Mandy

Painting the town

I have a confession to make. I have spent a lot of time on the streets lately, lanes and back alleys in particular, and  unexpectedly I have fallen victim to a new addiction and it’s slowly turning into an artistic obsession.

The visual art created and expressed in public locations, more commonly known as street art, is exploding in popularity worldwide. Street art has evolved from Graffiti and was traditionally an unauthorised graphic expression that would appear overnight, giving off a thrilling and clandestine vibe in the underbelly of the cities in which they are executed. Nowadays the random acts of illegal artistic brilliance still occur in the shadows of the night, but some of the artists themselves are stepping out of the shadows and into the spotlight of bonafide murals.

You may think its vandalism, and Yes, – If a building owner’s side wall gets ‘bombed’ with spray cans without his knowledge or permission, then yes, it is … but what I am talking about is far from an adolescent tag on a neighbourhood fence – this is beauty, this is talent, this is something to be treasured.  And as artists begin to be recognised (in some cases world famous) they are no longer having trouble getting permission to use the street as their canvas.  In fact city councils are embracing the movement.

On my recent trip to Melbourne I had one thing in particular I wanted to tick off my tourist list, which was to wander down Hosier Lane. Its legendary status now earns itself a mention on just about every ‘must do’ list that Melbourne generates so I was intrigued to see what all the fuss was about.

Now,  I’m not exaggerating when I say that the reality took my breath away. The colours, the vibrancy, the humour and the pure unadulterated talent has helped me to see street art in a different light.

union lane 1 union lane art Melbourne 2Hosier lane Street Art Melbourne 4 Hosier lane Street Art Melbourne 1

Ever since I’ve been googling places to get my next fix, pinning, posting and following the underground legends of this magnificent genre.  If you are yet to discover the magic, here are a few places to check out right here in Australia.

Melbourne 

As mentioned above Hosier Lane is the undisputed patriarch of laneway art in Melbourne. Just a short stroll from Melbourne’s Iconic city centre, the streams of people entering the laneway lets even the unaware know that something special is happening here. The lane is literally saturated in colour as the murals jostle each other for space, and attention.  Stay long enough to really take it in. The large colourful pieces demand attention, but the small understated pieces in between also deserve your attention.

Other places of interest in Melbourne

  • Rutledge Lane, off Hosier lane
  • Caledonian Lane, off  Little Bourke Street
  • Union Lane, off Bourke Street Mall
  • Rear of 280 Queen Street in Finlay Avenue
  • 21 Degraves Street
  • Cnr Flinders Lane and Cocker Alley
  • 122 Palmerston Street, Carlton
  • Centre Place, between Collins Street and Flinders Lane

Where to stay : Wyndham Hotel Melbourne

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Brisbane

TRYP Fortitude Valley Hotel is Brisbane’s only street art hotel,The hotel features contemporary design and striking street art by world-acclaimed artists Rone, Magee, Numskull,  and Beastman. These artistic installations have helped TRYP to become known as one of the hippest hangouts the city has to offer. Brisbane is embracing street art, legitimising the culture and this week (6-18 February 2016) is endorsing the Brisbane Street Art Festival and approved 25 different walls to becoming living galleries for 50 artists.   If you can’t get there to see the artists in action this week, rest assured the legacy will remain for a visit in the future.

Where to stay: Tryp Hotel Brisbane ( you can’t get any closer!)

 Fintan Magee's Mural Street artist creates a mural on the wall of Chur

 

#ekaer in his prime! Progression shot Kerbside. #BSAF #bsafest #brisbaneanyday #streetart

A photo posted by Tryp Brisbane (@trypbrisbane) on Feb 9, 2016 at 6:47pm PST

Perth: Another big Australian City embracing urban art is Perth. Last year Public2015 saw over 50 artist’s transforming 42 walls, and this year  April 1-10 2016 will see the 3rd annual event.  Perth’s scene may even be challenging Melbourne for the title of Australia’s street art capital, with a staggering 500 plus locations featuring on the ultimate guide map Streets of Perth . Last months ‘Re.Discover Bunbury’ festival showcased amazing street art that is a must see if you are travelling the road from Perth to the Margaret River region.

Where to stay: The Outram, Perth, Wyndham Resort & Spa, Dunsborough.

The (Time) Travellers Guide to Sovereign Hill

I’ve long been fascinated by time travel. I think it stemmed from reading ‘Charlotte Sometimes’ when I was a kid. It opened my eyes to the concept, and It’s been blowing my mind through movies and novels ever since. So, imagine my surprise when I found myself in my own Time Travel adventure! Ok, so I’ve got an active imagination but on my recent visit to Sovereign Hill in Ballarat, I truly felt like I had warped back in time.

