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Friday, January 30, 2015

Telstra 'Cyber Safety – Balancing Screen Time' Survey

Telstra has released a survey just this week called 'Cyber Safety – Balancing Screen Time' and here is what they say about the topic:

As a parent, it may be difficult to know where to start when it comes to instilling family values in relation to children’s online activity. How much time online is too much? How can you set reasonable limits? And more to the point, how can you enforce them?
The release of our Cyber Safety – Balancing Screen Time survey this week is a timely reminder about the important role parents have in setting a positive digital media example for their children.
‘Balancing screen time’ means being aware of how to balance time spent online with all of life’s other activities such as getting enough sleep, exercise, school work, hobbies, face-to-face time with friends and family, and other important tasks.
The survey asked more than 1000 Australian parents of children aged 3-17 about their own use and their children’s use of devices. In a unique aspect, the Survey also asked more than 500 Australian children aged 12-17 about their own use and perceptions of their parents’ use of devices.
Surprisingly, or maybe it’s not surprising to some, 65 per cent of parents surveyed do not think they’re good technology role models. The survey also revealed that 50 per cent of children say their parents are good technology role models. So while kids have a more positive view of their parents than their parents have of themselves, 10% of kids still believe their parents spend too much time on their devices.
The correlation between parents’ and children’s online behaviours is demonstrated in some further statistics from the survey include:
  • 66 per cent of parents admit to using devices in front of the television; compared to 71 per cent of children;
  • 50 per cent of parents ‘second screen’ between 7pm-9pm during school nights; compared to 41 per cent of children; and
  • 15 per cent of parents use devices during meal times compared to 19 per cent of children.
Maybe it’s a case of do as I say, rather than do as I do, but with millions of Aussie kids about to return to school, we’re encouraging parents to be mindful of the example they set and talk to children about ways they can balance their digital lives.

Here are just some of the ways you can help balance your children’s screen time.

Agree limits

Talk to your children about the amount of digital time they’re living and then, based on what you agree is a healthy balance, set ‘switched off’ times of day. Help your children create a media use roster allocating blocks of time for homework, chores and their screen time.

Be an offline supporter

Support and encourage your kids in activities that don’t involve a digital device. A ball game or reading a book are all great ways to show kids how they can enjoy themselves without a mobile, tablet or computer.

Set family rules

Make sure you’re seen as a positive example. Do you want the dinner table to be a device-free zone? If so, then have everyone (including Mum and Dad) turn off their mobile phones and devices during dinner, or when taking part in family activities. Children are happier following rules if everyone in the family plays by them.

Turn off devices before bedtime

Lack of sleep can affect alertness, concentration and memory. For a better night’s sleep try encouraging children to switch off at least one hour before bedtime. Create a charging station and charge all household devices in the one spot overnight.

Make the most of parental controls

Many parental controls tools allow you to set time-of-day restrictions on children’s device usage. We recommend Telstra Smart Controls® for mobile devices and Telstra Online Security for your home network.

Consider the difference between types of screen time

Not all screen time is created equal. Think about the differences between using a device for homework or creative expression versus using it for passive entertainment.

What do YOU think about the findings?

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Seaworld: Autism-Friendly REVIEW + PHOTOS

This post originally appeared on 'Our Autism Adventures' blog page, sister blog to Josie's Juice.

Visting Seaworld in Queensland, Australia as part of our first big family holiday adventure was an event we highly anticipated. However, as a mother of a special needs child (my son Rafael has mild autism), my husband and I were a little worried about how he'd perceive particular attractions at the theme park.

As we were staying at the adjoining Seaworld Nara Resort (an incredibly beautiful, medium-priced hotel), the Seaworld theme park was our first stop, the second we arrived, changing into our cossies and leaving our bags with the wonderfully friendly hotel concierge.

We headed in, armed with the park map and hopping onto the adjacent monorail (the first of its kind opened in Australia by QLD pollie Sir Joh Bjelke-Petersen), and there we were in a aqua park heaven.

Heavily themed with all the kiddie fave Nickelodeon characters including Spongebob Square Pants, Dora The Explorer, and many more, it's an instant fave with the kids. And my TV aficionado twins were no exception.

As all good theme park experts will tell you: check the times of all the shows and happening of the day so you maximise your day there. You will become an expert in an instant, and park staff can help you find where everything is, plus all the clearly marked signs around the park.

