Dave had a moan to me the other day that we don’t get out enough with the kids.
I was a little insulted because I like to think I do plenty with them. With Dave working six days a week, it’s often just me and the girls. We get out and about and do stuff, sure, but I don’t know that cruising around the local supermarket is what he was talking about.
With Smiley, our two-year-old, still having a two-hour day sleep, I like to keep things fairly local because when this little peach misses her sleep, she transforms into someone who’s really not that smiley at all.
We’re usually content to potter about the house. The girls put on a dancing performance and the other day the circus came to our lounge room. We have running races in the backyard, pick strawberries from our patch, and make art with autumn leaves. We’re easy to please.
But, when Miss Four came home from preschool complaining that all of her friends have been to a zoo and she hasn’t, I decided that perhaps we really do need to up our game.
Enter the Do Stuff Club.
We’re lucky to live in inner city Brisbane, where we’re spoilt for choice with an abundance of family friendly activities. Today, I’m sharing three things the Do Stuff Club has done recently. You might like to do them too, if you’re in the Brisbane area.
Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary
We kicked off our Do Stuff Club debut with a bear hunt.
Nestled in a bend of the Brisbane River in the leafy suburb of Fig Tree Pocket, Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary is home to around 130 Koalas and almost as many different Aussie animals.
It’s hard to believe this treasure is just 15 minutes from the city, with its expansive parklands and river views making you feel like you’ve entered another world.
It didn’t take long to find ourselves a bear at Lone Pine. There are koalas everywhere doing what they do best – munching on gum leaves, snoozing, and generally looking pretty darn cute. The girls were in awe of these cuddly critters and Smiley of course did her best to attempt to climb into an enclosure before a wildlife officer suggested she keep her distance until the koalas ate breakfast.
Thanks to the talk times available on the Lone Pine website, I’d pre-planned our morning. The wild lorikeet feeding was at the top of my list, so we headed to a leafy area where a wildlife officer poured nectar into bowls. Out of nowhere appeared a noisy flock of rainbow colours. The girls were scared at first, but ventured closer when I picked up a bowl heavy with birds.
Up next was the sheep dog show, which brought my own childhood memories of visiting a woolshed flooding back. The girls became caught up in the excitement as they watched the dog handler instruct his dogs to herd the sheep. It was nothing short of impressive. When one of the dogs ran along the backs of the sheep, Miss Four’s eyes nearly popped out of her head.
Koalas aren’t the only animals in abundance at Lone Pine, there are kangaroos galore. Unfortunately, we left our visit to the kangaroos a little late. The sun was high and they were lazing in the shade. Thankfully, a couple of roos hopped over for a pet allowing us to get up close and personal with them.
We also saw sheep shearing, dingoes, a platypus, wombats and reptiles all before heading home for Smiley’s 1pm sleep. Can I have a high five?
The only thing I regret about our trip to Lone Pine is not buying an annual pass. We’ll definitely go again.
Where: 708 Jesmond Rd, Fig Tree Pocket.
How to get there: Car, bus or boat.
Cost: Book online to save 10 %.
Visiting hours: 9am-5pm, 7 days a week.
Amenities: Toilets, two cafes, and space for a picnic if you take a packed lunch.
Frew Park, Milton
I can only describe Frew Park to you as epic. I liken it to a mini theme park for kids boasting equipment you just don’t see at your average park.
The centrepiece of the park, The Arena, features a climbing wall, net and cage, tunnels, tube slide and the most awesome slide I’ve ever seen – a 3 metre wide x 3 metre high beauty that attracts kids like bees to honey and leaves parents weak at the knees.
Within seconds of arriving, Miss Four made a run for The Arena. She clambered confidently up its angled surface and disappeared into a tunnel. I caught a glimpse of her as she leapt out of the tunnel before hurling herself down the five metre high tube slide. This one is not for the faint-hearted, my friends.
With the tube slide done, she made a beeline for the 3 metre x 3 metre slide. Smiley and I happily watched her until the inevitable happened. Smiley declared it was her turn on the whopping big slide, which meant it was also my turn on the whopping big slide. Gulp.
I have a fear of heights. A big fear. Huge. I was sweating as Smiley took my hand and we climbed after Miss Four. Know that this slide took at least 10 years off my life.
While The Arena is designed for older kids, the outer areas are perfect for the littlies with smaller slides, swings, and interactive play equipment. The girls’ imaginations ran wild as they pretended to be circus ringmasters shouting through a giant megaphone.
Frew Park is definitely not short on space. There’s a huge grassy area for kids to run loose on and plenty of paved areas for scooter-mad munchkins. It’s one of the coolest parks I’ve seen and I love that it pays tribute to its Milton Tennis Centre origins with tennis-themed sculptures throughout and giant tennis balls submerged in the ground for kids to jump on.
All in all it was a fun morning out leaving us all ready for a nap afterwards.
Where: Frew Street, Milton. Car park entry is off Haig Street. Street parking available via Lucy Street.
How to get there: Car, bus or a short walk from Milton train station.
Amenities: Toilets, a coffee shop, picnic tables and barbecue facilities.
Top tip: Go on a weekday to avoid the weekend busyness.
City Cat ride to South Bank
Whenever we ask the kids what they want to do on the weekend, the answer is always South Bank. Situated along the Brisbane River, South Bank boasts river views, extensive parklands, playgrounds, a beach, water park, restaurants and free live entertainment. What’s not to like, right?
We live about eight minutes by car from South Bank, so we decided last weekend to mix it up a little and take the long way there via City Cat from West End. Our ferry ride added a whole new dimension to our day out. As the City Cat picked up speed, the girls’ hair whipped around their faces and they dissolved into giggles. They pretended to drive the boat and race the other boats on the river.
By the time we arrived at South Bank, it was morning tea time. We found a patch of green under the Wheel of Brisbane and chowed down on food I brought from home. With full tummies and a spring in our step, we went exploring.
We discovered the playground is currently closed for renovations, but this didn’t worry the kids as there’s plenty of other things to see and do. As we wandered along the banks of the river, the girls stopped every now and then to practice their handstands and cartwheels, or to pick flowers. We meandered through the markets and ended up at the beach.
The crystal clear water of the beach glistened under the winter sun begging the girls to dive in. They were almost frothing at the mouth as they scrambled to take their shoes off and wriggle their toes in the sand. We stayed at the beach for close to an hour as the girls paddled in the water and built sandcastles. There was next to nobody else on the beach and for a moment, as I snuggled up to Dave and watched the girls play, I felt like we were the only four people in the world.
The girls were famished after their beach antics and Dave and I felt like a cheeky beer, so we headed to The Plough Inn for lunch.
Our City Cat ride and trip to South Bank was another great half day out that allowed us to see and do plenty and still get home in time for Smiley’s day sleep.
Where: South Bank Parklands.
How to get there: Car, bus, train, City Cat.
Cost: Free. City Cat prices and timetable available here.
What are your favourite family friendly things to do in your corner of the world? Would you like to hear more of the Do Stuff Club’s adventures?
I was selected as a finalist in the Kidspot Voices of 2015 Put Yourself On the Map Challenge for this post. You can read the full story I wrote for them here: Brisbane for families.