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Sydney for Moms and Kids

 

Meet the emu at the zoo...

If possible, choose a bright, clear day to visit Taronga Zoo. You'll need a full day here. This tourist attraction is the largest of its kind in the Southern Hemisphere, covering 33 hectares, or 75 acres. Take the ferry from Circular Quay, ride the skylift up to the main entrance, then walk down, down, down in a wide sweeping arc to take in all the wonders of wallabies, kokoda dragons, echidnas, snow leopards, emus and the cute platypus. Twice a day (10.30am, 1.30pm) you can have your photo taken with a koala. (Bradley's Head Rd, Mosman, tel: 9969 2777; http://www.zoo.nsw.gov.au).


Climb up, up, up...

A really terrific way to see Sydney is from up high. How high? How about the top of the Harbour Bridge? Children from age 12 are allowed up with BridgeClimb, it's very safe, highly organised and awesome at sunset. (http://www.bridgeclimb.com.au/).

Not quite as high is the Bridge Pylon Lookout, open daily. There are 200 stairs with rest stops on the way up showing displays of the history of the construction of the Bridge. (South Eastern Pylon, Cumberland Street, The Rocks, tel: 9247 3408).


Junior champs and stars...

If your children want to walk in the footsteps of champions, take the train or ferry to Olympic Park, Homebush Bay, to see Stadium Australia, Sydney SuperDome and the terrific Aquatic Centre. Or check your paper for sporting events at the Park. Take the Olympic Explorer bus around the 10 stops (every 30 minutes from 9.15 am - 3.45pm, seven days per week) and check out Aussie champions in the Hall of Champions at the State Sports Centre.

Be dazzled by the stars! At night, take kids aged about eight and up to the Sydney Observatory and planetarium, at Observatory Hill in The Rocks. Please note: these night tours must be booked in advance (tel: 9217 0485).


Convicts and koalas...

Another full day excursion is to Old Sydney Town, one hour north of the city. Come see how we used to treat our visitors! It's a vision of the emerging colony of Sydney as it was between 1788 and 1810, with strolling townsfolk, soldiers and mock duels (tel: 4340 1104).

Nearby, is the Australian Reptile Park, crocs and all (tel: 4340 1022). Then, to fully appreciate Australia's unique fauna, visit Featherdale Wildlife Park, one hour west (217 Kildare Rd, Doonside, tel: 9622 1644), and see koalas, kangaroos and emus. A similar distance away is the Koala Park, where you and your kiddies can hold these (deceptively) cuddly looking animals, as well as discovering the secrets of rainforest and Australian flora (tel: 9484 3141).


Rain, rain go away...

Besides the Aquarium, there is still plenty to do with kids in Sydney if it rains. Try the award-winning Powerhouse Museum (tel 9217 0111) which looks at arts and sciences, technology and the changing world, as well as the Sydney Children's Museum (one hour west). Both offer lots of "hands-on-please-touch-me" exhibits and play areas, covering all ages from toddlers up. Combine a few hours at the Powerhouse with a great meal at nearby Chinatown.

Sydney has some excellent indoor heated pools with special areas for kiddies of different ages. At Cook and Phillip Park, right in the city, there's a wave pool and a cafe (tel: 9326 0444), while the International Aquatic Centre at Olympic Park, Homebush Bay, is the jewel in the crown of indoor pools. Get there by Rivercat, bus or train.

The Leichhardt Park Aquatic Centre (Tel: 9555 8344) has an 18-metre pool, a toddler pool and cafe -- but you're better off enjoying a great Italian meal in Norton Street after your swim.

The National Maritime Museum at Darling Harbour offers a look at Australia's relationship to the sea, with many interactive exhibits as well as a destroyer and sub to explore (Tel: 9298 3777). For the older kids, visit the huge screen Imax at Darling Harbour (Tel: 9281 3300), then have lunch at one of the many fine restaurants at Cockle Bay. Or try nearby Chinatown for great yum cha (dim sum) which is loud, raucous and delicious. Choose your dishes from the trolleys wheeled around the restaurant. It's best to go about 11.30am, before the rush sets in.


For the tiny ones...

Children age five and under have very special tourist needs --here are a few of my favorite tried and tested suggestions for this age group...

Kids Island at the Australian Museum offers a well equipped, self-contained (ie: caged) area for the littlies with puzzles and sunken treasure.

Lollipop Land at Fox Studios has a whole room full of stuff, from a gentle cup and saucer spin-ride, and dress-ups to computers and a great climbing contraption for 3-6 year olds.

Plaster Master is a local (Rose Bay, in the east) favourite for children's parties and rainy-day fun. Kiddies can paint plaster animals or cartoon characters, a plate or a mug; dance in the disco room and munch a bunch of popcorn (Tel: 9130 4855). A perfectly well-rounded excursion!


Online Oz for kiddies...

I'm an Australian Journeywoman who thought travelling moms would be interested in this web link tip. There is a whole website in Oz dedicated to things you can do with kids in Sydney. Look for it at: www.sydneyforkids.com.au.

The Family Fun section is updated weekly and has all the events for the coming fortnight, with venue details, costs, ages etc. They're working on a directory with careers, schools, etc. They also have a special section for teachers. See: http://www.Sydneyforkids.com.au/familyfun.html.

This site is fabulous for anyone with kids, travelling or not, who are looking to spend time in Sydney.

Kiki, Vaucluse NSW, Australia

Special note from Melanie in Sydney: For the best and most informative written guide for kiddie activities, pick up a copy of Sydney's Child, published monthly. Free from most libraries, the Opera House, many museums, toy shops or chemists (Tel: 9484 5334).

More about travelling with kiddies...

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