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12 Reasons Why Vivid Sydney at Taronga Zoo Is The Best Place To Take Kids

Vivid Sydney at Taronga Zoo via christineknight.me

This is the first year Taronga has participated in Vivid, as part of the Zoo’s Centenary Celebrations. Quite simply, Vivid Sydney at Taronga Zoo is the perfect way to experience the excitement of the Vivid festival with young kids:

Vivid Sydney at Taronga Zoo via christineknight.me

1. It’s ticketed
Yes that’s right, you have to pay to get in and I think that’s a huge positive. On the one hand, it’s nice to go to free events because costs do add up, but then crowds are usually out of control as a result. Vivid at Taronga is $17.95 Adult, $11.95 child entry fee, all of which goes towards conservation efforts.

Vivid Sydney at Taronga Zoo via christineknight.me

As a result of the event being ticketed, not only are the crowds kept down because people rather do things that are free, but they are also kept smaller as there are only limited numbers of tickets available for sale. We went on opening night and while there was a decent amount of people, it never felt crowded. We had no problem getting up close to any of the exhibits, and were often the only people at that particular display.

Vivid Sydney at Taronga Zoo via christineknight.me

Additionally, less people makes it safer to take little kids. We went with friends and their two kids, so we had three kids aged 6, 4 and 3, all running wild. At no point were we worried about losing the kids in a crowd.

Vivid Sydney at Taronga Zoo via christineknight.me

2. There’s food
A huge complaint from families about Vivid elsewhere is the lack of easy and reasonably priced food to grab when you’re out with kids. The cafe remains open throughout the evening with a variety of basic food like hot chips, chicken tenders, sandwiches, yogurt and snacks to refuel small tummies halfway through the walk.

Vivid Sydney at Taronga Zoo via christineknight.me

3. It’s educational
Taronga features 10 giant, multimedia light sculptures representing ten critical species from Australia and Sumatra that the foundation is committed to protecting, plus a bunch of cute critters speckled in trees and bushes and thousands of lanterns created by over 4000 local school kids.

Vivid Sydney at Taronga Zoo via christineknight.me

Each exhibit has a large placard next to it with important info about the animal on it. Expect to see a Sumatran tiger, sun bear, pangolin plus crowd pleasers like the platypus, echidna and pygmy tarsiers.

Vivid Sydney at Taronga Zoo via christineknight.me

4. It’s an interactive adventure
The trail itself is fun for kids, as it winds down through the bushy paths of the zoo with the exhibits popping up in the bushes along the way. Several of the displays are also interactive, such as the chameleon, where kids can move a light onto its spots to change its colour, or the cicadas who respond with noises when you yell at them.

Vivid Sydney at Taronga Zoo via christineknight.me

5. It’s completely assessable
I would absolutely not take a stroller to most of the Vivid locations due to the sheer volume of people present, making it really difficult to maneuver with a stroller. By comparison, strollers and wheelchairs had no problems I could see at Taronga. Wide paths with lower amounts of people = an easy outing.

Vivid Sydney at Taronga Zoo via christineknight.me

6. Family amenities
Simply: plenty of clean bathrooms with changing facilities!

Vivid Sydney at Taronga Zoo via christineknight.me

7. Parking is easy
While you can get the ferry and then a shuttle bus up to the main entrance where the light trail begins, it’s super easy to just drive there and park for a flat fee of $7 after 4pm. We arrived at about 5:20pm and there was a lot of parking available.

Vivid Sydney at Taronga Zoo via christineknight.me

8. It’s the perfect length
I find Vivid in the main city areas to be hugely overwhelming with it’s crazy number of locations, and wide distance to be covered. It’s pretty exhausting, even more so when you add young kids to the mix. Vivid at Taronga takes about an hour and a half to walk the trail, stop for a snack, ride the Sky Safari and even watch the light show out the front a few extra times before you leave. If you start at 5:30pm like we did it means you’ll finish up at 7pm, which is still on the early side, and not too tiring for anyone.

Vivid Sydney at Taronga Zoo via christineknight.me

9. It starts early
Lights go on at 5:30pm! In the CBD lights go on at 6pm. That 30 minutes earlier made the difference to us between getting our daughter home around bed time vs half an hour after – it might seem like a lot, but it sure makes bedtime easier in our home!

Vivid Sydney at Taronga Zoo via christineknight.me

10. Animal sneak peeks
While most of the Taronga residents are happily tucked up in bed during Vivid, a few curious creatures come out to say hi – in particular the giraffes. I was a bit concerned about the effect of the event on the animals, but the giraffes looked pretty chill, even curious about what was going on after bedtime.

Vivid Sydney at Taronga Zoo via christineknight.me

11. You can ride the Sky Safari
When you buy a ticket you can select an ANZ Blue pass for no extra charge. These tickets include a round trip on Taronga’s Sky Safari cable car experience, which is a fab addition as you can take a break for a start and sit in an enclosed area where children can’t escape, and also get a stunning view of the harbour all lit up, as well as ride over Taronga’s Vivid light’s, too.

Vivid Sydney at Taronga Zoo via christineknight.me

12. The light show will get them dancing
At the entrance to the Zoo a spectacular light display is projected onto the historic entry gates, telling the story of the Vivid theme: “Don’t Let Their Lights Go Out”. This important conservation message is told through a mesmerising show that entertains as well as driving home the importance of saving our endangered animals.

