Exploring Karijini in 50 photos or less…

If you visit Western Australia, make sure you give yourself plenty of time to visit not only because of the distances you will need to cover but also because there are so many spectacular places to see.  Karijini National Park, was right up at the top of my list of places that I wanted to visit while living in the Pilbara.  Due to my research and all the pictures I had seen of the gorges at Karijini, I had high expectations going into this trip.  I was a little nervous that the colours wouldn’t quite live up to the pictures or that the gorges wouldn’t be as great as I pictured in my mind.  We had also been told that it would be too hot camping and hiking at Karijini in October and that we needed more than a weekend, but sometimes you just have to stop waiting for everything to be perfect and just do things.  Our reasoning was that nights were still bearable for sleeping, down in the gorges would be cooler, the kids would enjoy swimming in the warmer temperatures of October rather than freeze in July, and three days was better than none.  I am so glad we just did it, it was the perfect weekend with fantastic weather.

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Room with a view – this is why camping is so great.

We used the rail access road from Pannawonica heading towards Tom Price and Karijini.  Just remember that you will need a rail access pass if going this way, carry no alcohol, and the corrugations on this section are pretty rough.  We shredded a tyre on the way home, so beware.  As we were coming from the north western side of Karijini National Park we decided to stop in at Hamersley Gorge on the way through.  This was our first stop and it didn’t disappoint.

HAMERSLEY GORGE

We spent about an hour and a half here before hitting the road again to drive a further 40 minutes to Dales Gorge Campground to set up camp for a couple of nights.  Dales Gorge Campground was a lovely place to stay and was an easy walk to beautiful swimming holes.

DALES CAMPGROUND, FORTESCUE FALLS, and FERN POOL

Our second day of exploring was jam packed as we decided to tackle Hancock Gorge.  This is the home of the very adventurous walks to Kermits Pool and to Handrail Pool.  As there has been several fatalities at Karijini National Park there is always a little debate about the safety of kids on various trails.  For us, I was confident in my kids ability to handle most trails, they have hiked many times before, have good fitness levels, and are aware of the risks surrounding them.  I am not sure on all the details surrounding the fatalities in the area but I found that the trails were well marked, and provided you follow the safety guidelines, quite safe.  As I have mentioned before, I believe that it is important for kids to take calculated risks and where better than in nature’s own wonderland.  The kids loved it.  After the hike to Kermit’s Pool we gave the kids the choice about whether we did another adventurous hike on the same day and they all screamed ‘YES’!  And no whinging all weekend….it must be fun right?

HANCOCK GORGE – KERMIT’S POOL WALK

HANCOCK GORGE – HANDRAIL POOL

After leaving the campground at about 8am, it was about 2pm by the time we finished both trails at Hancock Gorge.  We stopped in at Karijini Eco Resort and were very excited to find that they did coffee and ice creams for the kids.  If you are not quite up for camping, this is a lovely location to do a little bit of ‘glamping’ and still get to explore Karijini.

On our final day of the whirlwind tour of Karijini, we decided to squeeze in a hike to Circular Pool which is also near Dales Gorge Campground.  We wanted to let the kids have a swim before the 5 hour trip home and thought it would be a fairly easy climb similar to the trail down to Fortescue Falls just up the road….slight miscalculation.  This hike was nearly the straw that broke the camel’s back.  Everyone was tired after a busy couple of days, and of course packing up always makes for a few frayed tempers, so when this walk was a little further and steeper than anticipated we nearly lost a few converts.  In saying that, it was still a great walk and if we had more time we would have had a quieter day before tackling this trail.

DALES GORGE – CIRCULAR POOL

We did not see enough of Karijini and will have to plan another trip.  It was such a fantastic weekend away, and we returned with many tired but happy campers.  Photos and words cannot capture the beauty and majesty of Karijini National Park, it is one of those places that you simply must see for yourself.

