For the Love of Coffee

Brought to you by Nuffnang and Piazza D’Oro (S1 Post)

Back in September, I wrote a post about the Piazza D’Oro Barista of the Year competition, and the finalists have been announced. Congratulations to:

New South Wales

Apryl Curtin from Bar 2101

Jan Duan from Coffee Fest

Marius Beullens from Margot Espresso


Wael Bou Karroum from Station Stop Café

Alex Petroulias from Urban Chill

Jesse Carrington from Skyblitz Café

Giacomo Dalla- Zuanna from Little Figs Café

Henry Elcheikh from Goldies Café


Alyssa Day from Kedron Wavell Services Club

West Australia

Harrison Lewis from Rydges

The ten national finalists will head to The Barista Workshop in Sydney on the 26th of November to compete in the Piazza D’Oro National Finals so I’ll keep an eye on that and let you know how it goes. This competition is part of Piazza D’Oro’s commitment to training their baristas so they can develop their technical knowledge. And this is behind the delicious coffee I love so well.

When I found out about this initiative, I set myself my own little challenge: the aim was to visit many different Piazza D’Oro cafes on my travels, just because I love coffee AND new places. I believe it’s important to keep doing the things you love when you become a parent, you just sometimes need to find a different way to do them, scale them down a little or weave them into your life in a sustainable way. I wrote about it here. So this coffee thing is an example of me putting it into practice.

Over the last few months, I visited many different cafes using the Piazza D’Oro app to find them. Not only did I feel like I had this secret joy about me, an amazing…well only small really, but still amazing thing happened. Let me take you on some of my travels:

Going Home from Holidays

My first stop on my challenge was on our way back from holidays at the Sunshine Coast. I love sipping on coffee in the car. It’s like a little luxury.


On my way to a family day out

Setting my day up well. 

for the love of coffee

On My Way to the Country

I headed out to visit my cousin with my kids on this particular day. I drove through the city and stopped off near the Brisbane River at a café. I have a close relationship with my cousins and we have kids the same age so that’s special.

for the love of coffee

Shopping for Birthday Dinner

It was my husband’s birthday and it was a frantic day (and he wasn’t going to be home late) but I wanted to spoil him with his favourite meat pie. So I dashed to the shops before a meeting, grabbed a coffee, raced around throwing what I needed into the trolley before my next job on the list. 

for the love of coffee

General Errands

I needed to go to a Post Office, and this time, instead of going to my local one, I decided to head out a little further from home, close to where a Piazza D’Oro café was. I ended up meeting a lovely lady in the post office and while I was there, I made a connection important for some projects I have coming up. THEN I went close by for a quick coffee stop. I ordered my regular, latte please, when the lady behind the counter said to me, “You won’t need to pay for that.”

I said, “What do you mean?”

She smiled as she replied, “Someone before you paid for the next 2 coffees so it’s already been paid for! 

Just a small random act of kindness, and it made my day! I said to myself that I would do the same at my next coffee stop.

for the love of coffee

Before School Pick Up

I had a small window before school pick up one day, and I dropped in for a coffee and a spot of window-shopping. As I promised myself, I also paid for the next person’s coffee whoever that would be. Pay it forward. Enjoy! 

for the love of coffee

Sporting Days

Our daughter plays a lot of Basketball, and many Saturdays will find us travelling somewhere to watch her game. On this day it was at Noosa on the Sunshine Coast. I used the app to find a great café to help us through the afternoon and drive home. My husband and I were exhausted, and yet we just felt so happy to be together doing family things and this picture captures that. 

for the love of coffee

And so there it is: Don’t give up what you enjoy as a parent, live with joy and a spirit of giving and splash the beauty of it all everywhere you can.

Travel With Me to Dubai!

This Bloggerati Getaway is proudly sponsored by Dubai Tourism

I launched my new website design yesterday, and one of the changes I made was to add a Travel section on the blog. Personal and family travel has become important to me now my kids are older, and I am looking to feature more places and adventures in the upcoming years.

The exciting news is I’m going on a blogger getaway that my amazing agent Nuffnang organised with Dubai Tourism. A blogging getaway to Dubai! It’s one of the best places I can think of to do both business and explore. I’m heading over in early December, and will hunt out and feature some of the best family attractions in Dubai.

I’m excited…PLUS there’s a chance for one of YOU and a friend to join me on this trip. All the details are at the end of the post.

This is my “Yay! I’m visiting Dubai” face.

Visiting Dubai

I’ve been Googling Dubai like crazy and I am putting my YAY face on potential places I may visit while I’m there.

Culture & Heritage

Dubai is one of the places on my bucket list.   The main reason is it’s a fascinating place with many contrasts. Dubai marries Arabian traditions with diverse and widespread multiculturalism and this balance is so interesting. There’s a depth to the history of ancient Dubai, and this is displayed in many cultural and arts events. Alongside this history, the city offers cutting edge technology and the modern world at its best.

Visiting Dubai


Shopping in the world’s largest mall – The Dubai Mall? Yes please! Just in time for Christmas!

Visiting Dubai - shopping

Family Adventure

I’ll be particularly looking for the best places to visit as a family, like the Dubai Mall Aquarium, Dubai Mall Under Water Zoo and Dubai Ice Rink.

Visiting Dubai - family attractions


A must on my list is to climb to the top of Burj Khalifa, the world’s tallest building. Burj Khalifa is only just one of the 625 hotel establishments in Dubai. Whether it’s five-star or budget — city stay, beachside resort or a desert retreat – Dubai has it all.

Visiting Dubai - buildings

Outdoors & Adventure

A desert safari, watching wildlife or exploring the beaches: just some of the outdoor adventures available.

Visiting Dubai - desert safari

Visiting the beach at Dubai

Visiting Dubai - wildlife

Events & Festivals

There’s always something fun on! Almost every weekend Dubai hosts at least one remarkable event, with a calendar encompassing arts and sport, food and books, music and lights, heritage, fashion and shopping.

So YAY! A lot of YAYS! Follow along on the journey with my fellow Bloggerati bloggers and maybe you could join me on this trip too!

Join me in Dubai – Win a Dubai Dream Experience

I’m offering an amazing giveaway in the lead up to December. One of you has the chance to travel with me to Dubai and experience the wonder too! To enter, answer this question on your social media channel of choice: 

What do you dream of in Dubai?

Here are the details:

  1. Entry is by sharing image, text or video on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram
  2. You must use both the #NNDubaiDreams and #mydubai hashtags
  3. Entries can be any format as long as they are publically visible
  4. Head over to the Nuffnang Website for all the details here
  5. Read all the terms and conditions here


The winner and a +1 receive flights from their nearest capital city, accommodation, and activities in Dubai. Includes flights, accommodation and activities.

Making the Most of Special Family Experiences

Brought to you by Tourism & Events Queensland (S1 post)

Making the Most of Special Family Experiences 

I’ve discovered one of the best ways to engage my kids in learning is to make it about connection. There is something beautiful about natural curiosity and capitalising on experience. 

With this in mind, when I prepare for certain experiences (like holidays) with my kids, I put a little thought into the big picture. It’s about providing the opportunity to learn and connect and then allowing it to unfold naturally (not having expectations on what that looks like). I have found this is the most rewarding way to encourage my kids to be learners for life, because it’s fun and satisfying.

Recently, our family went to Hervey Bay to do Whale Watching for a campaign I was involved in with Tourism & Events Queensland (TEQ). I had this idea of creating some sort of activity/craft to incorporate into the experience for my kids and TEQ were totally on board because they are as passionate about Queensland (my home state), and celebrating its wonderful nature and landscape as I am!

