Friday, 26 August 2016

About the Mini Adventure Project

(better late than never)

Mini Adventures for Mini Families.

There are so many inspirational adventurers out there. Their big climbs, long runs, crazy jumps and endless cycles are of epic proportions. I have dipped my toe in the immenseness of this world and have always wanted to do more. However, as it inevitably does for most of us, ‘life’ takes over and those dreams of adventure slowly get put on the back burner.

My ‘life’ now is a young family, a mortgage and an office job. For a long time, my husband and I have imagined the spectacular trips our family will take when our kids are old enough. But recently, that has seemed further off than ever.

Happily, inspiration from the likes of Alistair Humphrey’s Micro Adventures and the Exerk weekly adventures around London of Annie Ross set me on my way. My inner adventurer spent a while skipping along and singing ‘yippie!!’ at the thought of all these wonderful ideas until my inner realist gently reminded me that I had a family, mortgage and an office job. How would I fit all this lovely adventuring in along with all of those? I wanted my adventuring to enhance my life and not have to spend hours training for just a single event. Above all, I wanted my family to be involved. With these ideas, a plan started to form and The Mini Adventure Project (MAP) was born. I will be taking mini, mostly local adventures, every week. Some will be with my mini family, some will be sans kids with my husband and some (gasp) may even be solo.

I hope, by sharing these little outings, that I can inspire other families to have a more adventurous life. And who knows, maybe one day, those adventures will get bigger? 

Some of my pre-kid adventures

Thursday, 25 August 2016

Adventure 6 - The one with lots of naps

Where: Paruna Wildlife Reserve

When: August 2016

My Adventure Companions: The Giant Baby, my hiking buddy and her little boy.

“Who takes six hours to do five kilometres?” I scoffed

The info on the Paruna Wildlife Reserve suggests it may take between three and six hours to do their cutely named mid-length trail, the Quenda (which is actually 6.5km). It is an absolutely gorgeous spot and with all the wildflowers, spectacular view and little detours to strategically placed lookout points, I now understand how someone may want to take six hours on the trail.  

My hiking buddy first told me about the Paruna Wildlife Reserve after she read a review back in January this year. It looked beautiful and we were both keen to visit but had shelved the idea until now because it is only open during the winter months. After a number of delays and a few weeks of sickly families we were both pretty excited to be finally getting out there. The countryside around Paruna has rolling hills, a deep valley with the River Avon running through it and, most importantly for mums of boys, a train line. It makes for a stunning drive and wonderful walking. The sunny but cool weather today was just the icing on the cake. 

We walked and chatted and marveled at the scenery, taking photos as we went. We stopped around mid-way to let the boys down for a little bit and feed The Giant Baby. Sitting on the trail steps in the middle of a field of purple and white wild flowers on a sunny winters day was bliss. After weeks of snotty colds and interrupted sleep, I felt refreshed again. After our mid way stop, we picked up the pace a little, passing the rocky pools, walking way up above the train line and through a multitude of different landscapes. We even to stumbled upon a handful of wide eyed wallabies no more than twenty meters away from us. They stood around for a bit, eyeing us up, before speeding off over the hill.

It was a challenging walk for me but I thoroughly enjoyed it. I would love to come back again and do the shorter, flatter walk with the whole family. I think that it would be just right for Mini Monkey. There’s a lot to explore with some lovely spots to have lunch and I think Mr MAP would enjoy the car ride out there.   

Comments from The Giant Baby: It was a grand day for napping. Car ride, nap. Tula ride, nap. Food, nap. Car ride, nap. Bed with my favourite Ellie, nap. And all before tea time. Such a lovely way to spend a day.  

Opening Hours: May to November

Cost: minimum $10 donation – pay ahead of access to obtain pedestrian gate access code [instructions on website]. 

Adventure 5 - The one with lots of bubbles

Where: Magpie Path, Kings Park

When: August 2016

My Adventure Companions: The Giant Baby, Mini Monkey and a tribe of Hike it Baby families.

“Who like bubbles?”

Mini Monkey absolutely loves bubbles (the soapy, non-alcoholic kind). Specifically, he loves chasing after them and trying to catch them. I had seen other Hike it Baby branches do ‘Bubble Hikes’ and thought that this weekend was a great opportunity to try one out. At the very least, Mini Monkey would have fun. I think I have been having a little bit of burnout from hosting hikes recently. I’m running low on enthusiasm for trying to find new places in the hope of enticing other Hike it Baby families out. Without Mr MAP there for the weekend, I decided to give myself a little grace this weekend and visit Kings Park again as it’s only 10 minutes’ drive for us.

We had three other families join us with kids ranging from sixteen months to five years old. One of the other mums pointed out that all the kids were boys. Was that a coincidence or do young boys really have so much energy that their parents feel the need to join forces with other families to wear them out on a weekend?

We started blowing bubbles about fifty meters up the path and really didn’t get much further. The boys had a blast running up and down the path, following the bubbles as they floated away. The giggles of glee in the unexpected sunshine were wonderful. I had so much fun, laughing with the other parents and blowing bubbles for the kids that I forgot to take any pictures.

Comments from Mini Monkey: Bubble bubbles bubbles squeeee!   

Opening Hours: Always open

Cost: free 

Sunday, 14 August 2016

Adventure 4 - The one with the singing frogs

Where: The Spectacles

When: August 2016

My Adventure Companions: The whole MAP family including Velcro Dog and another Hike it Baby family*

“Let’s give it a go without the hiking pack today”

This weekend we went on one of my favorite, toddler friendly hikes and thought Mini Monkey would be happy enough to walk for most of the way on the flat, firm path. Unfortunately it was one of ‘those’ days so not only did he not want to walk but he also needed a few cuddles for persuasion. After a few ‘sit down negotiations’ and some edible bribery he decided that there were lots more interesting things to be seen from Mr MAP’s shoulders and agreed to go ‘up’.  I’d like to say that the pace picked up after that but it didn’t. This is what hiking with a toddler is all about. For me, today was about watching Mini Monkey feel the ferns, realise that his beloved honey is made by bees and see him have a good old chat about sticks with Mr MAP.

