8 Drive-In Movie tips for families – Backlot Rooftop, Docklands Melbourne

The Urban Ma at Docklands drive ins Backlot Rooftop open air cinema

The Backlot Rooftop Drive-in
Harbour Town, Docklands

Once upon a rooftop four kids and their families watched the stunning sun set behind a giant ferris wheel. It was like the sun and the stars tagged team to transform the romantic lingering hues of the dusk sky to a glamorous glittering city skyline.

What: An open air cinema with a difference – a rooftop drive-in with 360 degree views of beautiful Melbourne city. Perfect for date nights and movie nights with the fam bam!
When: every night (check the Backlot Rooftop website for times)
Where: 90 Waterfront Way, Docklands (the multi-level carpark in Harbour Town)

On Boxing Day, we headed outside and upwards away from the hoards of people frantically stealing car spaces and shopping the Boxing Day sales to watch a movie. Not any old movie. We wanted to be outdoors. We wanted to try something new. We wanted do something that the whole family would love. The newly opened Backlot Rooftop Drive-in ticked everything off our list and more.

Entry is per car and prices vary depending on what day you go so check the website for the latest show times and information. I borrowed my grandad’s 7-seater and brought my parents along with me, while my brother and his family had their car and we parked next to each other. For those that might be in the city or are Uber-ing it in, there’s also a deck area with chairs set up if you don’t have a car to bring but still want to enjoy the rooftop drive in experience.

Melbourne bucketlist drive-ins Backlot rooftop drive in Docklands

With a huge movie screen set up on the top floor of a multi-level carpark, the Backlot Rooftop Drive-in makes such perfect use of a space with a view that I wonder why no one’s every thought of it before ! I haven’t been to the drive-ins since I was twelve and that wasn’t even in Melbourne. It was on a family holiday to the Gold Coast. I remember watching a double feature – Speed with Sandra Bullock and Keanu Reeves and The Good Son with Macualay Culkin and Elijah Wood – and we were crammed in a little car watching through the foggy windows.

This time around, we backed up our cars and watched the upbeat musical comedy, Trolls from the comfort of the boot. It was such a fun night out and the ultimate way to relax after the excitement of Christmas that I think we’ve found a new Boxing night tradition! We had such a great time that I’m already checking out the showtimes to see what else we can watch.

8 Drive-in movie tips for families

1. Get comfy! – Park the car backwards and set up the boots space into your own little mini gold class cinema experience. Bring along some blankets, pillows, soft toys for the kids, fold out chairs, whatever makes you feel most comfy when watching a movie

2. Arrive early – We came half an hour early to our 8:30pm session and were actually a little too early! Being drive-in newbies I didn’t take into account that the sun was still up at this time and so the movie didn’t actually start until around 9.15pm. So we were waiting for a while. But it’s still a good idea to arrive early to give you time to; find a spot (we were directed by helpful parking attendants), park the car and get set up without having to rush. Check out the little food stall with snacks and refreshments and familiarise yourself with where the toilets are in case the little ones need to go in a hurry.

3. Enjoy the view – With 360 degree views of Melbourne and Docklands, watching a movie is almost a backdrop to Melbourne’s gorgeous buildings and the mesmerising lights of the Melbourne Star Observation Wheel. While waiting for your movie to start, sit back and take it all in. Nothing prettier than spending a night under the stars

4. Bring snacks – Unlike the traditional movies, you can bring any snacks you like into a drive-in and even if we’ve just eaten a meal at home, by the time we get out of the house, everyone in my family, including me, always seems to get hungry again! It’s either that or we just want to buy food to taste! There’s a little food stall that sells popcorn, coffee, drinks etc however we hadn’t had dinner yet so we picked up three large pizzas on the way to the drive-ins and these were a hit! No fuss, easy, and always delicious. You can’t go wrong with pepperoni, Aussie with mushrooms and BBQ chicken pizzas. Pack some fruit and dips for a healthier option or if it’s a romantic date night, set up a pretty little antipasto platter with some wine. I read on their website that they’ll have foodtrucks on some nights too so that would be another cool option.

5. Bring cash – just in case you want to buy something and on the odd occassion that the EFTPOS isn’t working.

6. Bring a flashlight…or glow bracelets – In case you need to go to the loo in the middle of the movie or make your way to get a popcorn or coffee, bring a flashlight to help light the way. Glow sticks or bracelets would add to the fun!

7. Did I mention get comfy? -Bring a jacket and beanie in case it’s a cool night or even just wear your pyjamas! I think we’ll totally do that next time – have a pyjama themed family movie night. The kids would love it! Bringing along some insect repellent might also come in handy!