Describing itself as an outdoor museum, Sovereign Hill is so much more; It’s a working antique village; a tribute to a bygone era; and an interactive history lesson…. and one of the best places I have ever visited.
From the minute I stepped through the gates, history truly came alive and I became fully immersed in life in a Goldfields Town, complete with shops, hotels, a theatre, schools, and factories. Set on 25 acres of an original mining site, Sovereign Hill also offers underground mines to explore, and a real creek in which to pan for gold, and make your fortune.


I can’t possibly give you a detailed run through of everything that Sovereign Hill offers, after all you do need to experience it for yourself, but I will give you a quick rundown of my ….

Top Seven (or so) things that make Sovereign Hill a must-do!

The People

Honestly, the commitment of the staff to deliver a real experience was one of my highlights. From gentlemen tipping their hats and addressing me as Ma’am as I passed; the authentic costumes of the village folk going about their day, washing their laundry, or tending to their garden, to the authentic prospector panning for gold in the creek, it really was a sight to behold.

collage Sovereign HIll

The Gold Mine Tours

No trip to the Goldfields is complete without a Gold Mine tour, but first up let me say, these are not for the claustrophobic or those with a fear of the dark. You literally go deep underground, and there is no quick way out if you have decided you are a sufferer too late! But for those with a sense of adventure you can take the self-guided walking tour down the Red Hill mine, and/or take your choice of 3 guided tours each highlighting a different period or tale. These guided tours do cost additional to your entry ticket, so I’d recommend trying the Red Hill mine first to be sure you can cope with the underground conditions.

Gold Mine

The Demonstrations

If you time it right, you really should try to see the demonstrations. We watched the boiled sweets being made, and got to sample and taste test (so amazing we bought lots to bring home), and we saw the Gold Smelting and Pour. I got to hold a real Gold bar in my hands! Unfortunately, I had a nineteenth century pistol pointed at me so I wasn’t able to take that sample home!. The demonstrators were funny and educational, and a really valuable part of the day. Other demonstrations were available at the Blacksmith, Candlemaker, Wheelwright and more.

 Attractions BLRT0108 Sovereign Hill      Attractions BLRT0092 Sovereign Hill

Panning for Gold

It was on my bucket list, and I’m so grateful for Sovereign Hill for allowing me to tick it off! ✓ It’s pretty obvious to me that If I was really back in the 1850’s I would have suffered from Gold Rush Fever, because after I found my first little speck of the stuff, I just wanted to stay and find more. The Irishman in full Gold Rush garb was an amazing panning tutor, and helped us all get the right technique to strike gold … sadly not enough to strike it rich, barely enough to see with the human eye but I can tell you for sure that ‘’there’s gold in them there hills’’ and I have a little bottle of it to keep as a memory of my very own little thrill of a Gold Rush. Definitely my favourite part of the day (once I got the hang of it)

Tip: Ask for help from the ‘locals’ and you’ll find gold in no time!
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Wandering the Hill

Seriously, just wandering about the streets and visiting houses with their stunning gardens, and authentic interior displays was an absolute pleasure. Looking through windows into history, in a strange but magical way made me feel closer to my own colonial ancestors; acknowledging those of them who lived in similar times. They lived like this, and it felt like an honour to be peeking into the past and grabbing a glimpse of their lives.

A Glimpse back in time

The History Lesson

I’m not Australian by birth, and wasn’t educated here, so I never learned about the Eureka Stockade in school. Of course I had heard of it, but I must admit I was pretty unaware of the stories of the men who lived (and died) through it.
After your visit to the town in the day, you may wish to come back for the light show at night (and dinner in the town hotel as well, if you’re keen). The light show provides you with that education. My 12 year old daughter, who had learned about it at school, was thrilled to see the story come to life before her eyes. Be warned though, the show is outdoor, and involves walking between locations. We learned the hard way, just how cold it can get in Ballarat at night, even in summer.

Tip: Dress very very warmly and take a blanket for good measure.

Sovereign Hill Main Street

Don’t Miss these

The Red Coat Soldiers parade through town at 1.30pm, and fire their muskets. It’s a great photo opportunity, and a chance to learn a little more about the political climate of the time.
9 Pin Bowling – Seriously! Right at the top of the hill, there is a bowling alley, where you can have a go and try to knock the pins down. All included in the entry price.
The horses – You can choose an entry ticket that includes horse and cart rides, or purchase a single ride. Or simply admire the majestic beauty of these hardworking creatures as they power through town on a regular basis.

Tip: If one day is not enough, you can validate your ticket to come back the next day again for free! More time to stake your claim, and pan for your fortune.