 

A Few of My Favourite Things

It is that time of the year, coming into the silly season, when we may be trying to be a little organised and purchasing our Christmas presents in advance.  I thought I would try and help a few people out with some of my favourite things that I am loving at the moment.  Please note that this post is not sponsored in any way (I wish!) I just really like these items.  Sharing is caring right??
  1.  Contigo Water Bottle

I have been on the lookout for a great water bottle for ages now and have really struggled to find something that suits me.  I have tried metal bottles where the paint starts to flake, bottles with pop tops that start to crack and leak, screw tops that take forever to unscrew (well it feels that way when your rest period is up and you haven’t even managed to unscrew the lid because your hands are shaking and your brain isn’t working due to lack of oxygen…no? Just me?), bottles with straws and fiddly bits that you have to clean, and bottles that won’t give up the water no matter how hard you suck!   Yes, I have been a little frustrated with the search and may be a little picky.  I was having a bit of a moan and a groan about it and was venting that the last good water bottle I had was the Contigo water bottles my mother had bought me that lasted for years and years (thinking back I had this bottle for about 8 years!) until I dropped the bottle one too many times.  Why I didn’t think of this sooner I don’t know, I will blame a busy life and just grabbing bottles to try because they were in front of me when I thought of it.  Anyway, I am sorry I strayed Contigo but I am back to stay.

Contigo Cortland Autoseal Water Bottle Purple 720ml

I found that Everten Kitchenware Online store had a great range and great prices for the Contigo Water bottles.  They were quick with delivery too.  Just be warned you may end up buying more than the water bottles….so much good stuff on their website.

2.  Running Bare

For an active woman you can’t go too wrong with a cute sports top.  For the most part I have been really happy with the fit of these sports tops and I love the cute designs.  As a Mum of four boys I love splurging on really cute, girly designs.  I also love shopping the sales and they usually have a great sales page!

3.  Chobani Yoghurt – The big pot

Strictly speaking this is not a great Christmas present, I can’t imagine my kids would be too excited to receive this in their christmas stocking, but this post is all about my favourite things of the moment.  This is definitely one of my favourite breakfast or post workout snacks, eaten with a great muesli and fresh fruit…..delicious.  I have only just noticed the big pots and love the coconut and vanilla flavours.  Yum!!

4.  Capriosca Swimwear

My love of chocolate and food, plus having twins didn’t help the matter either, leads to the ongoing search for swimmers that can hide a multitude of sins.  At the end of the day, I don’t want to be sitting on the sidelines while everyone else is having fun in the water whether that be at the beach, pool, river, gorge, or water adventure park.  Being comfortable joining in these activities is made so much easier when you are comfortable in your swimmers.  Capriosca Swimwear is made to fit women of all sizes, from size 10-26.  They have a variety of styles and colours and I love that they have pictures of their swimwear on women of all sizes.  The price ranges from $99-$189.    I first noticed this brand on Sequins and Sand website and I bought a navy one piece bandeaux style swimmer like in the top picture (on sale now for $55).  I have to admit that I am eyeing off the other two styles as well!  If you flicker between sizes I would choose the smaller size as I found they are generous in their sizing.

[Capriosca Swimwear Metallic Navy Bandeau One Piece]

[Capriosca Swimwear Black and White Underwire Onepiece]

[Curvy Swimwear Bandeau Onepiece in Watercolour]

5.  The Active Christmas Gift

Christmas can be a tricky time trying to work out suitable gifts for the family without breaking the bank and trying to avoid giving presents that inevitably end of broken within a month (or is that just my family of boys?).  The other difficulty most families face if you have to travel, is transporting the gifts back home!  For my family,  we generally spend one year with my family in Queensland and the alternating year with my husband’s family in Wollongong. I now make the request from the family we are not visiting to purchase us an Active Gift, or a gift that involves us getting out and doing something as a family.  For example one year we visited Taronga Zoo, or another time we were shouted lunch while we visited the National Parks of the area.  A family pass to Bounce Inc (or whatever branch of the Trampolining Playgrounds you may visit) is another great gift idea.

Getting my game on - Dodgeball against 4yr olds.

Getting my game on – Dodgeball against 4yr olds.

