Adventure, baby!

Sydney Life

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.

Sydney Day Trips: Palm Beach

Sydney Day Trips: Palm Beach

With hundreds of stunning beaches running up and down the NSW coast, it’s hard to choose which one to visit.

On a sparkling Sunday we chose Palm beach, the northernmost suburb of Sydney, for a day trip. It’s an hour’s drive from the Sydney CBD, making it the perfect spot to get away from the hustle of the city without an epic drive to get there.

Sydney Day Trips: Palm Beach

Palm Beach is often called the “jewel” of the Northern Beaches. Situated on a peninsula it has a gorgeous combination of lush evergreen bushland, beaches with soft golden sand and surrounded by the bright blue Pacific Ocean on one side, and calm Pittwater waterway on the other.

Sydney Day Trips: Palm Beach

The beach might look very familiar if you watch a lot of soap TV – in particular Home & Away. The show has been filmed on location here since its beginnings in 1988. As a result the beach has been a popular tourist attraction, particular for Brits.

Sydney Day Trips: Palm Beach

There’s plenty to do at Palm Beach to spend a gorgeous day outside. The main beach is soft and inviting – be sure to swim between the flags, or take kids to the south end to paddle where the water is most shallow.

Sydney Day Trips: Palm Beach

If swimming in the waves isn’t your cup of tea, try a dip in the 35m ocean pool. It’s perfectly designed for both lap swimmers and also paddling with children in the shallow end.

Sydney Day Trips: Palm Beach

For more exploring, follow the path around the pool where there are rock pools to be found. Be careful with the timing of your rock pool walk, however, as it can be unsafe when the tide comes back in.

Sydney Day Trips: Palm Beach

When it’s time for lunch there are a few cafes to try. We enjoyed a late breakfast at 2108 Espresso, with an Aussie standard dish of toasted sourdough, avocado, fresh tomato and feta for $14 (eggs an additional $3).  For the kids there is a grilled cheese toastie and babyccino with a cute blue marshmallow.

Sydney Day Trips: Palm Beach

Sydney Day Trips: Palm Beach

For dessert, we decided to give the cafe next door that serves scooped ice cream a miss and go old school with Gaytimes.

Sydney Day Trips: Palm Beach

To walk off the ice cream there are a few options for the afternoon. Nearby is a large grassy park with a sprawling playground. While there were picnic tables in the park we didn’t spot any bathroom amenities, and the playground equipment didn’t have much shade.

Sydney Day Trips: Palm Beach

The more athletic option for the whole family is to take the scenic 1.2km walk from the beach to Barrenjoey Head to visit the historic lighthouse that sits on Sydney’s most northerly point. It’s a 25 minute walk each way so take water and go to the bathroom before hand (no bathrooms at the top!). From the top you’ll have a great view of Broken Bay, the Central Coast and the Ku-ring-gai Chase National Park.

Sydney Day Trips: Palm Beach Sydney Day Trips: Palm Beach Sydney Day Trips: Palm Beach Sydney Day Trips: Palm Beach Sydney Day Trips: Palm Beach Sydney Day Trips: Palm Beach Sydney Day Trips: Palm Beach Sydney Day Trips: Palm Beach


Get Directions
 to Palm Beach

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

Cathy Freeman Park + Olympic Cauldron, Olympic Park, Homebush

Cathy Freeman Park & Olympic Cauldron, Sydney Olympic Park

Have you ever wondered where the famous caldron from the 2000 Sydney Olympics ended up once the games were over? The answer is it didn’t go very far at all.

After the magical opening and closing ceremonies (who can forget Cathy Freeman lighting the cauldron and it rising through the air simultaneously dripping with fire and water?) the cauldron was taken down and moved just a few hundred metres to its permanent home – in the appropriately named Cathy Freeman Park.

Cathy Freeman Park & Olympic Cauldron, Sydney Olympic Park

Located very conveniently next to the Allphones Arena, Cathy Freeman Park has 2 playgrounds – one for young kids and one for older – huge shady trees and easy access to bathrooms and cafes.

 

Cathy Freeman Park & Olympic Cauldron, Sydney Olympic Park Cathy Freeman Park & Olympic Cauldron, Sydney Olympic Park Cathy Freeman Park & Olympic Cauldron, Sydney Olympic Park

We often end up in the park when attending a show at the Allphones Arena – it’s great to burn off energy after a long drive before needing to sit still for a long time while watching a show.

