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The Early Start Discovery Centre: Australia’s First Children’s Museum

The Early Start Discovery Space via christineknight.me

Australia’s first children’s museum has opened in Australia! The Early Start Discovery Space in Wollongong is the country’s only dedicated “Children’s Museum”. Last weekend we drove the hour and a half south of Sydney to check it out and see what made it different from a regular play space.

The Early Start Discovery Space via christineknight.me

The Early Start Discovery Space is located on, and operated by, the University of Wollongong. It was designed to teach children through play using interactive exhibits. It was created using educational resources and is mapped to the NSW Board of Studies K-6 Syllabus. The museum is suitable for kids from birth to age 12, with the lower level completely accessible and some of the best family bathrooms I’ve ever seen.

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We visited on a bit of a dreary day and expected the place to be crawling with people. It wasn’t. We were happy surprised that while there was a constant buzz of people in the space, it was certainly not full or so busy that Cheese couldn’t try her hand at every single exhibit without having to wait her turn. I ran into a friend there who mentioned how busy it was that day, compared to during the week, so I imagine if you do visit on a week day you might have this entire magnificent space to yourself!

The Early Start Discovery Space via christineknight.me

The museum is spread across two floors, with each exhibit in a designated area. Upon entry we received a very helpful map which enabled us to plan our visit.

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The majority of the exhibits are on the entry level:

The Early Start Discovery Space via christineknight.me
Shipyard
Ahoy, it’s pirate play!

The Early Start Discovery Space via christineknight.me
Tummy Tour
Crawl through a human digestive tract! In through the mouth, out through the … you get the picture.

The Early Start Discovery Space via christineknight.me
Construction Site
Learn about safety on building sites, dress up in a vest, hard hat and tool belt, and build the city. Kids can lay carpet tiles, place mortar and bricks in the house to build walls, or thread pipes and connectors into the frame.

The Early Start Discovery Space via christineknight.me
Market Place
Littlies will love “shopping” with realistic-looking groceries, and older kids can use a shopping list to collect their goods and then “buy” them.

The Early Start Discovery Space via christineknight.me
CreARTivity Space
The place for artists to let their imaginations go wild. This space also features daily educator-led activities.

The Early Start Discovery Space via christineknight.me
Book Nook
A quiet spot to enjoy a book or join story time activities.

The Early Start Discovery Space via christineknight.me
The Cave
Grab a torch and discover stalactites and stalagmites.

The Early Start Discovery Space via christineknight.me
Lights, Sound, Action!
Kids can dress up in costume and perform.

The Early Start Discovery Space via christineknight.me
Games Area
Big kid games like chess and giant Connect Four.

The Early Start Discovery Space via christineknight.me
Crawler’s Cubby
Soft play for babies plus gears for toddlers/preschoolers.

The Early Start Discovery Space via christineknight.me
The Pod
A 2 story interactive LCD screen where kids can be part of the story on the screen in front of them.

The Dig/Archeology was closed for maintenance on our visit.

Also scattered around the floor are little nooks with activities like building, threading and puppets.

The Early Start Discovery Space via christineknight.me

The floor is a giant circle with the exhibits and amenities spread around the inside and outside edges of the circle. It’s fantastic as kids can literally run in circles here and find it endlessly entertaining to start over at the exhibits they already discovered as they entered. Hours of fun, guaranteed.

Upstairs are activities best suited for slightly older kids.

The Early Start Discovery Space via christineknight.me
Digital Media Lab
Kids can learn how to create an eBook, an ePoster, video and editing

The Early Start Discovery Space via christineknight.me
Galileo’s Study
This science-themed area teaches kids how a telescope works and basic astronomy.

The Early Start Discovery Space via christineknight.me

When it’s time for a snack, head outside to The Discovery Gardens. There are shaded picnic tables so you can bring your own food, and take a breather while kids explore the fruit and veggie beds, quarry and creek.

The Early Start Discovery Space via christineknight.me

If you’re like us and never pack lunch (busted!) try the onsite cafe, Espresso Warriors, where all-day brekkie is on the menu, as well as amazing looking pastries and a kids menu that features meals like ham and cheese toasties, fish, sweet potato chips and grilled chicken for $10-11. Each kids meal comes with fresh fruit and a juice box.

The Early Start Discovery Space via christineknight.me

The Early Start Discovery Space
University of Wollongong, Northfields Ave, Wollongong.

