The day Archie was born, we were told “This is the worst case we have ever seen”, “I haven’t seen anything quite like this in my career”, “I don’t know what is wrong with his lungs”.

Being told your newborn baby, in our case, twin 2, is unwell and may not survive the next 48 hours is not something any parent wants to hear.

We were petrified. We were scared of losing our baby. Our boys were born prematurely at 30+4 at the Mater Mothers Hospital, Brisbane. The story leading up to this moment can be found by clicking here.

Archie’s initial diagnosis

Within 40 seconds of birth, Archie had respiratory failure and was intubated. It was clear to the doctors, at that moment, that something was catestrophically wrong with our tiny baby.

thewelltravelledfamily Archie du Preez

Weighing in at 1.23kg (2.7lb), Archie was born with Chronic Neonatal Lung Disease, Interstitial Lung Disease, Patent Ductus Arteriosus (PDA), Pneumonia and Jaundice.

The doctors were so unsure what was wrong with Archie, they had to start treating him blindly, hoping something would help him. Archie had several blood gases, full blood workups, multiple chest and abdomen X-rays, echocardiograms, head ultrasounds, blood cultures and Retinopathy of prematurity (ROP) eye testing (which is a disease of premature babies that causes abnormal blood vessels to grow in the retina, the layer of nerve tissue in the eye that enables us to see. This growth can cause the retina to detach from the back of the eye, leading to blindness) all within the first few days.

They started Archie on antibiotics to see if that would clear the Pneumonia, which could be causing the fluid in his lungs. They also started him on Ibuprofen which is the first step to treating the PDA and getting this to close, which in most babies happens naturally after birth. Archie had two rounds of ibuprofen (6 August and 9 August and a round of paracetamol which started on 13 August).

What is a PDA?

In PDA, abnormal blood flow occurs between two of the major arteries connected to the heart. Before birth, the two major arteries-the aortae and the pulmonary artery-are connected by a blood vessel called the ductus arteriosus. This vessel is an essential part of fetal blood circulation.

Our Doctor thought that the PDA may be a contributing factor for the fluid, so if that was treated, it may help identify the underlying lung issue. Thankfully the PDA closed on 16 August and did not require surgery – yay! But, this did not help Archie’s lungs so we were back to the drawing board.

We think it’s something extremely rare…

The doctors started talking about all of these medical terms and possible diagnosis which meant nothing to us at the time. So, we asked a lot of questions and Steven did a lot of research, something I didn’t want to do because the results of these specific tests, if positive, was something we did not want for our baby. They all resulted in some serious disability or even death.

Two days after birth, Archie was tested for the Surfactant Protein DNA as the specialists thought he may not be producing the surfactant. Thankfully this test came back negative, but also meant we were back to the drawing board… again.

An Endotracheal tube (ETT)Lavage was also done two days after birth to get a sample of the fluid to be sent off to the lab to determine what exactly this disease could be.

It was a never-ending guessing game, with our Doctor sending off just about every test imaginable. This at one point included testing for the NKX2-1 variant which required blood samples from both Steven and myself to check for a genetic disease, this was also negative.

Respiratory Support from birth

Archie was intubated at birth which means he was put onto a high-frequency ventilator which essentially gave him around 300 breaths per minute. Without this type of ventilator, Archie’s lungs would have collapsed.

I had my first kangaroo cuddle 9 days after Archie was born whilst Archie was on the high-frequency ventilator. It was the most stressful cuddle of my life. I had to hold the back of Archie’s head firmly because if he pulled back and the tube came out, he would be in serious trouble. I was petrified that I was going to move and pull the tubes out.

On 16 August 2018, at 10 days old, Archie was put onto a conventional ventilator. This was only for 4 days when the team decided to try Archie on CPAP (Continuous Positive Airway Pressure), and he surprised everyone and managed well.

Archie hated CPAP, he would manage to face plant in the right spot to disconnect the snorkel on his face, which of course caused him to desaturate! He absolutely kept the nurses busy 🙂

With one failed attempt, on 5 September 2018, on high flow, Archie finally transferred over to High Flow on 19 September 2018. He found this to be much more comfortable.

We could finally look at his beautiful little face without a giant plastic snorkel on. This is when we started to get some smiles from our little man. He was finally able to feel like himself. His smile was contageous.

For Archie, every day he had to fight, fight for his life. This is something we didn’t ever forget. He would go from being good to desaturating in an instant.

Imagine running a marathon, only you’re unable to stop for a break and catch your breath. This is how Archie felt every day. He was running a marathon.

It’s now time to start Steroids

The words we didn’t want to hear. It was a last resort. We were once told that steroids are poison and we will avoid giving them for as long as practically possible. So, when our Doctor said we need to start a round of steroids, we felt sick. The list of side effects of giving doses of steroids particularly to a premature infant is long… very long. They told us it could potentially cause a neurological disability, it could cause developmental delays amongst many other things.

We had no choice. This was the best course of treatment for giving Archie any hope of survival. Archie’s first dose of Dexamethasone (Dex) was given on 23 September followed by another dose on 11 October.

Roid Rage is a real thing, even in neonatal babies. There were a few days in each course that made Archie angry and frustrated. But, we took every opportunity to make sure Henry and Archie had plenty of play time!

Our Doctor wanted to try a course of Methylprednisolone (Methyl Pred) which is a 3-day course of steroids. This didn’t make a difference for Archie so it was back to the Dex after that.

1 in 3 chance of survival…

We met with Archie’s respiratory specialist, who was an absolutely incredible Doctor. He was very honest with us, right from the beginning, which we really appreciated.

He told us he hasn’t seen anything quite like this before and was unsure what the actual diagnosis was. We were told that a Lung Biopsy and Bronchoscopy were the last remaining steps in attempting to diagnose the underlying lung disease. Even with these procedures, there is a chance that no diagnosis would be determined. However, they could work out if there is treatment suitable or not.

We were also advised that a baby has significant growth in the 3 – 6 month period and this is where we would likely know if Archie’s lungs were going to manage. Our Respiratory Doctor said that we will know by the time Archie reaches 6 months if his lungs will manage with his growth or not. For us, 6 months would have taken us through to February 2019.

A 1 in 3 chance of survival is what we were told we were dealing with. As a parent, hearing those odds and knowing your Doctor is more pessimistic than optimistic is very hard to hear. However, our Doctors never ever gave up.

100 days in NICU… well 95 days!

When your baby hits 100 days in the NICU, there is a party! Archie was transferred to Queensland Children’s Hospital at 95 days so the wonderful team arranged an early 100-day party for Archie. It was so sweet.

It’s time to leave NICU and head to PICU

Something we didn’t want to happen. We didn’t want to leave our amazing Neonatologist, the wonderful nurses who had become our friends. We didn’t want to have to start again. However, we kept the same Respiratory specialist which we were really happy with as he has worked so hard for Archie in the first 95 days.

Although we didn’t want to go to Queensland Children’s Hospital (QCH), we understood the reason why. Archie had become a term baby and his requirements and development needs were something that QCH could offer Archie.

