5km long and if you time your walk to coincide with lunch you can enjoy the music of the National Carillon which is played from 12.30 to 1.20pm on Wednesdays and Sundays. Otherwise the Carillon chimes its 23 bells on the hour and half hour throughout the day.
WHERE: From Commonwealth Bridge to Kings Avenue Bridge
CAFE: Yes - several are located around the Lake
PRAM FRIENDLY: Yes
WALK UP MOUNT TAYLOR - OR ANOTHER MOUNTAIN
WHAT: If you love a good family bush walk there are loads in and around Canberra. We've walked up Mount Taylor, which is steep but worth the effort for the views, and also all of the kangaroos. Another good one is to walk from the Botanic Gardens up to Black Mountain Tower. Both take just over an hour to complete.
WHERE: Sulwood Drive, Kambah
PRAM FRIENDLY: No - you'll need to wear/carry your bub.
OTHER PLAYGROUNDS WORTH CHECKING OUT
*Kambah Adventure Playground
*Black Mountain Peninsular Playground
*John Knight Memorial Park
WHERE TO STAY
There are heaps of fancy hotels to stay in Canberra if you have a fair bit of cash in your wallet. If you don't, we suggest checking out these options where we normally lay our weary bodies down of a night:
* Alivio Tourist Park - cabin & camper trailer accommodation
* Abode Hotels - modern family friendly hotel rooms with locations in Woden, Narrabundah, Tuggeranong & Gungahlin
We also love this Nature Play Canberra website for more
FREE or CHEAP
things to do with kidlets in Canberra!
To be honest, Phuket was never on our radar as a family destination. But then my sister moved there for work, so we decided to go and visit her. And it was a fairly big decision for us, as we had never left Australia with the boys before - the thought of being stuck in a plane for longer than 2 hours with my kids had never appealed when they were tiny tots. So we bit the bullet, and booked our flights and accommodation, and off we flew to Phuket (via a 1 night stopover in Singapore).
How do you get there...
It's mainly the budget airlines that fly from Singapore into Phuket. And indeed if you want to fly directly from Sydney to Phuket you have to do so with Jetstar (and they don't fly every day). The flight is under 2 hours from Singapore so definitely doable with young kids, however it is 9 + hours direct from Sydney. We chose to go with Jetstar Asia from Singapore, as we received Qantas frequent flyer points doing so, and also their flight times suited us the best.
Our flight going over was excellent. The plane left exactly on time and we even arrived into Phuket early! As we were travelling with kids we were allowed to board the plane first, which is a big bonus when dealing with a horde of people who have no idea how to queue. We had booked one of Jetstar's "bundles" which included 20kgs of luggage, a meal and seat selection.
The adults meals were fine for airline food (they had an obvious Asian influence). The kids pack was excellent! They received a snack box which contained a Milo milk, muesli bar and 2 treats (all nut free) which was perfect for our mid afternoon flight. They also received an activity bag, which had a game of tic tac toe on the outside and then inside was a pencil, socks, sleep mask, blow up pillow, socks, post card and toothbrush with toothpaste. Just to let you know, there isn't any inflight entertainment on these short haul flights.
Phuket has recently opened a new International Terminal and our transition through customs and immigration was seamless - which is a big bonus when travelling with kids. When you walk out into arrivals you are immediately outdoors. So the heat and humidity whacks you straight away. There are drivers everywhere holding up signs for the various resorts on the island, ready to whisk you away to your island paradise. If you want to catch a taxi you have to book and pay for it at one of the taxi stands - there's a bit of competition happening between the various companies for your business, so be prepared for that.
Our return flight experience to Singapore wasn't so good. The new terminal seemed to be having a few teething issues with departures, and there are 3 security checks (including a full bag search) that you have to go through, which created huge queues the day we left. We had to catch a bus to our plane which the boys loved (us not so much). The plane was late taking off, and seemed to be older and smaller than the one we had going over - basically there was absolutely no leg room and when your pesky fellow travellers recline their chair, the flight becomes unenjoyable. These are all totally first world problems I know, but alas they can leave you with a negative vibe after experiencing such an enjoyable holiday.
Where to stay...
There are literally hundreds of glorious resorts all over Phuket. Some are cheap and others are super expensive. Our advice is to visit in low season because you can snap up some bargains, like we did! The September school holidays coincides with low season in Phuket, which is perfect for Aussie travellers. The low season means it rains quite a bit. But during our stay the longest it rained for was a couple of hours, which is the time you make the most of your beautiful room or kids club!
JW Marriott Phuket Resort & Spa - Mai Khao, Talang
This resort is located just north of Phuket airport. We spent 3 nights here when we first arrived (the rest of the time we stayed with my sister). Our twin room with day beds over looking the lush gardens (2 x queen beds) was about $AUD200/night including full buffet breakfast - this is 50% off the normal rate. The resort is picture perfect with pools (1 of which is adults only), a swim up bar, a spa to make you all beautiful and relaxed, water sports, yoga, 6 different restaurants, several bars, kids club and kids activities. And it is also right on Mai Khao Beach.
When we first arrived our family was welcomed with a traditional Thai drink, and as we are members of the Mariott Rewards progam (free to join) - the boys also received a welcome gift. Being a member also entitled us to free Wifi for our stay, which is a huge bonus for a blogger! When we walked into our room there was welcome tray of decadent Thai desserts waiting for us as well. The boys were also given a departure gift - the Thai people know how to spoil their guests, that's for sure.
The buffet breakfast was delicious with special treats coming out on a Sunday morning. We ate our way through most of the restaurants during our stay, eating traditional Thai food, Italian and Japanese as well as some Western fare. All the restaurants welcomed kidlets, but not all had kids menus. However it was easy enough to find food choices that our lads would eat. We spent most of time by the pool as we were only there for a few days, however if you are staying longer the front desk will organise tours for you down into the touristy areas of Phuket.
What to do....
Most tourists visit Phuket for its beautiful beaches. And yes they are stunning. Water sports are huge and you can hire all sorts of equipment to have fun with on the ocean. Most beaches also have massage huts on them where you can score a super cheap massage.
The only problem with visiting in September is that it's jelly fish season and also sea lice can be an issue. We aren't sure if our little dudes were eaten by sea lice, or if they were suffering from prickly heat, but they came out in hundreds of little bites after sitting in the ocean for a short time. So we always cooled off in the pool and just had long beach walks to enjoy the beautiful views.
Phuket TrickEye Museum
This was our favourite "touristy" thing we did in Phuket. Located in Phuket Town you can spend ages in here taking the most awesome photos ever! The Trick Eye Museum is full of amazing 3D paintings that you can basically step into, and it looks like you are part of the picture! There are signs around the museum showing you how to take the best shot. When you arrive you have to take your shoes off, then you pay your entrance fee. Try to avoid the chaps who want to take a photo of you, as you enter the museum, as they are just trying to flog you a dodgy family portrait. The museum is fully airconditioned so it's a great place to cool down in after a morning of exploring outdoors.
Ghostinium - Central Festival Shopping Centre
We stumbled into this gem by mistake. It's located across the road from one of Phuket's best shopping centres - Central Festival. To be honest it does look a wee bit dodgy from the outside, but be brave and go in, as you will wander through different types of rooms which almost resemble movie sets. Each room has a different theme and is full of aniamtronics and other weird and wonderful make believe creatures. There are dinosaurs, crocodiles, spiders and a huge gorilla. It takes about 30 minutes to wander through and a note of warning it may scare little ones.
Upside Down House (Baan Teelanka)
This is hidden on the busy Bypass Road (one of Phuket's main roads). Basically everything in the house is stuck on the roof and you contort your body into different poses to make the photo look as though you are upside down. So it's great for the fun social media photo. Our boys weren't tall enough for most of the shots, so if you have really small kids think twice before parting with your cash for the entrance fee.
The Upside Down House is open, and as such it doesn't have air conditioning. There are two levels and the house is up quite high. So if you suffer from bad vertigo (like I do) this ain't the place for you - it was a waste of money for me to go into it, as I only lasted 2 minutes before I ran for the ground floor having a mild panic attack.
There's also an outdoor garden maze and a escape room on site. We bought the ticket which covered entrance to the house and maze - the thought of being locked in an unairconditioned room with my 3 boys trying to work out clues of how to get out, made my stomach turn. The maze is fun and they provide you with cute little umbrellas in case the heavens open up.
Visit Big Buddha - Karon
The main religion of Thailand is Buddhism, and you will see beautiful little shrines everywhere you walk in Phuket. And keeping an eye on all of Phuket is the Big Buddha. He sits beautifully atop the Nakkerd Hills in Karon. He is 45m high and 25 m wide and is made from concrete adorned with marble and jade.
The drive up to the Big Buddha is quite scenic, and there are loads of bends. If you like the idea of feeding/riding elephants, there are also places to do this on the way up the hill. Once on top, the 360 degree views are breathtaking. Females must be modestly dressed to visit, so make sure you take a sarong with you to wrap around your legs/shoulders (ie. you can't wear shorts and a singlet). You can also hire a sarong there to wrap around yourself. The hordes of tourists with selfie sticks are a bit of a nightmare here, but try to rise above that as Buddha is just beautiful. It's a place of respect, just like visiting a church so, perhaps make your little ones mindful of that. There are of course loads of things to spend your money on here, including tokens to hang around the bottom of Buddha where you can write prayers, wishes etc that you may have. You can even receive a blessing from a monk if you so wish (for a donation of course).
Where to eat...
You would need to be in Thailand for a year or more to visit the plethora of eateries available. So I'm just going to tell you about the places we visited - most of which are in the Bang Tao Beach area. We ate at rustic restaurants and also at the most gorgeous place that I have ever been too! And yes we did fill our bellies with the best Thai food we have ever had in our lives. The boys did struggle with a lot of the local dishes, but satay sticks and rice were always a favourite, and most places do a Western type of meal anyway. Also quite a few Thai dishes are garnished with intricately cut vegetables such as carrots, so the boys just munched away on those and some rice.
Pooh & Friends - Bang Tao Beach
This is a little restaurant in the back streets of Bang Tao beach, which just happened to be around the corner from where we were staying. They serve up cheap and delicious Thai food as well as European meals. Their service is so very welcoming and they have the cutest little grandson who is learning to speak English. The restaurant is rustic by Sydney standards - but golly gosh the food was good. Everything tasted so authentic and they turn down the heat for us Westerners, so that we don't burn our tongues too much! They are open for dinner every day.
Andaman Seaside - Bang Tao Beach
We ate at this place a few times. Once again it is quite rustic, but it is smack bang on the beach and there is also a pool in the adjoining resort which they let the boys swim in. The boys were in heaven as they ran between the beach and pool the whole time - grabbing a bite to eat now and then. This meant that Mr Munch and I were also in heaven, and we enjoyed a couple of long lunches which is almost unheard of when you are parents.
We chose finger food most of the time which we washed down with ice cold beers - and yes they do put ice in their beers over there to keep them cool, which may freak Aussie beer snobs out a bit! Grilled prawns, satay sticks, pot stickers and Thai spring rolls were our favourites and they even cooked some chicken nuggets for the boys. And at the end of each meal we always received a big plate of fresh fruit - bliss! They are open for lunch and dinner every day.
Bliss Beach Club - Bang Tao Beach
A favourite with tourists (especially in happy hour), this Beach Club is literally on the beach and they also have a pool. So the kids are sorted whilst their parents imbibe a few too many holiday cocktails! The food was pretty good - we just went with share plates, and they have a decent kids menu which is a bonus for those of you with fussy eaters. Just be wary of the hawkers along the beach who try to sell you and your kids every thing from sarongs to laser lights - do not buy from them! As soon as you give one of them some money, the rest will swarm around you looking for another sale which ends up ruining your night.
Bennys American Bar & Grill - Bang Tao Beach
We had a great meal here with friends. The garden like setting for the restaurant means that the seating is outside and thankfully the night we dined it wasn't too hot. The service was brilliant and they made special kids meals for the boys including ice cream. The place was packed with well heeled locals and tourists, and there was almost a party atmosphere in the air. They are only open for dinner (or drinks), so make sure you drop by if you are staying in the area.
Bocconcino - Cherng Talay
We had breakfast here a couple of times, purely because they serve Illy coffee and we are caffeine addicts. It's an Italian style of restaurant/cafe that serves breakfast, lunch and dinner. They bake all of their own bread and pastries (our boys became addicted to their bomboloni donuts) and they have a wood fired pizza oven. Their breakfasts are ok, on the smaller side and reasonbly priced. Service was always agreeable and they never seemed to be busy which was a bonus.
You will find a few of these places located around Phuket and they are a Western style wine bar/cafe. You can have everything from a full American breakfast, to a pizza, to a yummy cheese plate. They are a good choice when you crave air conditioning and Western food.
Iniala Bakery - Boat Avenue
A little slice of Paris in Phuket is how I would describe this cute little bakery. Their pastries are fab and their coffee is pretty good too! You can pick up fresh baguettes and other gourmet food products and their tarts look amazing. They have a small eating area and they are open from 7am every day - perfect timing for those of you with early risers - just jump in a cab to get there. They have restaurant and wine bar opening up next door, later this year which I'm sure wil be fantastic. The Boat Avenue area in which Iniala is located is a bit posh - loads of lovely frock shops and a excellent Villa Market supermarket (where the expats shop).
Cafe Waya - Boat Avenue
This is the place to go if you want a decent Western breakfast. They serve up everthing from bacon and eggs, to french toast and fresh fruit. The coffee is good and service is very friendly (although a bit slow) - you'll also find the place packed with expats.
