Tuesday, 20 October 2015

Dunsborough by playgrounds and fish and chips

We have just returned from a week in Dunsborough and I think it was probably the best week we've had since the twins were born. We spent an extremely large amount of time hanging out at playgrounds and ate more fish and chips in a week than the last three years combined. It was great. 

This is what we did. 

The planning started quite far in advance. We actually had a bit of a trial run holiday with a trip to Narrogin a few weeks earlier and I already had a pretty comprehensive list of what to take when we go away for a night. As it turns out it's not too much more for a week away. The key difference for this trip was food and linen. I didn't think linen was a big deal until I realised it meant doonas as well. Do you know how much space this takes up? A lot! Maybe if this becomes a regular thing we'll have to invest in sleeping bags. We also took our washing basket and accepted that we'd just have to do washing a few times.

We went to a bit of effort to cook a few things beforehand so we didn't have to go out for too many meals. I think sometimes it's just easier to stay home and of course much cheaper. We made a quiche and a big batch of bolognese which lasted over two nights plus I also made muffins and brought loads of fruit and our usual breakfast things. 

The packing was actually reasonably mindless, just following our lists, but there were a few moments where we weren't sure if everything was going to fit. Thankfully my sister just happened to be at our house so she was able to entertain the children while we got everything in. 
We had lunch at home and then got everyone into the car in hopes they would nap most of the way. About 20 minutes in I declared success with both babies asleep. Unfortunately this didn't last long. They each only slept 40 minutes and there was a lot of whinging and crying for the remainder of the journey. Not fun at all.

It was a beautiful day when we arrived. We quickly got the highchairs set-up and gave everyone some food while we unpacked the essential things - fridge stuff, making beds. We went straight out for a walk along the beach to town and it was such a gorgeous day we abandoned the meal plan and decided to have fish and chips by the beach (F&C1). Look at me not sticking to the plan! I can do it! I am flexible. I'm so not. There was a level of anxiety but I knew that the amazing weather may not hold out so we needed to make the most of it.

This was expected to be the warmest day so the beach was on the agenda but not before picking up some coffees in town. We found our first playground which we named the roundabout playground (PG1) and the coffee up the road was pretty good so we became regulars over the course of the week. When it warmed up a bit more, we headed to beautiful Meelup Beach. We got ourselves a nice little spot on the grass and Ed headed off towards the water with Miss 3 while I got the twins into their beach gear. 

Once Miss 3 was happy just safely playing in the sand, Ed and I each took a baby for a play in the water. It was cold. This was a stupid idea. They hated it. It took me far longer to get them in and out of their bathers than they spent in the water. Plus they were now covered in sand and generally unhappy. Miss 3 was having a fabulous time though so Ed stayed with her while I dealt with the little ones.

Fortunately at about the point where the entire beach thought I was a negligent mother due to the amount of crying going on (it's hard to comfort and change two wet, sandy babies) our friends arrived from Perth with a picnic lunch. Saved! 

Post naps we headed to Simmos for an icecream and a play. There's a great playground (PG2) there plus emus and camels and you can really make an afternoon of it. For the twins this was a far more successful outing than the beach and they don't even eat ice cream.

First thing we went for a walk to what we called the boat ramp playground (PG3) and found there was a coffee van there too. Winning. This became our alternate regular morning hang-out.

We headed to Meelup again and met out friends there. This time I didn't bother to even try the boys in the water. We just played on the grassed area while the ''big kids" (3yos) splashed at the beach. There's actually a nice pond there with ducks and we had plenty of fun without the hassle of sand and water. 

Next stop was Eagle Bay Brewery for lunch. Total success. The adults shared a tasting plate and the children shared pizza and fish and chips (F&C2). The food was great, drinks were great, massive sandpit playground (PG4) great. There was even a tractor driving around doing some work and the driver waved to the children which they absolutely loved. The only slight difficulty here was that the sandpit was a little bit away from the tables (which is completely understandable) so one of the adults had to go and watch and leave the others eating and drinking at the table. I didn't volunteer. Thank you others.