A little tip: have the kids (and you!) dressed in either swimming costumes with little cover ups, or quick-dry fabric clothes; you'll need to dry up quickly when you go on the famed Castaway Bay and Viking Revenge rides.

Halfway through the day (and I know readers of this blog will relate), it was proving difficult to wrangle my son's demands to be a part of the action. (My son has a mild autism diagnosis, and his perception of what's possible and what he can participate in is sometimes skewed) So, for example, we'd see the amazing daredevil ski-jump show, and he'd want to be a part of it, not understanding that the danger level to participate is very high (and it's not even possible for the audience, bar some audience interaction with the performers on the edge of the water/arena).

The same went for seeing dolphin show - it got tricky with explaining he could not be a part of that show.

I did uncover however, thanks to the super lovely, helpful staff, a daily special needs program run by Seaworld. Here is some information on the program:

 -  the cost is $114.99, and the program duration is 45 minutes in total, with 20 of those minutes in the water. Each participant must have a carer with them (mum or dad or a guardian) who can participate free of charge (as they are there purely to assist).

A photo is included in the price, and the DVD of your experience is an optional extra, at $24.99. (This information is correct as of 14 January 2015, and is subject to change).

Before booking, it's highly recommended guests contact the Seaworld Guest Services team on 07 5588 2423, and they will be able to better assist with further information on the program.

Here are some photos from Seaworld, as well as my own happy snaps (taken on my new iPhone 6 - I am so pleased with the shots).

Oh, and for more on Seaworld including ticketing and accommodation and showtimes, scroll down for link.

Would I recommend Seaworld to families? Absolutely. In a heartbeat. So, so much to do. Get there early, grab a map, and plan your day. If you are staying next door at Seaworld Nara Resort (and I recommend you do), it's a super short stroll to the monorail. The theme park is attached to the hotel. And the hotel itself? Fantastic. Kids will love the nighttime fun in the hotel waterpark, and just quietly, the spa is heaven after-hours.

Keen on seeing the other famed theme parks there (Movieworld, Seaworld, Wet 'n' Wild)? Go the multi pass! Click here to buy.

For questions on marine life at Seaworld and how they're looking after them, click here.

The seal show below! So much fun:

The Dora show! Must-see. And, look out for the meet and greet also available post-show:

Ohhh, Seaworld Nara Resort breakfasts. To-die. Yum:

Hello, breakkie pastries!

The Penguin Encounter! You will love watching how these cute critters interact. Go at feeding time!

The famous Affinity dolphin show:

The truly hilarious 'Fish Detectives':

Dora meet and greet!

My kids at the Dora and Diego meet and greet! They were stoked:

The view from our room:

The truly fun waterpark. Open all day. Closes at night. Then open again for a mini waterpark disco:

The characters pop into the Seaworld Nara Resort hotel lobby for a snap:

More meet and greet!

Helicopter rides. Ask at the hotel desk:

Ninja Turtle fun:

A note on getting the airport: we used Town Cars (see - call the 24 hour call centre (Sydney metro area) on 02 8874 5000. Go to this link for more info and to book. It's an affordable, fuss-free way to get to the airport. The best part? You don't need to leave your car in an airport carpark for days, and the bonus is that for kids with special needs, it's a low-stress experience.

For more info on Seaworld, click right here.

Our Autism Adventures was a guest of Gold Coast Tourism. For all your GC needs and questions, click here.

You guys, there is a reason the sunny Gold Coast is famous for families - it is kinda unbeatable, and there are a gazillion things to do. To that end, next up: more QLD theme park reviews, on TwinnieWorld and Josie's Juice. There's so much to do, so much we got up to! Stay tuned for more.

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Pat McDermott: 'Family Matters' Book - Interview

One of the Australian Women's Weekly's most adored contributors - 30 years and still going strong! - has released her book called 'Family Matters', based on her three decades of columns for the iconic magazine. Pat McDermott's much-loved 'Family Matters' saga has unfolded on the last page of The Australian Women's Weekly for all these years, much to the delight of dedicated followers. Her hilarious observations on her own family (five kids!) and their dramas, from toilet-training to weddings and beyond (grandchildren!), her long-suffering husband (MOTH, the Man of the House), an endless succession of beloved and badly behaved pets and just about every situation a couple or family can find themselves in, have kept readers amused and entertained every month since 1984.
Now these generations of readers can relive their favourite 'Family Matters' moments and new fans can be charmed by Pat's warm, laugh-out-loud anecdotes and confessions in this book.