Vivid Sydney at Taronga Zoo via christineknight.me

Kids possibly loved this display the most (ours thought it was the show we had come to see in its entirety and were content to just watch it over and over again!), and could be seen running through the lights on the ground, dancing to the music, and squealing with delight as animals they recognised swam, hopped and wriggled their way across the gates. Just magical.

Vivid Sydney at Taronga Zoo via christineknight.me Vivid Sydney at Taronga Zoo via christineknight.me Vivid Sydney at Taronga Zoo via christineknight.me Vivid Sydney at Taronga Zoo via christineknight.me Vivid Sydney at Taronga Zoo via christineknight.me Vivid Sydney at Taronga Zoo via christineknight.me Vivid Sydney at Taronga Zoo via christineknight.me Vivid Sydney at Taronga Zoo via christineknight.me Vivid Sydney at Taronga Zoo via christineknight.me Vivid Sydney at Taronga Zoo via christineknight.me

Vivid Sydney at Taronga
Dates: 27 May – June 16, 2016
Hours: 5:30pm – 9:30pm nightly
Prices: $17.95 Adult, $11.95 Child (4-15 years)/Concession. Children under 4 years of age are free.
Parking: Entry after 4pm flat rate $7

Christine Knight
Christine is the editor of Adventure, Baby!

Secret Sydney: Wendy Whiteley’s Secret Garden

Wendy's Secret Garden, Sydney via christineknight.me

Sydney’s Lavender Bay is the perfect spot to enjoy the spectacular Sydney scenery and let time pass by. If you turn your back to the gorgeous view and walk a up a stealthy flight of stairs, you’ll find yourself somewhere a bit magical – Wendy’s Secret Garden.

Wendy's Secret Garden, Sydney via christineknight.me

The garden was created in 1992 by Wendy Whiteley, wife and muse to artist Brett Whiteley, following her by then ex-husband’s death. Before Wendy turned the patch of land into the whimsical retreat it is today, it was a dumping ground, overgrown with weeds. The lot is officially owned by NSW State Railways, but after Wendy’s incredible efforts to turn it into a treasure to be enjoyed by the general public, the government has agreed lease the land to North Sydney Council on a 30-year renewable lease, securing it for hopefully generations to come.

Wendy's Secret Garden, Sydney via christineknight.me

The garden lies beneath the home Wendy shared with her husband and their daughter, Arkie. What started as a therapeutic way for Wendy to channel her grief following Brett’s death turned into a creative outlet for her, and a sanctuary for locals and visitors.

Wendy's Secret Garden, Sydney via christineknight.me

Wendy invested millions of her own money into the project, with the resulting garden filled with tall Moreton Bay figs, flowers and shrubs.

Wendy's Secret Garden, Sydney via christineknight.me

We took Cheese to visit the secret garden recently, and she, like the many other children we encountered along it’s winding pathways and steep climbs, was enchanted by the hidden trails, secret sculptures and beautiful plants. Many families we encountered had brought a picnic and whiled away the afternoon at the various tables, chairs and benches set up for general use, while their kids enjoyed discovering the secrets contained in the special garden.

Wendy's Secret Garden, Sydney via christineknight.me Wendy's Secret Garden, Sydney via christineknight.me Wendy's Secret Garden, Sydney via christineknight.me Wendy's Secret Garden, Sydney via christineknight.me Wendy's Secret Garden, Sydney via christineknight.me Wendy's Secret Garden, Sydney via christineknight.me Wendy's Secret Garden, Sydney via christineknight.me Wendy's Secret Garden, Sydney via christineknight.me Wendy's Secret Garden, Sydney via christineknight.me Wendy's Secret Garden, Sydney via christineknight.me Wendy's Secret Garden, Sydney via christineknight.me Wendy's Secret Garden, Sydney via christineknight.me Wendy's Secret Garden, Sydney via christineknight.me Wendy's Secret Garden, Sydney via christineknight.me Wendy's Secret Garden, Sydney via christineknight.me Wendy's Secret Garden, Sydney via christineknight.me Wendy's Secret Garden, Sydney via christineknight.me Wendy's Secret Garden, Sydney via christineknight.me Wendy's Secret Garden, Sydney via christineknight.me Wendy's Secret Garden, Sydney via christineknight.me Wendy's Secret Garden, Sydney via christineknight.me Wendy's Secret Garden, Sydney via christineknight.me Wendy's Secret Garden, Sydney via christineknight.me Wendy's Secret Garden, Sydney via christineknight.me Wendy's Secret Garden, Sydney via christineknight.me Wendy's Secret Garden, Sydney via christineknight.me Wendy's Secret Garden, Sydney via christineknight.me Wendy's Secret Garden, Sydney via christineknight.me Wendy's Secret Garden, Sydney via christineknight.me

Wendy’s Secret Garden
Lavender Bay
Get Directions

Christine Knight
Christine is the editor of Adventure, Baby!

Flour Drum: Kid-Friendly Restaurants Newtown Sydney

Flour Drum: Kid-Friendly Cafes, Newtown, Sydney via christineknight.me

A few weeks ago we stopped by Flour Drum in Newtown when we were looking at properties in the area. We were desperate for food to eat on the go, and were beyond delighted with the food Flour Drumm put together for us, including an egg and bacon roll that Mr Adventure devoured, and a yogurt parfait that they custom made for me, despite not being on the menu. They were so friendly and the food so good that we had been keen to get back there for a full meal every since.

