Perth with an infant and pre-schooler – Day 1

Perth is a perfect getaway from Singapore for families with young kids. It’s a 4.5 h flight away, same time zone as Singapore, and is super family friendly. Now that LB2 is one year old, we felt we were finally ready to go on our first family holiday with 2 kids. But this being our first trip with two, the itinerary was intentionally conservative. We elected to base ourselves at one accommodation, rather then pack and unpack every other day.

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Perth CBD from the John Oldman Park

Singapore Airlines has several flights every day to Perth. We took the 930AM flight, and arrived at Perth on a sunny Monday afternoon with a very pleasant temperature of 20 degrees Celsius.

The major telcos all have shops in the arrival hall. We went with Optus which had a relatively good prepaid SIM card deal. The pick-up point for the rental car is a stone’s throw away from the arrival hall, so no worries about having to lug your luggage over a long distance.

We rented an apartment from Stayz at Mounts Bays Water, along Mounts Bay Road. A few tips about renting from Stayz.

  1. Scrutinise the photos closely. Generally the photos are professionally taken to help advertise the apartments. But taking a close look at the photos will give you a better idea of the condition of the furniture, bathroom etc.
  2. Read the reviews. I can’t emphasise this enough. You will find important information about the apartment in the reviews. Eg. whether there were defects or inconveniences reported by previous occupants, were the hosts responsive.
  3. Look for corroborative evidence on other sites like Tripadvisor on the quality of the apartment.
  4. When in doubt, email the owners to find out more about whether the apartment meets your needs.

Our apartment was clean and well-appointed. The owners took the trouble to put in touches that really enhanced the short stay (Eg. snacks, drinks, milk, butter, condiments for cooking, tissue paper, ample supply of toilet paper, kids toys, laundry liquid, even pool towels).Some minus points related more to the facility itself. The lift was rickety and shuddered 8 out of 10 times we used it. The key card pass did not work with the back door despite the owners trying to rectify the situation. And we had to go the long way from the car park back to the apartment every day.

After moving into the apartment, we headed out to grab dinner and groceries. We chose to head to The Park Centre in the South. It had 3 hours of free parking, and also a Coles which opens til 9 pm. It was dark by the time we got there, which made us feel slightly unsafe in the open air car park. We had a quick dinner, and a grocery run to get essential items (diapers and milk powder for LB2), before heading back to the apartment for an early night.

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Tasmania with a Toddler – Launceston

Launceston was the last leg of our holiday. If you ever need a family-friendly accomodation in Launceston, go for 92 Forest Road. This holiday rental is top-rated on Tripadvisor for a good reason. It clear that the owner has put a personal touch into making this apartment THE place to stay in Launceston if you are travelling with children. The child’s bed was specially made up with colorful sheets and soft toys. There is a cupboard full of art and craft material, and toys for a rainy day. There is also a decent DVD collection for the adults. There is even a recipe for raspberry and white chocolate muffins in the kitchen with all the ingredients you need to make a dozen of those. Did I also mention that the apartment overlooks the Tamar River?

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Other highlights:

1. Cataract Gorge 

Cataract Gorge is a geological formation right within the city. We gave the chairlift a miss as it was drizzling, but did the First Basin Loop walk and Cataract Walk along the gorge. Both were highly doable with a toddler. The Alexandra Suspension Bridge gives you a good view over the First Basin. The Basin Cafe is a good place to have a leisurely lunch overlooking the basin.

2. City Park

Lots of open spaces for the little one to burn off some energy. The Japanese Macaque enclosure is a definite crowd pleaser.

3. Tamar Valley Day trip

We took a day trip up north to explore the Tamar Valley region. Tasmania.com provided a detailed self-drive itinerary which was informative.We weren’t much into wineries so we decided to head for the Beaconsfield Mine and Heritage Centre for some history and heritage. There are interactive exhibits for kids. Brady’s Lookout is a scenic lookout enroute to Beaconsfield which is worth a stop. P1000258

Tamar Cove Motel is a good place to stop for lunch. P1000259

We drove all the way to Low Head which was a rather sleepy town, and we didn’t think it was worth the extra drive. There are some coastal views to enjoy and a lighthouse you can walk around. 

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On our way back to Launceston, we stopped at Hillwood Berry Farm for an ice-cream. There’s a large outdoor play area for kids. 