The Discovery Space is located on Ring Road opposite the Western (P4) Car park.
Hours: Tues-Sun 9am-4pm (Closed Mondays)
Prices: Adults and children 12 months and over: $15. Children under 12 months: free.
Get Directions

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

The Lion Guard: Return of the Roar, Australian Premiere

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My childhood was spent falling in love with Disney movies. I was absolutely obsessed with all of them – starting with The Sleeping Beauty and Snow White, through to the modern ones that came out as I was growing up such as Aladdin and The Lion King. I was 15 when I saw the original Lion King movie, and was obsessed with the music for months (ahem, might have been more like years). When The Lion King stage show came out in my 20s, I saw one of the very first shows in Sydney and cried all over again at the beauty of the music and heartbreaking storyline.

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Now I have my own Disney-obsessed kid, who is still too young to watch the original Lion King movie. She is, however the perfect age for the new Disney Junior series that is a spin off from the much loved movie – The Lion Guard.

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We were lucky enough to attend the Australian premiere of The Lion Guard, where we watched the first extended episode, called Return Of The Roar. At 45 minutes, the first episode is longer than the following ones will be to introduce the new cast, re-introduce beloved old characters, and set the scene for the next generation of troublesome cubs to take on their own adventures. Simba and Nala have grown up and have cubs of their own, including Kion, who is the star of this new series. Cameos from Pumbaa and Timon also link the old with the new, and bring in a motley crew of brand new animal characters: Bunga, Ono, Fuli and Beshte.

The Lion Guard Australian Premiere via christineknight.me

The reason I haven’t shown my four-year-old The Lion King movie yet is I think it’s still too scary for her, but I was confident that a Disney Junior spin off would be age appropriate – and it was. There were moments in the show when I wasn’t sure what direction it would go (the suspense!) and I was relieved that each moment of confrontation was diffused without violence. My very sensitive child agreed at the end that The Lion Guard was great and that she enjoyed it immensely.

The Lion Guard Australian Premiere via christineknight.me

While my daughter is not yet able to articulate why she enjoyed it so much beyond she loved the songs and the honey badger, Bunga, I really enjoyed the skillful animation, beautiful music and the themes that emerged: friendship, loyalty, perseverance, bravery and love. Perfect for my little girl to be watching and learning from.

The Lion Guard Australian Premiere via christineknight.me

I can’t wait to watch the rest of The Lion Guard when it premieres on the Disney Junior Channel on February 6.

Thanks so much to Disney Australia for inviting us to join The Lion Guard.

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

DirtGirl’s Get Grubby Musical: Sydney’s Best Shows for Kids

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With a daughter who loves every kind of Disney princess out there and doesn’t like to do anything “yucky”, her latest love of dirtgirl has been a refreshing change for our family. We watch dirtgirlworld on ABC Kids, and I really enjoy the environmental messages in the show, as well as how it encourages kids to “get grubby” outside.

When I found out the dirtgirl’s Get Grubby Musical was coming to the Sydney Opera House, I was keen to take Cheese to see it. The show is recommended for kids aged 3 and up, and I found my four-and-a-half year old to be the perfect age for it.

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Dirtgirl, scrapboy and Costa the garden gnome appear live on stage in a show filled with upbeat music, slapstick jokes and, underneath it all, a serious environmental issue that effects our planet – the loss of our bees. It’s an issue my husband and I have discussed ourselves before with concern, so it was great to see it being played out before us in a way that kids could understand and get involved with, too.

dirtgirl's Get Grubby Musical via christineknight.me

Fans of the TV show will enjoy seeing their colourful favourite charaters come to life before them, against a beautiful backdrop representing the most fantastical garden you’ll ever see. When presented by these hip eco-warriors, making compost out of chook poo and saving water have never been funkier. Catchy, interactive songs engaged the young audience, with the figure-of-eight bee “bum” dance being repeated frequently on our way home.

dirtgirl's Get Grubby Musical via christineknight.me

After the show, the cast came around to the foyer to meet their young fans. They were very friendly and encouraging with their tiny grubby friends, and the kids were so excited to take pictures with them and get their autographs.

dirtgirl's Get Grubby Musical via christineknight.me

We walked away from the show thoroughly entertained, and with a desire for gardening in my daughter’s head. Time to get grubby!

dirtgirl's Get Grubby Musical via christineknight.me

dirtgirl’s Get Grubby Musical
Sydney Opera House
January 22-24, 2016

Thank you to the Sydney Opera House for hosting us. All opinions are my own.