8. Relax and have fun! – One of the reasons why we haven’t been to a movie in a while is because we’ve got an active four year old and a curious one year old. Being at a drive-in gives you space if the kids need to stretch their legs and explore a little without having to feel bad that you’re getting up out of your seat and blocking the screen.

Pizza time! 
Melbourne foodtrucks backlot rooftop drive in Docklands kid friendlyAll the staff were so friendly, it was like everyone was on an opening night high.

A new generation of Melbournians experiencing the magic of the drive-ins

Melbourne city skyline best view Drive in movies Docklands
Seriously, can Melbourne get any prettier? The purple pink haze was just beautiful

signage Melbourne to do kid friendly family drive ins Backlot rooftop Docklands The Urban MA
Clear signage is everywhere as soon as you enter the carpark so it’s really easy to find. The car park fee is included in the entry price.Backlot rooftop drive in movies MelbourneWe watched Trolls and the other big screen was showing Red Dog. In between the two screens was the food truck.
Backlot Rofftop Melbourne drive-ins Docklands
Even my parents got in on the drive-in experience all snuggled up under a blanket!

Have you got any more drive-in tips for us? It was our first time going to a drive-in in Melbourne, the first of many. We’re totally coming back for more.

Reflections – An endearing little read about Christmas

With all the buzzing of Christmas preparations around, non stop emails of sale offers and ongoing Facebook notifications, I sat down the other day making myself comfy in one of my favourite places in our home, the Snuggle chair. Surrounded by things to read and with a cup of hot chamomile tea in hand I came across this lovely little passage.
I hope you all had a very merry Christmas this year and spent quality time with loved ones.
Nativity scene Christmas The Urban Ma blog
One week before Christmas, a well-known visitor made a surprise appearance…
I had just finished the household chores and was preparing for bed when a noise startled me. I
cautiously opened the door to the front room. To my amazement, Santa Claus stepped from
behind the Christmas tree! He placed one finger over his mouth so I would not cry out.
“What are you doing here?” I exclaimed. Then I realized that Santa had tears in his eyes. His
usual jolly manner was gone. The eager, boisterous soul we all know was very sad. Santa
offered one, simple statement,
I was puzzled—what did he mean?
Anticipating my question, with one quick movement he brought forth a great bag from behind the tree.
I stood there bewildered. Santa explained, “Teach the Children! Teach them the old meaning of
Christmas. So many people today have forgotten what Christmas is really about!”
Santa then reached into his bag, pulled out a tiny FIR TREE, and placed it on the mantle.
“Teach the Children that the stately fir tree remains green all year round, showing the
everlasting hope of mankind. The needles point heavenward, making it a symbol of ourprayers that always reach God.”
Santa again reached into his sack and pulled out a brilliant STAR.
 “Teach the Children thatthe Bethlehem star was the sign of promises long ago. God promised to send a Savior to deliverthe world. The bright star pointed to the fulfillment of that promise—God’s only Son had been born!”
Next, Santa pulled a CANDLEfrom his bag.
“Teach the Children that the candle symbolizes that Jesus, God’s Son, is the light of the world.
When we see this light remember the One who overcomes the darkness.”
Once again Santa reached into his sack. This time he removed a WREATH and placed it on the tree.
“Teach the Children that the wreath reveals the endless nature of God’s love. Real love never
ceases. Nothing can stop God’s amazing love.”
Santa then pulled from his bag an ornament of HIMSELF.
“Teach the Children that Santa Claus symbolizes the generosity and good will we show to others because God has given us His
very special Son. Don’t forget to tell the Children that Saint Nicolas was not part of the first Christmas in Bethlehem.”
Santa then reached into his sack and carefully placed a CANDY CANE on the tree.
“Teach the children that the candy cane represents the shepherd’s staff. The crook on the staff rescues
sheep who have strayed from the flock. God never gives up on people who wander from Him.”
Next, He removed a delicate ANGEL and lifted it to the very top of the tree.
“Teach the Children that angels shouted the glorious news of the Savior’s birth. These heavenly messengers sang
‘Glory to God in the highest! Peace and good will to everyone on earth!’”
Finally, Santa pulled out a beautifully wrapped GIFT.
He said, “Teach the Children that God deeply loves people, so He gave them His most precious gift—Jesus, His only Son. When the
wise men arrived in Bethlehem, they bowed before the Child and presented gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh.
This is why we give gifts to others each Christmas.”
Then Santa paused. He stared at the tree and seemed to be pleased. I saw that the twinkle had
returned to his eyes. He turned, looked at me, and smiled. Santa offered these final words,
“Remember to teach the Children the true meaning of Christmas. Please don’t put me in the
center, for I am but a humble servant. Jesus Christ is the real reason for the Christmas season. I
am glad to join all others who bow down and worship Him, our Lord and God.”
— Author Unknown.