This year we have been booked into Trees Adventure which I am very excited about.  I will let you know how we go!!  I don’t know about you but I love getting these gifts that we can experience as a family and have the memories of it that will last forever.

 

What are your favourite things of the moment??

 

7 Days and 7 Things to Do in Bali – Exercise Hitlist Style

Earlier in the year my sisters and mother organised a girl’s trip to Bali.  As far as girl’s trips go, Bali has it all especially if you are on a tight budget.  We had seven nights in Bali (four nights in Seminyak and three nights in Ubud) and this is what we got up to.

  1. Shopping, Pampering, and Cocktails at Sunset.

First stop was Potato Head.  If you enter Seminyak into your search engines, chances are Potato Head will pop up as one of the top five attractions for this area.  My younger sister and I arrived half a day ahead of my Mum and older sister who had brought her 15 month old (ie not party animals) so we decided to hit Potato Head for cocktails at sunset to celebrate our first night in Bali! Even better was the fact that I lived on the west coast of Australia,on the same time zone as Bali, therefore in with half a chance of staying awake long enough to keep up with my little sister who was coming from the east coast which was three hours ahead.  Wahooo!

Potato Head

Although we did find it a little pretentious, the cocktails were worth every dollar (~$12AUD), the view fantastic, and the relaxed vibe a perfect start to our holiday.  We didn’t book in for dinner but were very lucky to sneak a table at Lilin and the food was delicious.  All in all, I would recommend that you organise a visit to Potato Head if you are in Seminyak.  Breeze restaurant was another fantastic place to enjoy sunset and cocktails.

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I have to admit that we spent a lot of our time in Seminyak indulging in shopping, massages, facials, and eating well.  As most people would agree, going on holiday often involves a manic period of organising before being able to enjoy the break, and we purposely kept our first few days largely unstructured.  We did book High Tea at Biku as it had come highly recommended and can be difficult to get in to.  I didn’t manage to snap any decent photos so you will just have to take my word for it that the spread for high tea was delicious and plentiful, the coffee was actually pretty good, and it had a great, if quirky atmosphere.  You can also sit for a Tarot Card session included in your high tea experience.

The shopping was pretty great, however that was coming from a person who lives in a little town with one grocery store so I was a little excited (ok I was in heaven) to have so much variety at my fingertips.  There was the main ‘eat’ street, leading off from Seminyak Square, that was scattered with clothing stores, restaurants, beauty and massage shops, and other merchandise.  I loved the shopping here especially as I didn’t have to barter. I’ll just put it out there….I hate bartering!!  If you do want to test your bartering skills I did enjoy the Flea Markets Oberoi that we stumbled across in Seminyak.  I would check out the stores first to get an idea on price, or alternatively work on accepting a deal at about a third of the stall holders first asking price.  I also enjoyed the shopping in Ubud, and due to extra time in Kuta because of flight delays, we also checked out Discovery Shopping Mall and Beachwalk Bali which were great but very similar to shops we had at home.

In terms of pampering, take your pick.  For the most part you can get a nice foot massage, manicure or pedicure, or back massage for $5-$10AUD.  While the cheaper treatments are nice, pay a little more and you will receive a deluxe service that would match any five star spas in Australia for a fraction of the Australian price.  My best find?  A facial at a little random spa at a boutique hotel in Kuta, J Boutique, for ~$18AUD.  My sister and I even tried the fish spa…it took a little getting used to.

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2.  Visit a Temple in Bali

Unfortunately we ran out of time to visit some of the more spectacular temples in Bali, however we did stop at the Taman Ayun Temple on the way to Ubud.  This temple had some amazing architecture and grounds, and we were lucky enough to attend while the locals were preparing for a ceremony which was really interesting to see.

King's Temple

3.  Check out Tegenungan Waterfall

After several days in Seminyak indulging in the finer things in life, it was really nice to get outside and explore.  We hired a driver for the day for ~$50AUD to pick us up from our hotel in Seminyak and take us to a few places on route to Ubud before dropping us at our hotel there.  The Tegenungan Waterfall was one of our stops and it was beautiful.

