Explore & Inspire, Markets, Op Shops, Secondhand

Doncare Op Shop – Templestowe Village

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This is a quaint little shop but does extend back further than the front my appear. It has some little gems inside but you’ll need to hunt for them. There was a book stall out the front and my daughter picked up a great novel for just $1 which is what I believe all books should be priced at – either 50c or $1 because there are so many of them in Op Shops and if they get too many they have to pay to have them sent to the tip.

There is a good selection of glassware and unusual coloured glass as well as jewellery, books, cd’s, dvd’s, craft items and more.

Take the time to explore and rustle through to snap up yourself a bargain.


Explore & Inspire, Travel Tips & Ideas

Kids Travelling vs Staying in School: Part 2

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Meeting the locals

As a parent, you do need to consider if it’s a good thing for your child to be out of school for an extended period of time. Not all kids are resilient and capable of stepping from home-school-holiday-home-school. You may need to keep in touch with class teachers as to their progress and mental health if not around a routine or their friends. But ultimately, the decision is yours as a parent. Do take into account those years that are important such as approaching the final years of secondary or transitioning from primary to secondary school. (more…)

Explore & Inspire, Markets, Op Shops, Secondhand

Red Cross Op Shop – Carnegie

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It  seems that the Red Cross have found a formula that works in their Op Shops. This one in Carnegie is laid out similar to the one in Croydon in that it has beautiful stock in excellent condition, the displays are well thought out and the arrangement in the store are intuitive.

Plus when you add to this the gorgeous staff who are so helpful and dedicated this is a shop you definitely want to visit and explore. Clothes are racked up nicely and the prices are reasonable.

The theme on the day I visited was still a little of the leftovers of Spring Racing Carnival but it was so fresh and inviting that it tantalised me to explore more into the store.

I do like it when stores make an effort to be seasonal but to also challenge the seasons is a bold move and frankly – I Love It.

Explore & Inspire, Markets, Op Shops, Secondhand

Salvo Op Shop – Carnegie

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Okay, I said I wouldn’t review one of these Op Shop chain stores but this one took my fancy because of the layout and the staff.

With one of the best locations in Carnegie on the corner of Koornang and Neerim Road, this store is well organised and the quality of clothes are excellent. Unfortunately for someone like me as a size 14 struggled to find much in my size as the clothes are mostly donated by those much smaller than me. But there were still bargains to be had if you if you take the time.

Note that there are alot of clothes in this store. There are a quite a few books but little kids toys, kitchenware and linen. But it still has alot to offer and I’m sure this is a seasonal and changes over time. (more…)

Explore & Inspire, Outdoor Education, Travel Tips & Ideas

Outdoor Education – what can you do as a parent/student – Part 1 of 2

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Pancakes for breakfast (13 yo)

I’ve worked in the Outdoor Education field since 1989 and there have been many changes over that time. As an entity, our management of risk has improved tremendously, our programs are journey based and often sequential giving a sense of change and resetting the daily expectations, the quality of food and recipes are broad and nutritional, the equipment is well maintained and turned over within good time frames, the staff are better trained and equipped to deal with different groups and emergencies, venues are scoped to achieve outcomes for programs and so much more.

However, there have been many changes since 1989 and they are worth reading through as you may find some parallels with your own children / yourself. The Part 2 (go here) of this article will give you the practical tips and guidance to work through some of these issues.