Attractions BLRT0125 cmyk Sovereign Hill

 

Stay at WorldMark Ballarat

If you can, stay at a grand old homestead, like WorldMark Ballarat. Having the hauntingly beautiful historic building to go back to after our adventure extended my time travel fantasy. The building and extensive grounds were a by-product of luck on the Goldfields, by Scottish miner, James Leckie. He built the bluestone mansion, called Blythewood Grange, in 1878, from the fortune he made. Since that time, the building expanded, and reincarnated as a boys home and working farm in 1913, and 70 years later was remodelled into holiday accommodation and conference centre. Many of the original features still exist, and the original tiles, stained glass, wide corridors and high ceilings, lend the imagination some inspirational notions. My daughter was fascinated, and determined to find a ghost in the old walls. Unfortunately (or fortunately?) she was unsuccessful this time, but I’m sure we’ll be back on a future adventure through time.

Ballarat

 

Saving for a Rainy Day? Or a Holiday?

 It’s all about choices.

When I was about 5 years old I knew I wanted to travel the world. Fast forward nearly 40 years, and I have very little ticked off my global bucket list, I often wonder what happened.

Life happened.

I grew up in a family where travel wasn’t high on the priority list. My parents where both from large families who had struggled through post war times, where the white picket fence and a legacy were the focus – When an overseas adventure was suggested it was met with gasps, and advice of how money could be better spent. Work hard, buy a house, work harder, and buy a bigger house – That was the pattern I was encouraged to follow, so I tucked away my dreams for ‘One Day’.

I’m not complaining, I had a wonderful upbringing with a loving family. We had a lot of local family holidays, at the beach or lake, but spending money on international travel is just not what we did.

I’m now all grown up, and destiny found me working at Wyndham Vacation Resorts, where our mission is ‘Making holiday dreams come true’. We spend our days booking holidays for other people who do make travel a priority!  And guess what? I’ve discovered that the little girl with the Wanderlust is still inside me, and I can finally give her freedom.

I’ve learned that travel is not exclusive to the rich and famous. I can make my own travel dreams come true, even while raising 3 kids on a single income.

Little Girl with Dreams Wanderlust

And here is how it’s done!

Set a Goal

Use the SMART methodology of Goal setting – Make your travel goals specific, measurable, achievable, realistic and time-targeted.

Be Flexible

If you must travel in School Holidays, then you must – but if you can, plan a ‘date range’, and keep an eye on prices, sometimes a difference of week can mean a significant saving.

Research

I can’t stress this enough. VisitTrip advisor, browse tourism websites, read travel blogs, talk to others who have been. You may find your location offers a combo ticket for a lot of the main attractions at a discounted price – But check the list of attractions first, and work out if it really is cheaper to see what you want to see, or would you be paying for things you won’t be using.  The best advice comes from those who have done it – My cousin Viv says it’s definitely worth paying extra for skip the line tickets if you only have a few days to tick off lots of attractions – and I have taken that advice on board!

Mock it Up

Once you have set your travel goal, do a practise run booking it for close travel dates to get a good idea of total price – Don’t just do flights and accommodation. Factor in the prices of the attractions you want to see, airport transfers, and even a daily allowance for food and shopping

 Budget

Once you have a figure, you can work towards it – Open up a high interest online bank account, and set up an automatic transfer each week. To know how much you need to save each week, divide the cost of the trip by the number of weeks until you ideally would like to go .  If you think the weekly amount is too high, you need to revisit your ‘achievable’ and ‘realistic’ goal setting stages. Maybe you’ll need to wait another 6 months, or maybe you are willing to forgo an attraction or two to make it happen sooner.

Holiday important day, calendar concept shutterstock_132478784

Be a Savvy Saver

Stick to your budget – Do not break into your holiday savings under any circumstances. Put extra aside when you have it – Make your lunch, don’t buy it.  Consider second hand if the vacuum cleaner or washing machine breaks – Make tough choices – Do without Foxtel or a new pair of shoes. Ask yourself – Which do I want more?, and as silly as it sounds, put your loose change in a jar or piggy bank – it will add up!

Visualise it

If you can see it, you can do it – Stick an image of the location in your wallet – When you go to buy a coffee, when you could make one – It’ll make you think twice.

Ask for Donations

Well, don’t beg on the street but I mean when your sister asks what you want for your birthday – Answer… A deposit into my holiday fund! – you’ll appreciate  that more than a vase or necklace. Set up a crowd-funding page and share it on Facebook – You never know if a cousin or ex-workmate is feeling generous enough to donate $20 to your fund.  Its free and easy – so why not?

Rewards

Sign up to rewards programs.  Frequent flyer points can be earned at Supermarkets and petrol stations. It might take a while to make a difference but it all adds up. And when you do book your flights, make sure you to claim every mile you can, so this trip contributes to a future one.  Sign up to Wyndham Rewards – and if you book an eligible Wyndham hotel for this trip, you earn points for every dollar spent and 15000 points gets you a free night, or 3000 points gets you a discounted night at one of over 7,500 locations worldwide in 66 countries under fifteen hotel brands.

Email Spam

Sign up to receive airline specials by email.  Quite often the specials are either early bird or last minute, but look out for patterns.  For example, I’m looking at travelling to London in 2017, so I’m watching when and what specials come out in 2016 to give me an idea of the cheapest time to fly.