Food places

There is lots to eat in Launceston. A few of the places we enjoyed:

  • Cafe Cuccina (hearty servings of brunch and good coffee)
  • Cafe Culture (brunch place near Forest Road)
  • St Pierre’s
  • Black Cow

Both St Pierre’s and Black Cow were very accommodating of Little Bean despite being fine dining restaurants.  

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Tasmania with a Toddler – Farmstay at Pinner’s B and B

We moved inland from Bicheno to Lilydale where we spent 2 days at Pinner’s B and B. On our way to Lilydale, we stopped at the Pyengana Dairy Company for lunch and their famous milk-shake. Pick up some award-winning cheese and a pint of milk as well. They have a small outdoor play area for kids, and also an indoor toy and book corner.

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Pinner’s B and B was truly a hidden gem, and we were so glad that we went with our gut feeling and booked this place based on the website. This B and B is located on an organic farm run by a lovely couple David and Lyndy.  It delivers on everything it promises on the website and more! The accomodation is a stand-alone building (which means privacy) overlooking the rolling hills. It is new, clean, and well-furnished. Lyndy was an exceptional host and truly pampered us during our stay. The breakfast supplies were amazing: home-made fresh bread, a dozen organic eggs, home-made jams (delicious!), home-made peanut crisps (a hit with little bean), cereal, milk… They also provide a BBQ platter with greens from their garden. Be sure to request for a punnet of strawberries if they are in season. They are the most amazingly sweet strawberries you’ll ever taste! Join Lyndy as she goes about her chores in the morning, milking the cow and feeding the chooks.

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While in the area, consider exploring the Yondover cheeses, cellar-hop or pick organic blue berries at Cherry Top. Our pick was the Bridestowe Lavender Farm, take in the sights and smells of vast lavender fields. Enjoy pancakes with lavender ice-cream. Pick up some nice souvenirs for the folks back home.

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Tasmania with a Toddler – In and around Bicheno

Bicheno is a great base to explore the Eastern coast of Tasmania. We didn’t want to be changing accomodations every other night with a toddler in tow. Although Bicheno was a small and rather sleep town, there was enough to occupy us for a few days. Besides being a short drive from the Freycinet National Park, there were other toddler-friendly activities a short drive away. Here are some places we checked out:

1. East Coast Natureworld

This is a great zoo for children. It provides lots of chances to come up close and personal with a variety of animals. Free-roaming kangaroos (be sure to buy some kangaroo feed), a chance to pat a wombat, and see the tasmanian devil in action. There is also an area for farm animals which is sure to please the kids. The cafe has a limited menu, but serves up a decent lamb burger.

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2. Foreshore Walkway

Enjoy a leisurely stroll along the beach looking out to Waub’s Bay in the late afternoon.

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3. Bicheno Penguin Tours

This was one of the highlights of the trip. I’ve been to the Phillip Island Penguin Parade and this is way better (and much less expensive as well). Unlike the large-scale penguin viewing experience on Phillip Island, the Bicheno Penguin tour was an intimate experience which brings you up close and personal with the little blue penguins. There was also a lot more explanation from the guides, which meant a more educational experience. Be treated also to a wondrous starry night sky on a clear night.

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Tasmania with a Toddler – Freycinet Peninsula

The next day was dedicated to exploring the Freycinet National Park. We started off the day with a hearty breakfast at Blue Edge Cafe at Bicheno. It was about a 45 minute drive to Freycinet Peninsula. It’s important to bring sufficient water. You may also want to pack a picnic lunch, but there are places on the peninsula to grab a bite. We found the resources published by the Tasmania Parks and Wildlife Service very useful for planning ahead and choosing the walks that were suitable for a toddler in tow.

Here are some highlights of what we did:

1. Wineglass Bay Lookout

This involves a steep uphill climb over 1.5km but the steps are well-cut out and safe. We did this with Little Bean in a baby carrier slung on like a backpack. You will be rewarded with awesome views of Wineglass Bay at the end. Pack a little snack to have at the top to reward yourself.

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2. Freycinet Lodge

This is a pleasant place to unwind and have an unhurried lunch overlooking the water.

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3. Cape Tourville

An extremely easy 20 minute circuit but with AWESOME views of the coast. The highlight of the day in my opinion. DO NOT MISS THIS.

