Dr Vadim Chelom is a Veterinarian, a writer and an educator. You can read his blog at www.doctor-pets.com
We came to the HMAS Cerberus Open Day quite by accident. Let me set the scene:
We were driving down a dusty road out of Frankston one warm Sunday morning. As it happens, the kids were getting restless in the back seat with the constant 'Mommy, I am bored' growing ever louder. Suddenly, somewhere between Tyabb and Hastings our way was barred by a trio of smiling sailors wearing freshly starched white uniforms.
'Are you on your way to HMAS Cerberus Open Day?' They asked beaming from ear to ear. 'Let us show you the way.'
'Yes, of course.' My wife replied smiling back. Of course we were going to the Open Day. What's HMAS Cerberus?
Judging by the name, I thought that HMAS Cerberus is some kind of a ship, but in fact it's a Navy training base. (That's right. A Navy base near Tyabb. I found that odd too.)
The first hurdle was getting into the parking lot. That took some time with the line of cars behind us growing ever longer. Note to self – leave the house earlier next time. 'Quick now, get out your wallet!' The wife called to me. She didn't need to worry – the entry was free, what's more extraordinary - so were the rides, including the jumping castle, carousels, a 'steam bus' and other amusements. In fact the only thing you will have to pay for is the food. In fact the whole day of family entertainment cost me $6 for the soft drinks we bought. In this age when they just about charge kids for looking at the rides, this was quite unexpected.
You might think that visiting a Navy base is as much fun as watching the grass grow. In fact it is a lot of fun. Especially if you've got kids who like big machines and things that go 'bang'. The entertainment was literally coming at us from every side.
Helicopters and stunt planes were doing their thing in the air, Navy rescue boats were strutting their stuff in the bay and on land there was everything from military vehicles to army cooking shows. My eight-year-old son's favourite (and may I add, my own) was the firearms demonstration. Where else would a kid get to hold a real life rifle, press the trigger and make it go 'click'? Answer – nowhere!
Other then families with kids and military buffs, I strongly recommend the open day for all those young men and women thinking of enlisting into the Navy. There's plenty of things to see and plenty of smartly uniformed personnel to ask questions.
To sum up – a great day for the family. I will be looking out for it next year when, hopefully we can make it a 'planned' activity.