Families Vs Wild is an opportunity to get up close to Victorian wildlife and flora with an expert. The experience is geared to empower the kids with new skills, notice telltale signs of animals and get out in nature. It’s also an awesome day out.
When: check the Families Vs Wild website for dates, the “Day Adventure” runs from 9am – about 3pm (we finished at 3.40pm)
Where: Cardinia Reservoir Park
Cost: $33 for adults, $17 for under 16, strictly limited to 12 places per trip (4 person minimum to run). Suitable for ages: 5 years and older
It’s only as an adult I can appreciate how free-range my childhood was… we had a block of land in the Dandenong’s that my parents “hobby-farmed” and my brother and I found that endlessly dull… what we didn’t mind though was slipping over the fence into the State Forest that surrounded the property and disappearing for hours on end.
If mum needed us she’d let off a coo-ee and she also figured that we’d come home when we were hungry enough. I am guessing I was about 11 and my brother 8 when we first ventured over the fence.
We had jeans on and gum boots and were told to always stomp to scare away snakes – we never noticed any BTW (I am sure if we had come home with a tale of a snake all forest adventures would have been kiboshed!). I have always had an uncanny sense of direction – and so somehow we never got lost even if we roamed off track for a few hours.
Despite the 100’s of hours I must’ve spent scrambling about fallen trees, scrubby undergrowth and rocky creeks – I am still a city girl at heart… I love being out in the country, but these days it’s a novelty. I feel a twinge of sadness that my children will probably never know what it’s like to be left to their own devices for hours on end to explore the wild.
Enter Families Vs Wild.
While the kids certainly wont be left to their own devices just yet, this is a wonderful way to get out into the bush with confidence.
We recently had the pleasure of joining Ben Kain on a day adventure in Cardinia Reservoir Park (only 45 min drive from the CBD). It was a day that will be long remembered.
We were blessed with a fine spring day and managed to spot kangaroos and quite a few different birds – and all manner of animal faeces. Ben had a handy “poo chart” which we could use to help us identify what animal may have left their calling card and surprisingly not all poo is the same, no no no. The kids (and adults to be honest) found this fascinating – I never imagined we could spend so much time seriously debating the shape, texture, colour and contents of poo.
Our walk through the Reservoir was very leisurely – and the path was easy to walk along. The kids were given some lessons in map reading and also using compasses, and Ben tested them whenever we got to a fork in the path – by the end they seemed to know what they were doing (sort of).
All up we walked for maybe three hours before stopping to make lunch. During the morning I had packed a couple of snacks for the kids (along with water bottles) and they did eat the snacks along the way – but it wasn’t really until we got back to the carpark to collect our ingredients for lunch that we realised how much time had passed and suddenly how hungry we were.
For lunch we went to a picnic spot about 15 minute walk away – which was great because when we returned to get our lunch supplies we found the previously empty carpark was now filled with 100 cars – and the local picnic space was filled with families as far as the eye could see. Ben took us up a path to a spot and we had it all to ourselves, and the tables were undercover.
Lunch making was camp style.. Ben patiently stepped us all through the process of making camp pizza. Setting up the stove, getting our ingredients sorted, making the dough – all up it was pushing 2pm by the time we ate. It was the best pizza ever. I should mention that at that point I was close to eating my own arm off, so my Masterchef judgement skills may have been slightly warped, but the kids have since asked if we can make it again at home.
We finished lunch with the kids playing the Chocolate Game for dessert. Ben had an assortment of clothing for them to dress in, some dice and a Mars Bar. Unfortunately my kid was the only one who had ever played the game before and whilst she was the last one to throw a double, she had her dressing tactic down pat and managed to eat 3/4 of that Mars Bar before I could form any words of protest… I think the other kids may have stopped rolling the dice as they witnessed the incredible disappearance of dessert – and the realisation dawned on them that they weren’t getting a crumb. Charlie managed to throw the next double and he pulled out all the stops to get that last morsel of Mars Bar. I am sure for some this victory would be a thrill – but I can tell you I wished that hillside would have opened and swallowed me up, oh the shame… and other family, I do hope your kids recovered from that fateful Mars Bar incident of 28 August 2016. I am not sure I will ever get that mental picture out of my mind #redface. I never realised my daughter was competitive – but there you go, there is a streak in there and it’s alive and kicking!! (And mum if you’re reading this, don’t worry – she decided that all the chocolate was making her sick so she spat it out.. therefore negating her win – Charlie was very happy to “do a Bradbury” and take the victory.)
On that note we packed up our lunch camp site and made our way back – taking about 40 minutes to walk the scenic route back to the carpark (in the hope of talking to some frogs).
Back in the car we were all red-cheeked from the fresh air and maybe a little tired… in fact Charlie fell asleep when we got on the freeway.
Before we set off we said our goodbyes and there was no need for me to prompt anyone to say thank you to Ben, Charlie gave Ben a big hug and Immi made a speech on behalf of all of us! A sign of a very successful day out indeed. (Speechmaker – who is this child??)
It’s easy to go on a bush walk – but it’s a very different experience if you go with someone who knows stuff.
We learnt so many things and saw things that otherwise would have gone unnoticed – and the cooking of lunch on a camp stove was an experience that we as a family have not had before either. A gorgeous day out – connecting with nature, slowing down the pace and learning some new things about each other too.
For more information and to book, visit the Families Vs Wild website.
Disclaimer: Meetoo was invited to experience Families Vs Wild. All views are our own. All details were correct at time of publishing.