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

Disney Summer Frozen Garden Party

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A few months ago, I entered a competition to win tickets to a Disney Summer Frozen Garden Party in Sydney. I didn’t think much of it again, until, amazingly, I received an email letting me know that I’d won two tickets to the party. What good luck!

Disney Frozen Garden Party via christineknight.me

Cheese chose her Anna Frozen Fever outfit after I persuaded her that it was too hot for anything else and promised I’d even do her hair like Anna’s. One YouTube tutorial later and a hairdo that kind-of passed for Anna’s we were walking into Kurzon Hall with the blaring Frozen soundtrack welcoming us.

Disney Frozen Garden Party via christineknight.me

Kurzon Hall in Sydney, where the party was held, kind of resembles a castle, making it the perfect choice for a royal garden party. While summer in Sydney can be anywhere from around 20 degree days to 40, the party day was a particularly scorchingly one, with temps of almost 40dC. It was one of the hottest summer days we’d had – quite ironic to be going a Frozen party in such mad heat!

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Thankfully the Disney team were well prepared for the heat, with parasols at the entrance, umbrellas covering most of the seating, paper fans dispersed to guests, and free gelato.

Disney Frozen Garden Party via christineknight.me

As we chose a table for our special afternoon tea, a hostess greeted us and brought us a giant picnic basket full of delicious goodies. The generous serving could have fed another two of us! We received a vegetarian basket, with quiches, a wrap, a vege roll, brownies, fairy bread, a Frozen cupcake, blue lollies, juices, apples and bananas.

Disney Frozen Garden Party via christineknight.me

The party had a tight schedule of events that kids could choose to participate in: face painting, horse and carriage ride and meeting Anna, Elsa and Kristoff. In between these events the kids were free to play a variety of old fashioned games like giant naughts and crosses, Jenga and Connect Four. I have to say here, a huge props to the very professional Frozen crew who were decked out in winter costumes and barely looked like they were sweating.

Disney Frozen Garden Party via christineknight.me

I had thought the highlight event would be meeting the Frozen crew, who looked almost identical to the cast from the movie but then I looked down at the schedule of events and saw that the gorgeous Aussie singer, Ricki-Lee was scheduled to sing a selection of Disney songs. WHAAAAAAAT?!

Disney Frozen Garden Party via christineknight.me

Sure enough, Ricki-Lee turned up and, in sweltering conditions, put on an amazing show. She really has such a gorgeous voice, but, even more than that, she looked like she truly loved the songs, and engaging with the kids. The kids – oh my, they were in heaven. It was like a real life princess from a Disney movie was singing to them. They just couldn’t believe their eyes.

Disney Frozen Garden Party via christineknight.me

Ricki-Lee sang a few Frozen faves (Do You Want To Build A Snowman? and Let It Go) as well as other well-loved Disney songs, such as Beauty And The Beast, Part Of Your World and A Whole New World. Without a doubt, she made Cheese’s day by putting the microphone in front of her during one song so they could sing the song together. For a kid whose dream right now is to be a performer like Katy Perry, it was the most amazing gift to be given.

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Disney Frozen Garden Party via christineknight.me Disney Frozen Garden Party via christineknight.me Disney Frozen Garden Party via christineknight.me Disney Frozen Garden Party via christineknight.me Disney Frozen Garden Party via christineknight.me Disney Frozen Garden Party via christineknight.me Disney Frozen Garden Party via christineknight.me Disney Frozen Garden Party via christineknight.me Disney Frozen Garden Party via christineknight.me Disney Frozen Garden Party via christineknight.me

At the end of the party, we were sent home with a gorgeous present – a Disney snowflake necklace – as if all the amazing entertainment wasn’t enough of a gift! A huge thank you to Disney for putting on the Frozen Summer Garden Party. We really had the best afternoon – one that I don’t think my daughter and I are likely to ever forget.

I highly suggest keeping your eye out for future competitions like this, as, you never know, you might win tickets to the next one!

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

Barangaroo: The Best of Sydney For Families

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Barangaroo Reserve is Sydney’s newest park, located on the north-western tip of Sydney’s Central Business District. What was once a flat strip of concrete that was used as a container wharf has been transformed into a six-hectare waterfront parkland on Sydney Harbour, with 6,500 sandstone blocks placed along the foreshore and 75,000 100% native trees, shrubs and plants.

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Underneath the reserve is a giant new cultural space called the Cutaway, two levels of car park and two of Australia’s biggest water tanks (so Barangaroo Reserve can be a self-watering park).