Waterfall

I laughed at the little cafe built right on the edge with no railings whatsoever.  The steep descent down to the waterfall and the return trip definitely blew the cobwebs off after sitting in the car for several hours in traffic.  It was a great little detour.  There was a small entry fee and you will have to pay for parking too (~$10AUD for all four of us, including parking).

4.  Climb an Active Volcano

Even though I had to wake at 2.30am on holiday, this was a really great experience and I would love to do it again minus the fog and half the people.  I have already written about climbing Mt Batur in an earlier post so click on the link and read all about it.

The view from the top of a volcano

The view from the top of a volcano

5.  Yoga in Ubud

This was one of the activities on my current hitlist as I like trying different classes in different countries.  I really enjoyed this one hour class at the Yoga Barn.

Yoga

My pictures were terrible and didn’t do the venue justice.  It was open decking all the way around with lovely gardens and water features.  The only downside were the mosquitoes!!  There were several spray bottles around the room for patrons to use to keep the local pests away which worked for the most part.  Great class.

6.  Make your own Silver Jewellery

This Jewellery workshop in Ubud was one of my favourite things that we did in Bali.  We debated whether or not to do it because it was 3 hours out of our precious schedule and at $45.00AUD it was one of the more expensive things that we would do in Bali.  It was worth every penny and the time flew.  We opted to go with Chez Monique Jewellery Classes, with the class located in the owner’s traditional housing complex.  It was a lovely atmosphere and great to see his family go about their day to day business while we were in the class.

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We were able to see first hand what was involved in making jewellery, from design choice, to cutting templates, to using different techniques on the silver to get the effect you are after.  I was even able to use some gems that my father had found in my earring design.

Jewellery Workshop

My Mum, younger sister and I all chose something different which was great because we all used different techniques and learnt so much.  My older sister went to the Monkey Forest instead as she didn’t think her toddler would sit for 3 hours.  We all had such a great afternoon and were happy with our finished products.  Such a great keepsake for our girl’s trip.

Finished product

7.  Visit the Rice Terraces in Tegallalang

On our final day in Bali we visited the Rice Terraces in Tegallalang.  It really is amazing and I would definitely recommend visiting these terraces while in Bali.  Make sure you have some small change on you because as you walk through the terraces you will come across several toll booths.  These toll booths charge a small donation to continue in order to help support the local farmers.

So there you have it, 7 Things to Do in Bali in 7 Days.  I’m already planning another trip, what else should be done while in Bali?

 

Here, There, and Everywhere

Hello my poor, neglected blog and hello to anyone out there still following along.  I feel like I have been here, there, and everywhere this hitlist with nothing going to plan.  Looking back over the last few months I actually have travelled some miles.  I have been to Perth three times, which is 4 hours driving and 4 hours flying each return trip, I have been to Bali which should have been for a week but ended up being two weeks away due to volcanic ash playing havoc with flight plans, and we snuck in a trip to Karijini National Park which is 10hrs driving to make the return trip from Pannawonica, all in the space of three months.  Phew…..it is time to slow down a little and take a breath.  I honestly didn’t know where to start after not posting for so long, therefore I decided to review my current hitlist and see where I am at with it.

Bahaha what a mess!!

Bahaha what a mess!!

Well, I did complete a ride past the Boot Tree while participating in the Tour de Panna, and I hiked up Tank Hill and walked the Yaburara Trail in Karratha which you can read about here.  Unfortunately I didn’t end up running in the Pannawonica City to Surf due to a change in dates, but was still able to use that goal for training purposes.  Hiking Mt Batur in Bali was fantastic and Yoga in Ubud was also ticked off the list.  I will be writing a post about our trip to Bali and all the great things to do there.  Due to circumstances and life I had to make a few changes to some items on the hitlist.  Visiting Karijini was definitely on my WA bucketlist and when the opportunity presented itself we jumped at the chance and  I can’t wait to catch up on the blog post for that adventure.  Obviously that meant we bumped the trip to Python’s Pool but it is not forgotten.  The other change was swapping the MTB ride to Pannawonica Hill for the kids, to organising the Great Aussie Camp Out.  The kids had a lot of fun on the camp out and you can read all about it here.

