Thursday, 4 November 2010

It's that time of year again...

The Fisher's Ghost Festival has kicked off and there's lots happening this weekend with the street parade, family fun festival and Fisher's Gig on Saturday, and Fisher's Kids on Sunday at Campbelltown Arts Centre. As part of Fisher's Gig, there'll be fireworks going off at 9pm on Saturday so if you're near Bradbury Oval, a) head outside for a look and b) make sure your pets are locked away safe.

If you feel like heading out of Campbelltown for some tranquility, Bingara Gorge at Wilton are running some free events including a yoga class and story time plus a twilight cinema on Saturday. On Sunday they've got kids gardening and a science show. For more info, check out the website.

For something cultural, the 141st Scottish Highland Gathering is being held at the Castle Hill showground. This is a family event with dancing, bagpipes, haggis hurling (what the?), a vintage car display plus food and drink stalls. For more info, check out the Facebook page.

With so much happening in the Macarthur area and surrounds this weekend - and predicted good weather - it's going to be hard to make a choice. Where are you planning to be?

Wednesday, 3 November 2010

Little Kids Zone

Club Playdays at Minto has reopened as Macarthur Indoor Sports Arena as Little Kids Zone indoor play centre. It features the same set up and equipment as Playdays with a slightly different menu.

The centre is great for children aged 2-5. There's lots of room for them to run around, jump, ride and pretend play. The play area takes up a couple of fully shaded netball courts and all areas are easily overlooked by the tables in the cafe section where you can get drinks, snacks and light meals.

Little Kids Zone is open from 9:30 to 2:30 Monday to Friday. I can't find a website for them but they have a Facebook fan page. Prices are around $7 entry per child.

Friday, 29 October 2010

Shining Stars Baby and children's market

This is a great initiative for both parents struggling financially to buy all the things needed for a new baby and young children, or for people wanting to sell baby and children things in good condition but no longer needed.

The Shining Stars Baby and Children's Market is being held this Sunday 31st October (Halloween!) at Campbelltown Civic Centre (91 Queen Street, just down from the police station) from 9:30am to 12:30pm. Entry is $3 per adult.

The markets are held indoors so will go ahead whatever the weather and there's plenty of parking just across the road in Broughton Street.

Wednesday, 27 October 2010

Man Vs Wild parody - Campbelltown

Last week, a friend sent me a link to this YouTube video via Facebook. It's a take-off of the popular Man Vs Wild show featuring Bear Grylls and features 'Bear' taking on the 'wilds' of Campbelltown. I thought Part 1 was very funny. Part 2 is a bit slapstick and juvenile. I was going to post it on here but it's definitely not rated PG.

This week, the video has made the front page of the Macarthur Chronicle. Apparently it's upset some local big knobs although I think there have been worse portrayals of the area, including episode two of the Secret Millionaire which describes Campbelltown as: "...has a long history of public housing, low-income families, substance abuse and crime..." The show was widely criticised for only focusing on the very worst areas. At least the YouTube parody features the beautiful grounds of the University of Western Sydney.

I guess when it comes to Campbelltown Council, Uni students are an easier target than Channel Nine. At least we can thank Eric Grothe Jnr for his video, Campbelltown My Home Town by Eric Grothe Jnr as featured on the Matty Johns Show (Channel 7).

Have you seen the Man Vs Campbelltown video? What do you think?

Saturday, 16 October 2010

Want to know more about Panjo?

If you've driven into Campbelltown from the North, you no doubt would have noticed the imposing building on the corner of Rose Payten Drive and Campbelltown Road that is destined to become the Panjo Destination Centre 4 Children.

The development of this centre stalled a few years ago due to financial difficulties but is now back on track and set to become a landmark for the area. The multi-story building is designed to be a one-stop-shop for parents and will include a child-care centre, swimming pool, themed restaurants and cafes, a medical centre, skating ring, shops and more.

For a look inside, check out this video or join the Facebook fan page. The website is still under construction.

Wednesday, 13 October 2010

What's On in Macarthur

Every month, Visit Macarthur produce a guide to what's on in the area. This can be picked up at various spots around Campbelltown including the Campbelltown Visitor Information Centre in Old Menangle Road (just down the road from Rydges Hotel), libraries and swimming centres. You can visit their website or download the October guide here. (PDF)

There's a few things happening in October that have caught my eye including an open day at the Macarthur Centre for Sustainable Living which is also holding some free workshops this month, and the OPA! Greek Festival at the Wizard of Oz Funland in Leumeah.

