ROUSE HILL HOUSE & FARM IN LEGO® BRICKS

After a few days of being at home resting, I was keen to get out and about with both Farley and Hallie. Braino had gone back to work but Mum was still staying with us so I had an extra set of hands to help navigate taking both toddler and newborn out for the day.   

I was thinking of going to the Brickman  Awesome Exhibit at the Sydney Convention Center but the thought of traveling in to the city felt a little ambitious. I remembered that Rouse Hill House and Farm also has an interactive LEGO® display and decided it would be a good alternative. It oddly combined two things I'm interested in - LEGO® and historic homes! 

Rouse Hill House and Farm is a 200 year old property that is part of the Sydney Living Museums network. The LEGO exhibit is located in the visitor centre and features a detailed LEGO® model of Rouse Hill House and the surrounding buildings, built by the Southern Hemisphere’s only LEGO®-certified professional, Australia’s Ryan McNaught, as well as the opportunity for kids to explore and build their own LEGO® creations. There is also DUPLO® and MEGA BLOCKS for younger kids. 

I would highly recommend it as a toddler friendly activity. Farley enjoyed looking at the LEGO® model of Rouse Hill House and loved playing with all the different styles of LEGO®. It kept her entertained for longer than I expected. Hallie had a feed and then slept the whole time while I wore her in the baby wrap. It’s in a comfortable air conditioned room which makes it a great option for a rainy or really hot day. The staff member who was co-ordinating the LEGO® exhibit was lovely and overall the display was well co-ordinated. You can pre book one of 3 hour long session throughout the day and number for each session are kept to a minimum, which gave each kid enough space to do their own thing. 

Also at Rouse Hill House and Farm you can take a tour of the farmyard, the house or the school house. We actually arrived a little too late for the farmyard tour but we did do the house tour, many for my enjoyment ( I'm a bit of a geek when it comes to abandoned buildings and historic homes ) however I wouldn’t recommend it with a toddler. The house is literally filled with antiques and is in a state of arrested decay. On the guided tour we were instructed to not touch anything, which is a challenge for a two year old, so Mum carried Farley the whole time but she naturally got very bored and squirmy. The house tour is not pram friendly but a baby or toddler in a carrier would be ok. We decided to give the following tour of the school house a miss but I imagine the farmyard tour would be more appropriate for toddlers.  

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TIPS AND INFORMATION

  • Getting there: Rouse Hill is a bit of hike from the city but it’s not too far if your in Sydney’s north or west. Driving is the best option and there was plenty of free parking on site. More info on getting to Rouse Hill House and Farm can be found here. 
  • Cost: Entry for the Rouse Hill House and Farm in LEGO® BRICK exhibit is $12 for adults, $8 for concessions and kids under 5 are free. This admission prices includes the tours of the property as well. 
  • Pram Friendly?: The LEGO® exhibit is in the visitor centre and access is pram friendly. We were able to take our pram right into the room however, during busier times, prams are required to be left on the deck. The tours are not particular pram friendly. The grounds of the property are quite large and the tour groups leave from the visitor centre in an extra large golf buggy. Prams can be left at the visitor centre but I'd recommended backing a carrier for babies. 
  • Food & Dinning: There is a large shaded deck attached to the visitor centre with lots of tables and chairs and complimentary water, tea and coffee bit there is no cafe or any where to purchase food, so definitely bring a packed lunch or snacks
  • Baby change facilities: There was a large disabled toilet with a baby change table located in the visitor centre. 
  • Sun protection: The LEGO exhibit is indoors but if you do take one of the guided tours, I'd recommend backing a sun protective gear as the grounds are large and sunny. 
  • Address: 356 Annangrove Road, Rouse Hill, NSW, 2155

The Rouse Hill House and Farm in LEGO® Bricks display is on until Sunday, 22nd of July 2018. Visit the website here

 

OUT AND ABOUT WITH A NEWBORN - HALLIE'S FIRST WEEK

I was always planning on getting out and about once our new baby arrived but Hallie’s first week was almost as eventful as her birth! I mean a trip to Taronga Zoo and the beach - with a baby that’s only a couple of days old? You’d have to be crazy right? 

Well, my sister, brother in law and their kids, Patty and Edwina, aged 5 and 3, were visiting from Melbourne. They planned the trip around my due date, in the hopes that they would either get to meet the our new addition or at least provide a distraction should I have gone overdue. As it happened, Hallie arrived the day before they did, so we had a whole week ahead of us. I recovered very quickly and was feeling suprisingly great, all things considered, so the thought of getting out of the house wasn't too daunting. 

Taronga Zoo is one of Claire's kids favourite things to do while visiting Sydney and for older kids, it's great! I've been twice before but found that it's a lot of walking with a toddler and you've got to take them in and out of the pram all day. However, this time, Farley was super keen to walk the whole time, while holding our hand. I was surprised at how well she did! We packed both the pram, for Falrey and baby ring sling for Hallie, but Hallie was a happy to be in the pram and quickly drifted off to sleep (after a breastfeed on the edge of a garden, haha) Is Taronga Zoo do-able with a toddler and a baby? Yes, provided you have atleast one other adult with you and be prepared for a lot of walking! I didn't take too many photos though, there was already a lot to think about. 