It’s time for a Lung Biopsy and Bronchoscopy…

The last thing on the list… a Lung Biopsy and Bronchoscopy… We weren’t sure if it was something we wanted to do. It wouldn’t change the outcome, so why put him through surgery and being ventilated again?

The answer was simple in the end. The simple truth was that the biopsy could possibly determine the disease but more importantly for us, it could possibly determine if there is a treatment plan or not.

We made it clear from the very beginning to the Doctors that we only ever wanted what was best for Archie and doing procedures unnecessarily was something we weren’t interested in. We also didn’t want to continue to pump steroids into his tiny body, for what could be absolutely no reason at all. So, we decided to go ahead with the Lung Biopsy. For this, we had to wait until Archie had reached 3.5kg in weight.

At this point in time, it was the hardest thing I had to do as a mum… walk my baby down to the operating rooms and leave him there to be ventilated again in preparation for surgery. I lay him down on the bed and the doctor had accidentally removed his feeding tube while repositioning his tape on his face. Archie was distraught. The doctor looked at me and asked me to leave. It was one of the hardest moments of my life, leaving him there so upset.

The whole procedure took a couple of hours and they wheeled him back up to PICU, still ventilated and sedated. It was so hard to see him like that, with all the tubes, drips and machinery… it took me back to when he was first born.


The results of the biopsy and bronchoscopy

We waited a very long week to hear anything back. We sat down with the respiratory consultant who was working that week, the same Doctor who had arranged Archie’s biopsy and bronc, and she showed us a series of images. She was showing us the images of Archie’s lungs and explaining to us the tissue we were seeing was not good tissue. We asked her to show us what a good piece of lung tissue looked like… she spent a few minutes and then said, “I’m sorry, I can’t see any good lung tissue”. It was at that moment, I realised that there was little to no hope for our little warrior.

What they did see is that there was an Alveolar Growth Abnormality and Alveolar Growth Simplification.

Alveoli are an important part of the respiratory system whose function it is to exchange oxygen and carbon dioxide molecules to and from the bloodstream. These tiny, balloon-shaped air sacs sit at the very end of the respiratory tree and are arranged in clusters throughout the lungs.

For this, there is no treatment. No steroids, no medication, nothing. We sit and wait, we wait for Archie to grow and see if his lungs grow with him and support his weight growth and development.

Off to the babies ward, 9B

We transferred from PICU to the Babies Ward which we were so happy about. We didn’t have the best experience in PICU so being in the babies ward was a good move for us. The nursing staff in the babies ward were fantastic and because they choose to work with babies under the age of 1, their care for the babies is wonderful – they wanted to be there.

We were doing so well. Archie was enjoying Music Therapy with Maggie twice a week – a highlight for all of us there. We had regular visits with Physio, Occupational Therapy and Speech Therapy. Archie was developing really well. He was doing everything we wanted him to do. He was such a clever boy!

We had a glimmer of hope…

He was growing but at this point we weren’t sure if his lungs were growing with him.

But our glimmer of hope was short lived when Archie developed Bronchiolitis.

I had put Archie in his swing in the cot and he was watching some TV. He was calm and peaceful… next thing I hear the alarms ringing and his heart rate sitting at 210, I thought this can’t be right… he isn’t upset, the sats probe on his foot must be falling off. I checked it, it was fine, Archie wasn’t upset, but I noticed he was sweating a lot. I called the nurse over and she did a quick set of obs and very quickly realised that it was accurate and something wasn’t quite right.

The Doctors were sure he had picked up Bronchiolitis and we were moved to an isolation room and a course of antibiotics was started to try and treat this infection. We spent nearly two weeks with Archie fighting this infection. Every day Archie gave us smiles, he was such a happy baby despite what was going on.

Our first family Christmas

Something we thought we would never get as a family of four… our First Christmas.

The festive season started for us when two amazing nurses, Billy-Jo and Rosie, arranged a portable high flow from PICU and helped us go down to see Santa for the boys first Santa photo.

It was so nice to leave Archie’s room, even it was for such a short time! We went down for our Santa photos and then on the way back up, we went onto the balcony for a half hour and enjoyed the fresh air and wind in Archie’s long hair. It was such a beautiful afternoon.

On Christmas morning, we arrived to see a drip in Archie’s arm. He had a very high temp overnight and struggling to fight it and seemed quite unsettled and unwell. Definitely not how we wanted to spend Christmas Day, or any day to be honest. But, it is what it is and we had to make the most of the time with our boys.

The incredible staff had made onesies for both the boys, a gorgeous frame and presents for not just Archie, but for Henry as well. It was a really special day and it didn’t matter that we were in the hospital, we were all together and that was the main thing.

Then, it all started to feel wrong…

Call it mother’s intuition if you like, but on Monday morning, the 7th of January 2019, I knew something wasn’t right with Archie.

I spent the day holding him, like every other day. He was working hard. So hard. To do something as simple as a fart, he struggled… it took every ounce of energy he had to get it out. He would desaturate and then require an increase of oxygen to get him back up again. Then, when he had to do a poo, it was traumatic, for both of us. He would get so upset, he would sweat, balls of sweat on his head, again the oxygen had to be increased just to get him back up to where he needed to be.

It was a struggle. I went home and said to Steven that something wasn’t right. On Tuesday morning, the Doctors doing the rounds said that our respiratory Doctor wanted to meet with us on Thursday. I knew right away what they were going to tell us. At this point, I was scared. I was scared of what he was going to tell us. It was the longest few days.

The meeting that changed our lives…

We met with the Doctors on Thursday afternoon. It was a conversation I had imagined over and over in my head… I thought I was prepared for what he was going to tell us. I wasn’t. Nothing can prepare you for your Doctor telling you that your baby is struggling. His liver had started to compensate, his increased oxygen requirements a few weeks prior indicated that he was struggling to cope with his increased weight and development.

It was at this point, our Doctor wanted to meet again the following Tuesday to talk about the next steps and getting the Palliative Care team involved.

Just hearing the words Palliative Care… I knew it was the beginning of the end.

Archie’s high flow requirements had increased from 9L to 10L and his Oxygen is averaging around 40%. There was a point that Archie’s oxygen was room air (21%). Archie’s C02 output had increased to around 70. The Doctors started a 3-day course of Methylprednisolone to try and help Archie feel a little better. It was an attempt to let Archie know that we hear him and are trying to make him more comfortable.

On Friday morning, our Doctor wanted to meet again and bring forward the Tuesday meeting. They explained to us the reason why Archie was starting to work a little harder. This is due to the fact that Archie has set a new baseline for his C02. His body has started to help him manage this new baseline, but as a result, his other organs are starting to help. When Archie is desaturating, he becomes hypoxic (lack of oxygen flowing through the blood) which makes him very unsettled and uncomfortable. 

The Babies Ward we were in bent all sorts of rules to accommodate us so we didn’t have to go back down to PICU and would allow Archie to stay in the ward until his flow hits 3L per kilo (around a flow of 15) and his oxygen hits 50%. If Archie had required additional support to this, he would have been moved down to PICU.

