Animals and Children...

>> Wednesday, 2 April 2008

Standing in the garden square this afternoon, the Boys running around like mad things, with Boy #1 putting on an especially good show as he was trying to ingratiate himself with some older (5 year old) role models, I was approached by a member of the garden committee. Now, Husband and I are currently engaged in a major sucking-up exercise with the garden committee as we are planning on 'reclaiming' the gate from our terrace area into the garden from the undergrowth, so that we have direct access. Consequently, it is vital at all times for us - i.e. The Boys - to be on our best behaviour....

Me: "Oh, hello Garden Committee Member (GCM). I was just thinking what a fantastic job you all did with the new play area."

(To give me my due here, I was thinking that, because they have just installed a brilliant new climbing frame with a slide that is so whizzy it gives unsuspecting parents a nasty electric shock if they put a hand on their child during their descent, and that child happens to be wearing any man made fibres... So my son's coats are nylon - I admit it.)

GCM: Yes, isn't it good. I just wanted to warn you that of course, since it's made of wood, there may be a problem with splinters.

Me: Right... (Thinking - probably better than climbing the trees though, which was the only previous option). Well, in any case, it's great that the children now have somewhere to let off steam.

GCM: But would you believe it - some of them are still climbing the magnolia over there and breaking the branches...

Me: Oh, that's terrible (thinking: where's Boy #1? Where's Boy #1? Please not on the tree...)

GCM: So if you see any children doing that, can you stop them please?

Me: Yes, yes, of course...

GCM: Of course their mothers should do it really...

Me: Yes, it's shocking that they don't... (tut tut tut)

GCM: And obviously, we need to keep the children out of the flower beds as well...

Me: Yes, obviously.

GCM: Which is where I see Boy #2 is now, actually.

I am not sure Operation Suck-up is going entirely as planned.



And on an unrelated issue: we are currently planning a trip to Australia - the East and South East of that vast continent. Have you been there? And if so, what shouldn't we miss?


Frog in the Field 2 April 2008 at 21:17  

Well obviously you need to sample the Bulmers sweet Stronbow, only ever seen by Frog eyes in Oz, very scrumptious!
But I'll miss you....
You can't leave me at the mercy of the Pig, she's mean to me,
Oh, and don't travel by rail up the East coast, unless it's First Class...very scary.

Rosie 2 April 2008 at 21:31  

You defintitely need people to show you round. Can you fit two little-ish people in your suitcase?!! I'd love to go to Oz!

Sweet Irene 3 April 2008 at 02:06  

It's going to be impossible to keep a boy out of the flowerbeds. What sort of unreasonable demand is that? Only a grumpy old Garden Committee Member would think that is possible!

As to the land of Oz, I have not been there, so I can't help you there at all.

But I do have a very realistic point of view about boys and flowerbeds.

Tracey 3 April 2008 at 03:41  

East coast of Oz? Well. I just live there. Is that any help?!!!

Drop me a line at
crazytrace(at) and you can tell me the sort of stuff you want to see and do, how you plan to get around, exactly where you plan on going (ie. range...) how long you've got, what time of year, etc. Probably one of the things you have to come to terms with is the distances between towns compared to England (or so I gather - never having been to England!)

Naturally you might want to visit some real Aussies who live only a few hundred metres from a great beach! Oh. That might be us!

Rachel 3 April 2008 at 11:11  

My sister lives in Brisbane. She could probably give you some pointers.

What sort of things are you hoping to do?

Are you taking the boys?

Potty Mummy 3 April 2008 at 12:06  

Frog, not sure why I'm not surprised your recommendation is alcoholic, but... And don't worry, I hear they have t'interweb in Australia too, so you shouldn't be completely alone. And finally, (said in a very offended, Dulwich Mum tone of voice), what do you mean 'first class'? Is there any other class? (As if...)

Hi Rosie, the only thing is that I gather by your note that you haven't actually been either...

Irene, am so pleased to hear that (about the point of view on boys and flower beds, that is). I know, I will be fighting a losing battle - but until we have that gate sorted I do at least need to appear to be making the effort... (after that it's every flower for itself, obviously).

Tracey, thanks, and I'll be in touch shortly! (And yes, have already had the distance conversation with Husband who thinks that all Australian roads are 5 lane motorways and driving 1500 kilometres in a couple of days should be no problem...)

