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Sydney for Moms and Kids


Journeywoman and Aussie mom, Melanie Hershon America has been a journalist and writer in Sydney for more than 15 years. She was the editor of the annual Sydney Morning Herald Weekend's Away magazine and of Portfolio, the first women's business magazine in Australia. We're delighted to have Melanie as part of our Network. She writes...

Sydney, the sparkling harbour city, is a giant outdoor playground. When the sun shines in Sydney -- which is very often -- it's as if the entire place is grinning. Kids and Sydney go together like ice cream and hot fudge. In summer, the beaches and parks beckon, while in crisp winter, when the wide Australian sky beams its blueness we, Aussies, hit the streets and parks in droves -- to stroll, bike or throw a ball. While the city excels at kid-friendly outdoor activities, there are also plenty of indoor fun things to see and do. In Sydney, it's easy to enjoy the city, your children, and Aussie culture all at the same time. Here's how...

Beaches are the best...

Locals will all tell you to hit the beach for a good day out. If you really want to taste Sydney, grab some take-away fish and hot chips -- wrapped in white butchers paper, sprinkled with salt and vinegar -- and sit in a park overlooking the ocean. If you and JourneyKid go into the water, remember to explain the cardinal rule of swimming at an Aussie beach: always stay between the flags (these designate the safe areas, away from dangerous rips and undercurrents).

Bondi (east) is our most famous stretch of sand. It's clean, it's lively and buzzy, it has restaurants, change rooms, a good fenced playground and our famous lifesavers patrolling to make sure that all is well. North Bondi is where the families hang out and the south end is for surfers. Balmoral is a calm north harbour beach, with lawns, restaurants and sedate families at play. Clovelly Beach (south) is a good place to snorkel and great for kids. Bronte Beach (south) is full of verve: teenagers strutting, families barbequing, surfers showing off. This is where you'll find trendy cafes and excellent fish and chips. There's also a really great playground at Bronte Beach and on weekends a cute little train operates here. Cronulla (south) is real surfie paradise, but there are also cool coffee shops and two ocean pools for those who prefer quiet seawater. Lots of teenagers, so beware! Manly, on the north side of the Bridge, offers four beaches, as well as calm waters, the chance to stroll under towering Norfolk Pines, a terrific restaurant at gorgeous, tiny family-friendly Shelly Beach and a small Oceanarium (take a ferry or Jetcat from Circular Quay).

Pick a park...

Centennial Park, in Sydney's east, is a well-loved local haunt where you can sip a latte, have a gourmet lunch or a simple picnic, hire bikes (or skates nearby) or go horseback riding. There's a special bike track for the little ones, as well as a couple of playgrounds to cavort in. During school holidays, park rangers offer interesting night tours looking at nocturnal animals -- great for teenagers! (admin tel: 9339 6699; Centennial Parklands Restaurant tel: 9360 3355; Centennial Parklands Equestrian Centre tel: 9332 2809)

The whole family can enjoy the enormous Botanical Gardens on a bright sunny Sydney day. Enter via the NSW Art Gallery gates, feed the black swans, throw a frisbee and stroll around the harbour foreshore to the Opera House for lunch.

Good playgrounds can also be found at Double Bay Park; Lyne Park Rose Bay; Centennial Park; Federal Park/Jubilee Park at the end of Johnston St, Annandale; Queens Park at Darley Rd, Randwick; Darling Harbour near the carousel; Manly beach.

Also, one of the best things to do with kids in Sydney is Taronga Park Zoo. Take a ferry there from Circular Quay, then take the cable car to the top and walk down in a zig zag fashion. Take ferry back to the city (Circular Quay).

Fish, food and fun...

Darling Harbour offers restaurants, shops, playgrounds and a lovely merry-go-round (carousel). There is the National Maritime Museum (tel: 9298 3777) and the really fabulous Sydney Aquarium (tel: 9262 2300). The latter is one of the best places in the city for children of all ages, with a touch pool and often only a huge sheet of glass between you and the most stunning colourful fish as they flash above, below and beside you. There are sharks, seals and crocs too. Afterwards, stroll around the corner to King Street Wharf for more restaurants.

Much more kid stuff...




Back to Travel with Kiddies



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