Although we see Archie’s doctors daily, we sat down in a family meeting to have a very real and honest conversation about Archie’s current state. This is the meeting we were told Archie will start another 3 days of steroids. The steroids were not a treatment for what Archie has (there is no treatment), which is Chronic Neonatal Lung Disease, Interstitial (Unknown) Lung Disease with an Alveolar Growth Abnormality. However, the steroids would hopefully let Archie know we hear that he is uncomfortable and this will provide some comfort to him and he will know we are trying to help ease this for him.

In the meeting on Friday afternoon, Archie’s Doctors asked me to sign a DNR (do not resuscitate) form. This is for if Archie’s saturations drop to a level where he is transferred to PICU and they will attempt to ventilate Archie and if he flatlines will provide CPR, which is not what we wanted them to do for Archie. This form ensured Archie would not end up on a ventilator.

We knew at this time, Archie was in his final weeks of his life…

Our Doctors referred us to Palliative Care and their job was to help manage Archie’s pain with medication to ensure he was comfortable and doesn’t have periods of unsettledness. Steven and I spent every day with our little superhero, making memories that will last us a lifetime. Archie fought so hard to get to this point. Considering we were told he wouldn’t survive 48 hours, let alone a week or two to make it past 5 months of age. He was a true Miracle and an absolute superhero. We were so lucky to be able to get to know him.

The incredible Palliative Care team…

I can’t speak highly enough of this wonderful team. The work they do is outstanding. We met with the team over the weekend. They asked us one question… “What is the one thing we can do for you?”

The answer was simple, but we thought was out of reach… We said we would like to bring Archie home. Without hesitation, they said they will start working on it and do everything they can to make it happen.

We asked for one other thing.. that was to spend Archie’s end of life at Hummingbird House. They started working on logistics on how that might work as well.

Archie’s Great Adventure – Day 162

Archie’s Great Adventure, named by Karen in the Palliative Care Team, was in full swing. It was happening. We couldn’t believe we were taking our baby home, finally.

Logistically, it was very difficult to arrange. Firstly, they had to arrange the Queensland Ambulance Service and retrieval team to agree to help with the transfer to and from the hospital. Then a portable high flow and oxygen had to be sourced not only for the transfer to and from but also for our apartment. Nothing about this was simple. We weren’t even sure how Archie would cope with the transfer.

The morning arrived… this was it. It was Wednesday, 16 January 2019, we arrived at the hospital, only to find that our wonderful nurse, Vanessa, had made onesies that said Archie’s Great Adventure and also ones that had the boys names on them. It was amazing.

Steven and Henry waited at home and I came via Ambulance with Archie.

From the moment we got to the ambulance from the hospital room, Archie was distressed. I thought right away that they would call the whole thing off and we wouldn’t get our day at home. The staff gave Archie some additional medication to help calm him down and I gave him some sucrose with his dummy. Thankfully, after a few minutes, it did the trick and he slept the whole way home.

Part 1 of the journey started with an ambulance ride from QCH to home. We were able to take Archie to his room, he had a play in his cot and the moment he was put in the cot, the smiles were there. He was so happy to be at home.


From there we moved into the lounge room. Archie had a lovely time playing chimes with his brother, laying under his activity centre and reading a very special book to Henry. Steven and I were able to spend such quality family time together, without any doctors and nurses in sight.

Thankfully, it took the ambulance crew a while to find the extra large ambulance so Steven and Henry could ride with us, so we got an extra 1.5 hours at home. We then moved into our room where Henry visits each morning and the boys had a lovely sleep. 

Then, it was time for Part 2 of Archie’s Great Adventure. A trip to the Botanical Gardens. This was the most special part of the day. Henry and I walked this path well over a hundred times going to and from seeing Archie in the hospital. We always talked about how much Archie would love it in the park, watching the trees, birds and the water. To be able to show Archie these things was the most special moment we could ask for as parents. 

It is safe to say that Archie had the best day of his life and so did we.

Hummingbird House… Our Final stop

Our final stop on this roller coaster of a journey.

We arrived at the hospital on Thursday, 17 January 2019.

We thought the plan was to head to Hummingbird House on Thursday, have all of our family visit on Friday and Archie would be free from his high flow on Saturday.

On Thursday morning, we found out that this wasn’t the case and Hummingbird House cannot cater a child on High Flow for more than a couple of hours.

We then had to make a decision very quickly, if we still wanted to go to Hummingbird House that day or push it out to another day.

The reality had sunk it… today was likely going to be the last day our superhero was on this earth. We knew it was coming, but nothing really prepares you for this moment, and decided to continue with our plan to go to Hummingbird House.

We rang our family to see if they could change their plans and go to Hummingbird House on Thursday afternoon. This meant my brother and his fiance changing their flights from Sydney as they were due to come on Friday morning.

We arrived at Hummingbird House and went straight out to the garden. Our family visited throughout the day to say goodbye to our little boy.

Superhero turned Angel

After a beautiful night sleeping under the stars, our little Archie decided to put on his angel wings at 4.20am on Friday, 18 January 2019.

Thank you to Hummingbird House who welcomed Archie into their home. From the moment we arrived, we ditched the indoors and spent every second outside with the trees, birds and breeze. Archie was so incredibly happy to be there, giving us plenty of smiles. The staff arranged a bed outside under the stars so we could stay outside as a family, a wish we had for Archie, to live out his final day in the fresh air and under the stars.

Our brave little boy had his high flow removed at 6.10pm on Thursday night, 17 January 2019, and we enjoyed the next 10 hours and 10 minutes wire and tube free while snuggling as a family of four under the stars. Archie grew his angel wings just as the sun came up and the birds started to chirp. We couldn’t have asked for anything more for our boy.

Archie passed away very peacefully, surrounded by his mummy, daddy and brother Henry. We made some magical memories over the 5 and a half months we have had the pleasure of knowing Archie and he made us so very proud with how bravely he fought from the moment he was born and how he defied his diagnosis at every step and even grew his wings in his own time, on his own terms. Steven and I will be forever grateful to our Doctors who never gave up and allowed Archie to determine his own path.

Archie will be missed every day for the rest of our lives. We are so grateful to have gotten to know our little superhero and the luckiest parents that he chose us to be his mummy and daddy and Henry to be his twin brother.

Fly high our superhero angel.

You will forever be in our hearts.

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When it all began…

In January 2018 when we found out we were pregnant, we had no idea what was coming our way. It wasn’t until our first scan at 12 weeks with our Obstetrician (OB), Dr Ross Turner at the Wesley,  that we found out we were expecting twins. We were excited about what laid ahead for our new family and all of the adventures we would have as a family of four.

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We were most excited for our 13-week scan with Dr. Frank Carmody at the Wesley as this was our first 3D scan where we could easily see our two babies moving about. The twins moved for the entire 1.5-hour scan! It was incredible.

The scan is of course not really about seeing your babies move around, but rather to check they’re healthy, most importantly that all the organs and limbs are growing the way they should be. Everything looked perfect!

We decided not to find out the sex of our twins – this stayed a surprise until the boys were born.

This is a short video of our 3D scan of our two little babies moving around!

Our first overseas holiday while pregnant…

After a great deal of research on safe holiday destinations while pregnant, we quickly booked our last overseas holiday sans kids. The research took a while… what countries could we visit that are not Zika infected, where is a destination that is ‘pregnancy friendly’, i.e no massive hikes and also the holiday that required the least amount of planning given we gave ourselves only a week or so to plan it!