This is the perfect book for every imperfect family - a treasure trove of wisdom, love and laughter from one of Australia's most adored chroniclers of family life.

"Children between the ages of twelve and 25 find parents embarrassing 95 per cent of the time. Any younger and they're so uncritical they think you look good in swimmers. Any older and they drop in just long enough to leave their laundry and borrow $50. If you want to embarrass your kids you have to strike when they're teenagers," says Pat.
And here, Pat sits down for Josie's Juice (TwinnieWorld sister site - reproduced her for you, dear readers) to answer questions about family matters, and why family matters.
Interview with Pat McDermott:
You really are an Australian national treasure - do you feel like an Aussie now that you've been here from Canada for all these years? 

      I admit it did take me awhile to find my feet and get used to the summer heat. It seemed that every bit of clothing I had packed was WRONG! But now I’ve been here for 40 years and I cheerfully admit to tearing up when I hear ‘Advance Australia Fair’ ( I really like it!), enjoying a green Christmas and developing a hybrid accent - I use all the right words but probably still sound a little different.  I think having my babies here, going through all their school years, making so many friend along the way has made me a real Aussie. One of my kids is a member of the Australian Defence Forces - and I am very proud of that. It really is possible to love two places and it helps that Canada and Australia are alike in important ways. It’s true…home is where your heart is. My heart and my family is in Australia.

      You have such a huge following as a columnist for AWW - surely this is some kind of publishing record… have you looked into that? 

It has been suggested that 30 years of Family Matters makes me the world’s longest running columnist. However, somewhere in the world there might be another writer bashing away at their keyboard for longer. I don’t like to risk making a grand claim.  I never forget running up with my ticket at a school fundraiser, thinking I had won the raffle with Green B12, only to find the real winner was Yellow B12.  It was a long way back to my table! I will opt for modesty here - but I think deep down…I may be the champ.

What are the systems you had in place to manage the raising of five kids? Some tips and tricks and how you get all those schedules (plus your own) in place. 

Everyone’s family and situation is different. But here are some things that worked for me and still do!

a) A sturdy filing cabinet. We have a red one with five big drawers - one for each child. All their medical records, school reports, most interesting art work, merit awards, ribbons and any other important documents went in their file.  I could put my hands on their vaccination records in 5 seconds flat. No one ever missed a school camp or excursion. It went on to hold passports (GAP years), CV’s, applications, university papers, references and many other important/interesting information.

b) I have a large white board on the wall in my kitchen. ‘If you want to be dropped off or picked up…put it on the board.’ They also listed food or birthday presents to be bought, school concerts, birthday parties, sports days etc. 

c) I have always kept a diary. I carry it everywhere. I learned to do this as a young journalist and I would be lost without it. Every mum should have a diary. It makes life so much easier. 

d) Be organised personally as well as professionally. I remember a teacher telling me he could always tell a kid from a big family - they brought their notes back on time.  Perhaps the more kids you have the more organised you are.  I worked to deadlines in my work life I was used to meeting them elsewhere as well.  I hate missing things or arriving late. I wanted my kids to feel the security of an organised home life. 

e) Buy a collection of good-sized, sturdy plastic bins. I have five with a child’s name on each. This is an updated version of the lovely chests described in the classic ‘Little Women’. One bin per child to be filled with their personal memorabilia. Mine are fully loaded….merit awards, school ties, photos, weird art work, all the lovely stuff from their school years. They don’t want their boxes yet….but they will!

f) Participate. Put your hand up to help with the cake stall, the P&F, the soccer team. When you contribute you learn and grow and I have friends from those days who are still very dear to me and me to them. Your kids will love it and if you do have a criticism or a suggestion it will be much better received if you actually put your shoulder to the wheel as well. PS: put your volunteer experience on your CV.
g) Sort your wardrobe. It’s better to have a small collection of clothes that work that heaps of random stuff on hangers. I want to be able to dress in minutes. I was fanatical about keeping the kids’ clothes in good order and ready to go. Hideous trying to get ready for some function or event and the one thing you (or they) need in the wash. I washed EVERY day for years. I IRONED endlessly while I watched movies at 1am. 

On the whole, the little McDermotts  were in the right place at the right time.  The MOTH?? That’s another story.