FLour Drum: Kid-Friendly Cafes, Newtown, Sydney via christineknight.me

Flour Drum’s motto is seasonal, simple and fresh. The decor is rustic with a side of hip, and the ambiance is warm and welcoming.

FLour Drum: Kid-Friendly Cafes, Newtown, Sydney via christineknight.me

The menu is painted all over the walls, and includes all-day-breakfast and daily specials. They have a wide variety of meals, including plenty for this vegetarian to choose from. While there isn’t a designated kid’s menu, the team are happy to whip something up for little ones – in our case, it was a kid’s serving of scrambled eggs and toast.

FLour Drum: Kid-Friendly Cafes, Newtown, Sydney via christineknight.me

Out the back is a little garden area filled with things for tiny guests to discover such as a pond with gold fish, a dollhouse, and a barbie campervan when we visited. The dollhouse is particularly interesting as it’s mounted on the wall rather than being on the ground. I looked it up online afterwards and read that the dollhouse was installed to appease a possible ghost of a young girl who’s spirit was said to visit the cafe.

FLour Drum: Kid-Friendly Cafes, Newtown, Sydney via christineknight.me

We didn’t encounter any ghosts (I guess the dollhouse works!) but did enjoy the warm staff and delicious, wholesome food. Flour Drum sources ingredients from local suppliers including fresh eggs delivered straight from the farm, daily baked hand-made rustic breads, boutique artisan coffee, milk delivered directly from the farm and housemade muesli, jams, preserves, peanut butters and sauces.

FLour Drum: Kid-Friendly Cafes, Newtown, Sydney via christineknight.me

The cafe is very kid-friendly – as well as being accessible for strollers and wheelchairs with disabled access, a disabled wash room, high chairs for babies and nappy change facilities.

FLour Drum: Kid-Friendly Cafes, Newtown, Sydney via christineknight.me

During our visit we enjoyed Free Range Eggs with sourdough ($9), avocado ($5) and tomato relish ($5). The lovely waitress was a bit concerned I wouldn’t like the relish so gave me fresh tomato too, bless! Mr Adventure Enjoyed house-made Lasagna and iceberg lettuce salad which I think it making a comeback as the new popular lettuce on the block (move over, kale!).

FLour Drum: Kid-Friendly Cafes, Newtown, Sydney via christineknight.me FLour Drum: Kid-Friendly Cafes, Newtown, Sydney via christineknight.me

Oh, and don’t forget the babyccinos – they’re FREE OF CHARGE and come in the cutest little smiley mug with a marshmallow. You can’t get more welcoming than that.

Highchairs: Yes.
Stroller storage: Minimal.
Easy access: Yes.
Change tables: Yes.
Kids’ menu: No.

Flour Drum
531 King St,
Newtown
Phone: (02) 9565 2822
Prices: $$
Hours: Mon-Sat 7am-4pm, Sun 8am-4pm
Get Directions

Flour Drum Newtown Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Christine Knight
Christine is the editor of Adventure, Baby!

The Cortile InterContinental: Sydney’s Best High Teas

The Cortile, InterContintental: Sydney's best high teas via christineknight.me

No longer missing from my adventures in high tea, is the very elegant high tea at The Cortile, InterContinental, Sydney.

The Cortile, InterContintental: Sydney's best high teas via christineknight.me

This is definitely the most beautiful building of all the high teas so far. The InterContinental Hotel was built inside the restored Sydney Treasury Building of 1851. The outside facade of the building is just gorgeous, with sandstone blocks and even some lions to welcome you, and inside the atrium that is where The Cortile is situated,is a gorgeous blend of old meets new. Soaring ceilings, brick archways, with modern fittings and elegant lighting. Just beautiful.

The Cortile, InterContintental: Sydney's best high teas via christineknight.me

The InterContinental is in a superb position too – just a few blocks from the Sydney Opera House and across the road from Sydney’s Botanic Gardens, it’s a wonderful spot to stay for a few days, or just to experience a high tea like we did.

The Cortile, InterContintental: Sydney's best high teas via christineknight.me

High Tea at the InterContinental is a truly elegant affair. It consists of a plate of sandwiches, followed by a three tier stand filled with pasties, scones and sweets.

The Cortile, InterContintental: Sydney's best high teas via christineknight.me

The Three Tier High Tea Stand is served Monday to Friday from 11am–5pm and costs $55 per person (including a glass of sparkling wine).

As a vegetarian I was given a seperate plate of sandwiches and pastries which i thought was very considerate of the staff to arrange.

The Cortile, InterContintental: Sydney's best high teas via christineknight.me

Sandwiches
• Club sandwich, roasted chicken with crispy bacon & tomato
• Tasmanian smoked salmon, cucumber, horseradish & lemon on laugen bread
• Paprika prawns, chili, lemongrass, green shallots, thai basil, red quinoa

The Cortile, InterContintental: Sydney's best high teas via christineknight.me

Vegetarian sandwiches included mixed vegetables, a tomato, cheese and basil salad.

The sandwiches were light and fresh. I really enjoyed the inclusion of the salad.

The Cortile, InterContintental: Sydney's best high teas via christineknight.me

Hot Savoury Treats
• Tuscan chicken & roasted vegetable roll
• Caramelised onion & goat’s cheese quiche
• Beef and Guinness pie

The Cortile, InterContintental: Sydney's best high teas via christineknight.me

Vegetarian savoury treats included the same quiche plus a pumpkin piece and Moroccan sausage roll.