We landed on a cruise with Norwegian Cruise Line from Japan, sailing to Taiwan, Hong Kong, and China. It was a one-stop shop with minimal planning required!

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The rest of the pregnancy…

It wasn’t until we were back from the trip that we told family and friends about our two little babies on board. I was around 15 weeks pregnant.

I had what would be considered the easiest pregnancy up until 28 weeks. Zero morning sickness, zero cravings (unless you count KFC because the ‘babies’ felt like it!), and zero complications.

We enjoyed our first of two babymoons down at the Sofitel, Darling Harbour. WOW just wow! If you’re thinking of going, definitely click here to read more!

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The second and final babymoon was at the Sofitel Noosa. Again, another WOW property! It was a perfect hotel to relax and enjoy the poolside. If you’re looking at heading north, click here to find out more!

Then, 28 weeks on the dot, Tuesday, 17 July 2018, I woke up at 1.10am with what I thought was Twin 1, subsequently names Henry, sitting on my bladder. I did find it odd, however, decided to ignore it, went back to bed… woke up and went to work. Steven was quite concerned and mentioned several times that morning that he thinks my waters broke… I figured I had seen enough movies to know that when your waters break, you have contractions and then your baby is born. I had zero pain so thought nothing of it.

I called my OB’s office mid-morning (my OB was in Scotland this week!) and staff calmly advised me to make my way to the labour ward at the Wesley Hospital as soon as possible. So, a quick phone call to Steven, who was not surprised, asking him to leave work and meet me at home so we can get to the hospital.

Sure enough, I arrived at the labour ward, met the OB who was covering for Ross this week, Dr. Stephen Cook, who confirmed that Twin 1 had ruptured membranes.

Twin 1 has ruptured membranes… The next 48 hours are critical…

The stress kicked in right then and there. I kept saying, I am only 28 weeks, this can’t happen now, my babies are too small, how will they survive? I am not ready for this.

Stephen gave me a dose of antibiotics, a steroid injection to help boost the lung development of the twins as well as anti-contraction medication as the next 48 hours were absolutely critical for lung development. It was this point that I had to be transferred via ambulance to the Mater Mothers Hospital as the Wesley does not cater for babies before 32 weeks gestation and do not have a Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU).

I was on bed rest with bathroom privileges, every day the twins stayed put, the more they grew, the better the survival rates became. The aim was to get to 32 weeks.

To be honest, you hear about some premature babies, however, I wasn’t really aware of what this meant, what a NICU was or what the likely outcome would be for our boys. Why would you ever need to know any of this stuff unless you absolutely had to? We arranged a tour of the NICU so we knew what to expect after our boys were born.

I received a second steroid injection 10 days later to boost the lung development of the twins. I had a further two scans at the Mater Mother’s to monitor the amniotic fluid around Twin 1 with the ruptured membranes. Both babies appeared to be in good health and nothing to worry about. We were told Twin 1 had quite a bit of hair!

The arrival of our twins…

On Friday, 3 August, close to midnight, I started to get these horrendous pains. Steven was sleeping on the lounge/spouse bed in the room and I was conscious not to wake him up. Having alerted the midwife of the pain, it was put down to round ligament pain based upon where the pain was situated. It got worse. So much worse. I tried heat packs, the fetal position, hot showers and then the midwife put the CTG machine on and even then it wasn’t recording any contractions.

5 am on Saturday, 4 August 2018, I asked the nurse to call my OB to find out what time Stephen would be arriving that morning. Apparently, Ross had told Stephen, who was covering for the weekend, in handover that I had some niggles and the twins may be coming over the weekend. Ross was right!

Stephen told the midwife to take me straight down to the birthing suite. I was 30 weeks + 4 days.

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Twin 1 was in a massive hurry to join us earth-side, he was not waiting for anyone or anything.

It felt like an eternity for them to set up the emergency cesarean room. I think it took around 1.5 hours, however as I was having twins, they needed two of everything and everyone to cater for the two babies.

At 9.17am, Twin 1 (Henry) was born. I got a glimpse of him before he was taken to the room next door. At 9.19am, Twin 2 (Archie) was born. Again, I got a glimpse of him before he was taken to that same room.

All of a sudden, it was just me, my OB and one other person in the room. Everyone else, Steven included, was in the other room with our boys. I had no idea how they were going.

I was then wheeled into recovery and was there for around 1.5 hours.

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On our way back up to our room, they wheeled me in on the big hospital bed to see my boys. I only spent around 5 minutes in there to have my first proper look at them from my bed into the incubators- it is quite intense seeing your boys hooked up to so many tubes, wires and require respiratory support.

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Little did I know what our future would hold…

Back up to the room, we waited for my epidural to wear off so I could get myself into a wheelchair and we could see our boys again.

We went down to NICU and ran into our Neonatologist, Dr. Elizabeth Hurrion, who asked us to go into an interview room for an update on the boys (who were yet to be named at this point). “Let’s start with the easy one, Twin 1 is doing well. He is on CPAP which is to be expected but is doing very well”.

It was not the case for Twin 2. Elizabeth said she had never in her career seen lung x-rays like this before and had no clear idea of what was causing the problem. They started treating Archie for pneumonia and it was also apparent that his Patent Ductus Aarteriosus had not closed after birth which is common in premature babies, so was being treated for that as well.

Archie was born with Neonatal Chronic Lung Disease and later diagnosed with Interstitial Lung Disease with Alveolar Growth Abnormalities. Archie was not expected to survive the weekend. He was our superhero and never gave up. We were blessed with getting to know our Archie for 5.5 months before he swapped his cape over for Angel Wings on 18 January 2019.

For Archie’s full journey, click here.

Family 1

Photo: Photography by Kristy Lee

travel with baby

As we begin to plan our first overseas trip with our son, Henry, we are researching how best to pack for the flight and what are the essentials. We have come up with the below checklist of things we believe are essential for your flight with a baby under one.

travel with a baby

Carry On packing list for your baby under 1

  1. Nappies / Diapers – Take only enough nappies to get you through the flight plus a day or two. Then, look at buying nappies at the local supermarket.
  2. Wet Wipes – This goes without saying! The same as the nappies, take enough to get you through the flight and a day or so and then buy some at a local supermarket.
  3. Baby Carrier – we love our BabyBjorn Carrier One Air and by far our favourite way of getting around with our mate, Henry.
  4. Extra Clothes (Man, Woman and Baby!) – Layers for the plane, change of clothes for the mess and depending on the length of your trip, the next size up if your little one grows as quick as our little Henry.
  5. Blanket â€“ cover them up when sleeping on flights or use it for a spot to sit on the floor.
  6. Toys â€“ keep it simple, something small and portable, you’ll know what this is depending on the age of your little one. The point here is that you really only need a couple of items.
  7. Snacks â€“ Babies on formula, or once on solids, airport security is likely to make an exception with the 100ml limit for baby food. I would suggest the baby food pouches as they’re sealed, quick and easy to use when required.
  8. Pacifier & pacifier clip – this will vary from baby to baby, our little Henry never took to the pacifier and preferred self soothing on his bib.
  9. Panadol / Nurofen – Just in case. It doesn’t hurt to take it with you and it doesn’t take much space. You never know if your little one decides they don’t feel well or have a tooth playing games in the gums.
  10. Nappy / Diaper (disposable) bags–  for dirty diapers and soiled clothing.
  11. Travel change mat – they’re compact and just makes sense.
  12. Hand Sanitizer – you just never know what the public restrooms will be like.
  13. Stroller â€“ optional – this will really depend on your destination. If you’re likely to hang around at a resort, personally I wouldn’t bother taking along our stroller, but if you’re likely to do a lot of stroller appropriate walking (i.e. footpaths etc.) then I might consider it!