  • Most students don’t know how to cut vegetables, particularly hard ones like carrots. Given a capsicum, a student will often look at me quizzically and say either ‘what is this’ or ‘how do I chop this?’
  • Most students don’t know how to cook. Asked to bring rice on a program for a group of three, I’ve seen numerous times a student pull out a 500gm bag on a self-cater program not knowing that this would feed an entire group + other campers nearby. This is despite encouragement to practice at home prior to the trip to work out quantities.
  • On a five day program, students would prefer to bring 8 Up & Go’s for breakfast than muesli, weetbix or other cereal and mix up powdered milk. Their reason? Too hard. If they are self-catering encourage them to bring healthy whole food.
  • With restrictions on perishable food being taken on camp – many parents are supplying their kids with expensive dehydrated dinners. This is missing the point. It’s about the process not the end result. Plus, they’ll receive a constipated child at the end of the week as these dinners are fine as a one off but not on a regular basis.
  • Two minute noodles do not count as a meal. I regard them as a nice snack while preparing dinner but not to replace a dinner. There is no calorific value in them and believe me, kids need all the nutritional value they can on an outdoor education program.
  • No lollies. No energy drinks. No processed snack foods. Stick to whole foods. They’ll offer more dietary value and get them through the program with my energy and less cravings.
  • Young people need to understand that it’s imperative they practice good hygiene techniques while camping. Gelsan isn’t enough. Soap, water and more soap, then more water. It’s all provided so use it.
  • Students in the 90’s would carry 15kgs packs, walk for five days, averaging 15 – 20kms a day. Today they’d be lucky to carry 12kgs (many students needing a pack shuttle), they’d rarely walk for three days and it would be unheard of a student walking 15kms – more like 10 – 12 kms.
  • There were no mobile phones in 1989 and in fact in 1992 on my BMLCC (Bushwalking & Mountaincraft Leadership Course – the only qualification around at the time for bushwalking leaders), someone brought a large brick style phone along to ‘test it out’. We were all horrified that a phone on our bushwalk would spoil the experience. We were walking to get away from the technology and here it was in our face. Within two years, as a leader if you didn’t take a phone on program you were regarded as negligent! How times change. However, we still encourage no technology in the outdoors. No MP3’s, phones, Nintendos, DS’s, tablets and so on. Not sure how we’ll go with the Apple Watch coming out but we encourage students to disconnect from technology and connect with what’s around them – people and nature.
  • Parents pass on their fears and expectations to their children. They don’t want their child to get cold and wet but that isn’t necessarily the same for your kids. And frankly, they need to be a little uncomfortable, a little stretched and stressed. Yes that word stressed. No one wants their kid to be stretched, least of all me as a parent. But I know that my kids have an awesomeness inside them and it’s only when I allow them to experience the goods with the bads and let them shine through that they appreciate the potential they have.
  • Your experiences camping will no doubt be different to what your child will experience. Let them find their own feet on the trip.
  • How can our kids grow if their world is a bubble of never experience walking with a backpack in strong wind, trying to put a tent up in the rain, putting on a wetsuit in the morning that is cold, sunburnt shoulders because they didn’t put on blockout, the hard slog up a hill with the reward of beautiful views. The world can be tough whether in business or working for yourself. How can we expect our kids to draw on their strengths if they’ve never had to face adversity.
  • Young people lack resilience and yet it’s the one word that is bandied around within educational institutions all the time – ‘help make my child resilient – but don’t let them work hard, do it tough, make them cold or wet or hungry or accountable.’ Grrrr. Effort equals achievement. Read this for more information.
  • Don’t make excuses for them. Here is a  list of the regular excuses I hear from parents: she’d too small to carry a pack, he has growing pains so he can’t carry a pack, she must have a shower during the week otherwise she feels dirty,
  • For those of you that camping is unfamiliar – I urge you to embrace it. I’ve consistently found that the best leaders have come from those who’ve taken onboard outdoor education trips. They are organised, prepared, flexible, can work in a team, take control if required, be a leader as well as a follower, think on their feet, be proactive, play devils advocate, problem solve, think laterally and creatively, mindful and respectful of others, work collaboratively, are often humble, see the greatness in others, sympathetic and much more. That’s not a bad list.
  • If a teacher or leader says your child ‘played up’ – they did. Whatever they ‘would never do that’ – they did. And probably more than once.

Now it’s your turn. How have you found your experiences send your children off on camp? How have they coped? What advice would you offer other parents. Please leave a comment below.

Explore & Inspire, Living Simply, Outdoor Education

We are so busy giving our kids what we didn’t have, we forget to give them what we did have!


As adults, most of us have fond memories from childhood: intently watching ants on the march, building a cubby house, collecting tadpoles from the creek, making mud pies or daisy chains, grabbing the rope swing and swinging out over the river and letting go, exploring the neighbourhood and stopping for a Sunny Boy at the milk bar. Whether we realise it or not, those moments in the outdoors helped shape our view on the world around us. As I speak with parents, we all have fond memories of our childhood being one of freedom and exploration and yet these days, we are reluctant to allow our own children have that same experience. Here some worthwhile reading about the ‘Me Generation‘. (more…)

Explore & Inspire, Living Simply, Outdoor Education

Kids travelling vs staying at school: Part 1

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Ta Prohm in Cambodia

Clearly I love to travel but do my kids? They’ve travelled to Cambodia, Vietnam, Malaysia, Indonesia including climbing Mt. Kinabalu, climbing in Vietnam, volunteering at orphanages in several countries, crossing Sumbawa and seeing only three westerners, exploring Komodo Island for dragons, snorkelling with giant manta rays and hanging out with orangutans. Not a bad list by the time they were 13.


Explore & Inspire, Markets, Op Shops, Secondhand

RSPCA Op Shop – Burwood East

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This Op Shop is located across from the very large RSPCA complex but in behind the shopping facade and is easy to access.

The RSPCA in Victoria has 18 opportunity shops that brim over with treasure. All stores are operated solely by teams of dedicated volunteers. All funds that are raised go towards supporting the work of the RSPCA.

If you’re interested in volunteering then checkout the website link below. They are always on the lookout for dedicated and caring staff.

This Op Shop is currently not taking any further items as noted with the sign on the door but people were still rocking up with bags of Christmas gifts they didn’t want.

Explore & Inspire, Markets, Op Shops, Secondhand

Doncare Op Shop – Tunstall Square, Doncaster East

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This little Op Shop is hidden away behind the main shops in Tunstall Square, actually in Anderson Streetfullsizerender_5. It’s been there for a short while, but I do remember when it was a gym with personal trainers.

I’ve visited a few times but have to say it’s not as good as it used to be. The stock was limited. The staff not interested in chatting to people in the shop and it seemed just a ‘same old same old’ Op Shop. These days with so much competition for wares and sales, you need to step up and differentiate yourself from the others.

I was in and out of this store in a few minutes with no interaction from people volunteering. I usually like to chit-chat but they weren’t interested. (more…)