Cathy Freeman Park & Olympic Cauldron, Sydney Olympic Park

The cauldron is a popular feature for tourists and kids, who particularly love running underneath it in the puddles, and trying to judge when the fountain is about to turn on. There’s always one kid who times it poorly and gets absolutely soaked. Bring extra clothes in case this is your kid!

Cathy Freeman Park
Online: sydneyolympicpark.com.au
Sydney Olympic Park NSW 2127
Get Directions

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

The Very Hungry Caterpillar at the Sydney Opera House

The Very Hungry Caterpillar at the Sydney Opera House

A special guest post today by Melissa Pym.

We were very fortunate to receive tickets to see The Very Hungry Caterpillar at the Sydney Opera House.

We arrived with time to spare and given that the Opera House is such a special venue, my kids had a little treat before the show. Some Very Hungry Caterpillar Cupcakes. A little steep at $5 each however both kids devoured the whole cupcake (they normally just eat the top!) and sadly, I did not get a chance for a pic or a taste. For the sugar conscious there was not too much icing on the top.

The Very Hungry Caterpillar at the Sydney Opera House

I really had no expectations for the show and did not get a chance to watch the promo video. The book by Eric Carle is a favourite at home and we have read it many times over the years. I was also a bit apprehensive to attend the show on my own with Miss 5 and Mr 2.8 year old. However, the moment the show started my kids along with everyone else were captivated. They enjoyed every part, interacting and participating with the actors and the charming puppets.

The Very Hungry Caterpillar at the Sydney Opera House

The Very Hungry Caterpillar was an amazing production where everything was created with kids in mind. The stories were beautifully presented through the stage, the music and the puppets. It exceeded my expectations as I had no idea that the production would cover three more of Eric Carles’ books: ‘The Artist Who Painted a Blue Horse’, ‘Mister Seahorse’ and ‘The Very Lonely Firefly’. The Artist Who Painted a Blue Horse and Mister Seahorse were my little man’s favourite in terms of the puppets and stage props. He kept pointing out and repeating the names of all the animals and the fish. Clapping with excitement after each one left the stage.

The Very Hungry Caterpillar at the Sydney Opera House

And of course the final story ‘The Very Hungry Caterpillar’ had most of the kids and adults reciting the lines from the book with the actors. Naturally, the ending was Miss 5’s favourite part.

The Very Hungry Caterpillar at the Sydney Opera House

My only very minor negative was with my 2.8 year old getting restless in the last 10 minutes of the show. However, the puppets and I managed to contain him.

Overall, I highly recommend anyone with children aged 2 to 5 years to go and see this wonderful production. It is my favourite kids show so far and I would take my youngest to see it when it comes back again.

The Very Hungry Caterpillar at the Sydney Opera House

The Very Hungry Caterpillar is playing at the Sydney Opera House until October 9, 2016.

More information and tickets: sydneyoperahouse.com

Thank you so much to the Sydney Opera House for tickets for reviewing purposes. The show is absolutely magical and all opinions are the writer’s own. Additional show images courtesy of the Sydney Opera House.

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

Sydney’s Best Shows For Kids: Erth’s Dinosaur Zoo

Erth's Dinosaur Zoo Sydney via christineknight.me Take a walk on the wild side with a show 65 million years in the making. Dinosaurs once again roam the world thanks to the magic that is Erth’s Dinosaur Zoo.

Erth's Dinosaur Zoo Sydney via christineknight.me

During this educational and entertaining show, kids have the opportunity to get up close to prehistoric creatures that have been discovered in Australia such as the Australovenator, AKA the cute baby dinos that make the crowd go “Awwwww” and the Meganeura, an insect from the Carboniferous period (approximately 300 million years ago), which looked like a mammoth dragonfly.

Erth's Dinosaur Zoo Sydney via christineknight.me

Scientific facts fly hard and fast during the show, and the audience has to think fast to keep up. Dinosaur devotees will be thrilled to learn about these lesser-known Aussie dinos, in the most entertaining way possible – through first-hand experience.