Barangaroo Sydney via christineknight.me

The new reserve is named after an important Aboriginal women at the time of early colonial settlement, Barangaroo. One of her husbands was Bennelong, after whom Bennelong Point (where the Sydney Opera House sits) was named. The Barangaroo precinct was use for fishing and hunting by the Gadigal people, the Traditional Owners of the Sydney city region.

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While the park is not yet complete, visitors can enjoy the first two sections of the Wulugul Walk that are open to the public. Wulugal is the local indigenous word for kingfish, a fish with a golden band on its green-blue skin – similar to the appearance of the new foreshore at Barangaroo.

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When the Barangaroo precinct is completed in 2022, the Wulugul Walk will run for the entire 2kms of foreshore from Walsh bay to Darling Harbour. At the moment, the walk has two sections open to the public – Barangaroo Reserve at the north of the precinct and a second section in Barangaroo South linking up to King Street Wharf.

Barangaroo Sydney via christineknight.me

With the opening of the reserve, this particular part of Sydney’s waterfront district is open to the public for the first time in over 100 years.

Barangaroo Sydney via christineknight.me

The entire of Barangaroo is very accessible to wheelchairs and strollers. It really is the perfect stress-free outing for families with elevators, gently sloping paths from top to bottom, plus clean bathrooms that have baby changing facilities.

Barangaroo Sydney via christineknight.me

A visit to Barangaroo to take a walk or picnic is already a great day out, but if you visit over the next week you’ll have a chance to experience the Sydney Festival’s Ephemeral City in the Cutaway. French artist Olivier Grossetête is overseeing the construction of a city of boxes, built by volunteers of all ages, using a whopping 9,000 boxes – or more than 10 tonnes of cardboard. The buildings will be demolished on Australia Day, January 26, so get in and stick together a box or two before they go.

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We had a fantastic time at the BOXWARS section of the city, where kids can build their own tiny city out of cardboard.

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You can see our little homes above!

Older kids and adults will also enjoy the free Flying Fox at ‘The Ephemeral City’. Zip-line over the box city and, upon landing, grab a roll of sticky tape and get building.

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Open: 8–24 January, 2pm–8pm (closed Mondays), at The Cutaway. Price: Free.
Minimum weight requirement for the Flying Fox is 30kg.

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Barangaroo
Getting there: Walk The most enjoyable way of arriving on foot is from Circular Quay. The direct route is to walk through the Argyle Cut and along Argyle Street to the reserve entrance at Munn Street Reserve (1.2km).

Wilson Parking operates a public car park at Barangaroo Reserve between 6am – midnight, 7 days per week.

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

The Best of Sydney for Kids: The Sydney Opera House Day Pack

Sydney Opera House Day pack via christineknight.me

Since we moved back to Sydney, I’ve taken enormous pleasure in rediscovering my hometown with a child. I grew up in Sydney’s south-west, where most of my childhood was spent riding my pony, or biking around the streets with my brother. A far cry from the way we spend time with Cheese as an inner city kid!

We’ve been to the Sydney Opera House to see shows on many occasions. They are always of a high quality, and are a highlight of our year. We even attended the Sydney Opera House open day a few months back, where the House was open to the public. While it was interesting seeing the House behind the scenes, it was very crowded, and we left pretty quickly as Cheese wasn’t enjoying it.

So I was thrilled to discovered that the House has this amazing offering called their Day Pack at the moment, which offers families a Junior Lunch at Opera Kitchen, a special behind the scenes tour of the House on the Junior Adventure, finishing up with a show.

Each Day Pack has a different itinerary, depending which one you choose. They all meet in the same spot, at the Welcome Centre at the Sydney Opera House. You can find this by taking the escalators down from the boardwalk, then walking past the Opera House Bar and Kitchen until you get to the souvenir shop. Look for a sign here, where your guide for the day will be waiting for you.

Our amazing guide was a vibrant, energetic woman named Suanne. She was made to work with children, without a doubt. My daughter loved Suanne. I loved Suanne! Cheese was the youngest on the tour (the average age was about 8), but Suanne managed to keep the interest of all the kids, from little Cheese to the oldest, who were tweenagers, and even earned herself a hug or two along the way.

Sydney Opera House Day pack via christineknight.me

Our first stop on our big adventure was lunch at Opera Kitchen. We had a fantastic seat overlooking the Sydney harbour, with the Sydney Harbour Bridge in the background. I mean, seriously?! I can’t even describe the beauty of our city on days like this, it’s just too much.

