If you are ever unsure of where to take the family or what to do on the weekend... then the Active in Parks 'What's on Outdoors' webpage is one for you!
Australia has some of the most beautiful and accessible outdoor spaces in the world, yet for every hour we spend on outdoor recreation, we spend over seven hours in front of screens watching television or accessing the Internet! (Missing Trees: The Inside Story of an Outdoor Nation. Planet Ark, 2013.)
Active in Parks is a program managed by the People and Parks Foundation working closely with community groups, schools, sporting clubs and other not-for-profits to support you, your family, and your workplace to get active and connect with your outdoor spaces. In order to meet the growing health needs of the Australian population, People and Parks Foundation has developed the new Active in Parks website, taking a multifaceted approach to promoting active outdoor living in Australia.
The Active in Parks program can help to:
• connect you to thousands of outdoor activities across Australia through our What’s on Outdoors database at http://www.activeinparks.org
• give you ideas to get your family, school or workplace outside and active
• provide resources to help community groups and organisations to run Active in Parks programs
• provide a platform to help community groups and organisations to promote their outdoor activities, programs and events
Active in Parks now reaches over 100,000 people Australia wide through the Active in Parks website featuring What’s On Outdoors, as well as our supporting partners.
Active in Parks have been awesome supporters of us here at Leap into Nature! Its great to be associated with like-minded organisations that see the immense value of getting people, kids and families outdoors and being active in our local parks and beyond.
See more here :http://www.activeinparks.org/
We have certainly had a busy time this week with two sessions out at Westerfolds Park in Templestowe. Lots of new and familiar faces! Our Monday session was a beautiful sunny day with lots of birdwatching with our new binoculars getting a great work out. We found Rainbow Lorikeets, Australian Magpies and watched a lovely White-faced heron glide in to land on a stag within the Yarra River. We discovered wombats and kangaroos live in the area as we found lots of their scats (poo!) around. Our nature-loving adventurous mums and kids took a detour along the river - a bit of off road pram work was required - but we all had a lovely walk admiring the peacefulness of the river.
Today was a busy session, and luckily the rain held out for us - although I had come prepared with lots of great rain play ideas!!
We enjoyed a longer walk today down to the Yarra River, crossing over Ruffey Creek and into a patch of remnant eucalypts. We set up 'camp' and went on a bug hunt. The kids were really in to it finding millipedes, slaters, moth casings, beetles, spiders and a friendly caterpillar. We created a sensory tray with lots of bark, leaves and sticks and made up stories with lots of different animal figurines.
Our next session is at Lysterfield Park - should be a great location for some nature discovery and play.... stay tuned for more details.
Leap into Nature has now been in action for one year! YAY... Happy Birthday to us :-) During that time we have had many enquiries and lots of families join our group for one or many sessions. Social media has definitely played a huge role in helping us gain momentum and spread the word to many families around Melbourne.
One of the other really important platforms for us has been the Active in Parks program. Active in Parks is a program managed by the People and Parks Foundation working closely with community groups, schools, sporting clubs and other not-for-profits to support families and workplaces to get active and connect with outdoor spaces. Through the new Active in Parks website - which takes a multifaceted approach to promoting active outdoor living in Australia - Leap into Nature has promoted all our upcoming events. Their website and the 'What’s on Outdoors' database at http://www.activeinparks.org allows us to streamline our session information to our members and to those new 'leapers' that are interested in joining us for the first time.
We love being part of the Active in Parks program and would also like to say a very special thank you to Active in Parks and People and Parks Foundation for awarding Leap into Nature with a 'Take it Outside' grant! This has allowed us to purchase fantastic nature exploration, nature study and scientific equipment to share with our Bush Playgroup, Junior Nature Club and hopefully soon our Leap into Nature school programs ... stay tuned for that one!!
If you need some more inspiration or other ideas to get you and your family outdoors head over to the Active in Parks website http://www.activeinparks.org/!
Tonight was our second Junior Nature Club adventure.. Yay! We had a fantastic walk through remnant bushland along the Yarra River at Westerfolds Park in Templestowe. We spotted a beautiful Tawny Frogmouth - where the kids learnt that while they look like an owl and kind of act like an owl and are nocturnal - they actually are not an owl...! They are part of the nightjar family which are actually more closely related to kookaburras!
