For a fantastic family day out, see the brilliantly artistic sand sculptures on the Frankston waterfront again this year. Through the years of innovative sand creations, we have travelled through the realms of Dinostory, Great Moments in History, Toytopia and Under the Sea and this year sees us nostalgically wandering through all of the stories of our childhood with Story Land.
Regardless of age, everyone will find a character in sand that brings back that wonderfully naive world of childhood fantasy. If you're too young to remember the age-old classic of Beatrix Potter's The Tales of Peter Rabbit, who was named after the author's own childhood pet, Pippi Longstocking , the unconventional and assertive girl who, just like Peter Pan, never wanted to grow up or Charlotte's Web, in which the spider Charlotte goes to many lengths to save her friend Wilbur the pig from being slaughtered, there are many, many more creations to ring the recall bell.
Remember the story of Ferdinand, the peaceful little bull who loved to just smell the flowers? Pat the friendly country postman is there with his trusty black & white cat Jess as is Spot, the funny shaped little doggie along with his friends the blue hippo, the brown monkey and the green crocodile. As you stand in awe of their lifelike presence, all the stories run through your memory just like it was yesterday.
For some of course, it was just yesterday. These little ones still read about the pretty little mouse, Angela Ballerina (very popular) who just dances and dances her days away and the very hungry caterpillar who eats his way to becoming a beautiful butterfly.The Flower Fairies, first published in 1923, forever fascinates and enthrals the minds of children everywhere.
What about the Mr Men and Little Miss stories? Weren't these characters such fun with their personalities and traits to match their names? You'll see them all including Mr Bump, who's always having accidents, Mr Clever, who thinks he's just the smartest person around, Mr Cool and Mr Greedy with the big appetite.
Mr Chatterbox, who can't stop talking and Mr Dizzy who always gets things confused are there too with Mr Good who ironically lives in a town called Badlands and Mr Skinny who lives in Fatland. They're all there to greet you along with Mr Impossible who just did the most amazing things.
In this age of equality, we mustn't leave out the feminine versions. You'll find Misses Bad, Bossy, Brainy and Busy along with Little Miss Dotty who lives in Nonsenseland and Little Miss Fickle who just cannot make up her mind (ring any bells?). They're joined by all of the others including the ever forgetful Little Miss Scatterbrain, the prankster Little Miss Trouble and best of all, Little Miss Sunshine because she brings laughter and cheer to everyone.
Some stories have a jungle theme such as Jumanji, the tale of children who play a magical board game which brings to life jungle creatures and Where the Wild Things Are which tells of Max who, as punishment, is sent to his bedroom which magically transforms into a jungle full of wild animals.
There are tales about other animals such as Hairy Maclary from Donaldson's Dairy, a small mixed pedigree dog who together with his friends, a dalmation, a dachshund and a duckling, face their ever alert opponent Scarface Claw, the Tomcat.
If you're into the slightly more "grown up" tales, you'll enjoy Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. Fascinated by the town's famous chocolate factory owned by Willy Wonka, penniless Charlie wins one of the golden tickets to visit the factory and receive a lifetime supply of chocolate (my big dream actually!). After completing a series of test, Charlie wins the factory itself.
Also for the slightly older, is the magical The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe , part of the Chronicles of Narnia series. A huge favourite with my children so I know the stories well. Four English children are sent from London during the blitz to a country house where, via a wardrobe in the spare room, they visit a land of permanent winter (100yrs), thanks to the White Witch and of talking animals and mythical creatures.
My favourite amongst the sculptures is Harry Potter. The likenesses are incredibly defined. Orphaned Harry who lives with Muggles (non-magical people) discovers that he's a wizard and goes off to board at the Hogwart's School of Witchcraft and Wizardry where he becomes friends with Ron and Hermione. Dumbldore is the kindly supportive headmaster and Lord Voldemort is the villain. As Harry matures he learns to face a myriad of problems: magical, social and emotional. However, Harry has a much bigger test in life as he sets out to discover and defeat his parent's killer.
The images in sand of Harry, Ron, Hermione, the kind hearted, loyal Cedric and of little Dobby are exceptionally lifelike and those of Dumbldore, Voldemort and Draco aren't far behind. As the storybook characters are actually human (mostly) and have been depicted in films, I think that it would have been quite a challenge to replicate them in sand.
As compared with previous years, the presenters have brought the exhibition into the 21st century. There are sculptures marked as areas to take your instagram photo and a special one (a vehicle) where patrons can appear to be aboard and have their instagram photo taken by staff.
In line with this progress, the final sand sculpture is of the Apple video game, the comical Angry Birds. A feature film is planned for 2016 and it has become the largest mobile app success in the world to date with over 2 billion downloads.
For the little tykes who tire easily there's a large, clean sandpit and a long white board for practising their writing skills. The nearby deck chairs allow for adult supervision while taking it easy after a big Christmas.
For the more artistic souls (children and adults), the revamped activities zone is comprised of materials to make sand bracelets, sand bottles, sand pens and sand photo frames. There were almost as many Mums and Dad's enjoying the activities as there were children. This is a great little area and is always busy.
All this wandering, imagining and photographing makes one head for the upgraded cafe area for a much needed cappuccino. Ice creams are always popular and there is a small range of normal cafe food. This corner also incorporates the new merchandise area.
For value for money, this is a really enjoyable day out. It's really easy to get to and is reasonably priced (refer to information below). It doesn't matter how many sand sculpture exhibitions you've been to, each year provides a whole new dimension.