Step 1: Pre Family Experience

Before we went, I made up travel packs with a few relevant drawing materials and plastic figurine toys (I researched the wildlife in the Fraser Coast area). You can read about the pack I made up here: Road Trip Activities.

Travel Trail Mix

Step 2: The Family Experience

My son carried around a toy whale most of the time we were at Hervey Bay. It was gorgeous. It was such a great experience for the kids and we learned a lot about whales and why they love Hervey Bay so much.

This diagram of the whale journey from Antarctica to Tropical North Queensland is useful, and it shows Hervey Bay as a stopping place for many whales because of the protection of Fraser Island and the temperature of the water compared to down south. Hervey Bay is also an important stopover for the social development of young humpbacks, as hundreds of mothers use the Bay as a safe haven to teach their calves essential survival skills in preparation for the deeper, colder water of Antarctica.  

Whale trail - Queensland Coast

The whales deviate from the migratory path and stop, rest and play in Hervey Bay for up to 10 days at a time making it the best place to view them up close. On our whale watching tour, we saw 5 different pods of whales. Some were resting just under the water, some did massive breaches and flips, and some flapped their pectoral fins, like they were waving hello. My sister was recently up at Hervey Bay too, and one of the whales came right up to the boat. Incredible!

whale watching hervey bay

You can read more about Hervey Bay and our whale watching experience here: Whale Watching – Hervey Bay.

Step 3: Post Family Experience

Seeing the whales, in all their graceful enormousness was amazing. I wanted to take the opportunity to reinforce the experience through play. I think the key here is that it should feel natural and be fun. I’ve learned over the years not to force activities but instead to prepare, and then pick the right moments to do them.

Below are some ideas on how to capitalise on amazing family experiences:

  • Watch a documentary
  • Do a play scene
  • Make a craft
  • Research images or information on the web
  • Read a book (search the library for relevant books)
  • Make a memory book with photographs
  • Use a favourite photograph and make a wall canvas for the home
  • Make a memory jar like this one

I’m sharing two ideas I did with my kids below.

Play Scene

I set up a simple play scene with the toys I bought for the kids before we went on the trip. I did this during the day, and just left it there for the kids to find in the afternoon after school. They loved seeing it when they came home! You can find out how I put it all together here: Sea & Sand Play Scene.

Sea and Sand Play Scene

Look at these direct connections between the experience and play:

Whale Fluke 

Whale Fluke



Whale Watching

Whale watching hervey bay

Sea Animal Printable

Another idea I had was to make a sea animal puppet theatre. This is especially great if kids want to do a talk at school about whales or sea animals. For the free printable and instructions on how to put it all together, click here: Sea Animals Puppet Theatre.

Shoebox puppet theatre

The tag line for Be A Fun Mum is ‘love the moment’ and there’s a skill to that. Sure, it’s about being present and enjoying time with your kids but there is more to it than that. It’s also the ability to capitalise on moments…and making them count! This is something I have been working on over the last couple of years and it’s not hard, but I have found that I have had to change my mindset to be very open to how it all plays out. It works! And it’s fun! 

I tailored these activities for my children with Hervey Bay and the Fraser Coast in mind (which I highly recommend as a family holiday destination), however the same principles can be used no matter where you go:

1. Plan to enhance the experience by doing a bit of research and tapping into things your kids enjoy.

2. Enjoy the experience, allowing the planning to be a tool, not a fixed guide.

3. Do something fun in the wake of the experience.

These are the precious memory-making years with my kids and I’m making the most of it!

Helpful Links for Fraser Coast Region

Fraser Coast Activity Sheets

What We Take to The Beach

We are a pick-up-and-go type of family and so I like to keep things simple when we go to the beach.   If we keep things simple, it’s achievable, and when it’s achievable, we do it more.  What we take depends on how long we will be there. If we are heading to the beach for a few hours to swim, below are some standard staples that serve us well. 

Staple Items to Take to the beach

Beach Staples

 What we take to the beach

  • Large Beach Tote – The red Seafolly tote was a gift from my Dad over 5 years ago. It’s been absolutely fantastic! (like this Seafolly purple one). It has a small zip pocket inside for keys and phone.
  • Body Board Backpack – We’ve had a Body Glove backpack for over 10 years and it’s been one of the best things we’ve ever purchased for the beach. It holds all four of the children’s body boards and it makes it easy to transport everything down to the sand. They don’t make this one anymore but there are similar ones just google ‘bodyboard backpack bag’ and you can find many like this. The large size to fit more than one board is best.
  • Body Boards – SO FUN!
  • Beach towels – The Guide Dog Beach towels are huge and FANTASTIC!
  • Beach toys – a bucket for sand play and collecting shells, plus a few plastic figurines are a favourite
  • Sunscreen
  • Hats – last year I bought caps from Little X & Y and they are great and look so funky
  • Drink bottles – I like the Contigo brand
  • Beach shoes – Mox shoes are fabulous for the beach
  • Swimwear (the kids wear to the beach)

This particular morning I was on my own with three of my kids and everything I needed I could carry like this. Easy.

Beach staples

Food: I rarely take food to the beach for short outings because it’s so hard to keep it sand free!  If we are only going for a few hours, I time the trip between eating or having a snack in the car (or home) to have when we are done. Or we buy something.

Other favourite beach items

If we are going to the beach for a longer period, there are a few other items that are fantastic

  • Recycled Mat – HUGE and brilliant for the beach.
  • Frizbee, tennis ball, soccer ball
  • Foldable chairs (from our camping gear)
  • Small esky with drinks/food
  • Shade cover (we have a Fox Swing on the car which is handy if we are travelling on the beach)
  • Change of clothes – usually kept in the car
  • There are other things that are great to keep in The Car Box that make it easy to go anywhere!

Recycled Mats

What do you take to the beach?

Whale Watching: Hervey Bay

Sponsored by Tourism & Events Queensland (S1 Post)

It’s a focus for our family to experience nature, in all its wonder and beauty.  There’s a quality bonding that comes with going on adventures together, which I believe is integral when creating a strong family and shaping a childhood full of beautiful memories. 

We went on one such adventure last weekend to Hervey Bay on the Fraser Coast in Queensland.   The last time we visited Hervey Bay was a year ago.  One of our daughters is serious about basketball and we found a good second hand free-standing practice hoop for sale at Hervey Bay, and decided to make a weekend of it. (The things you do for your kids!)  We all fell in love with the place that weekend, and to follow it up with a whale watching experience was fantastic.

Crossing the Road with 4 kids: Like a boss

Crossing the road with kids

Why Hervey Bay is so Special

Not only is Hervey Bay a relaxed family-friendly spot, it is unique in the world both for whale migration and the spectacle of whale watching. The whale watching experience available in Hervey bay is due to a combination of factors that come together.   Humpback whales migrate annually up the east coast of Australia, from cold Antarctic waters to the tropics to breed and give birth.  On the trip south, the perfect water temperature, along with the shelter of Fraser Island (the world’s largest sand island), create an ideal environment for mothers to feed their new calves, and for other whales to rest and play on the 10,000km trip back to the Antarctic feeding grounds.  Whales can stay in the bay for up to 10 days and this sort of stop-over does not happen anywhere else on earth, giving a perfect chance for us to see these beautiful animal in their environment.  And this magical place is just over 3 hours from Brisbane!

Fraser Coast Discovery Sphere

Knowing more about humpback whales enhances the experience and I strongly recommend a trip to the Fraser Coast Discovery Sphere before going on a whale watching tour.  You can see in the video further below, how much the kids learned from coupling the two experiences together. 

