Adventure, baby!

Christine Knight

Christine is the editor of Adventure, Baby! She loves cake, her tolerant husband and her busy preschooler.

Sydney’s Best High Teas: The Radisson Blu Hotel

Radisson Blu Plaza Hotel: Sydney's Best High Teas

In the heart of Sydney’s CBD lies the Radisson Blu Plaza Hotel Sydney, housed inside a gorgeous 1850s Beaux Arts property. It’s old world elegance at its finest, including the Lady Fairfax lounge area where we were seated for our high tea.

Radisson Blu Plaza Hotel: Sydney's Best High Teas

The room is lovely and spacious, with large windows allowing plenty of light to stream in. It’s the perfect spot for a quiet afternoon with family and friends.

Radisson Blu Plaza Hotel: Sydney's Best High Teas

We enjoyed sampling both the Traditional and Festive High Teas at the Radisson Blu, both served on a classic silver-tiered stand. The Traditional High Tea is available year-round, but the Festive High Tea is a limited edition, and only available until January 3.

Radisson Blu Plaza Hotel: Sydney's Best High Teas

Traditional High Tea

Savoury Items
Cucumber and dill cream cheese sandwich
Feta, ricotta and spinach roll
Smoked salmon toast
Chicken curry puff
Barbecue pork filo pastries
(Because I’m vegetarian, I was given an extra cheese sandwich, tomato and avocado sandwich and a mixed vegetable sandwich as a substitute for the meat pastries.)

Radisson Blu Plaza Hotel: Sydney's Best High Teas

The sandwiches and savouries were among the best we’ve had of any high tea in Sydney. They were just delicious, with fluffy bread, delicious fillings, and pastries that were mouthwateringly good. Often high teas are all about the sweet, but I find I really need the savouries to be a strong component too, or I get sugar overload.

Radisson Blu Plaza Hotel: Sydney's Best High Teas

Sweet Treats
Double chocolate cake
Citrus tart
Spiced cake
Salted caramel swans
Decadent chocolate mousse (with mint)

Radisson Blu Plaza Hotel: Sydney's Best High Teas

Vanilla scones with cream and preserve

The scones were served hot, fresh and fluffy with vanilla bean cream, which was a really refreshing change. Each of the sweets was a perfect bite-sized portion, with the salted caramel swans as the stand out item on the platter. Not only did they look amazing, they tasted exceptional, too.

Radisson Blu Plaza Hotel: Sydney's Best High Teas

Festive High Tea
Celebrate the Christmas season with a Festive High Tea from 1 December until 3 January.

Savoury Items
Roast turkey sandwich
Ham and cheese sandwich
Chicken curry puff
Pork, apple and thyme roll

Radisson Blu Plaza Hotel: Sydney's Best High Teas

Sweet Treats
Chocolate mint mousse
Fruit Mince Pie
Christmas cookie
Spiced cake
Christmas chocolate slice
Rum balls

Vanilla scones with cream and preserve

Radisson Blu Plaza Hotel: Sydney's Best High Teas

The sweet treats served with the Festive High Tea had the cutest hand-made sugar decorations attached, such as a santa or snowman. You can see my daughter’s delight as she spots them when they arrive.

Radisson Blu Plaza Hotel: Sydney's Best High Teas

We found the mint in the mousse a refreshing change, quite a bright, strong flavour, that was a good contrast to the sweetness of the other items on the platter. Often the sweets are all so sugary that you can feel quite ill after eating them, so having this mint mousse, and also savoury fruit mince pie on the Festive Tea and the salted caramel swans on the Traditional Tea, were very welcome components to balance out the sweetness.

Radisson Blu Plaza Hotel: Sydney's Best High Teas Radisson Blu Plaza Hotel: Sydney's Best High Teas
Radisson Blu Plaza Hotel: Sydney's Best High TeasBoth high teas are served with a choice of handcrafted teas from La Maison Du Thé. There is wide range of teas to choose from, from a standard English Breakfast to some exotic varieties of black and white tea with fruity and flower flavours added in.

Prices:
$49 per person with tea or coffee
$59 per person with a glass of sparkling wine
$69 per person with a glass of Champagne

The Radisson Blu Plaza Hotel also serves a Kids in the City High Tea which we will be trying on our next visit. It’s described as including ham and cheese sandwiches, dotty blue fairy bread, sparkling lemon meringue, laminations, mini sausage rolls, mini beef pies, seasonal jelly shots, a specially mixed ‘Out of the Blu’ mocktail, marshmallowy hot chocolate and freshly squeezed fruit juice for $25/per child.

Radisson Blu Plaza Hotel Sydney
27 O’Connell St, Sydney NSW 2000
Phone: 02 8214 0000
Online
Reservations required: communications@radisson.com or 02 8214 0400.
Get Directions

Produced in partnership with the Radisson Blu Plaza Hotel Sydney. All opinions are our own.