That only leaves two items on the current hitlist.  I have to admit to a fail on the new recipe front, I figure its enough that I am actually feeding my kids at all at the moment, right?  The final item on the hitlist is definitely still on my radar and I want to lock in a new challenge by the end of the year.  There are a few options to explore but I can’t decide which one to commit to.  Decisions, decisions.

On the blog front I am making a dedicated effort to write at least one post a week until the end of the year so I will see you with another post soon!

Tour de Panna

It has been a while since I have done a longer bike ride and I have never actually done a road ride.  So when the Tour de Panna rolled around of course I had to sign up and give it a go.  This race is an annual event in Pannawonica and is a chance to see the spectacular scenery in all its glory.  It is a very laid back event, everyone meets at 5am in the morning to load the bikes before a bus drops all the riders at the intersection of the Pannawonica turnoff and the North West Coastal highway.  It is 46km from town and it feels like you have been dropped out in the middle of nowhere.  With very little pomp and ceremony we were underway, here are some pictures to tell the story.

And that’s it all done.  Up at 4.30am, just over 2hrs to complete the ride and back home relaxing by 9am.  Not a bad way to start a Sunday morning!

Climbing an Active Volcano in Bali

Once a year, my two sisters, Mum and I, try and catch up for a girls weekend away.  We try and scratch out the time and money so we can catch up, reconnect, and often have some much needed down time.  Our first trip was to celebrate my Mum’s 50th birthday and we went to Bangkok, Thailand.

 

Over the years, between having kids, moving, living life, we haven’t always managed an exclusive girls trip each year, but we have had memorable trips to the Gold Coast, Palm Cove, Emu Park, and New Zealand.  This year my mum is turning 60 and my little sister turns 30 so we decided it was time for another overseas trip.  Sale fares cropped up for Bali and we spontaneously decided to book the trip well in advance.  This gave me plenty of time to research what trails, hikes, or special attractions that I would like to attempt while staying in Bali.

As you can probably guess if you have been following my blog, I love a good mountain climb, so not surprisingly Mt Batur Sunrise Trek caught my attention.  Trip Advisor had some great reviews of this hike and as it was a 4 hour return trip it wouldn’t take up too much time.  Let’s be honest those wonderful foot massages, cocktails by the pool, not to mention the shopping were all vying for my attention as well!

I managed to convince my little sister to come with me and our trip started with a 2.30am pick up from our Villa just outside of Ubud.  Yes, 2.30 AM pick up, arrrgghh what was I thinking?  It took about 30 minutes driving to arrive at the meeting point in the Kintamani National Park complex where we had a small breakfast of banana crepe and tea or coffee.  We were quickly ushered back into the car for a further 20 minutes before arriving at the base of Mt Batur.  As it was August, it was peak tourism season and the day we hiked there was upwards of 450 people on the mountain.  At just over 1700m above sea level, Mt Batur is not a big mountain so this is a lot of people to have on it at one time.  I have to admit I am really not a fan of hiking with this many people.  There was a lot of waiting before we started and there was a bit of stop and starting during the trek as well.

Before I left Australia, I had been talking to another couple who had just returned from Bali and had completed the Mt Batur trek.  Their advice was to take a head light which left your hands free for the steep part of the track, take a warm jacket for the summit, and they also warned that there were no toilets along the way.  I don’t know about you, but after breakfast, coffee and an early start, my bladder was becoming very demanding.  It was still early in the piece and easy walking, but I was remembering that there were no toilets along the way and we still had 3 more hours of hiking plus waiting time on the top of the mountain.  I figured that I would not be able to enjoy the rest of the trek if I didn’t sneak off for a toilet break under the cover of darkness.  My tips for taking the sneaky, stealth pee: Don’t forget to turn your headlight off;  Try and find a spot that the moonlight won’t reflect off your white backside; And finally, just try to forget that there are 450+ people walking around you and that your face isn’t glowing red in mortification.