The Bua - Kamala Beach
This upmarket Thai restaurant served the best Thai food we had on our trip. When we arrived we had the whole place to ourselves and the gorgeous owner looked after us like royalty. We ate everything from curries to freshly caught Andaman Sea shrimp with tamarind sauce, to Chicken and Pomelo Salad. As much as I love our Thai restaurants back home in Sydney, I have never tasted flavours like this before. And our meal was washed down with Thai Mojitos - it's made with coriander instead of mint and boy is it good.
Palm Seaside - Bang Tao Beach
This place! It was the piece de resistance of our trip. It was sublime. I'm not exaggerating. You must go there if you get the chance - and yes you can take the kidlets! I can't believe that it took me until I was in by 40s to eat at somewhere so divine, and my kids ate there when they were 6 & 8! Firstly its location right on the beach is perfect to see a magical Phuket sunset. Secondly the sunken dining booths along the serenity pool are the best way to experience the restaurant - you must book one of these. Thirdly the food is some of the best I've eaten in my travels across the world. And lastly the service - it was faultless!
There isn't a dedicated kids menu but we found a few items suitable for the unadulterated tastebuds of the boys - like a gourmet beef burger for example. And there was delicious coconut gelato for dessert which comes in a fresh coconut. There were a few other little diners in the restaurant too, so don't be concerned about taking your kidlets along. They will probably end up grooving away Ibiza style to the tunes that the spunky Eurpoean DJ is pumping out.
Palm Seaside is definitely not a cheap restaurant, it's a once in a life time kind of experience. They are open for lunch and dinner, and if you smile at them sweetly (and leave a good tip), they might even drive you back to your accommodation.
How to get around...
Tuk Tuks - all kidlets will want to ride on one of these, especially if you get a Spideman Disco tuk tuk like we did. Tuk tuks are great for short distances - make sure you negotiate a price befoer you get in!
Taxis - we found them to be quite inexpensive and once again, make sure you confirm the price before you hop in. More often than not they are happy to wait at your destination until you are finished to bring you home again. I'm not sure if it was luck or not, but we always had a big clean 4wd as our taxi, and the drivers were excellent.
Hire car - these are reasonably priced in comparison to Australia. Phuket traffic is quite manic, you have to do loads of freaky U turns with dozens of other cars to get where you are going, and most of the local roads are badly maintained, so save yourself the stress and get a taxi.
Local bus - we never used these (I'm sorry but my backpacker days are long gone). They resemble a truck more than a bus, they are dirt cheap and all of them have natural air conditioning.
Walk - I was so proud of the boys (and myself) for how much we walked, considering the heat. You always find little hidden gems when you get out and walk and that's what travelling is all about - so invest in some good walking sandals before you go.
Other travel tips for Phuket...
AS PER USUAL WE PAID FOR THIS TRIP OURSELVES - AND ARE HAPPILY BROKE AS A RESULT!
We're a little bit obsessed with Singapore. There's something about this lion city that has myself and the hubster entranced. And that something is the food scene. We've visited a few times, but have always left the boys behind. Until now. We took the plunge and whisked the lads away on their first international flight, and I'm really glad we waited until they are the age they are now, as we had such an easy holiday with them.
How To Get There
We flew to Singapore with Qantas, for a couple of reasons: we're QFF members, their flights are at the best times, we purchased our tickets on sale, and the hubster has a Qantas Club Lounge membership, so we could chill out in there in both Sydney and Singapore, before our flights.
Changi Airport in Singapore, is known as one of the world's best, and yes it is quite amazing. But don't expect to find all of its amazing facilities in one terminal. They are spread between 3 different terminals (soon to be 4), and you can catch a free sky train between each of them. We did this when we had some time to waste before our return flight. If you fly with Qantas you will arrive into, and depart from Terminal 1 - which you may presume is the main terminal, but it's not. The main terminal is No. 3 (Singapore Airlines fly in and out of here), and this is where the best shops and food outlets are - there's even a Hello Kitty Diner here (but on the public side of the terminal).
To keep kidlets occupied whilst in transit, there's a huge playground at both Terminals 1 & 3. And make sure you take your kids to check out the Butterfly Garden in Terminal 3. There's also a cinema, transit hotel and pool in Terminal 3. Terminal 1 has a cactus garden if that is of interest!
Where to stay
There are bucket loads of hotels in Singapore, and they are all bloody expensive when you have a family of four to accommodate!
We needed two different types of accommodation on our travels. The first night we wanted a hotel close to the airport, as we were just transiting through Singapore, en route to Phuket. And we found the fabulous Village Hotel Katong. They have very comfortable family rooms, a pool and restaurant. We were very kindly upgraded to a suite for our stay, which gave us heaps of space (which is exactly what one needs when flying cattle class for 8 hours as a family).
This hotel is about a 15 minute drive from the airport and is located really close to an awesome stip of restaurants/bars/cafes on East Coast Road. We can thoroughly recommend Rabbit Carrot Gun (a British inspired eatery), or right across from that is Singapore's best Laksa House called 328 Katong Laksa. Village Hotel Katong is also located in the front of a small shopping centre which is ideal, in case you need to go to a chemist or a supermarket.
The East Coast of Singapore is not mentioned too often in the "tourist brochures" but it should be, as it has heaps to see and do for families - including an amazing new playground (see below).
For our longer stay we wanted an apartment, as I'm not a fan of sharing a room with my children for any longer than 2 nights. After an awful lot of internet research I found the Louis Kienne Serviced Residences on Havelock Road - which is on the edge of Chinatown. And we highly recommend that you look at staying here when you visit Singapore too!
Louis Kienne Serviced Apartments - Havelock Rd (near Chinatown)
The apartments aren't huge by Australian standards, but they are well furnished and very comfortable. There are small kitchen facilities in case you want to do cooking, and a continental breakfast is included in the room price. There is a shared laundry in the building and car parking as well. When it's time to eat, you will find loads of different places to dine at, within an easy walk.
One of the best features of the hotel, is the roof top pool which has great views over the city. The other big bonus here, is that you are given a complimentary mobile phone to use during your stay! You can only make local calls, but it comes in very handy when you need to call a restaurant to make a reservation, or need to ring the hotel and ask for directions on how to get back!
Where to eat
Even though we were in Asia, we are still fans of the western style of breakfast to start the day. If you think Sydney is starting to get a tad expensive for breakfast, it's actually cheap in comparison to Singapore. Most brekkie items are north of $20.00 and then you have to plus, plus in western style cafes. That is, add the 10% service charge and the 7% GST charge - ouch! So to save yourself some money, try and get a deal which incorporates breakfast into your hotel room price. Below are the 4 places we had breakfast at during our stay (the first 2 were in easy walking distance of the Louis Kienne Serviced Residences).
1. Toby's Estate
This Sydney favourite has swung open its doors on Roberston Quay, and is open from 7am during the week and 8am on weekends. Their coffee is on point as is their food, and they also have some toys for kidlets to play with. A firm favourite with the expat crowd craving a slice of home, you will have to jostle for a seat mid morning when the yummy mummy crowd hits the cafe. There is both indoor and outdoor seating, with high chairs and toilets both being available for you to use.
2. Common Man Roasters
You will find this hipster joint on Martin Rd, not too far from Robertson Quay. Everytime we walked past this cafe it was packed to the rafters, and it is packed with expats craving the liquid gold that this cafe brews up. The menu is definitely expensive but the food and coffee is delcious, and the service was excellent.
3. The Lokal
This delightful cafe is owned and run by an Aussie chef. You will find it in the back streets of Chinatown and it was one of our favourite finds during our stay. The vibe is very relaxed, the coffee is by Common Man Roasters (so it is excellent), and the food was simply delicious. If I was a local in Singapore, I would definitely make this joint my regular.
4. Paul Patisserie
There a few "Pauls" in Singapore, including one at the airport. We visited the cafe in the gorgeous Takashimaya Shopping Centre on Orchard Road. At breakfast time they serve a delicious basket of pastries that can easily feed 2 people for $9.90 (++). We ordered 2 baskets and 2 coffees and it was the cheapest breakfast we had during our stay in Singapore, which also coincided with our last day when we were starting to run low on coin! Each basket had 3 pastries (croissant, pain au chocolat and a raisin snail). Jam and butter also accompanied the pastries. This is also a great spot to stop in for morning/afternoon tea as their range of eclairs and other sweet treats looked totally amazing. And at lunch time they also offer a special with their range of yummy looking filled baguettes - so don't be afraid of the expensive shopping centres they are loacted in, as they just happen to be a reasonably price option by Singapore dining standards.
Limoncello - Robertson Quay
This family friendly restaurant is a 10 minute walk from the Louis Kienne Residences. The night we dined, the outside of Limoncello was packed with casually dressed expats and their kids who were riding their scooters. There's a big area in front of the restaurant which is perfect for little ones to play on. However as we were not used to the humid weather, we opted to sit inside in the comfort of air conditioning.
Limoncello is an Italian restaurant that serves delcious pizza, pasta and other classics. They have a kids menu, a really good wine list and their service was excellent. The menu, like most restaurants in Singapore is on the expensive side when you add on the taxes.
Din Tai Fung - various locations
Dumplings! That's what Din Tai Fung does best and we love them. You normally have to queue to get a table, but they've stream lined this process so that you order as you wait. So your food normally hits your table as soon as you sit down. Their restaurants are air conditioned and thier dumpling kitchens are glass fronted so that you can see the dumpling masters in action - which is great fun for kids. Din Tai Fung also have several restaurants in Sydney.
DC Comics Super Heroes Cafe - Marina Bay Sands
The boys desperately wanted to eat here as they adore all of the DC Comics Super Heroes. The cafe is seriously touristy and quite expensive. The kids meals are pretty darn cool , the adult meals not so much. So we let the boys eat here under the watchful eye of Superman, whilst we had a cool drink (then we headed to Din Tai Fung downstairs for our lunch). Next time I think we would just go for a treat in the middle afternoon like a Super Hero ice cream, or a cupcake so that we can still have the experience, but it won't cost as much money!
Hawker Markets - various locations
For the cheapest meals in Singapore the myriad of Hawker Markets are your best bet. Not only is the food cheap, but it's also deliciously authentic. We had one across the road from our hotel that we ate at, and also we received a couple of recommendations from our Taxi drivers on the best ones to visit - so our advice is to ask a local, so that you can eat like a local! You can't really go wrong with the popular Newton Food Centres or Maxwell Food Centres either.
There are quite a few of these excellent cafes/restaruants located throughout Singapore. They are very western in their design (I think they are owned by an Aussie expat) and the menus are delish! They also serve a very decent coffee and breakfast as well.
Bread Street Kitchen - Marina Bay Sands
This a restaurant from the F bomb King himself, Gordon Ramsay. And bloody hell it was good. And we need it to open in Sydney!! The location in Singapore is spectacular - right on the waterfront at Marina Bay Sands. It's a bit fancy pants, but not so fancy that you can't take kids. They have the most awesome kids menu that comes in a little activity pack full of everything British and it also includes a chef's hat! And for dessert, kids can decorate their own ice cream with the chefs (if they aren't too busy).
There are quite a few delicious dessert cafes located throughout Singapore. We had one close to where we were staying which was a blessing to enter at the end of a hot day - thankyou Dessert Project! Their speciality is Ice Cream Toast! Some other ones to check out are Sunday Folks and Non Entree Desserts.
Some other cool kid friendly cafes we missed checking out are:
And if for some reason the hubster needs to watch an all important rugby match, check out the Boomarang Bar at Roberston Quay. It's full of expats, and their kids can be found zooming past on scooters. They have a decent Little Tackers Menu, which covers breakfast, lunch and dinner - they even serve babycinos!!
What to do
Golly gosh there's heaps to do for the whole family in Singapore - we only touched the surface with the places we visited. Sentosa Island has by far the most family friendly attractions on it, and you could almost spend a whole week there doing everything that's on offer (if you could afford to). Marina Bay Sands also has quite a few things to do as well.
Universal Studios - Sentosa
If you have a fair bit of cash saved up, you need to make sure that you visit this place with your kids - but it is expensive! There are heaps of awesome rides - some of which are ridiculously scary for kids (and their mums) and also some great stage shows. The queues for some of the rides are huge, so if you can afford to, purchase an Universal Express ticket. That way you can jump the queue and go straight on the rides.
There are quite a few different places to eat here, but to be honest all the food outlets are fairly ordinary. It's all deep fried, junk food type of stuff and it's pricey. We took some of our own snacks and water to get us through our visit.
SEA Aquarium - Sentosa
This is one impressive aquarium. The marine life, the hands on kids activities, and the facilities are top notch. And you can also dine under the water at their fine dining restaraunt.
You need to dedicate at least a half day to visiting the Aquarium. For the other half you could visit any of these other activities on Sentosa:
Art & Science Museum - Marina Bay Sands
The stunning looking lotus flower shaped building at Marina Bay Sands is home to the Art & Science Museum. It is a great place to spend half a day in airconditioned comfort as they host amazing family friendly exhibitions. The exhibitions change every few months, so check what's on before you go and you can can also purchase tickets online as well, which is time saver during peak visiting periods. There's a decent cafe on site, in case you need a caffeine injection.
