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.

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

5 Tips for an easy Disneyland Trip

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Before Christmas we spent a few wonderful days at Disneyland in California. I think I was way more excited about going to Disneyland than Lulu was, even after she found out what it was! I have been fortunate enough to have been to Disneyland a few times before, so I didn't do much research before we left, aside from what rides would be appropriate for Lulu. However the following tips that I have now amassed, would have come in very handy:

1. You don't need to go early
Our first day at Disneyland was the day after arriving in LA. Due to jet lag we slept in and had to wake Lulu at 9 to head to Disneyland. When we finally arrived at the gates at 10:30, post breakfast, there were no lines to get in, nor were there big queues for the Fantasy Land rides that we wanted to go on. Things got much busier in the afternoon however. The one morning we managed to arrive just after 9 there were big queues at the gates. Sleep in & miss the queues.

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Meeting Mickey, Minney and Snow White at Disneyland

2. Go on the most popular rides in the morning 
We didn’t purchase fast passes and found that by heading to the popular rides as soon as you get through the gates, the lines are much shorter than trying to go after lunch. Not that this is a ride but we hit up the Disney Princesses as soon as we entered the park on the day that we arrived at 9 and there was no line at all! Before midday at California Adventure I overheard someone saying that the line for Toy Story was only 20 mins. It never was below 45 mins the rest of the day. Hit up the most popular rides in the morning.

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In line for the Toy Story Ride at Disney California Adventure Park

3. You don’t need a magic mornings pass
Magic mornings allows you entry to the park an hour before opening. Due to the jet lag, Lulu slept in until at least 8 am every morning we were there. I have to admit that we too were thoroughly enjoying these sleep ins, so setting the alarm for 6am was not very appealing. Our Magic Mornings passes went unused. 

4. Catch the parades
We absolutely loved the parades. The choreography was awesome and the costumes fabulous. Don’t miss the parades.

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The Parade at Disney California Adventure Park

5. Catch the night time shows
California Adventure Park has a huge light show at 9 and by the time it is finished you can leave the park and stand between the two parks and watch the fireworks over Disneyland. Due to the aforementioned jet lag we were only able to stay up late to see the night shows one of the nights, but it was so worth it. 

Have you been to Disneyland? If so, what are your hot tips? 

Tips for Travelling with Kids

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On our recent overseas trip we took 8 flights including two that lasted for 13+ hours and we stayed in 5 different locations. Lulu has been travelling since she was small but she had never been on a long haul flight before. You never know how the kids are going to react to being stuck on a plane for 13 hours, but there are a number of things that you can do to help make the flight and a hotel stay a little easier. Here are my tips for travelling with kids.

THE FLIGHT

We were super lucky in that the long haul flight to LAX left Sydney at 6:30pm. Lulu had a bit of a play on the plane, then dinner. Post dinner she watched a cartoon or two then we changed her into her pjs, cleaned her teeth, read a story and then she went to sleep. We kept her bedtime routine the same as if she was at home (though she doesn't normally watch TV after dinner, but there has to be some on the plane treats, right?!).

Keep the bedtime routine as much the same as your at home bedtime routine. This goes the same for where ever you are during your trip.

PLANE CARRY ON

1. Spare Clothes

Whether or not your child suffers from travel sickness, at some point they are going to spill something on themselves. A spare pair of clothes is a must.

2. Lego

Lego is great for creative play and fairly easy to keep contained within a small space. We didn't end up using it on the plane but it was great for play at the hotel.

3. Books

Stories for keeping bedtime routines the same. Also handy for when the airline doesn't let you use headphones on take off and landing (am looking at you Air Canada!).

4. Colouring in book and crayons or mess free texts.

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HOTELS

1. Stay at a hotel with a restaurant

By the time you are up and dressed everyone is far too hungry and cranky to then be on a search for breakfast.

2. Make sure your hotel room has a seperate space for your child to sleep and if possible a balcony space your you to hang out while your child is falling asleep.

Our hotel near Disneyland had a seperate room for Lulu, which was fabulous. The hotel in Palm Springs had a space with curtains you could pull across to give the child some privacy for sleeping. This hotel also had balconies but we didn't end up using them because I was far too tired to stay up very long after Lulu had gone to bed. Nick ventured to the hotel bar some of the nights while us gals slept early. So I guess the other tip would be to stay at a hotel with a bar!

3. Hotel Pool

Make sure your hotel has a pool that can be used all year round. This will give you a great, 'free' activity to do on any quite days you may have. Again you won't need to travel far to get there either.

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Have you travelled with your kids? What are your hot tips?

Nick's mum overheard a mum saying that she often does the LAX-SYD flight and that they just have it down now - then she saw the mum and her two kids in business class! So that's one other way to make travelling with kids a little easier!

PS Mini-Break (Lulu's first flight!), Solo Plane Flight with BabySlippers, Cuddles and Aeroplanes

Holiday Snaps - Disneyland, Alberta & Palm Springs

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Today I'm sharing a few holiday snaps of our recent trip to Disneyland, Alberta and Palm Springs, along with all the details, where we stayed, favourite dining place etc. I love peaking at people's holiday photos, so I hope you'll enjoy ours. This post is very image heavy so I have added a break after the Disneyland photos so that the blog will continue to load ok.