Hi Rachel, thanks for the visit and any pointers would be very helpful as Brisbane is firmly on our list - as jumping off point for Australia Zoo if nothing else. And I guess that answers your question about whether we are taking the boys...

We are sticking mainly to the East coast, not because we don't want to go west but you can only do so much with 2 small people in tow. Other than that though, and the zoo, the only things we have booked are our flight tickets there and back. Since we're leaving in a few weeks it's time to get busy...

aims 3 April 2008 at 15:52  

And of course you must go to Stinking Billy's blog and chat with him about his trip to Australia...

He's safe - he's in his 70's and he doesn't have any teeth at the moment..

Expatmum 3 April 2008 at 15:59  

I'm a bit worried about the splinter potential. Is anyone going to sand the wood down?

Rachel 3 April 2008 at 19:51  

well, if nothing else my sister might be able to do a night of babysitting for you so you can go out for supper!

she was a nanny in England for a year before travelling and is now in Brisbane for one year.

I will ask her where she recommends. How little are the boys (as her boyfriend is oldest of 5 boys, all of whom are there).

my e-mail address is on my blog if you wanted to talk that way

Grit 3 April 2008 at 20:27  

we took shark, squirrel and tiger to melbourne and around. 3 big hitters for kids were the Healesville sanctuary (and they still talk about the possum that came for banana every night in the cabin); the koalas just off the great ocean road, and Apollo Bay. for adults ... the glow worms in the rainforest (and see lonely planet, is there any other guide book?).

Potty Mummy 3 April 2008 at 20:30  

Hi Aims - I will check that out asap. (But - no teeth? Really?)

EPM - I believe so. And if not, the scarily efficient American Mommies on the square will get out there and do it themselves...

Hi Rachel, thanks, that would be really helpful. Though I imagine at 2 and 4 years old my boys might be a little young for your sis's boyfriend's brothers unless a) he is extremely young or b) his mum has very good muscle tone...

Potty Mummy 3 April 2008 at 20:31  

Hi Grit - we are hoping to take in Melbourne so thanks for the pointers - I will go and check them out in Lonely Planet Guide right now (and no, there is no other kind. It's the law, apparantly...)

Nunhead Mum of One 3 April 2008 at 22:37  

See, now I'm jealous! But I do have a sure fire way of keeping boys out of the flower beds. I tell Mac that elves live in them and if he tramples all over them the elves will die.

does that make me a bad mother?

Tracey 3 April 2008 at 23:37  

You leave in a few weeks time? Holy dooley girl....

With the boys in tow, it makes a bit of a difference to what I'd suggest.. and given we used to walk our girls everywhere (we used to have one of those baby backpack - how old is #2 though?!) some of my ideas might be a bit overboard. never know...

A trip on the ferry across Sydney Harbour to Manly is a must when in Sydney. Take a stroll along the Corso at Manly to the ocean beach. Fish and chips for lunch. Quintessential Sydney outing, and if the weather is fine, you can't beat it. The half hour ferry ride gives you a chance to relax and take it all in.

There's always the River Cat experience as well, take it up the river towards Parramatta and you'll get a feeling for the nicer part of Sydney, and the lucky bastards who live along the Parramatta River. On that trip you'd be able to see where they held the 2000 Olympics.

If Boy #1 is a walker, and you can carry Boy#2, do the walk across the Harbour Bridge. You've got to be able to say you walked across the Sydney Harbour Bridge! One of the pylons always used to be open - with a mini-museum in the top, and you're rewarded for your stair climb with a great view. (Bridgeclimb plus kiddies would be out of the question. I've never done it, but wouldn't mind doing so one day!) Wander around to the Opera House, and then into the Botanic Gardens, and get your classic Sydney photos of Opera House with Harbour Bridge in background.

There are other short ferry or 'cat' rides you can take across to places like Watson's Bay. Short walk to The Gap, cliffs on the ocean side - famous spot for 'jumpers'. Then lunch at one of the cafes near the harbour - a choice depending on your budget. There is one overlooking a fenced in harbour pool if the boys like getting wet.

The view from the top of Sydney Tower is a good one too, and I guess there's the Aquarium as well... it's not bad.

Blue Mountains west of Sydney is well worth a trip ... you can combine touristy stuff with taking in the bush experience. At Katoomba there is the scenic railway... (if you've got legs you can walk down the big Giant Stairway, across the valley floor, and then catch this little railway back up (something like steepest or nearly the steepest incline railway in the world). Or you can just catch it down, wander around, then catch it back up again. Bit of a thrill for the boys. If you're brave, the Skyway could be worth it, if you like being suspended over a great height. Train trip up to Katoomba is about 2 hours, but then you need transport out to Echo Point etc.

