A busy road in a residential area is not the location you’d expect to find the beautiful Cove Dining Co cafe. Located inside the community hall of what was once the Abbotsford Nestlé factory site, the building is heritage-listed and gives a lovely insight into a time gone by.
Walk inside to find a spacious dining room with long tables perfect for big groups or sharing and meeting new friends. There is also an outdoor verandah with alfresco seating and a lovely view of the lush gardens surrounding the building. The verandah is my pick for seating if you’re visiting with kids as the gardens provide the perfect place for kids to play.
The Cove Dining Co is a small, family run business. Almost everything is prepared onsite, including smoked goods, cheese and jam. Free range and organic ingredients are used where possible.
The menu has a lot of variety as well as some familiar favourites to fall back on. The dishes we order arrive pretty quickly for a busy day and are fairly busting with colour and flavour.
Honey Spice Granola with Almonds, Walnuts, Pumpkin Seeds, Coconut and Sultanas, served with Yoghurt and Preserved Fruit ($16).
Bubble & Squeak with Fried Egg, Speck, Cabbage, Peas, and Potato with Sourdough ($20).
Boiled Egg and Sourdough off the kids’ menu ($6).
There is a decent-sized kids’ menu with enough options for picky eaters as well as those who will try something a bit more substantial. Boiled Egg and Sourdough ($6), Pancake with Maple Syrup ($6), Scrambled Egg and Bacon on Sourdough ($8), Toasted Cheese Sandwich on Brioche with Fries ($6), Crumbed Fish and Fries ($14), Crumbed Chicken and Fries ($14).
This is one incredible family-friendly cafe, as evidenced by how accessible it is for strollers and wheelchairs, and provide use of highchairs, baby change tables, toys and colouring in equipment. There is also free wifi!
The Cove Dining Co 378 Great N Rd, Abbotsford, NSW Hours: Mon-Fri 7am-2pm, Sat & Sun 8am-3pm Phone: (02) 9713 7896 Prices: $$ Online thecovediningco.com.au
Fratelli Fresh Darling Harbour is the perfect spot for casual dining, particularly with the family. Enjoy vibrant, affordable Italian food and family-friendly menus in a bright, large dining area.
With the tagline: “Fratelli Fresh, A Place For Everyone”, you’d expect no less, and the restaurant offers up delicious food with enough variety to please even the pickiest of eaters.
Located directly underneath the ICC building, Fratelli Fresh Darling Harbour is the ideal location for a meal when seeing a show, or visiting the nearby Darling Quarter playground.
While we were sorely tempted by the hand-tossed Neapolitan pizzas (they looked amazing), we were having a light lunch and chose a build-your-own salad and kids’ pasta.
Fratelli Fresh frequently has excellent deals such as kids eat free on Sundays and school holidays, plus daily deals for the adult menu. On the day I visited, the build-your-own salad was $10 ($15 with soup) and kids ate free as it was school holidays, so our meal cost only $15. Crazy cheap, especially considering the excellent quality and generous portions.
There is a games area that would suit older kids. During the school holidays Fratelli Fresh puts on free kids’ activities too, making it a no-brainer in my opinion!
We loved the gelato and dessert bar and indulged with truly delicious gelato after our meal.
The Darling Quarter playground is only a few steps away, making this our new fave restaurant when visiting the area.
Jump aboard a beautifully restored 1930s tram at The Tramshed Cafe on Narrabeen Lake, an approximately 40 minutes drive from Sydney’s CBD.
The tram is open for visitors to walk through, including the drivers’ areas. You can even order your meal to go and eat it on the tram if you can persuade the kids to go inside and sit at a regular table.
This old tram, number 1753, carried passengers between North Sydney and the Spit Bridge from 1933 until 1958.
Inside the actual cafe, you’ll find a brightly lit, open space, with plenty of tables and booths. The cafe serves up Modern Australian breakfasts and lunches, specialty roasted Little Marionette coffee and a very decent kids’ menu.