Trust a Travel agent

It’s always better to book with an expert. Chances are you could book it online yourself and save a little on price, but the peace of mind that a Travel Agency gives you is worth the extra you pay – They are the experts who will stop you accidently booking the wrong flight, they will recommend suppliers from experience, and a licensed travel agency comes with added protection if things go wrong… and speaking of… you must book Travel Insurance. Not Negotiable!

Try to go to Travel Expos – They are great for inspiration, talk to the experts and take advantage of on the day specials.

Commit

The best way to make it happen is to book it. While you are still saving and planning, there is always a chance that something will crop up and hinder you from reaching your goal. Once its booked and you’ve made the commitment, you will be surprised at how much easier it is to make choices that help you get there.

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OUR FAVOURITE HAUNTS

Like it or loathe it – Halloween is gaining popularity in Australia, and WATCH OUT!…Its just lurking around the corner.

If you’ve a penchant for a costume, or enjoy having the bejeezus scared out of you, a quick google search can uncover options to dress up, or freak out if you aren’t planning on trick or treating or partying at home.  But for those of you ‘fear fanatics’ who feel that being scared out of your wits one night a year isn’t enough, I’ve unearthed some of the best fun and freakish year round scares to whet your spine-tingling appetite.

SYDNEY FOR THE SERIOUSLY BRAVE

QUARANTINE STATION

Q Station Sydney Harbour is known as one of Australia’s most haunted sites, and has been featured on multiple International Ghost Hunting TV shows. Used from the 1830′s to isolate contagious diseases such as Spanish Influenza, Smallpox or Bubonic Plague, Quarantine Station  holds an important place in Australian history, and provides panoramic views of Sydney’s incredible harbour, along with its spooky atmosphere. Although open for visitors during the day, it’s the night-time when the hair-raising thrills are on offer.  From family friendly ‘Ghost Trackers’ tours to ‘Ghost tours’ and full on ‘Paranormal  Investigation nights’, Q station has something for everyone. This year they are also hosting a special Halloween Event

THE ROCKS

As the settlement base for the first fleet, and a colourful history of murders, mysteries, hangings and hauntings it’s not surprising that The Rocks has a ghostly reputation. Even walking the cobblestone lanes during the day, it has an undeniable ‘feeling’, but joining a Ghost Host on a Tour of The Rocks, really makes the history come alive when you wander the streets with the spirits who still linger in the dark.

THE GOLD COAST SHOWS ITS FREAKY SIDE

DRACULAS

It’s a Creepy Cabaret, with a few surprises that may make you jump out of your skin, but what it lacks in cutthroat scares, it makes up for in fantastic food, costumes and bellyaching laughs. It’s got pedigree from being an after dark attraction for 30 years, so if you haven’t done it already, you really should tick it off the list.  With a daytime version for Kids, a franchise in Melbourne, and a sister attraction walk through ‘Haunted House‘  there really is something for everyone!

FRIGHT NIGHTS

On weekends for the month before Halloween, Movie World on the Gold Coast opens its gates after dark for Fright Nights  (Ok, its not a year round attraction but it’s seriously cool). Transforming into a horror movie scene, the costumes are amazing and the scares are real. It gets crowded so you can expect to queue for the mazes and rides (fast track passes available), but most of the fun (fear) is wandering the streets avoiding zombie outbreaks, being pursued by a cleaver wielding mad doctors or evil goblins. Warning! Its NOT for the little ones! Recommended for 15+ or in my daughter’s case really really  brave 12 year olds.

TERRIFYING TASSIE

PORT ARTHUR

Port Arthur is officially Tasmania’s top tourist attraction, and apart from its macabre infamy after the mid 90’s massacre, the former convict settlement has plenty more to offer those looking for an eerie experience. You can take a 90 minute lantern lit Ghost Tour with exclusive building access, the option to add in a two course meal or serious ghost hunters can partake in a monthly Adults Only Paranormal Investigation Experience. Some Wyndham Vacation staff members toured Port Arthur recently, and they thoroughly enjoyed the tour, however it was the unexplained ghostly images that showed up on their photographs that really made Port Arthur a spooky encounter to remember.

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FOR THE FITNESS FREAKS OR BLEEDING HEARTS

Occasionally an event will pop up that mixes the joys(?) of being scared and a doing something good for yourself or Charity.

The goal of the Zombie Walks in Sydney and Brisbane is to tempt thousands of zombies out of their basements to drag their rotting limbs through the inner city streets. Fundraising to support The Australian Brain Foundation, it’s a light hearted way to help at great cause, while having an awesome excuse to dress up as ghoulishly as possible. Some make-up and costumes are downright terrifying.