There's always something happening in Camden and Campbelltown so be sure to check out what's on.

Monday, 11 October 2010

Recipe for a rainy day

If your little ones are starting to get cabin fever from all this wet weather Macarthur's been having, here's a recipe for home-made playdough:

1/2 cup salt
1 cup flour
2 tbs cream of tartar
1 cup water
1 tablespoon oil
Few drops of food colouring.

Mix the dry ingredients in a saucepan then add the wet ingredients. Stir over a low heat for a few minutes until the mixture starts to congeal. (I know when this happens because my hand and arm start to ache!) Once it's a solid lump, allow to cool before turning out onto a floured board and knead lightly to ensure all heat from the middle is released before giving to children.

This recipe is based on the one in the ABA's NMAA Cooks - Recipes for Busy Mothers, which is a fantastic cookbook full of old-fashioned cheap and easy to make recipes. You can buy it from Mother's Direct or get more info from the Facebook page.

You can also find the recipe in double the quantities on the back of packets of McKenzie's Cream of Tartar. I sometimes also add glitter and / or a few drops of lavender essential oil. For older kids, if you don't mind messy hands, add the food colouring drops into the middle after it's been cooked and cooled and then let the kids knead the dough which changes colour as if by magic.

Home-made playdough will keep for several weeks in an airtight container.

Wednesday, 6 October 2010

Sunflowers in the garden

If you're lucky enough to have a patch of dirt, growing plants is a great way to keep the kids occupied in the long summer evenings now that daylight saving is here. Even if you don't have a garden, a large pot, some dirt and a packet of seeds is a great way to teach children where some of our food comes from.

Sunflowers are a great first plant for children because they're easy to grow and their rapid growth means kids can see changes daily. Junior Landcare in conjuction with Yates are encouraging kids to get gardening this spring by supplying free sunflower seeds and running a competition to see who can grow the biggest sunflower. The Sunflower Challenge website has everything you need to know about growing sunflowers.

Saturday, 2 October 2010

Free activities these school hols

We all seem to be feeling the pinch these days so if you're looking for some free activities to keep the kids occupied these spring holidays, read on.

The bike education centre is open 10-3 every day during the school holidays except for Monday 4th which is a public holiday. This is a great location for kids aged 2-10. Scooters or bikes are allowed but helmets must be worn. Entry is free.

For older kids, the skate park on Hollylea Road at Leumeah is a great place to hang out. For skaters, skateboarders, scooters and BMX bikers, it has rips, a wave wall, a mini-pipe and a square rail. I have no idea what any of that is but the word on the street is that Leumeah skate park is "da beast". I suspect the fact that it's just across the road from Woodbine Maccas, Hungry Jacks & Krispy Kreme Donuts adds to the appeal. It does get very crowded though.

I've mentioned Mount Annan Botanic Gardens a few times in this blog as one of our favourite places to visit because of the great playground and picnic areas. But the $9.00 entry fee for cars puts us off visiting more often. However, on Tuesday 5th October, the gardens are having a free entry day and according to their Facebook page, there's going to be some craft activities happening too.

The blue tree: one of the many attractions in Mount Annan Botanic Gardens

Thursday, 30 September 2010

Daylight Saving reminder

A reminder that Daylight Saving Commences in NSW this weekend on Sunday 3 October 2010, at 2:00 am when clocks are put forward one hour.

(Daylight Saving ends on Sunday 3 April 2011, at 3:00 am summer time when clocks are put back one hour.)

Monday 4th October is a public holiday in New South Wales.

Tuesday, 28 September 2010

Fancy a farm stay?

We're lucky here in Macarthur to not have to travel too far out of Campbelltown to experience the bush and produce from local farms. But there's nothing like spending time on a farm to give kids an appreciation of where some of our food comes from.

The Bathurst Sheep and Cattle Drome (Heritage Hills) is just over a two and a half hour drive from Campbelltown. It's a popular place for school groups during the week but they also have 8 spacious units for families wanting to experience a quiet, relaxing weekend in peaceful surroundings. There are both native and farm animals in the animal nursery.