Life-size humpback whale sculpture at Fraser Coast Discovery Sphere

Fraser Coast Discovery Sphere

Fraser Coast Discovery Sphere


We ate at many different places on the Fraser Coast (you can find pictures of the yummy meals on my Instagram feed), and there was one spot that stood out for its friendly staff and relaxed atmosphere: Bistro Aubergine.  This cafe directly overlooks the Great Sandy Strait (just metres away where our whale watching tour departed) and the staff were beyond lovely.   Great spot for family eating; there was drawing and toys available for the kids too.  The photographs below were taken at the bistro and you an see how happy, relaxed and excited we were. 



motherhood in one picture

I packed a few themed toys for the kids for this trip (read about it here) and Mr 6 carried around the replica humpback whale everywhere this day. Loved seeing him so excited and engaged.

Whale watching Hervey Bay

Never underestimate the snippets of value you can weave into waiting moments.

waiting for whale watching

What I’m wearing

Spotted jeans: Liz Jordan

Shirt: Review

Boots:  Bared Raven boots in Burgundy

Green Jacket: Purchased at Southbank Markets in Brisbane

Great Sandy Strait Marina

Great Sandy Strait, Hervey Bay

Whale Watching Tour

The Tasman Venture vessel took us on our adventure.  Something I learned about humpback whales is their flukes are like our fingerprints: they are all unique and are used to identify and study returning whales each season.  Vicki from Tasman Venture can identify by name over 40 of the whales that frequent Hervey Bay.

The boat ride in itself was exciting

Whale Watching Hervey Bay

What to bring

  • Binoculars (although not essential given the frequency of up close encounters in Hervey Bay will help you spot breaching whales in the distance) 
  • A jacket or jumper (even though the day was lovely and fine, the wind factor on the boat can make it a bit chilly on deck)
  • Sunscreen/Hat
  • Camera/Video

Just look at the colour of the water surrounding Fraser Island!

Fraser Island

And it was topped off by THIS!

Whale Watching at Hervey Bay


Whale watching at Hervey Bay - Fraser Coast - Queensland

Incredible!  Incredible!

Whale watching season in Hervey Bay runs from mid July to the end of October each year. Whale sightings are plentiful during the season, and when I chatted with a local about it, they said “if you don’t see a whale on a tour, there would be something wrong!”   In fact, operators of whale watching vessels and scientists have noticed the number of whales coming into Hervey Bay has increased over the past 20 years. The simple answer for this is that Humpback whale numbers are improving after the cessation of commercial whaling: about 2,000 whales came into Hervey Bay in 1992, and almost 7,000 are expected in 2014 out of a migration of greater than 20,000; it is truly heartening to hear these statistics. Whale watching itself is closely controlled and there are strict rules in place to allow the whales their own space. 

Interestingly, 30 years ago Humpback mothers were very protective of their young around whale watching vessels, and yet nowadays they seem to like to show off the new calves and push them closer to the boats. This learnt behaviour demonstrates the trust involved from the whales and the extensive experience and care of the operators, it would appear this behaviour indicates whales enjoy ‘human spotting’ too!  

I enjoyed putting this video of the children’s responses together and seeing their smiles. It’s interesting the way they interpret and reproduce information in their own way.  Below is the long 5 min version (which I love), but if you’re interested in a snap shot, you can watch the short version here.

Eagle - Hervey Bay

Beach at Hervey Bay

a happy childhood

What stands out most to me about Hervey Bay is respect. There’s an undercurrent of respect for the unique beauty of the region and to see this honoured and embraced is encouraging and inspiring. I would go as far to say from my travel experiences, Hervey Bay would be on my top 5 must-visit places for families.  It has the beaches, the fun, the food, the interesting surrounding spots (like Maryborough) and the unique whale watching experience the family will never forget! Best.

Find out more

Travel: Maryborough – All Things Mary Poppins!

There are places that hold a sense of intrigue, where history is woven into the culture, nature and architecture.  Like a spring undercurrent, there’s a deep significance, and that depth produces an interesting beauty. It makes you want to know more.

This past weekend, our family visited the Fraser Coast. On our way to Hervey Bay, we stopped in at intriguing and beautiful Maryborough.  We almost skipped this part of our itinerary due to timings but I’m so glad we didn’t because we had a wonderful afternoon, you can see it in the pictures.  

Home of Mary Poppins

Maryborough is the birth place of P. L. Travers, the creator of the beloved character Mary Poppins.  A statue of her most famous literary character now stands on the corner of Richmond and Kent streets in front of the house in which she was born.  

Maryborough - Fraser Coast - Queensland

Mary Poppins Statue in Maryborough - Fraser Coast - Queensland - Home of Mary Poppins!

Continuing down Richmond street, and leading to Queens Park, are various excerpts from Travers’ stories of Poppins, inscribed in steel, many of the designs created by local children.

Maryborough - Fraser Coast - Queensland - Home of Mary Poppins!

Queens Park

We could have spent hours and hours here, amoungst one of the biggest fig trees I have ever seen. As soon as the kids spotted it, they were up there in a flash.  The park opens out onto the Mary River and contains many historical items and monuments, and also an awesome minature railway which runs on the last Sunday of every month.

Queens Park - Maryborough - Fraser Coast - Queensland

Fig Tree at Queens Park - Maryborough - Fraser Coast - Queensland

Fig Tree at Queens Park - Maryborough - Fraser Coast - Queensland

Mary Poppins Festival & Chalk Drawings

Every year in July, Maryborough celebrates its connection with Pamela Lyndon Travers by holding the Mary Poppins Festival.  Chalk drawings are a well known motif in the world of Mary Poppins, and the elaborate chalk creations produced during the festival have been sealed to prevent them from fading away.

Chalk Drawing - Maryborough - Fraser Coast - Queensland - Home of Mary Poppins!

Chalk drawing - Maryborough - Fraser Coast - Queensland

Afternoon Tea with Mary

We stopped at ‘Mary Delicious‘, a lolly shop, milk bar and ice creamery with a 1950s American feel, that serves a beautiful Devonshire Tea.  Maryborough’s Mary Poppins shared a spot of tea with us, while she told stories and sang songs. Now that’s not something you do every day!

Mary Poppins Tour - Maryborough, Fraser Coast - Queensland

Mary Poppins Tour - Maryborough, Fraser Coast - Queensland

Mary Poppins Tour - Maryborough, Fraser Coast - Queensland

Mary Poppins Tour - Maryborough, Fraser Coast - Queensland



Maryborough is a beautiful city with classic architecture, much of this was funded through the prominence of its port, as well as the gold rush in nearby Gympie in 1867.  It is not difficult to imagine that the park and beautiful public buildings (which were built before Travers’ birth in 1899) gave rise to Cherry Tree lane, and with other subtle details such as the local ‘time canon’ and her own father’s work as a banker, well, you have the beginnings of a good story…

Post Office- Maryborough - Fraser Coast - Queensland - Home of Mary Poppins!

Historical Buildings- Maryborough - Fraser Coast - Queensland - Home of Mary Poppins!

Explore Museums & History

We explored more of Maryborough’s history at the Militrary & Colonial Museum and Old Warehouse Gallery. The kids helped Mary Poppins with the time cannon. What a finale! 

Mary Poppins Tour - Maryborough, Fraser Coast - Queensland

Maryborough's Mary Poppins

Mary Poppins Tour - Maryborough, Fraser Coast - Queensland

What I Wore

Easy travel wear that looks good for going out too. Straight from a 2 and a half hour car trip and into sightseeing for the afternoon.