Gardens by the Bay - Marina Bay Sands
Everyone knows about these amazing gardens, but what you may not know is that there is an excellent playground here as well. It's called the Far East Organisation Children's Garden and it has both an adventure playground, as well as a large water play playground. Just follow the signs from the main gardens and you will find it. And I bet all members of the family will want to run under the water spouts to get cool! There's a kiosk, toilets and also lockers for the stuff you don't want to get wet at the playground.
Night Safari at Singapore Zoo
One of Singapore's favourite attractions, the Night Zoo offers you an opportunity to see animals when the sun goes down. You can do walks through some parts of the zoo, as well as seeing most of the zoo aboard a tram. If you have the time it's a great idea to visit the zoo during the day as well, and do either a river safari or have breakfast with the oranutangs. We recommend catching an uber to the Zoo and back, as the Zoo is a decent drive out of the city centre.
Other things to do
We believe that you could spend 2 weeks in Singapore (if you could afford to), and still have things to see and do! Below are some of the other awesome attractions can be done as a family, but we didn't have time to:
Singapore is seriously one of the most expensive cities in the world to live, but for some reason its transport is cheap, especially in comparison to what we pay in Sydney.
MRT is the train line that runs throughout the city. If you love public transport then get to know the system. The MRT is efficent, clean and safe. You will need to buy a Singapore Tourist Pass card which will offer you unlimited travel each day, depending on what value you purchase. These can also be used on the bus system.
Taxis are really cheap and are what we used to get from the airport to our hotels, and to a few other destinations. You can have your hotel desk call them for you. You can flag them down in the street, or you can wait at a designated taxi rank (TIP: do not do this at peak hour, as the wait time is long and the heat can make your whole fambam a wee bit grumpy). There is also an app you can download on your phone, and they will come straight to you. And if you want to know where the best Hawker centres are in town, just ask your taxi driver - we received some awesome tips about centres that were previously unknown to us.
Uber - this is the service we used most whilst staying in Singapore. All of the drivers were brilliant, with some giving us some helpful advice on what to do and see. We already had the app on our phone from Sydney, and we didn't get charged any exchange rates on our credit card for using it in another country!
Walk - Singapore is a great city to walk around BUT you will get hot and sweaty doing so! Like in most places, the best way to find the hidden gems in the back streets, is to use your legs and walk.
Our travel tips
So my dear Little Munchers, we recommend that you start saving now and plan a trip to this marvellous city soon. It's a fabulous family friendly destination. The heat, and the cost of eating and playing are basically the only negatives - oh and all the tourists on their selfie sticks!
AS PER USUAL WE PAID FOR EVERYTHING ON OUR TRIP - AND ARE HAPPILY BROKE AS A RESULT!
Did you know that Little Munch has a new sibling called Aussie Bush Kids? Well ABK is still in its infancy and we are slowly building up a repertoire of walks, activities etc. to help get you and your kids outdoors more. It was whilst we were out doing a walk with the lads for the ABK site, that we discovered The Ark Cafe in Norah Head. It was literally next door to where we started the walk, and boy is this one kid friendly cafe!
The Ark Cafe can be found next to the Bush Street Reserve, just before you reach the famous Norah Head Lighthouse. There is quite a bit of parking to be found close to the cafe and most definitely grab your pram out of the car, as the outdoor seating area has loads of space to park it and there is also has a ramp available if you would prefer to sit inside. If you are lucky enough you might even be able to nab one of the big bean bags under the tress and then you can let your little one out to crawl or toddle around. You will find high chairs inside as well as excellent toilet facilities that contain a baby change table.
The Ark reminds of cafe that you would find in Bali. It has a laid back beach style and it is full of surfboards, surfers, eclectic art and eclectic looking artists. And of course families! As there is loads of room for us, and even a cute kids play corner with toys, blackboards and a TV. The staff are very friendly and welcoming of little humans, and they have that lovely chilled out vibe that you so often find in coastal locations.
Besides all of the other kid friendly aspects to the cafe, they have a kids menu plus loads of yummy looking cupcakes to fill the bellies of our babes. The kids meals cost $10 and the choices are either Chicken & Salad/Chips, Fish & Salad/Chips, Cheese Burger & Chips or Pancakes. At ten bucks the meals are a tad on the expensive side, but the portion sizes were pretty good (our lads shared one serve of the chicken with chips). Our dudes just drank table water whilst we were eating (there is a self help water station near the front counter), however babycinos ($2.50), hot chocolates ($4), soft drinks, juices and shakes are also available.
Adults are also very well catered for at The Ark, with excellent Campos Coffee, and a very tasty range of wraps, burgers, salads and heartier meals available on the lunch time menu. Like the kids menu, the adults menu is also on the expensive side (our lamb wrap with chips & salad was $20). They also serve an all day breakfast menu that ranges in price from about $14 - $22.50 and covers your cafe favourites such as Bircher Muesli, Corn Fritters, and French Toast.
It's worth making a pit stop to the loo before you leave the Ark Cafe so that you can take some time to read their very thoughtful house rules. The Ark has a social enterprise project happening in Madagascar where they are helping (via donations at the cafe) to provide food etc. to local communities who sadly live in slum like conditions. Clearly the owners of the cafe know how lucky they are to live and work in paradise, and as a result want to help those who don't.
If you have come all the way to Norah Head then you must wander up to the lighthouse after your meal - she is beautifully maintained and you can even have a tour inside. A wander down to the beach is also a great experience, as you can explore rock pools, or perhaps have a swim if the weather is warm enough. More details of the walk will be on Aussie Bush Kids real soon x
8 Bush St, Norah Head
02 4397 4859
Open 7 days 8am - 5pm
We started camping as a family this year, and our first night was a semi disaster. It rained, and it rained, and then it rained some more, and as we were camping beside a river, I was on "nervous flood patrol all night", and didn't sleep a wink. So when we got up the next morning to see that it was still raining and as a result could not start our camp fire, I gave the father of my children that "look". You know the one. The look of "if I don't have some caffeine soon, this day ain't going to end too well". So as quick as a flash flood, we all jumped into our trusty old hyundai, and headed to the closest town (Gloucester) in search of coffee and general sustenance.
Gloucester is a picturesque country town surround by lush farms, open spaces and, of course, the Barrington Tops. The town is full of lovely shops as well as cafes that serve up some quality coffee and nosh. We've stayed in the area before and had an excellent experience at Roadies Cafe - so that is where we headed. Upon arrival we discovered that we were not the only unhappy campers who were seriously in need of a caffeine fix that morning, as the place was packed with city folk dressed in their "outdoorsy" wear.
We had to sit on an outside table and luckily the rain stayed away long enough for us to devour our breakfast. Roadies Cafe has a motorcycle theme happening throughout its interior. There are actual motorbikes inside the cafe, as well as loads of paraphernalia around the place which reflects the kind of "Easy Rider" influence. There is a sign on the door welcoming members of the Ulysses Motorbike Club (don't worry these are the good mannered grey haired bikies, not the scary ones) and then right under that is a sign welcoming Breastfeeding Mummas! So families are definitely welcomed with open arms too. There are high chairs, easy access for prams, toilet facilites (no baby change table) and an excellent kids menu.
The kids menu also doubles as an activity sheet to keep our little people occupied. And there is a separate breakfast and lunch menu for kidlets. To start the day, they can munch on toast with spreads; muesli; pancakes, eggs on toast or bacon & eggs on toast. They also have babycinos, kids size milkshakes and juices, as well as hot chocolates to quench thirsty little throats. I was very pleased to see the boys juices arrive in disposable cups too.
For breakfast, one of our lads sampled the pancakes and the other had the toast with peanut butter. The pancakes received the big thumbs up - light and fluffly, served with the maple syrup on the side. The toast however was a wee bit disappointing as it was only one slice - however for $5.50 I was wondering where the rest of the loaf was. Another slice would be ideal for that price (in my humble but valued opinion).
So what did we eat? Well after a rough night in the tent, Mr Munch was in need of the Roadies Big Breakfast. This dish is sure to satisfy the heartiest of appetites, as it is full of eggs, bacon, worstershire & pepper sausages, buttered mushies, grilled tomatoes, hash browns and toast (plus some green stuff to even out the colour palette). Now at $25.00 (inc $3.50 extra for hash browns) this meal ain't cheap, but it was exactly what was required to soothe a growling belly. The Pesto Poached Eggs with Smoked Bacon ($16.90) was my choice. It was quite yummy, with the eggs being perfectly poached and the smoked bacon was full of flavour. I just wasn't a fan of the beetroot glaze however that accompanied it. There are also pancakes, porridge and a few other breakfast staples on the menu for you to choose from.
At lunch time you can have everything from a basic sandwich to a hearty burger, or even fish and chips. And on Friday and Saturday evenings they serve up wood fired pizzas! So Roadies would be a great place to have a family dinner too. Our caffeine fix came in the way of Belaroma flat whites. Now I don't find Belaroma beans have the the same strength and flavour of caffeine as some of my preferred beans do, but the coffees we were served, most certainly satisfied our cravings that morning.
Actually we had to wait for our coffees, as it just so happened, that the morning we dined at Roadies there was a guy filming a piece for Visit Gloucester about moving to the area. And we ended up in the video! All because we just happened to be sitting outside the cafe. So our little fambam (looking like something that the cat dragged in), were filmed being served (fake) coffee and chatting away about nothing in particular with a few very forced smiles and "Thank Yous". After quite a few takes, filming stopped and we finally got our real coffee. The video is about how great Gloucester is to visit and live in. And yes it is definitely a great place to visit, as it is a simply stunning area - although perhaps not so much when it is raining and you spend the weekend sheltering (shivering) in a tent x
77 Church St, Gloucester NSW
Open 7 days from 7.30am
This is one quirky cafe, with one quirky name and one gorgeously quirky owner. It's a cafe that is perhaps more suited for those of you with well behaved little diners, or older kids who don't need space to run around.
The Elephant Boy Cafe is located on the main street of beautiful Bowral. It's a great pit stop for when you are travelling through to Canberra. Being on the main street means that during peak periods it may be a wee bit difficult to nab a car spot in front of the cafe. However there is a decent amount of parking in the back streets, and you can just stroll up. Now if you have a pram I suggest that you leave it in the car. There isn't much space between the tables at the Elephant Boy Cafe - so perhaps put your babe in a baby carrier to make life easier for yourself. I also didn't spy any high chairs in the cafe (they may be hidden out the back), and if you need to use the bathroom there are facilities available, but they don't contain a baby change table.
When you first walk into the cafe you will more than likely be greeted by the owner. This gorgeous diva looks as though she belongs in another era, and as you take in the surrounds of the Elephant Boy Cafe you will actually feel as though you have stepped into another era. A time when life was a bit more genteel, perhaps like it was in the Far East during colonial times. There are book shelves full of old books (that you can read whilst enjoying your meal), as well as ornaments and other bric a brac. Each table number is attached to a book too, to continue the bookish, library theme.
We visited on a Saturday morning for breakfast. Once we were seated, our lovely hostess immediately returned with children's books for the boys to read - and they were totally age appropriate and totally up their alley - perhaps she was a librarian in a former life? Anyway the boys sat happily reading whilst we waited for our hot drinks to appear. Now if you have restless souls in your tribe who perhaps don't like reading, make sure you bring along some sort of other activity for them to do - as I'm sure you would be mortified if your darling little muncher created a bit of havoc with all the knick knacks that are around.
As it was such a chilly morning in the Highlands, we ordered hot chocolates for the boys. They had a choice between your standard hot chockie, or the more delicious bowl of warm milk that comes with a spoon of hard chocolate which you melt in yourself. They chose the latter (of course) and when it arrived they were thrilled to see bugs bunny drawn on top of their milk (we visited on the Easter Long Weekend). This hot chocolate was truly divine and decadent, and more suited for older kids as it comes in a bowl - chubby little fingers won't be able to reach all the way around the sides.
And our coffees came with one very handsome elephant drawn on top too - the coffee art is certainly on point at the Elephant Boy Cafe. The coffee not only looked good but it tasted good as well. Nice and strong, just the way we like it - the perfect caffeine fix for when you are travelling.
Onto the food. There isn't a specific menu for little people, but that doesn't matter as there are quite a few options available for them to eat. Our dudes just had Vegemite toast for breakfast, whilst also picking at the bacon and eggs that we had ordered. Kidlets would also enjoy scrambled eggs, banana bread and the like at breakfast time, and at lunch time there are sandwiches which would easily fill little bellies. The lunch time menu also has delicious sounding curries, as well as burgers, fish cakes, pies and other comfort food on it. The prices aren't cheap, but you are in Bowral after all. And if you are in the mood for cake make sure you check out the delicious looking array home baked treats available on the front counter.
The Elephant Boy Cafe is not going to be suitable for all families, that's for sure. However if you like a more refined type of cafe with fabulous old fashioned service, and you have offspring who are able to sit still for a wee while, then we definitely recommend that you check out this gorgeous little spot next time you are in the Southern Highlands x
329 -331 Bong Bong Rd, Bowral
Mon - Thu: 8am - 5pm
Fri - Sun: 8am - 5.30pm
If you find yourself in Lake Macquarie and fancy a nice little breakfast, lunch or dinner in a restaurant close to the water, then you should check out Deck 56 in Belmont. Belmont is on the eastern side of the lake and you will find Deck 56 directly across the road from the lake's edge!
There is a decent amount of parking along the street in front of Deck 56, and if you need to take your pram with you, access is very easy into the restaurant via the disabled ramp on the side. There is a little bit of space to park your pram next to your table, however if this place is full to the brim, you may need to ask other diners to move out of the way for you. Otherwise plonk your babe down in one of the high chairs that are available. You will find toilet facilities on site (no baby change table though), and you will be happy to know that our little people are welcomed with open arms.