So if you find yourself explaining to your kids that cheese, eggs and milk do not originate in the supermarket or answering the question, "Does chicken come from cows?" then maybe a farm stay should be your next holiday.

Thursday, 23 September 2010

The Rubie Appeal

On Thursday September 30th, United Cinemas at Narellan Town Centre is hosting a special screening of 'Diary of a Wimpy Kid' with $10 of every ticket sold going to The Rubie Appeal to raise funds for Rubie, a 14yo Macarthur lass who was born with Neurofibromatosis in her right leg. Rubie will be having her leg amputated next month and the funds raised will go towards buying her a prosthetic leg and tutoring so that she can keep up with her studies while having to take time off school due to the operation.

We love United Cinemas at Narellan, it has all the glitz and glamour of a big city cinema but without the inconvenience of travel. Tickets for this special screen are $20 each (remember, 50% of that goes to The Rubie Appeal) and starts at 6:30pm. Sounds like a great night out for a good cause.

Wednesday, 22 September 2010

Your favourite coffee place?

My friend Kathie has recently started a brand new blog dedicated to good coffee spots. "You can register as an author and post about your favourite place to go for coffee and if you have a photo of yourself and a friend having coffee, feel free to add that too."

It got me wondering, where is your favourite place to have coffee in Macarthur? Mine is the Yummy Cafe in Woodhouse Drive, Ambarvale. Not only do you get to sit outside watching the littlies play in a secure playground, but the coffee (mine is a decaf latte) is always excellent. Yummy is open Tuesday to Saturday.
Another favourite place is Flower Power at Mt. Annan, sitting outside surrounded by beautiful, healthy plants (very unlike our own garden at the moment!) and watching the kids play on the climbing equipment.
Coffee anywhere peaceful with something free to keep the kids occupied is always good!

Tuesday, 21 September 2010

24 Hour Fight Against Cancer Macarthur

Every year, Macarthur families are touched by cancer. It does not discriminate, affecting people of all ages and ethnic backgrounds.

Every year, the 24 Hour Fight Against Cancer aims to raise money to support those families. This is a very worthy event to get behind because 100% of the funds raised go towards services in the local area.

The 24 Hour Fight Against Cancer 2010 will be held at the Campbelltown Athletics Stadium in Leumeah on Saturday 16th October and runs from 10am through to 10am on Sunday 17th October. All you have to do is register a team then join hundreds of others as they walk or run laps. Last year over 1,000 people participated and raised $210,000.

If you can't walk or run, come along anyway and show your support for this great initiative and experience the wonderful atmosphere of people coming together for a good cause.

Monday, 20 September 2010

Kmart's Spring Break Calendar of Fun

If you're looking for some entertaining ideas to spend fun time with the family these coming spring school holidays, Kmart have put up a calendar of events and also listed some indoor and outdoor activities to keep the kids occupied. If you submit your own idea, you could be in the running to win a $100 or $50 Kmart gift card.

Sunday, 19 September 2010

What's your favourite playground in Macarthur?

Our favourite playground is the one at Mount Annan Botanic Gardens. It has a sand-pit to keep the littlies amused and a flying fox for the bigger kids. And of course the Botanic Gardens has heaps of other great attractions like the dinosaur hunt and bush food 'museum'.

But entry to the Botanic Gardens is not free so for a cheaper family day out we head to the Plough and Harrow on Elizabeth Drive in Cecil Hills. This also has a sandpit and flying fox plus some great swings and cycleways.

If you're willing to head a bit further afield these coming school holidays, there are lots of great parks around NSW. Try the Playground Finder and have fun being a tourist in your own backyard.

Don't forget to pop back here and let us know which one you like the best. And be sure to let us know if you discover a great new place for families.

Friday, 17 September 2010

What's on this weekend in Macarthur?

If you've got no plans for the weekend, head down to Aldi in Ambarvale (45 Woodhouse Drive) on Saturday to help celebrate their 1st birthday. There will be clowns and free food samples from 8:30am. Proceeds from a sausage sizzle will go towards the Bradbury Ambarvale Bears Soccer Club so it's a good excuse to have a sausage sandwich for breakfast.