The Tramshed Cafe ie licensed and BYO. Breakfast is available 7-11.30am and Lunch 11.30-3.30pm.
Alec and I both ordered The Tramshed Big Brekkie (Eggs your way, bacon, roast tomatoes, mushroom, hash brown, avocado, chorizo, tomato relish and sourdough, $20). I asked for mine with vegetarian substitutes. Cheese has the kids’ eggs on wholewheat toast ($8).
Our food was delivered to us quickly by the extremely friendly waitstaff. We were pleased with the portion sizes and how fresh the food was. Beautiful bright colours, really delicious flavours. Note: If ordering toast and you like butter on it, you’ll need to ask for it.
The Tramshed Cafe has a number of environmental initiatives in place that I really appreciated. They use BioPak Green packaging for takeaway orders, which can be recycled, they use only paper straws, compost as much as they can, recycle where possible and support local suppliers to reduce freight.
While the cafe itself sits on an extremely busy road, it’s positioned next to Berry Reserve, which has a large playground (currently under renovation and reopening soon) and the beautiful Narrabeen Lake.
At the lake is an entry point to the 8.4km Narrabeen Lagoon Trail that can be walked, biked or scooted. A bit far for us to complete, we walked and scooted the 1.2km to Bilarong Reserve, which has an excellent playground with play equipment and mythical beast sculptures.
Is your family looking for a thrill on their next outing in Sydney? Take adventurous kids and adults to Wild Ropes at Taronga Zoo for a challenging walk among the trees, with the best view in Sydney to boot.
Wild Ropes is located right in the heart of Taronga Zoo Sydney, winding through the treetops above the Australian Walkabout. It’s seperate entry to the zoo, however, so if you want to visit the zoo as well, you will need to buy a combined ticket that includes entry to both.
The entry to Wild Ropes is right through the historic Taronga Zoo entrance on the left. Look out for the big signs, you can’t miss them.
There are six courses, two children’s courses and four adult / junior courses.
The two children’s courses, Koala and Possum, are suitable for kids aged 3 – 8, up to a height of 140cm. Children are allocated one hour to complete both courses as many times as they like during the session. The Koala course must be completed before kids are allowed to attempt the harder Possum course.
The hour time session includes briefing and being fit with safety gear, so actual climbing time is around 45 minutes.
Parents can observe their kids from a viewing platform but are not able to assist kids if they get stuck. Kids should feel confident about being separated from their parents in order to complete the courses by themselves.
Cheese was a month shy of her 7th birthday when completing the Wild Ropes Children’s Courses. She found the Koala course easy and Possum challenging in places. She repeated the courses over and over again until her time was up and we had to make her stop.
She loved the courses and has enthusiastically recommended them as a fun activity for kids. Two thumbs up, five stars.
Adult and Junior Courses
Juniors aged 8 – 17 and adults aged 18 + can take on the four full Wild Ropes courses. There are two low and two high courses to complete. The two low courses are slightly easier than the high ones, and the courses sit above each other, so the “high” ones are a few metres higher than the low ones.
When signing up for the courses you can choose between the Adventure Package, which includes one low course and your choice of a high or low course, and the Ultimate Challenge, which includes entry to two low and two high courses.
If you decide to do more courses you can add them on when you are there, but it’s always cheaper to buy things in advance!
Juniors must be at least 8 years and 140 cms tall. Juniors aged between 8 and 13 years old must be accompanied by a climbing Adult on the course. There is a minimum ratio of 1 x Adult per 4 x Juniors allowed.
A low course must be completed before climbers can take on a high course. Each course contains approximately 17 challenges, including bridges, tunnels, aerial rock climbing walls, flying fox and even a hover board (I found this particularly nerve-wracking!).
Depending on your group size, allow around 60 minutes to complete two courses. If there aren’t any people ahead of you and your group is particularly agile, it can be completed in about 30 minutes.