Christine Knight
Christine is the editor of Adventure, Baby! She loves cake, her tolerant husband and her busy preschooler.

Where To Find The Best Ice Cream & Gelato in Sydney

Sydney's Best Gelato & Ice Cream

Let’s be honest, it’s always a good time for gelato in Sydney, regardless of the season! It’s hard to choose a favourite but these are a few we head to regularly all over Sydney.

Gelato Messina: #Gelato Appreciation Class via christineknight.me #icecream #dessert

Gelato Messina
Renowned for their wacky flavour combination and fresh ingredients, Gelato Messina produce over 40 gelato and sorbet flavours in small batches daily. We love the Salted Caramel with White Chocolate and Yogurt Berry, but always try one of their wacky weekly specials too.
Gelato Messina: various locations

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N2 Extreme Gelato
Liquid nitrogen is used to flash freeze gelato, right in front of your eyes. N2 favours innovative flavours and techniques such as their creme brulee where the top is torched, and others with a chocolate or caramel-filled syringe to inject into the centre of the dessert. The flavours change weekly so there is always something new in store to try.
N2 Extreme Gelato: CBD and Newtown

Sydney's Best Gelato & Ice Cream

Aqua S
Famous for their blue Sea Salt soft serve, this Japanese-inspired ice creamery focuses on adventurous and innovative flavours, often with an Asian twist. 
AquaS: CBD, Macquarie Centre, Chatswood

La Mama del Gelato Anita via christineknight.me

La Mamma Del Gelato Anita
Hand-made boutique ice creams, sorbet and frozen yoghurts. With over 150 flavours, it’s difficult to choose! Try their popular Cookieman or one of their innovative creations such as Pavlova, Banoffee or Mascapone Ricotta Strawberries.
La Mamma Del Gelato Anita: Central Park Mall, 28 Broadway, Chippendale

Cow and Moon: Sydney's Best Gelato via christineknight.me

Cow & The Moon
This family-owned inner west gelataria won the title of the world’s best ice cream at the Gelato World Tour in Rimini, Italy, in 2014 for its Mandorla affogato-flavoured gelato. Sample a few of the 25 flavours on offer, all hand-made out the back of the store daily. A few favourites include blackcurrant and blueberry, strawberry and balsamic, salted caramel and passionfruit cream.
Cow & The Moon: 181 Enmore Rd, Enmore

Sydney's Best Gelato & Ice Cream

Gelatissimo
Gelato is freshly made daily in store, with a rainbow of flavours available daily. Their mango sorbet is bright, refreshing and a firm favourite of ours, but there’s something for everyone with their wide variety of flavours that include dairy-free, nut-free and gluten-free options.
Gelatissimo: Various locations

Sydney's Best Gelato & Ice Cream

C9 Chocolate and Gelato
Choose from a wide variety of freshly churned flavours and either have it drizzled with chocolate or sandwiched on a cookie. C9 likes to add a bit of chocolate to everything!
C9 Chocolate and Gelato: Newtown and Bankstown.

Sydney's Best Gelato & Ice Cream

Riva Reno Gelato
Authentic Italian gelato, made daily in Sydney with fresh ingredients. Choose from the set flavours or try one of five weekly specials from a menu that includes gelato, sorbet, granita as well as waffles and crepes. Try the “Alice”: mascapone, premium marsala “vergine soleras” and lashings of gianduia. Yum!
Riva Reno Gelato: Darlinghurst and Barangaroo

What other gelaterias should we check out?

Christine Knight
Christine is the editor of Adventure, Baby! She loves cake, her tolerant husband and her busy preschooler.

Luna Park Sydney: Just For Fun

Luna Park Sydney

Luna Park Sydney might just be the most gorgeously positioned amusement park in the world. Perched on the shorefront of Milson’s Point, the juxtapositioning of the old-world carnival colours against the stunning blue of Sydney Harbour makes it an incredible spot to visit, even if you’re not planning on actually riding anything.

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While children and adults flock to the park to enjoy hair-raising rides, Luna Park is also an historical icon in Sydney, being listed on the State Heritage Register in 2010.

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Whether rides are or aren’t your thing, Luna Park is a fascinating piece of Australian history. The fist Luna Park opened in St Kilda, Melbourne, in December 1912, with a second opening in Glenelg, South Australia, in 1930. The later, however, encountered push back from the locals, who thought the park was a haven for unsavoury types – as a result, the park was packed up and shipped to Sydney.

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Sydney’s Luna Park was constructed at the foot of the Sydney Harbour Bridge in 1935, and, once open, ran for nine-month seasons until 1972, when it was opened year-round. The park closed in mid-1979 following the infamous Ghost train fire, which killed six children and one adult.

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The park has been partially demolished, renovated, re-opened and closed again several times since due to various problems – the most recent being the noise pollution complaints from locals surrounding the Big Dipper rollercoaster that caused the ride to be heavily restricted and, as a result, saw a drop in attendance that lead to the park’s closure in 1996.