Jeans: Liz Jordan

Top: Mix Apparel (from Coles)

Boots: Bared Raven boots in Burgundy

Accessories: A splash of aqua, because aqua goes with everything

Chalk Drawings - Maryborough - Fraser Coast - Queensland

Chalk Drawings - Maryborough - Fraser Coast - Queensland

Creating Our Own Family Heritage

The moments pictured below, reinforces to me the importance of fostering experiences together as a family. It’s a part of creating your own heritage, like a spring undercurrent, that forms part of your identity and carries through to generations to come. 

Sibling love

My husband snapped the picture below…I think one of my favourite pictures of myself: I’m holding 2 of my precious girls while my other daughter in the corner races to join in. Motherhood. Family. Love.

Got to keep creating understated significance.



Travel Posts

Disclaimer: This famil was organised by Tourism & Events Queensland.  I was not contracted to write this particular post but we loved the area so much and I just wanted to share because if you’re heading up to the Fraser Coast, it’s certainly worth a stop through!

Road Trip: Travel Activities for Kids

We are in a stage of parenting where there’s an urgency experience as much as we can in this small window family time; the kids are still young enough to do everything with us, but old enough that it’s easy for us to drop everything and go places.  It’s the memory-making season!  Later on, when my kids are adults, I believe these times will serve as memory anchors of a wonderful childhood and there’s something beautifully grounding about that.

We are off to Hervey Bay on the Fraser Coast in Queensland for a long weekend…hoping to see the whales! It’s about a 3 hour drive from Brisbane and I have organised travel packs for the kids, to both keep them entertained and to enhance this experience. I make up travel packs for the kids for most holidays/road trips and I’m sharing the sorts of things I put in them and how just a little forward planning can facilitate spontaneous fun and natural learning experiences.

Audio Books

I recently discovered audio books and they are fabulous for road trips! I just finished downloading another story after desperate pleas from my kids: How to Be a Pirate (one of the How the Train Your Dragon series) by Cressida Cowell. Done.

Travel Pack for Kids

The travel packs I make up for road trips are similar but different. This time, I put together these things:

  • Trial Mix Snack: Ingredients for our favourite travel trail mix here
  • Pipe Cleaners: These are great for the car for older kids. They are mess free and you can make all sorts of fun designs and create people, animals and figures. Have a competition even!
  • Note Pad: For drawing or journalling 
  • Drawing Pens
  • Colouring in pages: Many regions/travel destinations will have related colouring in pages you can download for free. You will find a link to where I found these pages relating to the Fraser Coast below.
  • Toys: A few themed toys are fun.
  • Clipboard box: These are one of the BEST parenting discoveries. We’ve had them for 3 years now and are fabulous for travelling.  They are a clipboard that have a small storage box attached to it. I purchased mine at Officeworks (Storage Clipboard).

Travel Activities for the Car on Road Trips

Travel Toys

On this particular trip, we are focusing on the wonder of the wildlife in the Hervey Bay region. Enjoying nature is one of my favourite things to experience with my kids. I don’t usually pack toys when we go on a getaway (I keep everything minimal) because we keep so busy.  However, I tend to have a theme and then perhaps buy one thing to add to the experience (e.g. a new board game/book).

I’ve been a parent a while now, and I’ve discovered there are certain toys/items that bring much value to the kids play and imagination. Plastic figurines are one of them (you can’t have to many – ha!) and they are easy to travel with. It took me about 20 minutes to Google the wildlife we may discover in the Fraser region, and then I found as many as I could from our collection at home and purchased extra themed figures from Mini Zoo.  Mini Zoo has a HUMONGOUS range of all kinds of plastic figurine brands.

According to my research, all these animals featured below are in the Fraser Coast region — how cool is that!? So the kids will both look out for them, and be inspired along the way.  Plus, when we are home again, I’ll create some sort of play scene for the kids as an activity to reinforce it all. I just know how much the kids will enjoy playing with these in the car, on the beach, at parks and quietly in bed at rest time.

Animal figurines - Fraser Coast

I packed the toys in a little box ready to go.

Toys for travel

All set with the storage clipboards with snacks and drawing activities inside and Contigo Drink Bottles (which don’t spill).

Travel activities for kids

Prepare for spontaneous fun. See what I did there?

Fraser Coast, Queensland

The colouring sheets I printed for my kids were found here:

Fraser Coast Activity Sheets


If you’re interested in following us, I will post live pics up on my Instagram feed @beafunmum using the hashtag #BAFM_Travel and #visitfrasercoast

More Relevant Travel Posts

Entertaining Young Kids When Travelling

60 Ways to Keep Kids Entertained While Waiting

Camping Food

Camping Gear

Holiday Packing Lists

Audio Books Save the School Run

Brought to you by Nuffnang and 

The discovery of audio books took me back to my childhood. I remember listening to stories on my jukebox-look-a-like tape player; it helped me settle into sleep. is offering a free month trial (which comes with a free book download) and I was curious. To be honest, I wasn’t sure if I would use it extensively. But I was mistaken. I would go as far as saying incorporating audiobooks into our life may be one of the best tools I’ve discovered this year for our family. It’s made that much of a difference!

Here is just one example: On a particular Saturday, we spent the morning at home, doing normal jobs like cleaning out the car and that sort of thing. It was raining outside. Come the afternoon, we felt desperate to get out of the house and decided to go for a drive to visit the Sciencentre at South Bank in Brisbane.

For the entire 25-minute trip to the city, there was silence from everyone (that’s four kids aged from 6-13) – except for the occasional giggle. Everyone was listening to David Tennant read beautifully (wonderfully!) from ‘How to Train Your Dragon’ by Cressida Cowell.

I can’t remember the last time ALL the kids were so engaged. Later when we were home again, the kids begged for more of the story and I found them huddled together in one of the bedrooms. That made me happy. 

Everyone was happy and relaxed by the time we got to the museum.

museum - Southbank - Brisbane

Listening to audiobooks has quickly become part of our family routine. Each morning on the way to school, we listen to a little more of the book together (there’s a bookmark function so it’s easy to keep track of where we last were in the story). We are up to chapter 16 already!  The biggest plus for me is this routine makes the trip to and from school more calm and fun. Win!

Enjoying Audiobooks

Below are some of the ways audiobooks fit into family life:

  • Road trips – we do road trips as often as we can and audiobooks are a fabulous travel tool
  • Enjoy a story on the way to a regular event – like school or sports practice
  • Follow along with a picture book you have at home and enjoy it in a different way
  • Holidays – pick a new book each family holiday and make a new tradition
  • Quiet time and before bed
  • Foster a love of books for kids who face challenges in this area (I have a child with dyslexia)
  • Personal development and enjoyment – I like to run, and I have a few business related books on my wish list that I will listen to on my longer runs. Audiobooks make great use of that time.

Why Audiobooks Are Great

Nothing can replace snuggling with your child and reading together. Nothing can replace the enjoyment of feeling a book in your hand and seeing the words jump off the page – creating images in your head.

I don’t see audiobooks replacing regular reading, but simply another way to enjoy the wonder of books and storytelling. Audiobooks fit into our family life seamlessly, making it easy for us to enjoy storytelling on the go. Plus, they are a useful tool for multitasking and making the most out of our time.