Erth's Dinosaur Zoo Sydney via christineknight.me

The real genius of Erth’s Dinosaur is creative way in which they blend fun and fact. Give a kid a lecture on dinosaur history and they’ll probably doze off. Give them a dinosaur to pat on the head, and they’ll be entranced for hours.

Erth's Dinosaur Zoo Sydney via christineknight.me

And it’s not just the kids who can’t take their eyes off the dinosaurs. Watching these incredibly realistic creatures walk around the stage is an entertaining experience for the adults, too.

Erth's Dinosaur Zoo Sydney via christineknight.me

With its mix of kid jokes and adult humour, audience participation and a deliciously scary moment or two, it’s hard to tell who enjoyed the show more – the kids or their parents. It’s easy to see why Erth’s Dinosaur Zoo is a hit of sauropod proportions.

Erth's Dinosaur Zoo Sydney via christineknight.me

More Information:

Erth’s Dinosaur Zoo is recommend for ages 5 and up. I would heartily agree with this recommendation due to language (lots of big words that littlies won’t understand) and also a truly terrifying carnivore.

Erth's Dinosaur Zoo Sydney via christineknight.me

Stick around after the show to enjoy the free activities for kids offered by The Seymour Centre, including The Owls Apprentice by Little Wings Puppets, a beautiful show combining shadow puppetry, hand puppetry and storytelling, Polyglot Theatre’s Forest Feast, where children will create a feast of food from craft items, and Ants, an interactive roving performance where human-sized ants and children work together in a gentle and unusual landscaping project.

Erth's Dinosaur Zoo Sydney via christineknight.me

Catch Erth’s Dinosaur Zoo at the Seymour Centre
Dates: 27, 28, 29, 30 Sept and 1 Oct, two shows a day: 10.30am and 12.30pm
Prices: All tickets $22 available via Box Office (02) 9351 7940 or http://www.seymourcentre.com
Address: The Seymour Centre – Corner of City Rd and Cleveland St, Chippendale
Full School Holidays Program: http://www.seymourcentre.com.au

I received tickets to Erth’s Dinosaur Zoo for reviewing purposes. I absolutely loved the show and all opinions written here are my honest feedback.

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

The Owl’s Apprentice: Spot On Children’s Festival at the Riverside Theatre

The Owl's Apprentice at the Spot On Children's Festival, Riverside Theatre, Parramatta, Sydney via christineknight.me

There is a fantastic arts festival for kids running over the current school holidays at the Riverside Theatre in Parramatta. Called the “Spot On Children’s Festival”, it’s the fifth year that the Riverside Theatre has played host to a program of award-winning shows, relaxed performances and free activities.

The Owl's Apprentice at the Spot On Children's Festival, Riverside Theatre, Parramatta, Sydney via christineknight.me

It was our first time at Spot On, and we highly enjoyed the performance we came to see: The Owl’s Apprentice.

The Owl's Apprentice at the Spot On Children's Festival, Riverside Theatre, Parramatta, Sydney via christineknight.me

The show is a gorgeous mix of shadow and hand puppetry with physical comedy by the Little Wings Puppets company.

The Owl's Apprentice at the Spot On Children's Festival, Riverside Theatre, Parramatta, Sydney via christineknight.me

The recommended age for the show is 4-8 which I think is spot on. The kids laughed hard at jokes that included the word “bottom”, or related to wombats pooping squares, but I’m also sure that they absorbed the message at the heart of the show – that wisdom isn’t something that can be taught, but is the culmination of many life experiences.

The Owl's Apprentice at the Spot On Children's Festival, Riverside Theatre, Parramatta, Sydney via christineknight.me

Outside the theatre, in the courtyard of the theatre, a large variety of free activities have been set up for the duration of the festival, including Kinderling Radio, balloon-twisting, face painting, craft activities, a play gym, a photo booth, a chalk wall and more.

The Owl's Apprentice at the Spot On Children's Festival, Riverside Theatre, Parramatta, Sydney via christineknight.me The Owl's Apprentice at the Spot On Children's Festival, Riverside Theatre, Parramatta, Sydney via christineknight.me The Owl's Apprentice at the Spot On Children's Festival, Riverside Theatre, Parramatta, Sydney via christineknight.me The Owl's Apprentice at the Spot On Children's Festival, Riverside Theatre, Parramatta, Sydney via christineknight.me

If you’re looking for a fun way to spend a day during the school holidays, I highly recommend checking out a show at the festival that is running until Oct 2 (so get in quick!).