Nice bite-sized treats. The pumpkin in particular was great – a slightly spicy mix with creamy pumpkin.

The Cortile, InterContintental: Sydney's best high teas via christineknight.me

Tea Treats
• Lemon & herbal infusion tea cup
• Jasmine Gold tea crème brulée
• Punnet of passionfruit, Matcha Horai green tea & chestnut
• Hazelnut biscuit, crunchy praline & milk chocolate chantilly
• Lemon, lime & bitter macaron

The Cortile, InterContintental: Sydney's best high teas via christineknight.me

My fave was the perfect creme brulee and the lemon and herbal infusion cup, with its light, fresh creaminess.

The Cortile, InterContintental: Sydney's best high teas via christineknight.me

Hot Sweet Treats
• Buttermilk vanilla scones, vanilla whipped cream, cherry jam

The Cortile, InterContintental: Sydney's best high teas via christineknight.me

Delicious, warm, fresh scones.

The Cortile, InterContintental: Sydney's best high teas via christineknight.me
To Finish
• Green Tea Affogato; the classic Italian dessert with a twist.

The finale to this meal is a shot of Matcha poured over vanilla bean ice-cream. Our lovely waitress mixed the matcha in front of us and poured it, hot, over a large scoop of vanilla bean ice cream. The fresh ice cream was the perfect way to finish the high tea – refreshing and light.

The Cortile, InterContintental: Sydney's best high teas via christineknight.me

If you dine at the InterContinental on weekends, you can try the Weekend High Tea Buffet. It’s served Saturday & Sunday from 1pm–2:30pm and 3pm–4:30pm. It costs $60 per person includes a glass of sparkling wine.

The Cortile, InterContinental Sydney
117 Macquarie St, Sydney
Phone: 02 9240 1396
Reservations reocmmended restaurant.reservations@interconsydney.com
Get Directions

The Cortile Lounge Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Christine Knight
Christine is the editor of Adventure, Baby!

We Will Rock You: Sydney’s Best Stage Shows

We Will Rock You the musical via christineknight.me

Brought to you by Nuffnang and We Will Rock You

I first saw We Will Rock You, the brilliant show blending Queen’s legendary songs with Ben Elton’s comic genius, in London 10 years ago. When I saw the show, I thought it was groundbreaking, hilarious, uplifting and wildly entertaining. In short, everything a good theatre show should be.

We Will Rock You the musical via christineknight.me

Lucky, lucky us, We Will Rock You is touring Australia right now. It’s an updated version of the production that retains the brilliance of the original, with a bit of a modern facelift and location-relevant references.

We Will Rock You the musical via christineknight.me

The show is set in the year 2350, where live music is banned on Earth. A rebellious few fight against their force-fed diet of synthesized pop and controlling government, choosing individualism, real-life interactions and creativity over lives lead on the internet and assimilating into assigned groups, leading pre-arranged lives.

We Will Rock You the musical via christineknight.me

We Will Rock You has been a smash hit show since it debuted in London in 2002. Since then it has won the Olivier Audience Award for Most Popular Show in 2011 (British theatre’s
answer to the oscars), played over 3600 performances in the UK (with over 3600 standing ovations), selling over 6 million tickets in the UK alone, and over 16 million tickets in 28 countries worldwide.

We Will Rock You the musical via christineknight.me

Walking into the theatre it’s impossible not to notice the wide variety of people who are there to see the show. A large group of high school students, posing for pics with their tongues sticking out, couples on dates, senior citizens. The appeal of Queen reaches all generations, with their hit songs all showcased in this lively show: We are the Champions, Radio Ga Ga, Crazy Little Thing Called Love, Somebody to Love, Killer Queen, Don’t Stop Me Now, Under Pressure, Bohemian Rhapsody, Another One Bites The Dust and of course We Will Rock You.

We Will Rock You the musical via christineknight.me

A lot has changed in the world since We Will Rock You premiered, and the show has kept up. New cultural references pepper the witty dialogue: Twitter, Facebook, hashtags, Miley Cyrus and gangnam style all get a mention, as does Prince in the most moving moment of the show, a tribute to music stars lost too soon.

We Will Rock You the musical via christineknight.me

Several nods to their Australian audience also garnered plenty of laughs – Australian Idol (especially entertaining as Casey Donovan, playing the key role of Killer Queen was discovered on the show), Molly Meldrum, the Wiggles, John Farnham’s anthem “You’re The Voice” and even Canberra as a place no one wants to go.

We Will Rock You the musical via christineknight.me

The cast of We Will Rock You is superb and does an excellent job of performing iconic songs that had the audience cheering, clapping and waving their arms throughout the show. Gareth Keegan, in the lead role of “Gallileo Figaro” and Erin Clare as “Scaramouche” were particular scene stealers, with their exquisite vocals, dynamic stage presence, and genuine chemistry.

We Will Rock You the musical via christineknight.me

We Will Rock You is a show that endures because it’s not only entertaining, it’s also relevant – even more so today perhaps, than when it debuted in 2002. Yes, kids, get off social media, make a real friend instead of a Facebook one, and create real joy in your lives that makes your soul soar.

We Will Rock You is currently playing at the Lyric Theatre, Pyrmont.
Suitable from the age for 13 years and above

Thank you to We Will Rock You and Nuffnang for providing me with tickets for reviewing purposes.