Wish List

Below are some of the titles in my wish list.

audible wish list

My Top 6 Picks for Family Reading 

The free trial I accessed allows for a free one-book download and I’ve picked out 6 fabulous audio books family would enjoy as a beginning point:

Top 10 Audio Books for Families

1. The Enchanted Wood by Enid Blyton
          Narrated by Kate Winslet

2. How to Train a Dragon by Cressida Cowell
          Narrated by David Tennant

3.  The Magician’s Nephew  (first book in the Narnia Series) by C.S. Lewis
          Narrated by Kenneth Branagh

4. Winnie the Pooh by by A.A. Milne
          Narrated by Stephen Fry, Jane Horrocks, Geoffrey Palmer, Judi Dench, Finty Williams, Robert Daws,
          Michael Williams

5. Anne of Green Gables by L.M. Montgomory
          Narrated by Shelley Frasier

6. Swallows and Amazons by Authur Ransome
          Narrated by Gareth Armstrong 

Range and Quality

There’s a wide range of audiobooks available. I downloaded ‘How to Train Your Dragon’ as part of the free trial but also went ahead and purchased two other favorite picture books I found on for the kids to enjoy.

Are We There Yet? By Alison Lester & Millions of Cats by Wanda Gag

Audio Books

Audio Books

The quality of the three audiobooks I downloaded is excellent. Crisp, and clean sound. Especially with ‘How to Train Your Dragon’, the narration by Scottish actor David Tennant, is extremely entertaining.

Downloading Books & Using

1. Join for a free trial (after this, members pay a monthly $14.95 and get one book free a month)

2. Download the app for your preferred device (I used an iPhone)

3. Browse for your free book under ‘Shop Audible’ and checkout – you won’t be charged for the free book (this part has to be done through the website, not the app)

4. Access your book through the app on your device, download and listen! 

Downloading Audible

Adding books is easy. Simply buy the books on the website, then refresh on the app and the books will be there! Boom!

Downloading Audible

Audiobooks have made a positive impact in our family, and with the free trial available, I recommend everyone to give it a go. Listen to something in the car on the way to school (this is what made the biggest difference in our family), make a new tradition or learn something new, even while you’re making dinner. 

Visit Audible Australia 


When would you most use Audiobooks?


You can rePin this list of books for later reference by clicking here.

The Spirit of The Ekka

On the way home from school, Miss 10 was talking about things she was learning at school including the history of The Ekka (the Brisbane Exhibition / Royal Queensland Show).

The conversation with my daughter stirred my own curiosity, and I refeshed my own historical understanding.  In true Queensland style, the word exhibition in Brisbane Exhibition was shortened to Ekka.  And we don’t think of it as anything else!


1876: The first exhibition in Brisbane was held at Bowen Park in 1876

1877: The first ride was a merry-go-round

1919: First time the show had to be cancelled due to an influenza outbreak (it was also cancelled in 1942 due to World War II)

1984: The first firework display in the main arena

1926: The first night time program was held following the introduction of electric lighting

1950: Strawberry ice-cream & dagwood dogs were introduced.

1964: The animal nursery introduced

2000: Wood chop event redeveloped

Random fact: The first showbag was a bag of coal! Apparently so!

* Information via ‘Showtime— A History of the Brisbane Exhibition’ by Joanne Scottand Ross Laurie, 2008.

The Heart

The original intent of the Brisbane Exhibition was to promote and encourage newly invented agricultural and industrial devices. Cattle and other farm animals were also exhibited during the show, a practice that continues today. But the heart, the heart is this: The Ekka provides “a unique opportunity for country and urban residents to come together in a celebration of Queensland lifestyle”¹. I love that!

My favourites

My favourite things about The Ekka: the strawberry ice-cream and the exhibits. I love all the exhibits: food; animals; everything!  I loved the Ekka as a child and now I enjoy sharing that love with my own children. It’s about Brisbane, it’s about community; it’s about this wonderful state we live in called Queensland.

Strawberry Ice-cream Sundae

According the Ekka website, approximately 10 tonnes of strawberries are used to make the Ekka Strawberry Sundaes each year. The Ekka Strawberry Sundae is mouth-watering top to bottom, from the crunchy wafer cone to the smooth white ice-cream, sweet chopped strawberries, delicious gourmet strawberry ice-cream, swirls of fresh cream and topped off with a tasty fresh Queensland strawberry.  Profits help fund research to find cures and save lives.

The Spirit of The Ekka in Pictures

One year while visiting the Ekka, I made a point of capturing the essence I could see through photographs.  Here they are:

The EKKA - Brisbane Show - Train The EKKA - Brisbane Show The EKKA - Brisbane Show The EKKA - Brisbane Show The EKKA - Brisbane Show The EKKA - Brisbane Show The EKKA - Brisbane Show Birds at the EKKA The EKKA - Brisbane Show - Rides The EKKA - Brisbane Show The EKKA - Brisbane Show The EKKA - Brisbane Show The EKKA Showbags The EKKA - Brisbane Show The EKKA - Brisbane Show - animals Cattle at The Ekka The EKKA - Brisbane Show The EKKA Blimp at The Ekka The EKKA - Brisbane Show The EKKA - Brisbane Show The EKKA - Brisbane Show

Road Trip: Southern Great Barrier Reef – Wrap Up

Sponsored by Tourism and Events Queensland

I long to be back on this beach in the middle of the ocean! I’m reflecting back on our busy long weekend in the Southern Great Barrier Reef region and writing a wrap up retracing our travel steps.  I did the same thing after our road trip from Brisbane, right down to Canberra in 2011. 

Lady Elliot Island

Southern Great Barrier Reef

The Southern Great Barrier Reef stretches from Bundaberg — includes Lady Elliot, Lady Musgrove, Herron, Wilson and Great Keppel islands — through to Gladstone and up to the Capricorn Coast.  There are higher profile areas of the Great Barrier Reef, which what makes the southern part so fun to visit: it’s a hidden gem of a place to explore and you can find many quiet spots of beach magic along the coast. The region is family friendly, stunningly beautiful, the weather is conducive to all kinds of outdoor fun (even during Winter), and there is a natural, relaxed pace.

Southern Great Barrier Reef Region

Day 1: Exploring Childers

Childers is an archetypal Queensland town full of charm and character nestled amongst the cain fields.  See pictures and read more about our day in Childers here.

Day 2: Exploring Lady Elliot Island

The highlight by far!  The kids keep saying “I can’t believe we swam in the Great Barrier Reef!” We were all blown away by this experience; if you get the chance do it, the memory lasts a lifetime.   More of this special day here.

Day 3: Exploring Bundaberg

The capital of the Southern Great Barrier Reef: an historic sugar town and a great place to base yourself when exploring this amazing region.   What we did in Bundaberg is here.

Southern Great Barrier Reef - Bundaberg

Southern Great Barrier Reef - Bundaberg

Even though we managed to cram a lot into the weekend, there seemed to be so many more things we could have done had we had the time.  Bundaberg is only 4 hours from Brisbane and we will be back, to enjoy the things we loved and explore those we have yet to experience.