Sydney Opera House Day pack via christineknight.me

We chose the Quinoa, Beetroot, Feta & Macadamia Salad (served with your choice of house beer, wine or soft drink) for me, and the Junior Fish & Chips (served with a small soft drink or juice and ice cream) for Cheese. I appreciated that the food was served quickly for a busy day.

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Cheese loved her fish – it was lightly crumbed, nice and hot, and not oily at all. She had two dipping sauces and a lemon wedge to dress her meal with, much to her delight. My salad was enormous, but since it had a lot of lettuce in it, it ended up being the perfect sized portion for lunch, and not too heavy for someone who was about to to a lot of walking afterwards.

Sydney Opera House Day pack via christineknight.me

After lunch we grouped together, ready for what I was most excited for – the tour. Suanne made it very clear that the tour was for the kids, not the adults, and had the kids all put their hands in and give our a big cheer “Kids!!”. As their voices vibrated around the concourse, the air filled with excited giggles as the kids loosened up, and thus, the tone was set for our tour. Lots of fun, plenty of laughs, and an extremely energetic look at one of the world’s most iconic buildings.

Sydney Opera House Day pack via christineknight.me

Our leader Suanne led the kids up the stairs, with us adults struggling to keep up in the rear. Up on the boardwalk, we learned the first of many amazing facts that we would absorb that day – all of which were embarrassingly new to this Sydney native. The Sydney Opera House was designed by Jørn Utzon, a Danish architect, after winning a contest in 1957. I only remember the name thanks to Suanne’s entertaining pronunciation for the kids: “Yaaaaw Boots on”. Very effective.

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While the Sydney Opera House is only 58 years old, the land it is built on, Bennalong Point, has previously been a meeting point for the Gadigal tribe. After paying tribute to the indigenous people whose land we were walking on, we took our first steps into the House, and, after a little actors warm up to get the kids ready to perform, walked into the Studio (sadly no photos allowed today!).

Cheese and I had seen many Babies Proms inside the Studio, but on our tour it was set up for the current show, Blanc de Blanc. While the kids took turns presenting the show to their rapt parents, we also learned that the Opera House was built in such a way that scenery has to be lifted up and down, it can’t be moved in from sides. Because of this unusual design, the Studio was built to be a lift for scenery. Nowadays, however, it is a flexible performance space.

Next on our tour, was another of the 800 rooms inside the Opera House – the backstage area where props are stored. We saw parts of the three opera sets that are housed in the room, including the Magic Flute, and the giant hydraulic lift that takes the props up to the stage.

Suanne paid tribute to the many people who work at the House to create the performances we see, including prop builders and the people who handle the intelligent lights that cost 65K each (geez, wouldn’t want to be anywhere near one of those!).

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We wound our way into the next room on the tour, the rehearsal room, where the casts and musicians practice. I couldn’t help but place my hand on the barre too, thinking of all of the amazing ballet dancers who had stood in that very spot, warming up with plies and tendus. The kids all had a turn practicing their moves, including Cheese, who was working on her arabesque.

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The tour stepped outside next, through a sneaky exit, where we walked up some more steps (note, do not do this tour if you don’t like steps!) to admire the amazing view, as well as see the reflection in the glass of the Sydney Harbour Bridge, if you look up at just the right angle. What an incredible design.

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If you’ve ever wondered why the million tiles of the House always look so clean, and yet you never see anyone actually cleaning them, it’s because they are especially made to be self-cleaning with a special glaze on them.

Sydney Opera House Day pack via christineknight.me

We waved like royalty to passers by, then ducked back inside another sneaky door to a little amphitheatre filled with costumes once worn by performers at the House. The kids had an amazing time trying them on, taking a bow, and learning about props. As the kids answered questions and participated in the activities, they were awarded with a cute star badge, which they all wore with pride.

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The last stop on our tour was the spectacular Concert Hall (sadly no pictures allowed since staff were performing sound checks), home of the symphony orchestra. We sat in some of the 2679 seats and watched the kids try their hand at being their own orchestra so we could hear the noise vibrating around the beautiful white birch wood ceiling. I’d never noticed before that the hall was shaped to mimic a guitar, with its high vaulted ceiling and brush box panelling.

Sydney Opera House Day pack via christineknight.me

If you’re interested in hiring the hall for a private gig, it will set you back a mere $18K.

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After the tour ended (it ran for 60 minutes), Suanne took us to the Playhouse, where we were about to see our show: The 52-Story Treehouse. We arrived just in time to look at our souvenir photos (two are included with the package, with extra costs if you’d like to purchase add-ons) and take our seats.