Now the reason that I say kidlets are welcome with open arms is that not only are the members of staff very friendly towards them but they also have a pretty cool kids menu for breakfast, lunch and dinner that doubles as an activity sheet! As soon as we sat down for a late Saturday lunch, our lovely host delivered the menu and coloured pencils to occupy the boys, as well as refreshing vino for us to enjoy whilst we looked out at that lovely view of the lake.
From the kids menu my non foodie boys chose yet again the Nuggets and Chips, and I'm happy to say that it came with a decent side salad, so at least their bellies received some nourishment along with their deep fried lunch. They also chose a Kids Mega Milkshake believing that they might have been in for one of those trendy looking freak shakes that are everywhere at the moment. Alas it was just a plain chocolate milkshake. There is also table water, babycinos, soft drinks and juices available for little people too.
Now lets move on to Mumma and Pappa's meals - they were superb! Old boy's BLT with the most delish crunchy sweet potato chips was huge, and my Lemon Pepper Squid was perfectly cooked. It was served with a gorgeous relish that complimented the squid nicely. The menu is a tad on the expensive side, but then again you are right on the water and that seems to put the price up nice matter where you go.
By day Deck 56 is most definitely like an upmarket cafe but at night time it morphs into a stylish restaurant. They start their dinner service from the family friendly hour of 5.30pm and you can definitely make a booking which is a win win in my opinion. The modern Australian menu has quite a few seafood dishes on it and they are also fully licensed in case you need a glass/bottle or two, to cope with dining out with the kidlets.
After lunch, we took a meander along the lake's edge. The boys had great fun chasing all of those pesky seagulls and they also discovered a playground which was about a 2 minute walk away from Deck 56. Meanwhile we sat back and watched all of the activity on the lake, dreaming about owning a holiday shack there one day x
56 Brooks Pde, Belmont NSW
Open Mon - Sun: 8am - 8pm
In case you are a stranger to Canberra I thought I would let you know that some of the Capital's best dining spots are to be found in ordinary suburban shops. Nearly every set of shops throughout the burbs of Canberra has a very cool little cafe, or restaurant or bar. Take for example the southern suburb of Farrer - it is home to one awesome kid friendly cafe called the Fox and Bow, and it is most definitely worth the visit next time you are in the capital of Oz!
Farrer is about a 15 - 20 minute drive from the centre of Canberra. There is a reasonable amount of parking right in front of the row of shops where Fox and Bow is located. Access in to the cafe for those of you with prams is very easy and there is also quite a bit of space to park them next to your table. The cafe has both indoor and outdoor seating, and when we arrived about 8.30am on a weekend, we easily scored a table. However by the time we left an hour later, this cafe was packed to the rafters, so I suggest you make an effort to get there early (you can book a table during the week but not for weekends).
The outdoor area of the Fox and Bow is dominated by a pretty darn cool graffiti mural of a fox lurking behind a tree and a mad hatters tea party. And just down from here in the alley way, you will find a basketball hoop, hopscotch & tic tac toe games (drawn on the ground) for kidlets to play on. Otherwise there are some toys for little people to play with inside the cafe too.
Now lets talk about their amazing food...it was THE best breakfast we had in Canberra. And as the Capital has quite a few outstanding cafes this is quite a big call. The Fox and Bow serve up an all day brunch. Firstly we shall examine the "Little Rascals" menu. It has 3 options: 1. Bacon & Cheese Jaffle ($7.90) 2. Kids Pancake with Strawberries & Chocolate Ice Cream ($10.90) 3. Kids Fish & Chips ($10.90).
The Kids Pancake is decadent and delicious for breakfast that's for sure. The two perfectly formed and very thick pancakes are topped with a huge scoop of chocolate ice cream and this dish will be certain to put a smile on the dial of your offspring! It may also make the other cubs in your litter a wee bit jealous if they order the Jaffle (which trust me is equally as delicious, but chocolate ice cream for breakfast will always be a winner!!!).
Like wise, the food for bigger people at Fox and Bow is pure quality. The Toasty Nuts ($13.90) was my choice - it is a gorgeous plate full of fresh fruit, yoghurt and nutty granola and I was so happy with it until I saw.......
Senorita Fox! Any yes this is one foxy, drool worthy dish! On top of a big chunky slice of sourdough you will find Tasmanian smoked salmon, haloumi, avocado, poached eggs, asparagus, pesto, seeds and pea shoots - I was green with envy of this one!
The blokes in our group of course went for the Mr Fox ($20.90) - a big pan full of breakfast delights. Sourdough toast, fried eggs, hash brown, bacon, mushies, tomato, spicy sausages and some greens to keep them healthy. All of the names on the menu at Fox and Bow are seriously quirky. For example The Codfather (fish & chips), Roadrunner Beep Beep (a fancy chicken burger), or You Gotta Be Squiddin Me (smokey paprika squid & salad). Every single meal that we saw coming out of the kitchen was styled beautifully and they were all very generous in size.
Of course we washed down our breakfast with coffee. Five Senses coffee from Sydney to be exact - I actually haven't seen it served anywhere else in the Capital as they seem to all favour the local brand Ona. And the coffee was brilliant, and we would have ordered a second cup if the the queue to order wasn't so darn long (you have to order and pay for your meals at the front counter). The Fox and Bow also serve up some reasonably priced mega shakes. You can choose between the Farrer'O - a chocolate fudge & Ferrero Roche gelato thickshake or the Borat - a shake made of almond milk, dates, espresso and pistachio gelato. They cost $7.90 as do their Kiss Me Katut, Donkey Kong and Ohh Darla smoothies - I'm thinking the owner has one kooky sense of humor!
Now my little men were quite intrigued by the phone box out the front of the cafe. And it wasn't because of Super Fox on the outside of it - they just don't see them in Sydney! They wanted to make a phone call from it, to see what happened!! So maybe bring a few spare coins and let the kidlets ring Nanna & Poppy so that you can enjoy your coffee in peace x
Now if for some reason all those roundabouts in Canberra freak you out, and you don't have the confidence to drive down to Farrer, they also have another cafe closer to the city in Acton,called Ivy & The Fox. Unfortunately it was closed when we visited on a long weekend - but it is at the top of our review list for our next visit, as it looks seriously kid friendly too!
Farrer Shops, Farrer Place, Canberra ACT
Mon - Fri: 7.30am - 4.00pm
Sat - Sun: 8.00am - 3.30pm
Some other kid friendly places to dine in Canberra:
Next time you take the tribe down to Canberra for a holiday, you need to put Snapper on the lake at the top of your dining list. This casual, laid back eatery occupies a picturesque location on Lake Burley Griffin and serves up brilliant fish and chips. And your view will be straight across the lake to the iconic Black Mountain Tower - now you can't get much better than that!
Snapper on the lake is at the bottom of theSouthern Cross Yacht Club in Yarralumla. It will take you less than ten minutes to drive here from the city centre. There is a decent amount of parking available in the club's car park as well as along the road nearby. You don't have to enter the club to eat at Snapper. Just walk around the side of the building towards the lake, and you will find it - or just follow the sound of children's laughter! You can very easily drive your pram all the way into the seating area of Snapper on the lake and there is plenty of room to park it. I didn't spy any high chairs however, so you may need to keep your little ones in their prams when it's tucker time.
All of the seating at Snapper on the lake is outside (so probably best not to visit on a rainy day). You can't book a table, however if all of them are taken when you arrive, just plonk yourself down on the lovely grassy area in front of Snapper and enjoy your meal picnic style. We enjoyed a late lunch on a weekend and easily found a table amongst the local Canberrans. You will find menus on each table and when you decide what you want, just pop inside and order from a member of the young and friendly staff. After they have taken your cash they will give you a buzzer so that you know when your meal is ready.
Whilst you are waiting for your food to arrive, the kidlets will be so well entertained on the lawn in front of Snapper. There are trees to climb, games to play and music (on weekends) to dance to. I'm not sure if the games are provided by the club or if people just bring their own along, but my little guys just joined in and played with all of the other little kids there. Obviously being so close to the lake's edge you do need to keep an eye on your kidlets at all times, because they can just literally wander into the lake if they want to.
Snapper on the lake is basically a fish and chip joint. If you can't stomach fish, then there is a chicken burger available for you as well as a few salads. Likewise for kids, they can choose chicken nuggets instead of "whipper snapper" to go with their chippies - like my lads did. All of the food comes in takeaway boxes which is ideal when eating out with kids. The other brilliant thing is that you can munch on lunch from 11am, and dinner basically at any time before 7pm - the perfect family friendly dining times.
The Little Munch tribe ordered the Family Pack for our late lunch. It includes fish packs for two, plus 2 kids meals. The fish pack was full of perfectly cooked crumbed calamari, prawn cutlets and battered fish and of course hot chips. Snapper on the lake is licensed so you can enjoy a sneaky beer or wine with your meal too. They also brew coffee - the trendy local Lonsdale St Roasters brew to be exact.
On weekends you can have breakfast at Snapper on the lake from 8am. There are also a few different baked sweet treats available as well as a freezer full of Peters Ice Creams. They just do simple food really, really well here and sometimes (actually most of the time) that's all you need when dining out with the fambam.
If you need to walk off your fish and chips (or perhaps that extra drinkie poo that you scoffed), go for a wander around the lake's edge, the views are postcard perfect. Or you could go on a cruise around Lake Burley Griffin, as they leave from just next to Snapper, or perhaps try a spot of sailing! Click here for all the details.
Just to let you know, there is also a bit of a fancier restaurant upstairs (The Yacht Club Restaurant) which we plan to check out next time we visit Canberra. They serve lunch and dinner daily, as well as breakfast on the weekend, and they have a menu just for kidlets.
Mariner Place, Yarralumla ACT
Mon - Fri: 11am - 7pm
Sat - Sun: 8am - 7pm
I so love my Little Munch community. I'm constantly being sent messages about cool little kid friendly spots to try all over Sydney and even beyond it's borders. Recently a lovely reader told me about this place in Wyong called Glee Coffee, so we headed north on a little day trip to check it out.
Wyong is such an easy drive from Sydney, about 1 - 1.5hrs from Sydney depending where you live. Glee Coffee can be found in the interesting old Chapman Building, across the road from the Wyong Shopping Plaza. There is heaps of parking around and they open from 6am during the week and 8am on Saturdays, which is perfect for both commuters and bleary eyed parents. The place is most definitely run by hipster barista types, but golly gosh they are friendly and super nice to kids.
The interior space is huge and there is plenty of rooms for prams and groups of people. Kidlets will be occupied with the colouring in, box of toys and building blocks. There are communal tables, lounges and other areas for y'all to sit on. Menus are on the table and when you have made you decision pop up to the front counter to place your order.
Glee Coffee pride themselves on their coffee - their motto is that they only love one thing more than coffee and that is people. They source and roast their own beans and only use 100% Arabica beans - you can even buy their beans at the cafe. You can choose between filter and drip coffees to have in store. Now the coffees we had were superior (skim flat white) as is their babycino - loads of chocolatey froth and two marshmallows.
Kidlets have their own little menu and they can choose between waffles or an egg on toast and on Saturdays they flip out some pancakes for kids to enjoy. Which is exactly what our lads enjoyed - 2 big fat pancakes with maple syrup and ice cream.
For those of us with large appetites we can have anything from a corn & zucchini fritter stack to french toast to avocado delight (which we sampled and were delighted with). The carnivore of a husband was a bit disappointed that swine doesn't feature on the brekkie menu, but I'm a firm believer in being a bit herbivorish now and then - much better for our arteries. At lunch time although you can get some piglet in the pulled pork burger, or perhaps you might prefer the pulled beef nachos. And vegos will no doubt be happy with the bruschetta or Glee salad that is full of all things good for you.
There are actually a few Glee Coffee joints around. There are cafes on Darby St in Newcastle and also Erina Heights. So if you find yourself in any of these locales, I most definitely recommend that you stop in for a coffee at least!
14 Alsion Rd, Wyong NSW
02 4351 8642
Mon - Fri: 6am - 3pm
Sat: 8am - 3pm
I've always seen the sign for the turn off to Medowie as we've hooned north up the Pacific Highway and wondered what if anything at all, was there. Well one day we decided to act a bit dangerously and we took that turn off (I think we had a spewing child that necessitated the detour) and we checked out Medowie, and we were surprised to find a great kid friendly cafe at the Medowie Macadamia Farm!
The Medowie Macadamia Farm has 12 acres of macadamia trees, as well as a cafe and shop that are open 7 days a week. Nuts from the farm are sold in the shop and also used in most of the meals served up in the cafe. Breakfast and lunch as well as coffee and sweet treats are available every day from 9am - 5pm.
There is plenty of parking as well as plenty of seating options at the cafe. The outdoor area is the best place to sit with kidlets as they have loads of room to move around. This area looks over the macadamia grove and you might even spy a handsome rooster strutting his stuff around the place. There is very easy access and space to park prams and you will also find the toilet facilities near the outdoor dining area. And just to let you know, you order your meals inside the cafe and a member of the young and friendly staff will then bring them to your table.