Also raising funds, but providing a bigger challenge is Running Scared. An 8km obstacle course with a spooky twist that will see’s victims participants crawling, climbing, jumping, and running from the live action spooky creatures that lurk in the dark! The Cancer Council will benefit from the freaks coming out to play and receiving a thrilling and unforgettable scare experience. This year two events are being hosted to coincide with Halloween, but keep an eyeball out for other events like Run for your lives or the Great Zombie Escape emerging from the shadows in the future. Two male zombies standing in empty city street

Destination Wedding : Fiji

With destination weddings gaining popularity, the staff here at Wyndham Vacation Resorts are often asked about the option of getting married at Wyndham Resort Denarau Island  – and it’s easier than you might think!

Is a Destination Wedding in Fiji right for you?

If you are a Bridezilla who wants to be on hand to control every last aspect of the day, it might not be the best idea … but if you want to exchange vows with the one you love in a beautiful location, and you’re pretty relaxed about the finer details then it might just be the best decision you ever make (apart from your future spouse of course!)

The Top 10 Reasons a Destination Wedding is perfect
  1. You can say “I do” anywhere! – Why not choose a picturesque sandy beach, with the tropical breeze?
  2.  It’s easier – and it’s a complete package price. You let go of the reins, and let a wedding planner do the running around for you.  Sure, you will still need to liaise (by email) but really, after that all you need to do is get you, your fiancé, and your wedding outfit on the plane!
  3. It’s a great excuse to limit the guest list. The hardest part of planning a wedding is knowing where to draw the line on the guest list.  A destination wedding requires travel, and a bigger commitment from your guests which gives you the perfect excuse to cut the second cousins, and work colleagues from the list. Just invite your very closest friends and family to the intimate ceremony and celebration, and throw a party when you get home for everyone else (and save heaps on catering!)
  4. It’s cost effective – With a smaller guest list, you’ll save a packet on the most expensive part – the reception!
  5.  The striking backdrop -  When you choose an amazing setting such as a pristine Fijian beach it doesn’t take a lot to ‘dress it up’ for a wedding…and your photos will be amazing.
  6. Enjoy quality time with your loved ones - A destination wedding lasts a minimum of 3 days, so you will have so much more time to spend with your guests. Instead of spending one evening running from table to table trying to say hello to everyone, you can actually spend quality time, both before and after the ceremony!
  7. Guests can have a holiday too -  Your family and friends will have a great reason to take a holiday. They’ll have the chance to relax, and celebrate with you, and thank you for it!
  8. You can start the honeymoon early – You wake up next morning as a married couple already in your honeymoon paradise. After you farewell your guests, you stay on to enjoy the tropical paradise; just the two of you
  9. The destination itself -  It’s Fiji!  Just arriving at your destination is sure to put you in a relaxed mood. With the smiling faces of the locals, the onsite beauty spa, massages, cocktails and entertainment…. Where else would you rather be?
  10.  You’ll want to go back –   What better reason to return for future romantic getaways on your anniversaries? You could even renew those vows in decades to come with the grandchildren in tow.

Chair setting for Wedding

Frequently Asked Questions

How Far In Advance Should I Book My Wedding?

The earlier the better. If you plan to get married during the high season (July/August) you need to book at least eight to thirteen months in advance to secure your date. Keep in mind you need to consider the time required for sending out invitations, and often your guests will need time to book and pay for their accommodation, so the earlier the better.

Is There A Good Time Of Year To Get Married In Fiji?

June – September is the best time of the year to travel to Fiji in terms of weather. July and August is “high season”, and is the busiest period of the year. November – February is cyclone season which means a lot of humidity and rain as well.

Is There A Particular Time Of The Day That Is Best Suited To Having A Wedding Ceremony?

Fiji is a hot tropical country so consider the heat when deciding on a ceremony time.  Ask the wedding planner for a recommendation. A sunset ceremony is the most popular time of day for a Wedding in Fiji .

What are the legal requirements for getting married in Fiji?

Overseas visitors who intend on marrying in Fiji are required by law to obtain and sign a marriage license from the registry office in Nadi prior to the wedding. Most wedding planners will handle all legal documentation prior to arrival therefore the couple must forward original or certified copies of the required documentation well in advance of the wedding date.  Fijian weddings are legal in Australia; all you will need to do is change your name with Births, Deaths and Marriages when you get home.

Can I get married at Wyndham Resort Denarau Island?

Resort management is happy to consult with guests to have their wedding service on the beach with no venue hire charge. Telephone: +67 9 675 0442  or Email: denarau.reception@wyn.com to discuss your options. The onsite restaurant ‘Mamacita’s Mexican Restaurant’ can also be hired as a reception venue (conditions apply).