After you've had your fill of yummy food, maybe head to the Woodland Road Public School Spring Fair in Helen's Park where there will be rides, market stalls, food stalls and games zones from 9am to 4pm.

Or enjoy browsing around the Camden Craft and Fine Food Fair at Onslow Park in Argyle Street. The fair starts at 8am and runs through until 4pm.

In the evening is one of our favourite events - Cinema Under the Stars at Mt Annan Botanic Gardens. This year they'll be showing Up and either Marley & Me (great movie for dog lovers but take tissues if you're sentimental) or The Blind Side. Food and drinks stalls are available or take a picnic. The fun starts at 6pm.

On Sunday, if you're not planning to enjoy some pedal power at the free Ready to Ride day event in Macquarie Fields and would prefer to enjoy some more sedate meanderings at the Camden Park House Open Day from 10am to 4pm. Tour the house and gardens of this historic Georgian home. Entry is $10 for adults.

Or head to Camden's taste food, wine and music festival at Camden Town Farm, Exeter Street from noon to 5pm.

Whatever you get up to, we'd love to hear about your weekend!

Wednesday, 15 September 2010

Despicable Me - movie review

I hadn't expected to like this much, from what I'd seen of the trailers it looked a bit slapstick and silly. And the movie is silly in an impossible kind of way, with characters surviving Roadrunner style explosions and there is more slapstick comedy than I'd like (characters punching and pushing one another). But it is also funny and there's an important message at it's core.

A lot happens in this movie and I suspect it's the sort of film you could watch again and see things you missed first time around which is just as well as kids will want to watch it repeatedly. The adult humour is subtle and witty but kids will laugh all the way through. I laughed out loud a couple of times and the woman behind me in the theatre said, "Aww" at the heartwarming bits.

The accent of the main character voiced by Steve Carell I found annoying and Russel Brand's voice didn't suit his character at all but the rest of the voice talent was great, especially Miss Hattie (Kristen Wiig).

This is a short (95 minutes), fast movie with constant action so even the littlies will remain entertained. Rated PG, recommended for kids aged 3 to 12. Now showing at Dumaresq Street Cinema in Campbelltown. All tickets $6.00

Tuesday, 14 September 2010

Macarthur Meanderings on Twitter

Macarthur Meanderings is now on Twitter. Follow us @MacarthurM for concise updates on what's on in the Macarthur area.

Follow MacarthurM on Twitter

Monday, 13 September 2010

Summer sport registrations

Now is the time to enrol your child in their chosen summer sport if you haven't already done so.

Little Athletics - season runs from September to March 2011 with a few weeks break in December & January. Aged from 4 to 16. In Little Athletics, children can take part in track & field events including running, long-jump, high-jump and discus. Tiny Tots (aged 4 & 5) can take part in games and activities designed to build skills for track & field. There are centres in Eschol Park, Ingleburn, Leumeah and Ambarvale. To find your nearest centre, click here.

Cricket - there are a range of opportunities for kids of all ages to play cricket. If you're new to cricket, the Milo in2CRICKET program is great for beginners. It's a 6-12 week program for boys and girls aged 5-10. To find your nearest cricket club, click here.

Softball - local competition starts in early October. Campbelltown & District Softball Association are currently taking registrations for the 2010/2011 season for players of all ages from 5+

Soccer - some soccer clubs including Narellan Rangers, Mount Annan Mustangs, and Eschol Park Wolves are running a six-a-side summer competition starting mid-October. Games are usually played on weekday evenings. Check out the Macarthur District Soccer Football Association for more details. Campbelltown Indoor Soccer Centre has Saturday games for 7-12 year olds. The indoor season has already started but some teams may still have vacancies.

Sunday, 12 September 2010

Sunday markets

Lazy Sunday mornings are great to spend browsing through markets whether you're shopping for fresh, local produce or a handmade gift for someone special.

The Creative Traders of Wollondilly have a range of stalls including plants, organic products, handmade toys, leadlight, patchwork, beads, timberwork, dairy product and candles amongst others.

They set up at Picton on the 1st Sunday of each month in Menangle Street (next market day 3rd October) and on the 4th Sunday of every month in John Street, The Oaks (next market day 26th September).

For a comprehensive list of markets and fairs around New South Wales, click here.