They really do look after children at the Medowie Macadamia Farm. When we visited at the end of 2015 there was a basic little kids play area set up on the grassy area just near the outdoor seating area. The boys had a great time pulling and putting this thing back together again. However recently they have built a pretty cool new play area, and I'm sure we will take the detour again to check it out - see below. This double cubby house will no doubt keep little people amused for quite a while so that you can enjoy a tasty meal from the cafe in relative peace.
When the kidlets get hungry, they can munch on a simple vegemite sandwich, melted cheesy fingers, Hawaiian pizza, nuggets & chips or egg in a nest ( a poached egg in a nest of toast). All of these items cost $6.50 or less. The kids meals come on melamine plates which gets a big tick from me. For drinks there is the usual range of milkshakes, juices and soft drinks and if you can afford it, the babycino costs $3.00!!
For sweet treats kids will love the house made macadamia ice cream that is on offer. It can come plain in a cone or as a sundae, and they also whip up ice cream spiders. There is a cake cabinet groaning with delicious and calorific looking baked goods too. And of course there are the chocolate covered macadamias that are for sale - these are seriously good and worth buying to nibble on if you are road tripping, or just to treat yourself with when the bambinos are in bed!
The big people's menu has both simple items such as sandwiches as well as full on cooked meals like the Macadamia Carbonara or the Warm Beef Macadamia Satay with Salad. The menu is reasonably priced for a tourist location, every meal is under $20.00 (our toasted foccacia cost $10.50 and a toasted sandwich cost $6.50). The meals are served up quickly and the sandwiches we ate were choc full of fillings and they hit the spot perfectly for a light lunch. They also have weekly specials and a decent selection of gluten free and vegetarian meals available.
Medowie Macadamias is definitely a great detour to take off the Pacific Highway, and as it is about 2 hours from Sydney it's the ideal spot to "stop, revive & survive". It is also a great place to visit if you are holidaying in the Port Stephens or Newcastle region. The kids will definitely be entertained and I think you will really enjoy the serenity of the farm x
672 Medowie Rd, Medowie NSW
02 4982 8888
Open 7 days 9am - 5pm
closed on public holidays
Besides my three boys, my other 3 loves in life (I call them the 3 C's) are Champagne, Chocolate and Coffee. When I'm feeling blue, one or all of them are guaranteed to cheer me up - and let me tell you when I had the baby/pregnancy blues I needed bucket loads of all of them (although I was a good girl and stopped the champers for this period). So when I found out that I could get all three C's at breakfast time in a restaurant in the Hunter Valley, we were there quicker than the time it takes to have a C-Section!
Restaurant Cuvee at Peterson House Winery serve a Bubbly Breakfast every day of the week! And they don't mind kidlets coming along, as they have created a menu specifically for little people for both breakfast and lunch. The restaurant is located within the beautiful sandstone walls of Peterson House.
This breakfast is definitely ideal for a girl's weekend or romantic interlude with your significant other, as well as a special occasion family breakfast. The kidlets can have fun running around on the grassed area in front of the restaurant BUT please don't let them pick any of those majestic bubbly grapes (I'm sure Mr Peterson would not be impressed at all).
Restaurant Cuvee has parking right out the front and access for prams is very easy. There is also enough room to park your pram next to your table too. High chairs are available and they have toilet facilities but these do not contain a baby change table. The staff are young and friendly and have that lovely country manner - everyone of them that we encountered were super sweet to the boys.
So obviously I ordered the bubbly breakfast when we dined at Restaurant Cuvee. As soon as we ordered, a lovely cold glass of house bubbles arrived, as did a little box of chocolates from the chocolate shop that is next door to Petersons. And yes of course the boys ended up with the chockies - because kids are kids, and I will do anything to enjoy a quiet breakfast!
Now because this is a bit of a fancy pants restaurant, it means that you receive a little amusee bouche to begin your meal - in this instance it was a tiny little dish of creamy bircher muesli. The kids gobbled this down exclaiming it was the most delicious porridge that they had ever eaten but didn't understand why it was cold, in true Goldilocks fashion!
For their breakfast, the boys both chose the Apple Pie Pancakes and they were pretty darn fine. The anglaise and crumble tasted delicious together and as the portion sizes were huge it kept the boys quiet for a quite while, so that we could enjoy our bubbly breakfast without having to parent too much. If you dine at lunch time there is also a kids menu which costs $15.00. For this kidlets receive a meal, drink and ice cream with topping.
Another portion size that was huge was our breakfast! It could have easily been shared between two people. The Bubbly Breakfast has loads of bacon, roasted truss tomatoes, mushrooms, spinach, poached eggs, thick cut toast and a delicious rosemary & seeded mustard potato rosti. This breakfast (including the bubbles & chocolates) is $28.00. Now if bubbles at breakfast time is not your thing, they also offer other tempting items such as Corn Fritters with either smoked salmon or bacon; Eggs Benedict; or an adult size Apple Pie Pancakes.
I think the only aspect of the meal at Restaurant Cuvee that didn't appeal to me was the coffee. It was too milky for my liking - I prefer my coffee to be nice and strong in the morning. So if you have similar tastes to me, ask for a double shot when you place your order. Other than that, is was superb dining experience and we will definitely be back next time we visit the Hunter Valley. Actually next time we might check out their Sunday Unvined, when you can sit back and relax on the deck of the winery drinking bubbles, nibbling on a cheese plate whilst listening to some live music.
After your breakfast at Restaurant Cuvee, you will no doubt end up in the chocolate shop next door. My eldest had spied the sign to the chocolate shop as soon as we parked the car at Petersons. So when we left the restaurant he immediately made for the the Hunter Valley Chocolate Company's shop which is a hop, skip and jump away. This place is chock a block full of the most yummy selection of sweet treats and they are all a tad expensive, so make sure you raid the piggy bank before you leave home!
So Little Munchers next time you are in the Hunter Valley and are looking for a special spot for breakfast, we thoroughly recommend Restaurant Cuvee. There are not too many places around that have white tablecloths, are welcoming of families and serve the 3 C's from 8.30am - so cheers to that!
Cnr Broke Rd & Wine Country Dr, Pokolbin NSW
Open from 8.30am, 7 days a week
We spent a couple of days down the south coast of NSW in the school holidays and before we went I googled kid friendly cafes in the south coast and practically nothing came up in my search results! So team Little Munch are going to rectify that over 2016, and we are starting off with the Bodalla Dairy Shed.
The Bodalla Dairy Shed is located smack bang on the Princess Highway in the quaint little town of Bodalla. It's over 4 hours from Sydney by car and it's a great spot to stop, revive and survive. Parking is available along the road but in peak holiday season this may be a bit hard to come by. There are also some spots available off the road down the side of the shed. If you coincide your arrival at either 10am or 4pm your little ones can have a chance to bottle feed some poddy calves, which is serious fun for little (and big) city kids!
The Bodalla Dairy Shed has been fitted out to resemble a classic milk bar. The retro interior is very spacious and you can choose to sit on big tables or in more comfy booths. There is heaps of room for your pram and access into the cafe is really easy with it. There is a little spot down the back of the cafe where kids can do some colouring in and their art work adorns the wall. High chairs are available and there is also a loo with a baby change table for you to use out the back too.
Once you have perused the menu, you order and pay for your meal at the front counter with one of the friendly young members of staff. The menu for kids covers the usual suspects (nuggets, fish & chips, cheeseburger or ham & cheese toastie) and they all cost $7.50. My boys are always so predictable and went with the nuggets and I was very happy to see a decent crunchy side salad arrive with their meal.
Table water, babycinos, juices, soft drinks and of course milkshakes are all available to quench little people's thirst. Being a dairy shed we all road tested the milkshakes, and yep you can definitely taste how fresh the milk is - it's basically straight from the cow in the paddock out the back (except that it goes through a pasteurisation process first). And for a quick science lesson - the milk we buy in the supermarkets is pasteurised but it is also homogenised, which means the natural fat in milk has been broken up to spread evenly throughout the milk to give it a longer shelf life. So therefore quite a bit of time has passed between the cow being milked on the farm and us enjoying it in our coffee in suburbia first thing in the morning!
Now the adults menu is not too badly priced and it has some seriously delicious items on it. From trendy pulled pork rolls, to salt & pepperberry squid, to a hot & spicy cheese platter for two, there is something for most dietary requirements (even those of you with dairy intolerances). We went with the Aussie classic - the steak sandwich. It was your traditional country style of a steak sanger, except that it had Bodalla blue cheese melted through it. Gosh it was good and it is my favourite way to eat them from now on. On the side some crunchy hot chips were served in a little deep fryer basket. The cafe also has a full breakfast menu, as well as decadent range of sweet treats, if you're not dining at lunch time.
After we finished our lunch, we wandered out the back of the Bodalla Dairy Shed and realised that's where we should have sat with the boys. There's heaps of green grass for kids to run around on, an old cubby house and this massive wood carving of an eagle! The view over a river and paddocks full of cows is just lovely and it would be so nice to sit out here with a cheese plate and a glass of wine whilst the kidlets played.
The cheese for that cheese plate would of course come from the Bodalla Cheese factory which is right next to the Bodalla Dairy Shed. When you walk past the factory you can see staff creating cheese, yoghurt and other dairy products through big glass windows. If you would like to taste or buy some cheese you can do so in the cafe. And another fun thing to do (without the kids) would be one of their cheese making workshops that run regularly throughout the year.
The Bodalla Dairy Shed even has motel type of accommodation out the back. The rooms do look a tad small from the outside but I've since done some research online and discovered that they are quite comfortable and nicely decorated, but only accommodate 2 people.
Before you leave Bodalla, just down the road from the Bodalla Dairy Shed, you will find the Bodalla Bakery which several readers have told me bake the most amazing pies and custard slices - so you might need to stop in there too if you have room left in your belly!
So my dear Little Munchers, do you have any tips on south coast cafes that we need to review?
52 Princess Hwy, Bodalla NSW
Open 7 days 9am - 5pm
On a gloomy day in Port Stephens everyone (tourists) batten down the hatches and don't leave their accommodation. But not team Little Munch, we have no fear (and a good set of tyres on our trusty old hyundai). So when visiting the area recently, we ventured to other side of the region from where we were staying, to the Longboat Cafe in Fingal Bay for breakfast - and we were the only diners!
The Longboat Cafe is located in the bottom of the Surf Life Saving Club at Fingal Bay. There is both indoor and outdoor seating and we obviously had to sit inside due to the weather. If you score a table outside on a fine day, your kidlets will be able to run around in the park next to the cafe. Otherwise for the inside diners there are colouring in books and pencils available to occupy little hands.
You can access both the inside and out with relative ease if you have a pram in tow. You can also put your little ones in a high chair, and if you need to use the facilities, the toilets are located just outside the cafe and they include a baby change table.
Kidlets have their very own menu at breakfast and lunch. For breakfast they can munch on either Eggs on Toast or Bacon on Toast for $7. For a heartier option they also offer Bacon & Egg on Toast or Sausage & Egg on Toast for $9.50. Our boys went with the Mini Longboat Pancakes with maple syrup & ice cream for $9.50 as well as Fruit Turkish Toast for $6.50. And let me tell you, the man on the pans certainly knows how to fry up some perfect pancakes, that's for sure! These little beauties were perfect in every way and the ideal size for small bellies.
At lunch time, the usual suspects feature (eg nuggets & chips) or your babes can just have a plain sandwich with their favourite filling or spread. Kids size milkshakes come in melamine cups and they also serve a babycino for $1.00. And I need to point out here how accommodating the staff are of little people. Our waitress fawned over the boys making sure they received their drinks and meals first and that they had enough pencils to share between them.
Let's move on to the grown ups - Mr Munch grew up eating a variety of offal based dishes - I did not. And to be quite frank, the thought of cooking or consuming anything offal based makes my stomach turn. So if old mate sees anything on the menu centring around the innards of an animal, he will be sure to order it. On the breakfast menu at the Longboat Cafe, they have the ye old favourite of Lambs Fry and Bacon (for you offal novices out there, Lambs Fry consists of a mix of things like testicles, liver, sweet breads, kidneys etc). Mr Munch rubbed his paws with glee when he saw this dish and it was dished up with poached eggs, grilled tomato and some sourdough.
I went for the polar opposite ordering the very vego Avocado Mash on sourdough. This was one tasty little dish that was sprinkled with pepitas and crumbled fetta, and I ordered a poached egg on top for some protein. There was a bit too much balsamic drizzled on top for my liking (I find it a bit too intense for the taste buds first thing in the morning), other than that, it was the perfect way to start the day.
If neither of these options tickle your taste buds I'm sure you will find something else that will, as there are about 20 different options on the breakfast menu! To wash it down you will need a coffee of course, and they brew up a fairly decent cup of Segafredo coffee. And in case you drop by at lunch time, you will find that the menu covers all of your cafe favourites, from burgers and sliders, to gourmet salads as well as gourmet pies and the like.
After your meal (if the weather is behaving), you can take the kids for a swim at the beach or let them have a play in the playground. There is a decent playground for kids to muck up in, on the other side of the park from the cafe. Outside tables actually have a decent view of it, so if your kids are a bit older or you are a true free range parenter, than this will be ideal for your kids - but just remember the beach is close by, so don't let kids wander too far away unsupervised.
So Little Munchers do you batten down the hatches when its raining on your holidays, or do you get out and explore like we do?
Longboat's FB page
Fingal Bay SLSC,
Marine Dr, Fingal Bay
Mon - Fri: 8am - 3pm
Sat - Sun: 7.30am - 3pm
Every single time we have a getaway at Port Stephens it rains! We probably should give up visiting there but it's such a nice spot and an easy drive from Sydney. The area is also home to some seriously good cafes, so instead of hanging out at the beach we end up hanging out at cafes when the weather is all doom and gloom. Crest at Birubi Beach was a place we spent quite a few hours at one morning on our last visit, when the skies were pouring down with rain.