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You can read more about how much we enjoyed The 52-Story Treehouse here.

After the show, we had some time to enjoy the Creative Play station in the Playhouse that is open until the end of January. The current installation is “The Un-Broken Line”, which is basically a massive, interactive digital screen where kids can manipulate colour and lines. It’s pretty addictive play, and really hard to tear the kids away from. With Sydney summer giving us both big storms and brutal heat, it’s wonderful to have an indoor space catering to kids for us to enjoy. You can read more about the free Summer entertainment for families at the House here.

Summer at the Sydney Opera House via christineknight.me

I can’t recommend the Sydney Opera House Day Pack enough, both for tourists and Sydney locals. I guarantee that not only will you and the kids have a fantastic time, but you will all learn some amazing facts about one of the most interesting buildings in the world at the same time.

At time of print, the Day Pack includes:
15% discount on an A reserve show ticket to The 52-Storey Treehouse
Explore inside the Sydney Opera House on the Junior Adventure
A souvenir photo from your Junior Adventure
A delicious Junior Lunch and drink at one of our harbourside, family friendly restaurants.

Price: Adult: $108.65 Child: $83.65
Check online to get accurate pricing for the Day Packs. As different shows are included in the pack, pricing may change.

Get more info and book online

Sydney Opera House
Bennelong Point Sydney

You can reach the Opera House by:

Car – park in the onsite Opera House car park. For discounted parking, book online with Wilson car parks and check the Sydney Opera House website for any current promo codes. 

Buses, trains and ferries – all service nearby Circular Quay which is an easy 5-10 min walk to the Opera House.

A huge thank you to the Sydney Opera House for hosting us on this fantastic day. 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’s Best Shows For Kids: The 52-Storey Treehouse

The 52-Storey Treehouse via christineknight.me

We are newcomers to the Treehouse stories, having not read the books yet. Cheese is too young, and they came out after I was a tween, so they’ve been hovering on the edge of my awareness for the past year, but I didn’t know much about the books – or the show. I actually really love not knowing what to expect when I go to see a show – it makes the whole experience free of expectations, and I can appreciate the show as a stand alone text.

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From what I’ve heard from other people who have seen the show and read the books, The 52-Storey Treehouse live manages the almost impossible – to entertain newcomers to the series, as well as giving faithful readers of the books a new take on a familiar subject. That alone is incredibly hard to achieve, so kudos to writer Richard Tulloch and director Liesel Badorrek for the fabulous job they’ve done with Andy Griffiths’ and Terry Denton’s book, The 52-Storey Treehouse.

The 52-Storey Treehouse via christineknight.me

This is the show’s second run at the Sydney Opera House, returning once again following a sell-out season last year.

The 52-Storey Treehouse via christineknight.me

In this intensely entertaining, clever and smart show, Andy and Terry take the audience on a rollicking adventure through a fantastical story where ninja snails and enchanted carrots are the norm.

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The cleverly created 52-storey treehouse is a very smart theatrical device that evolves throughout the show to represent the treehouse, a mountain, a castle, and a dungeon. With props such as the Disguise-O-Matic 5000 and The Flying Frying Egg Car, you just know that watching this show (or reading the book!) is going to set a child’s imagination on fire.

The 52-Storey Treehouse via christineknight.me

I appreciated the show just as much as Cheese thanks to some themes that were designed to resonate with adults, as well as enjoying the very talented performers – Drew Livingston and James Elliot are wonderful as Terry and Andy, with Jonny Nasser and Sophie Kesteven tackling several supporting roles in quick succession.

The 52-Storey Treehouse via christineknight.me

 

The 52-Storey Treehouse is a witty, fun show that adults and kids will equally enjoy. Go see it, then, if you’re like us, buy the book and start the story from the very beginning.

The 52-Storey Treehouse
Suitable for children 6+
Tickets: $39 – $55
Dates: 3 January 2016 – 25 January 2016

Thank you to the Sydney Opera House for hosting us. All opinions are my own.

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

Pirate Fun at the Australian National Maritime Museum

Pirate Fun at the Australian National Maritime Museum via christineknight.me

Swashbuckling fun for the whole family awaits at the Australian National Maritime Museum. Confession: I’ve never been to this museum before. I thought Cheese was way too young for it and as she’d showed zero interest in boats, didn’t think we’d be visiting till she was much older.

