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A two-week Melbourne mission

Lauren Muddell and family discover that there is too much on offer in Melbourne and in its surrounds for families to ever get weary of it. Follow their trail for some unbeatable kid-friendly fun!

Day 1

We flew from Sydney to Avalon airport, a little bit of a bumpy flight but a quick one.

On arrival we got our hire car. Europcar had a great deal with a saving of 15 per cent due to our length of trip... then it was next stop, Torquay Victoria! Just a short drive later we arrived at our first destination - Torquay Holiday Park.

What a great place for kids! We had a good sized two-bedroom cabin with all the creature comforts we needed for our two-night stay, with a quick trip to Woolies down the road we had all the supplies we needed. Just up the road is some surf shop outlets, which we took a little unplanned excursion to and found Shane new boardshorts at 50 per cent off. After travelling we decided to eat at the restaurant next door - Soulfuel. Here we had the most fabulous pizzas (including one half 'n' half gluten-free one to share with my daughter) and my son (who is the fussiest eater ever) got a chef's pasta creation made just for him. Really nice staff here!

We finished the evening off with a game or two of fooseball in the games room.

Day 2

We woke to heavy cloud cover and a chilly forcast for the next couple of days. A quick trip to the outlets ensured everyone had a warm jumper for no mre than $20 per person, we then took a coffee break at The Usual Suspects where a fabulous coffee and gluten-free orange and almond cake went down a treat. Best coffee we'd had in a while! Shane ordered the potato wedges which was a generous serve of home-style baked potato pieces - very yum!

Sun started to come out so we made use of the tennis courts and jumping pillow at the holiday park, then we went park exploring and found three different parks along the esplanade by the beach.

We enjoyed a walk along the beach with clear skies but a chilly breeze... and what walk on the beach is complete without shells? We only found three, but three is better than zero. A trip to the ice-cream store next to Soulfuel was next, with yummy gluten-free salted caramel ice-cream. Then a round of mini-golf and a play on the playground (all at the holiday park) while we cooked a barbecue dinner in the fantastic camp kitchen area. The kids loved the flying fox! As it started to cool down we decided to borrow 'Despicable Me 2' on DVD (free of charge) and made it a night in.

Day 3

We took a drive inland (not quite the drive we had planned... thanks GPS!) through small country towns and picturesque scenery. We stopped to stretch our legs and to use the facilities at Gelibrand Park (there was a flying fox which my kids think is awesome that they made sure I wrote it in) and the kids had a chat to some local cows. After a couple of hours we arrived at our destination - Otway Fly. Her we enjoyed a magnificent walk amongst the tree tops along bridges and platforms while listening to all the bird calls. For the adreneline junkies they also offer a 2.5-hour zip lining experience. We had a snack of gluten-fee banana bread and hot chips (Jay had a pie), a play on the playground and took some photos with the resident dinosaur (a model t-rex on the hill) then set off for Apollo Bay.

We followed the GPS... and should have learnt from the morning. It took us off the beaten track and through the forest, but we evetually arrived at The Comfit Inn where our lovely family suite awaited. The kids loved being in the loft upstairs with their own TV all set up with Xbox. A trip to the beach (found lots of shells) followed by a play at the park, then we finished off the day with a quick dinner of fish and chips from Iluka and, of course, some Xbox time.

Day 4

First up today we took a lovely drive to Cape Otway to see the Koala colony. What a delight for the kids to see koalas in the wild, including mothers with babies! Jay though it was funny to see one scratching, and Miki loved all the little ones we saw. Next stop was a quick coffee at Lavers Hill before we continued on to the 12 Apostles. There may be only seven left, but what a breathtaking site! We all loved seeing the structures from different angles and took plenty of photos. It was a perfect day for it as the sky was clear and the water so blue. We then drove to our stop for the night, Seafoam Villas at Port Campell. Here we stopped at a local cafe for late lunch and then at the Alcove cafe for a gluten-free treat.

Then it was time for another beach walk and shell-finding expendition. The beach here is particually great for children as you can goup through an inlet section where it is shallow and the kids can swim or explore the small stream of water in saftey. We finished the day off with fish and chips from Frying Nemo. We ate at one of the tables at the beach (which happened to be just across the road from our accomodation) along with a million seagulls. The kids loved chasing the seagulls and sneaking chips to the baby one.