For the most part it was quite an easy hike, only the last 45 minutes or so was quite steep.  There are plenty of breaks and due the number of people hiking single file the pace is very steady, therefore achievable for most people with moderate fitness.  It was a lovely clear morning when we started out, it was dark but the stars and moon were bright and there was that lovely morning crispness to the air that I love.  Once we started moving it was a pretty cool sight to see all the twinkling spots of torchlight winding up the mountain.  Now the one thing I had been looking forward to since i woke up at a ridiculous time that morning was a spectacular sunrise.  We reached the top with a little time to spare and sat there shivering in our sweaty shirts, lucky we had a jacket, but I would recommend a dry shirt to change into.  As the sun started to rise, we started to catch glimpses of the view that we had climbed to see, all bathed in a beautiful deep red/orange sky and then tragedy struck in the form of heavy clouds rolling across the mountain……NOOOOOO! Get a load of our eagerly awaited sunrise view……

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Sunrise selfie.  Yep, not too impressed with our sunrise. Haha suckers!!

While the fog was this thick we were seriously doubting whether this trip was worth it.  But then the sun started to rise and the clouds started to clear…..

Looking down at the blackened land, cooled lava from an eruption in 1963 that destroyed a village, was a stark reminder that we had just climbed an active volcano!  In fact it is Bali’s most active volcano with mild eruptions every 10-15 years.  It did make me pause slightly when I did some research prior to the hike that the last eruption was in 2000 and Mt Ruang, in nearby Java, was on the boil.    Our boiled eggs for breakfast had been cooked in the steam from the volcano.  We were standing on a bloody volcano!  C’mon it was a little cool.

It was a pretty great experience and my sister and I were both happy that we did it.  We ended up descending a different path than we climbed.  It was a nice easy walk down, but I would have liked to see the path we had clambered up in the dark.  Oh well, it was not a bad view on the way down regardless.

While this trek is a very commercial enterprise and you could quite easily do it without a guide, I was happy to pay the fee as it creates a lot of employment for locals and I was hopeful that I was paying for their knowledge on the status of this active volcano I was climbing.  The views as we drove back to our accommodation were spectacular and all in all I was really happy with the whole experience and will cross this one off the hitlist!

National Girlfriends Day – 1st August

I recently found out about a campaign by Oscar Health Insurance Company to help promote National Girlfriend’s Day. My first question was who was Oscar Health Insurance?  I learnt that they are an American company who are very proactive about promoting good health and preventative medicine.  For any American readers you can find out a bit more about their insurance plans here.  The other question was what was National Girlfriend’s Day?

“National Girlfriends Day is annually recognized on August 1, as girlfriends get together around the United States and celebrate the special bond of friendship through women.

Girlfriends, some of them may even be your daughters, mothers, sisters, cousins, lifelong friends, high school friends, college room-mate etc., are the ones that are there for you.  These friends are the ones that you want to spend time with, share your secrets with, cry on their shoulders, go shopping with, get a pedicure with, and drink a glass of wine with!”

GFriend

Now this is not a sponsored post or anything like that.  I just felt that it was a really great concept and relevant to all of us and so I was quite happy to promote it with a special blog post.  It is a great reminder to grab a girlfriend, go for a walk or plan to do something active together.  Follow it up with a coffee or a glass of wine and make the decision to look after your health, stay on top of your regular health checks and make sure your friends do to.  Oscar Health Insurance have also developed a Women’s Roadmap to Health which is a great resource for staying on top of those all important health checks.

roadmap

Do we really need much of an excuse to catch up with our girlfriends, sisters, family?  I know I will be catching up with my Mum and sisters on our annual girls trip away and will be enjoying our time together.  Here’s hoping you all catch up with your nearest and dearest for a great weekend!!

Progress on the Current Hitlist and a Belated Happy 1 year Blogiversary to Me!