The Owl's Apprentice at the Spot On Children's Festival, Riverside Theatre, Parramatta, Sydney via christineknight.me

More information:

The 2016 Spot On Children’s Festival program is available via the Riverside Theatres website at: riversideparramatta.com.au/spoton16

What: Spot On Children’s Festival
Dates: 27 September to 2 October 2016
Tickets: Free to $20. From the Box Office (02) 8839 3399 or http://www.riversideparramatta.com.au
Venue: Riverside Theatres – Corner of Church and Market Streets, Parramatta
Ages: Children aged 1-12 years

Full Program:
· The Listies 6D – 10.30am on 27 and 28 Sept; 1pm on 28 Sept

· The Owl’s Apprentice – 10am and 12.30pm on 27 and 28 Sept. Relaxed performance at 12.30pm on 27 Sept

· Curious Jac – 10am and 12.30pm on 29 and 30 Sept. Relaxed performance 12.30pm on 29 Sept

· Play Along with Sam – 11am and 2pm on 29 Sept

· The Young King – 10.30 am and 1pm on 29 Sept to 1 Oct

· Maya the Bee Movie – 2.15pm on 29 Sept

· In a Deep Dark Forest –12pm and 3pm on 30 Sept, 9:30am, 12pm and 3pm on 1 and 2 Oct

· Blinky Bill the Movie – 2.15pm on 30 Sept

· The Iron Giant: Signature Edition – 2.15pm on 1 Oct

· Kubo and the Two Strings – 2.15pm on 2 Oct

Thank you to the Spot On Children’s Festival for inviting us to check out The Owl’s Apprentice. We absolutely loved the show.

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

Sydney Kids: The Art Gallery of NSW for Families

The Art Gallery of NSW for Families via christineknight.me

Sydney’s Art Gallery of NSW (AGNSW) was established in 1871, a home to international and Australian permanent art collections, temporary exhibitions, programs and research. The gallery has a particularly beautiful collection of colonial and 19th-century Australian works and European old masters, as well as galleries dedicated to the arts of Asia and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders.

The Art Gallery of NSW for Families via christineknight.me

I’ve been visiting the art gallery since I was a teenager. First on school excursions, and then later with friends and my now husband. I’ve loved art all my life and introduced my daughter to art as a baby, hoping that she will grow up to similarly appreciate the arts.

We love visiting the gallery during their family programs as they makes art so much more accessible to young people. The AGNSW has a busy schedule for kids of all ages, from toddlers to teens, and, best of all, the majority of them are free!

The Art Gallery of NSW for Families via christineknight.me

Our favourite program is the twice-monthly “drop in and make” art activity. Held in the entrance court of the gallery, the activity is free and suitable for kids of all ages plus their carers/families. The activities are always designed so that little kids can enjoy scribbling if they like, and older kids can create something really beautiful that is themed to a current exhibition.

The Art Gallery of NSW for Families via christineknight.me

This month the art-making activity was crafty kimono cards, taking inspiration from the Japanese art of Tsukioka Yoshitoshi. We were provided with materials and instructions on how to make a kimono card with a special hidden pocket to store secrets.

The Art Gallery of NSW for Families via christineknight.me

There is no time limit on making the activities, which was lucky for us as we sat there making our card for over an hour. The drop in activities are very popular, particularly on rainy days. We were told we should come back a few hours later (not sure what we were meant do with a kid until then?) but decided to wait until a table freed up, which was only about 5 minutes luckily. About half an hour later the majority of tables were empty, so I advise waiting for a table rather than taking the staff’s advice to leave.

The Art Gallery of NSW for Families via christineknight.me

On the lower level of the gallery we discovered another free family activity area free with a different activity: “make your own zine”.

This space is also home to rotating activities for kids or adults to enjoy. At the moment, you can create your own self-published booklet filled with ideas, words and images. The activity is inspired by Indonesian artist Eko Nugroho whose exhibition is currently on display in the gallery.