I did the two adult / juniors courses while Cheese was taking on the kids’ courses and I found it an exhilarating challenge. Physically, muscles I hadn’t used in years were required to come out of retirement to complete the various challenges, but the biggest challenge I found was mental. It’s quite mentally challenging to get over a fear of falling, even though your rational brain is telling you that you’re hooked up to a harness and completely safe!
The courses were incredibly fun and I would absolutely return to do the other two courses. I enjoyed feeling challenged and pushed out of my comfort zone. I’m usually watching from the sidelines these days instead of participating in activities like this, so it was really fun and exciting to take on a physical and mental challenge for the first time in years!
Information about safety
All safety equipment is supplied and participants must complete a safety briefing before beginning the course. Safety equipment includes:
Continuous belay system
Once fitted with all necessary equipment participants will receive a comprehensive safety briefing from an instructor. Once you have demonstrated that you are safe to go, you will be allowed onto the courses.
What to wear / bring
Fully enclosed shoes with rigid soles must be worn on the courses.
Hair should be pulled back.
Jewellery (including piercings) must be removed or taped over.
Glasses, including prescription glasses, may only be worn with a strap.
You must remove anything that could fall off or out of your pockets before accessing the Wild Ropes course. This includes: keys, coins, phones, cameras, bags, watches, loose jewellery. Free lockers are provided to participants.
Genuine Chest and Helmet Go-pro mounts are the only attachment allowed for actions cameras on the courses for safety reasons.
No exposed skin from the ankle down.
Your waist should be covered and any piercings should be taped over or taken out.
Plan to arrive at Wild Ropes at least 15 minutes prior to your session start time. If you are entering Taronga Zoo from the ferry allow an additional 20 minutes to ascend to the top entry where the entry to Wild Ropes is located. A trip on the Sky Safari is included in your Wild Ropes ticket. Note the Sky Safari operates from 9.30am and may not operate due to bad weather. Please note that Children 15 years or under must be accompanied by an adult on the Sky Safari Cable Car.
First session starts at 9.30am
Last session starts at 3.00pm (May – Aug) and 3.30pm (Sept – Apr)
Wild Ropes is open 7 days a week, 364 days a year (closed Christmas Day).
Wild Ropes is open during wet weather, but activities may be cancelled in cases of heavy winds or lightning. Please arrive 20 minutes earlier than your booked session time. Your Wild Ropes challenge can be completed on it’s own or added to your same-day Zoo experience.
Head to the website for the latest prices and to book. I highly recommend booking online as it’s cheaper, and you also don’t have to worry about sessions selling out.
Come on a voyage of the ridiculous in the weird and wonderful world of Lewis Carroll. Will our fearless adventurers find the mythical snark on their voyage? Or will they find something else more important instead?
From July 7 – 22 at the Sydney Opera House, the entire family can enjoy searching for the legendary snark in this hilarious quest adapted from Lewis Carroll’s The Hunting of the Snark.
Life-like puppets, fantastical creatures, lively songs and a knitting beaver sidekick will enchant the young and young at heart in this modern adaptation that blends a classic tale with current and local references. We couldn’t help but be swept up on this silly but heartfelt journey.
Join Boy, the Banker, the Butcher, the Baker, the Bellman and the Beaver as they sail across the ocean to Snark Island in search of the mythical creature. Can the snark be caught? And should it be caught? Are there more important things than the money to be made from such a capture?
This fast-paced show will please little ones and their adults alike with its humour, catchy songs and colourful puppets.
Cheese, who is almost 7, and I saw the show and both really enjoyed it. As we left the theatre she turned to me unprompted and said, “I loved it!”. You can’t get a better review than that.
Before and after the show, kids will enjoy the free, immersive Creative Play that has returned to the Western Foyers with Reach Out Sounds. This interactive installation encourages kids to make music through connections. Complete a circuit with your little one to create fun noises on the sound pods.