Christine Knight
Christine is the editor of Adventure, Baby!

The Central Gardens Nature Reserve Merrylands: Southwest Sydney with Kids

Central Gardens, Merrylands: The best of southwest Sydney for families via christineknight.me
We have been exploring a lot of southwest Sydney lately, looking for parks and playgrounds in particular. I was recently re-introduced to the Central Gardens Nature Reserve in Merrylands, where I spent a lot of my childhood while my parents played their weekly tennis game with friends. At the time, the gardens were closed so I never was past the tennis court. It was amazing to see the park in daylight, and open! I remember in my errant youth scaling the tennis court bathroom walls in an attempt to see the closed off garden at night – so to see it during the day brought back memories of our night time stealth mission that ultimately failed and left us somewhat in trouble as a result.

Central Gardens, Merrylands: The best of southwest Sydney for families via christineknight.me

The Central Gardens Nature Reserve, also called the Central Gardens, is a nature reserve in the southwest Sydney suburb of Merrylands. The 12 hectare park features two playgrounds, animal enclosures, BBQ areas, a flat path perfect for scooters and bikes, plus a small waterfall feature.

Central Gardens, Merrylands: The best of southwest Sydney for families via christineknight.me

The playground we found was fantastic, with the biggest shade cloth I’ve ever seen over a playground. It was so wonderful to visit in the middle of the day and not worry about sunburn.

Central Gardens, Merrylands: The best of southwest Sydney for families via christineknight.me

Behind the playground lies the animal enclosures. It’s free to wander through them and see the very well cared for animals, including birds, particularly scary emus, wallabies with babies in their pouches, and kangaroos.

Central Gardens, Merrylands: The best of southwest Sydney for families via christineknight.me

Central Gardens, Merrylands: The best of southwest Sydney for families via christineknight.me Central Gardens, Merrylands: The best of southwest Sydney for families via christineknight.me Central Gardens, Merrylands: The best of southwest Sydney for families via christineknight.me Central Gardens, Merrylands: The best of southwest Sydney for families via christineknight.me Central Gardens, Merrylands: The best of southwest Sydney for families via christineknight.me Central Gardens, Merrylands: The best of southwest Sydney for families via christineknight.me Central Gardens, Merrylands: The best of southwest Sydney for families via christineknight.me Central Gardens, Merrylands: The best of southwest Sydney for families via christineknight.me

We didn’t find the waterfall this visit, but will be back to find it next time.

Do you know of any more great southwest Sydney parks for us to discover?

The Central Gardens Nature Reserve
Cumberland Hwy, Merrylands West
Bathrooms: Yes
Picnic tables: Yes
Shade cover: Yes
Cafe: No
Skatepark: No
Off-street parking: Yes
Children’s playground: Yes
Water features: No
Get Directions

Christine Knight
Christine is the editor of Adventure, Baby!

Plough and Harrow Park: The Best of Southwest Sydney for Families

Plough and Harrow: Best of Southwest Sydney for Families via christineknight.me

Southwest Sydney really has some fantastic places for families to enjoy the great outdoors. One of our faves is the Plough and Harrow Park in Abbotsbury. The park is part of the massive Western Sydney Parklands that spans across the suburbs of Abbotsbury, Eastern Creek, Prospect and Horsley Park. The entire parklands covers 5,280 hectares, and includes several playgrounds, events centres and sporting venues.

Plough and Harrow: Best of Southwest Sydney for Families via christineknight.me

We end up at the Plough and Harrow in Western Sydney Parklands East a fair bit. It has a fantastic playground, 22 electric BBQs, parking for over 200 cars, 24 picnic shelters, a pond with ducks and other water birds, public bathrooms and a cafe/restaurant: Amoretti’s.

Plough and Harrow: Best of Southwest Sydney for Families via christineknight.me

The big draw for us is the playground. It’s spread out across a large area, interspersed with trees and other Australian bush pants. The play features include a hamster wheel, flying fox, sand pit, little kid play area, large climbing spiderweb, basket swing, big kid swings and a water pump feature. The park has play equipment for all different ages, so it’s a suitable venue for families with kids of all ages.

Plough and Harrow: Best of Southwest Sydney for Families via christineknight.me Plough and Harrow: Best of Southwest Sydney for Families via christineknight.me Plough and Harrow: Best of Southwest Sydney for Families via christineknight.me Plough and Harrow: Best of Southwest Sydney for Families via christineknight.me Plough and Harrow: Best of Southwest Sydney for Families via christineknight.me

The only downside to this playground is the lack of shade. It could do with some shade cloth!

Plough and Harrow: Best of Southwest Sydney for Families via christineknight.me Plough and Harrow: Best of Southwest Sydney for Families via christineknight.me Plough and Harrow: Best of Southwest Sydney for Families via christineknight.me Plough and Harrow: Best of Southwest Sydney for Families via christineknight.me Plough and Harrow: Best of Southwest Sydney for Families via christineknight.me Plough and Harrow: Best of Southwest Sydney for Families via christineknight.me Plough and Harrow: Best of Southwest Sydney for Families via christineknight.me Plough and Harrow: Best of Southwest Sydney for Families via christineknight.me Plough and Harrow: Best of Southwest Sydney for Families via christineknight.me

Make a day of your visit to the park by booking into Treetop Adventure Park too, which is located in this part of Western Sydney Parklands, too.

