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Guide to Winter School Holidays in Hervey Bay

Posted on 21 May 2018
Guide to Winter School Holidays in Hervey Bay

With its mild, subtropical climate and an average temperature of 26.2 degrees Celsius, Hervey Bay is not a bad place to be in the winter school holidays. The days are pleasant due to continuous sunshine, the nights are cool for curling up under the covers, and whale season hits its peak. When you think about it, there's a lot to love about this magic time of year.

That said, kids still need entertaining. Good weather and playful whales won't stop the "I'm bored" comments, so what are some things you can do to keep the kids happy all holidays. Let's take a look...

Great winter fishing spots in Hervey Bay

In winter, the bays, creeks and estuaries have something for everyone. There are plenty of mud crabs about, decent sized prawns, and squid is just about everywhere.

The local reefs see an influx of baitfish in winter and there's no better time to catch pike, whiting, yakkas, and tailor. Others species you can expect to catch include cod, blackall, trout, coral bream, and tuskies. Out on the water, your kids might even be lucky enough to help reel in a tuna or mackerel.

Favourite winter fishing spots for kids: Urangan Pier, Toogoom Beach, Kingfisher Jetty and Great Sandy Strait.

Whale watching on the Fraser Coast

It's one thing to know that the whales are out there, but it's another thing entirely to get up close and personal. If you haven't been whale watching for a while, it's time to go again. These marvellous creatures, which are anywhere between 12 and 16 metres long and weigh around 30,000 kg as an adult, nestle in the warm waters of Hervey Bay with their newborn calves right around the time of the holidays. Seeing them in their natural environment is an incredible experience, and something the kids will never forget. If your child gets seasick, choose a seat with limited motion and stay out on deck.

Favourite whale watching experiences: Spirit of Hervey Bay has underwater viewing rooms that little kids will love while Tasman Venture offers a half day cruise with hydrophone to hear the whalesong. 

Wildlife photography on Fraser Island

Kids love getting creative and most love animals too. Why not combine the two and set them a wildlife photography challenge during the school holidays?

Give your kids a camera and you open them to a great learning experience. In control of what they capture, they can focus on the details they want. It might be the eyes, the paws, the fur - they might surprise you with what they come up with. Try not to guide them, them let find their way. Once you've printed them off, invite friends and family over for an exhibition.   

Favourite spots to capture wildlife: Fraser Island and Fraser Coast Wildlife Sanctuary

Bushwalking and coastal trails near Pialba

Walking might not be something you think the kids will get excited about, but a short bushwalk, coastal trail or urban discovery tour can offer lots of fun. Walking is a great opportunity to talk with your kids and bond with them and you'll all be getting fit too. If you're struggling to get them excited by the idea of a walk, consider making a scavenger hunt and getting them to cross off items as you find them. Again take the camera, or a magnifying glass to look at ants, spiders and beetles along the way. Collect leaves to make leaf impressions in salt dough or gather "treasures" for an art project. There's lots you can do to make walking exciting.

Favourite walks with kids: Esplanade Walk, Burrum Coast Discovery Walk and Maryborough Heritage Walk (a free guided walk).

Bike riding on the Foreshore

Bike riding is an active, budget friendly activity for the school holidays and the kids will love it. Hervey Bay has tons of great cycling tracks too, making bike riding accessible and suitable for every skill level. The foreshore alone has more than 17 kilometres of bike path to cruise along, and with regular water fountains, beautiful coastal views and colonial-like streetlights leading the way, you can enjoy a ride at any time of day. If you want to take your adventure to the ocean, you can perch up your back at one of the many bike racks provided and swap pedals for sand between your toes.

Favourite bike riding tracks: Esplanade Walk, The Links Corridor and the Wide Bay Hinterland.

Shopping during the school holidays at Pialba Place

There's always something happening at Pialba Place during the school holidays and many of the activities are free. Be it an Under the Sea Workshop or Daring Donna's Pirate Show, we've got the kids entertained. Pialba Place even has its own kids club for children aged 12 years and under. Kids can come have fun in our park while you shop up a storm. After a shop you can treat the kids to something yummy and hot chocolate.

Favourite yummy treats: Cake Bake Brew and Donut World, where you get a free donut with every hot drink.

Massive indoor fun for the whole family

Jump Park is Hervey Bay's indoor trampolining centre and its home to some fantastic school holiday programs and individual sessions. Enjoy zones like Free Jump, where you can jump until you can jump no more, Dodgeball, where you can team against team in dodgeball war, Airbag, Pro Zone and Mini Inflatables, an area designed specifically for 3-6 year olds or any child under 110cm tall.

Favourite zone at Jump Park: We love that Jump Park encourages the parents to join in at the Inflatable Zone. It's massive fun for the entire family.