 

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 You could see from this last picture that the rain clouds were coming in. So we didn’t make it to the Friendly Beaches. We hid from the rain at Freycinet Marine Farms where we had some freshly shucked oysters, and also picked up some fresh salmon for dinner.

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Tasmania with a Toddler – En route to Bicheno

The next part of our Tassie holiday was spent in Bicheno. On our way up the east coast of Tasmania, we decided to take a little detour to visit The Old Hobart Town at Richmond. To sum it up, it was a little underwhelming, and not really worth the detour. Next up was Sorrell Fruit Farm for some PYO. It was only the beginning of summer but there was a decent selection of strawberries, loganberries and tayberries. It was the first time for us, and we were rather thrilled with the experience, especially Little Bean.

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Lunch was at Barilla Bay Oysters which came with some strong recommendations from our friends. The restaurant was on the second floor and overlooked Barilla Bay. The setting was serene, the food fairly enjoyable. We had the oysters (of course!) and the duck.

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After a rather eventful morning, we started our long drive up the East Coast heading for Bicheno. It’s a fairly leisurely drive, with great views of the coastline between Triabunna and Swansea. We stretched our legs at Kate’s Berry Farm and had an ice-cream. They serve Belgian waffles as well, and have a shop that sells jams and such. Thereafter we continued on our way to Bicheno, where we had rented a holiday apartment from Stayz.

Just before calling it a day, we checked out the Blowhole at Bicheno. I would consider this one of the must-sees in Bicheno, together with the Bicheno Penguin Tours.  There are lots of videos you can find on the internet of the blowhole, but nothing beats seeing it for yourself.

 

 

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Tasmania with a Toddler – Hobart

We spent 10 days in Tassie (1-11 December 2013). We covered the easter/north-eastern part of the island, starting in Hobart and ending in Launceston. We took the night flight from Singapore to Melbourne, followed by a domestic flight from Melbourne to Hobart. It is worthwhile to note that there is a requirement to clear the customs at Tullamarine airport before boarding the domestic flight. We nearly missed our domestic flight as the 2h window was not sufficient to get past the customs, collect our luggage, troop over to the domestic terminal and clear the security checks there. A 3h window will be comfortable.

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The car rental is literally a stone’s throw away from the airport terminal. Fantastic if you have a luggage, stroller and toddler in tow. We were AA members and there was a tie-up with Avis for a free vehicle upgrade. Our first stop was at the Rosny Park which was enroute to the our accomodation. The aim was to get a quick lunch and stock up on essentials at Coles/Woolies (eg. diapers, milk, Cheerios to placate the toddler). Do note that they have phased out free plastic bags from the state (which is an excellent move). You can purchase them at $0.15/piece or bring your own.

We stayed at a 1 bedroom  The Old Woolstore Apartment Hotel and we were most impressed. It had all the comforts of a hotel with modern furnishings plus the amenities of an apartment (including a fully-equipped kitchen). The little bean did not do so well on the flight, and we were all tremendously sleep deprived. We pretty much crashed after we checked in. Then drove out to dinner at Solo Pasta and Pizza. Warm service, and one of the best pizzas I’ve had, hands down. They have booster seats for toddlers. Do note that they are closed on Mondays.

Huon Valle and Mount Wellington

We took a day trip to Huon Valley the next day. Our main aim was to hit the Tahune AirWalk. En-route, pick up some apples at farm gates ($3 for a dozen, which is such a steal). Check out Tasmanian Fruits Farm Gate Guide for more information. You will need to negotiate about 90 steps before reaching the Airwalk so ditch the stroller. It is a 50 minutes return walk with great views of the Huon river, especially from the cantilever. We had lunch at the Visitor centre cafe which served a decent burger.

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View of the Huon River from the cantilever

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We headed back in the direction of Hobart after lunch, and went up Mount Wellington. You can drive all the way to the top (sealed road, but rather narrow). It stands 1270m above sea level and the view on top is pretty awesome. Do prepare some warm clothing as it can be chilly up there.

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View of Hobart from Mount Wellington

We finished off the day in Hobart CBD with a walk along the waterfront and a fish and chips dinner at Flippers at Constitution Wharf.   It’s the only one with a queue. You could eat along the wharf, but it was a little too chilly for us, so we brought our dinner back to the apartment which was just 5 minutes away. The verdict:Nice batter but the trevalla was slightly over-cooked. 
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