Plough and Harrow Park
Western Sydney Parklands,
Elizabeth Drive, Abbotsbury
Bathrooms: Yes
Picnic tables: Yes
Shade cover: No
Cafe: Yes
Skatepark: No
Off-street parking: Yes
Children’s playground: Yes
Water features: Yes
Get Directions

Christine Knight
Christine is the editor of Adventure, Baby!

Domain Creek Playground, Parramatta Park: The Best of Southwest Sydney for Families

Domain Creek Playground, Parramatta Park: The best of southwest Sydney for families

Parramatta Park is one of Sydney’s most historic places. In the centre of the park is Old Government House, which, along with the surrounding pack, is one of 11 sites that form the Australian Convict Sites World Heritage property. The park is also notable for its Aboriginal heritage: Evidence of Aboriginal occupation from over 200,000 years ago has been found there.

Domain Creek Playground, Parramatta Park:  The best of southwest Sydney for families

Sydney-siders have been enjoying Parramatta Park for recreation for a long time – it became a public park in 1858 – making it one of the earliest designated public parks in the world.

Domain Creek Playground, Parramatta Park:  The best of southwest Sydney for families

We particularly love the recently renovated Domain Creek Playground in Parramatta Park – it’s located on the Westmead side of the park, opposite the Queens Road Gatehouse.

Domain Creek Playground, Parramatta Park:  The best of southwest Sydney for families

The playground features activities for all ages and abilities, including flying foxes, swings, slides, trampolines, water pumps, sand pits, small trampolines built into the ground and spinning carousels.

Domain Creek Playground, Parramatta Park:  The best of southwest Sydney for families

Each section is connected by ramps and walkways, making it easy for strollers and wheelchairs to get between each area.

Domain Creek Playground, Parramatta Park:  The best of southwest Sydney for families

The double flying fox is a particularly popular feature of the new park, with one of the flying foxes adapted to be used by people with disabilities. The seatbelt feature makes it popular with young children too, who are a bit scared to use the regular one.

Domain Creek Playground, Parramatta Park:  The best of southwest Sydney for families

Adventurous kids will also enjoy the slide, which requires thrill-seekers to climb up a rope ladder to the top, and then scoot along to the top of the slide. Getting up was a bit scary for little Cheese due to the lack of handholds to pull herself up at the top of the rope ladder, but she had no problem climbing it, or going down the slide, either.

Domain Creek Playground, Parramatta Park:  The best of southwest Sydney for families

Other sections of the playground worth noting include water pumps that flow into a sand pit, a climbing net that looks like a spider’s web, a second sand pit with equipment for bigger kids like sand diggers, swings, and one last sandpit in the shade that was ideal for small kids.

Domain Creek Playground, Parramatta Park:  The best of southwest Sydney for families

The playground is beautifully designed to blend into the bush surrounding it, with plenty of fun surprise activities to discover. In the bush section in the middle of the playground few discovered a bush xylophone and cubby house, and there are also small metal sculptures of native Australian animals and a few roses dotted around the park.

Domain Creek Playground, Parramatta Park:  The best of southwest Sydney for families

The playground doesn’t have a shade cloth over it and there are very few sections with tree coverage, making it a bit of a scorcher on a hot day – particularly the metal play equipment. I would suggest this playground for milder to cold weather!

Domain Creek Playground, Parramatta Park:  The best of southwest Sydney for families

Bathrooms are also scarce – the nearest ones are a good 10 mins walk away at the Parramatta park Cafes, near the Queen Gate Entrance.

Domain Creek Playground, Parramatta Park:  The best of southwest Sydney for families

Near the playground is the river and lake, which is home to many birds such as ducks and ibis. Watching the birds is also an excellent way to entertain the little ones.

Domain Creek Playground, Parramatta Park:  The best of southwest Sydney for families

Domain Creek Playground, Parramatta Park:  The best of southwest Sydney for families Domain Creek Playground, Parramatta Park:  The best of southwest Sydney for families Domain Creek Playground, Parramatta Park:  The best of southwest Sydney for families Domain Creek Playground, Parramatta Park:  The best of southwest Sydney for families Domain Creek Playground, Parramatta Park:  The best of southwest Sydney for families Domain Creek Playground, Parramatta Park:  The best of southwest Sydney for families Domain Creek Playground, Parramatta Park:  The best of southwest Sydney for families Domain Creek Playground, Parramatta Park:  The best of southwest Sydney for families Domain Creek Playground, Parramatta Park:  The best of southwest Sydney for families Domain Creek Playground, Parramatta Park:  The best of southwest Sydney for families

 

 

Hungry? Grab breakfast, lunch or a coffee to go from Parramatta Park Cafe.

Domain Creek Playground, Parramatta Park
Pitt St & Macquarie St, Parramatta
Bathrooms: No – nearest one is a few mins walk away at nearby Parramatta Park Cafe.
Picnic tables: Yes
Shade cover: No
Cafe/Kiosk: No
Skatepark: No
Off-street parking: Yes
Children’s playground: Yes
Water features: Yes (but minimal)
Get Directions

Christine Knight
Christine is the editor of Adventure, Baby!

The Australian Botanic Gardens Mount Annan + Melaleuca House Cafe

The Australian Botanic Gardens, Mount Annan via christineknight.me

We are frequent visitors to The Royal Botanic Gardens in Sydney’s CBD, but had never been to the Australian Botanic Gardens at Mount Annan, in Sydney’s southwest, until recently.