      As a grandmother (how many grandkids?), do you impart your tips to your kids?
      At this moment I have two little granddaughters.  I am hoping for many, many more!  I follow my late mother-in-law’s advice….zip the lip!  She was a huge support to me over the years but resolutely refused to offer advice. If I asked her for tips or suggestions or just confided a problem I had, she would think quietly, reassure me that all would be well in the end and then, sometimes, gently tell me something that had worked for her.

      Have there been moments when your kids - and even grandkids - have been a little mortified at stories you've recounted?

      I hope not. Perhaps the boys were a little critical at one time or another. Some anecdotes and stories include our own experiences and those of other families and friends.  Sort of a lovely, mushy mix of everyone’s lives.  On occasion, one or the other of my kids would wag a finger at me to say ‘NOT THIS ONE!’ 

      What does MOTH think of all your success? 

      He seems a little bemused. He is a rather quiet, self-contained fellow except when he is telling (and re-telling) very bad ‘DAD’ jokes. He is famous for forgetting punch lines which actually gets him more laughs than his jokes. He thinks I am just a little crazy and over-the-top. Sometimes he winks at the family and blames it all on me being from ‘blizzardly cold Canada.’ 

      How does it feel to have many of your stories now published in a book?

      It’s a lovely feeling to hold a nice, solid, good looking book with your name on the cover. (“Almost as good as a nice cold beer,” says the MOTH.) I have had two other books published some years ago. One of some very early stories and another called Pardon My Parenting - both out of print. But ‘Family Matters’ is by far the best looking and the most comprehensive because it covers many years of columns from older ones to ones just published. Choosing the columns to include was very hard…rather like naming your favourite child….when you love them all the same!  It also makes me feel rather organised to see them all in one place.  I must put a copy in the filing cabinet!

      Pat McDermott is a long-running journalist for The Australian Women's Weekly and author of the weekly column, Family Matters.

Pat McDermott is the author of FAMILY MATTERS, published by Allen & Unwin, RRP $32.99, on sale now

Friday, January 16, 2015

Bobble Art Products + 20% OFF offer!

Gosh I love Bobble Art!

It's cute, it's artsy, and it appeals to all age groups of kiddies - some would say adults and kidults, too!

The brand is a quality range of stylish Australian-designed bags, accessories and stationery for kids. Each unique collection features loveable characters and toys that inspire creativity and imagination.

The Bobble Art range comes in 12 unique collections, each offering stylish and quality collectable products ranging from lunch boxes, drinks bottles, travel and accessories, stationery, hair accessories, jewellery, homewares, umbrellas, craft and creative play items.

Here are just some of the designs (then scroll down for an offer available to readers of TwinnieWorld and Josie's Juice, the sister site to this one):

All collections are of the highest quality, providing adorable solutions for your child’s everyday needs. The pretty and practical creations ensure that school, travel and stationery needs are not just provided for but inspirational; helping reflect your child’s unique personality.

Bobble Art products are made to last from the highest quality materials and are all adorned in loveable designs that are instantly identifiable in the playground; at home and ‘on the go’.

All Bobble Art products are aspirational and highly desirable, enabling children to build a collection from its ten collections.

The Bobble Art collections are available to purchase online at and at retail stores located in St Ives Shopping Village (NSW), Rhodes Waterside Shopping Centre (NSW), Melbourne Emporium (VIC), Indooroopilly Shopping Centre (QLD), Highpoint Shopping Centre (VIC), Chermside Shopping Centre (QLD) and Westfield Miranda (NSW).
Prices range from $4.95-$129.95 depending on the product.

And now, for the exclusive offer to readers of this site:

Bobble Art have the kids covered and have kindly offered readers 20% off with your unique code JosiesJuice20 which will be active until midnight on Saturday 24th January 2015. Go to NOW and go shopping, just in time for back to school goodies.

Christmas Lights Spectacular at Hunter Valley Gardens + Harrigan's Irish Pub and Accommodation: Review, Tips, Where To Stay In The Area

I have heard about the Christmas Lights Spectacular at Hunter Valley Gardens and until I visited I will confess I imagined a wonderful line up of local homes decorated with ample lights and Santas and a myriad of Christmas motifs.

How wrong I was!

Set up in the famed Hunter Valley Gardens, the largest gardens in Australia (yes!), the Hunter Valley Christmas Lights Spectacular is a world-class Christmas lights event, which is, frankly, kinda mind-blowing - for kiddies and adults alike.

Okay, so my tips to get the most out of it, upfront!