Saturday, 11 September 2010

WaterAid - A Burden for Thirst

I just joined BloggersUnite to support WaterAid - A Burden For Thirst to help prevent the deaths of children due to lack of clean drinking water.

St. Peter's Spring Fair

If you didn't make any plans this weekend (waiting perhaps to see what the weather would be like) and have woken up to beautiful blue skies, maybe head down to the Spring Fair at St Peter's Anglican Primary School in Howe Street.

There will be music all day from the band and choir, science and art displays, and model train exhibtion. As well as both a silent and open auction. (A silent auction is where you bid on a piece of paper and whoever bids highest generally wins.)

For a detailed schedule and auction list, click here (PDF).

Friday, 10 September 2010


If you fancy getting out of Macarthur and going somewhere a bit further afield, Floriade opens this weekend in Canberra.

Floriade is more than just a flower festival, it's a celebration of Spring and this year's highlights include Katie Noonan, DonateLife concert, Inspiring Showcase and Kitchen Gardens, Animal Kingdom, CIT Kids' play areas, and carnival rides.

If you've already got plans for this weekend, the event runs from 11th of September to the 10th October so you won't miss out. Canberra is an easy two and a half hour drive down the Hume Highway but why not make a full weekend of it and enjoy the additional ticketed events such as Floriade NighFest or the Da Vinci Machines Exhibition.

Canberra is a great destination to take the kids. If they get tired of looking at flowers there's Questacon science centre, Cockington Green Gardens miniature world, the National Dinosaur Museum for budding paleontologists, and the Australian Institute of Sport for those keen to follow in the footsteps (or swimming strokes) of some our national sporting heros.

If you're an NRMA member, you can great savings with a Canberra 3 in Fun ticket which gives discounted entry to Questacon, Cockington Green and the Australian Institute of Sport.

There are lots of places to stay in Canberra, but for somewhere cheap and cheerful we recommend the Capital Country Holiday Village just north of Canberra on the Federal Highway.

Thursday, 9 September 2010

2010/2011 Entertainment Books

The Entertainment™ Book is a local restaurant and activity guide providing hundreds of discount offers on restaurants, arts, sports, retail, travel, leisure and accomodation. This is a great book if you enjoy getting out and about and provides some great ideas as well as discounts and 2-for-1 offers.

The 2010-2011 Books are available in 12 regions throughout Australia including Parramatta, The Hills, Blue Mountains and Macarthur. Some local businesses featured include:

Enzo Italian Restaurant
Pancakes on the Rocks
Vaby's Mediterranean Grill
and Rashay's (in Liverpool)

Usually this book is only available through school and club fundraisers but you can currently purchase one through LifeStyle Food and they will donate 20% of the proceeds for each book sold to the Restaurant and Catering Associations to help train and educate young staff in the hospital industry across Australia.

Wednesday, 8 September 2010

Ready to ride?

This year's Ready to Ride Day is being held at Macquarie Road Reserve Triathlon Track (near the swimming centre in Fields Road.)

The event includes a road safety quiz, skills course and prize draw plus free safety and maintenance checks, face painting, jumping castle and sausage sizzle. This is a great event for families and a fun way for young people to learn the rules for cycling on roads.

It's being held on Sunday 19th September from 10am to midday.

For more information, contact the Council's Road Safety Officer on 02 4645 4220.

Thursday, 26 August 2010

Riverfest 2010

Riverfest is an annual event held at Koshigaya Park. It's aim is to promote environmental awareness and multiculturalism. There are creative and educational workshops available along with entertainment and internationally inspired food stalls.

This is a great informative event to take children to learn about our environment, resources and community organisations, as well as our local wildlife. You might even be able to smell koala poo!

A highlight of the event is the boat race where competing teams race along a dry 'riverbed'. The boats are made from recycled material, often on the day, and it's always fun to watch which teams will arrive at the finish line with their boats still intact.

This year, Riverfest will be held on Sunday 12th September from 10am until 3.30 in the afternoon. For more information, check out Campbelltown Council's website.

Tuesday, 17 August 2010

The Campbelltown Show

The Campbelltown Show has been running for 111 years. It's now being organised by a new private company after the much publicised winding up of the Show Society last year. The new Campbelltown show will have a different format but will be held at it's traditional home in Menangle Park on the 4th to 5th of September.