Pirate Fun at the Australian National Maritime Museum via christineknight.me

I’m so glad we dropped by during the school holidays however, as their various pirate exhibition and themed activities were an incredible hit with my four-year-old.

Pirate Fun at the Australian National Maritime Museum via christineknight.me

Kids on Deck: Patch-eyed Pirates
The entrance to this activity space is outside the main museum so we almost missed it completely. I’m so glad we didn’t, as it’s a fantastic area for kids aged 4-12. Kids can get busy crafting pirate ships, dressing up, building with Lego, reading pirate-themed books, playing games and making temporary tattoos.

Pirate Fun at the Australian National Maritime Museum via christineknight.me pirates-38 Pirate Fun at the Australian National Maritime Museum via christineknight.me
Daily, 27 December 2015–25 January 2016
Times: 10am–4pm (hourly sessions)
Ages: 4–12
Cost: Entry with any paid ticket

Pirate Fun at the Australian National Maritime Museum via christineknight.me

Family Theatre Show: Calico Jack and the Pirate Cat
We spent a lot of time lining up to get into the theatre, and then waiting for the show to start. Possibly because we were there during school holidays, half the theatre was already filled with kids from daycares when we went in, meaning there weren’t enough seats for everyone. Lesson learned: line up even earlier if we want a seat! The show was a lot of fun, and our two four-year-olds and one 2-year-old were mesmerised the entire time by this lively and interactive theatre show.
Daily except Saturdays, 3–24 January 2016
Times: 11.30am and 2pm
Ages: 4–12 and adults

Pirate Fun at the Australian National Maritime Museum via christineknight.me

Horrible Histories: Pirates The Exhibition
The main attraction this school holiday is the extremely well done Horrible Histories: Pirates The Exhibition. The brand-new exhibition is very hands on and interactive, filled with a mix of digital and manual activities for kids, ranging from knot-tying to discovering treasure, firing cannons (the most popular area in the exhibit) and “squishing” projected rats. Cheese could have squished rats all. day. long.

Pirate Fun at the Australian National Maritime Museum via christineknight.me

The exhibit is based on the bestselling Horrible Histories series which Cheese is too young for, but that didn’t make any difference to her enjoyment of of the exhibit.

Pirate Fun at the Australian National Maritime Museum via christineknight.me

There was just so much for kids to do, all packed into the one room, it was quite impressive. Particularly how the exhibit had been designed to appeal to kids of a wide variety of ages. Since I was with a very active four-year-old we missed all the interesting info about the history of pirates, the ships they sailed and the rules they lived by. Instead we fired canons, stuck giant magnets on walls and took funny pirate pictures of each other.

Pirate Fun at the Australian National Maritime Museum via christineknight.me Pirate Fun at the Australian National Maritime Museum via christineknight.me Pirate Fun at the Australian National Maritime Museum via christineknight.me Pirate Fun at the Australian National Maritime Museum via christineknight.me pirates-24 Pirate Fun at the Australian National Maritime Museum via christineknight.me

Pirate Fun at the Australian National Maritime Museum via christineknight.me Pirate Fun at the Australian National Maritime Museum via christineknight.me Pirate Fun at the Australian National Maritime Museum via christineknight.me Pirate Fun at the Australian National Maritime Museum via christineknight.me

At the end of the exhibit is the Passenger Theatrette, which shows episodes of Horrible Histories from 2:30pm daily. A perfect way to wind down after the frenetic activity of the Pirate Exhibition.

Pirate Fun at the Australian National Maritime Museum via christineknight.me
Daily until 27th April, 2016
Adult $20, kids 4-15 $12, under 4 is free.

We didn’t even get to explore all of the amazing things for kids to do at the museum. Next time we will try the Under 5s Tour, which promises stories, songs and dancing through the galleries, and the Cabinet of Curiosities, where visitors can touch objects like weapons and navigational tools related pirates.

Pirate Fun at the Australian National Maritime Museum via christineknight.me

There’s no eating inside the museum, but you only need to pop outside to the adorable Yot’s Cafe for waterfront dining with a pirate theme.

Australian National Maritime Museum via christineknight.me

Added bonus – toys for kids to play with an even a little kiddie-sized table and chairs to sit at.