Day 5

Today we were up early for our long drive into Melbourne CBD and we couldn't wait to get to our apartment because we'd got an amazing deal on lastminute.com.au! I chose one of the secret hotel deals where it tells you roughly the location, star rating, bedding arrangments and amenities/facilities BUT not the hotel name. It was a great deal for a two bedroom apartment for just over $350 in total, yes total, for two nights. A pit stop at Colac McDonalds for a cuppa and a play then on to Waurn Ponds, near Geelong, where we stopped at the new shopping centre. Got a few items and a nice lunch at Grill'd as they have amazing gluten free burgers (and really yummy chips) and we were all hungry by then. After that it was nonstop till our destination... lots of truck drivers can be a little hairy so be wary.

We arrived at our destination - The Ibis Melbourne - where our spacious two-bedroom apartment awaited. We took a quick stroll through part of the Queen Victoria Markets, found a coffee shop then headed back to The Ibis for a rest before dinner. Tonight we had dinner with an old family friend at an amazing restaurant in St Kilda called Topolinos. Fabulous, fabulous food! Plenty of pizzas, pastas, mains and dessert; great service; great kids' menu (and all kids' servings were the perfect size)! I was not too expensive either - kids' meals were $7.90. A drive past Luna Park topped off the night, with the kids sound asleep before their heads hit the pillow!

Day 6

Today was a big day! Up early and out for breakfast at Muletas, amazing pancakes here! The kids' menu, complete with colouring in, was enjoyed by all. I personally had the GF pancakes with strawberry jam, fresh strawberries and a dollop of cream. After that we took a stroll through the Queen Victoria Markets where we got a couple of things (including a new handbag for me). These markets have everything, including some live produce for sale. The kids loved looking at the chicks and ducklings. We then took a trip up to the sky deck at Eureka Tower with some cousins. The views are fantastic and they have telescope-type things for the kids (and adults) to look through.

What trip to Melbourne would be complete without some shopping? So next was a trip to South Wharf DFO, with plenty of shops for all tastes and budgets. Next stop was the Myer Christmas windows in Bourke St - the theme this year was Santa and the three bears. We then took the free Number 35 City Circle tram back towards our hotel to put down all the shopping and grab a jumper (as it had cooled down a LOT ). Then we went off to Fancy Hank's BBQ Joint for dinner. We all filled up on a mixture of pulled pork, ribs, brisket and chicken. Both kids were sound asleep by 8:15... and I wasn't far behind as tomorrow we had to drive up to the Dandenong ranges for a cousin's wedding!

Day 7

Up early and ready to check out at 10am. We left for the wedding destination - A Country Place in Kalorama. We needed to stop off for a coffee and snack (plus we had to waste time till check in) so we popped into Croydon. A lovely cafe there gave us a great feed complete with tasty bread, banana bread and a cookie! We later arrived at our next accommodation and got ourselves ready for the big event. The wedding was lovely and we had a fabulous time catching up with all our family! Late night had by all.

Day 8

It was a little wet outside today. We made our way down the mountain and stopped in at Dandenong plaza for a bite to eat and, more importantly coffee, on the way to Chelsea where we have a two-bedroom cabin booked in Chelsea Caravan Park. It has a small playgound, cafe/mini shop, barbecues, on-site laundry and a pool.

Once at Chelsea we went for a stroll past the pony club and the dog park untill we came to Mt Chelsea park. What a great park, with something for everyone and for all age groups. Large slides, flying foxes, monkey bars, little play areas, swings, exercise/fitness equipment, bublers and barbecues. After that, a family friend took us for some burgers at Big Mouth Burgers in Mordialloc near the beach, then on to another cool park. Topped the day off with a quick stroll on the beach then back to our cabin for an early night.

Day 9

A little grey, windy and cold today, so we started off with a spot of shopping (and a cousin catch up with a $7 GF coffee and cake deal) at Southland Westfield in Cheltenham. There are so many shops to see and plenty of cafes/restaurants that have yummy meals and treats. We all had a play in Totally Game (video game arcade) and earnt some tokens to exchange for fun toys.

