Our top 10 reno FAQs

In no particular order, here are some of the questions we are frequently being asked about our reno project. 

1. How’s the renovation going?

So far, so good!

2. How did you find your architect?

Google search: <Suburb name> + architect 

3. How did you find your builder?

Google search: <Suburb name> + builder 

4. Are you managing the build yourself?

No. Our builder’s running the show. 

5. Can you live in your house while you’re renovating?

Nope! Only two bedrooms were left standing after the demo, and they are both being fully renovated as well. 

6. How long will it take?

The contract says seven months, so maybe a little longer than that taking into account the usual delays.

7. Are you going up?

No, just back, and wide. 

8. Was it hard to get your planning permit?

Not as bad as we thought. It took about six months, but we didn’t even have to hang a yellow sign on our fence, and the council only asked for three minor amendments. 

9. Did TG get his wine cellar?

Yes. But it’s more like a wine cupboard. 

10. Did you get your library?


And … a few recent photos below. 

The slab

A month ago we had just finished demolition
Since then, we’ve gone from this:

To this:

And then this – the slab!

Next steps: Concrete grinding, then steel framing 

First weeks: demolitionĀ 

It’s begun! Two years and three months after we chose our architect, the much anticipated renovation works are underway. 

The works actually started during our final week of living in the house, when our back shed and pergola were demolished. 

And since we moved out of the house just over a week ago, the demo team has been working hard on the house itself. 

Below are a few obligatory before and after shots. 

Here’s the shed:

Et voila, no shed!

Here’s the rear of our little house, before the demo: 

And after demo:

It’s all super exciting! 
Next steps: site clearing, then excavation. 

Adelaide baby: road trippingĀ 

A few weeks ago while chatting to a friend at a Christmas party, I mentioned we were driving to Adelaide for the break. 

“Driving?” he said. “You have heard of these things called aeroplanes, right?”

I confess, I was a bit nervous about the 700km-plus trip with a 13-month-old in the back seat, especially as our longest drive till then had been just three hours each way on our recent trip to Corowa.

But having just returned home to Melbourne from Adelaide yesterday, I’m pleased to report it all went a lot better than I expected.

We were lucky the baby girl behaved very well (and by that, I mean she slept a lot, see photo exhibit above). This meant we didn’t have to take too many stops, and were able to keep the total travel time to 9.5 hours each way (8 hours driving, 1.5 hours of stoppage time).

The other thing that worked really well for us was getting started early. On the way to Adelaide we were on the road by 4am, which meant that by our first coffee stop at 630am, we were already in Ararat. 

In terms of family friendly stopping points, on the Melbourne-Adelaide leg our girl enjoyed the sprawling lawns and playground at Horsham’s May Park. She also had a ball wandering around the lounge area at Keith’s Morning Loaf bakery, which I’m happy to report does a pretty good caramel slice. 

On the way home to Melbourne, the baby girl had her first McDonald’s playground experience at Horsham Maccas while we refuelled on coffees and hash browns. Then in Beaufort, after an OK lunch at Angels Cafe (with high chair provided) we stumbled across the Beaufort Community Resource Centre and Library.

What a wonderful find this was. There was an excellent kids book section with a couch, toys, and a tin of colouring pencils. The woman who worked there was friendly and helpful, and even opened up a meeting room for us when we asked about baby change facilities. A highly recommended pit stop for families. 

(Also, for anyone who wants some inspiration about taking on the Melbourne-Adelaide drive, I found this article really helpful.)

I hope I haven’t jinxed our future road trips too much by writing about how good this one was. But who knows? Maybe Melbourne-Byron Bay next Christmas? 

Corowa baby: road tripping

Last weekend we took the baby girl on her first cross-border road trip. The occasion was a family Christmas party, and the destination was the New South Wales town of Corowa on the banks of the Murray.

We left Melbourne on Saturday morning, with Granny joining us for the ride, and after a couple of hours driving it was time for lunch and a stretch. We stopped in Avenel and stumbled across Bank Street Wood Fired Pizza and Garden. This was a wonderful find. The pizzas were tasty, high chairs were aplenty, and the gorgeous garden setting even had a little pond. The crowd was a mix of ladies luncheons and families. Our girl had a blast crawling around the grass and playing with leaves, which thankfully managed to tire her out for a snooze on the second leg of our drive. 