That afternoon our friends came over for a barbecue and put their children to sleep at our house so they could stay a while and relax. We were a bit nervous about how they would all sleep with five under four in the same very small house but it actually didn't take them all too long to settle. They borrowed our twin pram to walk home and apparently the children transferred fine back into their own beds later that night. Hoorah! They live just down the road in Perth too so I guess now that we know it works we could even try the same thing at home.

The main event was Country Life Farm. It was pretty fun but for $18 per adult and $16 per child over two I'm pretty sure they are making an absolute mint. We fed rabbits, guinea pigs, alpacas, goats, sheep, a horse and a kangaroo with a joey. There was also a merry-go-round, a bouncy castle and an indoor playground which we didn't actually make it to. Probably the best bit was the rowing boats but I wasn't game to put the twins in. Ed and Miss 3 had a good row around and our friends managed to get the whole family in a boat which was pretty cute to see. There's a load of little playhouses there (I expect all bought on gumtree) and lots of nice grass to have a picnic, which we did. If we didn't have to head home for naps we easily could have spent the whole day there which would have made the cost seem less extortionate. 

Tuesday afternoon we went for a scoot/walk from the town centre through Centennial Park. The pathway follows the coastline so is completely flat and perfect for scooting or bike riding. We reached Centennial Park Playground (PG5) and had another great play. There was some really good climbing elements here which even the crawlers could have a good go on. We considered venturing down to the beach on the way back but with the pram and scooter we would have had to split up so stuck to the path this time.

We spent the morning just mucking around at Dunsborough Beach. It's not a particularly nice beach with piles of seaweed but it's really flat which suits Miss 3 and the boys obviously don't care. This time I didn't bother to try them in the water. They just played in the sand and occasionally ventured towards the water but as soon as they felt the cold they were pretty keen to head back to dry land. It was actually a really beautiful, relaxing morning and it was free.

We met our friends for a picnic lunch at the beach in Yallingup where there is yet another great playground (PG6). They had been to the caves that morning which apparently was great but I'm confident we made the right decision not to go as sounds as though it required a one to one adult child ratio. Maybe we'll get there in a few years time. After lunch we ventured down to the beach and wondered around splashing a little bit in the tide. All children confirmed that they didn't really like waves though.

Wednesday night we went to the Dunsborough Hotel for dinner and guess what? There is an indoor playground (PG7) and the children had fish and chips (F&C3).

The weather wasn't so great and we were a bit panicked about what to do. We made it to the boat ramp playground first thing but when it actually started to rain we decided to follow the advice of a local and headed to Goanna Gallery for morning tea. There was a nice play space for the children and fortunately the sun came back. We all had some pancakes and then had to say goodbye to our friends who were heading back to Perth.

Thankfully just that afternoon my parents and sister arrived so we weren't fending for ourselves for too long. Now with a much improved adult child ratio the holiday really began. We went for another play at the beach and walking through the golf course on the way back there were loads of ridiculously tame kangaroos. 

Another lovely morning just playing at Dunsborough beach and then when the children were napping, Ed, my sister and I headed out for a bit of wine tasting at Happs and lunch at Swooping Magpie. Winning!

That afternoon we headed down to the beach again and my Dad did a bit of fishing off the jetty. He was actually pretty successful for the hour we were there. 

We went to Clancy's Fish Pub (F&C4) for dinner which is a beautiful setting with a nice play space for little ones as well as a big grassed area but there is an open dam too so you would need to be very careful if you had runners. 

This was basically pack up and go day. It was great that Mum and Dad were there to help with the children while we packed. We'd originally thought that there would be more space on the way home with less food and fewer nappies but we apparently made up for this with purchases of wine!

We decided to break up the drive by stopping at the foreshore in Busselton for lunch and of course there was a playground (PG8). Unfortunately stopping didn't really make a great deal of difference. The boys only slept for 40 minutes and this time not even at the same time so again it was a pretty painful journey. We got home to a house with no food in it so ended up getting takeaway for dinner and sitting in a park to eat it. More chips and another playground. Felt like we were still on holiday.

Sunday was all about the washing but it's all done now, the hideous drive has mostly been forgotten and we're back to eating vegetables. All in all it was a total success. Yay for us!

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