5 Places in Melbourne to Celebrate this Filipino Tradition – Simbang Gabi!

5 places to experience Simbang Gabi in Melbourne

The most liveable city in the world not only has spectacular landmarks, world class events and, cuisine and coffee second to none, it also has a vibrant mix of the most friendly and welcoming people. Maybe this has something to do with the fact that Melbourne is made up of such a vibrant mix of ethnicities in which a myriad of customs and traditions are celebrated, igniting people’s imaginations, sense of belonging and passion.

 Simbang gabi pandesal Melbourne The Urban Ma blog

It’s that most wonderful time of year again when fresh, soft pandesal and sticky Filipino desserts are enjoyed together after a mass that takes place as the sun rises. Simbang Gabi (dawn mass) is a tradition brought over from the Philippines and celebrated each year during the nine days leading up to Christmas.

Rising with the break of dawn, community members full of faith and joyful spirit attend the novena celebrations with the twinkling hope that upon completion of making it to all of the nine masses, their wishes and petitions will be granted.

Be it the granting of wishes, the tasty Filipino fare, the harmonious guest choirs and priests or the celebration of mass, it has been amazing to see this tradition being embraced by so many people in the community from different backgrounds. I remember when I was a little girl, my parents used to drive to Braybrook’s Christ the King church to attend Simbang Gabi as it was the only parish that celebrated the dawn mass tradition. These days Simbang Gabi masses can be found in various Parish in Melbourne.

Now with two young ones, I find that waking up and rising in the sun, and sitting in silence listening to the stories of guest priests and the sweet melodies of the choirs, is an amazing way to start the day. Quiet moments and reflection with two under 5 is a rarity so these days I cherish this tradition even more. Especially with all the hustling and bustling people around during this time of year, the early morning stillness is priceless.

puto Filipino Christmas tradition in Melbourne simbang Gabi Noel Brady Resurrection Parish simbang gabisopas at Simbang Gabi Melbourne dawn mass filipino Resurrection Parish Christmas in MelbourneResurrection Parish Christmas in Melbourne Simbang gabi

Today we are blessed to have the spirit of hope and love alive in Melbourne during Christmas that you can find Simbang Gabi being celebrated in numerous parishes.

Resurrection Parish, Kings Park (Congratulations on its 15th year of celebrating Simbang Gabi in Melbourne!)

St Peter Apostle, Werribee

St Peter Chanel, Deer Park

Holy Eucharist, St Albans

St Francis Xavier, Frankston

and now Our Lady’s, Maidstone

Does your parish celebrate this Filipino tradition or do you know of any others in Melbourne that do?

If so leave a comment below and share the spirit and joy of Christmas.

The Variety Santa Fun Run

Ditching the Friday after work drinks for a Friday night fun run

Variety Santa Fun Run – Melbourne

What better way to end the week than with a fun run. It was our first ever time committing to something of the sort. After watching my little brother complete his first ever run I was inspired. Albeit I didn’t do nearly as many kilometres as him! – he completed 22kms and we were so excited and proud! We had been meaning to start running the other year…but then I got pregnant and didn’t think it would be a good time to start on that activity so I just kept up with my daily walks and pregnancy pilates. Our biggest inspiration would definitely have to be my dad. I always remember him telling us the story of when he joined in a fun run and ran over the Westgate Bridge while it was so heavily pouring down rain. The rest of the story may be TMI so you’ll have to ask him for the rest of the details yourself. Let’s just say it was good it was raining so much.

We joined in the 5km stretch and walked/ran our way around the Yarra with some of Melbourne’s iconic landmarks in the background. Melbourne’s buzzing happy hour crowd seemed surprised to see a plethora of Santas running under the Princes Bridge, and everyone cheered us on as we endeavored to make our way to the finish line before our two kids in prams started wanting to get out of their seats for a little run around of their own. We had to keep them occupied with drinks and snacks!

It was a fun way to help kids be kids and spread the Christmas spirit of hope to those in need. And get a little exercise in there too!

