/bɪ ə gʊd gɜ:l/ n. moniker of she who blogs here [also known as, bie]; adj. personal awesome advice to all female kiddos

meet the fam #thechennies

meet the fam #thechennies

We spent nine days in Melbourne and its surrounds this time (not including the two days spent travelling there and back) and it was expensive. Not unexpected, really. But we also tried to save wherever possible and realised there are some really great no cost activities, especially for children during this festive period. Some costs are to be involved, of course: accommodation (unless you can bunk with friends in the city), transport (walk everywhere?) and food (now it is really impossible to starve yourself or your kid, for that matter). Ready? Let's go!

1. First things first, Free City Tour
If you are familiar with Melbourne, you'll know that the first port of call for penny pinchers is the free City Circle Tram. A complete loop around central Melbourne with a turn off and back from Docklands takes around 48 minutes.

(Source: www.onlymelbourne.com.au)

Using the free tram, you can stop off at any of the stops and hang around for the other free activities.

2. Morning at Fed Square
Federation Square is a bevy of everything - people, happenings, restaurants and so on. Other than the obvious draw of free wifi at the square while lounging on deckchairs, there is the Melbourne Visitor Centre. With leaflets galore on everything going on in the city, you're bound to pick up a pamphlet at the centre even if you didn't think you needed one.

For parents though, the best spot to let the children run amok is at Birrarung Marr, next to the meandering Yarra River. There is a huge playground for littles to tear around, climb up, slide down, swing from: you get the idea.

My man and his two girls. They look comfy!

If the children prefer something less intense than torching calories, consider instead one of the free events at ArtPlay, an art centre for children. (If your tummy is rumbling, the kid-friendly Pony Cafe with its charming wooden rocking horses, right around the back of ArtPlay, will be a hit.)

We popped in for a look!

I was a little lazy to walk over for a snap. Please use your bionic eye to see the rocking horses! (Zoom function also can)

Relaxing by the Yarra is also a really nice way to will away the morning. We had a picnic at Alexandra Gardens after our cycling expodition along the river and Bielet had a ball of fun making friends with the seagulls.

3. Christmassy Afternoon
One tram stop away from Fed Square (or a short walk away if you don't want to squeeze with the tram hoards) is City Square, which was transformed into a Christmas wonderland. Dubbed Christmas Square, this area has so many photo points - meet-and-greet with jolly ol' Santa anyone? (timings apply) - and there are sound and light shows at night.

My little darlings with Mr Claus. Bielet has this thing about beards though, she playfully pulled Santa's beard as she said goodbye - exactly what she did when she was just 1yo on Santa's lap in NZ!

How festive!

Of all the Christmassy photo points, I requested for one with the signpost. HAHAHA. Love it!

There was a motley band of furry creature get-ups and Bielet went to ask the ones she fancied best for a photo. (Almost all, actually.) Not sure who they are though, any guesses?

The girls loved singing and spinning around to ring-around-the-rosies, then collapsing on the lawn!

Right across the road, there's also Melbourne Town Hall, which hosts various events and exhibitions. We got lucky because there was a free gingerbread village and children could ooh and aah at the familiar Aussie landmarks (the landmarks weren't named so we were slightly lost, of course). Entry is free, but gold coin donations are encouraged with all proceeds going to Make-A-Wish Australia. The team that created these are stupendous, I tell you!

There were real lights in the gingerbread stadium,

Moving carousel at Luna Park,

People in all shapes and sizes eating and browsing at the market,

And even horses at the race course!

I never had a thing for cut out boards, but these girls make them so fun. Hee.


Spot the gingy!

There were other photos where Bielet was smiling more sweetly, but Bieny is so blur here that I decided against the rest. FUNNY RIGHT!

Thereafter, hop a bit further down to Myers at Bourke Street Mall and have a bit of fun admiring their Christmas window displays. Really! We stood in queue for (I think) 5 windows. This year's was on Santa and the three bears, in the likeness of Goldilocks, and Bielet enjoyed it immensely. Our hands were (literally) full with the girls so we didn't take snaps, but here's one I dug out from my girls' trip to Melbourne with my mum and sis!

This was 5 years ago. They really do queue!

4. Evening at St Kilda
For the perfect sunset activity, definitely head to St Kilda Pier Breakwater for a close encounter with penguins. Apparently this colony broke away from the Phillip Island one which has nightly penguin parades. There aren't droves of birds like in Phillip Island, but for little children who have limited energy when the sun goes down and can't keep silent (in case the birds are disturbed), it seemed quite a waste of money to join the penguin parade anyway.

We were there close to sunset but it seems a lot brighter than the original as the photo has been edited to show ZX and the girls' faces more clearly!

"Shared promenade"

Making our way to the breakwater. Just follow the crowd!

We stayed at the breakwater for about an hour and a half max, but the girls got restless because it was so cold so we packed up and left. In that little time, we saw more humans than penguins but no matter, as the girls were really excited to see the penguins so close! Bieny kept cooing "bird, bird" whenever she caught sight of the penguin and she starting screaming when we moved away from the creature. Eep! Other than 5-6 penguins, we also saw a black swan swimming around and a flash of a water rat scuttle by in the water. Not bad for our free outdoor excursion, huh?

The swan!

Can you spot us? (Bieny is so funny)

One lone penguin

Then, there were two!

Edited again but their faces are still too dark!

Look for these volunteers in neon yellow vests if you have any questions on the penguins. They were really friendly - and knowledgeable!

Getting here is a bit tricky if you really are a stingypok, because it is rather far from the city (no free tram here) and takes 1.5hrs by foot. Of course, we didn't walk there so our tram fares from the city and later back to our hotel cost about AUD6-7 per adult (the girls went free).

Ps. St Kilda is also home to the famed Acland Street and its hipster cafes so walk around to soak up the vibe and consider having a nice dinner with the kids, or get a blast to the past at Luna Park, an outdoor amusement park which looks and feels like it's still in 1912 (when it was first built) - fees are per-ride basis so just wander around.

What a difference 6 years make! Back at the same spot with 2 kids now lol.


These are just some stuff we did and I'm sure we missed some other fantastic events. What are your favourite free activities in Melbourne?

[Read the rest of our Melbourne adventures here.]


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