Is there anything we’ve missed off this list? Let us know in the comments below!

Carry on check list for adults

Looking for a printable checklist for carry on for yourself? Click here!

Packing planning holidays rolling clothes thewelltravelledman travel blog bucket list tips and reviews hotels flights google

We are Steven, Jenna, Henry (sometimes referred to as King Henry or Hungry Henry) and Archie (our Little Super Hero who swapped his cape for Angel Wings) du Preez.

The Well Travelled Family

Photography by Kristy Lee

To allow you to get to know us, we decided to share a bit about ourselves below 🙂


Steven: The Well Travelled Man 

Husband, father and travel enthusiast (aren’t we all).

Originally from South Africa, my family relocated to Australia and I can honestly say, that is when life began. This is where I met Jenna and started my life as an accountant…

Accounting has its benefits, it is a universal language and has allowed me to work in Brisbane (Australia), Sydney (Australia), London (UK), Budapest (Hungary) as well as Atlanta (USA). Living and working abroad can benefit your career, but more importantly benefits you personally. The people, the culture and things you see every day expands your thoughts and somehow creates a common connection with almost anyone and everyone you meet.

Becoming a parent, we all know, provides perspective, losing our son, Archie, provides a whole other level of perspective and personal development and a reminder to look after the well-being of ourselves and our loved ones.

Things I love

Family. Travel. Dogs. Red Wine. Hiking. The smell of the ocean. Tennis. Grapes. New ideas. Snow. Whiskey. Laughter. Summer. People watching.


Jenna: The Well Travelled Woman

I (Jenna) haven’t had the same luxury of working in many countries, like Steven.  I was born and raised in Brisbane (Australia), and after school, started a traineeship in Business Administration, which then turned into a career as an Executive Assistant.  After being there for 9 (yes 9!!) years, I followed Steven down to Sydney as part of his secondment and our next adventure.  Little did I know, this was the first step in turning me into someone who dreams of travelling the entire world.

It wasn’t long before we realised that we wanted to see more than a few cities in Australia… so off to London we went!  We spent 2 years in London, travelling most of Europe as well as a stop in Morocco, the United States and the Middle East.  I sometimes have to pinch myself to remind me that I am living reality, not a dream.

Things I love

Family. Friends. Travelling the world. Outdoors. Skiing. Dogs. The Beach. Squash. Sunshine. Fresh Air. Netball.


Henry: King Henry or Hungry Henry

Henry joined The Well Travelled Family, as Twin 1, on 4 August 2018.

Henry and Archie (Twin 2) had their first travel experience when they were just the size of an avocado in their mummy’s tummy (Japan, Taiwan and Hong Kong).

Things Henry loves

Eating, Sleeping and clean nappies.

Henry also enjoys being poolside with his favourite drink within close proximity.


Archie: Our little Super Hero

Henry’s little brother Archie was born with a combination of incurable Neonatal Chronic Lung Disease and a rare Interstitial Lung Disease with Alveolar Growth Abnormalities and unfortunately swapped his cape for Angel Wings on 18 January 2019.

Archie spent 165 days in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) at Mater Mother’s, as well as the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit (PICU) and then Ward 9B of the Queensland Children’s Hospital (in Australia). In the last week of Archie’s time with us, we were asked if there was one thing we had wished for- what it would be- we had to say that it was to bring our little boy home with us or at least to the park.

With an immense amount of planning from the Palliative Care team, Doctors, Nurses as well as the Queensland Ambulance Service, our dream came true.

This was Archie’s (first and only) Great Adventure.

We will continue to share more about Archie’s journey, being a premature baby born at 30 weeks + 4 days, and our experiences within NICU, PICU and Ward 9B. There are many families who struggle with the unknown and we felt it was important to share Archie’s journey.

Things Archie loved

Cuddles, his Dummy, Links and Mr Cow

Hotel: Sofitel Noosa Pacific Resort

Location: Noosa, Sunshine Coast, Australia

Room: Superior Room River View

Perfect for: Couples

Category: 5 Star


Located in the heart of Noosa, the Sofitel has everything at its fingertips!

We booked our complimentary night with our Accor Plus membership. It was a perfect way to spend our second Babymoon! We decided to pay an additional $80 for an upgraded room and a little more space!

Click here to find out more about claiming your FREE night! Click here to read more about the Le Accor Hotel loyalty program.

For a short video of the hotel and room, watch this short video! Remember to change the quality to 1080p HD!

Our welcome experience at the Sofitel Noosa…

Being Platinum Accor Plus members, we were able to go straight to the priority check-in counter. We arrived early but the staff were fantastic and were able to change our room to one that was immediately available so we could check in straight away. Being platinum members, we were able to enjoy the early check-in.

The Room…

Our room was incredibly spacious. As you walk in, it is hard not to notice the beautiful view down the river. We specifically picked this room because of the view, sunset and we read from several reviews it is quite peaceful and the birds in the nearby tree add to the experience!

The main room is equipped with a king bed, dining table and lounge. There is plenty of room to sit back and relax.

Something to remember is that you can order pillows off their pillow menu and for Jenna, she was able to order a body pillow to make sleeping a little more comfortable given she is pregnant.

The bathroom is neat and tidy and has a nice little spa bath to relax in.

Meals…

Noosa Beach House Restaurant: Buffet Breakfast was served in the restaurant. The variety of what’s on offer is pretty good as well. There is a crepe station with made to order crepes, an egg station with made to order eggs as well as the usual buffet style breakfast.

Being a platinum member, we enjoyed breakfast for the both of us complimentary! If you’re not a Platinum member but are an Accor Plus member, you will enjoy 50% off the cost of breakfast!

Water’s Edge Pool Bar: We enjoyed lunch by the pool on our first day. It was that good that we didn’t even stop for a photo before we ate it! Jenna ordered the fish and chips and I ordered the crab roll. The food was fresh and delivered right to our pool chair!

What’s even better is that because we have an Accor Plus membership, the food was 50% off!

To read more about Accor Plus and how to get 50% off your dining, click here.

Hotel Grounds

The pool area is fantastic. There are heaps of pool chairs and umbrellas available and the best part about the area is, of course, the swim up pool bar! There is something great about holidays and being able to get yourself a cold beverage while sitting in the pool!

Health and Fitness…

For those who like to stay active on holidays, there is a fully equipped gym located on the grounds in the pool area.

Good to know…

Parking is available at the hotel and self-parking is $25 and valet parking $35. There is plenty of parking available and you can come and go as much as you like for the same charge.