The Hunting of the Snark show days and times:
Tuesday, 17 July at 2.30pm
Wednesday, 18 July at 12.30pm and 2.30pm
Thursday, 19 July at 12.30pm and 2.30pm
Friday, 20 July at 10.30am and 12.30pm
Saturday, 21 July at 2.30pm and 7.30pm
Sunday, 22 July at 10.30am and 12.30pm
Putt Planet in Miranda is indoor miniature golf course is travel themed and accessible, so a great option for strollers or wheelchairs. The theme of the mini golf course is a trip to Mombasa, with a plane at the entrance symbolising the start of your journey.
The Putt Planet website says, “Discover another time and place when you board your Putt Planet flight from Miranda to Mombasa. Putt through the bustling market places, homes and even the sewers of Old Mombasa whilst exploring this ancient doorway to Eastern Africa. We’ve put a roof over the charming streets and laneways so any time is a good time to visit; the weather is always fine!”
Visit an indoor trampolining centre to literally bounce your cares away. Check each centre to see that facilities they have for kids before taking little ones – some have special toddler times available.
Kids and adults can all enjoy scampering up walls at indoor rock climbing centres. Start at the easiest level and work your way up to pro. Kids can try the beginner walls or special areas designed just for little ones.
Enjoy the peaceful calm of one of Sydney’s excellent museums and art galleries. All are extremely kid-friendly as well as having top-notch exhibitions year-round. The Art Gallery of NSW, Museum of Contemporary Art, the Powerhouse Museum, the Early Start Learning Centre and the Australian Museum head up a long list of excellent galleries for kids in Sydney.
Get up close to a more than 700 species of Australian aquatic life in 12 themed zones at SEA LIFE Sydney Aquarium. An impressive 13,000 animals live in the aquarium in six million litres of water, including dugongs, rays, tropical reef fish and sharks. A popular exhibit is Penguin Expedition, allowing guests to sail past a colony of King and Gentoo Penguins on a boat ride. The SEA LIFE aquarium is top kids attraction in Sydney and can get busy on public holidays and school holidays.
Meet iconic Australian animals at Wild Life Sydney Zoo. This small zoo is the perfect size to take young kids, and is easy to navigate with a wide, flat path, perfect for strollers. Get up close to the Cassowary, echidna, sugar gliders, koalas and kangaroos, plus a giant croc!
Head to the stunning State Library of NSW to check out their exhibitions or read a book. Established in 1862 it’s the oldest library in Australia. I personally love the idea of reading when it’s raining, so a library always tops my list of things to do in Sydney on a rainy day!
Little and big kids will love painting up a masterpiece at one of these plaster painting studios across Sydney. Candyland Playhouse even offers ceramic painting, which is where the art work is baked in a kiln after being painted.
Most of the major shopping centres have indoor play areas for kids, mostly of the soft play variety. It’s easy to pass several hours with snacks, free fun and a bit of shopping – with free parking to boot – at your local shopping centre. A top pick with us for rainy day activities for kids!
Tried and tested shopping centres with free indoor play areas:
I grew up in Sydney’s South West suburbs, so have spent much of my life in the Parramatta and Western Sydney area. Sydney’s South West and Western suburbs are an incredible mix of history, nature and delicious food, a perfect place to bring up kids or visit for the day. Check out the best things to do in Parramatta and Western Sydney with kids!
The Best Things To Do In Parramatta and Western Sydney With Kids
Livvi’s Place Ryde
Livvi’s Place is a full-enclosed playground located in Yamble Reserve, Ryde. The reserve features formal gardens, deciduous trees, picnic shelters, large green grassed areas, barbecues and the excellent all-abilities playground, Livvi’s Place. Livvi’s Place playground includes a water pump play area, dual flying fox, nest swing, musical instruments, climbing frame and tunnels.
Parramatta’s first all-inclusive playground opened in early 2019. It features climbing structures, water play with a splash play area and water pumps, an elevated sandpit, an accessible carousel, swings, BBQ facilities and excellent bathrooms.
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.
The brand new Casula Parklands has something for everyone, from toddlers to adults. Located near the Casula Powerhouse Arts Centre, the park features play equipment and fitness training for all ages.