Resort staff cannot organise weddings, but can recommend the following wedding planners:

  •  Tadra Weddings specialise in creating unique, personalized and memorable Weddings. Tadra Weddings offer a range of popular, all-inclusive packages eliminating the stress for overseas couples and their guests seeking a hassle free destination wedding on our beautiful tropical island.
  •  Fiji Weddings is your one stop resource for all your wedding needs, from your wedding essentials (ceremony, reception decor, flowers, photography, bridal beauty, entertainment) through to the smaller details such as wedding favours.
  • Rosie Weddings believe that every event should be unique, and designed to meet the Individual. Specialising in the art of event design, and seamlessly integrating the 5 senses – Sight, aroma, sound, taste and Texture, to orchestrate a truly memorable event. Their Goal is to take your Vision and make it even more captivating then you could have ever imagined

Champagne wedding beach

Stop procrastinating, and start holidaying!

How to get from Procrastination to a Holiday Confirmation

I can’t count on my fingers how many times I have muttered the words “I need a holiday” over the past few months.  I do need a holiday, I have stacks of annual leave accrued, I work in the ‘holiday’ industry and yet I have nothing booked.   I have to admit that I have a bad case of holiday procrastination.

When I ask myself why I haven’t booked a holiday yet, I come up with my top utterly ridiculous reasons

  • Work needs me  (yeah, right …they will cope)
  • My kids are in important high school years, so I need to travel in school holidays and travelling in school holidays is so much more expensive (true, but what choice do you have)
  • I have bills I should pay before I can holiday (doesn’t everyone?)
  • My diary is too full of meetings, event and social events (which can be missed if necessary)
  • I don’t know where to go - Relax at the Beach, or a city adventure (well,… figure it out)
  • I’m waiting for a Sale (… in school holidays? Get Real)

Now that I have admitted that I have a problem, and my excuses are flimsy at best, I need to figure out how to fix it.

Young business woman sitting in office with reminder sticker asking sos. Stress at work. Isolated

Why do I need a holiday?

It’s well documented that holidays have the potential to break us out of the stress cycle. Holiday time gets our ‘hamster off the wheel’, and is a break from the routine and mundane day to day chores.  Holidays can help us to gain perspective on our problems, reconnect us with our families and friends, and allow us to return to our normal lives relaxed and ready to take on the world again. Basically Holidays are good for the soul.

Experts believe that when you’re stressed out and tired, you are more likely to become ill, you’re more likely to have an accident, your sleep suffers, you become more irritable, your memory becomes worse and you’ll make poorer decisions…. So in actuality, my workmates would benefit from me taking a holiday.  The mere fact that I am using my busy workplace and a diary full of committee meetings as an excuse is probably evidence enough that I need a stress release, and I need to put ‘take a family holiday’ at the top of my list of priorities

 Why do I procrastinate?

Procrastinating is normally associated with avoiding an undesirable task or outcome, so why am I procrastinating on this?   I mean, seriously – A holiday is a well-earned desirable outcome, who in their right mind would procrastinate on that?

Well in my research for this subject I have uncovered a slightly embarrassing personality trait … I am a perfectionist.   Now, my friends and family will now be rolling about the floor laughing “Tell us something we don’t know”,  but in all seriousness, I knew I was a perfectionist to a certain extent, but now the fact is staring me in the face and it’s quite uncomfortable.

Procrastination can be a symptom of perfectionism. Perfectionists fear being unable to complete a task perfectly, so they put it off as long as possible. In essence, as the chief of my family tribe, I feel responsible for planning the ‘perfect’ holiday, and the fear of everything not being perfect – from the holiday budget to the daily sightseeing schedule –  has resulted in us not going anywhere at all. It’s a bit of a light-bulb moment folks!.   I’m a planner, a list maker, I have mock itineraries and big dreams in spades, but ultimately I have a fear of not getting the best deal; a fear of choosing the wrong destination at the wrong time of year; a fear of not delivering the most amazing experience for my kids; a  fear of the “book it” button.

I think they all look to me to have everything organised, to wave my magic wand and ‘voila’ an unforgettable holiday experience just happens, and I feel such pressure to make their holiday dreams come true that I am actually robbing them of the experience by procrastinating.  I’m almost certain that I am putting the pressure on myself, the kids seem to find joy and delight in any new experience, and it’s only me who has set the ideals.

Family Looking At Laptop Together

So if you are a Procrastinator Perfectionist like me, what can we do about it?

It’s silly but it boils down to taking action. Now that we know the root cause of our problem, We can do something about it.

We can feel the fear and do it anyway.

We can just make a decision, pick a destination, pick a date, and book it. At the end of the day we may end up booking a more expensive flight, or end up with a rainy day …. So what!

We can get our kids involved in the holiday planning, give them choices to make, (we can do this at this price or that at that price), and share the responsibility.

We can accept that something probably will go wrong and that it we will survive with stories to tell – It doesn’t mean we are failures …. It means we are on holiday, and I don’t know about you,  but I am ok with that!