*Prices current as at July 2018.

There was also a laundry available on our floor so if you’re travelling and haven’t had a chance to catch up on your washing, you’ll be able to do that here!

Checking out…

Quick, simple and easy.

Above and beyond…

The staff were so kind to us celebrating our babymoon. They placed two rubber duckies in our room with handwritten notes, together with a fruit platter and some sparkling water.

The not so good…

I have nothing to report here.

The verdict…

It is definitely a great place to unwind and relax. Would definitely recommend if you’re planning a trip to Noosa.

Visiting the Sunshine Coast – Ideas on what else to see and do

Are you planning on spending a bit of time on the Sunshine Coast? Click on the below links for more information.

Do you have travel insurance?

Before travelling, make sure you get a travel insurance policy – you never know when you might need it! Click here for information on travel insurance, what company we recommend and a link to get an instant quote.

“Traveling – it leaves you speechless, then turns you into a storyteller.” – Ibn Battuta

 

When it comes to booking and planning your next holiday, it isn’t just the flights and hotel you need to look at. These are 8 common travel mistakes people make when planning a holiday.

Budget Airlines – The Fine Print

This is a big one for me. How often do you see those super cheap airfares and you book them in quickly without reading the fine print? What does your ticket actually include? Short domestic flights are probably ok, but if you’re looking at international flights it is worth checking the fine print.

Does it include luggage, food, drinks, entertainment?

Quite often, you will be stung with additional fees for some or all of the above and before you know it you could have flow with a full-service airline.

Overpacking

I know we’ve spoken about this before but overpacking is a huge problem! Not only do you not need to pack as much as you think, but if you fill up your suitcase before you’ve even left for the holiday, it doesn’t leave any room for souvenirs or shopping along the way.

Passport Expiry

Do you know when your passport expires? Did you know a lot of countries require at least 6 months of validity on your passport to be allowed access to their country? Check the date and make sure you allow enough time for a new passport to arrive if required.

Visa requirements

This one is so important. We recently enjoyed a cruise which stopped in Shanghai, China. There were a large number of guests who did not do their research and in fact didn’t get a visa to enter China. These tourists had to disembark the cruise terminal at the previous port, purchase additional return flights home and forfeit the rest of their cruise and return flights from Shanghai. It was a very expensive mistake to make!

Another example is arriving in the US where you can be denied entry if you haven’t got your ESTA.

Vaccinations

We personally always ensure we receive the appropriate vaccinations prior to any holiday. It is best to book in with your GP or travel doctor to ensure you’re covered. Some vaccinations last several years so there is always a chance you don’t need to get it done for every holiday! I would recommend looking at the CDC website and searching for the country you’re visiting. It includes all of the updated information and relevant viruses and warnings out there.

Money exchange at the airport

We’ve all been guilty of this one. However, if you are more prepared and can do some research on rates you will find yourself with a much better deal. Quite often, if you ask for a better rate, they will give it to you as well. No harm in asking!

Airports are convenient but given the location, the rates aren’t always the best and what if they don’t have the currency in stock and you are stuck with nothing!

Depending on your bank, an option could also be withdrawing cash from an ATM in the country you’re visiting. Check with your bank for associated fees.

Landing at the wrong airport!

This might sound silly to most, but I can promise you it does happen! London for an example has a number of different airports. For example, if you’ve booked tickets to somewhere in Europe via London, ensure the airport you land at, for example, Heathrow is the same airport you will depart from for your next destination. The last thing you will want is landing at Heathrow and realise you need to be at Gatwick Airport for your transfer.

For a guide to London airports, click here.

Forgetting to book travel insurance

This should be a priority! You never know when you may need travel insurance. We have personally had to claim on our insurance when I was involved in a bicycle accident in Croatia. Depending on the severity of your injuries, the cost can run into the thousands if you’re not covered.

Remember if you’re going on a cruise or a ski holiday, these often aren’t included as standard so you’ll need to take out the optional extras!

Click here for information on travel insurance.

Is there anything else you would add to the list? Let us know in the comments below!

“The man who goes alone can start today; but he who travels with another must wait till that other is ready.” – Henry David Thoreau

thewelltravelledman tallinn estonia

Tallinn is a truly beautiful city, caught with a perfect combination of incredible Soviet history and a new, modern culture with a thriving society. The city is notorious for stag-dos, with tourists flocking to the Northern part of Estonia largely for its cheap booze more than its uniquely-stunning architecture. But its cultural value should not be overlooked. Here are a few must-dos on the list when visiting the Baltic city.

Take a trip to the old town

Tallinn old town is full of quaint little shops, restaurants and historic monuments that put it at the top of most people’s list of sites to see when visiting the city. As well as some stunning architecture, the old town offerS something else that you seldom get in European capital cities – tranquillity.

I’ve visited Estonia three times now, twice in the peak of winter and once in the summer, and I would thoroughly recommend a walk through the old town during winter. As you go to Spain for sun in the summer, when you visit Estonia in winter time you know you’re going to get snow. There is something quite magical about being in a thriving country, in the heart of the capital city walking down near-empty streets with snow falling peacefully around you.

Tallinn old town is also the site of the city walls, which is a UNESCO World Heritage site. If there is one part of Tallinn that feels like a typically-crowded tourist spot, it’s at the top of the walls. It is a beautiful site that gives you great views across the city, but with its amazing scenery comes popularity, so be prepared to battle with other camera-snapping tourists for the best shots.

TV Tower

Photo by Bernt Rostad. License: CC BY 2.0.

The last couple of decades have really seen Estonia prosper since the Soviet Union dissolved, allowing for its own culture to blossom. Tallinn has staged the international ‘Baltics Weekend’ festival, hosted the 2002 Eurovision song contest and was even selected as the venue for Atletico and Real Madrid’s 2018 European Supercup tie. A hugely significant year, in particular, was 2011, where Ronny Kaiser won the last EPT tournament to famously be held in Tallinn. Estonia got accepted into the EU and Tallinn was named European Capital of Culture 2011.

Despite the city developing its own cultural identity though, there are certainly still some great places to visit from the Soviet era, the TV Tower being one.

It was built and eventually completed by the Soviets in 1980 and stands at 314 metres high. At its base, you often find historical or cultural exhibitions. Visitors take a lift to the top, where a door gives you the option to view the surrounding scenery for miles around the enclosed skyroom. From inside, a 360 degree view can be seen stretching across the City and out in all directions into the Baltic sea.

One last thing to mention, across the floor of the upper room of the tower are multiple glass squares. So, if you are feeling brave you can walk across them with the 1115ft drop in clear view below.

The largest outdoor history museum in the world

This is not exactly how it sounds. Tallinn has museums, many of which are well worth a visit. But it is not home to the world’s largest outdoor museum. What I meant by this is that with the Soviet occupation being so recent, reminders of those times are scattered absolutely everywhere. A walk through a forest near where I was staying ended up with us stumbling upon (what I assume was) a huge, underground aircraft hangar.

On the main road approaching Tallinn from the east, huge structures by the sea that almost look like giant ramps to launch boats from can been seen. Statues, old buildings, signalling towers, former military bases and who knows what else can be found simply by walking around the city and exploring – many of which are almost completely intact.