After further redevelopment, the park re-opened in 2004 and has been open ever since.

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In 2010 the Luna Park Face was listed as an item of national heritage by the National Trust of Australia, making it one two amusement parks in the world that are protected by government legislation; several of the buildings on the site are also listed on the Register of the National Estate and the NSW State Heritage Register: most notably Luna Park’s Coney Island Funnyland, which is the only operating example of a 1930s funhouse left in the world.

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Coney Island was built in 1935, and although there have been some changes made over the years, the layout is almost identical to when it opened, including the rotating barrels, moving platforms, long slides and arcade games that line the walls.

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I recently took the little Cheese to experience Luna Park for the first time and have some tips if you’re intending to go:

Luna Park Tips

Buy your tickets online
They are cheaper to buy from the Luna park website than in person at the park. You will also avoid the queues this way.

Look for special deals
Take a look for even better deals before you buy them directly from the park. For example, try Groupon, or Telstra and Optus perks. I received the best deal through Optus.

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Adult accompanying rider tickets cost some serious money
If you’re not planning to buy an adult ticket for yourself but your child isn’t tall enough to ride everything on their own, you will need to buy an accompanying adult ticket. These are not available for discount purchase online at all – they must be bough at the park, full price, and they are EXPENSIVE! They are also only valid for rides where accompanying the riders who are too short to ride by themselves – so you can’t ride without them, either.

Pack your own food
There is basic food available at the park, like hot dogs, burgers and chips kinda stuff, and they are expensive. I suggest packing healthier food for lunch and bringing it with you to save money.

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Prepare for the weather
There is very little shade in much of the park, particularly in the little kids’ area out the back. Pack wide brimmed hats and plenty of sunscreen.

Go early
This is my mantra for theme parks in general. Go as early as possible when the queues are shorter and the sun isn’t as hot.

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Be aware of height restrictions
Make sure your kid is big enough to get the most out of the cost of park entry. You can find a list of the height requirements for each ride here

Know how much money it’s going to cost if you buy tickets at the park
Unlimited Rides Pass – Yellow (130cm+) $52 (vs $48 online)
Unlimited Rides Pass – Green (106-129cm) $42 (vs $38 online)
Unlimited Rides Pass – Red (85-105cm) $22 (vs $22 online)
Accompanying Adult – Green $42
Accompanying Adult – Red $22

The cheapest day to go is Mondays
During the school holidays this is an excellent deal for school kids
Mini Money Mondays – Yellow (130cm+) $40
Mini Money Mondays – Green (106-129cm) $30
Mini Money Mondays – Red (85-105cm) $16

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Other ticket options
A Coney Island Pass ($12) lets you access just Coney Island all day. Coney Island was our kids’ favourite of the whole day, and is blissfully indoors!

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Luna Park Sydney

How to get there
Luna park is so easy to reach by public transport. Catch the ferry or train directly to the park, or, if you have to drive, park in their car park. Either way, there is very little walking involved, so great for little ones.

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Luna Park
1 Olympic Dr, Milsons Point NSW 2061
Hours: The days and hours Luna Park opens varies. Please check the website before going.
lunaparksydney.com

Christine Knight
Christine is the editor of Adventure, Baby! She loves cake, her tolerant husband and her busy preschooler.

Sculpture By The Sea, Bondi 2016

Sculpture by the Sea, Bondi, Sydney, Australia

Sculpture By The Sea is the largest free public sculpture exhibition in the world, and in 2016 celebrated its 20th anniversary. The exhibition runs for two weeks every year in October/November, along the cliff top walk from Tamarama Beach to Bondi Beach.

While the majority of the sculptures are not able to be touches, each year there are several that are designed to be interacted with by visitors, be it walking through them, on them or climbing over them – the placards in front of the sculptures lets people know which ones are able to be touched and which ones are too fragile.

Sculpture by the Sea, Bondi, Sydney, Australia

A big hit this year was the ship with wooden blocks that were able to be manipulated, so visitors were able to change the shape of parts of the ship.

Sculpture by the Sea, Bondi, Sydney, Australia

Please enjoy the photos of this spectacular exhibition, and scroll down to the bottom for tips on attending.

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Tips for attending Sculpture By The Sea

  • Go early, like 6am early. We arrived at 7am and it was already really busy. If you arrive at midday, forget about being able to get near a sculpture without 20 people right on top of you.
  • Parking is a nightmare. Go early and look for a spot around Tamarama or Bronte.
  • Bring lots of water, sunscreen and a hat. The sun is brutal on the walk and there is no shade.
  • Bathrooms are located at Tamarama Beach, Mark’s Place and Bondi Beach.
  • Food is also located at Tamarama, Bondi and Mark’s Place. In 2015 and 2016 The Grounds of Alexandria had a pop-up cafe at Mark’s Place.
  • The walk is not stroller friendly at all. If you cannot bring your child in a baby carrier, walk/drive to Mark’s Place – it’s the only stroller accessible point of the walk.
  • Try for dawn or sunset for pictures with truly stunning light and less people around.
  • There are two kids’ playgrounds on the walk – one at Tamarama Beach and one at Mark’s Place.
  • Week days are much less busy than weekends.
  • Keep an eye on small children. Not only is the walk crowded, it runs along the cliff tops where there are no guard rails or barriers to stop children from falling over the edge.
  • Not all scuptures are designed to be touched. Please respect the signs and only touch those that are designated for interaction.