The gardens are massive! 416 hectares of botanic gardens set in a hilly area of the southwestern Sydney suburb of Mount Annan. I’ve driven past the gardens many times on my way between Campbelltown and Camden, and decided that it was time to see what beautiful plants they had on offer for myself.

The Australian Botanic Gardens, Mount Annan via christineknight.me

The Australian Botanic Gardens Mount Annan are free to enter. They are popular place for families in Sydney’s west and south-west to visit for picnic lunches, due to their large grassed areas and excellent facilities. At the entrance to the gardens you can find the welcome centre (pick up a map!) and the public bathrooms, including a baby change/disabled toilet.

The Australian Botanic Gardens, Mount Annan via christineknight.me

We had lunch at the on-site cafe, Melaleuca House. The prices were higher than I’d expected for a cafe inside a garden, but the food was excellent quality and apart from the “Vintage Tea Pyramid Selection” tea that I ordered for $3.90 that turned out to be a Twinings teabag dropped in water, I felt like it was a great meal.

The Australian Botanic Gardens, Mount Annan via christineknight.me

As we arrived after the breakfast menu had finished, we ordered the Roast Pumpkin Salad (with zucchini, roast capsicum, goat’s cheese, oak leaf toasted pine nuts & pesto dressing, $20.90) Jumbo Scone (served with jam and cream, $4.90), Herb Crusted Chicken Tenders (with paprika lime dipping sauce, crisp garden salad & honey-lemon dressing, $19.90), Grilled Barramundi Fillet (served with bush tomato relish fresh lemon wedge & crisp garden salad & chunky chips, $24.90).

The Australian Botanic Gardens, Mount Annan via christineknight.me The Australian Botanic Gardens, Mount Annan via christineknight.me The Australian Botanic Gardens, Mount Annan via christineknight.me

The Australian Botanic Gardens, Mount Annan via christineknight.me

The Australian Botanic Gardens, Mount Annan via christineknight.me

Kids aged 10 yrs and under can order off the reasonably-priced kids’ menu, which includes Grilled Sausage & Chips, Toasted Ham, Cheese Sambo & Chips, Cheese Burger & Chips and Chicken Nuggets & Chips. All kids’ meals cost $12 and include a Pop-Top Fruit Juice.

The Australian Botanic Gardens, Mount Annan via christineknight.me

When we arrived the table next to ours had been waiting a long time for their meals and we were a bit concerned that ours would similarly take ages, but the food all arrived quickly, and the unanimous agreement was that it was all delicious.

The Australian Botanic Gardens, Mount Annan via christineknight.me
Just past the cafe is a fenced playground with decent shade. It includes several climbing structures, swings and a flying fox. We had a hard time removing Cheese to go and explore the gardens, but promised her lots of rocks to climb as an incentive.

The Australian Botanic Gardens, Mount Annan via christineknight.me

The Australian Botanic Gardens, Mount Annan via christineknight.me

The gardens are quite spread out, and if you have the time and inclination there is a lot of walking you can do. We did a shorter route through the main gardens up and down the main hill area, climbing over rocks and running down grassy slopes. Along the way we explored native Australian plants and wandered through flower beds with butterflies dancing around us.

The Australian Botanic Gardens, Mount Annan via christineknight.me

A flat, cement path winds around the gardens making them fully accessible for strollers and wheelchairs (it’s worth noting that the cafe area, particularly the outdoor seating, is also very suitable for large strollers or wheelchairs, too).

The Australian Botanic Gardens, Mount Annan via christineknight.me The Australian Botanic Gardens, Mount Annan via christineknight.me The Australian Botanic Gardens, Mount Annan via christineknight.me The Australian Botanic Gardens, Mount Annan via christineknight.me The Australian Botanic Gardens, Mount Annan via christineknight.me The Australian Botanic Gardens, Mount Annan via christineknight.me The Australian Botanic Gardens, Mount Annan via christineknight.me The Australian Botanic Gardens, Mount Annan via christineknight.me The Australian Botanic Gardens, Mount Annan via christineknight.me The Australian Botanic Gardens, Mount Annan via christineknight.me The Australian Botanic Gardens, Mount Annan via christineknight.me The Australian Botanic Gardens, Mount Annan via christineknight.me The Australian Botanic Gardens, Mount Annan via christineknight.me The Australian Botanic Gardens, Mount Annan via christineknight.me The Australian Botanic Gardens, Mount Annan via christineknight.me

The Australian Botanic Gardens Mount Annan are just beautiful, and are a welcome place to enjoy the beauty of nature in the heart of southwestern Sydney.

The Australian Botanic Garden Mount Annan
Narellan Road, Mount Annan 2567
Australia
The Garden is open every day of the year.
Autumn, Winter and Spring: 8am-5pm
Summer: 8am-7pm
Prices: FREE
Online

Melaleuca House is open Mon-Fri 10am-4pm, Sat & Sun 8am-4pm.

Christine Knight
Christine is the editor of Adventure, Baby!

TreeTop Adventure Park Sydney

TreeTop Adventure Park Sydney via christineknight.me

Do you have a kid who loves climbing, heights and physical challenges? Then TreeTop Adventure Park is a must-do for your family. TreeTop Adventure Park operates three parks, in Wyong, Newcastle and Sydney – we visited the Sydney one which is located inside the Plough & Harrow Park in South-West Sydney.

