I believe that travelling broadens the mind and so, I try to take my kids to as many holidays as my job will allow me. This time, we went on a journey to Melbourne. I am cramming in as many holidays as I can right now because in 2020, Charles would be in primary 1 and we wont have the luxury to travel as much or as and when we want to anymore. Cant miss school the way they are missing school so frequently now in preschool or kindergarten.
This was actually the first trip i was doing without my husband. It was just 2 little monsters, me and my mum. My mum suggested a farm-stay experience since the boys are almost always vacationing in cities, beach resorts, theme-parks orientated trips. At first, I was a little apprehensive. Because I am a person, whose greatest fear is being dirty or touching anything dirty. Yes, I know that being afraid of germs is irrational but it just so happens that I am a weirdo who is deathly afraid of dirt/germs etc.
I relented and agreed in the end because my older son was already going with my parents, so I might as well just take the little one and we can have a little adventure. I booked the tickets and we flew a midnight flight into Melbourne.
Since it was a midnight flight, Mikhail actually fell asleep midway through a movie and did not wake up until the plane was about to land. That means, that I got 7hrs of me-time to rest and relax before the holiday begins.
When we landed, I contacted Alisa from LARA LODGE B&B (the farm-stay lodging we have booked for this trip) and she gave me very clear instructions on where to head to after collecting my suitcase. She was picking me up from the airport as I cant drive. If you drive, just arrange to rent a car straight from the airport, it is super convenient because you can drop the car off at the end of your trip at the airport before you check-in for your flight. If you are unsure which rental company to go for, you can ask for recommendations from the b&b or lodge they you are staying with.
ABOUT LARA LODGE B&B
It really looks unimpressive from the outside. The reason for this is because the owners wanted to build something that blends into the area and surroundings instead of building a modern looking house in the middle of a farm setting. But you have to view the inside of the house, its very modern and very tastefully done.
I give it a 9 because I felt that it could still be cleaner (I do have very high standards since I am a germaphobe) as I did wipe over the floor one time before settling in. However, the bathroom and beds were clean. Interior of the room is modern and a little scandinavian which I did not mind. Think, clean lines, neutral colours. We picked the studio room which has a Queen Bed + a Pull out Queen Sofa Bed. Both beds were okay and we had enough space for 2 adults and 2 kids. The bathroom came with a huge bath which both the boys loved and spent a good 30mins in daily.
I have to give them a 10 on location because this lodge, is actually near many activities and amenities, while being rather private and secluded at the same time. I know, its contradicting. The lodge is located 3 minutes away from a big supermarket, 5 mins from a wildlife sanctuary, 20 mins away from a mega modern shopping mall (it is like an ION) and 30 mins away from the famous great ocean road with many beautiful beaches! Oh! The lodge is also 30 mins away from the city centre.
Im also giving this lodge full marks on the service because the owners are really super amazing! Honestly, I would say that our experience of farm-stay is so amazing is 50% attributed to how helpful both Alisa & Dean was during our stay. They are patient and very accommodating, helping us with planning our excursions or checking on operating hours for certain activities we wanted to so. Most importantly, Lara Lodge is 30 seconds away from Empower Lodge which is a boarding facility for horses. The Lara Lodge owners also owns and cares for horses so my kids got to experience feeding, petting and riding the horses. It was truly an unforgettable experience as these horses are very friendly and relaxed. Very different from those you interact with at commercial zoos or other horse riding places. Alisa grew up with horses (she rode on a horse by herself at the age of 4!) and love horses! Much like a horse whisperer. Of course, this is not part of the stay but at the owner’s discretion.
The reason I rate them a 9 on this is because I would have liked if they could also install a little playground (little tikes outdoor playground etc) outside the lodge. The lodge is sitting on a HUMONGOUS field with alot of space. It would have been so awesome if the kids could just play at the playground right outside of the lodge while I lay down on the bed to watch them from inside, maybe with a glass of red wine in hand.
Super super safe. No snakes, no spiders. Did not see anything creepy or poisonous during our stay. We only saw a bunch of scurrying bunnies speed hopping their way across the field, a few friendly birds and the owner’s dog (Roxy) around our lodges. By the way, this place is quite exclusive. They only have 2 lodges, though Alisa did mention that they will be adding just 4 more lodges since they have been getting many many bookings and had to turn away so many because they are fully booked up.
Overall, I am super happy with our accommodation and am planning a trip back to Lara Lodge next year again!