Sculpture by the Sea, Bondi, Sydney, Australia Sculpture by the Sea, Bondi, Sydney, Australia

Sculpture by the Sea, Bondi, Sydney, Australia

Photography tip: It might look like we were pretty much by ourselves on the walk but this was thanks to careful shooting and editing. For pics like these, be extremely patient and wait until other people leave the frame, or step around them and find an angle with no-one in it. If you can’t do either, then crop in close.

Sculpture By The Sea

Christine Knight
Christine is the editor of Adventure, Baby! She loves cake, her tolerant husband and her busy preschooler.

Kid-Friendly Restaurants in Sydney: Jamie’s Italian Trattoria Parramatta

Jamie's Italian Trattoria Parramatta

This branch of Jamie Oliver’s popular dining chain is an excellent spot in Sydney’s South-West region for dining with the whole family. We’ve been a few times now, for both date nights and family lunches, and always enjoy the food and ambience of the restaurant, as well as it’s top location in Centenary Square, right next to the fountain.

Jamie's Italian Trattoria Parramatta

The first Jamie’s Italian opened in Oxford, England, in 2008. Since then the brand has expanded to open more than 40 restaurants worldwide. The restaurant chain is designed to be accessible and affordable, providing “good food for everyone”, as is Jamie’s ideology.

Jamie's Italian Trattoria Parramatta

We most recently dined with our family and enjoyed a number of dishes: the Mezzaluna Caprese (Buffalo ricotta & spinach ravioli tossed through tomato sauce with torn mozzarella & sweet baby basil – while I ordered a small size, a large portion is $23.50), Turbo Rigatoni Arrabbiata (A fiery tomato sauce with garlic, basil, Scotch bonnet chillies, vegetarian pecorino & herby breadcrumbs – this was also a smaller portion, with the regular sized priced at $19.90), Italian Hot Pizza (Crushed tomatoes, buffalo mozzarella, spicy pepperoni & wild oregano, $24.50) and the Italian Steak & Fries (Flash-grilled prime beef steak with Italian-spiced skinny fries & rainbow slaw, $26.50).

Jamie's Italian Trattoria Parramatta Jamie's Italian Trattoria Parramatta

Jamie’s Italian is renowned for their excellent kids’ menu. We ordered the Secret Seven Tomato Pasta (Homemade curly wurly pasta in Jamie’s seven-veg tomato sauce with pecorino cheese & crunchy, herby breadcrumbs).

Jamie's Italian Trattoria Parramatta

It’s available in two sizes for kids of different ages and appetites and priced at $9.50/12.50. The meal came with a drink (my daughter chose milk) and the cutest salad. She was so delighted by how adorable the salad was that she actually ate it, which is a miracle for anyone who knows my vegetable-hating daughter.

Jamie's Italian Trattoria Parramatta Jamie's Italian Trattoria Parramatta

If you want to order dessert, which we didn’t, they have some good and reasonably priced kid’s options worth mentioning: Ice Cream or Sorbet ($2.50, served with an Italian cookie and chocolate sauce), Seasonal Fruit ($2.50), Gooey Chocolate Brownie ($5, with vanilla ice cream, crunchy toffee popcorn & chocolate sauce).

We booked a table for our large group well in advance, but the restaurant is quite large so I would think you would be able to waltz in and grab a table for a small group at any time without a booking.

Jamie's Italian Trattoria Parramatta

As well as the excellent kid’s menu, Jamie’s delivered the kid a really cute colouring in sheet and pencils. I really like when restaurants put in the little bit of effort to print their own colouring in sheets for some reason – maybe the effort shows they care that little bit more?

Anyway, while the salad was a hit, our fussy daughter wasn’t overly keen on the pasta. It was clearly handmade and while I thought it was delicious she prefers the store-bought kind she’s used to. I’ll have to take her to more places serving freshly made pasta!

As noted in the list of dishes above, Jamie’s Italian lets you order a small portion of the pasta dishes instead of the main size that is listed on the menu. I didn’t know this was an option as it wasn’t listed on the menu, but my cousin had dined there previously and let us know, which I appreciated. My Mezzaluna Caprese was excellent and I will order the larger sized version next time I go in, for sure. Creamy filling inside perfectly cooked pasta sheets. Delicious. The pizza didn’t get the best wrap, with the recipient saying it was a bit bland despite being spicy. Hubbie had the steak and liked it enough to hover it before I could ask him any questions, so that was clearly a success.