Get there when it opens! Yes, as soon as the gates open at 6.30pm (check for any times changes on the site). You will see the lights in the daylight/at dusk, which may not be as dazzling as night-time lights at first, but as you start to walk through the gardens you will appreciate how the lights look as the sun goes down, as sunset starts to sift through the majestic gardens.

Some more tips upfront, because that's what you came to read, right?

Have dinner before you venture in, or buy some light dinner snacks at the gardens (pide bread, hot chips, etc) as the whole walk through will take you at least one and a half hours. You will very likely stop and take photos and go on the rides (all the rides cost extra, and are not included in the admission price. The ferris wheel costs $25 for a family of four to ride, though it IS a long ride and it's HUGE! You get to see the whole gardens from up really, really high! So worth taking the ride) and there is a free kiddies show when you come into the park on the stage near the water/entrance. Check show times as they perform at least twice. This show is included in the admission price, and a great way to kick off your long walk through the gardens.

Take a camera that takes fantastic day and night time snaps. If you are using an iPhone, bring it fully charged - you will not stop taking pics! It's all sensational and snap-worthy! (Here are some of mine):

The Mega Bugs! 
More scary Mega Bugs! 

The spectacular entrance to the 12 Days of Christmas light and music show

The tribute to Sydney, in daylight, from afar. See it at night and be dazzled!

Also, if you come along to visit the gardens after Christmas, it's still as exciting and relevant - the festive lights are all there, and many of the themed light shows are not seasonal - for example, the Sydney harbour light display, a spectacular Eiffel tower, walking through an entire 'candy land' of sweet de-lights ;)

Plus, this year they have included the 'Mega Bugs' as part of the admission price from January. So, when the gardens re-open in January, the Mega Bugs are added and they are spectacular. Littlies will be fascinated and some may feign being frightened by them (I saw loads of kids yelp, but then come in for a much closer, fascinated look) and they truly are a bit of a marvel - they are so huge! These mechanised mega insects move their limbs, but are cordoned off, so really little kids won't freak out too much!

It's actually Australia’s largest animatronics bug display, and a first of its kind event display, giving you the chance to get up close and personal with numerous giant animatronic creatures, including an 8-metre Praying Mantis and a 4-metre butterfly, as they mimic lifelike insects. I loved it, as did the kids. This inaugural exhibition showcases everything from beetles, centipedes and cicadas, scorpions and snails

Highlights? They are all highlights - each and every corner of the park. By the time you finish, you will be truly dazzled and planning your next trip, I guarantee.

Organisers tell me they are planning a winter spectacular in July (so stay tuned with more information on that), and locals tells me that all year round Hunter Valley Gardens stage spectacular seasonal shows. For example, a rose spectacular in spring, and more.

The Hunter Valley Gardens village itself is so very beautiful. You can wander through here before you head into the gardens, but all the shops here close early, so there is time in between when the shops close and the gardens with the lights spectacular open to just sit in the park with a picnic dinner for example, or take a million photos in the glorious light. Here is just one of mine. Best natural light backdrop I have ever seen!

And now, inside the Christmas Lights Spectacular at Hunter Valley Gardens:

The kiddie's performance happens here at dusk, and in the evening

The Eiffel Tower - wait 'til you see it at night!

One of my fave parts of the gardens - fit for a princess!

Watching the free show, by The Scallywagz
A word about weather and the lights - the lights are cancelled if it is raining. With the temperamental Aussie summer, it may well rain in the evening when the gardens are due to open. Management really can't control this, which can be a problem if you are coming from out of town and have booked accommodation for the night. As you can imagine, it is something completely out of anyone's control.

It is highly advisable to check the weather forecast several days ahead of time. The gardens do not offer refunds for rainy weather conditions (if the rain starts while you are in the gardens, for example).

See what I mean? At dusk, the gardens come alive! By the time we hopped on the ferris wheel, we saw the entire park at sunset, and it was magical!

We stayed as guests of Harrigan's Irish Pub and Accommodation, which was a fantastic place to stay. A one minute drive up the road from the lights, it is super family friendly (I love that there is a free jumping castle within the grounds, plus a pool area and family friendly meals), it is one of several accommodation options just a few minutes drive from the gardens.

Click here for more info on Harrigan's and to book. The staff are super friendly (go to the bottle shop for wine tasting, and come back a complete expert about the area thanks to very knowledgeable staff!), and the huge, shaded dining/drinking area is perfect for a lazy afternoon feed and drinks, or early lunch. The dining area where breakfast is served keeps in with the theme of ye olde accommodation and the buffet breakfast options are delicious.

