'My 14-year-old just gave me the best life advice.'

It’s not all that surprising that this life lesson should have come from a 14-year-old. When you live with a teen day after day, you spend a lot less time listening to them that you should. Most of the time you’re just bossing them around, telling home to clean up and get ready and did I mention, CLEAN UP! It can be easy to under appreciate their idealistic young minds.

And so it was that I was climbing the giant slide in the Hunter Valley with my 11-year-old when I turned to find my teen was also trailing behind.

We’d travelled here for an overnight getaway and were neck deep in activities at Snow Time in the Gardens in the Hunter Valley. Once a year, the 60 hectare gardens are transformed into a winter wonderland complete with giant slides,  a skating rink and tobogganing.

Image via Snow Time in the Gardens.

It's lots of fun, especially younger kids.  But you can never tell with a teen. At her age certain events and experiences are often written off as “lame” or dumb”.

But here she was dragging her mat up the stairs with the rest of us.

“I've decided to make lots of moments in life Mum," she said. "I'm going to do stuff - participate  - and make moments."

Such wise words. Such a reminder to me to not forget to be in the moment in this one life instead of constantly being focused on to-do lists and jobs.

It's so easy when we are living hectic lives with two parents working and two kids in school to forget that THIS IS IT…this is the time to make moments, right now on the giant slide.

So that is what this weekend in the Hunter Valley became. A weekend of making moments, first on the giant slide and playing in the arcade and then in the skating rink holding hands with my teen, aware as I looked over at her grinning face that here might not be too more of these magic moments; that soon she would be out of school and doing her own thing.

I looked around and saw dozens of other families, smiles on their faces as they tried to stay upright on the ice, some pushing the skating penguins with their kids on top so they could enjoy the ice without the drama of learning how to skate. They were all making memories too, I hope.

We topped up the fun with some snowball fights in the  play zone and then some toboggan rides on a man made ice slide. When I say toboggan I mean on large tubes down a 40 metres slide. It was easy for one slide to turn into another, and then another.


The bonus part about being at Snow Time in the Gardens was the incredible weather. It was a crisp sunny winter day so we spent most of it with our jackets off even though we came armed with snow gloves and beanies.

We ate lunch and checked out the ice sculptures and face painting and the giant snow globe. Kids climb inside and run around the inflatable ball.

Image via Snow Time in the Gardens.

I'd lived in Sydney all my life but never been to the Hunter Valley gardens, a sprawling and beautiful series of landscaped gardens  in the Brokenback Ranges, in the heart of the Hunter vineyards.

You could spent the weekend doing a wine tour of the vineyards (Tempus Two) and that's what a lot of people come for. But this night away suited us much better. We wandered through the Oriental garden, the sunken garden and the storybook garden - each more beautiful than the last. Just walking and talking and taking photos. Making moments.

By afternoon it was beer o'clock so we adjourned to Harrigan's Irish Pub which was a short drive or walk away through the vineyards. We had a couple of drinks in the beer garden then ate dinner in the bistro with a bottle of wine. Then it was back to our room for a fire and a spa bath.

In the spirit of making moments we took a helicopter ride the next morning to get a look at the whole of the Hunter and the town of Pokolbin. It's probably not something you'd do every weekend. But the kids' excited faces as we prepare for take off were worth it.

We drove two hours from Sydney and two hours back. And were gone 24 hours in all. But it was just a perfect weekend away ...making moments. Don't forget to do the same.

For more information about Harrigans Irish Pub and Snow Time in the Gardens   visit their websites. For information about helicopter flights in the Hunter visit slatteryhelicopters.com.au

Kate de Brito and her family were guests of Snow Time in the Garden.

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