Road Trip through Coober Pedy

The stretch of road between Port Augusta and Coober Pedy tends to be thought of as a big stretch of nothingness but on our recent road trip I realised that it has a little more to offer than nothing. There are a number of gorgeous pink lakes, seen below in the photos I took quickly through the moving car window. 

To break up the drive, we spent the night at Coober Pedy. Coober Pedy lies along the Stuart Highway, about 800kms north of Adelaide and about 800km south of Alice Springs. The town's claim to fame is that it is the largest opal mining area in the world. Opal mines surround the town. Some are working mines and other's are abandoned - so be careful where you step! Coober Pedy's other claim to fame is it's underground houses. The underground houses maintain a consistent temperature all year round, not needing air conditioning despite plus 40 Celsius temperatures in summer.  

When in Coober Pedy we stay at the always lovely, permanently stuck in the 1980s hotel/motel, the Desert Cave. The decor might be a thing of the past, but it's clean and it has an old glamour edge to it. You can just imagine what it was like when it first opened. So fancy! An oasis in the desert. 

Last time we were there (back in 2013!) forked out the big bucks for an underground room (you have to stay in one at least once) but this time we cheapened out and went for an above ground room. For dinner we went to the hotel restaurant and were pleasantly surprised by the quality of the meal. Yes, it's expensive but you are in the middle of nowhere, of course it will cost you more than an equivalent meal in a city. Expect to pay more. The town itself, quite desolate does have a pretty element to it at the golden hour.

More pictures of Coober Pedy here.

47th Top Half Folk Festival

A few photos from the 47th Top Half Folk Festival 

The music was fantastic, the kids, well Lulu was great but the other were struggling to get over colds and coughs and like anyone, they did not appreciate the cold, windy weather. I ended up taking Zelda home early. A baby with a wet cough and minus temperatures in a tent do not mix well. We were so thankful for our friends that came with us who are experienced campers. They made it so much more easy for us to handle Zelda while they started the food prep in the morning. Bananas and chocolate cooked in the fire for breaky?! Yes please!

The Top Half Folk Festival is held every two years at Glen Helen Resort You can fly to Alice Springs, hire a camper van, drive out along the beautiful West Macs and take part in 2019! Your camper will be a lot warmer than our tent - guaranteed!

Melbourne and Apollo Bay Family Holiday

It has felt like we haven't been on holidays in a long time, which isn't true as we were in the States in January, we had an overnight get away to Glen Helen in May  and we went to Uluru for the August long weekend, but when you live in Alice Springs you just need to get to the coast every now and then. We took the opportunity at the end of October to go to Melbourne, see Elmo's stage show and then spend a few days on the coast.

Melbourne

Stay

 We stayed in Tyrian Apartments on Johnston Street in Fitzroy. This was central to our family and a short tram ride to the city. On the way home we stayed at the Larwill Studio in Parkville. The Larwill is on the edge of the city, on way to the airport, but also close to trams, North Melbourne and has a huge playground next door. I loved both places and would certainly stay again.

Travel  

Trams are so easy to use, but if you have a pram, make sure that you are able to lift it and the baby up steps as not all Trams have disabled/pram access. You can't buy Myki (payment) cards on the tram so Nick's sister picked up some for us before we arrived, you can purchase them from any 7 Eleven.

See NGV John Olsen Exhibition in the Ian Potter Centre, Federation Square - it's on until February 12 & includes a room where you can sketch your own inspired works - Lulu loved this.

Play

There is a huge playground at Art Play behind Federation Square. If you are there Wed-Sun there are art activities for children at Art Play . I had never heard of Art Play until we stumbled across the playground. I'll be checking their website and booking Lulu into their activities for our next visit to Melbourne.

Eat

We loved Po Boy Quarter on Smith Street in Fitzroy

Apollo Bay

Stay

In these beautiful townhouses in Marengo

Travel

We hired a car from the airport - the best way to get there

See

The Beach! Marengo is good for waves, Apollo Bay is flat for the little kids. As you can see, Zelda wasn't really into the beach time as much as we were.

Play

At the Apollo Bay town park on the foreshore. Hug the big koala at the Bakery

Eat

So many yummy places to eat. We recommend La Bimba - best oysters, Scorched Grill - yummy burgers, La Casalinga - best homemade pasta, the tasting room at the pub - the only place you can get food between 2pm & 6pm, but also great cheese platter.

Happy Holidaying

Uluru Picnic Day Weekend

This past weekend was a long weekend for Territorians. A Territory sponsored day to have a picnic, entitled 'Picnic Day'. We took the chance to head down to Uluru. The main reason to go to Uluru was to see the spectacular light installationthat is on at the moment, but we did not book for the lights early enough, so we missed out. Somehow I also managed not to take a great photo of Uluru so there will be no specky Uluru pic here either. But we all seen specky Uluru photos before. What you haven't seen before and you will see here are a few random photos from our weekend. And yes, we turned Picnic Day into one giant long weekend picnic.

Stayed Ayres Rock Campground at Yulara

Ate Nick's Slow Cooked Brisket, Jade's Bacon & Eggs/Pancake & Marshmallow Breakfast, Scotty's Hot Dogs, and Sails Buffet Breakfast

Best find Empty sunrise viewing area for feeding Zelda and filling up water bottles

A day trip to Rainbow Valley

A Day Trip to Rainbow Valley | Girl in the Pjs

During the school holidays we headed out to Rainbow Valley for the day. Believe it or not but after 14 years in the Territory, I had never been to Rainbow Valley. I've been to the community that sits to the south of Rainbow Valley for work but you can't see Rainbow Valley from there. Turns out Rainbow Valley isn't very far at all from Alice Springs. It is a quite easy day trip and I was so impressed. The scenery is spectacular! This certainly will not be the last time I head out to Rainbow Valley.