Beginners guide to Wanaka’s Winter Wonderland

My kids have been asking if we can go to the snow, and with a Wyndham Resort in such a wonderful location as Wanaka, it would be silly not to take advantage.

But… I’m a non-skier, and I have no idea where to start in planning a ski holiday with kids.

So with a little help from Google and the wonderful staff at Wyndham I’ve put together the Beginners Guide for taking the kids skiing!

 

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When?

Ski Season in the South Island of New Zealand typically runs from mid-June until early October, depending on snow and weather conditions, leaving four glorious months in which to grab a week in the snow.

This time frame fortunately encompasses two school holiday periods for most regions in June/July and September.

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Where?

Wanaka is centrally located in New Zealand’s Southern Alps on the shores of Lake Wanaka, and with Wyndham Wanaka nestled only a short stroll from the lake, and within 2km from the heart of Wanaka, it’s the perfect base for a family adventure.

You have your pick of four ‘World Class Ski Areas’ on your doorstep, Cardrona and Treble Cone (both within a 35 minute drive of Wanaka), with Coronet Peak and The Remarkables (just over an hour away).

Depending on your circumstances, you may want to start with first timer lessons, then hit the slopes to try out your skills as a family. Each ski resort differs with what they offer in terms of beginner slopes, kids activities, and special offers, but all are family friendly and offer a variety of childcare solutions, if you have really small kids, and ski programmes for the older kids. All offer fully licensed registered early learning centres, which allow you the option to enjoy your time skiing or snowboarding, knowing that your child is comfortable, safe and happy.

Cardrona Alpine Resort has a terrific learner area with a variety of beginner lifts, long, wide gentle slopes and fantastic views towards Queenstown and Wanaka. Skiwee club is dedicated to kids ski and boarding instruction, with childcare facilities, and qualified instructors for toddlers to teens.  Older kids can enjoy the club from a half day memberships to full 4 day programmes . Under 5’s can attend the Ski Kindy, and you can choose from an all-inclusive package that includes daycare and lesson for 3-4 year olds,  or childcare only or lesson only. There is even a nursery where under two’s can be taken care of while you hit the slopes (or in my case slide around on my bottom!). Natasha from Wyndham Vacation Resorts in Wanaka recommends first time skiers/snow boarders to go to Cardrona Ski field as the progression in slopes is slightly easier compared to Treble Cone.

Treble Cone is The South Island’s largest ski area with jaw dropping views over Lake Wanaka & the Southern Alps, offering  the Kitty Cat Childcare Facility, and beginner’s lessons with free beginners lifts and learners slope. Group lessons at Treble Cone are all about kids having fun while learning to ski or snowboard in a safe environment.

Coronet Peak and The Remarkables both offer Skiwiland which comes highly recommended by Dannielle from Owner Services, at Wyndham Vacation Resorts.  Skiwiland offers full or half day childcare programmes for under-fives who are not ready to ski, and care and lesson options for those who are keen to learn. This programme includes indoor and outdoor activities and lessons in small groups with trained assistants and instructors. Coronet Peak and The Remarkables also offer great first timer packages for adults and children that can be purchased for 1 – 6 days, which include lessons, lift passes and ski hire.

Dannielle said Nate (aged almost 4 in this pic) loved his ski lesson at Skiwiland! 

Dannielle said Nate (aged almost 4 in this pic) loved his ski lesson at Skiwiland!

 

How?

Do your research! Yes I know I said I was doing that for you, but the one thing I discovered is there is so much information on the websites! From ski packages, to instructions for fitting snow chains and what restaurants are available.

Being prepared means knowing the safety rules, so it’s really important to take a lesson before you first head up the hill, to learn the basics, and understand mountain safety

You need to consider costs – Once you have chosen your location from the options listed above, You will need lift passes, equipment (and maybe clothing) hire, lessons and potentially childcare costs – So comparing the deals on offer in advance, may help you decide which ski field is right for you and your family.

Top Tips – Get up on the mountain early on the first day to allow yourself time to organise and familiarise yourself – Make sure the kids go to the toilet before you hit the snow, and that they have your  mobile number on them – maybe a sticker on their helmet or permanent marker on their forearm.  Set meeting points for easy pick up after lessons (because all kids tend to look the same when bundled in ski gear, and I most certainly am one to forget what colour jacket my child is wearing on any specific day).

Take Snacks! After a day on the slopes, you can guarantee the kids will have a healthy appetite. Be prepared for aching calf and abdominal muscles and a sore butts all round.

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What to wear? What to Buy? What to Hire?  

It’s all a bit much planning and packing everything for the entire family, but there are certain ‘musts’ when holidaying in a snowy mountain environment. Best advice is to dress everyone with thermal underwear, and knee length quality wool socks for inside the boots. Bad socks may make your feet sweat which means they then get really cold.