Where has this year gone?  The last few weeks have just flown by, especially with starting a new job, school holidays, and my husband is back at home after another three month FIFO stint.  (Have I mentioned how much I dislike the FIFO lifestyle?)  Now everything is back on even keel and I have found a precarious, but awesome, balance to my life for now.  I have found a moment of down time and decided to do a quick post to update you all on my progress through my current hitlist.

Walking Tank Hill was the first one off the list, not a very difficult or time consuming task, just something that I wanted to do.  It was one of those little side trips that we often don’t make time for because they seem hardly worth the effort.  But they are worth it.  These are the little challenges that help change your thinking from ‘I should try it’ to “When can I do it?’.  A very important step in the ‘Getting Shit Done’ continuum.  You want to know why else little challenges like this are awesome?  Not only did I do something I never have before, I dragged a friend along with me, had a good old chat, solved the worlds problems, and completed my exercise for the day with an awesome view!  Helllooo? Why wouldn’t you get out and do something like this?

Next up, Yaburara Heritage Trail.  This was a 3.5km hike in Karratha that the whole family completed.  This was a really scenic trail from Karratha Leisureplex to the Visitor Centre and I am glad we made the time to complete it.  The only trouble with this hike was that if you didn’t want to do a 7km return trip you have to juggle a little with cars.  I decided that I would walk the majority of the trail with the family and when we got to the last hill I would jog back and drive the car round to the end of the trail.  This was all good in theory and would have been the perfect plan except I ran half way back before I realised I had forgotten to grab the keys off my husband…I think the wildlife heard some colourful language as I ran back to catch up with them again!  Oh well, all’s well that end’s well.

The kids enjoyed the first half of the walk but were a little over it by the end.  Again, I don’t show them much sympathy as I really don’t think that I am asking too much of them.  It took them just under an hour to do the walk, and yes there were some steep climbs, but at the end of the day it is no more than the recommended Guidelines for Physical Activity in Children. It is all about balance, the kids were able to decide how we spent the rest of our day which ended up involving a guilt free fish and chip lunch and a long, lazy afternoon at the beach in Point Samson.

The other item of note snuck up on me before I even knew it….my little blog has been ticking over for a year!!  I have really enjoyed sharing all my experiences and it has definitely kept me accountable.  I love that I have a record of my journey and that one day the kids may be able to read back over the posts, remember what we got up to and understand a little more about what made me tick.  It has been quite a big year, I have hiked some great trails, climbed some mountains, been to many great swimming holes, started running again and completed my first 8km run along the cliff tops of Kalbarri.  My biggest achievements over the year would have to include learning to kayak, completing my first Enduro Adventurethon, and running the Mothers Day Classic with my husband and four kids.  So many great moments and I am excited for many more adventures to come.

Surviving the School Holidays – Exercise Hitlist Style.

As explained in a previous post I am not one of those awesome parents who get super excited by the school holidays.  I LOVE that I don’t have to make a gazillion lunchboxes and I love that I don’t have to rush around making breakfasts, finding socks and homework, and trying to get four kids out the door by 8am.  The downside is that they can drive me absolutely stir crazy!!  I have learnt through trial and error that the best way to survive the school holidays is to loosely stick to the following basic rules:

  • Have a plan and be a little organised.  Arrrggghhh, my 20 year old self would be horrified to hear me say that, meanwhile my super organised older sister is probably sitting there reading this and nodding smugly to herself.  OK I admit it, there is merit in planning ahead so jump on the band wagon and develop a super school holiday program for your family.  I often check out the local library, the local shire website, PCYC’s and leisure centres for their school holiday activities as they are often reasonably priced and sometimes even free.
  • Start with 1 or 2 big ticket items and plan your schedule around that.  For our family that usually involves a camping trip somewhere or a day trip and entry to a special Museum/Exhibition/Carnival or Show.
  • Plan to completely exhaust them every couple of days.  Trust me on this, you want them so tired that they don’t have the energy to talk back, whinge, or fight with each other and they are also more than happy to stay at home and vegetate the next day.  This is where I get them outside and make the most of local bike and walking trails, beaches, swimming holes and National Parks.
  • Even if you are only having a quiet day at home, spin it for all its worth.  For example if you want to hang out in your pyjamas til lunchtime and put a movie on hoping to keep the kids distracted so you can enjoy a coffee in peace, then this is what I would tell the kids when they ask what we are doing today: “Well you lucky kids,  we are going to have a Pyjama Party.  How bout we set up a theatre room in the twins room, you can choose two movies, I will get some awesome movie food ready (read usual morning tea put on fancy plates and add microwave popcorn) and we can enjoy a quiet day!!”  And that, people, is how it is done.
  • Invite others to get involved in your plans.  It turns a simple afternoon at the park into an awesome playdate, with minimal effort, no cost, and no fuss.  It may just save someone else’s sanity over the holiday period and with my hubby still doing FIFO a little bit of adult company goes a long way!!

With those tips in mind this is how my school holiday program turned out…..

School Holiday Program

So there you have it, a guide to surviving the holidays especially important when you have four kids, a husband that works away, and no family for 5000km.

I would love to hear any other great suggestions for surviving the holidays with kids.  Let me know in the comments below!

Our Weekend Among the Valley of the Giants

This is a Throwback Thursday post that I have been meaning to write for ages.  We took this trip a few months after moving to Perth and just before I started my blog.  It was a really fantastic weekend away for my family and deserves a mention and a record on the blog for posterity!

After living the FIFO life for a few months at this point we really wanted to get away for a long weekend, enjoy being together as a family and explore this amazing new state we were living in.  We had been given a tip off that Coalmine Beach was a lovely little tucked away spot that we should go and check out.  After a quick google we booked a spot at Coalmine Beach Holiday Park.  It is a lovely location and the amenities are standard for a good caravan park.  I do have to mention that the managers at the time were not the most welcoming which wasn’t great when we had been driving 5 hours from Perth.   We arrived around 5.30pm and the first thing we were told was to make sure we kept the kids quite after 6pm?  O..K….Then we checked into the cabin we had booked and the top two bunks weren’t made up.  It may just be me but there also seemed to be a lot of ‘shouty’ signs all around the cabin….’CLEAN UP AFTER YOUR MEALS’, ‘PLEASE MOP SHOWER AFTER USE’, ‘DO NOT LEAVE LIGHTS ON’, they just seemed to be everywhere.  I expect to see them on the general information brochure but they were plastered to the walls.  Anyway, it seems I still have some anger issues with the hospitality, but in saying all of that it is a lovely location and one of the cheaper places to stay in this area.

Back to the good stuff, Walpole and surrounds are just beautiful and we had such a great day at the beach just metres from the caravan park.  Check out the photos…

Did I mention that there are Wineries in the area too?  Winning.  We stopped in at West Cape Howe Winery and grabbed a couple of bottles to try, delicious.

winery

 

We could have quite easily spent a lazy weekend just at Coalmine Beach but one of the big drawcards for this region is the Valley of the Giants Tree Top Walk.  There was an entry fee,  approximately $45.00 for our family of 6, which I thought was reasonable for this experience.  There was a wonderful information centre with interactive displays that the kids loved, there was the Tree Top Walk along the suspended bridge right up amongst the top leaves blowing in the breeze, and then there was also the Ancient Empires Walk at the base of these massive trees to really appreciate their size.  The staff were really friendly and informative and the facilities were fantastic, definitely worth the money.

We made another stop this day to view the Giant Tingle Tree.  This tree is just massive.

tingle trees

The other stop we should have made on this trip but didn’t know about at the time, was The Diamond Tree Lookout which is on route to Perth from the Denmark/Walpole area.  We stopped in at the lookout on the way back from the trip to Albany for the Adventurethon.  To be honest, we had initially skimmed over this as we thought it was just a lookout and the kids are generally not too enthused by lookouts.  How wrong we were…..

Well that turned into quite an epic post.  We really enjoyed exploring this region of Western Australia and it is definitely worth a visit.

Happy Exploring!!