TreeTop Adventure Park Sydney via christineknight.me

TreeTop Adventure Park has courses for kids and adults, with the children’s course suitable for little ones aged 3 – 9. The next group, “Juniors”, consists of three courses for kids aged 10 – 17 who are at least 1.4m tall.

TreeTop Adventure Park Sydney via christineknight.me

The children’s course is made up of four courses with different degrees of difficulty, and four flying foxes.

TreeTop Adventure Park Sydney via christineknight.me

While booking isn’t mandatory, the sessions are so popular that I highly advise booking a few days in advance to ensure you can take part in the timed session of your choice on the day. One the website TreeTop advises you arrive half an hour before your timed session, and if the weather is nice you may as well arrive early to make a day of it. The Adventure Park is right next to a massive playground in Plough & Harrow Park so kids can play there until they need to put on their helmets and harnesses.

TreeTop Adventure Park Sydney via christineknight.me

We were incredibly unlucky with the weather on our day. The skies opened and it poured just when we arrived. The session before ours climbed in the rain, but thankfully it eased up when our session was beginning to a slight drizzle. The sessions go ahead unless there is lightning or heavy winds, in which case the courses are suspended until they can begin again. I advise bringing a rain coat if there is a chance of rain, or investing in a $2 rain poncho from TreeTop like we did on the day.

TreeTop Adventure Park Sydney via christineknight.me

Each group is restricted with numbers for safety reasons. The kids are strapped into the harnesses and helmets by TreeTop staff, and then given a very detailed talk on safety. The instructors drill the kids on the number of kids allowed on each platform, challenge and flying fox at a time, and ask the kids repeatedly to make sure the kids understand all the information.

TreeTop Adventure Park Sydney via christineknight.me

Each child’s harness has it’s own metal pulley that is used to hook onto the wire that runs above each course for safety. They are large and heavy, making them quite dangerous for little kids to be trusted with, but the instructors had an excellent way of teaching the kids about how to use the pulleys, calling them a “froggy”, and using terms that kids would understand – like the “froggy” had to be put onto the wire “frog to the log” so he could “eat his food” (AKA the wire). The rope dangling down was called the “tail”, so we were calling out repeatedly “hold onto the tail!” and so on to describe how to get across the challenges.

TreeTop Adventure Park Sydney via christineknight.me

The first course, “white”, was the easiest, and designed low to the ground so parents could hold their child’s hand if needs be. It also allows parents to assist kids with getting the pulley over the connectors at each platform – this, for the little kids, proved to be the hardest element of the courses. It was really difficult to swing the rope hard enough to get enough momentum to push it over the edge of the connectors at each platform. Once the kids are up on the higher courses, they must to every element on their own, as adults are on the ground and can’t reach to help.

TreeTop Adventure Park Sydney via christineknight.me

For my four-year-old, the courses were exceptional for not just physical enjoyment, but also to help her self-confidence and resilience. Quite a few times she struggled to get her pulley over connectors, but had to work it out herself – and while she got frustrated, she managed to do it, every time. She also lost a shoe at one stage, while she was several metres over our heads. Even though she couldn’t reach her feet with her hands, and she was balancing high up on a tiny platform, she managed to use her foot to place the shoe in the right position and jam her toes inside so it was on well-enough to get to the next platform where an instructor could fasten it for her.

TreeTop Adventure Park Sydney via christineknight.me

As an only child, Cheese is used to us doing a lot of things for her that she could probably work out herself, so this ropes course was just what she needed to realise that she was more than able to conquer many difficult things on her own. As the courses got harder, they involved more problem solving skills as well as balance, agility and also confidence! The last two courses involved a lot of moving logs and sections that were quite far apart – pretty hard and scary for little kids whose arms and legs couldn’t reach them. I was so incredibly proud of how Cheese conquered all of the four courses.

TreeTop Adventure Park Sydney via christineknight.me

The minimum age for participation is three, with no height minimum, and, while there were three year olds on the course, there were a few who attempted the harder courses, got stuck or scared, and then couldn’t get down. The way the courses are created, you hook on at the start and unhook at the end. There is no way to unhook in the middle – AKA there’s no going back if you get scared or can’t physically finish the course. We had a moment during one of our courses where the kids all had to reverse backwards through the course to the beginning and unhook to allow a smaller child to leave the course.

TreeTop Adventure Park Sydney via christineknight.me

On the website it’s advised that you buy or bring gloves, and while we didn’t this time, we will definitely buy a pair when we return. Shoes must be closed toe like sneakers, and I would suggest long tights for girls so their legs don’t rub on the harness.

TreeTop Adventure Park Sydney via christineknight.me

Looking around the courses I was pleased to see that they were set up in a way so as to not harm the trees – there was no drilling used to attach the platforms, and the structures were designed to allow trees to grow free of restrictions.

TreeTop Adventure Park Sydney via christineknight.me

The children’s course costs $28 per child. While initially I thought it sounded pricey, the you have two hours to spend on the courses. Time absolutely flies by and I really thought that it was money well spent.

TreeTop Adventure Park Sydney via christineknight.me

Cheese finished the day feeling strong, brave and incredibly happy! She told us she had the best day ever and can’t wait to go back.

TreeTop Adventure Park Sydney via christineknight.me

TreeTop Adventure Park
Plough & Harrow, Western Sydney Parklands,
Elizabeth Drive, Abbotsbury
Online

Christine Knight
Christine is the editor of Adventure, Baby!