Here are some photos of Harrigan's:

Even the entrance to Harrigan's is spectacular, and set amongst vineyards

A little tip: the kitchen closes at 9pm, so if you see the garden lights show then come back famished, you'll have to head into nearby Cessnock for takeaway or get pizza delivered to your room by local takeaway venues. Again, Harrigan's staff were completely helpful in offering this young, hungry family tips on what/where to eat :)

More about the biggest festival light display in Australia:

There are 1.5 million (yes, million!) festive lights showcased in the one spectacular place.

Now in its eighth year, Christmas Lights Spectacular at Hunter Valley Gardens is definitely bigger and better than ever. This year the event welcomes five brand new displays, including themes from Alice In Wonderland, Winnie The Pooh and Candy Land.

The extravaganza not only consists of a record number of lights, but also plays host to Santa until 24 December, and a firework display on the event’s opening night, New Year’s Eve and Australia Day. With so many attractions, this event is the ultimate way to kick-start your family’s festive season and enjoy some school holiday fun.

Kyle McKendry, General Manager of Hunter Valley Gardens says, “This spectacle grows each year and 2014 is set to be our most innovative yet! It’s fantastic to see the excitement on a child’s face when they see the lights and meet Santa for the first time.  With so much to explore, the Christmas Lights Spectacular is the perfect family tradition.”

This year, explore, eat, drink and be merry with a variety of food and beverage stalls. Experience Christmas carols until the 24 December, performances from Little Scallywagz, a big ferris wheel or get your heartbeat racing on the bungee (rides from 21 November 2014)! Christmas Lights Spectacular will be dazzling every night from Friday 7 November, 2014 until Monday 26 January, 2015 (excluding Christmas Day and night). Gates will open at 6.30pm and will close at 10.00pm. Roaming entertainment and performances will be open for the duration of the night.

Highlight for 2015 - Hunter Valley Gardens will also be home to an amazing new event, Mega Bugs! Starting from January 3, 2015, at no additional cost you can come and see giant creatures from the underworld in the gardens. Featuring Spider-saurus and a towering eight metre high Praying Mantis, plus many more creatures that move and make noises. Mega Bugs is a one of a kind showcase of giant creatures from 1 metre to 8 metres high that will be excite, thrill and amaze the whole family. Perfect for your next school holiday adventure.

Prices for the Hunter Valley Christmas Lights Spectacular: 
Adult $25                                           
Children (4-15 yrs) $20
Children 3 yrs and under FREE
Family (2 adults + 2 children) $77
Extra Child (with Family Pass) $17
Day + Night Adult $44
Day + Night Child $21

To find out more about the Christmas Lights Spectacular, call 02 4998 4000. In the event of wet weather, please visit the Hunter Valley Gardens Facebook or Twitter page or contact Hunter Valley Gardens to find out if the Christmas Lights Spectacular will be open.

For more info, go here:

To buy tickets, go here.

For more on the event and more spectacular pics, go here:

All in all, I very highly recommended the Christmas Lights Spectacular at Hunter Valley Gardens. Kids will love it, but I also highly recommend it for couples, young teens, and the elderly. Crowds are busier before Christmas, so if you want a slightly less crowded experience, perhaps come in January, or come visit twice! I have never seen anything quite like it, and will be a regular guest each year. Tell your friends, and come visit! A spectacular, truly international-level event you will be dazzled by.

And now, some more pics, of the Hunter Valley area. Allow for more than a 24 hour trip to the area, but if a day is all you have you can see a lot still!

Here are some photos of the Hunter Valley Gardens:

And then, it was off to Tempus Two, just a few minutes away from the gardens:

The Smelly Cheese Shop - an absolute must for cheese lovers and all kinds of gourmet delicacies

The Tempus Two outdoor dining area

VIP wine tasting? Sure! You can do it at Tempus Two

Tempus Two wine tasting

Vineyards at Tempus Two

The star of the show: grapes! At Tempus Two

The renowned De Bortoli is a short drive nearby
For more on Hunter Valley travel, see this link for or this one called Wine Country in the Hunter Valley region. There is so much to do in this region (I haven't even mentioned the local zoo, and… more wine tasting). Allow yourself several days to immerse yourself in the heavenly region, which is around three hours (245.1 kmvia the Pacific Motorway.