Not having to make the bed in the morning was heaven. Not having to cook breakfast, lunch or tea for the family was a welcome change and spending quality time with the people I love most in this world was bliss. If this is a staycation, I can’t believe I’ve left it this long.
With our baby boy arriving this year, it’s been a long time since we’ve been away for the night. Even a brief stay at NewQuay Docklands was enough to recharge the batteries. We were only away overnight, but were able to cram a lot into the time we had. As with most of Melbourne this time of year, NewQuay was buzzing and we weren’t short of things to do.
It was a real treat to explore a part of our home city without the pressure of day-to-day tasks you get bogged with if you stay at home. While thousands of tourists visit our capital cities and explore everything there is to offer, we tend to take things for granted and walk right past hidden treasures because we think we have seen all there is to see.
Our first stop, after checking in to the centrally-located Sebel Docklands, was to see Santa’s Christmas Spectacular inside the Wonderland Spiegeltent. On now until December 18, the twisting, turning, jumping cast of acrobats had Millie enthralled. The plotline – trying to help the Snow Fairy escape from a glass display dome and preparing for Santa’s arrival – was basic but perfect for kids who giggled and sat in awe all the way through. The Wonderland Spiegeltent is below the Melbourne Star.
Lunch was pho and gelati (with a spot of shopping on the way) in Harbour Town, which is now a hive of activity on weekends, most people enjoying a stroll while hunting for bargains in the outdoor shopping mall. Millie ran off some energy checking out the free We’re All Smurfs! exhibition, where she came face-to-face with metre-tall Smurf statues and wandered through the Smurf village. Free craft activities are on offer too, the day we were there kids were colouring in Smurf backpacks to take home. The exhibition is on until December 24.
Ducking back to The Sebel the kids had their afternoon naps while my husband and I enjoyed a drink on the balcony. Our two bedroom apartment had everything a family could need, with full kitchen facilities, two bedrooms and a spacious living area.
Millie relished having a huge bed all to herself and while Finn’s supplied portacot was far from the luxury of his sister’s bed, he slept soundly all night. We had views to the Melbourne Star and the marina and had a dip in the hotel pool.
But perhaps the hotel’s best asset is its location. It’s walking distance to everything, which is ideal if you have kids, and a stone’s throw to lots of restaurants along the harbour. We were spoilt for choice when deciding where to eat for each meal. We chose Cargo on the waterfront for a casual family dinner. There’s no bookings, just walk in and try your luck. We waited only about 10 minutes (passing the time with tic tac toe in the waiting area – cute idea) for a table and the staff happily found us a spot that had room beside for the pram.
I had a tasty vego pizza, my husband had a burger and Millie chose fish ‘n’ chips from the kids’ menu. The menu was nothing amazing, but it was satisfying and FAST – appreciated when you have kids in tow with short attention spans. We watched the spectacular sunset over the water and the Bolte Bridge as we tucked in to our meals.
The boardwalk along the water is well-lit and nice for a stroll after your dinner.
Early the next morning Millie and I left the boys asleep and popped downstairs for some fruit and yoghurt in the hotel’s café and afterwards we all wandered along Harbour Esplanade, visiting the Docklands Sunday Market on the way. The homemade flavoured popcorn stall and the guy selling scented candles were attracting the biggest crowds, but I found a bargain at a stall selling new and used children’s clothing and toys – picking up a near-perfect secondhand Wheely Bug for $50.
There’s great coffee and a funky space to enjoy it in at Hortus X Seven Seeds. The chic greenhouse-style café has indoor and outdoor seating and offers a few simple brunch menu items alongside the brews.
Millie would run and play all day if she could, so we let her burn off some energy at Ron Barassi Snr Park, right beside the Bolte Bridge. The park opened a little more than a year ago and has huge (and fast!) slides for bigger kids but swings, sand, diggers and a water play area with pumps, fountains and a trickling stream. Millie was straight in. It’s a fabulous playground but be prepared, there is not a lot of shade and the white sand makes everything very, very, bright – though I’m sure the bridge shades the park at certain times of the day. There’s plenty of free car parks but you can also walk there easily from NewQuay.
We hope to see more of Melbourne with more weekends away soon. It really was a great way to wind down and spend quality time together as a family without having to travel too far.
*MillieMummyMelbourne stayed at NewQuay as guests of MAB Corporation