Making a plan

Making a plan ahead of the school holidays will make the school break a breeze. And because you're in Hervey Bay, that breeze doesn't have to be cold just because it's winter. Stock up on a few extra layers at Pialba Place and start making a list of ways you will get out and about these winter holidays.

 

Homemade Fish and Chips

Posted on 24 April 2018
Homemade Fish and Chips

For generations, fish and chips have fed millions of memories. Eaten with greasy fingers oceanside, as a payday treat at the end of the working week, or as a late night snack on your way home from the pub, few can resist the tasty combination.

Fish and chips are what's known as a perfect pairing. It sits alongside wine and cheese, salt and pepper, and Hamish and Andy. Homemade beer-battered fish and chips are about as good as it gets, so head to market, stock up on some fresh fish, and get cooking.

Go on, you know you want to...

Homemade fish and chips

Here's the trick to homemade fish and chips straight-up... choose smart ingredients.

Grab a Beer

Beer is a great base for batter because it simultaneously adds three ingredients - carbon dioxide, foaming agents and alcohol. Each brings a different aspect of physics and chemistry to create a crust that's light and crisp.

Beer is loaded with CO2, which when combined with hot oil, bubbles and froths up. This expands the batter mix, giving it a lacy, frangible texture. Beer also acts as a thermal insulator, meaning that when you dunk a battered piece of fish into a deep fryer, most of the heat will be absorbed by the batter, rather than the delicate food it encloses. Bubbly beer batter can heat to well over 130 degrees celsius, the point at which so-called Maillard reactions create golden brown colours and delicious fried flavours - all while the fish gently simmers inside.

The final wow-factor of beer in batter is that alcohol evaporates faster than water, meaning that the batter dries faster during cooking. The faster the batter dries, the lower the risk of overcooking the food.

Quality Fish

Walk into Urangan Fisheries, Boat Harbour Fisheries, Maddigan's Seafood or Coles Pialba Place and you'll be spoilt for choice with the different species of fish on offer. Talk to your fish supplier about what's being caught locally, or opt for traditional favourites like flake, whiting, snapper, barramundi or flathead. Alternatively, you can try your luck at catching your own fish at Urangan Pier, Platypus Bay, Sandy Strait or Point Vernon.    It's important you choose a fish that has firm flesh, big flakes and not much oil.  

Hot Potato

Waxy potatoes are great for salads, but for chips, it's all about the floury varieties. Floury potatoes contain lots of starch, which makes them fluffy and dry when cooked. The current reigning champion of the Australian chip business is the Russet Burbank, a long, almost tubular potato which is perfect for cutting into chips or skinnier French fries. Running a close second are varieties like Sebago, Atlantic and the Australian-bred Colliban.   

Fry once at a low temperature and then again at a high heat for best results. This gives your chips a fluffy inside and a crisp outside. For extra crispness, pat your chips well with paper towel before the first fry to remove excess starch and to stop your chips from sticking together in the oil. 

Cooking Oil

When deep frying fish and chips, choose an oil with a high smoke point, like rice bran, grape seed, sunflower, canola or extra light olive oil. The flavour should be neutral and the oil refined. The oil should be heated to between 180 and 185 degrees Celsius. This high heat will ensure your fish and chips cook faster and absorbs less oil. Nothing's worse than greasy, soggy fish and chips!  

To test the temperature, add a cube of bread to the oil. You'll know it's the right temperature if the bread turns golden brown in around 15 seconds. If your bread cooks in less than ten seconds, it's too hot.  

Always make sure you leave room to add the fish and chips to your oil. You don't want your oil to overflow as you drop your ingredients in.

Other tips

  • If you're using the same pan/fryer and oil, cook your chips before your fish. Oil absorbs the flavours of what it's cooking, so cooking your chips first will prevent your chips from having a fishy flavour.
  • For evenly cooked and moist fish, cut your fish into even pieces about 10cm long and 3-4cm thick. You'll know the fish is cooked when it flakes with a fork when tested.
  • Whiz together some mayonnaise, capers, lemon juice, chopped gherkins and chopped fresh dill or parsley for the ultimate tartare sauce.
  • If you're feeling confident and want to try fish and chips like award-winning celebrity chef Heston Blumenthal, add vodka and honey to your batter mix. The Fat Duck proprietor also recommends drizzling extra batter over the fish as it fries.

Fish and the Fraser Coast

It seems only fitting that fish be on the menu a lot when you live in or are visiting Hervey Bay. Surrounded by the ocean and Mary River, fish is an important part of the Hervey Bay culture and no Hervey Bay experience is complete without it. Hervey Bay residents love seafood so much that they celebrate it and all things ocean every August as part of the Hervey Bay Ocean Festival. There are also many marine tour providers who will happily help you catch your own, and while you're out to sea why not meet some whales.    Is fish a big enough part of your life? If not, it's time to factor it in.