Our Route 

Queensland Road Trip - Brisbane to Great Barrier Reef

Southern Great Barrier Reef

Travel Stops

1. Brisbane QLD 

2. Kybong QLD (There’s a huge Matilda travel station here; a great place to stop)

3. Lake Redbrook Holiday Retreat, 122 Farnsfield Rd, North Isis QLD 4660

4. Snakes Downunder Reptile Park and Zoo, 51 Lucketts Rd, Childers QLD 4660

5. Mammino Gourmet Ice Cream, 89 Churchill St, Childers QLD 4660

6. Kellys Beach Resort, 6 Trevors Rd, Bargara QLD 4670

7. Bundaberg Airport, Airport Dr, Kensington QLD 4670

8. Kellys Beach Resort, 6 Trevors Rd, Bargara QLD 4670

9. Lady Elliot Island Resort, Lady Elliot Island QLD 4216

10. The Bundaberg Barrel, 147 Bundaberg-Bargara Rd, Bundaberg QLD 4670

11. SSS Strawberries, LOT 2 Rosedale Rd, Oakwood QLD 4670

12. Grunske’s by the River, 11E Petersen St, Bundaberg QLD 4670

13. Playground near Lake Ellen, Bundaberg South, Queensland 

14. Gympie QLD

15. Brisbane QLD – Home again

In Words & Pictures

I need to finish this off by throwing out some words and pictures.

Explorer hands

Southern Great Barrier Reef - Lady Elliot Island



Blue, blue water

Snorkel right off the beach - Lady Elliot Island

Beach curls

beach curls

Colours, everywhere

Coloured coral

Watching my husband as a father

watching my husband father

New experiences

Southern Great Barrier Reef - Lady Elliot Island

A sense of wonder


Seek tenderness

Cuddling a snake

The wind, the sky and a smile

the wind and the sky

That joy!

strawberry picking

Other Posts

Hidden Treasure Challenge – Southern Great Barrier Reef

Day 1: Southern Great Barrier Reef (Childers)

Day 2: Southern Great Barrier Reef (Lady Elliot Island)

Day 3: Southern Great Barrier Reef (Bundaberg)

Wrap Up Video

Thank to Tourism & Events Queensland for working with me on this little project. I aim to continue to showcase more of this beautiful country we live in!

Day 3: Live Blogging – Southern Great Barrier Reef (Bundaberg)

Sponsored by Tourism and Events Queensland

7:00am – A later start today so we didn’t need to get up as early. The 3rd and final clue was opened by Miss 10 and you can read it here if you’re interested.

Kelly’s Beach Resort

Anything with the name Kelly in it, has to be awesome. We stayed two nights at Kelly’s Beach Resort, situated near the beach at Bargara, just outside of Bundaberg.  I’ve stayed in many different accommodation types over the years and Kelly’s eco-certified units are very comfortable for families (even a largish family like ours).  

The self-contained units are huge; they felt like a small house rather than a unit.  There is the main bedroom and a spacious open plan living space with the tallest ceilings I have seen in a holiday unit of this sort.  There is also loft section that can sleep 5. Our four kids were excited about sleeping up there.

A favourite thing about Kelly’s Beach Resort is the privacy of each holiday unit; the position of the 40 individual units in between trees, winding paths, ponds and gardens, means a quiet and peaceful stay (even when it’s busy over a long weekend).  

There’s plenty to do at the resort (a Licensed Restaurant, Pools, Spa, Sauna, Games Room, Tennis Court, BBQ areas, Kiosk & Tours Desk), plus it’s an ideal location to use as a base for exploring more of the Southern Great Barrier Reef region.

The unit we stayed in.

Kelly's Beach Resort

Restaurant area. We ate dinner and breakfast here as a family. Great family friendly environment.

Kelly's Beach Resort - Bagara

One of the walkways around the 5.5 acre resort.

Kelly's Beach Resort - Bagara

The staff were lovely: personable and down to earth which made us all feel very relaxed. That’s a rare thing, now that I think about it, so there’s a special quality there.   Thank you for a lovely, lovely stay! Big thumbs up from me!

Bundaberg Brewed Drinks – The Bundaberg Barrel

10:00am – I’ve been a fan of Bundaberg brewed drinks for many years now so it was exciting for me to find more about the traditional process of brewing drinks to extract flavour from ingredients like ginger.  

We visited The Bundaberg Barrel, went on a tour and tasted the drink varieties. Ginger Beer is my all time favourite, and another one we all liked was Sarsaparilla for its complex and interesting taste. All of the flavours are delicious (check out all the flavour varieties here)!

Bundaberg Brewed Drinks - Bundaberg

Bundaberg Brewed Drinks - Bundaberg

Bundaberg Brewed Drinks - Bundaberg

Bundaberg Brewed Drinks - Bundaberg

Bundaberg Brewed Drinks - Bundaberg

SSS Strawberry Fields

11:15am – STRAWBERRIES! Tam, a 2nd generation Dang family farmer, showed us around the factory and strawberries fields of SSS Strawberries (located in North Bundaberg). The family owned business is hands-on and I love that. In peek season, SSS Strawberries can turn over approximately 40 tonnes of strawberries each day. That’s 160,000 punnets!

What struck me most about this place was the community feel; it seemed like an extremely efficient place, and from what I could see, it’s less to do with having the latest technology and more to do with a lot of people coming together with a combined goal in mind.  I could feel that. I could see it. I liked that. A lot.

Before we left, we headed out to the fields to give the kids an opportunity to pick their own strawberries to eat. Tam taught us how to find the most delicious and sweet strawberries.

SSS Strawberries - Oakwood near Bundaberg

Check out these punnet cases: they are long and flat so you can see each individual strawberry you are buying through the packet.

SSS Strawberries - Oakwood near Bundaberg

This is the Red Ruby Strawberry variety.  

SSS Strawberries - Oakwood near Bundaberg

SSS Strawberries - Oakwood near Bundaberg

SSS Strawberries - Oakwood near Bundaberg

SSS Strawberries - Oakwood near Bundaberg - Strawberry picking

SSS Strawberries - Oakwood near Bundaberg - Strawberry pic

Strawberry picking in Bundaberg

Strawberry picking in Bundaberg

SSS Strawberries - Oakwood near Bundaberg - Strawberry picking

That smile says it all. All the kids enjoyed picking strawberries, but especially my son. It was a joy to see him so engaged. I know what will be in the lunch box tomorrow.   Thanks Tam for giving our children such a great experience!

12:30pm – Lunch at Grunske’s by The River. This is what I ate, and it was fresh (FRESH) and delicious. So, so good.

2:00pm – Met up with my Twitter friend @katapel at a park so the kids could have a run around before our 4 hour drive home.

7:00pm – Home

10:30pm – Washed a load of clothes. Ack! It’s relentless!  Back to the usual grind.  

We packed a lot into the three days we spent in the Southern Great Barrier Reef region.  I feel weary, but amazed at all the experiences we had together as a family. Making memories.  We want to explore this region more, so we will be back one day. But right now, I can hardly keep my eyes open so it’s sleep for me. 


Hidden Treasure Challenge – Southern Great Barrier Reef

Day 1: Southern Great Barrier Reef (Childers)

Day 2: Southern Great Barrier Reef (Lady Elliot Island)

Day 3: Southern Great Barrier Reef (Bundaberg)


This is a S1 post. You can read my disclosure policy here.

Day 2: Live Blogging – Southern Great Barrier Reef (Lady Elliot Island)

Sponsored by Tourism and Events Queensland

Lady Elliot Island - Southern Great Barrier Reef - Queensland

“THAT WAS AMAZING!” Miss 8 burst out as she climbed back on the boat. Everyone laughed because she said aloud (very loud) what everyone was thinking.   The amazing thing was seeing the Great Barrier Reef up close.  This is Queensland. I love this state I was born in.

Day 2 of our Hidden Treasure Challenge saw us heading out to the beautiful Lady Elliot Island, a short 20 minute flight from Bundaberg.

This is how the day went down.

5:30 am – Another early start. The kids were keen to read Clue # 2.

8:40 amFlight from Bundaberg to Lady Elliot Island. I’m not a fan of travelling on planes in general, and especially small planes, but I was surprised how comfortable the 20 minute flight was.