After that we drove to Brighton Beach and walked along the sand, added a lot of shells to the shell collection, and of course, saw the bathing boxes. The kids had photos in front of the boxes they liked the best - so many different colours and designs to choose from. It's a lovely beach to take kids to, as there are a few little rock pools to explore, too. We were lucky enough to see a few starfish and sea snails. Then luckily the sky cleared and the sun was out and the view to the city skyline was beautiful. A GF (only $12.50 for a large size!) seafood pizza for me for a and a mexican pizza for Shane from Settlers Tavern Pizza was our dinner this evening. While it was cooking we all took a stroll down to the beach (which was just down the end of the street) then a quick play in the park beside it. This park had a castle section, a light house section and a boat section. Lots of fun!

Day 10

We went to Gravity Zone! A trampoline place in Seaford about 10 kilometres away. We had an hour session full of fun in foam pits, dodgeball courts, dunk courts and, of course, the normal trampolines. They have a cafe full of goodies including gluten, dairy and fat-free frozen yoghurt. Keep your eye out for their special deals/offers.

This afternoon we went for a walk on one of the walking tracks from the caravan parks. We walked to Patterson Lakes and down to the beach. Including the play at the beach (yes we added to the shell collection again) it was almost a two-hour round trip. Kids liked seeing the ducks, seagulls, dogs walking and boats along the way. On the way back we saw wild rabbits and the cutest baby bunnies in the reeds and grasses beside the track. There were plenty of birds to see too. Such a great location for walks... Actually such a great location for everything! We finished the evening off with a barbecue dinner on site with my parents who had just checked into the same park with their caravan. Loved having them across from us!

Day 11

This morning we had a play at The Ultimate Family Fun Centre. It's an indoor play space on Station St in Chelsea, with slides, shooting ball gallery, art room, cafe, video game arcade and more! Kids enjoyed it so much and it was great value at only $6 per child (as it was a week day). The video games do cost extra. After that we had lunch with family in Lynbrook and afternoon tea with family in Dingley. We finished off the day with a quick play at Jump Central, another trampoline place, which cost $10 per person plus $1.50 for grip socks as we had not bought our own with us.

Day 12

Today we drove from Chelsea to Huntindale (26 mins) to a friend's house which would be our home away from home for the next two nights. As our friend's daughter was turning two today we all went out to Melbourne Zoo. Melbourne Zoo is fantasic! I highly recommend a day trip to the zoo if you have time. It is $30 for an adult. We didn't get to see the whole thing but what we saw was awesome. We did an animal encounter for an extra $30 per person (before photos) with the Squirrel Monkeys. It was amazing! That particular encounter is only available to people over the age of 10, so my friend and I did it together. The Squirrel Monkey came and sat by our arms while eating a treat - you can't touch them but they are adorable. We saw the baby elephant playing and all the elephants interacting as a family which was great. The new Lemur enclosure is amazing too, well worth a look even when they are sleeping. As it was a birthday dinner night we went to The LeighOak (local pub) for dinner, with a great kids' menu complete with puzzles and colouring in on it. They also have three video game screens and a play corner for the kids. Large serves of yummy food were enjoyed by all!

Day 13

Today we went and had a play at Grange Reserve. Legend has it that several years ago a UFO landed in the area and was seen by many school children, and in honour of this Grange Reserve is nicknamed the UFO park. The park has many play structures including a UFO with slides, a flying fox in an Aussie bush-themed area, swings, spining cups, nets and more. The park also has barbecues, toilets and bubblers.

Day 14

We've reached our last day in Victoria. We went for a trip to Luna Park in St Kilda. We had a ride on the Silly Serpent, played the laughing clowns, pick a bag and we even saw a bride and groom having photos. It was much smaller than I remember it being, but still a fun (and expensive) place to visit. After that we went for a walk down St Kilda beach and had some ice-cream before it was time to head to the airport. The signs make it an easy journey and returning the hire care to Europcar was easy and quick.

In Summary

We really recommend Victoria as a family holiday destination. Lots to see and do. Can't wait to go back and see more sights soon.

Upon return I asked the kids what their favourite parts were and Mikayla said all parts were good. Jayden said the trampoline centres were his favourite thing to do. Both kids said they loved seeing the Apostles and they would like to go see them again if they could.

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