So mark the date in your diary because entry prices are only $1o per person and children under 3 are free.

Thursday, 8 July 2010

Bicycle Education and Road Safety Centre open day

To celebrate 20 years of operation, the Campbelltown City Council Bicycle Education and Road Safety Centre is having an open day. This is a free family event. There will be bicycle inspections (bring your bike!), face painting, jumping castle, education programs and sausage sizzle.

Sunday 11th July
10.30am to 2.30pm

The bike centre is located on the corner of Broughton Street and Moore Oxley Bypass, next to the cemetery. Access and parking is at the end of King Street. Children can also bring scooters but helmets must be worn whatever type of wheels you bring. There's also a playground and picnic tables.

The Centre is open every Sunday and Monday to Friday of the school holidays from 10am to 3pm. Entry is free.

Tuesday, 4 May 2010

Tiny Tots Baby Market

Pre-loved Baby & Kids Goods, Sunday 30th May 2010, 9am to 12 noon. Please note venue change:

Ingleburn Community Hall
72 Oxford Road

This is a great event for bargain hunters - lots of stalls selling pre-loved baby and kids clothes (0-8 years), toys, furniture, books and more. Indoor, all-weather venue.

Entry is just $3 for adults (kids are free) and more stallholders or local baby related businesses are welcome. Contact email for more information: or check the Tiny Tots Baby Market Facebook page.

Friday, 30 April 2010

SOS for the Scenic Hills

The rolling green Scenic Hills provide a beautiful backdrop to the Macarthur region and act as a buffer zone between Campbelltown and the Sydney suburbs. We're lucky in the Macarthur to have 'big sky' - a vast expanse of blue, unobscured by high rise and industrial chimneys. But there are plans to change that outlook - the Australian Gas Light Company (AGL) is seeking to build a gas plant on the Scenic Hills of Macarthur. South-West Sydney already has one of the highest rates of childhood asthma. Ozone levels in the area are already the highest in the state. The additional emissions from a gas plant will seriously detriment the Macarthur area's already fragile air and water quality. If this bothers you, please sign the petition.

Wednesday, 28 April 2010

Own a business in Macarthur?

The Macarthur Professional Services Network is a Not for Profit, Incorporated Association, that exists to serve companies and individuals, located in the Macarthur, who provide and use professional services within our region.

Thursday, 25 February 2010

Kidz Club at The Party Kingdom

The Party Kingdom at Ingleburn are starting their KidzClub and Parents Group this Friday, 26th February. The group runs for two hours from 10:00am to 12:00pm. Cost is $5.00 per week ($3.00 each additional child) and includes tea and coffee for parents, craft activities and games for the children.

Kidz Club is a great chance for your kids to gain social skills and have fun in a clean and friendly environment. Also a great chance to meet other local parents. See the website or contact Carrie on 0433 612 420.

Tuesday, 19 January 2010

Feel like a scrap?

If you're into scrapbooking; card, invite or gift-tag making then you might be interested in the inaugural Sale A Bration Spectacular by local Stampin' Up! demonstrators planned for Saturday the 6th of February. The event runs from 11am to 4pm and is being held at the Ambarvale Recreation Centre in Woodhouse Drive, Ambarvale.

Entry is $25 at the door or $20 if you book and pay before January 21st with proceeds going towards a local charity. There will be door prizes, showbags, displays and more so if you're a little bit crafty, pack up your scissors, trimmer, etc. and put a stamp on your calendar!

Sunday, 17 January 2010

Happy hols for Thomas fans

If you've got a fan of Thomas the Tank Engine in the family, don't forget that The Train Shed at Luddenham is open 10am to 4pm every day of the school holidays. Take a picnic or enjoy something from the kiosk while the kids ride on Thomas, Toby, James, Percy and Mavis.

Click on the above image or HERE for more details and a map.

Thursday, 14 January 2010

Monkey Mania

Monkey Mania Casula is a new indoor play centre situated at the Crossroads Homemaker Centre, 10 minutes from Campbelltown up the M5 or Campbelltown Road. With eight themed rooms it's a fantastic place for a party or school holiday fun for kids 2-12. There's a huge 'ball o city maze' climbing frame and basketball court for the bigger kids plus a separate toddler area. There's also ride-on dodgem cars at additional cost ($3 for five laps). We went on a weekday during the school holidays and found that the pictures on the internet did not match our experience.

