If you've got young kids, you don't need me to tell you that the winter school holidays can be a frustrating time for parents, especially in chilly Canberra.
With cold southerlies howling and sleet falling the kids are often couped up inside, glued to their screens and devices.
In need of a burst of fresh air, earlier this week I dragged my two girls Sarah, 9, and Emily, 6, away from their iPads and headed north to the not so sunnier climes of the Southern Highlands. However, boasting both a variety of family friendly walks and a selection of quaint cafes for Mrs Yowie to frequent, it's a popular haunt for the Yowie clan.
After a week of showers, it's currently near-perfect conditions to experience the little-known Fairy Bower Falls in all its glory.
Sure, it's a bit of a hike to reach the falls, but unlike most walks around Canberra which involve huffing and puffing up to a summit and only then enjoying the downhill on the way home, the journey to these falls is the reverse.
In fact, due to the amount of water on the track the slippery descent is actually harder than it looks, but along the way there are plenty of distractions from the steep gradient. Sarah and Emily jump over cascading creeks, creep through fern glens and listen out for their echo at lookouts aplenty.
The falls themselves really are a magical place befitting of pixies and goblins. Looking up, long dangling vines festoon the escarpment like a Jurassic Park movie set, while underfoot droplets of water cling to moss-covered rocks and shimmer like sparkling stars.
While little Emily searches earnestly for fairy dust amongst the clear pool of water at the bottom of the falls, Sarah, more practically, wishes for a set of "fairy wings" to wear on the steep return hike.
However, Sarah needn't have worried, for on the climb back up she barely raises a sweat. There are regularly stops to peer into hidden caves, impromptu games of "King of the Castle" with her sister atop curiously shaped boulders, and testing that echo again.
The sign at the track head says the two-kilometre return walk takes just over an hour. Leisurely pace, we take twice as long, but most importantly we are back at the car in time to treat Mrs Yowie for her well-earned Devonshire tea.
While seated at our table, the waitress glares unapprovingly at our bushwalking attire. I don't know about you, but I prefer to view the muddy state of our clothes as a badge of honour that we've been out enjoying our great outdoors.
Fairy Bower Falls: Located in Bundanoon (about a 100-minute drive from Civic) within the Moreton National Park. To find the track head, enter the park ($8 park pass) at Gambells Rest and follow the signs the Fairy Bower Falls carpark. Note: the roads in the park are unsealed but accessible in all vehicle types. This walk is steep in parts and involves a moderate level of fitness.
The Terrace Tea Shop: Serving home cooked treats, including Devonshire teas. 27 Railway Ave, Bundanoon.
Tim's Tip: For the most scenic route from Canberra to Bundanoon, take the Highland Way exit for the Hume Hwy (M31) just north of Marulan and stop in Wingello, where cricketer, Bill "Tiger" O'Reilly (1905-1992), widely regarded as one of the greatest bowlers of all time, developed his passion for the game.
Make a weekend of it: Although the drive and walk is an easy day trip, if you want to explore more of the Southern Highlands, there are many guesthouses and self-contained cottages in Bundanoon, including Morvern Hill Farm Stay (cnr The Gullies Road and Grey Gum Lane) which has three "host-free" cottages. Tailor-made for families with its own creek-side fairy garden and menagerie of farm animals. 02 4883 7057 or www.morvern-valley.com
During a recent walk south of Pretty Beach between Batemans Bay and Ulladulla, Richard Fisher of Mossy Point stopped in his tracks when he spotted this rock near the high tide mark.
"Being a Fred Basset fan, I thought I'd finally met him, either that or a statue in his honour," muses Fisher, who wonders if anyone else can also see the resemblance to the famous comic basset hound.