We look at a few popular destinations but Mornington Peninsula wins out as we want to fit a lot into our day without spending too much time in the car, and this compact region is jam packed with fun activities. Our challenge is to plan a day that will cater to the varying tastes of our children who just couldn’t be more different, and of course the adults are hoping to have a fun day out too. The search for common ground is animated but we eventually agree that we all love animals, we want to enjoy a nice picnic and we crave the wide open spaces that we don’t have at home. We check out Trip Planner, make a rough itinerary that will hopefully keep everyone happy and pack a picnic basket which still has some space so that we can add fresh items from the farm-gates.
An early start to our road trip leads to some grumbling but will hopefully give us time to enjoy all the activities we have planned without feeling too rushed. We have downloaded Road Trip Eye Spy and while this does keep us amused for a while the preoccupation with finding the ice cream starts to wear thin pretty quickly. We have just had breakfast after all!
Our first stop is The Briars in Mt Martha and we all jump out of the car and stretch our legs. We haven’t booked into any of the school holiday activities but enjoy playing some Games on the Green. The two youngest take each other on for a game of giant Connect Four while the rest of us pretty much fail to throw and catch a frisbee. It’s great fun and thankfully nobody gets hit in the head with a frizbee – no tears so far. A short walk through the wildlife sanctuary and some emu spotting then we are back in the car.
We have allocated more time at Boneo Discovery Park because we were all keen to see Animalia in Sand. Taking advantage of the café to get the ice creams that have been a hot topic of conversation since we left home we now have the energy for what lies ahead. We download the Augmented Reality App on our phones and the kids take turns to check it out as we marvel at the 26 sand sculptures. We also make time to visit the Kid’s Zone where our kids do some sandsculpting of their own – not quite as good as the Animalia sculptures but they show promise. Back in the car we make a mental note to come back soon as we haven’t had time for mini golf, vintage carousel or wetlands walk.
We arrive in Red Hill and make our first unplanned stop when we see the sign for the cherry farm that just can’t be ignored – it’s cherry season after all. We visit Ripe ‘n’ Ready Cherry Farm but there are plenty of other great options including the nearby Red Hill Cherry Farm. Next stop is Green Olive at Red Hill which is a great place to pick up some olives, dukkah and relish for our picnic while the family go in search of farm animals. They see some ducks and sheep and then we are off again. Just down the road is Sunny Ridge Strawberry Farm presenting another opportunity to collect something yummy for our lunch. We opt to pick our own strawberries and so the competition for the biggest and reddest berry begins. It’s all in good fun, though trying to stop them eating the berries before we have even left the strawberry patch is challenging. Sparkling apple juice is a family favourite so we make a quick stop at Mock Red Hill and come out laden with drinks and freeze-dried fruits.
By now we are getting very hungry so we head to our picnic destination. At this stage we realise it may have been a mistake to leave the strawberries in the back seat with three hungry kids. Oh well, no strawberries for lunch but totally understand that the temptation was just too much. There are so many spectacular gardens, playgrounds and parks we could have chosen for a picnic – Seawinds Gardens, Devilbend Reservoir or Cape Schanck Lighthouse Reserve but The Enchanted Adventure Garden won out because of the fantastic activities on offer. The youngsters eat quickly and head off to try the tube slides and get lost in the maze. At least one parent can relax while everyone else lets off some steam. This is another place where we could spend heaps more time so we may need to come back in the future.
We sadly leave The Enchanted Adventure Garden but animal experiences await. Choosing between farmyard experiences The Big Goose and Rain Hayne and Shine Farmyard and Australian wildlife was tough but we eventually opted for Moonlit Sanctuary because our oldest child wants to get up close and personal with a python and the others want to see the koalas. In the end we all agreed that feeding the wallabies and kangaroos was our favourite experience of the day.
Exhausted and happy we leave the sanctuary and head home after a great day. Yes, maybe we overdid it but we are already planning our next visit which might include a farmyard visit, a hunt for a gnome at Ashcombe Maze and a game of cricket on Shoreham Beach. Can’t wait!