There are many restaurants in Parramatta, several Italian ones too, but Jamie’s Italian manages to hold its own among them, in part because of their excellent brand name, but also because the food is of a high quality while being decently priced. It will remain out go-to restaurant in the area, with and without our munchkin, but particularly with her, as it’s one of the best kid-friendly restaurants we’ve found in Sydney.

Want to let the kids run off some energy afterwards? The Parramatta CBD River Foreshore Park is nearby.

Jamie’s Italian Trattoria
Highchairs: Yes.
Stroller storage: Yes.
Easy access: Yes.
Change tables: Yes.
Kids’ menu: Yes.

Jamie’s Italian Trattoria Parramatta
Centenary Square, Church St,
Parramatta NSW
Phone: (02) 8624 6800
Prices: $$$
Hours: Mon-Thur 7:30am-11am, 11:30am-9:30pm, Fri 7:30am–11am, 11:30am–10pm, Sat 8:30am–10pm, Sun 8:30am–9:30pm
Get Directions
Jamie's Italian Trattoria Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Christine Knight
Christine is the editor of Adventure, Baby! She loves cake, her tolerant husband and her busy preschooler.

Literary Lions at the New York City Public Library

Literary Lions at the New York Public Library via christineknight.me

The New York Public Library is great free spot to stop by with kids when visiting New York City. Located on 5th Avenue, it’s the second largest public library in the United States, and fourth largest in the world.

New York Public Library via christineknight.me

The library is home to more than 51 million items, from books, e-books, and DVDs to research collections.

New York Public Library via christineknight.me

Most tourists enjoy taking a photo Patience and Fortitude, the famous pair of marble lions that stand in front of the buildings entrance at Fifth Avenue and 42nd Street in Manhattan, but don’t venture inside.

New York Public Library via christineknight.me New York Public Library via christineknight.me

If you’re visiting with kids in tow, I highly recommend dropping by the Children’s Center at 42nd Street to enjoy free access to a wide range of children’s literature, music, and media.

New York Public Library via christineknight.me

The library runs free storytimes suitable for kids from birth to age five. The full program is on their website.

New York Public Library via christineknight.me

 

The Children’s Center is open daily, same hours at the library, except Sundays 1pm-5pm

New York Public Library via christineknight.me

The New York Public Library
5th Ave at 42nd St, New York, NY 10018, United States
Hours: Mon 10am-6pm, Tue & Wed 10am-8pm, Thur-Sat 10am-6pm, Sun closed
Prices: FREE
Get Directions

Christine Knight
Christine is the editor of Adventure, Baby! She loves cake, her tolerant husband and her busy preschooler.

Sydney Playgrounds: Parramatta CBD River Foreshore Park

Parramatta CBD River Foreshore Park

The Parramatta CBD River Foreshore Park is a great spot to run off steam with kids if you’re taking in a show at the nearby Riverside Theatre or grabbing lunch at one of the restaurants on Church street.

Built into the slope of the hill on the river’s foreshore, it’s got some really cool features like a 4 metre slide and rock climbing. In summer, water features are turned on near the sand play area.

Be aware that the playground is not fenced, not does it have any shade cover or bathrooms.

Parramatta CBD River Foreshore Park Parramatta CBD River Foreshore Park Parramatta CBD River Foreshore Park Parramatta CBD River Foreshore Park Parramatta CBD River Foreshore Park Parramatta CBD River Foreshore Park Parramatta CBD River Foreshore Park Parramatta CBD River Foreshore Park Parramatta CBD River Foreshore Park Parramatta CBD River Foreshore Park Parramatta CBD River Foreshore Park Parramatta CBD River Foreshore Park Parramatta CBD River Foreshore Park

Parramatta CBD River Foreshore Park
Elizabeth St Footbridge Parramatta NSW

Christine Knight
Christine is the editor of Adventure, Baby! She loves cake, her tolerant husband and her busy preschooler.

Swamp Monsters: Halloween in Centennial Park, Sydney

Swamp Monsters: Halloween in Centennial Park, Sydney

Halloween has been taking off slowly over the years in Sydney, with more and more families like ours wanting to mark the occassion with fun activities. This year Cheese was finally old enough to try the Swamp Monsters program at Centennial Park.

Swamp Monsters: Halloween in Centennial Park, Sydney

Swamp Monsters is a Halloween trail through Centennial Park, starting at the Eduation Centre. The event often sells out far in advance so buying tickets before the event is highly recommended. The day is broken up into time slots to start the activities. Arrive any time during your time slot, sign in at the desk and pick up your trail map, then take as long as you like.

Swamp Monsters: Halloween in Centennial Park, Sydney

The trail has five activity stations for kids to complete, with each spot spookyily themed and requiring kids to complete a task. The kids loved the (fake) spiders and cobwebs, and screamed with delighted terror at the “zombies” as they darted through a course that included navigating their way thorough a giant spider web, feeding a giant venus fly trap, guessing the ghoulish item in the mystery boxes, shooting zombies with nerf guns and bolting through a swamp infested with creatures from the dead.