Australian National Maritime Museum
2 Murray St, Sydney NSW

Open daily except Christmas Day
Hours: 9:30am-5pm (6pm in Jan)
Prices: Permanent galleries are free but still require a ticket to view them.
Big Ticket (Access to everything open on the day of visit including the ships), Adult $30, kids 4-15 $18, under 4 is free
Special Exhibitions Ticket (Access to major temporary exhibitions such as Pirates) Adult $20, kids 4-15 $12, under 4 is free.
Get Directions

 

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

Sydney’s Best Playgrounds: James Ruse Reserve Playground

James Ruse Reserve Playground via christineknight.me

Super hot Sydney days call for playgrounds with water features! The James Ruse Reserve Playground is almost brand-spanking new (it was built in 2014), and has a fantastic water play area, which is under cover. You can’t beat that! Taking into consideration how important shade cloth is in summer, this could be my favourite playground in Sydney right now.

The playground was named after James Ruse (1760-1837) who arrived on the first fleet and was said to be one of the first convicts to be sent to Rosehill (now Parramatta) who had an understanding of agriculture. After his time as a convict was up, he became a self-sufficient farmer. James Ruse Reserve now occupies part of where is property, which he called Experiment Farm, used to be.

James Ruse Reserve Playground via christineknight.me James Ruse Reserve Playground via christineknight.me James Ruse Reserve Playground via christineknight.me James Ruse Reserve Playground via christineknight.me James Ruse Reserve Playground via christineknight.me James Ruse Reserve Playground via christineknight.me James Ruse Reserve Playground via christineknight.me James Ruse Reserve Playground via christineknight.me James Ruse Reserve Playground via christineknight.me James Ruse Reserve Playground via christineknight.me James Ruse Reserve Playground via christineknight.me James Ruse Reserve Playground via christineknight.me James Ruse Reserve Playground via christineknight.me

James Ruse Reserve Playground
Harris St, Parramatta
Bathrooms: One portable only
Picnic tables: Yes
Shade cover: Yes
Cafe: No
Skatepark: Yes
Off-street parking: Yes
Children’s playground: Yes
Water features: Yes
Water park hours: September – May: 9am-8pm, June – August: CLOSED
Get Directions

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

Tips for Bushwalking with Preschoolers

Tips on bushwalking with preschoolers via christineknight.me

I recently took Cheese, aged four, on her first proper bush walk in Katoomba. We had an amazing walk to the Minni Ha Ha Falls (you can read about it here). It got me thinking about how different it is bushwalking with little kids – not better or worse, but different.

Minni Ha Ha Falls Katoomba Australia via christineknight.me

Tips for bushwalking with small kids:

Over estimate the time it will take
The walk we did was 1.3km and should have taken an adult 15 minutes, it took us over an hour. Make sure you have plenty of time when you set out so there isn’t any rushing involved on either end of the walk.

Go slow and enjoy the journey
When I do bush walks on my own, I tend to rush through the bush to get to the waterfall at the end. When walking with Cheese, however, the walk is about the leaves and skinks and butterflies we encounter along the way. She enjoyed all the elements of the bush just as much as she did the waterfall at the end. Don’t set a time limit, just enjoy the journey.

Minni Ha Ha Falls Katoomba Australia via christineknight.me

Pack extra clothes
Particularly pack extra shoes and socks in the car (or backpack if you travelled by public transport) and shorts/dress if your child is like mine and won’t wear anything else. Even on days when it hasn’t rained in weeks, we often find mud on the trails, and are always glad to have spare shoes to change into.

Minni Ha Ha Falls Katoomba Australia via christineknight.me

Prepare for swimming
If there is the potential for a dip, bring swimmers and a small quick-dry towel, plus a wet bag. Waterfall pools can be incredibly cold, even in the middle of summer, so there is a high chance of swimmers being worn and no actual dips happening. Do be aware of slippery rocks when there is water involved.

Minni Ha Ha Falls Katoomba Australia via christineknight.me

Stock up on food
Bush walks make for hungry kids. We stopped at the base of the waterfall for a picnic so Cheese had energy for the return trip. We packed a sandwich, rice crackers, banana, apple and many bottles of water.

Get ready for the elements
Don’t get caught out – the bush is a dangerous place. Wear closed-toe shoes, a hat and a short that covers your shoulders to prevent sunburn. take plenty of water even if it’s only a short hike. Also take wipes or tissues incase a bush wee presents itself!

Minni Ha Ha Falls Katoomba Australia via christineknight.me

Conserve strength for the end
There is always carrying involved for us. Our daughter was a champ on this walk and did most of it on her own, but still needed to be carried for the last three-quarters of a kilometer. We often bring a baby backpack carrier that takes kids of bigger weight for this exact reason.

Have you been bushwalking with your kids? I’d love to hear your favourite walks.

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