The other place Claire's family love is Balmoral Beach. They stayed there when visiting at Easter and the kids wanted to go back. It really is a great beach for families - plenty of facilities like cafes, toilets, picnic tables and a playground in close proximity. We had Hallie in the ring sling the whole time and again, she just slept, with a feed and a nappy change thrown in the mix. I love babywearing, it's so convenient and I love having my babies close. I found with Farley, in her very early days, she would drift off to sleep so much easier in the baby carrier or wrap, rather than the pram. 

The week was finished off with a low key birthday party for Farley's second birthday. I didn't commit to organising a big party for Farley, thinking I could either have a baby that was a few days old or possibly still be pregnant. (We always joked about the likelihood of babybrain #2 arriving on Farley's birthday) But, as Hallie's first week was going smoothly, we invited our local playgroup friends to share some cake with us at our local park. Farley had a great time and, true to form, Hallie slept the whole time! I did go all out with the cake, which I had made by a local cake maker. I decided on an 'under the sea' theme as Farley is still loving sea creatures. I had a 'farm yard' themed cake made for Farley's first birthday and would love to keep the tradition of extravagant cakes going.

I'm so grateful that Hallie's birth has been free of any complications and I've recovered so quickly. Hallie is so content and healthy and Farley is just loving her. I think having so many distractions in the first week has made the transition a lot easier for Farley. 

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MONA VALE BEACH - OUR NEW FAVOURITE!

New Year's Eve with a baby or toddler is probably always going to a bit of a non-event in terms of partying and staying up past midnight. But we were keen to do something low key and relaxing in the late afternoon. Friends of our who also have a toddler had mentioned how much they loved Mona Beach and we thought it would be worth checking out. We loved it - I think we have a new contender for our favourite beach! 

I'm not sure if it was just because it was New Year’s Eve, but the beach was surprising quiet! It was very easy to think you were in a sleepy seaside town rather than the norther beaches of Sydney. Here’s a few reasons why we thought Mona Vale was an excellent family friendly beach:

We set up near the ocean bathes and there was so much to do in same area. There is a sheltered bay with small waves on the northern side of the ocean baths and more of a surf beach with bigger waves on the southern side. The ocean baths were also perfect for little ones. There are two; the bigger one looked a bit deeper but we spent our time in the smaller one, it was ideal for Farley to wade through and splash around in. Also surrounding the bathes are shallow rock pools. Farley loved wandering and looking at the shells, however I would insist that toddlers need constant supervision. The waves wash in over the rocks making them very slippery. 

The other aspect that made Mona Vale Beach a real winner is the ample car parking and how close it is to the beach. I’m sure the beach gets busy at other times but we were really surprised at how much parking was available. (It is pay and display  - we paid $12 for 3 hours)  And there were showers and public toilets next to the car park as well. 

And as an added bonus, just across the road from the car park is a great playground and picnic tables - Apex Park Playground. The playground is shaded and on soft padded foam ground and has play equipment for toddlers through to older kids. And, could it get any better - there is a cafe next to the beach as well - The Bronze Kiosk. However it closed at 3:30pm so we didn't get a chance to sample any of the food. Braino went for a quick drive to get some fish and chips  from Mona Vale Seafood and we had a very relaxing dinner in the park. It was the perfect way to see out 2017. 

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STOCKTON SAND DUNES WITH A TODDLER | PORT STEPHENS

When researching for our weekend away at Nelson Bay, I was so excited at the prospect of visiting the Stockton Sand Dunes in the Worimi Conservation Lands. My childhood memories of exploring sand dunes at Double Island Point and Rainbow Beach in Queensland came to mind, only the Stockton Sand Dunes appeared to have much more on offer for thrill seekers. You can go sand boarding, do a quad bike tour, 4WD tour, camel or horseback safari, which would all be amazing ways to take in the scenery. However, I had to reel in my adventurous spirit somewhat; as adrenaline activities in your third trimester may not be the best idea. Plus Braino reminded me that we always have the most fun when we just chill out and let Farley explore and splash in the water. So we still headed to Birubi Point at Anna Bay, which is a 15 minute drive from Nelson Bay, and found that keeping it simple was the best way to enjoy the beach, rock pools and sand dunes with a little one. 

First, we headed down to the lower car park, where the tours leave from, including the camel safari. One of Farley's latest animal obsessions, second only to octopuses, is camels. One day, while I was searching for something in the garage, she found an old camel souvenir I had purchased in Egypt nearly 10 years ago and ever since she has been fascinated - we call it Zamel the Camel. (There is a camel on the Wiggles called Zamel and it always frightened her whenever it was on, so thankfully the new Zamel helped her overcome her fears) So I knew that she would really get a kick out of seeing some real life camels. The camels from Oakfield Camel Ranch wait right next to the car park in between safaris so it's really easy to get close and have a look. While children over the age of two are able to ride with a parent, Farley was technically two months too young and beside, sitting 7 foot in the air on the back of a camel isn't really ideal if you're heavily pregnant :( But Farley love just being able to see them - I'd say it was the highlight of her trip. 

After climbing up and over the small dunes between the lower car park and the ocean, we headed over to the northern end of the beach where we found some tidal pools amongst the rocks. This is a great place to take your little one for a swim and a splash - the beach is generally pretty rough with waves however around the rocks there were some clear, warm pools; shallow enough for a toddler to stand in while deep enough for a parent to lay back and relax. There were a few other parents who had the same idea. 

The amenities at Birubi Beach are fantastic too! There are large clean public toilets and showers, a kiosk and a restaurant - Crest Birubi Beach. There is also plenty of parking. The only thing it did, understandably lack was shade. So be sure to pack plenty of sun protection. 

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