How to Avoid Melbourne Airport’s Dreadful Parking Fees

Airport Exploiting Public on Parking Fees

The answer my friends, is simple: fly into Sydney.

You think I’m kidding, no?

Compare the last two times we flew internationally:

1. We flew direct to Melbourne. Then waited two hours in line to clear customs. Meanwhile, as we needed two cars, there were two family members with cars in the car park waiting to pick us up. Total amount of parking time paid for – over four hours worth. Total paid $48

2. SGM and Beckham flew to Sydney. They cleared customs in less than ten minutes. The bus transfer to the domestic terminal was included in the ticket price. They ate tea at one of the fast food places in the airport – apparently the food court is pretty good. They then flew domestically (ticket price included in international airfare) to Melbourne. We watched the arrival time on the airport website and simply drove up to the front door to collect them. Total paid – about $16 at Subway, but at least they felt like they got something for their money. Also, it was over $165 cheaper to fly via Sydney than direct to Melbourne.

So, Sydney = cheaper, faster and no parking required.

Don’t even get me started on the fact that at Melbourne you have ten minutes from paying for your ticket to exiting the car park, otherwise you go into the next price bracket. And that they only have machines to pay for your tickets at one end of the carpark. BAH!

How fragile life is

I don’t have the words to express what a horrific weekend this has been for so many in Australia. The bushfires in Victoria have been the worst ever and the devastation is massive. If you haven’t seen the news, there are accounts on all of the major Australian online news sites:
Herald Sun Frontpage
The Age Frontpage

This is a map of the fires

View Larger Map

Another interactive map here.

This is a terrifying and wrenching account of being caught in the bushfire and surviving

While we ourselves have been safe it is a very surreal feeling to have been so close and yet to have come through unscathed. (For which we are eternally grateful). We live about half an hour away from the closest fires. It has been like watching a huge rock being dropped in a pond and watching the ripples spread further and further out. At the centre you have the people who have lost their lives or families and their homes. They have suffered the most and are the ones counted by the news reports in the terrible tallies. But then you have the ones next to the epicentre, the ones who have suffered terrible burns and injuries, who fill up the emergency departments. Then there are the people who don’t live where the fires are but who have lost relatives or friends. There are the people who can’t contact their relatives or friends and who don’t know what has happened. And there is the huge toll on animals that is so easy to overlook, including farms being wiped out, and Healesville Zoo evacuated. On Saturday when temperatures reached 46 degrees (115 F) one of our hens died just from the heat.

And then you have the people who are tourists or travellers who have been affected. My Aunt and cousin are over here visiting from New Zealand. They went to stay with another Aunt over the weekend who lives in rural Victoria – they haven’t been able to get back to Melbourne because the highways and back roads have been closed. The train isn’t expected to run again until later this week. Yea and Healesville are very popular tourist destinations with lots vineyards. On Saturday there were weddings planned to take place in these locations that were severely impacted. In Yea the town was cut off on three sides by fires. A good reminder that travel insurance is a really good thing.

Notes here on Bushfires for Tourists

The fires are still going and the toll is rising all the time. I am sure the ripples will continue to be felt for quite some time to come.

Links are here for people wanting to help survivors:
Bushfire help
Bushfire appeals

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Top Toys to take on Airplanes

Before I go any further, take a look at this totally lust-worthy tray organizer from Little Jet Set

Tray Bien In Flight Organizer
Tray Bien In Flight Organizer

Never mind the kids, I want one for me. As you have no doubt guessed from the name, Little Jet Set specialise in products for kids for travelling. They have a gorgeous range of luggage but also heaps of games and books, well worth checking out.

Now you might that that somebody like the Times would be a reliable source of information when it comes to keeping kids amused on a flight. In their article on travel toys the number one recommendation is, an in-car DVD player. Well, DUH. (Except I think an ipod is a whole lot more versatile.)

If you want thinking outside the box, Delicious Baby has some fantastic age based recommendations. They also have a this excellent article called “Ten Great Travel Toys You Already Own“. Now that is cooking with gas. 

The thing you have to take into consideration with travel toys (particularly for planes) is how bad is it going to be if bits fall on the floor? I’ve seen people advise against taking matchbox type cars because they can roll under seats. However, I think a matchbox car is fairly easy to retrieve  compared to a lot of the travel type games which have lots of very tiny pieces.  See like these games, [amtap amazon:asin=B000QRR9E2] and [amtap amazon:asin=B000P30NEK] which I just know I’m going to buy against my better judgement because I have seen the pictures of the tin can we are travelling in and the fear is with me. Playdough is another toy that some parents love and some parents feel is far too messy. The court is out on this count in our house.

The court is also out on this book [amtap amazon:asin=1591743680] The concept looks fantastic, but the reviews are mixed. If Cityhall can’t rip the tape by herself, it would be endless torment for the designated parent. (Cause y’all know scissors still can’t come through the Australian airports). And yes, I’m not entirely convinced about Wikki Stix either. I suspect they are a five minute wonder.