The Giant Baby is finding the world a very interesting place now and is getting very good at resisting naps. No more napping in the car on the way to hikes and no more napping on hikes unless there is the constant rhythm of continuous walking (clearly not today). After looking pretty perky for over two hours beyond his regular nap time, he finally gave in and fell asleep on my back just as we rounded the last bend before the car. To prolong this tiny gift of a nap, I left Mr MAP and Mini Monkey at the car with another snack and took our Hike it Baby friends to see the swamp. I have been along the board walk to the bird hide in the swamp several times before but this was the first time I had ever heard the wonderful chorus of insects and frogs that were singing today. It was so peaceful. Or maybe it was because there were no toddlers within earshot? Either way, it was a very relaxing end to a gentle adventure. 

Edit: I had wanted to add a lovely video of the singing frogs but sometimes I'm techncally challenged (I can hear Mr MAP scoffing at the word 'sometimes') and I couldn't post the video (yet). One day I may figure this out and I'll come back and add it (promise). 

Comments from Mini Monkey: Trees have sticks. Bees make honey for Monkey. I want stick...Please?

*I run the Perth branch of Hike it Baby so many of our mini-adventures are going to be Hike it Baby hikes and other mini families.

Opening Hours: Never closed

Cost: Free

Wednesday, 10 August 2016

Adventure 3 - The one where a tradition was passed on

Where: The Pinnacle, Mount Wellington, Tasmania

When: August 2016

My Adventure Companions: Mr MAP, Mini Monkey, The Giant Baby, Adventure Jane, Grandma and Grandpa

“You know it’s going to be freezing down there in August, right?”

We had been invited to Tasmania to attend a friend’s wedding and, having lived in the Middle East for over 10 years, Mr MAP is not overly fond of cold climates. When we arrived in Hobart and I saw snow at the top Mount Wellington I just knew we had to go up there and show Mini Monkey. Equipped with snow gear for the boys and lots of layers for the rest of us we drove up the windy road to the top. The Mini-Adventure gods must have been looking kindly upon us as the rangers were just on their way down from opening up the road. Once we were all rugged up, Grandpa and Mr MAP showed Mini Monkey the family secret of how to make a good snowball and had him practice on Adventure Jane and Grandma. Despite only being two, Mini Monkey has deadly accurate aim (at short distances) and had great fun pelting everyone with snowballs handed to him by his father. 

Comments from The Giant Baby: Snow suits are rubbish. I can’t move in this contraption. I heard them laughing at me and calling me a ‘starfish’. I don’t know what a ‘starfish’ is, but it can’t be good.

Opening hours: Wellington Park is always open, excepting in extreme weather (including snow or ice cover).

Cost: Free

Bonus Adventure – The one with three wet feet

The hour and a half drive down to the Tasman National Park form Hobart was superb. It takes you down undulating roads, along-side rugged bays and through dense forests. Our first stop in the park was The Blow Hole. I had envisaged a spectacular display of the force of nature with water booming up in a massive fountain. Due to the pleasant weather we were experiencing, the reality was more of a wet thud with a bit of splash. 

Our second stop of the park was the Tessalated Pavement. This is essentially flat rock beach (a wave cut platform, for those of us with an inner geek) with formations on the rock which look like loafs of bread. Mini Monkey loves climbing on rocks so this adventure was right up his street. Obviously, between the loafs are cracks and in the cracks are pools of water. It was only a matter of time with that many rock pools before Mini Monkey decided he needed to be in one. Wet Foot Count: two. I don’t often take my camera out with us so I was having a great time trying to take photos of the family and not paying attention to where I was putting my feet. Wet Foot Count: three. 

Comments from Mini Monkey: I like puddles. I like to jump in puddles. I don't like wet socks. The puddles near the water were cold. Green rocks are slippery. I couldn't find any crabs or ottopusses.

Opening hours: no regular restrictions

Cost: Free for these attractions 

Monday, 1 August 2016

Adventure 2 – The one where we bounced for a bit and then had Korean

Where: Just Jump, Wanneroo, WA

When: July 2016

My Adventure Companion: Mr MAP

“Really? I didn’t know you did that!”

Mr MAP and I had done a lot of adventuring before we met, which means that every so often something crops up in conversation that we never knew about each other. In this instance it was that Mr MAP was reasonably proficient at gymnastics during his school years. Having never done anything other than bounce up and down a couple of times on a backyard trampoline, I decided that I’d like to have a go on a proper one so off we went on a ‘date’ (i.e. without the mini people) to a trampolining center. We enjoyed ourselves immensely, mostly just bouncing up and down like pogo-sticks and giggling, sometimes lobbing a ball at the basketball hoops and pretending we were Slam Ball aficionados. Mr MAP even demonstrated some flips into the foam pit (but forbade me from putting the video on the internet). Bouncing around is surprisingly hard work so we decided to call it a day after about 20 minutes and headed out to a nice Korean restaurant for some bibimbap and a beer.

As a quick aside, if you are looking for something to do with older kids, there was a tween/teen parkour course going on whilst we were there. They all looked like they were enjoying the facilities and the instructor. 

More details:
Address: 1/637 Wanneroo Rd, Wanneroo, 6065, Western Australia, Australia
Opening hours: hours vary between term time/holidays but they are open weeknights until 7 or 8pm. 
Cost: $15 for an hour