The $15 million park includes a ninja warrior training course for teens and adults, toddler climbing equipment, older kid / tween climbing equipment, flying foxes, swings, on and off-leash dog parks and a fitness area.
A gorgeous spot for families with one of the biggest playgrounds in Sydney set among three hectares of rolling hills and big open spaces. The playground caters for kids of all ages and abilities with a fantastic water play area (the largest outdoor water play facility in NSW), moving play elements, high and steep landforms and hidden and confined spaces. There’s a double flying fox, mega-swing, tunnel slides, scramble wall, spinning play disk, Viking swing and a multi-level tree house to be discovered and enjoyed.
Bring your locomotive-loving kids to get up close to trains at the NSW Rail Museum in the historic town of Thirlmere. Since 1975 this little town has been home to a large collection of NSW’s railway heritage, including over 100 vehicles that move on a railway including locomotives, railroad cars and more.
Explore Australia’s unique plant life at the Australian Botanic Garden Mount Annan, a 416-hectare botanical garden located in Mount Annan, between Campbelltown and Camden. The wide, flat paths are a delight to follow as they weave in and around the garden areas, as are the grassy hills to roll down!
The Australian Botanic Garden Mount Annan has free entry, picnic shelters, barbecues and a playground with an excellent flying fox, making it the perfect outing for families.
The place to introduce city kids to a farm! Calmsley Hill City Farm has plenty of farm animals to get up close to, plus tractor rides and interactive shows such as sheep shearing, a small playground, picnic area and cafe.
Watch a movie under the stars at Sydney’s last remaining drive-in movie theatre. Introduce kids to the movie experience of a bygone era complete with a Happy Days-style diner, spiders and choc-tops. The gates open at 5:30pm, with parking allocated on a first-come, first-served basis. Tune your car’s FM radio or bring along a portable radio to hear the movie. Before you leave home, check session times for what’s on.
Sydney Olympic Park
The site of the 2000 Sydney Olympic Games is now a monument to sporting legends and a peaceful parkland. Visit Cathy Freeman Park to see the Olympic Cauldron that was used throughout the games and has been transformed into a water feature that kids love to play under in summer, located next to a shady playground and vast grassy field.
To get there: Take a 30 minute train trip from Central Station to Olympic Park Station or a ferry from Circular Quay to Sydney Olympic Park Wharf.
While adults will enjoy swimming in the same pool that Ian Thorpe won his Olympic gold medals at the 2000 Sydney Olympic Games, kids will go wild over the water slide, Splasher’s Water Playground that caters for kids aged toddler and up, and Rapid River Ride that caters to all ages. Comfortabley heated to 26 degrees, the Aquatic Centre is year-round fun.
To get there: Take a 30 minute train trip from Central Station to Olympic Park Station or a ferry from Circular Quay to Sydney Olympic Park Wharf.
A fave for families with its wide expanses of undulating hills, plenty of shade and picnic spots. Bicentennial Park is a beautiful location that combines mangrove wetlands with 40 hectares of gentle hills, meadows, lakes, playgrounds and picnic shelters. Driving to this park is the best option but parking can also be a challenge so arrive early.
Ryde Park Playground & Scooter Track
What a gem of a spot! Ryde Park has a shaded playground and a new scooter/bike track. The park also has sporting fields and picnic areas.
A nature-themed playground with a bush setting, Lizard Log also features walking and cycling tracks plus barbecue stations.
Image credit: Western Sydney Parklands Trust
Treetop Adventure Park
Adventurous kids will adore getting up high in the gum trees with the Treetop self-guided rope courses. With rope ladders, wobbly bridges and zip lines to navigate, it’s the perfect place for kids to test their problem-solving ability as well as push physical boundaries. Kids must be aged three and older to participate, with the children’s rope course designed for ages 3-9. Treetops Adventure park is located at the Plough and Harrow park.