Crest is located in the local surf life saving club. The interior of the cafe is very funky and would please the snobbiest of city cafe goers I'm sure. The whole space has large window frontage looking out on to the beautiful beach. Ordinarily the windows are wide open, letting in the beautiful sea breeze and there would also be tables scattered outside along the front of the cafe on a day when the weather was a bit more friendly.
Crest is really family friendly and it ticks loads of the Little Munch boxes. Firstly there is a stack of parking (well when it is raining there is); access for prams is super easy; high chairs are readily available; there is a baby change table in the loos (which you will find just outside the cafe); weather permitting, kids can play on the grass outside of the cafe or down on the beach if they are old enough; staff are easy going and full of information on where to take kids in the area; and lastly they have some yummy food and drinks to fill up little bellies.
There is a $10 kids menu at lunch time which includes a bag of lollies! Kids have a choice between lasagne & salad, fish & chips or nuggets & chips. At breakfast time there are quite a few options on the main menu that should satisfy the fussiest of little eaters. Some examples are toast, raisin toast, banana bread, ham & cheese croissants or freshly baked muffins like my dudes went for. Babycinos and hot chocolates all come with a marshmallow and are served in disposable cups, which makes dining out so much easier for parents.
Parents will be very happy with both the breakfast and lunch menu. Whether you are a carnivore or herbivore there is an option on the menu for you. Hungry bellies can be filled up with a big breakfast, avo & fetta smash on toast, or granola with mixed berries and yoghurt to name but a few. At lunch time there is a sharing menu and also a menu for people who don't like double dippers (aka people who don't like to share). On the sharing menu you will find a seafood platter or tasting platter for two; nachos; oysters; and bruschettas plus more. And on the mains menu you will find a burger, steak sandwich, some salads and also fish and chips and s&p squid.
For drinkie poos, caffeine addicts will be delighted with the brew of Allpress coffee on offer and those of you like a little tipple will be glad to hear that Crest is fully licensed. So at lunch time, or for an afternoon drink, or even when they are open for dinner (Fri & Sat evenings) you can enjoy wine, bubbles, craft beers and ciders.
After your meal at Crest I would thoroughly recommend hitting the beach. At low tide you can take the kids crabbing and to explore the rock pools, and of course you can take a dip (however Birubi Beach isn't the most kid friendly of beaches in the area, so make sure you keep a close eye on little people in the water). Right next to Birubi Beach are the Stockton Sand Dunes. These big boys are the largest continuous mobile sand dunes in the southern hemisphere - some of them measure as high as 30m! There are loads of activities to be found amongst the dunes, so check out the Port Stephens Visitors Info website for more info, or just take along your own cardboard box to create your own fun!
Unfortunately you cannot make a booking at Crest, so I do advise in summer and other peak periods you arrive early for your meal. Their hours are very family friendly: 7 days from 8am - 11.30am for breakfast and lunch is from 11.30am - 3.30pm. Dinner is from 5.30pm Friday & Saturday nights.
Birubi Point SLSC
73 James Paterson St, Anna Bay NSW
Breakfast & lunch 7 days from 8am
Dinner Fri & Sat evenings from 5.30pm
This time last year we hooned north out of Sydney for our Christmas holidays at the crack of dawn. We stopped in at Warnies Cafe at Warnervale for a spot of breakfast and a much needed caffeine fix en route. Now the kids had a blast at the cafe as it is really kid friendly, but Mr Munch and I weren't that impressed with the standard of food or coffee. So recently when we were in the area again we stopped by for some lunch hoping that it may have improved. And guess what? It has more than improved - it's had a glam makeover thanks to a couple of funky sisters who have not only given the place a new look and feel, but are also now serving up some seriously good food and Campos coffee!
Warnervale is about 100kms north of Sydney, depending on where you live and it's about a 15 minute detour off the freeway. You can also catch the train there as Warnies is located right at the train station. The Warnies & Co building is like a big old country house and has a lovely garden out the back, complete with a play area for the kids. There is ample parking and you can access all of the eating areas with your pram.
There are loads of different seating areas, both inside and out. Outside is obviously the best with kids. If you have little train spotters in your tribe then they will love sitting out the front of the cafe so that they can see the trains that go hurtling past quite often (we counted 10 over the course of our lunch). But there is a road here so you do need to keep a close eye on them.
Otherwise out the back of the cafe in the garden is perfect, as there is a cute old cubby house complete with a slide that kids can muck around on and there is also loads of green grass for them to hop, skip and jump on. They may even spy some moo cows over the back fence! If you need to change your little one's nappy there is a baby change table in the loo inside and there are high chairs in abundance.
The kids menu is nice and cheap at $7.00 and it covers the usual suspects at lunch time - nuggets & chips, spaghetti bolognese, cheeseburger & chips, or fish & chips. For breakfast kidlets can fill their little bellies with pancakes, corn fritters or bacon and eggs. Or they can just have a bowl of cereal for $3.20! Kid size drinks, babycinos and even crazy shakes are available. And if your babes need a treat there are some awesome looking cupcakes in the cake cabinet.
The adults menu would be at home in any city cafe with juicy home made burgers, gourmet salads and an antipasto platter featuring. Now besides using awesome Campos beans to brew their coffee they also use my favourite Bread & Butter Project sourdough - the sisters have certainly brought a touch of the city to Warnervale, that's for sure!
If for some reason your kidlets are still in need of entertaining after your visit to Warnies & Co, there is another playground directly across the road! This train themed space is very cute and also the perfect spot for a bit of train spotting at the real trains go puffing by.
Warnies & Co should definitely be on your list to try out next time you are going north, whether it's on holidays or just for a day trip - I really think you are going to like it!
1/5 Warnervale Rd, Warnervale NSW
Mon - Fri: 7am - 5pm; Sat: 8am - 2pm; Sun: 8am - 3pm
OK before I tell you about how lovely and kid friendly Nice at Nelson Bay is, I just want you to linger a bit longer and check out the gorgeous presentation of the dish above! Have you seen anything presented as beautifully as this has been for breakfast before? And I'm sure the swine loving carnivores amongst you are probably thinking yeah it's pretty but where is my bacon! Well here it is Little Piglets and it looks pretty darn gorgeous too:
When on a recent holiday in the Port Stephens area, Nice at Nelson Bay was our favourite cafe. From the moment we sat down to the moment we left we had a wonderful experience. The cafe is located on the first floor of Nelson Towers Motel (which is across the road from the visitors centre and overlooks the Marina at Nelson Bay). You can either park down at the waterfront in the paid car park and walk across the road and up to the cafe (there is both ramp/stair access); or park your car on Magnus Street and walk through the back of the Nelson Towers Arcade to the cafe.
You have the choice of sitting inside or out at Nice, and there is quite a bit of space to park your pram. The outside seating is obviously the most popular, as you have views over the waterfront. High chairs are available and the toilets are located just around the corner from the cafe. They provide full table service at Nice and I'm sure your little people will love the very uniquely presented menus as they come inside Little Golden Books (and we all remember those don't we...)!.
The other things that kidlets will love is the toy corner. Located just inside the cafe there is a decent selection of toys and puzzles as well as a couple of little kids tables. Our boys spent most of our breakfast in there happily playing and we had a perfect view of them from our outside table.
With the boys happily occupied, we enjoyed our amazing coffee! The very divine Allpress Coffee is used at Nice - actually it is used at loads of cafes in Port Stephens. The coffee was brewed perfectly and I so love the cool mug that it was served in, and of course the little piece of biscotti that accompanied it.
Our little humans have their very own kiddy menu for both breakfast and lunch. The boys sampled the buttermilk pancakes, that came with maple syrup and ice cream ($8.50). I loved how they were served up up on a funky (unbreakable) melamine plate too! Other options are vegemite/jam toast; banana toast with curly butter; ghost toast (poached egg on toast); and for those of you who have kids with a big appetite, the big kid breaky would be ideal - egg, sausage, bacon, toast & t-sauce ($9.50). At lunch time all of the meals are ten bucks, and they come with chippies, salad and t-sauce. Kids can choose between a crumbed fish fillet, roast chicken breast or salt n pepper calamari.
Now on to the grown ups menu - obviously there is my stunner of the Nice Granola - this beautiful dish was full of honey toasted almond muesli with yoghurt and fresh fruit and garnished with edible flowers and micro herbs. And for $12.50 it was fantastic value as it was a very generous serve. Now if this doesn't tickle your fancy the Buttermilk Pancakes also look amazing, and the toasted French Croissants with various fillings sound pretty darn good too. Their Eggs Benedict were flying out of the kitchen so I'm presuming they were very tasty indeed.
I'm sure whether you dine at breakfast, lunch or just for coffee and cake at Nice, your meal will be perfect. Service was brilliant and you can even make sure the chef doesn't lick the spoon, as there is an open kitchen!
I think this summary of the cafe from their menu is perfect. Nice at Nelson Bay is more than nice, it is fabulous and they do a seriously great job of running a cafe. So make sure you drop by when you are in Port Stephens on holiday - ok! But be warned this place gets very busy, so perhaps be smart Little Munchers and arrive early.
Do you visit Port Stephens often Little Munchers? If so what is your favourite cafe?
Nelson Towers, 71 Victoria Pde, Nelson Bay NSW
Open 7 days 7am - 2pm
I'm constantly amazed by the quality of cafes that we are finding in country NSW - it almost makes me want to move back to the bush! Take for example the cherry capital of Australia - Young in South West NSW. This bustling town is home to the lovely Kettle & Grain Cafe - a cafe where even the most city slicker of families would happily dine over and over again.
Kettle & Grain occupies an old school house, a little away from the main drag of Young. It's a really large cafe space so it's great for catch ups with family and friends. Depending on how your old school days were, you can choose to sit inside in one of the classrooms or outside in the playground! We chose the later as there was heaps of room for the boys to roam safely and there was also a blackboard to keep them occupied.
Whether you choose to sit inside or out at Kettle & Grain, there is loads of pram parking available, access into the cafe is also super easy so you won't need to worry about asking any other diners to move out of your way to get your pram in. High chairs are available and the loos are located outside. Inside the cafe there is a basket of colouring books and crayons for kidlets to use as well as the morning paper for parents to read.
The babycinos ($1.50) are sure to put a smile on the dial of any grumpy little tacker! Kids size milkshakes will set you back $3.50 and they also have some other crowd pleasing drinks such as nutella hot chocolates, creaming soda spiders and a tim tam chiller. And if you are a caffeine addict you will love the perfectly brewed Ona Coffee (from Canberra).
Now there isn't a specific kids menu but there are heaps of options on both the breakfast and lunch menus that will satisfy little bellies. Our young dudes had toast with nutella for breakfast and some other options are porridge, banana bread, raisin toast and pancakes. At lunch time I'm sure most kids will love the corn fritters, frittata, margherita pizza or pulled pork sliders that are on the menu, and if all else fails - they can have chips or wedges.
The menu items at Kettle & Grain have some seriously quirky names. Take for example the Dirty Frenchman ($15) - it's described as being the perfect combo of naughty & nice (just like all Frenchmen I'm sure!). French toast is served up with local free range birch smoked bacon and gooey caramelised banana. My dirty old Aussie bloke went for this and I think he was on a sugar high for the rest of the day!
My choice of the Bean n Gone ($15.50) was a very tasty little dish - twice cooked free range eggs, house made spicy baked beans, sliced chorizo & parmesan. If you arrive at lunch time perhaps you might like a fling with the Randy Rooster - grilled chicken burger on a ciabatta roll with brie, cranberry sauce, rocket and served with some herby hot chips. Mr Bo - Peep sounds delicious (a lamb burger) too, as does 3 Little Pigs (pulled pork sliders). And don't worry just because you are in the country it doesn't mean every menu item has meat in it - the Blue Owl also sounds really good - it's a blue cheese, pear & walnut stone baked pizza.
After your meal at Kettle & Grain you can check out the Lambing Flat Museum that is next door - no there aren't any lambs in there, just historical material that will show you about the history of the area. There is also a park near the cafe where you can go for a trot along the creek and chase some ducks - quack, quack!
Do you have a favourite country cafe Little Munchers? How does it rate in the kid friendly stakes?
2 Campbell St, Young NSW
Open Tue - Sun from 8am
A simple kids menu that doubles as an activity sheet can be a game changer when dining out with kids. Most of the time I have a bag of tricks inside my tote to keep the boys occupied when we are out and about, but occasionally I forget to pack it like I did recently when we went off bush walking in the Blue Mountains (the tote was swapped for a backpack and the activity pack got left behind).
After our hike we stopped in at The Bunker in the lovely mountains village of Springwood for a spot of breakfast. The boys were pooped after their big walk and I realised as soon as we sat down that I forgot my busy bag for them, but I shouldn't have fretted because as soon as our backsides had hit our seats, an activity sheet was immediately in front of the boys complete with a cup of crayons! There are actually two different activity sheets - one has puzzles on it and the other has pieces of fruit on it that can be coloured in. And the kids activities at The Bunker don't stop there, as I've also seen on the Bunker's FB page that inside they have a Ipad station inside the cafe! We were sitting outside and there was no way I was going to let my electronic obsessed sons inside to check it out...especially after we had just had such a successful morning outdoors in Mother Nature.