Lady Elliot Island

Lady Eliot Island is a coral cay on the southern part of the Great Barrier Reef.  The size is just over 100 acres which gives it that lost-island-in-the-middle-of-the-ocean feel.  Over a cup of tea at the Eco Resort, I looked over to my husband and said, “Do you ever wonder what it would be like to live somewhere like this?” Dreams.

The coral beaches tinkle like chimes under your feet as you walk.  The air is salty and fresh.  The water is in shades of blue ranging from almost clear blue, to bright aqua, to deep sapphire.  

Lady Elliot Island - Glass Bottom Boat

Reef Walk

9:45 am – We took a guided reef walk through shallow water. Miss 8 scored a ride with Dad (as you can see). Our guide pointed out many things along the way, including a blue star fish.  The kids particularly enjoyed using the walking sticks in the water.

Lady Elliot Island - Southern Great Barrier Reef - Queensland -- Reef walk

Lady Elliot Island - Southern Great Barrier Reef - Queensland - blue star fish

Lady Elliot Island - Southern Great Barrier Reef - Queensland - Reef Walk

Glass Bottom Boat Ride & Snorkel

10:40 am – This was the highlight, not only of the day but the entire year so far! It was the first time we’ve taken our children snorkelling on a reef and as Miss 12 said, “Now that I’ve experienced snorkelling, regular swimming won’t quite measure up ever again!”  

When I asked the kids about their experience, the responses were along the lines of “it’s like another world under there”. Oh, and it is! It’s magical. Above the water in one world, and then when you put your head down, you are transported to a place where fish of every colour dart and spiral around you and where coral form an interlocking city of colour.

I did have a small underwater camera with me and I wish I could have snapped some of the beauty beneath the waves, but the weather was quite overcast so the photographs didn’t turn out well.  Perhaps that’s a good thing because no picture could come close to matching the wonder and magic of it.

Glass Bottom Boat

Lady Elliot Island - Glass Bottom Boat

Lady Elliot Island - Glass Bottom Boat

Lady Elliot Island - Southern Great Barrier Reef - Queensland - snorkel on the reef

Lady Elliot Island - Southern Great Barrier Reef - Queensland - snorkel on the reef

Lady Elliot Island - Southern Great Barrier Reef - Queensland - Snorkel on the reef

Lady Elliot Island - Southern Great Barrier Reef - Queensland


I asked the kids what they thought about the snorkel and this is what they said.


1:00 pm - Buffet lunch

Walk Around Lady Elliot (& More Snorkelling)

2:00 pm – The girls were desperate to do more snorkelling so we explored around the island and found a spot for the older girls to go out again.

Lady Elliot Island - Southern Great Barrier Reef - Queensland

Lady Elliot Island - Southern Great Barrier Reef - Queensland

Black Noddy (there were many of these birds flying the skies of Lady Elliot)

Black Noddy - Lady Elliot Island

Lady Elliot Island - Southern Great Barrier Reef - Queensland


Lady Elliot Island - Southern Great Barrier Reef - Queensland

Miss 8 collected different items from the beach and re-created The Barrier Reef.

Lady Elliot Island - Southern Great Barrier Reef - Queensland

It’s interesting to see how the activities I do sometimes, stay with the kids.  While we were exploring the beach, Miss 8 made this coral hand, similar to the rock footprints we made a couple of years ago.  Lady Elliot is a green zone and so we didn’t take anything back with us — no coral, shells or rocks; nothing.

Lady Elliot Island - Southern Great Barrier Reef - Queensland

Snorkel and explore directly from the beach shore.

Snorkel right off the beach - Lady Elliot Island

Lady Elliot Island - Southern Great Barrier Reef - Queensland

3:40 pm – Flight back to Bundaberg. Even though we didn’t get a lot of sunshine this day, it was still warm enough to swim (was just a bit chilly when we got out of the water). This is what coastal Queensland is like in Winter. Magic.

Goodbye, you lovely place.

Lady Elliot - Ariel View

Loved the look of this cloud formation as we travelled home.

cloud formation

Ariel view of Bundaberg.

Bundaberg - Queensland - Australia

Bundaberg Airport

5:30 pm – Easy dinner.

7:00 pm – Kids are tired! Bed.

10:00 pm – Me in bed. Home again tomorrow.

Pin it

Pin this destination for your bucket list here.


Hidden Treasure Challenge – Southern Great Barrier Reef

Day 1: Southern Great Barrier Reef (Childers)

Day 2: Southern Great Barrier Reef (Lady Elliot Island)

Day 3: Southern Great Barrier Reef (Bundaberg)


This is a S1 post. You can read my disclosure policy here.

Day 1: Live Blogging – Southern Great Barrier Reef (Childers)

Sponsored by Tourism and Events Queensland

I look at places I visit as if they have a personality.  In the past I’ve written about my impressions on Melbourne, Laos and The Viaduct Harbour in New Zealand.   This weekend I’m blogging live from the Souther Great Barrier Reef. Day 1 found us in Childers, about 50 kilometres inland from Bundaberg.  


There’s something open and honest about Childers. It might be the miles of open fields, neat lines of sugar cane or the many quant homes spotting the country side.  I feel at home here: this quintessential Queensland setting is rich in history and there’s a confidence that comes with that.  Up closer, below the seemingly flat tops of sugar cane is a dense forrest of intertwining stems that hold a sense of weight and mystery.   I can’t help but acquaint that same feeling to Childers: there a confidence, an honesty, but a depth too, and it makes me want to find out more about the history of this area. Homework for later. 

Nestled amongst the sugar cane farms on the shores of Lake Redbrook (so named due to the redness of the creek water that supplies it in flood) was our first destination.

Lake Redbrook Holiday Retreat

5:30am – The kids worke early, excited about the day.  The youngest child opened our first clue and you can read it here.  

7:00 am - Starting with a coffee beside the lake outside our cabin at Lake Redbrook Holiday Retreat. This place is a beauty!  The facilities are modern and family friendly; the views: stunning; but it’s the obvious passion and joy which the owners, Gary and Sharyn, live by and how they share their gifts that make this place extra special.  Much of the retreat was built by Gary himself (a builder) and I see a reflection of investment, love, care and thought here.

Lake Redbrook functions as a sugar cane farm too.

Cane Sugar - Childers

View looking over the self-contained cabins. There’s also caravan & tenting spots available.

Lake Redbrook Holiday Retreat

8:00am – We were treated by Gary to a buggy tour of the 160 acre property, winding through cane fields with various stops along the way.  The children loved experiencing the animals and played an active role in feeding deer, aviary birds, miniature horses, chickens, ducks, cows and some very adorable pigs.  During our stop in the orchid, the children were able to pick their own fresh citrus and spent time devouring mulberries until hands were stained purple.  

Gary also constructed an authentic bush hut (with a few surprises inside; you’ll have to go yourself to find out what they are) and a wonderful finch aviary with a multitude of species. I was thoroughly impressed by the thought and care that Gary and Sharyn have shown in developing this retreat.  There’s an undercurrent of generousosity, like what you feel when you visit someone who truly cares for you.  Many times throughout the morning, I thought, this is good…so good for the kids.

Looking back over the lake to the cabins on the other side.

Lake Redbrook Holiday Retreat

Lake Redbrook Holiday Retreat - deers

Lake Redbrook Holiday Retreat

Lake Redbrook Holiday Retreat

Lake Redbrook Holiday Retreat

Lake Redbrook Holiday Retreat

Lake Redbrook Holiday Park - dove

Lake Redbrook Holiday Retreat

Lake Redbrook Holiday Retreat

Lake Redbrook Holiday Retreat

We could of happily spent much more time here riding bikes and kayaking but we had to push on. 

