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It is time of the year for us to escape the hot weather in Singapore and this year, we have decided to venture to Perth (somewhere I have not been in decades). As usual, planning a road trip with a little one is never easy especially with the need to have toilet breaks and leg stretches (for a 6 month preggie mum and a 4 yo girl off diapers) at appropriate intervals.
Given Ashley’s traveling habits, it always seemed wise to take the night flight out in which she can sleep through the journey. Bearing in mind that Colin is the only licensed driver of the family, I planned for a weekend stayover in Fremantle so that little driving is required on arrival. Fremantle can be a little tad boring for the adventurous individual but for families with young kids, it can be leisurely to just travel around town on the free CAT bus and visit the Fremantle Market, Round House, WA Shipwreck Museum and Fremantle Prison. Alternatively, one can choose to travel down an hour to John Forrest National Park to visit the National Park Falls and Hovea Falls for a nice breezy walk.
Our second accommodation of the trip was Ferguson Farmstay which was about 2 hours drive away from Fremantle. Ferguson Farmstay is a working farm managed by a friendly family. We stayed two nights in Chalet 1 (double room can be a little squeezy if your little one is bunking in with you). At 8.30am every morning, farm activities commence which includes animal feeding (goats, kangaroo, emu, Lenny the sheep, pigs, rabbits, chickens), a pony ride for the kids (Fred is a real gentle pony) and a tractor ride to the cows for feeding. Ashley repeated the farm activities over both mornings and she enjoyed every moment of it. However, there are little attractions around Ferguson Valley on weekdays (wineries are closed between Mon-Wed) except Gnomesville, Wellington Dam and St. Aidan Winery.
After 2 nights at Ferguson Farmstay, we headed south towards Margaret River to our third accommodation, Ramada Resort Dunsborough located right next to the sea. Given the short 1 hour plus drive, you will have ample time to visit the wineries, farm gates and providores in the vincinity such as Bettany Wines and Margaret River Nougat Co (not to be missed, the nougats and sparkling non-alcoholic and alcoholic wines are just yummy), Margaret River Chocolate Co, Margaret River Nuts and Cereal, Margaret River Dairy Company and Gabriel’s Chocolates (for a hot chocolate drink) on the same day.
On the second day in Margaret River region, we headed down to Lake Caves to make the first tour at 9.30am (might not be friendly for preggies and families with young kids due to the steep stairs down to the caves. According to the guide, Mammoth Caves is kids friendly). Luckily for us, Ashley did an awesome job in climbing up half of the steps on her own. After visiting one cave, I have exhausted all my energy and I wanted to take it easy for the rest of the day. For the food and wine lovers, one can consider visiting Cookies Galore for nice shortbread cookies and Voyager Estate for their fine wines and 4 course set lunch. We also made it in time to visit Cape Naturaliste lighthouse and Sugarloaf Rock before the sun sets.
With Margaret River being the last southern part of our Perth trip, we went back north towards Mandurah to our fourth stay in Seashells Resort (beautiful resort for families situated next to the Indian Ocean). In the 2 hours drive back north, we had a stopover at Bunbury for lunch and visited the Bunbury Dolphin Visitor Centre and King’s Cottage. Seafood lovers can look forward to fresh and sumptuous seafood at Mandurah which boasts a variety of restaurants serving fresh seafood.
After a week’s stay in the outskirts, it was time to head back to Perth CBD which is a stone’s throwaway from Ashley’s staple food, Chinese cuisine. We spent half of our stay in Sage West Perth and Attika Hotel in town and I must say that Attika Hotel is a better location with restaurants and cafes within walking distance. Furthermore, a drive up to Swan Valley from Perth city only takes half an hour. For children who love to interact with animals, a visit to the Swan Valley Cuddly Animal Farm would be fun as they get to have hands-on with feeding sheeps with milk and cuddling rabbits and guinea pigs etc. However, pony rides are only available on weekends so do plan accordingly if you do not want to miss out on that. Another fun place for the children in Swan Valley would be Whiteman Park which houses Caversham Wildlife Park, Vintage Train Ride, Tractor Ride and museums (again, do note on the days of operation as some rides do not run on a daily basis). For the wineries, we did a stopover at Ugly Duckling and Sandalford (lunch and wines at Voyager are better in our opinion). Therefore, one can consider Voyager if you are keen on having lunch in an wine estate.
If you ask people about Perth, I guess most would mention Pinnacles National Park. One should note that there are no cafes within the park and that the nearest town with cafes and restaurants would be Cervantes or Lancelin. Therefore, one should be prepared to pack some food or snacks along the way as it is a 2.5h drive from Perth.
We have skipped the visits to most of the museums as Ashley loves the nature and hence we planned for more animal interactions and walks in National Parks for her to fully enjoy the nature away from the bustle in Singapore.
Planning for a road trip with a toddler is never easy and requires many thoughts and considerations. This year, we planned yet another 2 weeks long road trip around Sydney to escape the 365-day long summer in Singapore.
Upon arriving in Sydney Airport on the first day, we drove on to our first pit stop of the trip, Martys at Little Beach located at Nelson Bay which took around 2 hours 45 minutes. This was not a very wise choice as we realized that (1) there is nothing much at Nelson Bay for a toddler to do and (2) accommodations around Port Stephens and Newcastle have strict regulations that children between 2-12 of age are required to have a bed of their own (most other hotels/motels typically allow children of the same age to stay for free if they are sharing the existing bedding). Fortunately, we only had to spend one night before we proceed on to Port Macquarie the next morning.
Port Macquarie is a beautiful place to visit for families with young children with its local attractions such as Koala Hospital and Roto House. There is a big grass area around Roto House that the little one can run around freely. Another place in Port Macquarie that shouldn’t be missed by young children is the Pancake Place. There is a nice corner set up for children with stuffed toys and story books during their time there.
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It has been slightly past two months since we came back from our 3-week vacation in the U.S.A. I finally found time to write this post and share on our experience for this road trip with our little princess, Ashley, who is now 2 and a half years old. Although this was not the first road trip that we have had with Ashley, this was by far the longest road trip as we made a round trip from Philadelphia to Niagara Falls in just one week. Many considerations were put in place when we planned this road trip such as deciding the stop-overs for Ashley’s meal and leg stretches wherein she would be able to run free and not be stuck in the car for 3 to 4 long hours continuously.
Our road trip started with the arrival at Philadelphia International Airport in the morning at approximately 9 a.m. Some may ask, “Why not JFK or NEW airport if you are going to the Niagara Falls?”. Well, my answer is simple. “Sesame Place” is in Philadelphia and since the distance from the New York airports to Niagara Falls does not differ much from Philadelphia, it seems like the most logical choice for us especially given the thought that Ashley would be ecstatic to see Elmo and friends.
For the first stop-over of the 1 week road trip, we stopped by Lehigh Valley Mall in Allentown for lunch and quick shopping as we were stumped by the cold temperatures in Philadelphia as opposed to the sunny Orlando which we were at earlier. Next, we drove on to the town of Corning, sadly to coincide with the closing time of Corning Museum as we had stayed longer in Lehigh than originally planned. We settled for a quick dinner at a Chinese restaurant before heading to our first pit stop of the trip, Microtel Inn & Suites by Wyndham Bath. It is a pleasant and simple inn for an overnight stay (generally clean room except for the mouldy showerhead in the toilet) with nearby eateries around such as Dunkin Donuts, Burger King and Pizza Hut. There is also a Walgreens within walking distance should you need to do some simple grocery shopping. Furthermore, Microtel Inn provides complimentary breakfast of coffee, tea, cereals and bread rolls that you can enjoy before you hit the roads.
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