This area of the gallery is open Monday to Friday from 11am to 4pm during the school holidays (26-30 September, 2-7 October), as well as every weekend. During the school holidays, gallery staff will be on-hand to provide instruction, inspiration and additional collage materials.

The AGNSW also has age-specific programs running throughout the year. “Kids Club” for ages 5-8 and”Art Club” for ages 9-13 both run on weekends with “tour for tots”, ages 2-5, on week days. For kids with special needs and their carers, “children’s access workshops” runs once a month on week days, and during the school holidays there are special workshops for kids and teens such as calligraphy and “clay club”.

The Art Gallery of NSW for Families via christineknight.me

Get more information on family programs at the AGNSW.

Art Gallery of NSW
Art Gallery Rd, Sydney NSW 2000
Hours: Daily 10am-5pm (Wednesdays open until 10pm)
Prices: FREE
Online: artgallery.nsw.gov.au
Get Directions
Getting there: get the train to Circular Quay and walk, or park at the Domain parking station which is right next door to the art gallery. Weekend parking is $10 all day.

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

11 Things You Won’t Expect From Disney’s Aladdin, The Musical Comedy

11 Things You Won’t Expect From Disney’s Aladdin, The Musical Comedy via christineknight.me

I had the immense privilege of seeing the new Disney Aladdin musical comedy this week. While the show holds its own as a brilliant stand alone show, it is a reworking of the famous animated movie of the same name that the majority of the audience had seen, many times over, judging from the singing breaking out around the theatre.

With such a cultural icon as the basis for the show, it’s inevitable that audience will walk in with expectations that it will be identical to the movie – which it isn’t. Many things that worked in a cartoon just don’t work on stage, and there were a lot of holes in the movie that have now been filled with additional songs and dialogue. I found the show to be full of unexpected surprises that added up to a spectacularly enjoyable experience for both fans of the movie, as well as newcomers to the story.

Thinking of going? Here are a few things you won’t expect:

11 Things You Won’t Expect From Disney’s Aladdin, The Musical Comedy via christineknight.me

Aladdin isn’t the star of the show
The name of the show is Aladdin, so you expect the star to be … Aladdin, right? This was the number one surprise of the show. Genie, the role which Robin Williams famously stole the show with in the 1992 animated movie, is again the attention grabbing character who has the funniest lines, the most dramatic exits and some very impressive vocal pipes. We were incredibly lucky to see the role of Genie being played by Michael James Scott, who starred in the original cast of Aladdin when it opened on Broadway in New York in 2014. His immense presence and incredible talent steal every scene he features in.

The genie isn’t blue
Expecting a painted blue man to play the genie? Guess again. The genie looks like a pretty regular fellow in the show, dressed in royal blue as a nod to the all-blue genie we are used to from the animated classic.

11 Things You Won’t Expect From Disney’s Aladdin, The Musical Comedy via christineknight.me

You won’t know all the songs
You might remember the animated Aladdin as being full of songs, but more were clearly needed to turn a 90-minute movie into a 2-and-a-bit-hour stage show. You will hear all of your faves (and have to fight the urge to sing along), plus seven brand new songs written just for the show. The added songs give an extra depth to the show, letting us learn more about the characters of Aladdin and Jasmine in particular.

There are no talking animals
When translating the movie to the stage, a few tricky characters, namely Iago the parrot, Abu the monkey and the magic carpet all either underwent transformations or were axed completely. Iago came out of it the best off, with a larger role now as a human sidekick with a few witty parrot references to give a nod to his roots. Abu is gone, and carpet only features twice as an actual carpet rather than a character.

11 Things You Won’t Expect From Disney’s Aladdin, The Musical Comedy via christineknight.me

Australia gets a few mentions
The audience laughed with appreciation to hear local references like Vegemite, Tim Tams and Wagga Wagga peppering the dialogue. I always think it’s a smart move to adapt shows to their destination, and it certainly warmed the audience in this case even more so towards the Genie, who was the Tim Tam addict among the cast.

There’s tap dancing
I bet you didn’t expect that! The show is full of spectacle – shooting lights, shiny materials and sparkles galore, bright props and dazzling costumes. Of course there is a tap dancing number to add to the show’s show-stopping scene in the Cave of Wonders, which also features a take on Dancing with the Stars – but now Scimitars (get it?).