Snakes Downunder

11:30am - Leaving, Lake Redbrook behind, we headed off on our first mystery activity as part of our Hidden Treasure Challenge.  Snakes Downunder is a small reptile park just south of Childers. Although small in size, the park allows intimate contact with snakes, turtles, lizards as well as some Australian favourites. There’s plenty to do!

For those too dangerous to handle (which includes a lot of Australian reptiles!) park operator Ian and staff offer a number of shows which are educational as well as awe inspiring.  The advantage of the park’s smaller size is evident in these encounters as you are able to get very close the action; you can feel the raw force that a 4m salt-water croc can produce (short vid here) and I had goosebumps as Ian expertly handled the world’s 5 most venomous snakes.  It’s personable and the kids were able to ask a lot of questions of the experts.

The Crocs

Snakes Downunder - Childers

Snakes Downunder - Childers

Macca a 4m long, 1/2 ton salt-water crocodile in action.

Snakes Downunder - Childers

Snakes Downunder - Childers

It’s hard to believe that this little fella might grow bigger than Macca one day!

Snakes Downunder - hold a croc

Inland Taipan (Fierce snake), the world’s most venomous. 1 bite can kill 500 000 mice!
Pictured below with Ian’s boot to give you an idea of the size of this one.

Snakes Downunder, Childers - Inland Taipan (fierce snake)

The way Ian handles the world’s most venomous snake: like a boss!
(Check out how close the snake’s head it to Ian’s hand)
There’s plenty of education warning children to refrain from handling any found snakes.

Snakes Downunder - Inland Taipan (fierce snake)

Top End Carpet Python

Snakes Downunder - Top End Carpet Python

Scrub Python

Snakes Downunder - Scrub Python

 Black-Headed Python

Snakes Downunder - Black Headed Python

Albino Python

Snakes Downunder - Albino Python

The kids experienced holding a Black-Headed Python. Loved it.

Snakes Downunder

Before I could react, Miss 8 lent down to give the snake a kiss. Haha. 

Snakes Down Under 


Meet Matilda and Millie

Snakes Downunder - Koalas

Snakes Downunder - Koala

Mammino Ice Cream

2:30pm – After almost three hours at the reptile park, we went literally 30sec down the road to the Mammino Gourmet Ice Cream shop.  The ice cream is made to a secret family recipe in a kitchen the same size you would find in a regular home. And the ice cream? Seriously wow. Most creamy and smooth ice cream I have tasted. I hunted down a few places that sell Mammino ice cream in Brisbane so I can try other flavours another time.  

I went with Ginger & Macadamia nut; son decided on cookies and cream.

Mammino Gourmet Ice Cream
4:30 pm
– Arrived at Kelly’s Beach Resort (aptly named!), near Bundaberg.

6:30 pm – At dinner, everyone shared a favourite thing about their day by drawing a picture and other members of the family had to guess what it was. 

8:00 pm – Matt and I are weary after a full day.  Just got all the kids to sleep upstairs in the loft section of our accommodation. It’s so quiet up there! The kids are exhausted (in a good way) from all the fun today.  Big day tomorrow.  Will open up the next clue in the morning to reveal what the day will hold.

10:00 pm – Loved looking at the pictures from today and uploading some of them here. Time for sleep now. Forgive any of my errors, would you?

Follow Along – Southern Great Barrier Reef Hidden Treasure Challenge

Follow along this long weekend as we explore by following:

The blog: I’ll do a quick update each day we are away, so look out for posts on Saturday night, Sunday night and Monday night (8,9,10 June).

Instagram: I’m @beafunmum on instragram and I will update regularly using these hashtags #BAFM_Travel #SouthernGreatBarrierReef #ThisIsQueensland

Facebook page:  There will be snippets on the Be A Fun Mum Facebook Page too

More About

Southern Great Barrier Reef


Hidden Treasure Challenge – Southern Great Barrier Reef

Day 1: Southern Great Barrier Reef (Childers)

Day 2: Southern Great Barrier Reef (Lady Elliot Island)

Day 3: Southern Great Barrier Reef (Bundaberg)


This is a S1 post. You can read my disclosure policy here.

Exploring The Southern Great Barrier Reef

Sponsored by Tourism and Events Queensland

A good thing resulting from our many and continued house moves is the opportunity to see more of this beautiful country we live in.  In the early years of marriage, Matt and I lived in Newcastle, New South Wales. We lived in a small old cottage.  There was no hot water in the kitchen, most of the sash windows didn’t work and it was oh-so-cold inside during Winter, but we loved it there because the big block and had views of the ocean.   The house was tired and old but it had character and felt like home.


cottage newcastle

Months before we moved from Newcastle there to Queensland, we spent weekends exploring the surrounds with our two small children.  I remember driving up to the blue mountains with two small children in tow, and it snowed on the day we were there!  It was exciting!  As I look back, there was a defining moment for me on that particular drive and I’ll tell you why.  I realised how important it was for our family to experience adventure together as we value this country we live in.  It’s  vast, varied and beautiful here in Australia.

2005 (pregnant with child no.3)

Blue mountains snowing 2004

We are in a making memories stage of parenting and so as a family, we are constantly looking for ways to marry our love of adventure, the treasure that is our country Australia and family memories. It’s a thing we do: at every place we move, we explore.   We are currently in Brisbane, Queensland, and on one of our day-trip adventures was to the Queen Mary Falls near Killarney.  On our last visit, there was no one was there but us. Best.  And then when we have the opportunity, we explore further afield on camping getaways and road trips.  One of our favourite holidays so far was a driving holiday back in 2011 and you can see where we went here: 2011 Road Trip.  

Queen Mary Falls

Exploring the Southern Great Barrier Reef

I will continue to showcase more of this beautiful country through the blog in the upcoming years because it’s something I’m passionate about.  This coming long weekend, I’m working with Tourism and Events Queensland to showcase a gem that is the Southern Great Barrier Reef starting from Bundaberg — including Lady Elliot, Lady Musgrove, Herron, Wilson and Great Keppel islands — through Gladstone and up to the Capricorn Coast.  The region boasts of coral reefs, stunning beaches, bountiful wildlife, shopping, agriculture, gem fossicking and more. We’ve haven’t explored the area before and the kids are beside themselves with excitement.  For this Hidden Treasure Challenge, we have a map clues to follow so we don’t even know exactly what we are doing yet (we will wait to open the clues).  It will be exciting all round and you can follow along over this coming June long weekend.

Our Southern Great Barrier Reef Hidden Treasure Challenge Pack

Southern Great Barrier Reef

Follow Along – Southern Great Barrier Reef Hidden Treasure Challenge

Follow along this long weekend as we explore by following:

The blog: I’ll do a quick update each day we are away, so look out for posts on Saturday night, Sunday night and Monday night (8,9,10 June).

Instagram: I’m @beafunmum on instragram and I will update regularly using these hashtags #BAFM_Travel #SouthernGreatBarrierReef #ThisIsQueensland

Facebook page:  There will be snippets on the Be A Fun Mum Facebook Page too

Here’s to adventure! Here’s to memory making. Bring it on.


More Travel Posts

Entertaining Kids When Travelling Long Distances

Games & Activities You Can Play on the Go

Camping: What Gear You Need

Camping: Organising and Packing Food

Africa Safari


This is a S1 post. You can read my disclosure policy here.