Us and the kids in a sea of Santas – Variety, the Children’s Charity help when others can’t helping children who are sick, disadvantaged or have special needs through the provision of specialist equipment and services when families can’t afford it, and when government assistance isn’t available.Variety Santa Fun Run santa squad Melbourne eventsIt was a kid-friendly, family-friendly and pet friendly event!
warm up fitness Variety Fun Run SantaWarm ups before it started
Variety Santa Fun Run Melbourne Held at the Alexandra Gardens there were food trucks and we were spoilt with goodies at the finish line with yummy Jalna yoghurts, Bellamy’s organic baby food, Ardona water and even vouchers and mini pancakes from The Pancake Parlour. The smoky BBQ rolls from Smokin Barry’s food truck were a hit!

Care to share any tips for us newbie runners? Thanks in advance! xx

Mama Mondays – One of my favorite times of the day

Simple Nighttime Routine

Ever since becoming a mum I have tried to find that balance between trying to keep the house clean, find good recipes to cook, actually cook them, play with the kids, work, exercise, blog, grocery shop, relax, the list goes on. And so far, the one routine that actually works is our nighttime routine.

This is one of my most favorite times of the day. The time where we’re all fed, clean and snuggled up in bed. Our 4-year-old leads us some daily prayers and then right at the end my husband and I will ask him “Daniel, what are you grateful for today?”. To which he has replied with the most random, inspiring and heartwarming thoughts. It’s so interesting hearing what he has to say and it has always helped us to end the day on a happy, positive note no matter what else has happened.

Just the other night:

Me: So Daniel, what are you grateful for today?
Daniel: Thanks to God for my family and thank you for our hearts.
Me: Our hearts??
Daniel: Yes because it pumps the blood around.
Me: Why does it pump the blood around?
Daniel: So the blood goes to all the part of our body.
Me: Did you know that there are red blood cells and white blood cells?
Daniel: Yeah, the white blood cells help my sugats get better! (sugat – Tagalog word for wound)

Sometimes it’s just so random, the things he says. And it’s a good conversation starter because we end up hearing more about how he perceives the world and the events that have happened during the day. In this case, he said he got it from his “body book” – a book for kids that I bought for him a while ago. We haven’t read it in so long so it was so random that he thought of it. Not sure if was exposed to anything at preschool or on tv but it kind of makes me want to learn more about or study early childhood learning because he really, truly absorbs everything around him.

What is your nighttime routine and what are you grateful for today?

Sunday Reflections – A reminder

The Urban MA blog Melbourne bloggers
Sunday mornings are the best. This of course means different things when you have two under four. Even 8am is a sleep in!
Relaxed breakfast time. Maybe even a short walk. And of course we start the week off with an hour to reflect, give thanks and prepare. I love this time of year and even more so when we are surrounded by kindness, peace and like-minded people who are grateful and filled with hope and joy.
As we sat down for our morning coffee and hot chocolate after mass (free of course, and served with a smile!), I saw this little paragraph (see below) in our Parish bulletin. It is always filled with surprising little words of wisdom, stories of the locals and events that help bring people together in unity and love. It is published weekly with a Big Bulletin being published monthly. Something for everyone.
Life may be kicking you around right now, but I’m telling you that you can’t imagine the good that awaits you when you refuse to give up.
Stay focused on your dream, you have the power to change your circumstances.
Let nothing hold you back!
How do you spend the first few hours of your week? ‘Tis the season to spread hope, peace and love, not run around like headless chooks! Just something I need to keep reminding myself 😉
Wishing you a week that’s not too hectic as we draw closer to Christmas.

Blogmas 2016 – Day 3 Our first Wiggles concert

Melbourne Town Hall projections Christmas in Melbourne

Just got home a couple of hours ago from attending our first ever Wiggles concert and spending the rest of the evening in the city. It was the perfect evening to be out and about as the weather was so balmy it really felt like summer may finally be here. Tonight I am grateful for:

– having my parents close by who are so happy to look after our little ones while we went out and partied last night. It felt so good to be able to sleep in and wake up together and just be
– being able to take the kids to their first ever Wiggles concert. Music and dance. What more could you ask for? Makes me so happy inside!
– living in such a vibrant and interesting city with both amazing sights and beautiful people
– being close to my siblings and being able to make memories with my niece and nephew
– our two kiddos for constantly giving us new things to experience. If it weren’t for Mr D wanting to go, I never would’ve thought I could enjoy a kids concert so much hehe! Thank you little munchkins for always being so full of wonder and appreciation. Here’s to many more firsts with you!

Blogmas 2016 The Wiggles concert