11 Things You Won’t Expect From Disney’s Aladdin, The Musical Comedy via christineknight.me

There’s a new scene
The original movie has a tricky scene where Aladdin is briefly banished by Jafar to a desert, where he summons the genie and is quickly returned to Agrabah again. This scene was integral for Aladdin to use his second wish, but obviously a tricky one to bring to the stage. The producers have done an excellent job of getting the same result (the second wish being spent) but with a completely new scene that is far more entertaining than the one it replaces.

It’s less scary than the movie
I remember the movie being pretty scary when I was a kid, and my four-year-old finds parts of it terrifying. For some reason, when translated on stage, the scary bits don’t seem scary any more. The cave has a sense of humour this time around, and the scary snake scene at the end is now completely gone.

11 Things You Won’t Expect From Disney’s Aladdin, The Musical Comedy via christineknight.me

It’s funnier than the movie
There are so many hilarious one-liners (“Welcome to Agrabah – land of one percent body fat!”) and cultural references peppering the dialogue that you need to focus hard to stop your head from spinning.

They’ve bought out every sequin store in Sydney
I mean really, where did all those sequins come from? The cast were glittering so much that it looked like they’d raided the Tower of London for their jewels, and then every Spotlight and Lincraft to dazzle the audience’s eyes with so much glitz it was almost blinding at times.

11 Things You Won’t Expect From Disney’s Aladdin, The Musical Comedy via christineknight.me

The flying carpet will make you cry
The flying carpet scene is a highlight in the movie and again in the show. Thanks to brilliant staging and props, the scene with the carpet is breathtakingly beautiful, in an understated way that makes the emotion forefront and evokes the magic of the original movie. I wasn’t the only one with a tear in my eye during this song that sent the audience into a hushed state for the first time since the curtain rose.

Aladdin has mates
He actually has a trio of mates that form his entourage in the show; one of them deliciously camp, one obsessed with hummus, and the last your average Joe. The three get some excellent stage time with comedic song and dance routines. Having friends makes Aladdin seem more of a real-life character – how had I never wondered who he hung out with all day when I used to watch the original movie?

11 Things You Won’t Expect From Disney’s Aladdin, The Musical Comedy via christineknight.me

The Cave of Wonders scene is a show stopper
The cast also seemed shocked when the applause and cheering at the end of the “Friend Like Me” number went on for so long that the next scene was delayed in starting by a good minute or so. The cheering would likely have keep going, had it not been for the orchestra kicking off the next number and forcing the show to resume. The faces of the cast when the shouting and clapping just kept going and going was absolutely priceless.

11 Things You Won’t Expect From Disney’s Aladdin, The Musical Comedy via christineknight.me

Should I take my child to see Aladdin?
Disney recommends the show for kids aged six and up. With the long running time and also new songs that are a bit more “adult”, I would agree with this recommendation. I am, however, taking my just-turned-five-year-old to see the show because she’s been begging to see it. If you’re taking your little one to see it too, here are my tips for making the outing a success:

  1. Book a matinee. Kids are always better rested and behaved for matinees and less likely to irritate adults who want a kid-free evening out. No one likes to have a child kicking their seat for the entire show.
  2. Buy the Broadway cast album and play it repeatedly in the car for the weeks leading up to the show to prepare them for the new songs.
  3. Pick up a booster seat from the cloak room.
  4. Pack plenty of snacks like popcorn or whatever special treats they’re allowed.
  5. Take them to the bathroom both before the show starts, and straight away at interval.

Aladdin is playing at the Capitol Theatre until October 23, 2016
Tickets are on sale now.

Disney Theatrical Productions under the direction of Thomas Schumacher presents Aladdin, music by Alan Menken, lyrics by Howard Ashman and Tim Rice, book and additional lyrics by Chad Beguelin at Capitol Theatre Sydney, starring: Ainsley Melham (Aladdin), Michael James Scott (Genie), Arielle Jacobs (Jasmine), Troy Sussman (Babkak), Adam Jon Fiorentino (Kassim), Robert Tripolino (Omar), Adam Murphy (Jafar), Aljin Abella (Iago) and George Henare (Sultan) directed and choreographed by Casey Nicholaw

Thank you to Bridges PR for the tickets to see Aladdin. All opinions are my own. Show images by Deen van Meer. 

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