With the boys happily occupied we ordered our coffee and food. They serve Morgans Coffee at The Bunker and golly gosh it makes a sublime brew. The beans are roasted just down the highway in Emu Plains and I wish that we would see more of it served in the city. The boys had kid size milkshakes ($4.50) that came in kid friendly disposable cups - they also offer kids size versions of smoothies, hot chocolates, lemonade, orange & apple juice too.
To be honest, we did wait quite a while for our meals to arrive (40mins +) which is not ideal when dining out with kids and why we normally have breakfast early on weekends and not in the peak time of 9am. If there are any first time parents reading this I thoroughly recommend that you dine out with kids at breakfast time bright and early! Firstly you are mostly guaranteed a table; the staff should be full of energy and not frazzled by a full cafe; the kitchen normally can pump out meals quickly; and lastly there shouldn't be too many of those diners around who perhaps don't like little humans.
Luckily when the food finally arrived it was delicious - the kid's fruit & yoghurt came in a big bowls and they could have easily shared one; and our breaky bruschetta ($15.50) with its mashed avo, tomato salsa, fetta, balsamic & a poached egg was an excellent size serve and perfect to fill our hungry bellies. The breakfast menu ranges in price from $5.50 - $19.50 and includes all of your cafe favourites. At lunch time you can have a steak sandwich, chicken snitty with slaw, lemon pepper squid, soup of the day, a chicken breast wrap, a BLAT, prawn pappardelle or a yummy sounding salad and once again the most expensive item is $19.50.
The Bunker is also open for dinner from 5.00pm so you can enjoy a nice early dinner there too. On the menu for kidlets is macaroni & cheese, sausage & vegies, fish & chips, or chicken & chips and all of these meals cost $11.00. The big peoples menu averages around $30.00 and they have really delicious sounding options for both herbivores and carnivores. They are also fully licensed so you can have a sneaky wine or two to help you get through the experience of dining out with kids during the witching hour!
There are quite a few car parks around Springwood as well as some street parking available. Access into The Bunker is really easy with your pram and if you are dining with friends who also have prams it may be wise to ring ahead and make a booking and let them know. They also have high chairs available and the toilets are located inside the cafe. And for something fun why don't you catch the train up! The Springwood station is just down the road from The Bunker.
After your meal, make sure you have a wander around the quaint village of Springwood. There are some lovely shops, a cute old church and a little enclosed playground is across the road and down a bit from The Bunker too. If you really want to tire out your kids you can take them on a bush walk - we did the Fairy Dell to Lawson's Lookout before breakfast and it was a great hour long family bushwalk suitable for kids 4 years plus - please note the walk is not pram friendly, however you could carry them on your back if you were feeling energetic!
Do you eat out early with your Little Munchers? Or do you brave the late morning brunch crowd?
150 Macquarie Rd, Springwood NSW
Mon - Tue: closed
Wed - Sun: 7am - late
On the road again, I can't wait to get on the road again....this Willie Nelson classic seems to be the motto of the Little Munch family - we love road trips. It also has to do with the fact that my family's farm is north of Sydney, so if we want to see the grandparents, we can't just pop around the corner or to the next suburb - we have to drive 4 hours!
As a result I have a very good list of cafes (and it does not include the golden arches) where we can get our caffeine fix en route. And a new addition to the list is the Greenhouse Cafe in Nabiac. Nabiac is a small village about 3 hours from Sydney. You may have zoomed past it on your travels thinking that there was not much there except a petrol station and a bakery (which by the way is also very good) as that is all you can see from the highway. So to discover how lovely this village is, you need to take the Nabiac exit off the highway. Drive around for a little bit and you will find the Greenhouse in the main street - just look for a lovely old weatherboard green house!
The Greenhouse Cafe has both indoor and outdoor seating available. The indoor seating is very spacious and has plenty of room and access for your pram. The outdoor seating area in the garden is probably the best spot to sit with kids who need to burn off a bit of energy after sitting still in the car for so long. Alas I only discovered this when I went to use the loos, so we sat inside. And the toilet facilities are lovely and clean, but they don't contain a baby change table. High chairs are available for bambino bums to sit in and the staff are all very welcoming and friendly towards little humans.
The Greenhouse cafe also doubles a small gift shop - which is perfect in case you forgot to bring a hostess gift for the people you may be staying with. There is a lovely range of jewellery and homewares, cards and some local food products, that you can browse through - just keep an eye on little hands just in case they abscond with something!
If you are stopping in for a caffeine fix and a sweet nibble, you are in for a real treat. The cake cabinet is full to the brim, with all sorts of delicious baked goods and their Merlo coffee is perfectly brewed. I'm not sure if it has to do with tree changers, or if it is just that we love good food and coffee in Australia, but every country town we visit these days serves up top notch fare and excellent coffee just like they do at the Greenhouse Cafe!
The menu at the Greenhouse Cafe would be at home in any city cafe, and contains items that both adults and kids will love. From corn fritter stacks with smoked salmon to healthy vego breakfasts with grilled haloumi, balsamic mushies, tomato and fritters, you are spoilt for choice at breakfast time. And the best bit? They come in big country size portions. And just to let you know, the menu prices are similar to what you will find in city cafes.
At lunch time kidlets have their very own menu. They can choose between flathead fillets or chicken nuggets and they are both served with chips and sauce. The meals cost $10.00 and include a juice popper. For bigger people there are healthy sounding gourmet salads, wraps, melts, fish & chips etc for you to choose from.
A lot of love came out of the Greenhouse's kitchen the day we dined and it also came from the charming staff who we dealt with. This is one cafe I will definitely be returning too and I'm also keen to check out their gorgeous Magnolia Tea House that is just around the corner and specialises in high teas! Check out their website here.
So my dear Little Munchers, next time you are heading North, I thoroughly recommend that you make the quick detour into Nabiac and visit the gorgeous Greenhouse Cafe. And if you need any other tips on where to stop heading out of Sydney, just drop me a line x
P.S. there is a playground just down the street from the Greenhouse, in Memorial Reserve - so you can always grab takeaways and head down there if your kids need some proper play time.
72 Clarkson St, Nabiac NSW
Open 7 days 7am - 3.30pm
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Newcastle is one of our favourite spots to go for a weekend away. The city is full of fabulous places to eat and drink coffee, great playgrounds, as well as beautiful beaches and a thriving arts scene. We normally stay in the city centre to be close to all of the action, but on our last visit we couldn't find an affordable room. So we headed out to the burbs, and stayed in New Lambton. And I'm so glad we did, because not only did we discover a delightful village atmosphere, but we also found the hip and happening The Locale!
The Locale occupies a prime position on busy Alma Rd, and has its very own car park. There is indoor, outdoor and verandah seating available. When we dined at breakfast time, we opted for an inside table as the weather was quite chilly. However the best place for dining with kidlets is definitely on the semi enclosed verandah where they have their own table set up with a bucket of toys to play with (there is also colouring in next to the front counter inside too). Blankets are available to wrap around you out here if you decide to brave the elements in winter. All of the seating areas have space for prams and access is also relatively easy. There are high chairs for little bums and the loos are located on the outside of the building, but do not contain a baby change table.
The interior and atmosphere of The Locale is what I would call retro quirky. There are loads of recycled elements including the furniture, the walls and the doors! And a cool old teaspoon collection takes centre stage on a wall on the inside of the cafe. Even their menus are both retro and quirky at The Locale and kidlets may mistake them for story books, like my boys did!
There is full table service at The Locale. Service was attentive but our meals did take quite a while to leave the kitchen and hit our table. There are definitely a swag of hipster barista types amongst the staff, yet they were all quite charming, unlike some of their Sydney counterparts who just act a bit too cool for school. And yes they most certainly know how to a brew a brilliant cup of coffee. And for you non caffeine addicts, you will love their delicious selection of freshly squeezed juices! The Pink Panther has watermelon, apple & mint in it; the Ginger Megs is full of carrot, ginger & orange; and the Lady Pam is a combination of pear, apple & mint.
The kids menu is called the Locale Rascals and it includes The Little Pig ($10) for breakfast, which is a rasher of bacon & a fried egg on toast. We added a hash brown to this dish and the boys shared it. If this doesn't appeal to your piglets then there are quite a few options on the main menu that they would probably like - ham & cheese croissants, toast & spreads, banana bread etc. At lunch the menu for the Locale Rascals includes either chicken or steak with chips & tomato sauce ($9.50). Babycinos are $2.00 and both kid size shakes and juices are also on the menu. Our dudes had hot chocolates and the staff kindly served them luke warm and in take away cups!
So the kidlets are sorted, so lets move on to us big people. The chefs at The Locale certainly know how to poach an egg.....it amazes me how many don't! The eggs in both of our dishes were perfectly cooked - firm whites on the outside and perfectly runny yellow on the inside - and none of that foul vinegar liquid residue that makes your toast soggy was to be found. My Spicy Mexican breakfast was the perfect way to warm up on a chilly day. It had juicy corn fritters, bacon , guacamole, poached eggs & relish and it was the sort of dish that could be easily eaten at any time of day. Next time we visit I want to try the wicjed sounding Bread & Butter French Toast that comes with peanut butter ice cream, chocolate, banana and pop corn!!! Just to let you know most of the breakfast items hover just under the $20.00 mark.
At lunch time you can fill your big bellies with salads, burgers, fish n chips as well as a whole host of other cafe favourites. The Locale also opens Thursday - Saturday evening, serving up delicious sounding tapas and cocktails. Either go for an early dinner with the kidlets, or hire a baby sitter and make a night of it!
So Little Munchers, do you know of any hidden suburban kid friendly cafes in Newcastle?
28 Alma Rd, New Lambton NSW
02 4957 9998
Mon - Wed: 6.30am - 5.00pm
Thu - Sat: 6.30am - 10.00pm
Sun: 6.30am - 4.00pm
If you love classic fish and chips with a side of playground and pelican, then you need to check out the Woy Woy Fishermen's Wharf!
I have had 3 lovely Little Munch readers send me emails this year, telling me about how fantastic the Woy Woy Fishermen's Wharf is - "the ideal day trip from Sydney" was how one described it. And it so is! It takes just over an hour to get there via car from Sydney, depending on where you live. Or for a super cool day trip - catch the train! From Hornsby Station for example it only takes 37 minutes and if you do it on Sunday it won't cost that much, as you can capitalise on Family Funday Sunday.
The Woy Woy Fishermen's Wharf is a restaurant/take away/fish market/kiosk right next to a playground. The restaurant looks very nice and is located at the back of the wharf over the water. It is open 7 days a week for lunch and it's the sort of place you need to make a booking for. They have a kids menu, high chairs and easy access for prams. However I'm thinking if your rocked up and made your kids sit inside the restaurant instead of letting them be outside in the playground, you aren't going to win any awards for parent of the year - so go for the take away option. The take-away is also open 7 days a week and you can have lunch as early as 11am if you wish and on Friday and Saturday nights you can even grab an early dinner.
We visited on a Saturday for an early take away lunch - which is a smart idea as this place gets packed on weekends! When we arrived we found it a bit tricky to find a car park but eventually we nabbed a spot a short walk away from the wharf. As we walked up, the boys immediately spied the playground right in front of the wharf, so they scampered off to explore every inch of it. Meanwhile, I secured us the best table in the house (i.e. the one closest to the playground) and Mr Munch went and ordered us lunch.
It was at this point in time that I realised that I have a fear of big birds with big beaks. See there are quite a few pelicans roaming around looking for a quick feed (they like humans seem to have a penchant for hot chips). They also like to get up close and personal with diners. Luckily a knight in shining armour (some cranky old bloke) shooed them away before they came up and plonked their beak in my lap looking for some tucker. So if you see them when you visit, perhaps don't feed them, as hot chippies aren't their natural diet AND these birds weigh more than a small child - if a toddler got between a pelican and a hot chip, the toddler would definitely come off second best. I've since found out that at 3pm every day the staff actually feed the pelicans, and all the other little birdies, with the fresh fish off cuts from the seafood market, so it could also be fun to coincide your trip with this time of day.
Whilst I was trying to de - friend the pelicans, my boys were having a great time making new friends in the playground. The playground is fully fenced, which is handy as it located close to the road. However if you have kids over the age of about 4, they will easily be able to either climb over the fence or work out how to open the gates - so keep an eye on them. There's plenty of seating inside the playground, both park benches and undercover picnic tables. If you have a fear of birds too, this would be an ideal spot to sit and enjoy your lunch.
Once Mr Munch had ordered our food he came back to the table with an order number and left me to listen out for the number to be called whilst he went and procured some beverages for us all. Drinks, coffees, ice creams and other sweet treats can be bought at the kiosk - and guess what? You can buy booze! The wharf is licensed so you can partake in a beer or glass of vino whilst you enjoy your fish and chips. But just to let you know, the playground is an alcohol free zone, so you can't sit in there and imbibe, you have to do it at the tables provided by the Fishermen's Wharf.
The takeaway menu covers all of your favourites and if you aren't a deep fried fatty you can always just buy a kilo of prawns or a dozen of oysters from the fish market to have for your lunch. We shared a Fishermen's Basket which fed us easily as the boys were more interested in playing than eating. There was calamari, prawn cutlets, fish pieces and a seafood stick as well as chips.