 

Signs your child has a vision problem

Posted on 20 April 2018
Signs your child has a vision problem

Did you know eye disorders are the most common long-term health problems for children, along with allergies and asthma? Good vision is important for a child's educational, physical and social development. With many children suffering from an undetected vision problem, it's important to be aware of the signs to give every child the best chance of reaching their full potential.

SEE THE SYMPTOMS, FIND THE PROBLEM

Children who are struggling with undetected vision problems often fail to progress well in school. You can use the following checklist to look for the common symptoms that children with vision problems exhibit.

  • One eye turns in or out while the other points straight ahead
  • Frequent blinking
  • Red or watery eyes
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Covering or closing one eye
  • Holding a book very close to read
  • Squinting or sitting very close when watching television
  • Complaints of headaches
  • Complaints of blurred or double vision.

If your child displays any of these symptoms, we suggest that you visit or contact your local OPSM Optometrist as soon as you can.

50% of parents are unaware that disruptive behaviour can be a symptom of eye problems^

PENNY THE PIRATE CHILDRENS EYE TEST APP

In a bid to raise awareness of children's eye health and improve the vision of children across Australia, OPSM has released Penny the Pirate, the world's first children's book and app that allows you to screen your child's vision.

Penny the Pirate has turned eye screenings into a fun, interactive, illustrated book which is designed for children aged between 3-10 years old. Written into the story are three eye screenings, for distance vision, colour vision and depth perception.

^A Lonergan study conducted in April 2014 of 1,006 Australian parents with children aged between 3-10 years.

 

Get the kids looking good for less

Posted on 27 March 2018
Get the kids looking good for less

Kids can be difficult to shop for. Not only do they grow out of stuff really, really fast, making clothing them, potentially, very expensive, but kids fashion evolves at a startling rate, and kids feel an unbelievable amount of pressure to "fit in" even the younger ones.

So, as a parent, what can you do? Thankfully, there are a number of outlets and brand that really "get" the difficulties of children's fashion, and develop and maintain product lines that are wallet-friendly, comfortable, robust enough to handle the day-to-day wear on busy young bodies, and, most important of all, fashionable enough that your child will love wearing getting dressed in the morning.

CLOTHING - BIG W

As Australia's premier discount department store, BIG W has a bit of everything for your kids seasonal shirts, shorts, pants, skirts and jumpers, sleepwear, underwear, socks, and more. The constantly evolving line means that with every visit there will be new designs and fashions to try, while BIG W also maintains a full range of more neutral "standard" clothing.

Most importantly, BIG W's buyers work hard to ensure that all product lines are cost effective. Standard tops and pants are often under $20 sometimes even under $10. At those prices, kids can outgrow their clothes quickly and you can replace them without breaking the budget.

BIG W is also a fun place to shop for kids. As a department store, it also carries electronics, toys, and other products that can make a shopping trip a lot of fun, and is the perfect way to get an otherwise reluctant child to tag along. As a one-stop location for all the clothing that your child will need, it's hard to look past BIG W.

SHOES - WILLIAMS

Of all the things that you'll buy your children in a year, shoes are the most critical. Children spend a lot of time on their feet, and so you want shoes that will provide adequate support during this stage of rapid physical development, to prevent any health risks down the track.

At the same time, kids love their shoes, and shoe brands, and want to wear things that make them feel and look great. And that's where a speciality store like Williams comes into its own. Williams stocks a full range of shoes that will appeal to any child, including brands such as Diana Ferrari, Colorado, C'est Bon, Corelli, Lynx, Lipstik, Windsor Smith, and Portland. You'll be able to find shoes that meet school uniform requirements, shoes for your child's sporting activities, and casual wear for events and weekends.

To help you choose the perfect shoe for your child's feet, the sales team at Williams are all experienced and experts in fittings. You'll be able to take the time to discuss with them length the ideal shape, size, and design of each shoe your child tries.

In addition to the full service that the team at Williams offer, they also work hard to keep the price of shoes down, understanding how important affordability is to parents. Additionally, Williams participates in the Fusion Rewards program, which gives members offers, discounts, and other rewards at five different Australian retail chains, including Williams.

ACCESSORIES - THE GIFT BAG COLLECTIVE

Clothing and shoes are all well and good, but the final piece of the puzzle is the accessories, which children love, as it's through accessories that they really get to express their creativity and individuality.

Unfortunately, accessories can become very expensive. Fortunately, at The Gift Bag Collective, this isn't an issue. This retailer specialises in hand-crafted, one of a kind pieces, and providing them at reasonable prices.