Cool down at Raging Waters Sydney (formerly Wet’n’Wild SYDNEY), a water theme park filled with over 40 slides, a zone dedicated to kids under 5 and a sandy beach. Popular with younger kids is the Nickelodeon Beach water splash park area that features characters like Dora, Spongebob and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.
Opened in 2017, Bungarribee is a 200-hectare recreational space that features walking and cycling tracks, 20 barbecues, 13 picnic shelters and a playground with a climbing tower, flying fox, plenty of slides, swings and a water play area. Since this photo was taken, shade sails have been put up in the park.
Bigge Park in Liverpool, a south-west suburb of Sydney, received a $5 million upgrade a few years back. The upgrade included a fantastic free water play area. Bigge Park also includes an accessible playground, a regular playground and climbing equipment.
The Canterbury-Bankstown area’s first all-abilities playground opened in late 2018, a joint project between Variety, the Children’s Charity, and the Touched by Olivia foundation. The fully-fenced playground features picnic and bbq facilities, bathrooms, Variety Livvi’s Place includes a sensory zone, flying fox with accessible seats, a climbing net, trampoline, swings with accessible seats, water play area, a climbing tower with ground level play features, two nest swings, roller table, accessible carousel, slides, a nature trail, sand play and a lizard log carved from wood.
Especially designed to provide a play space for kids of a variety of ages, the Fairfield Adventure Playground brings the “wow” factor in spades. The park opened in 2015 after a $1.4 million council investment. With the star attractions designed specifically for teens, this is a unique playground that provides a much-needed recreational space for older kids.
The second oldest city in Australia, Parramatta was founded in 1788 – the same year as Sydney. Walk up Church street to discover its vibrant, multicultural food scene, or walk along the river to discover the city’s rich history.
Parramatta CBD Riverside Foreshore Park
We love this playground with its tall slides and sand play area, situated right on the banks of the Parramatta River.
This World Heritage Listed park is a must see. Gazetted as a People’s Park in 1858, Parramatta Park been a place for locals to enjoy for over 150 years. It’s also home to Old Government House, a historic site and museum and Australia’s oldest surviving building. Parramatta Park also features wide open spaces with shady trees for picnics, a large formal rose garden, a creek and two playgrounds. Get info on upcoming events in Parramatta Park.
Gatehouse Tea Rooms, Parramatta Park
Enjoy high tea in the historic Gatehouse, located in beautiful Parramatta Park. Choose from a traditional high tea, savoury high tea or kids high tea. Gluten-free high tea, dairy-free high tea and vegan high tea are available.
Parramatta Park is rich in colonial history. In 2007 the park and Gatehouse building were granted World Heritage Listing by UNESCO.
Built in 1887, the Gatehouse is one of the oldest high tea venues in Australia, and my favourite spot for high tea in Parramatta.
The largest and most modern playground in Parramatta Park, the Domain Creek Playground is nature-based and features mazes made from branches and wires, water pumps and sand diggers, a flying fox and sunken trampolines.
Paperback Playground is the newest playground in the park and has some inclusive features. Located in the historic Gardens Precinct near the George Street Gatehouse, the playground is best suited to children and toddlers. Features include an accessible sandpit, swings and a carousel which kids with varied mobility, including wheelchair users, can use, as well as the ‘explorer dome’ centrepiece – a maze made of nets, ropes, ladders and tubes best suited to older children. The playground floor is covered with ‘Softfall’ pavements and there’s plenty of seats for parents and carers.
Built in 1973 for John and Elizabeth Macarthur, Elizabeth Farm is one of the oldest homes in Australia. Inside the house you’ll find reproductions of furnishings and objects that belonged to the home’s original owners. Wander the recreated 1930s garden or enjoy a Devonshire tea at the tea room. The scones are some of the best we have ever tasted.
Elizabeth Farm runs year-round family tours and programs to engage kids in the history of the property and introduce them to what life was like during the early 19th century. Kids will get a kick out of trying to do the laundry in a tub, throwing quoits or doing some craft. Get info on upcoming events and programs here.