Address: 325 Forest Rd N, Lara VIC 3212, Australia
Contact: +61 418 106 982
Werribee Open Range Zoo is an African themed zoo in Werribee, about 32 kilometres south-west of Melbourne, Victoria, Australia. It is part of the Zoological Parks and Gardens Board or ‘Zoos Victoria’ which also includes Melbourne Zoo and Healesville Sanctuary. This was my personal favourite highlight. It is an open concept zoo! So we hopped on a tram and it took us around the zoo, introducing us animals which came so close to us! Mikhail had a ton of fun taking photos with his camera (i will write another post on this because this camera deserves some praises).
These photos below were taken by Mikhail, my 3 yo, with his mini-child-camera:
These photos are taken with my phone (Huawei Mate 10 Pro):
I am IMPRESSED. After the tram ride, we explored the zoo on foot and because the weather was so nice, we walked he entire zoo without breaking a sweat. This zoo has been opened since 1983, LOVED IT! For those of you that want to get even closer to the wildlife, there is a wild encounter experience with a behind-the-scenes tour or stay overnight with a Slumber Safari.
Address: K Rd, Werribee South VIC 3030, Australia
Serendip Sanctuary is a 227 ha protected area in Victoria, Australia, near the You Yangs and the town of Lara, some 22 km north of Geelong and 60 km south-west of Melbourne. The sanctuary, an excellent example of the open grassy woodlands and wetlands of the volcanic Western Plains, is the perfect place to learn about and experience birdlife and wetlands ecology.
See some of the 150 species of birds which breed at or visit Serendip Sanctuary from the bird hides. Birds can be seen within metres of the viewing areas preening, feeding, incubating eggs and rearing young.
The Wildlife Walk is a popular walk offering close encounters with wildlife. Meander past emus and Eastern Grey Kangaroos grazing to viewing areas, hides and flight aviaries perfect for bird watching. You may be treated to Brolgas trumpeting, Whistling Kites soaring high overhead, magnificent Yellow-billed Spoonbills wading through the shallow water, or even a glimpse of the well hidden Tawny Frogmouth as it watches you pass by.
The kids loved walking through the sanctuary and we were able to get very close to the wildlife.
Address: 100 Windermere Rd, Lara VIC 3212, Australia
Seek the ultimate ride on world famous waves, lace up your boots for the Surf Coast Walk or stroll barefoot along sweeping beaches as the sand drifts in the sea breeze. Throw in a line, build castles in the sand, dine with the locals and drink their brew. Begin the journey on the spectacular Great Ocean Road… where coast and hinterland meet in a chorus of oohs and ahhs.
Home to world famous Bells Beach and the birth place of iconic surf brands, Torquay is the surfing capital of Australia.
Located 95km south west of Melbourne, it is the official start of the Great Ocean Road.
Aireys Inlet is a small coastal inlet and town located on the Great Ocean Road, southwest of Melbourne, Victoria, Australia. Aireys Inlet is located between Anglesea and Lorne, and joined with Fairhaven to the west. Many surfers holiday in Aireys Inlet to take advantage of the popular Fairhaven beach.
The weather was chilly so I am super glad that I brought along a whole box of chicken essence with me! No prizes for guessing which brand cause, everyone who knows me knows my favourite brand is HAO YI KANG!
We used the chicken essence to cook and the kids drank a pack every other day just to keep warm. Love that its so freaking easy to bring these packets along cause it does not need to be kept in freezer or anything. This is perfect for a mother like me who is travelling with 2 kids and need to constantly make sure that they have something to eat. We managed to cook yummy home-cooked meals like porridge, mee-sua, steam chicken and soups with 1 or 2 packs of the essence. No MSG or any chicken stocks whatsoever.
The stroller I brought along for this trip is the Hamilton EZZE Stroller and I love it! The auto-fold feature really made a difference when I had to handle my kids and handle the stroller at the same time. Everyone was amazed at the stroller, which folded itself right when I was about to enter the plane and store it up at the cabin. A stewardess actually asked where can she buy one and we stood there for 2 minutes talking about the stroller and where to get the best price for it like aunties. I highly recommend this for parents travelling with young kids as it is cabin-friendly, lays flat (suitable from newborn) and FOLDS BY ITSELF. I am so glad I did not have to wrestle with my stroller to get it to close. *phew
Overall, the boys really enjoyed themselves and I highly recommend doing a trip like this ONE TIME while your kids are young because it gives them such a great experience and builds beautiful long-lasting memories. I will definitely go back for another holiday next year and bring the husband along.
Thanks for taking the time to read this, till our next adventure!
(photo spam below)