All you historians out there, forget reading books and visiting museums, experience the real thing in Tallinn.

Sun, sea and sand – often without the sun!

It is not known for its white, sandy beaches, but Estonia does have some beautiful stretches of coastline (the southern city of Parnu in particular). The sun may not be shining all the time, and you’ll be lucky if temperatures are above the 25 celcius mark, but nevertheless, the beaches provide a great place to take a walk and enjoy the views. The Pirita district of Tallinn situated outside of the city is where you want to go for this.

Estonia is a beautiful country and forgive the cliche, but Tallinn is a city like no other. You get the history. You get the modern buzz of a rapidly-developing and technological country. You get amazing views, beautiful nature, beaches, forests, restaurants and bars, with a culture that is unique to that area of Europe. It is absolutely worth a visit, but just make sure you bring your hat and gloves if you go in the winter!

You’ve planned a trip to Noosa, which is one of Queensland’s most popular beachside towns located on the Sunshine Coast. If there is one thing you should see while you’re up there, it is, of course, the Fairy Pools.

What are the Fairy Pools?

The Fairy Pools are two natural tidal pools near Noosa. The pools are best enjoyed at low tide when the pools are calm and absolutely spectacular (as the waves aren’t crashing into them creating ripples on the surface). If the timing doesn’t work out, it’s still worth the trip, it feels like a bit of an adventure getting to the pools (eve though it’s relatively easy) and whilst the lower pool may not be visible at high tide, depending on the swell, the higher pool may still be enjoyed for a quick dip while you enjoy the ocean views.

Tip: We’ve seen a couple of people have a quick snorkel to investigate the sponges and fish which inhabit the pools and they said it was absolutely worth it. The disclaimer to this is that we’ve not snorkeled here ourselves!

Where are they located?

Tucked away along the coast of Noosa National Park, you will come across the Fairy Pools. But, you really need to know where they are or you can very easily miss them, as I said before, it feels like a bit of an adventure when you first visit.

Continue reading for step by step instructions on how to find the Fairy Pools.

When to visit the Fairy Pools

To avoid sharing this beautiful spot with a million other people, sharing slippery rocks and trying to get that cool photo, only you have a Fairy Pool filled with other people trying to achieve the same outcome, it is important to visit at just the right time.

Step 1: If you can avoid weekends and school holidays then that is going to go in your favour. If you can’t, and we couldn’t avoid a weekend then follow Step 2 and Step 3. I would even recommend a winter visit, as the beaches are usually far more quiet in the winter months!

Step 2: Check out the tide times. If you don’t take anything from this post except this piece of advice, then you will manage just fine. You NEED to visit the pools on low tide to actually see both of the pools and enjoy them for what they are. You may still be able to enjoy the larger pool on high tide, provided the swell is minimal and the water is calm.

Step 3: Get there early! If there is a low tide early in the morning, wake up and get there! This will be your only chance to enjoy these beautiful natural rock pools on your own or with very few people.

Best spot to park?

If you’re lucky, you can park right at the entrance to the Noosa National Park walkway, but parking is extremely limited and if there is a traffic jam getting in and out it could waste precious time trying to get to the pools at the right time!

We parked at the Lions Carpark just off Noosa Parade, but be careful as there is a maximum time you can park there and yes, they do chalk your tyres!!! So keep an eye on the time and make sure you’re back with enough time to shift your car.

Getting to the Fairy Pools

The Fairy Pools are accessed by a little bit of easy rock scrambling – There is also no clear signage as to where you have to go, so if you’re lucky enough not to be visiting when everyone else is, you won’t have anyone to follow so take note of these directions.

If you’re starting your walk from Noosa’s main beach, at the end of the beach you will see the start of the boardwalk which is the start of the coastal track. The start of the walk will take you past First Point and Little Cove and you will then reach the Noosa National Park Carpark.

When you continue your walk, you will notices changes in the track, a little more rocky, dirt and sandy.

Be sure to keep an eye on the time to make sure you get there in time to see the pools at their best. You can always stop in at the beautiful beaches along the way, on the way back.

As you continue to walk the coastal track, keep note of where you are up to and try not to get too distracted by what’s around you!

You will need to exit the path, at the lookout on the point at the far eastern end of Granite Bay which is AFTER you have passed both Winch Cove and Picnic Cove. But if you have walked to the big bend in the track then you have gone too far.

If you keep an eye out for a picnic bench seat a couple hundred metres away from the Picnic Cove sign, that is a good indication of where to turn off.

Click here for the Noosa National Park headland walking tracks.

The walk itself will take around 30 – 40 minutes from Little Cove Car Park. For the most part, there are well-maintained tracks for you to follow and a little incline in parts. You only need to negotiate the scrambling of rocks to get to the pools at the end.

You can continue walking afterwards towards Hell’s Gate.

Here is a short video of our Noosa National Park trip! Remember to put it on HD 1080p.

Facilities near the Fairy Pools

You’re in a national park, so there are no facilities near the Fairy Pools. I would suggest visiting the toilet block behind Tea Tree Bay before you continue on with the walk. These are the closest facilities.

What to take with you

We recommend bringing a few essentials with you, as you will be gone for a couple of hours!

  • Backpack
  • Hat
  • Sunglasses
  • Sunscreen
  • Water
  • Snacks
  • Beach Towel
  • Sneakers for the walk
  • Thongs for afterwards at the beach
  • Goggles if you want to try and snorkel
  • A camera of course!

Where to stay in Noosa

We recommend staying at the Sofitel Noosa Pacific Resort. Click here for our full review.

Other things to do on the Sunshine Coast

If you have a bit of time on the Sunshine Coast, there is plenty to see and do. We can recommend a few things, such as:

Mount Coolum National Park and lookout: Click here to find out more.

Strawberry Picking: Click here to find out more.

Mooloolaba Beach: Watch this space! Blog post coming soon.

Have you visited the Fairy Pools? What did you think? Leave your comments below.

“Man cannot discover new oceans unless he has the courage to lose sight of the shore.” – Andre Gide

 

Hotel: Sofitel Darling Harbour

Location: Sydney, Australia

Room: Prestige Suite

Perfect for: Couples

Category: 5 Star


From the moment you step into the foyer and smell the famous Sofitel Signature Scent, you know you are in a piece of luxury. The foyer exudes a mixture of sophistication and elegance and a sense of peacefulness with the large fish tank behind the guest services counter. You forget for a moment you’re in the buzzing city of Sydney.

We booked our complimentary night with our Accor Plus membership. It was a perfect way to spend our Babymoon! We decided to upgrade and pay an additional $90 for a luxury room. Because we are Platinum Accor members, we were upgraded and were lucky enough to spend the night in the Prestige Suite.

It was so nice to arrive in the room with a beautiful platter of fruit and macaroons with some balloons! 

Click here to find out more about claiming your FREE night! Click here to read more about the Le Accor Hotel loyalty program.

For a short video of the hotel and room, watch this short video! Remember to change the quality to 1080p HD!