We thought all the possums had a bit of a sleep in today/tonight as it wasn't until the end of our spotlighting adventure that we spotted about 15 Brushtail Possums - definitely ended the night with a bang! Such beautiful creatures!
While we spotted some wombat and kangaroo scats (poo) they weren't to be seen tonight... Hopefully next time :-)
We really thought we would have to cancel this morning given the weather forecast! We nearly did - but we stayed true to our 'rain, hail or shine' ... and it actually did rain, hail and shine!! Some lovely new families joined us for our wet, muddy nature adventure today.
We walked to the wetlands, looked for some wetland birds which we found with our new binoculars from our Active in Parks grant. We saw Purple Swamphens and a couple of lovely Black Swans.
Muddy puddles were obviously a major feature and attraction for the kids today, jumping, sitting in them, walking in them - running away to find more of them! They really are a fun and priceless form of entertainment for young children and a great simple way to connect with nature!
We did some cubby building, bug hunting, colouring in and oh yeah muddy puddle jumping and playing!
Our family recently took on a true nature adventure holiday - this is a short blog of what we got up to.
We started off at Fraser Island, which is a real treasure of a place! The vegetation is just so beautiful, and there is a real feeling of an (mostly) untouched ancient land as you travel through. The only way to get around and see things is through 4WD - so we thought we would make it a real adventure and hire one ourselves - this gave us the freedom to stay as long or as short in places as we liked and the kids could sleep if they needed to. They were bouncing around like teabags most of the time but they thought that was quite a bit of fun! We visited Eli Creek - so crystal clear warm waters flowing to the sea, Champagne Pools (rock pools), and the inner ancient rainforest! We saw some Fraser Island Dingoes - purest of their kind, heaps of different birds like Rainbow Lorikeets, White-bellied Sea Eagle, New Holland Honeyeaters, Eastern Reef Egret and lots of Grey-headed Flying-Fox feeding over our cabin all night.
Lady Elliot Island
Lady Elliot Island (LEI) is a coral cay about 80 km off the east coast of Queensland. It is a blip on the map, no phone reception, limited wi fi and very remote! Being at LEI though is a truly amazing, special and unique experience. Literally a few metres from the eco-resort is a 'lagoon' - part of the reef that surrounds the island - full of fish, turtles, sea stars, sea cucumbers, coral and other beautiful amazing marine life. LEI sits at the southern end of the Great Barrier Reef - its crystal clear sea waters are amazing and visibility is second to none! Hubby and I took our first dive experience within the outer reefs of the island - between us seeing large Green sea turtles, White-tipped reef sharks, Manta Rays and a leopard shark - and hundreds if not thousands of colourful and diverse fish!
Our oldest daughter experienced 'snorkelling' for the first time with a 'Vu Board' - basically a boogey board with a viewing window - so she too could enjoy swimming with the fish and turtles - she kept yelling out to me 'this is awesome!!" The little one enjoyed playing on the beach, picking up and playing with different shaped coral and watching the fish swimming around her feet at the edge of the lagoon.
I had an amazing experience watching a juvenile Hawkesbill sea turtle feeding in the lagoon, it didn't seem bothered by my presence and continued munching away, coming up for air, swimming around near me - keeping an eye on me but never swimming away to get away from me - needless to say I took a 'few' photos and videos with my niece and nephews awesome GO PRO they very kindly lent us.
Reflecting on this experience it brought a tear to my eye (well maybe a few!) as I just thought this turtle species is critically endangered with extinction - its a beautiful, harmless creature which is a critical component of the marine and reef ecosystem. How can we let such amazing animals like this decline and possibly disappear?
Not that I needed it as such ... but my experience at LEI has strengthened my determination and drive to engage young children in the wonders of nature and to strive to promote nature and all its beautiful, wonderful diverse creatures and plants - from the endangered sea turtles to the common bugs found in our local parks! In the words of E.O. Wilson - we should be striving to "conserve every scrap of biodiversity" !
Immersing yourself in nature during a family holiday is truly reinvigorating and we highly recommend it! It doesn't have to be a 'big adventure' though, mini regular adventures are equally important!!
Short video of Hawkesbill sea turtle at Lady Elliot Island