Tuesday, 20 December 2011

Review: Christmas Carols at Mt Annan Botanic Gardens

I know, I'm not supposed to call it Mount Annan Botanic Gardens anymore. It's now the Australian Botanic Garden. Why the name change, I really don't know but anyway it's been a favourite venue of ours for many years, even before the entry fee was abolished.
However, we hadn't attended the annual Landcom Carols in the Garden event before this year due to clashes with other events. Our calendar was free last Saturday night, and the rain promised to hold off for the evening, so we packed up the picnic rug and headed down. We arrived at around 5.15 ready for the show kick-off advertised to start at 5.30. The garden was already packed - you have to get there early to get a spot in front of the stage - and people continued to arrive for the next couple of hours.
We took a picnic dinner but there were plenty of stalls available selling food and drink. The older kids took off for a game of soccer. The younger kids were entertained by dancers from Commotion , a local performing arts school, and the Smurfs Christmas Show. Following that were many talented singers supported by a 4-piece band. The night culminated in a spectacular fireworks show.
Despite the huge number of people - apparently the biggest ever, according to host Monica Trapaga - getting out at the end of the evening wasn't too big of a challenge, helped by the new entrance/exit on Narellan Road.
We'll no doubt be visiting the gardens again over these school hols and we'll definitely be making room in our calendar for the carols next year.

Wizard of Oz Funland

I first went to the Wizard of Oz Funland a few years back with our local playgroup and I found the place a bit bemusing. It seemed to be a cross between a putt-putt venue, an indoor play centre and a theatre. It had recently been converted from a pool/snooker centre and was still a bit dark and dingy.
Our second (attempted) visit was last Christmas hols when I took my older kids there to play mini-golf but was advised putt-putt wasn't open because there was a show on so we went to Mega mini-golf instead.
We visited Wizard of Oz Funland again last week, on the recommendation of a friend and I'm pleased to report the place has brightened up considerably since then. On entry we were advised it was $5 per child (adults are free) or for $8 we'd get unlimited play with free fairy bread and chips. The website states $8 entry per child during school holidays so we paid $8 for two children and were given a voucher that stated 'free fairy bread and Smiths chips'.
The 2yo headed straight for the good-sized and well-stocked toddler area. The 5yo was a bit bamboozled at first - there is a LOT of merchandise on display. There are also a number of additional pay-for amusements such as ride-ons and arcade games. Fortunately my kids don't use pester power and the 5yo was happy to play in the play maze and jumping castle.
Mini-golf / putt-putt is unlimited games but it's only available at scheduled times because a guide has to provide access. You are required to pay $2 deposit which is refunded provided you return the ball. After a game of putt-putt, we redeemed our fairy bread & chips vouchers. The kids each received half a slice of fairy bread and some chips. We adults didn't order any food or drink but there is a range of food available on the menu. As with most indoor play centres, food and drink is not permitted to be brought in from outside. Also, socks must be worn by children. All of the staff were very welcoming and friendly. There is also a good-sized party room available.
The kids were entertained mid-morning with face painting and a music session and then we went on a daily tour of Santa's workshop. This was by far the highlight with singing, a meeting with Santa, and falling 'snow' in the magic forest.
Due to all the props and displays, there are a lot of 'keep off' signs around (although you are welcome to take photos). One sign leading from the putt-putt area stated that unauthorised entry will result in a $50 fine. The notices leading to the putt-putt area would take a good few minutes to read. As most pre-schoolers are unable to read at all, it's not a venue where you can sit and relax with a cuppa because there are various areas where children can wander out of sight and therefore they have to be supervised constantly.
After two hours my two were ready to leave but at $5 per entry for kids and free for adults weekdays (according to the website), it is most definitely worthwhile doing the Santa's workshop tour. (I would advise ringing ahead to check what's on because they regularly run events.) It's also an absolute must for any fans of the Wizard of Oz movie with props and trivia throughout. At $8 entry for kids and free entry for adults, the Funland is worthwhile checking out as a venue to provide a couple of hours entertainment for pre-schoolers and younger primary school-aged kids.
The Funland is located at 2/11 Hollylea Road, Leumeah (near Campbelltown City bowl) and is open from 9:30 onwards, closed on Mondays and Tuesdays during school terms. For more information, check out the website. Wizard of Oz Show and Funland also has a Facebook page.

Monday, 12 December 2011

Reading Eggs

If you've got little ones at home going crazy with cabin fever due to all this wet weather, or even thinking of ways to entertain primary school aged kids during the school holidays, I can highly recommend the ABC Reading Eggs program.