As is typical of most indoor play centres, no outside food or drinks can be consumed on the premises (except for baby food). Cafe options were limited; the quiche we we ordered was fairly average but service was very prompt and friendly. The kids nugget and chips meals were a generous size for $6.00 each. The cafe is counter service only which can be challenging if you're on your own with bags and a stroller. There's plenty of tables and seating available. The toilet / baby change area is bright, large and mostly clean although the toilet seat in the ladies was broken on the day we were there. There's a toddler seat available in the baby change area, comfy chairs for breastfeeding behind privacy curtains and a microwave for heating baby food.

Entry fee:
Under 1 Year FREE
1 to 2 years $9.50
3 years & over $12.50
Adult $3.50 (incl. drink)

There are discounts available for multiple visits and an annual membership provides additional benefits. The centre is open 10-5:30 Monday to Friday and 9:30-6pm weekends. I'd like to see earlier opening times on a weekday for those parents that drop older kids at school and then want to entertain toddlers and pre-schoolers.

The ball o city maze features a funnel which shoots balls into the air which is great fun for the kids but it should be noted that the loud whooshing sound it periodically makes may frighten some littles. Also remember to take socks - no bare feet allowed.

Verdict from the kids in the family is that Monkey Mania is 'way better' than the other indoor play centres in the area so I guess that means we'll be making a return visit.

Friday, 8 January 2010

Plough and Harrow

One of our favourite parks to visit is a little outside Macarthur but it's an easy 25 minutes drive up the M5 and just off the M7 if you're willing to pay the toll. Otherwise you can go up via Cowpasture Drive (see map below).

Despite sounding like the name of an English pub, the Plough and Harrow makes for a great day for families of all ages. There's a toddler park for the littlies which includes a sandpit, a great little starter swing and a covered slide. For the older kids there's a set of swings in a circle, some climbing equipment and a terrific flying fox. The playground is great for kids aged 2-10 but older kids with bikes, scooters or skateboards will appreciate the extensive cycle and path ways.

For those who like walking, Plough and Harrow is connected to the Western Sydney Parklands track and there's also access to the M7 cycleway. There's heaps of free parking and plenty of shaded tables. The playground area does get busy of a weekend but in the left side of the park there are more grassed areas, tables and toilets.

Currently there are no food outlets in or near the park although there is a purpose built building up for lease - we reckon someone could do a roaring trade selling ice-creams in summer! There are also no bins so rubbish tends to accumulate, especially takeaway packaging. A cleaner/ranger collects the rubbish regularly but it can be off-putting to front up to a table piled with someone else's leftovers. Our only other gripe is that the flush for the toilets are set five feet off the ground, too high for many littlies to reach, so the toilets tend to get blocked.

Plough and Harrow is off Elizabeth Drive, Abbotsbury / Cecil Hills. It's a great day out for the whole family. Our advice it to take plenty of food and drink in reusable containers and a plastic bag to take rubbish home. Also be aware that there's an easily accessible tap next to the sandpit so you might want to consider a change of clothes for the little ones.

View Larger Map

Tuesday, 5 January 2010


If you're a long-term resident of Macarthur, you'll know about the wonderful New Year's Eve (NYE) party that Campbelltown Council host in Koshigaya Park. There's food stalls, top notch live entertainment and (weather permitting) terrific firework shows at 9pm and midnight. All set in a family friendly park with three playgrounds for the kids.

But it does get very busy - you have to get there early to reserve a good spot and spending hours in the park doesn't always go down too well with the littlies. Last year we discovered an alternative - Marsden Park in Park Central. Just up the road. There's no entertainment but the other few families celebrating make for a wonderful atmosphere. There's plenty of room for the kids to run around (or have a game of cricket), plus the playground and best of all, if you position yourself right, you'll still get a great view of the fireworks.

Take a picnic or dine at one of the restaurants in Kellicar Lane or Hyde Parade and stroll on over for the show. Just be ware of the red-bellied black snakes! (We spotted one on the way home near the ambulance station.)