Disneyland, California

Stay:

Hotel Anabella

This is a neighbouring hotel and it is about a 10min walk to Disneyland. Our travel agent booked us a room with an additional 'bedroom' for Lulu. Perfect for getting an overexcited 3year old to bed at night. The rooms are a little dated but the bed was so comfy and their restaurant had great breakfast.

Eat: We ate most breakfasts at the hotel because the food was wonderful and I was too hungry to walk anywhere to find breakfast. The best dinner we had was at

Wine Country Trattoria

 in Disney's California Adventure Park. Great pasta, but not as good as Casa Nostra says Lulu!

Photos: Lulu loved the Alice in Wonderland ride because she could ride by herself at the front with Nick and I in the back. Another favourite was the jellyfish at California Adventure Land. She was obsessed with balloons.

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Alberta, Canada

Stay: We stayed in a house rented by Nick's mum over Christmas & then we travelled to Fernie where we stayed at

Cornerstone Lodge

. The lodge is ski in/ski out so there is no driving anywhere. When I booked in July their website said they had no vacancy but I emailed them anyway and it turns out they just didn't have the availability up on their website yet. So always double check with the hotel.

Eat: Fernie has a lot of great restaurants and we did drive into town most nights for dinner. Our favourite was

Loaf Bakery

- not only did they have homemade bread, they also had wood fired pizza. Delicious.

Photos: The first lot of photos are of Banff and Lulu sledding in Calgary; Cornerstone Lodge at Fernie Ski Hill; Us skiing.

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Palm Springs, California

Stay: We stayed at

the Ace Hotel

. The Ace is everything you read about, simply fabulous!

Eat: The Kings Highway Diner - we ate every breakfast at Kings. We also loved the pizza at

Johnny Costa's

and Mexican at

Las Casuals Terraza

Photos: Early morning swims at

the Ace Hotel

- I love that we were able to experience Palm Springs in the rain as well as the sunshine! Downtown Palm Springs - the architecture is everything you can imagine;

Joshua Tree National Park

;

Cabazon Dinosaurs

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Stay tuned Thursday for my Tips for Travelling with Kids!

PS Christmas Beach Holiday 2014A Weekend at Kings Canyon Campground

 

 

Happy Holidays!!

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Girl in the Pjs is taking a little break. Actually, a long break, a month long holiday! Our little family is headed overseas to spend Christmas with Nick's family in Canada. With a little detour to Disneyland on the way and Palm Springs on the way back! I can't wait for cooler weather, a little snow, and open fires. There is much debate about this but I love the term happy holidays. Mostly because this time of year everyone is heading off somewhere on holidays.

Thank you so much for reading this little blog. Wishing you the most wonderful Christmas and all the best for the coming New Year!

Before we break for the year, I have a HUGE favour to ask. Would you please fill out in the first ever Girl in the Pjs Reader Survey? Your responses will help me in narrowing the focus of the blog content for 2016. While Girl in the Pjs is planning to be back mid January 2016, with the best of home decor, style, culture, motherhood & life in Alice Springs, it would be a shame if you preferred my posts on soufflé instead. I love blogging, I want to bring you content that you love too. So please fill out the short survey HERE.

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Pending the results of the reader survey, of course, upcoming posts include our holiday travel tips, details of our finished renovation (is it too soon to talk about this?! Maybe possibly finished renovation is a more accurate headline), and a HUGE surprise! Catch you here in 2016 and thanks again for making Girl in the Pjs possible xx

Top Half Folk Festival 2015

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Lulu's run bike copped a workout from every kid & a few fights over who's turn it was
We spent the June long weekend at the Top Half Folk Festival at Glen Helen. It was a wonderful weekend, suitable for people of all ages. My parents came with their caravan. Friends came with their 3 kids under 4. Nick's mum was there for the Sunday night. Many of our friend's parents attended. One of the artist's mentioned that his 14 year old son was choosing to spend his gig in the car! A festival for the whole family, should they choose to participate.

The headline act was Fanny Lumsden & the Thrillseekers, an awesome folk/country band from Sydney. It may have been overheard on the way out of their Saturday night gig that 'they were great but they weren't real folk'. The whole festival had a bit of a 'changing of the guard' as it has been attended by the same folkies over the last 45 years and they have held close to what they believe true folk is, but as they get older and folk evolves it is time to connect with a younger generation. Though I know nothing about folk, I do think the festival organisers a great job blending traditional folk with contemporary.
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Fanny Lumsden & the Thrillseekers




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Glen Helen is 130km west of Alice Springs. You can stay there year round in motel rooms, bunkhouse rooms or at the campground. There is a swimming pool, a waterhole and an award winning restaurant.

The Top Half Folk Festival is on every second year at Glen Helen on the June long weekend. Alternate years you'll find it at Mary River.