After lunch, have a quick pit stop at the toilets right next to the wharf and then take the family for a trot along the park next to the wharf, that follows the water's edge, to burn off some of your lunch, just like we did. If you have a chiller pack with you, or don't have to travel very far, make sure you grab some seafood from the fish market before you head home. The prawns, oysters and fish looked amazing and it is basically straight off the boat - I don't think you are going to find any fresher seafood in Sydney except if you go to the fish markets in Pyrmont.
Have you been to the Woy Woy Fishermen's Wharf LIttle Munchers? How do you go with pesky pelicans?
The Boulevarde, Woy Woy, NSW
Open 7 days for lunch
Orange, in Central West NSW, is building its reputation for food and wine, so it makes for a great weekend away for couples wanting to indulge their palates and bellies. But what if couples have kids and want to take them along as well? We are one of those said couples and before we visited recently, I found it very difficult to find a resource that covered all of the "family friendly" aspects of this beautiful inland city. Well now there is a guide - the Little Munch Guide to Orange!
From Sydney you need to head over the Blue Mountains to get to Orange, otherwise known as the "Colour City". You can go up via the Great Western Highway or up via the Bells Line of Road. Both trips take about 3.5 hours from the CBD, so for some fun, why not go up one way and come back the other? That's what we do! Now you will no doubt need a pit stop along the way so why not do that at one of our favourite cafes en route:
Via the Great Western Highway check out:
Via the Bells Line of Road check out:
Along the way you will drive through the lovely towns of Lithgow & Bathurst. They both have fantastic parks in case you need further pit stops for the kidlets. In Lithgow check out Queen Elizabeth Park and in Bathurst, the new Adventure Playground looks awesome! If you left Sydney in the morning you will arrive in Orange just in time for something to eat, then you might need a play and lastly you will need somewhere to stay - so here are the Little Munch recommendations for all 3!
Where to eat in Orange!
Apparently Orange has about 50 cafes (and I thinks as many pubs) - that's a lot of places to eat in a place that has a population of 40,000 people. Sadly we couldn't visit all of them (on this visit), but I do believe we found the best of the best of the family friendly places to eat in this beautiful city. Here are our top 3:
Little Munch also recommends:
Where to play in Orange!
The Adventure Playground is Orange's best playground. It's located away from the centre of town in North Orange. Right next to the playground is the picturesque Botanic Gardens - the gardens are a great place to let the kids run free, but to be honest they will probably only be interested in playing in the Adventure Playground once they see it. There are actually two playgrounds here - one is fenced off (but kids can still get through the holes in the fence!) and most suited for young kids; and the other fort like playground is great for kids that can climb and be more independent. A giant chess board is also located next to the play areas, but there wasn't a pawn in sight to play with when we visited - they must only come out to play in the middle of the day! There is also a scooter path where can kids can learn to ride and one very pretty rhino to check out! Patmos Garden Cafe is on site if you need a coffee or cool drink, but it was closed when we visited in the late afternoon so we were unable to review it.
Located at the bottom of Mount Canobolas, this serene lake is not only beautiful to look at, but it also has a beach (pack the bucket & spade) and in the warmer months you can swim, row a boat or fish in it. On the other side of the lake you find the excellent Apex Playground which you can access by running (my kids don't walk) across the board walk. Toilet facilities are located on both sides of the lake and if you are feeling peckish you can either bring along a picnic as there are BBQ facilities available or drop into the gorgeous Lakehouse Cafe like we did!
Mt Canobolas basically looks all over Orange. If you decided to drive up there to check out the view, please check the weather first (no matter what season) as it does snow in this part of the world. Make sure you have appropriate clothing and that your car is able to handle the slippery conditions if it has been raining or snowing. The drive up to Mt Canobolas is very scenic (and of course you can drop into Lake Canobolas on the way). Along the way you will see road side stalls selling all sorts of fresh produce and there are tea rooms where you can indulge in devonshire tea. Once you are at the top you might be able to see the beautiful view, if the weather wants to behave (it did not when we were up there). Besides checking out the view you can also go bush walks - I'm thinking that it would be more sensible to this in the warmer months when you have kids in tow.
The above 3 locations were our favourite spots that we visited in Orange, however there are so many more places to discover:
Other parks to visit:
Some other playgrounds to visit:
Some other family friendly ideas:
The Wineries to visit with kids:
There are about 30 wineries in Orange, and the Philip Shaw Winery (pictured below) is a great cellar door to visit with kids. They are located just on the outskirts of town, (so your kids won't get bored driving all over the countryside trying to find wineries) and they have loads of space for kids to run around, as well as a Bocce game that kids can play. Oh and their wines are very nice too! Mortimers of Orange is also meant to be welcoming of children as they have a playground! Mortimers are about 10 minutes out of town and only open on weekends. Unfortunately we ran out of time to visit them. If you all have been in the car for too long and don't fancy driving around to every single winery, you can drop by Ferment in Orange. They offer wine to taste, and to buy, from those wineries that do not have a cellar door. In our experience, couples are very welcome here, children less so. So you might need to take it in turns going in and sampling the wines.
Where to stay in Orange!
There are loads of places to stay in Orange, from high end to budget style of accommodation. If money is tight, the Colour City Caravan Park, to the north of the city centre, is a good option. You can camp, park your caravan or stay in a cabin here. There are two types of cabins available - budget and deluxe. Whilst the facilities are quite basic in the cabins, they are clean and the staff are very hospitable. I also need to let you know that the park is close to the train line, so you might hear a toot or two during the night. Seana from Sydney Kids + Travel recommends the Ibis Styles for good family accommodation and if your pockets are full of coin I suggest you stay at the de Russie Suites in the heart of Orange.
Whether you stay for a week or only a weekend, there is so much to see and do in the Colour City. If you need any further information on places that we may no have covered check out the Visit Orange website.
Have you been to Orange with the kids Little Munchers? Did we miss any family friendly gems?
Bissys Cafe in Orange is what I would call a community cafe. To me this is a good old fashioned cafe, a cafe where locals come to receive honest food that isn't too fancy - there's no quinoa, acai bowls or fancy pants cold dripped syphon coffee on the menu here.
A Little Munch reader recommended that I visit Bissys Cafe because it was seriously kid friendly, so when we visited Orange it was on the top of my list to check out. I decided that we would try out Bissys for breakfast on a public holiday, as not many of the other cafes in town were open, and also because Bissys opens from the very family friendly hour of 7am.
Bissys Cafe is located a little bit away from the main drag of Orange in an area of town called Warrendine. There is plenty of parking on the street, so I can't imagine that you would ever have a problem scoring a spot. You can sit inside or out at Bissys and as it was winter, we obviously chose and inside possie. If you have a pram, an outdoor table would be the best option as there isn't a lot of room to manoeuvre the pram inside the cafe. There are high chairs available if your babe is old enough to sit in one.
When we walked into Bissys we were the only diners (probably because we are the only people that get up at a sparrow's fluff on a public holiday), so we sat ourselves down and took in the quirky surrounds. Every inch of the walls has been painted inside Bissys, some with interesting murals and there's lots of knick knacks around the place, so make sure you keep an eye on wandering little fingers. After a while we spotted the menus sitting on a shelf opposite us and that's when we realised that you had to order and pay at the counter down the back of the cafe.
As I was reading through the menu I was quite surprised to find the price of coffee to be quite "citified". A small coffee costs $4.00! A babycino costs $3.00! Although I should say that the coffee was excellent and their babycino was very cute - but when you also have to pay a public holiday surcharge, there's not much coin left in your pocket. The breakfast menu ranges in price from $6.00 for toast up to $20.00 for a big breaky and the lunch menu ranges in price from $6.50 for a simple sandwich up to $17.50 for a steak sandwich.
Kids have their very own menu at Bissys, however the breakfast options didn't really tickle the fancy of the boys, so they opted to share the pancakes off the main menu. The kitchen staff thoughtfully split the dish so that the boys received their very own pancake with all the trimmings - cream, maple syrup and strawberries! This eliminated any chance of turf war over how much pancake each child inhaled! I think the Lunch box is an awesome choice if you dine in the middler of the day and I love that kids can have a choice between healthy and having apiece of fruit in the box or being a wee bit naughty and having a sweet treat.
Mr Munch and I chose the same option for our breakfast - the omelette with baby spinach, tomato, mushroom, bacon & cheese ($15.50). It came as a large open omelette with thick slice toast. I don't know if it because I have been following a low fat diet of late, but I did find this dish to be a tad on the oily side. Anyway some other options on the breakfast menu are fried butter mushrooms on toast ($10.20); eggs royal - poached eggs on Turkish toast, topped with smoked salmon & hollandaise ($19); and the Aussie breaky - bacon, eggs, 2 sausages, baked beans, 2 hash browns & toast! They all sound like big hearty country meals.
During our visit I was trying to work out why this cafe had been recommend to me as being so very child friendly. Sure a few of the Little Munch Boxes had been ticked - like high chairs & a kids menu, but the basic toilet facilities didn't contain a baby change table and I couldn't see any activities for kids to do. After we finished our meal we wandered outside and that's when I understood what my reader was on about, because we discovered Fipa's World.
Fipa's World is a sensory garden full of edible plants and creatures that will no doubt delight your kidlets. They may even meet Fipa if they are lucky - he's a big green frog! So on a sunny day I would suggest that it is best to sit outside so that you kidlets can explore this lovely space. They even have gymbaroo classes here in a building behind the brightly coloured fence - so yep Bissy Cafe is definitely kid friendly!
If your kids need to run around for a while, there is a park right opposite Bissys that has lots of green grass, areas where kids can ride their skate boards as well as play on some playground equipment.
88 Warrendine St, Orange NSW
02 6369 0666
Open 7 days
Mon - Fri: 7am - 4pm
Sat: 7am - 2pm; Sun: 8am - 2pm
Whilst in Orange also check out:
I think I must have been a biker's babe in a previous life. If I see a good lookin' motorbike casually parked out the front of a cafe, I immediately think that it must be a cool cafe to hang out in, you know a bit Easy Rider kind of cool (except without the horrific ending). 4 Beans Cafe in North Richmond is one such cafe that has caught my eye quite a few times over the years, as we've been heading west over the mountains. On our drives, I've always noticed the seriously cool wheels out the front of the cafe and the last time we headed west, it got too much for me and I organised that we would arrive just in time for breakfast to see just how easy riding 4 Beans was!
You can park either your bike or your family planner right out the front of 4 Beans and if you have a pram there is easy access into the cafe and plenty of room to park it next to your table. When we arrived the boys scampered out of the car and tried to jump on that beautiful bike - thankfully we caught them just before they climbed on board, as I'm sure who ever is in charge of keeping that little beauty so well polished would not have been impressed with my sons grubby little paw prints all over it!
All of the space inside 4Beans really impressed me. I'm so over cafes that try to cram too many tables and therefore too many people into their space - there is nothing worse then the person behind pushing back their chair and hitting you, just as you are about to gulp down your freshly made brew - coffee burns ain't pleasant. High chairs are available at 4 Beans, and if you forgot to pack any activities to keep the kidlets occupied you can always pop down to the newsagent that is located in the same row of shops as 4 Beans and pick up some colouring supplies.
They make a very decent brew for $3.50 at 4 Beans. To be honest I forgot to check what beans they use but I loved the bright yellow cup that it came in and the coffee was even made in a funky yellow espresso machine! If caffeine isn't your thing you can enjoy a pot of loose leaf tea, a peach iced tea, a local apple juice from Bilpin or perhaps even a ginger beer and ice cream float!
The cute kids menu at 4 Beans is decorated with Minions and other fun kid characters. Kidlets can stuff their faces with bacon/sausage, egg chips & toast ($7); mini pancakes ($5); nutella crepes ($5.50); cheesy fingers ($4); spaghetti numbers on toast ($5); or a kids burger & chips ($6). To drink they can have spiders & milkshakes or babycinos for 50 cents. Of course the boys wanted to be difficult and not choose anything off the menu - they had seen freshly baked ginormous chocolate muffins and wanted those instead. I ordered one for them to share (they can never eat a whole one to themselves) and the kitchen kindly cut it in half and sent the halves out on separate plates with a strawberry on the side - such a nice kid friendly touch don't you agree?
The adults menu covers all of the basics from a bacon & egg roll ($8.50) up to the "BaD BOY" big breakfast ($18). Their scrambled eggs are excellent ($10.50) and I also like the sound of the Chef's special omelette (bacon, pumpkin, cheese & spring onion) that is served with toast and chips - as do quite a few of the breakfast items at 4 Beans. I think if you are suffering from some sort of hangover malaise then the breakfasts with chips at 4 Beans will cure it big time! At lunch time burgers and sandwiches feature, and once again they all cover your tasty cafe classics. If you are just after a sweet treat with your coffee, they serve some yummy sounding pancakes and crepes as well as home made scones - and of course check out the cake cabinet for their daily specials!
Now if you need to use the toilet facilities before you hit the road again, they are available, but they are a small walk away. You need to go outside the cafe and around the corner - walk along the back of the cafe for about 50m or so and they will be in a corridor in front of you on your left. If that sounds all too confusing, just ask a member of staff to point you in the right direction. There is a toilet that contains a baby change table and there is also plenty of room for your pram inside this toilet.
After our breakfast we grabbed a takeaway for our journey further west into wild blue yonder of the Blue Mountains and as we drove away I realised that there was no way that I could be a biker babe as I love the warmth and creature comforts of the family planner too much when we hit the road.
Do you have a favourite pit stop on your way out west over the mountains Little Munchers?
1/15 Bells Line of Road, North Richmond NSW
Open from 6.30am each day