Aimed at 3-12 year olds, the program combines fun activities with educational tools to familiarise children with reading. Sign up for a free trial here.

Friday, 1 July 2011

Recommended websites

I've heard and read about some great websites recently with resources for Macarthur parents so I thought I'd list them here. I'll also add them to the Macarthur's Most blogroll permanently. Let me know if you'd like to see any others listed.

macarthurparents.com.au - provides articles and resources aimed at parents in the Macarthur area. Much of the information is focused on careers, training and employment so it's great for parents of adolescents and teens.

camdenmacarthurchildcare.com.au - a directory of child care services in Macarthur. It's doesn't provide comprehensive details of all centres but it's a good place to start if looking for child care and also provides links to professionals and other local services.

aroundyou.com.au - simply enter your postcode to find a list of upcoming events, courses, activities, shows and performances in the local area. You can sort by category (such as 'kids activities' or search by keyword and add events to your calendar with the click of a button. You can also get involved in charities and causes, and discover places to go.

Wednesday, 29 June 2011

Running away with the circus

We went to see the Weber's Circus show at Camden Equestrian Park on Saturday afternoon. I haven't been to the circus since I was about 6 years old so I really didn't know what to expect but I was pleasantly surprised, although the performers made some of the stunts look way too easy. There really was something for everything and while keeping the 2yo still was sometimes a bit of a challenge, the older kids were focused on the ring the whole time. The staff were all friendly and helpful. We had A reserve seats and had a good view. The circus packed up and left yesterday but I highly recommend a visit next time they come to town.

On the way home, as the sun was setting over the pastures and wineries of Camden, hubby asked, "Where else can you live that's 15 minutes from fields and country?" Where else indeed. We love Macarthur.

Wednesday, 22 June 2011

More paediatric services needed

Campbelltown Hospital has a fantastic paediatric department and children's ward. But families with children requiring surgery or more serious illness often have to travel outside the area to Westmead Children's Hospital. A paediatric surgeon at Campbelltown Hospital would mean that some families wouldn't have to incur the heartache and cost of travelling substantial distances for treatment. Please sign the petition for an expanded paediatric team at Campbelltown Hospital because Macarthur kids deserve to be treated close to home: http://www.petitionbuzz.com/petitions/ctownpaediatric

Tuesday, 31 May 2011

My Macarthur Schools Challenge

The My Macarthur Schools Challenge is on again. If you shop at Macarthur Square, please consider supporting our local schools. All you have to do is present your receipt at the information desk on level one (near Dick Smith). $1 = 1 point for the school of your choosing. Click here to see what the participating schools would spend their prize money on.

Thursday, 28 April 2011

Narellan Playmaze

MM hope you had a wonderful Easter break. Unfortunately the weather wasn't very conducive to exploring outdoors over the long long weekend so much of our time was spent in the garden. We did pop out to Playmaze at Narellan earlier in the week and was pleased to discover they have expanded and fortified (security gate) on the toddler play area. They also ran a few Easter activities for the kids - basket and mask making. Check their website for more upcoming events and activities.

Saturday, 22 January 2011

Mega mini-golf / putt-putt

One of the newest attractions is Mega Mini Golf located in Rose Street, Campbelltown (off Blaxland Road on the other side to the pound). We went today for a 5 year old birthday party. It's a great place for kids aged 3 and up and they supply different club sizes to suit ages / height.
The golf 'course' of 18 holes is divided into three sections - jungle, Egypt, and Wild West. Some of the holes are easy, others challenging but all are fun. There's a 'cafe' area outside of the course with a small selection of drinks and foods which is stroller friendly for parents waiting for older kids to complete the course, although it's fun for adults too! You can take a stroller around the course but it's challenging negotiate and some lifting may be required over small steps. The course is not wheelchair accessible.
For parties, there's a party room upstairs and a staff member plays party games with the kids and serves chips, lollies and hot food (party pies, sausage rolls). Kids aren't taken around the course by staff but adults are allowed to go with them to supervise. The staff members we spoke today were all helpful and friendly.

During the school hols, Mega Mini Golf is open from 9am everyday. Normal opening times are 10am to 6pm Mon-Thurs and to 10pm on Fridays and Saturdays.

Admission prices are $8.90 for children 15 and under and $12.50 for adults. A family pass (2 adults, 2 children) is $36. Party packages start from $179 for 8 children.

Here's the website: http://www.megaminigolf.com.au/ and they're also on Facebook.