Swamp Monsters: Halloween in Centennial Park, Sydney Swamp Monsters: Halloween in Centennial Park, Sydney Swamp Monsters: Halloween in Centennial Park, Sydney Swamp Monsters: Halloween in Centennial Park, Sydney Swamp Monsters: Halloween in Centennial Park, Sydney Swamp Monsters: Halloween in Centennial Park, Sydney Swamp Monsters: Halloween in Centennial Park, Sydney Swamp Monsters: Halloween in Centennial Park, Sydney

After completing the five activities, the last stop is the completion tent where kids get their maps stamped and can choose a treat. While that marks the end of the trail, they are welcome to repeat any part of the course that they like.

Swamp Monsters: Halloween in Centennial Park, Sydney Swamp Monsters: Halloween in Centennial Park, Sydney

At the start and end of the trail, back at the education centre, a pumpkin patch is set up for kids to make their own scarecrows. Our kids didn’t care so much about making the scarecrows – they were more enthused about pretending they were ponies munching on the hay. Great imaginations.

Swamp Monsters: Halloween in Centennial Park, Sydney

We chose the 11:30 time slot and found a tree to sit under for a picnic lunch at 12:30, thinking we would take a break and then do one of the activities after our lunch break, not realising that the whole course stopped for a lunch break between 12:30 and 2pm. I would highly recommend if you’re planning to do the activities again that you choose an earilier time slow or the one after lunch break.

Swamp Monsters: Halloween in Centennial Park, Sydney

While the day is recommended for kids aged 5-12 there were definintely some younger kids there. The littlies enjoyed several of the stations but were also scared of a few, so it all depends on the kid.

More info:
Age: 5-12 years
Times: Start times are available every 15 minutes between 10am to 12pm and 2pm to 4:30pm
Meeting Point/Venue: Start at The Learning Centre in the Education Precinct, off Dickens Drive, Centennial Park
Price: $17 per child
Online

Special Notes

Show your online ticket on the day to receive your Trail Map. Tickets can be shown on mobile devices or printed out.
Event will go ahead in all weather. No refunds will be given.
Children must be accompanied by an adult. Adults do not require a ticket
One Trail Map per ticket and all participating children require their own trail map.
Coffee, ice cream and small snacks will be available for purchase from food vans.There is plenty of free parking usually available in Centennial Park, or you can take public transport.

Christine Knight
Christine is the editor of Adventure, Baby! She loves cake, her tolerant husband and her busy preschooler.

KOOZA by Cirque du Soleil

KOOZA by Cirque du Soleil

“We’re going to the circus!” I announce to my five-year-old daughter, wanting to surprise her with a special treat. “Not with animals?” she looks at me somewhat confused. “No, with people!” I explain. “Ahhh, acrobats!” she crows, delighted at her good fortune of being taken on a special date, just the two of us.

“Will there be tightrope walkers? And jugglers?” she asks, her only point of reference for a circus a traditional one from well before the time she was born. “Ummmm,” I reply, not sure how to answer. When you’re going to watch Cirque Du Soleil, all expectations on what you’re actually going to see on stage go out the window. It could be literally any physical feat, and usually more bizarre than your imagination can dream up. “I guess we’ll see,” I finally say, and off we go to the big top in Sydney’s Moore Park, and excitedly take our seats.

KOOZA by Cirque du Soleil

Cirque Du Soleil has been wowing audiences with electrifying shows since their humble beginnings as a group of 20 street performers in Baie-Saint-Paul, a small town near Quebec City, in Canada. The band of colourful characters entertained people on the streets with stilt-walking, juggling, dancing, breathing fire, and playing live music. Old-school circus acts, performed with what would become their trademark drama and flair.

KOOZA by Cirque du Soleil

The company is still based in Quebec, and now has close to 4,000 employees, including 1,300 performing artists from around 50 countries around the world. They’re performed in over 300 cities in over 40 countries on six continents – and tonight, they’re in Sydney, Australia.

KOOZA by Cirque du Soleil
Picture credit : Owen Carey Costume credit : Marie Chantale Vaillancourt © 2010 Cirque du Soleil

Much to my delight, Kooza pays homage to Cirque Du Soleil’s traditional circus roots with a combination of acrobatic performance and the art of clowning. The acts my daughter mentioned? They’re all there and she is thrilled. Stilt-walkers, jugglers, dancers, contortionists and tight-rope walkers. Every single circus act we could have possible hoped for was entwined in Kooza’s thrilling story of an Innocent’s discovery of light and dark magic.

KOOZA by Cirque du Soleil
Picture credit : OSA Images Costume credit : Marie-Chantale Vaillancourt © 2007 Cirque du Soleil

Kooza cleverly weaves a tale about discovery, fear and power through a jam-packed show filled with acrobatic acts and tension-breaking light humour. The central character, The Innocent, is our guide on a journey of thrills, suspense and moments where our hearts almost stop watching the death-defying feats in front of our eyes.

