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Mum and baby drive

Thursday, May 20, 2010
When Catriona Rowntree was growing up, she and her family would hop into the station wagon and head off on a school holidays road trip. She has happy memories of loads of activities and loud singing — possibly with lots of "are we there yets".

Now that she's a mum it's time to create new family holiday memories with husband James and their nine-month-old baby Andrew.

As all mums and dads know, if trips aren't planned and organised, they can be a nightmare, so Catriona and family headed to Victoria's Mornington Peninsula and promised to pass on helpful hints from their first family road trip.

Give the children a few of their favourite toys, snacks and play the kind of music they normally enjoy at home. Leave plenty of time to take breaks along the way on longer drives and time your departure to an hour before their usual sleep time. That way they should occupy themselves and then fall asleep — hopefully! Or on shorter trips, bundle them into the car at nap time and they will sleep for the drive.

Pack plenty of wet wipes, diapers, a change of clothes, sunscreen and hat. Have a pram or baby sling for getting around. Choose child-friendly accommodation with cots and high chairs and if the baby is sleeping in a separate room, pack the baby monitor. A room with bottle and baby food preparation facilities is a good idea, and ground-floor accommodation makes access easier with a pram and luggage.

Keep doors opening to balconies closed and make sure pool gates are closed.

Chat with other mums who have been on a holiday with a child or children around the same age as yours and they will no doubt pass on additional useful tips.

Peninsula Hot Springs

Just a 90-minute drive from Melbourne, Peninsula Hot Springs is Australia's only natural mineral hot springs and day-spa centre. Hot and cold mineral waters flow from underground and contain naturally occurring minerals, including sulphur, calcium, magnesium and potassium.

The hot springs come from an aquifer 637m below the surface, rising under its own pressure through a bore and pumped into pools. Temperatures vary from 37°C to 43°C.

The springs are set in 17 hectares of the rolling sandy dunes of The Cups in Rye. There are purpose-built baby pools where children play happily. It's all very international for grown-ups, with Japanese reflexology walks, a Swedish sauna and a plunge pool from Russia.

In December 2009 a new development opened and it focuses on health, beauty, relaxation and wellbeing. There is a range of private thermal mineral bathing pools and a luxury Spa Dreaming Centre with natural and integrated spa treatments and therapies.

There are public baths which don't require bookings.

Blue Moon Cottages

Also in Rye, Blue Moon cottages are run by a local family who understand what travelling parents need. They supply a portacot, linen and high chair, toys, games and DVDs for children. They have also installed night lights and safety plugs to keep inquisitive little ones away from harm.

The cottages are walking distance to shops and the beach, so pop the bucket and spade in the pram and head for the sand.

Catriona stayed in St Ives Cottage, a beautifully presented classic beachside cottage. The three-bedroom self-contained cottage has a deep spa bath, open fire in winter and sunny garden for warmer months.

Sandpiper is a charming log cabin cottage is perfect for a couple or small family. The two-bedroom cottage is on a block with two other cottages. It's completely private and fully self-contained and there's a closed wood-burning fire in the cosy lounge.

In summer French doors open to a sunny courtyard. There's a barbecue and setting for outdoor eating in warm months and plenty of firewood to keep you cosy when it's cold.

Sunny Ridge Strawberry Farm

The next new adventure for Andrew was to taste his very first strawberry. Sunny Ridge has half of its 300-hectare farm under strawberries, raspberries, cherries and blueberries.

From November to the end of April, Sunny Ridge throws the gates open for the public who can pick their own fruit. If you're short on time, fresh produce is available at the farm gate, dessert café and gift shop which are open year-round.

The owners told Catriona the darker the fruit the sweeter it is and that certainly worked for Andrew. He's now a fan of the healthy finger food which has more vitamin C than an orange.

Frankston Sand Sculptures

Every year between December and April, Frankston Waterfront is transformed with 3500 tonnes of sand which is carved into spectacular sculptures. Sculptors from around the world take part and every year it becomes a bigger and better exhibition. They work tirelessly for three weeks to create enormous but finely detailed sculptures depicting people, places and events.

There are plenty of activities to keep the whole family entertained and the little ones can get the bucket and spade out again and build castles.

Shops and the beach are 250m away so you can pack a picnic or eat in one of the local cafes or restaurants or stop for a drink at one of the many watering holes.

By the way, the family pet needn't miss out. Sandpiper welcomes well-behaved pooches and will even provide a kennel.

For more ideas for family holidays, get yourself a copy of Travel with Kidz from your newsagent.


Mornington Peninsula, a 90-minute drive from Melbourne.


Peninsula Hot Springs baths cost $30 at peak times and $25 off-peak. They offer early- and late-bird discounts. Children's entry is $20 and $15. Cost includes 20 bathing experiences. Spa treatments are $95 for 45 minutes and $115 for an hour. Robe, slippers, use of relaxation lounge and herbal teas are included. They are open between 7.30am and 10pm every day.

St Ives Cottage is $150 per couple a night. Check their website for other properties.

Frankston Sand Sculptures will open on December 26, 2010 and run until April 25, 2011.

Hertz has car rental from $47 a day.

For further information

Peninsula Hot Springs
Springs Lane
Fingal 3939
Ph: (03) 5950 8777

Blue Moon Cottages
12 Blakiston Grove
Rye 3941
Ph: (03) 9775 4722

St Ives Cottage
44 Field Street
Rye 3941

Sunny Ridge Strawberry Farm
244 Shands Road
Main Ridge 3928
Ph: (03) 5989 4500

Frankston Sculptures


Travel with Kidz
Ph: 1300 729 54

User comments
'Diapers' Here in Australia we call them nappies. We are not another state of the USA please stop using americanisms.
What were you thinking! You drove your car with your child while giving an interview which continually drew your attention away from the road and you took both hands off the wheel.
Catriona, you may be a new mother and willing to pass on tips to others but your action in your segment tonight was completely irresponsible. Driving a car with your young son in the back seat while you ake your eyes off the road and talk to a camera. At one stage you took both hands off the wheel! This is not about new motherhood - you just demonstrated a lack of common sense and endangered the like of your child. You should be charged by the Police and you and chanel 9 should make a public apology.
Just letting you know that I loved this segment with catriona and her baby, well done on the story good to see mums and babies featuring in getaway, i think it will inspire us mothers to travel more.
Peninsula Hot Springs ISN'T the only natural mineral hot springs in Australia! Come to Innot Hot Springs in Far North Queensland and find a lovely caravan and cabin park with its own mineral hot springs and choose which pool you go in. Yes we even have mineral hot springs in the outback and we've pretty much kept it a secret until now.
Just wanted to say let see more of Catriona and baby Andrew on their adventures. We need to see more REAL family holidays. That really warmed the heart. Thanks Catriona for sharing you beautiful son with us all .

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