Ensure they all have a warm beanie and warm wool or fleece long sleeve top, and remember layers! Sunglasses and sunscreen is also extremely important as the reflecting sun can cause severe sunburn! Choose waterproof, (lined and insulated) jacket and pants, and gloves. Consider the thread count of the material because it makes a difference to its breathability, and your ultimate comfort. For kids, consider two-piece ski suits (much easier to go to the bathroom).

Renting the hard equipment like skis, poles and boots can be done at the ski resorts, and clothing and accessories packages are on offer which helps those of us first timers and beginners who generally have no idea what to choose. For safety a helmet is also recommended, just like riding a bike!

Local Tips for Smooth Sailing  Skiing

Things to consider before going to Wanaka over winter:

  • Hire a car with snow chains and please ask to be shown how to use them. A car is recommended but Transport options are available from resort to ski field – normally about $NZD35.00  per person pick up at the resort. Bookings need to be made the day before travel no later than 6pm
  • Roads are prone to closure over this time of year so Natasha from Wyndham Wanaka recommends flights to Queenstown rather than Christchurch.
  • Its Peak Season so its really busy – its unlikely to be able to Check in to rooms earlier than your official Check in time, so keep this in mind when planning your arrival

So there you go.  Who else is ready to hit the slopes? I sure am.

Manoeuvring the mean streets of the metropolis

Planning a city break getaway?  As cities start to provide more free and inexpensive transport options for tourists, you may find that adding car hire and daily carpark fees in your holiday budget could be an unnecessary and costly mistake.

Let’s take a look at the alternative cheap and free ways to manoeuvre the mean streets of the metropolis


MELBOURNE
public bicycle rent
FREE TRAM ZONE

Wyndham Hotel Melbourne is positioned in the heart of the city, and within walking distance of the key attractions; however you can now conserve your energy to stay out longer with the city’s new Free Tram Zone. Travel on trams within this zone is free, and you don’t need ticket if your journey starts and ends within the zone.  Tram Line 55 Travels past Wyndham Melbourne on William Street and the closest Tram stop is only 86 m away on the corner of Lonsdale St and William St.

BIKE SHARING

You can hire a bike for as little as $2.90 a day plus half hourly charges.  Melbourne Bike Share usage charges start after the first 30 minutes of each trip so if you are savvy, and use the bikes for short trips across town, you can return the bike to another station within 30 minutes, and ride for free. There is a $50 refundable security deposit required per bike, and free helmets are included. The closest bike hire station is 240m away from Wyndham Hotel Melbourne on Bourke Street


 BRISBANE

Brisbane - Eagle St Pier & Citycat

FREE CITY LOOP

The free City Loop bus operates around the Brisbane CBD from the red signposted bus stops, using distinctive red buses. Popular stops along the route include Botanic Gardens, Queen Street Mall, Central Station, and Eagle Street Pier. Wharf Street stop is the most accessible to Tryp Fortitude Valley, via a 1.3km walk down Ann Street.

CITYHOPPER FERRY

The CityHopper lets you to discover Brisbane by water with ferries running every 30 minutes between 6am and midnight, seven days a week. Best of all it’s free! Just hop on the closest Terminal to Tryp Fortitude Valley at Eagle Street Pier, a 1.6km walk away.

PEDAL POWER

Brisbane also offers a cheap and healthy way to get around the city! City Cycle  costs as little as $2 for a day hire, and charges only start after the first 30 minutes, so again if you are smart and return the bike to a station within half an hour, you can travel for free. City Cycle stations are located every 300 to 500 metres, the nearest to TrypFortitude Valley being in Bridge Street, only one block away.

Riders must be at least 17 years old to hire a City Cycle, and are required by law to wear a helmet when riding a bicycle. Helmets are not included in hire.


 SYDNEY

Family taking picture in sydney

TOURIST BUS

Situated just a block behind Hyde Park, Wyndham Sydney is only 500m to George Street, where Sydney Buses operate a free shuttle in the city centre (Route 555), which runs in a loop between Central Station to Circular Quay,  9am to 3.30pm weekdays, Thursday until 9pm, Saturday, Sunday and public holidays from 9.30am to 6pm. You can board at stops that display the green shuttle logo, and you do not need a ticket.

FAMILY FUNDAY SUNDAY 

For $2.50 per person, your family can enjoy Family Funday Sunday, with unlimited travel all day Sunday in Sydney by train, bus, ferry and light rail.


PERTH

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FREE CATS

Perth has a free central area transport service (CATS) that operates around the set routes of the CBD free transit zone approximately every 5 to 10 minutes, 7 days a week (Times vary from 6am to 8pm during the week).  Transperth buses and Fasttrack trains both also offer free travel within the Free Transit Zone.
The red CAT stops on Outram Street, less than 20 metres from The Outram, Perth.


 PARKING OPTIONS

If you are considering taking or hiring a car while visiting these city locations, please see the below chart for parking information.

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*Prices Correct as at July 1, 2015