Favorite Kid-Friendly Activities in Sydney
The Powerhouse Museum
Our visit to the Powerhouse Museum, a hands-on science and technology museum, was one of the highlights of our recent trip to Sydney - and at AUD$40 for our visit, it also ended up being the best value for money of all the attractions we visited. With two technology-hungry boys, I've been to enough science and technology museums to judge that the Powerhouse Museum really has a fantastic set of exhibits. The exhibit space is well organized,...
1 hide detailScience, technology and decorative arts
The Powerhouse Museum, a nineteenth century institution which has reinvented itself, offers something to satisfy every possible visitor. Its immense collection ranges from decorative arts to crafts, social history, science and technology. Apart from old favorites like the Strasburg Clock, the museum provides an innovative, high technology approach to displays including touch-screens, audio phones and a variety of other hands-on experiences. There is also a shop, restaurant and outdoor cafe.
Favorite Sydney Beaches
Our morning at Bondi Beach was the high point of the trip for my boys. Bondi can get very busy on the weekends, so we planned to have our surfing lessons with Let's Go Surfing on a weekday to avoid the crowds. Let's Go Surfing is based on a small street at the far north end of Bondi just across from the Biddigal Reserve park - a convenient and shaded area for a picnic lunch. I was impressed by the level of organization demonstrated...
2 hide detailSydney's most famous beach
You simply must visit Bondi Beach at some point during your stay. Hee you will find the archetype for Australian Beach - a beautiful long quarter moon of sand wedged between two rocky headlands, covered with the beautiful people, tourists, locals, kids and leathery old men - many of whom have probably spent their whole lives within cooee of the place.
When you tire of the surf and the sand, hit the strip behind. The streets are crammed full of cute cafes, bookshops, resturants, and clothes shops. And check out the local 'Bondi hippies' (translation: overtly laid-back and beautiful creative professionals).
3 hide detailBetter than Bondi
- +61 (0)2 9255 1788
- Bronte Marive Drive
Popular with all age groups, Bronte Beach is close to the inner city and has managed to retain a great deal of its original charm. Choose between a superb body surfing beach and a twenty-five meter ocean pool. The large adjoining park offers picnic and barbecue facilities as well as shade and is patronized by an extraordinary, multi-cultural mix of families at weekends. Three inspectors patrol the beach daily (9am-7pm) between October and May; volunteer lifesavers are also on duty at the weekend and public holidays (Summer only). Parking very limited.
4 hide detailGreat surfing beach
Manly is all about the laid back life. And tourists. And sun. And surf.
Plenty of people base themselves hereabouts during their stay in Sydney, and there are worse places to base yourself if you're mostly interested in the water. There are a couple of choices of beach - the main beach, Manly, justifiably famous - occasionally kicking up a good ocean swell (there are plenty of board hiring places). If you're a little more mild-mannered (or just can't surf), then there's cute Shelly Beach, which is protected from the Pacific's moods. Manly is, in some ways, the home of Australian surfing: Hawaiian Duke Kahanamoku rode a plank of shaped wood here back in 1915, and this surf crazed nation has never looked back.
Come out on the famous Manly Ferry, which chugs its way over - as it has for upteem years - from Peir 3 at Circular Quay. It's a cheap Harbour Cruise - you'll pass almost touching distance from the Opera House - and a great way to see Sydney's finest asset.
At AU$85 (US$77) for a family ticket, I think the Sydney Aquarium is expensive. That said, the Dugongs and the oceanarium easily make the visit worthwhile. The exhibits are organized into Southern Rivers, Northern Rivers, Southern Oceans and Northern Oceans - not that this really matters when you're chasing kids around a dimly-lit room with sharks swimming overhead. My boys were fascinated by the platypus and we got to see the dugongs happily...
5 hide detailSharks, dugongs and 650 other marine species in one aquatic theme park
Let's face it; most people come for the sharks. And there are eight different 'jaws' experiences spread throughout the 60 tanks and 3 ocean pools on the city's western edge in Darling Harbor.
Sure there are platypus and Murray Cod; and creatures from the big reef up north and sea dragons and penguins from icy waters down south. Two big dugongs – Pig and Wuru – occupy their own purpose-built habitat; Mermaid Lagoon.
All up, about 12,000 marine animals from 650 different species make up the Aquarium's inventory. But it's the Shark HQ (only opened in mid 2010) that attracts the most interest. And it's easy to see why. The exhibit welcomes you with an animatronic Great White replica suspended from the ceiling, just to set the mood. A hatchery with baby sharks also has live eggs on display too. A path eventually leads to two glass tunnels that take you beneath the glass enclosures where you can view these majestic man-eating machines from underneath as they prowl and slither about. Time your visit for the mid morning feeding, or better still, feed them yourself from a glass-bottomed boat.
For me, Australia's flora and fauna are a big part of what makes Australia different and interesting. Traveling as a solo parent, much as I might have liked to get my kids out of the city and into the wilds to see animals in their natural environment, that really wasn't a practical option. The Taronga Zoo was the next best thing - and it is an excellent zoo.
As you enter the zoo (at the main entrance), the path splits, with Australian animals to your...
6 hide detailBest view and zoo in the world
Our Local Expert Says:
The Taronga Zoo is excellent. DO IT! (And they're kind to their animals too).
Catching the ferry over from Circular Quay for a day at the Zoo is one of the delights of living in Sydney. For surely there is no urban zoo with quite as spectacular a setting as this one, sited on a headland that juts out into the harbor. Catching that ferry can be one of the delights of visiting Sydney, too. For a starter, the collection of Australian animals here is great: all the critters you'd expect - kangaroos and koalas and so forth. And that's just to start, because the zoo also homes all the excellent international beasts a soul could hope for : the elephants and the zebras and the lions and the hippos and turtles and snakes and the weird legless lizards and lemurs and gorillas (they're SO big)...
It's simply a splendid place to bring kids. Or adults.