KOOZA by Cirque du Soleil
Picture credit : OSA Images Costume credit : Marie-Chantale Vaillancourt © 2007 Cirque du Soleil

While the adult in me sees the occasional safety gear go up for some of the more terrifying acts, my daughter is focussed only on the action and is genuinely worried about the well-being of the acrobats. “That doesn’t look very safe,” she whispers in my ear as a man dressed as the devil jumps on top of a spinning “wheel of death” that soars right to the top of the tent roof and proceeds to flip into the air.

KOOZA by Cirque du Soleil
Picture credit : OSA Images Costume credit : Marie-Chantale Vaillancourt © 2007 Cirque du Soleil

She’s right – it’s part of the show’s illusion to make every act look effortless, while tapping into our sub conscious desire to see how far a human body can be pushed before it breaks. Will they fall? In a few spots, they almost do, and a collective gasp goes up in the audience to see a wobble or slight slip. They are fragile human beings and this is real life, not a movie with trick photography at work. If they fall it’s a long way down.

KOOZA by Cirque du Soleil
Picture credit : OSA Images Costume credit : Marie-Chantale Vaillancourt © 2007 Cirque du Soleil

I point out the safety net that springs up when the tightrope walkers get particularly daring, and the hook that is attached to the man who balances with one hand on top 10 chairs to show her there is nothing to fear. “Even if they fall, they’ll be ok,” I whisper back, and she lets out the biggest sigh of relief I’ve heard from her, and spends the rest of the show pointing out the safety equipment to me, so I won’t be scared either.

KOOZA by Cirque du Soleil
Picture credit : OSA Images Costume credit : Marie-Chantale Vaillancourt © 2007 Cirque du Soleil

The show draws to its close and I realise I’ve been holding my breath for much of it, perched on the edge of my seat. For two hours, we’ve been thoroughly immersed in a fantastical dreamscape world where acrobats are able to do the impossible – perform tricks that my mind can’t comprehend as possible for a human body to be able to do.

KOOZA by Cirque du Soleil
Picture credit : Owen Carey Costume credit : Marie Chantale Vaillancourt © 2010 Cirque du Soleil

My daughter, after her first circus experience ever, is forever changed. Her world has expanded and her imagination unlocked. She’s seen with her own eyes the heights and athletic ability that a human body can reach, and the daring that some souls possess to push themselves past limits the rest of us would quite frankly baulk at. She is among many children in the tent, the next generation who are growing up with Cirque Du Soleil being the the only circus they’re likely to experience.

KOOZA by Cirque du Soleil
Picture credit : Owen Carey Costume credit : Marie Chantale Vaillancourt © 2010

The audience leaves the tent uplifted and with stars in their eyes. We’ve seen great things today and will tell our friends about that time we saw a man leap aboard a spinning wheel of death and survive what looks impossible, or about the lady who spun from a hoop high in the air, saved from plummeting to the ground only by her neck. It’s the kind of stuff you never forget that you’ve seen.

KOOZA by Cirque du Soleil
Picture credit : Owen Carey
Costume credit : Marie Chantale Vaillancourt © 2010 Cirque du Soleil

My five-year-old wants to run away and join the circus. Come to think of it, so do I. We’d better start working on our acts.

KOOZA by Cirque du Soleil
Picture credit : OSA Images Costume credit : Marie-Chantale Vaillancourt © 2007 Cirque du Soleil

Tips for seeing Kooza by Cirque Du Soleil

  • Parking at the Entertainment Quarter is actually quite reasonable. 3-4 hours is only $10.
  • If you’re taking kids, ask for a booster seat when you enter the seating pavilion.
  • Bathrooms are outside the pavilion so go beforehand.
  • Find your seats at least 10 minutes before the show starts so you don’t miss the pre-show entertainment.
  • The best place to see the show is smack bang right in the middle of the front section as this is where much of the action faces. Don’t fret if you’ve already bought tickets on the side though as the whole show is still visible from the entire ring.
  • The show is quite long for littles to sit through – an hour and a bit for the first half, followed by a 30 minute interval and then 45 minutes for the 2nd half.
  • If you are considering taking little ones, be aware that there are loud noises at times and a few scary themes like skeletons.
  • Water is provided for free near the bar areas so you can take your own water bottle as long as it’s not glass, and refill it.
  • Snacks and drinks are permitted into the pavilion.
KOOZA by Cirque du Soleil
Picture credit : OSA Images
Costume credit : Marie-Chantale Vaillancourt © 2007 Cirque du Soleil

Catch KOOZA by Cirque du Soleil in a city near you:

Sydney – Now playing until November 13 2016, Entertainment Quarter, Moore Park
Brisbane – From November 24 2016, Skygate Brisbane Airport (near DFO)
Melbourne – From January 20 2017, Flemington Racecourse
Perth – From April 13 2017, Belmont Park Racecourse, Victoria Park Drive (off Farmer Freeway), Burswood
Tickets at http://www.cirquedusoleil.com/kooza

Thank you Cirque Du Soleil for tickets to see the show. All opinions are my own.