 

Our welcome experience at the Sofitel Darling Harbour…

Being Platinum Accor Plus members, we were able to go straight to the priority check-in counter. We arrived early so the team took our bags and offered us complimentary tea or coffee. We were given a key to access the pool area as well as Club Millesime which we were able to enjoy before our room was ready.

Being a platinum member, or by simply booking a room with club access, you have the luxury of being able to check in/out in Club Millesime, which at peak times can save you plenty of time!

To read more about Club Millesime, continue reading!

The Room…

Words don’t do this room justice. From the moment you walk in, you’re swept up in the views which on a clear day take you all the way out to the Blue Mountains from the city. It is simply breathtaking.

thewelltravelledman Sofitel darling harbour

The lounge and dining room is spacious and really encourages you to sit down, relax and enjoy the magnificent views. We found ourselves just sitting on the lounge, just watching the boats pass in and out of Darling Harbour.

The bedroom is equipped with a king size bed and floor to ceiling windows so you can continue to enjoy the views.

The bathroom is extremely spacious and has an incredible bath situated in the middle of the bathroom. And if that’s not enough, the shower has dual rain showers and a built-in seat. Does it get much better than that?

Meals…

Club Millesime: Breakfast was included for us at the club and it was plentiful. You can order your eggs Ă  la carte or from the buffet. Breakfast, tea and coffee s included when you have Club Millesime access!

Atelier Restaurant: We had dinner at Atelier Restaurant. The service was faultless.

The staff, who knew Jenna was pregnant, identified the appropriate meals and were very helpful. We also had the benefit of using our Accor Plus membership which entitles us to 50% off our food bill.

We ordered the Seafood Bouillabaisse for entre and the Prawns A La Provencale (which are both signature dishes) as well as a Black Angus Medallion.

The food was delicious and the prawns in the main were probably the largest I’ve had in a meal before.

To read more about Accor Plus and how to get 50% off your dining, click here.

Hotel Grounds

A standout for us would have to be the infinity pool on level 4.

There are plenty of pool chairs to relax and soak up the sun. The pool is heated so you can enjoy it all year round whilst also enjoying the view of Sydney City and Darling Harbour. There is also a pool bar should wish to relax with a cool beverage!

Health and Fitness…

For those who like to stay active on holidays, there is a fully equipped gym located on the grounds. If you need a bit of encouragement, then hopefully the view from the treadmill will help get you motivated!

Club Millesime

Located on level 35, the top level of the Sofitel Darling Harbour, you will find yourself in the sophisticated Club Millesime. There are so many benefits to booking a room with club access or getting the access with your status with your membership.

Benefits include:

  • Private reception with check in and check out services
  • Club Breakfast (6.30am – 10.30am or until 11 am on the weekend)
  • All day refreshments including juices, soft drinks, tea, coffee, fruits and light snacks
  • Afternoon Tea buffet (from 3pm – 5pm)
  • Canapes and pre-dinner drinks (from 5.30pm – 7.30pm)
  • Shower facilities for those arriving early or departing late
  • Complimentary internet
  • Concierge

You are also welcome to bring friends or family along with you (subject to availability). There is just a small fee, which in my opinion, is worth it!

  • Breakfast is $35 per person per day (this includes your coffee, table service for your eggs and drinks and buffet)
  • Afternoon tea is $35 per person per day
  • Pre Dinner Drinks & Canapes are $70 per person per day.

The drinks and canapes for a friend to join you in the Club, is quite reasonable. The canapes are substantial and the drinks are unlimited for the 2 hour period – pretty good value in my opinion!

There is a dress code (basically you can’t wear swimwear, bathrobes or be barefoot) and children policy (children need to be monitored whilst in the club lounge)

Good to know…

The Sofitel has a pillow menu. I would suggest taking a look and ordering a pillow off the menu that best suits the way you sleep! You can also request some Himalayan bath salts to help relax the muscles after a long day exploring Sydney.

If you’re staying at a time where Darling Harbour have fireworks, then you have no need to leave your room! We were there over the Vivid Festival and were able to avoid the crowds and enjoy the show from our room!

Checking out…

Checking out at Club Millesime was quick and easy. If you have club access, I would recommend using this facility.

Above and beyond…

All of the staff at the Sofitel, from check-in, Club Millesime and the restaurant were fantastic. It didn’t matter where we were in the hotel, we felt like we were the only people being looked after. A special shout out must go to Michael who pre-arranged for two body pillows to be in our room for when we arrived. With Jenna being pregnant with twins, sleeping can be quite uncomfortable. We didn’t ask for the pillows, they were just there for us! And, a beautiful touch with the fruit, macaroons and balloons as well to help us celebrate our babymoon. I could not fault the service in any way!

The not so good…

I have nothing to report here.

The verdict…

Yes, yes yes! If you’re in Sydney and looking for somewhere to stay then we would totally recommend the Sofitel Darling Habour. The views, the service and the location is everything you could want for a trip away.

Visiting NSW – Ideas on what else to see and do

Are you planning on spending a bit of time in Sydney and surrounds? Check out our the pages of NSW related posts here.

Do you have travel insurance?

Before travelling, make sure you get a travel insurance policy – you never know when you might need it! Click here for information on travel insurance, what company we recommend and a link to get an instant quote.

“Traveling – it leaves you speechless, then turns you into a storyteller.” – Ibn Battuta

 

Europe in Summer is next level, out of this world amazing. We have had some incredible holidays and there are so many that we would recommend. However, we thought we’d put our top 5 most popular posts together that will make for one incredible European Summer vacation!

Our top 5 European Summer Destinations

#1 Sicily, Italy

There is no surprise that Italy is on this list (and more than once!). Sicily is one of those places where you truly feel like you’re in another country, minimal English is spoken and the food is devine. Don’t even get me started on the beaches. Simply amazing.

We spent 5 days driving around the beautiful island and recommend doing just that. Click here to read more and check out our suggested itinerary.

#2 Zakynthos, Greece

This is our most popular post by far and it isn’t hard to see why. Zakynthos, when we visited wasn’t all that popular or known. We simply knew it as the island that had the Trip Adviser photo (before they changed it of course!).

Click here to read more about visiting Zakynthos including how long we would recommend, how to get around and what to see on the island!

#3 Lake Como, Italy

What’s not to love about relaxing by one of the most beautiful lakes in the world? This part of Italy is truly breathtaking and absolutely worth a visit this summer.

Click here to read more about Lake Como, where to stay and what to do.

#4 Mostar, Bosnia & Herzegovina

This place is cool. It is buzzing in the summertime and if you’re planning a trip to Croatia, then it’s only a short drive to get to Mostar and see the famous Stari Most.

Click here to read more about what to see in Mostar, and getting there from Dubrovnik via the beautiful Kravice Waterfalls.

#5 Sardinia, Italy

This would have to be one of our favourite summer road trip destinations we did! A week in Sardinia is a week in my life that I will remember forever. It was simply fantastic.

The beaches, the food, the people – what’s not to love about this part of Italy?

Click here to read about our favourite parts, getting around and what to see in Sardinia.

What do you think about this top 5? Where do you love visiting in the European Summer?

“The life you have led doesn’t need to be the only life you have.” – Anna Quindlen

 

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