A Day Trip to Rainbow Valley | Girl in the Pjs
A Day Trip to Rainbow Valley | Girl in the Pjs

Getting there

Rainbow Valley is approximately 75km to the south east of Alice Springs, at the end of a 22km stretch of dirt road after the Stuart Highway turn off. The corrugation on this road is something else. Ensure that all things are extra secure as it feels as though the whole car might fall apart! It is best navigated in a 4-wheel drive.

A Day Trip to Rainbow Valley | Girl in the Pjs

Picnic Lunch

Lulu is obsessed with picnics so she was very happy to know that we were having a picnic lunch.  I've learned to gather and pack this lunch quite quickly from purchasing it for big lunches at work. The ingredients are a roast chook, a lettuce, tomatoes and bread rolls. Optional extras are butter, avocado and salt. Chuck it all into a big bag with some plates, a knife and a chopping board for quick sandwich production while you are out bush and there you have it. An easy lunch. I guess you could also just pack sandwich meat instead of the chook, but a roast chook is always a nice treat. There are BBQs in the shaded picnic areas so next time we come we can bring sausages.

A Day Trip to Rainbow Valley | Girl in the Pjs
A Day Trip to Rainbow Valley | Girl in the Pjs

Amenities

NT Parks have really put a lot of work into this park. It has new covered picnic tables, BBQs and toilets (as always, bring hand sanitiser). There are camping spaces too, as well as room to park a caravan or camper van. There is a walking track that goes behind the big rock feature and there is a path to walk on. The paths are made out of recycled tires. The paths sit lightly on the land and are removable. If you took them away today, in a month you wouldn't even know they are there. Parks have worked with Traditional Owners to create signs explaining the traditional significance of the area. These signs are dotted along the path. I was carrying Zelda and Lulu was complaining far to much about the heat (it wasn't hot) and the lack of water (yes, we left the water in the car as we weren't going far) so we didn't do the full walk. There's alway next time!

A Day Trip to Rainbow Valley | Girl in the Pjs

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A Day Trip to Rainbow Valley | Girl in the Pjs

Weekend Getaway at Glen Helen

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Nick is enjoying a little paternity leave at the moment so we decided at the last minute to head out to

Glen Helen Homestead Lodge

overnight on Friday. It seemed to take forever to get everything ready and all of us into the car, but really it only took 2.5 hrs and that included time for both of us to have showers and a preschool pick-up plus filing the car with fuel, so not that long, really.

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On the way to Glen Helen we stopped in at Ellery Big Hole to have a quick toilet break and to give Zelda a feed. This break turned into a swim for Lulu as well. In true Territorian fashion, we forgot to pack bathers for Lulu so she swam nudie.

There was another family there who asked me how old Zelda was and then asked if we were from here. When I replied yes, she said 'oh good' in a very relieved way. I am unsure if the reply was in response to Lulu's nakedness, Nick telling the British backpackers the best place to jump in from or Zelda being 'too young' to be out and about. Either way it seemed a little judgemental.

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After Ellery we headed onto

Glen Helen

. Aside from an incident with their galah, Gee, everything went well. A cozy cabin and dinner in the restaurant. Zelda only woke up 4 times in the night - agh!

We came prepared to make breakfast ourselves, bringing eggs, bread, bacon & hot sauce. Nick cooked an awesome breakfast. Glen Helen even supply BBQ utensils, which was awesome because of course we forgot them! A big shout out to the wonderful people who shared their tomato sauce with Lulu, as we also forgot tomato sauce. It was so nice to get out of town and one night was just enough for me.

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10 Kids Activities in Palm Springs

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When we were booking our trip, the travel agent told us that we only really needed 2 days in Palm Springs. Anything more and we's get bored. There's not much to do there, he said, better to spend only two days and then hit up theme parks in San Diego. There's nothing wrong with theme parks but we had planned three days at Disneyland at the beginning of the trip so for the end of the trip we were after something a little different. A week in Palm Springs sounded perfect, so we insisted on a week in Palm Springs and boy are we so glad we did! Even after a week we still hadn't done all of the activities that Palm Springs has to offer and we didn't visit a single golf course, not one (there are apparently 145 golf courses in Palm Springs, though the number varies depending on who you talk to!). This post is a little round up of 10 kids activities in Palm Springs.

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Palm Springs Art Museum

The activities tested by us:

1.

The Palm Springs Art Museum

2.

Cabezon Dinosaurs

(this is not a whole day trip)

3.

Sunnylands Centre

(we did this the same day as the Art Museum)

4.

Joshua Tree National Park

(a day trip)

5. Playground then swimming

6. Walk around downtown

7.

Palm Springs Architecture Design Museum

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Sunnylands Centre

What we were not able to do:

8.

Aerial Tramway

9.

Children's Discovery Museum of the Desert

10. Hire a bike trailer and bike around town

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Joshua Tree

Have you been to Palm Springs? Is there anything that I'm missing?

We had such a good time there. I throughly recommend it as a holiday destination.