If you are driving it I'd recommend less touristy places, and more spectacular places to check out there, but maybe with the boys that will be all you can manage. (Jot down Blackheath, and Govett's Leap anyway..)

More spectacular coastal scenery can be had on the way down to Wollongong - and there's always the Royal National Park to visit on the way. Drive on the new Sea Cliff bridge (stop and walk back on the footpath).. built out over the water away from the cliffs.

Apart from that - I'm most familiar with the stretch between Sydney and Brisbane. We are at Coffs Harbour... of course if you came by here I could take you places where you really do see kangaroos in the street - well, grazing in peoples' gardens... and on the golf course, and in my kids' high school grounds! Of course there's the Big Banana - which, like most 'Big Things' is pretty cheesy. The banana plantation tour used to be worthwhile, but they are pulling out all their bananas. Still, could take you on a drive through other banana plantations...

Other than that, there are just nice beaches and beachside villages all the way up the coast, and some great sidetrips I could recommend up into the hinterland...

It'd take you 11-12 hours driving time to get from Sydney to Brisbane (6 hours Sydney to here would be good going) - and that's serious driving, without stopping to look at anything, just to eat, go to the loo, and then get going again. Don't imagine you'll see much Pacific Ocean on the Pacific Highway. Most of it is miles inland.. and just north of Coffs Harbour is really the first place north of Sydney you'll see the coast from the highway, and there is one other fantastic spot north of Ballina where you look out towards Byron Bay. A reasonable amount of the road is now dual carriage way, so it's much faster than it used to be, but a lot still isn't. (Much roadwork in progress)

If you skip that part and fly direct to Brisbane, do yourself a favour and don't just see the Gold Coast (I hate the Gold Coast personally.. skyscrapers on the beach aren't my thing at all... plus the beaches aren't really that good.) I'd duck down south to the Tweed Coast (northern NSW) to get a taste of some nicer beaches. Plus there is Lamington National Park, for some bushwalking and rainforest experience.

If you had time, Fraser Island, further north is fantastic.. but I kind of doubt you'd have the time.

Noosa Heads used to be nice, but is very touristy now.
Not far from Australia Zoo you can drive up into the hinterland a bit, and there's a nice rainforest walk. Maleny I think is the place..

If you were to do a campervan tour, and stay in caravan parks, you'd likely get a bit more of the wildlife experience. (Like the bloody possums and goannas...)

That's off the top of my head, and for the benefit of all potential visitors!! until I get more of a idea from you about your time frame and mode of travel!! And I'm sure you're going to tell me you're only here for a couple of weeks, and then I'll have no idea how the hell you're going to do or see half the things worth seeing.

That said, there's a lot of my own country I haven't seen yet!

Rachel 4 April 2008 at 11:11  

I suppose his brothers must be secondary school aged by now. My sister (she is 23) has been doing some teaching and looking after small children over there so will ask her what child friendly sites there are.

Pig in the Kitchen 4 April 2008 at 11:29  

i think the GCM needs hard cash.

I've heard the Taj Mahal is VERY impressive, it's just south of Perth.

Potty Mummy 4 April 2008 at 13:05  

Hi NH Mum, no I don't think that makes you a bad mother. Just one with pristine flower beds...

Wow Tracey, thanks for all that. I did send you an e-mail too; did you actually get it?

Thanks Rachel, that would be great. I will forward you my e-mail address via your blog.

Pig, you're probably right. But unfortunately we're spending all that getting to the Taj Mahal in Australia...

Jonny's Mommy 4 April 2008 at 21:10  

I'd say your suck up went right out the window there...but oh well. Can't kiss butt all the time and have it succeed. As for the other question -- I've got nothin'. I've never been nowhere. :-)

Potty Mummy 5 April 2008 at 14:08  

Hi J's Mommy - somehow I doubt that. Living in the US, I think the need to travel internationally is somewhat less than for those of us living in the somewhat smaller UK...

Tracey 7 April 2008 at 00:53  

Hey PM.. no I didn't get an email!!.. hang on..! Yes I did! Just occurred to me to go back and check... Hmmm... You got tagged as spam. How rude! Anyway, will respond via there now!

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