What I am definitely going to buy are some of the anti-coloring books.

The Anti Coloring Book
The Anti Coloring Book

Brilliantly CurrClick (bless you) have these as electronic downloads. This book is a similar thing [amtap amazon:asin=0811855090] Perhaps better for younger kids. The Applets each got a travel compendium for Christmas from Kathmandu that contains coloured pencils, marker pens and has spaces for postcards.  Mail Just For Me also have some great art travel sets like the Art Book to Go (very similar to the Kathmandu ones) as well as a whole range of great travel toys.


The other fabulous books we will be taking are from the Mad Libs series. Maybe [amtap amazon:asin=084313271X] or [amtap amazon:asin=0843126981] if we have finished our Shrek and Indiana Jones ones by then.

I’m thinking some kind of magnetic doll for Cityhall would be brilliant. Perhaps this one [amtap amazon:asin=B0018LB6TY]. Although the magnetic monsters are very cute and perhaps have broader appeal [amtap amazon:asin=B00092R6DS]

If we have any more room maybe we could squeeeeeeeeeze in a couple of these write and wipe books [amtap amazon:asin=1593955936] and [amtap amazon:asin=159395414X]And maybe a pack of the rubbernecker card games [amtap amazon:asin=0811855066] Which should of course be given to every family departing Melbourne Airport free of charge seeing as THERE IS NOTHING ELSE for them to do.

Report Cards for Airports with Play Areas

I was just reading this article about  Airport Play Areas for Kids. If you are looking for play areas in US airports, this article and the one it’s based on from Expect Delays Blog, are a great place to start. Having spent a bonus two hours on top of the ‘two hour arrival before departure’ at Christchurch airport, I can vouch for the importance of knowing if there are any play areas for kids. Thankfully Christchurch airport had a very small climbing frame but it’s not an experience I wish to repeat this lifetime. (Christchurch Airport: C You can do better than this. Just because the Antarctic Centre is across the road is no excuse.)

I started to look at what other airports have to offer. Check out this cool themed playground:


This is from “Ten Great Place to Land with Kids in Tow” The Airport Pictured is Chicago’s O’Hare and as far as I’m concerned they take the biscuit for the best kids play area in an airport. Check it out in this article on O’Hare for Kids. (O’Hare: A- Excellent effort, just a little bit more work on your website and you’ll be top notch)

A bit further afield, here’s a shot of the kid’s area at Hong Kong Airport


And in case you don’t think you’ll watch enough tv on the plane, they have a separate kid’s tv area.  (Hong Kong: B+ Well Done.)

Heathrow tell us that they have children’s play areas in various locations. There are a few more directions here. However they also have passenger lounges that you can pre-book tickets for – just like being a frequent flyer. The ones at Heathrow are all Kid Friendly but in particular they recommend the Holideck at T4. They describe themselves as, 

“a state-of-the-art facility. Once you enter Holideck, three floors of entertainment, fun and stress-free relaxation are yours to enjoy, whether you wish to rest and relax with complimentary bar, refreshments and publications or explore the active zones with the children on the Main Deck.”

More info here. I checked online how much tickets would be – a mere ₤65 for three hours – or 75c per minute in Aussie dollars and their website blows chunks. (Heathrow: see me after class!!! You have millions of visitors each year and yet your family friendly lounges cater for 120 people at a time?  Yes, I see you tried by having childcare – but only for over 5’s. Are you trying to be the new Ikea? Grade to be determined)

Speaking of blowing chunks, Melbourne airport has to be one of the least kid friendly airports. They have four of those ubiquitous mall ride on things that cost two dollars a pop. One of which is a minute Merry-go-round, one is a yellow racing car, one is a red truck and the other escapes me. I was sure I had a photo to include of the red truck as the kids get photographed in it every… single… time… we go to the airport but I can’t find a copy for the life of me. 

It does have the most stunning mosaics in the floor which you can if you are particularly cunning stretch out into at least ten minutes worth of entertainment. There are some beautiful pictures of the mosaics here    which you really should look at because if you squint carefully enough you will see the missing ride-on-thingie in the top right hand corner. It’s a white jeep. Don’t know how I forgot that. Fortunately for us our long wait at Melbourne airport will be right at the start of our trip. Here’s hoping we don’t run all the ipods dry before we even get on the plane. Perhaps I’ll make up a tacky souvenir bingo game to play. (Melbourne: F Are you even trying? I am concerned about you. What are you going to do now that all those business people have to sell off their private jets? Sydney is investing $500 million and installing two kid’s play areas you know.)

I have however saved the best for last – the true winner in my quest for the best kid-friendly airport in the universe has to be Changi. Not only do they have nap areas and a movie lounge,  and an entertainment deck,  and a nexus lounge,  and an explorers lounge,  they have five gardens including a butterfly garden,  AND A POOL. THAT’S RIGHT, A POOL. God Bless them.


I think every parent is with me in saying that Changi inflicts a beatdown of epic proportions. (Changi: A++++++ Go to the top of the class and gloat shamelessly).