Christine Knight
Christine is the editor of Adventure, Baby! She loves cake, her tolerant husband and her busy preschooler.

Thailand Travel Guide: The Best Bits of Phuket

Thailand Travel Guide: The Best of Phuket

Phuket is a large island in the south of Thailand. It’s so big, at 49km long, that it doesn’t actually feel like an island at all. Famous for it’s stunning beaches and tourists who love to party, the beautiful hospitality and rich culture of this part of Thailand can be overlooked.

Whether you spend a few days or a week in Phuket, here are five ways to spend your Thailand vacay that will leave you feeling refreshed, enriched and enlightened.

Karon Beach, Phuket, Thailand

Beaches
There is no doubt that the beaches in Thailand are just stunning and you can’t write a guide to Phuket without mentioning them. White sand and clear blue water –  the beaches in Phuket are just heavenly. Depending on the time of year you visit swimming at the beaches may or may not be an option. During the wet season, box jellyfish are more prevalent, so keep a look out. Some of the Phuket beaches are also known for heavy rips, so be safe when you swim.

Big Buddha, Phuket, Thailand

Big Buddha
It’s hard not to notice Phuket’s Big Buddha from around the island. The imposing 45 metre tall statue and temple sits on top of is one of the the Nakkerd Hills between Chalong and Kata and is one of the island’s most important and revered landmarks.

Big Buddha, Phuket, Thailand

The view from the top of the hill is also stunning, making it a popular place to watch the sunset.

Phuket Old Town, Thailand

Old Phuket Town
Take a stroll through Old Phuket Town to discover shrines, temples (Buddhist and Chinese), beautifully preserved ‘shophouses’ and little cafés. The town was built during Phuket’s tin boom of the 19th Century and has several excellently preserved, grandiose Sino-colonial mansions once lived in by the tin barons over a hundred years ago.

Phuket Old Town, Thailand

While you will need to hire a car to get to Phuket Old Town, it’s small enough to walk around in when you get there. If it’s raining or too hot, the Phuket Trickeye Museum is a fun place to stop by in Old Phuket Town with kids.

Wat Karon, Phuket, Thailand

Wat Suwan Khiri Khet (Karon Temple or Wat Karon)
Wander through the main road in Karon and you’ll find the stunning Wat Karon. This relatively new temple is a stunning place to visit any day of the week. We met kind monks who introduced us to one of their chickens, George.

Wat Karon, Phuket, Thailand

On Tuesdays and Saturdays, from 4pm the Karon markets pop up inside the compound.

Phuket Day Trips: Phang Nga Bay & James Bond Island

Day trip: Phang Nga Bay
The islands surrounding Phuket are just gorgeous. We took the Two Sea Tour sea kayaking around Phang Nga Bay. You can read more about it here.

What to avoid:
Please don’t ride elephants, watch an elephant show or have your photo taken with an animal on the street (such as monkeys). These animals are treated cruelly and participating in these activities enables the businesses to continue to run. More info on animal cruelty in Thailand here.

When to visit Thailand:
We visited Phuket at the end of monsoon season (early October), and did experience quite a lot of rain. The rain was mostly in the mornings and late afternoon/evening, however, so there was still enough of the day that was try to get out and enjoy.

What to pack:
Mosquito repellant
Sunscreen
Scarf to cover shoulders if visiting temples
Loose, light layers
Hat, swimmers, sunglasses, goggles
Comfortable walking shoes

What to wear:
The Thai people tend to dress quite conservatively. Tourists can wear shorts and tanks tops, but avoid showing too much skin when you’re not at the hotel. If you’re visiting a temple, wear pants or a skirt that covers your knees. Some temples will also require shoulders being covered.

Money in Thailand
1AUD is about equal to 30THB. A plate of Thai food at a local restaurant will cost about 50-60THB.

Getting around: common forms of transport
Red buses: We caught one and it cost 40THB for the three of us. It’s basically a small bus with the back area wide open. Please jump on and off when they need to.
Tuk-tuk: Around 100THB for a short distance. Ask for the cost in advance and wedge kids in the middle, tight.
Taxi: Arrange the amount in advance. Call for a taxi from hotels.
Hire car and driver: We hired a car and driver to take us to Old Phuket Town and Big Buddha. It was quite pricey, at 700THB an hour, with a minimum of three hours plus the fourth hour for free.

Hotel Review: Novotel Phuket Karon Beach Resort & Spa

Where to stay:
In Phuket we were hosted at the Novotel Phuket Surin Beach Resort for three nights, and the Novotel Phuket Karon Beach Resort and Spa for three nights. Both hotels were gorgeous, 4-star properties.

Christine Knight
Christine is the editor of Adventure, Baby! She loves cake, her tolerant husband and her busy preschooler.