In addition and the kids love this by dropping in at the store, you'll often get the opportunity to see the artists at work creating their pieces.

The range that is carried at The Gift Bag Collective varies greatly depending on what's in stock that's the joy of discovery that's a big part of this shop's experience. But, generally speaking, you can expect to find the following accessories:

  • Hand-crafted jewellery in a range of colours and styles to suit all ages
  • Handwoven shawls and scarves
  • Bags, hats and clothing in a variety of fabrics and colours

After all that, your child will now be happy with their wardrobe, and all without breaking the bank!

The best thing of all is that, with the constantly evolving product lines, every time you need to buy some new clothes or accessories, you can be sure that your child will find something new to delight them when shopping at Pialba Place.

 

Easter Baking

Posted on 28 February 2018
Easter Baking

When people say Easter, there are a number of foods that come to mind. For many, it's the dinner or lunch that you'll enjoy with your family. For others, it's chocolate Easter eggs. But for most, hot cross buns are front of mind. You know why? Because a lot of the time, stores and bakeries start selling these straight after Christmas.

The wondrous history of hot cross buns

Thought hot cross buns were just some bread (delicious bread) that are sold to coincide with Easter? Think again. There's actually a whole lot of history behind this bountiful bun.

Banned bites of heaven

Traditionally eaten in the lead-up to Easter during Lent, hot cross buns were once banned by Queen Elizabeth I. Yep, that's right, banned except on Good Friday and Christmas. Imagine that! No one was allowed to sell or bake hot cross buns for 363 days of the year. And if caught, the buns were confiscated and given straight to the poor.

First ever bun

That's not enough history for you? The first ever hot cross bun was baked on Good Friday by a 12th century monk, soon gaining popularity around England as a symbol of the Easter holiday. However, if you want official records, it was a 16th century text that said: "Good Friday comes this month, the old woman runs, with one or two a penny hot cross buns".

Expel spirits and cements friendships

Legend has it also that hot cross buns protect from evil spirits if hung in the kitchen. This is because of the cross that is supposedly blessed on top. Because they're in the kitchen, it's also thought that bread baked throughout the year will turn out delicious and the bun will protect against kitchen fires.

In terms of friendships, if you share a hot cross bun with someone, you'll enjoy a strong friendship and bond for the coming year.

Bake away

Yes, we know you can grab them from most bakeries and supermarkets, but there's something extra satisfying about knowing you baked those delectable hot cross buns from scratch. Plus, making them means you can pick the ingredients. Nutella hot cross bun anyone? Here's how to make them right from the mixing bowl.

Need the ingredients? Head to Coles at Pialba Place to grab everything you need. Failing your baking ability, you can also grab ready-made hot cross buns from Coles or head to Cake Bake Brew for some tasty treats and a cup of freshly brewed coffee.

Ingredients:

For the buns

  • 2 x 8g sachets dried yeast
  • 310ml milk (warmed)
  • ¼ cup caster sugar
  • 4 cups plain flour
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon ground mixed spice
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 60g butter at room temperature
  • 1 cup sultanas
  • 1 cup dried cranberries (craisins)
  • 2 eggs

For the cross

  • 1/3 cup self-raising flour
  • 60ml of water
  • Apricot jam warmed and sieved (you'll use this for brushing)

Method:

  1. Whisk the yeast, milk and caster sugar until the sugar has dissolved. Set this aside for 10 minutes.
  2. Sift the plain flour with the cinnamon, mixed spice and salt. Rub in the butter (using your fingers).
  3. Stir the sultanas, craisins, eggs and yeast mixture into the dry ingredients. This will form a dough.
  4. Flour a clean surface of your benchtop and turn the dough out. Knead for five minutes.
  5. Grease a large bowl and place dough inside. Cover and leave it in a warm spot for 45 minutes. Then knead until smooth.
  6. At this stage, you should probably pop your oven on to preheat. Set it at 200 degrees.
  7. Shape the dough into 12 balls and place on a greased baking tray. Leave aside for 15 more minutes.
  8. While the rolls are resting, combine self-raising flour and 60ml of water. Pipe a cross onto each bun. Bake these for 10 minutes.
  9. Reduce the temperature to 180 degrees and bake for a further 15 minutes.
  10. Remove from the oven and leave to cool.
  11. While warm, brush the buns with the jam.

Now, eat!

How do you enjoy your buns?

Of course, this is just one version of hot cross buns. Nowadays there are fruit buns, choc-chip buns, plain buns whatever buns that take your fancy.

You can also eat your hot cross buns in a certain way. Many purists will say the only way to eat your bun is topped with melted butter. But some have been known to spread some Nutella on top or enjoy them with strawberry jam. But, no matter your preference, you'll definitely enjoy the ones you made yourself above all else!

 

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