After another couple of hours on the road, we departed Victorian soil, crossed the Murray, and found ourselves in Corowa. We checked into the Corowa Caravan Park, which had only just reopened after recent spring flooding.  Our cabin wasn’t flash, but for about $100 we had two queen bedrooms (with enough space for a portacot), a clean and modern bathroom, and a separate toilet. We didn’t try the on-site pool, but we did have a look at one of the park’s two playgrounds. (Verdict: not much on offer for pre-walkers.)

Lazy, late afternoon drinks followed at the sprawling lawns of All Saints Estate on the Victorian side of the river, where we sipped pinot grigio from plastic glasses while a nearby wedding party provided people watching distraction. In between stuffing her face with banana, the baby girl enjoyed cruising around the grass and watching ducks splashing in the pond (pictured above). 

Dinner was at the enormous Corowa RSL club, where I rolled my eyes a little at the vegetarian main (the good old roast vegetable and rosti stack) but it was actually pretty tasty. The kids menu was all meat and chips, but the kitchen was happy to do an extra side of steamed veggies and potatoes for the baby, which she loved. In other kids stuff, there were at least three high chairs, and a large fenced-in playground. 

The following morning we tried to find a nice place for breakfast but discovered that most cafes didn’t open till 9am on a Sunday. We ended up at the Corowa Bakery, along with everyone else in town. The place was jumping! We joined the queue and ordered coffee, pies and white bread sandwiches, which were all quite satisfying, but the staff were a little grumpy for my liking. 

It was then off to the family Christmas party, which was a lovely catch up that included a barbecue lunch. After the party, we were back in the car for the drive back to Melbourne. The baby slept almost the entire three hours home, which has got to be one of the best ways to finish up a weekend road trip. 

Sydney baby: high chairs and the last hurrah

In the weeks leading up to my return to work from mat leave, TG came up with the brilliant idea of having one last family holiday before I became a working mum. 

This last hurrah ended up being a three-night mini-break in Sydney, which was a wonderful distraction that stopped me thinking too much about the transition back to work.

Instead of spending my last few days of mat leave worrying about morning drop-offs and wondering how I was going to field early phone calls while feeding the baby, we were cruising around a sunny Sydney Harbour eating Messina ice-cream and catching up with old friends. 

We also enjoyed some excellent meals on this trip. Following on from my previous posts about baby friendly eateries in Seminyak and Ubud, below is a list of the cafes and restaurants we went to in Sydney that provided high chairs. 

Circular Quay

Four Frogs Creperie (bonus points for providing crayons and a colouring-in kids menu)

The Rocks

The Fine Food Store





Fika Swedish Kitchen

Hemingway’s Manly


Bondi Trattoria (bonus points for providing a change table, although it was a bit grotty in the bathroom)

Ps. We stayed at the Shangri-La, which did have nice, big rooms and a gorgeous view. But if you’ve got a baby in a pram, the steep roads and footpaths in The Rocks are hard work! 

Ubud baby: high chairs and footpaths

Following on from my recent post about high chairs in Seminyak, here are a few thoughts about travelling with a baby in Ubud. 

As we were holidaying in peak season, the road and foot traffic on the main roads (eg. Jalan Monkey Forest and Jalan Raya Ubud) was pretty crazy. Pushing a stroller on the footpaths was hard work.

A local recommended getting out and about before 11am to avoid the daytripping crowds. It was a good tip and we had a couple of nice, quiet morning walks with the stroller followed by coffees at Folk and Casa Luna. 

Because of the crowds, we ended up eating a lot of meals at our hotel, Bisma Eight. The food there was delicious, if a little pricey. 

In terms of high chairs, we didn’t get out as much as in Seminyak, but the places we dined at with high chairs were:

All these places had timber high chairs which looked great, but I’m not sure how clean they were…

We did also try to get into Spice by Chris Salans, but it didn’t take bookings and also didn’t have high chairs.