Carnes Hill Community & Recreation Precinct & Skate Plaza
This lively community precinct includes an excellent library with large kids’ area, excellent playground, community centre, outdoor fitness stations, gym, cafe, sports courts and picnic areas. The Carnes Hill Skate Plaza is also located in the precinct, a fab spot for kids to bring their scooters and bikes and enjoy a sprawling park that is suitable for all ages and levels of experience.
Oh la la it’s a fancy outing today! It’s off to the classy Shangri-La Hotel Sydney in the Rocks for a very pink high tea with friends. From June 15 – 29 2018, the Shangri-La Hotel Sydney is hosting a very special Barbie High Tea, created by their executive pastry chef, Anna Polyviou.
Anna Polyviou is often called the Punk Princess of Pastry, and with her bright pink mohawk she is the perfect poster girl for a new Barbie cookbook, which Polyviou has created in collaboration with the iconic Barbie brand and The Australian Woman’s Weekly.
The cookbook is a fantastic edition to a young chef’s collection, containing a combination of recipes that range from simple enough for kids to do either on their own or with help from adults, to some harder ones that definitely need adult intervention, but that are so imaginative that they will inspire kids to create their next birthday party around the designs.
Our young Barbie (and Anna Polyviou!) fans were keen to try some of the special recipes, which are reflected in the Barbie High Tea.
Each young guest is given their own Barbie Cookbook to take home, which our three discerning diners perused eagerly while waiting for their tea, choosing which recipe they would try at home first.
High teas are best experienced with friends, and for this special Barbie outing, we invited our usual high tea accomplices, with whom we’ve been sampling sugary treats in fancy frocks for quite a few years now. There is something so special about getting dressed up and having tea in delicate china cups that little girls just adore, and it’s a really wonderful occasion for both us mums and the kids.
The three-tiered silver stands arrived quickly, brimming with so much pink that the girls’ eyes popped out of their heads.
It’s clear that Polyviou knows her target audience well, and the creative, beautiful AND delicious menu was 100% on pointe with this young audience who are drawn to all things pink and sparkly.
Adults and kids can both order the Barbie high tea. If you’re dining with a few other adults or kids however, you might want to consider ordering the Barbie tea for the kids and the traditional high tea for the adults, and then trying a bit of everything! You can read about our delicious experience trying the traditional high tea here.
Barbie High Tea
Coconut Raspberry jelly pops
Rocky road cup
Finger bun doughnuts
Cheesy chicken strips
Ham cheese stars
(As vegetarians were given a slightly different savoury option, with a deconstructed egg sandwich, beetroot tart and cream cheese and cucumber sandwiches.)
The savouries are a great kid-friendly twist on a traditional high tea. Super accessible for even the fussiest of kids to enjoy.
The sweet treats were a hit, both visually and also to eat. The rainbow cupcakes were the fan favourite, with the added bonus of sprinkles spilling out of the middle when they were bitten into.
Mine and my friend’s favourite dessert was the rocky road cup – a mix of packet chips and lollies covered in chocolate, it was so nostalgic of our childhoods that we just kept going back for more. Note: the rocky road cup does contain nuts.
Another favourite was the Barbie shake. The strawberry milkshake base on its own was delectable, and with the addition of the Persian fairy floss and lollies it was just a mouth-watering treat that was devoured by all parties.
The Barbie High Tea is available from 15 June to 29 July 2018 at $45 per child. It includes a complimentary Australian Women’s Weekly Barbie Cookbook which features some of Polyviou’s Barbie inspired creations. For adults, it is priced at $55 per person with a glass of sparkling and at $65 per person with a glass of Champagne.
The Barbie High Tea is available daily at The Lobby Lounge, between 11:30am and 1:30pm and between 1:45 and 3:45 pm.
The beachside suburb of Maroubra is 10km south-east of Sydney’s CBD. It’s less developed than its neighbours Bondi and Coogee, giving it a more relaxed vibe than its popular cousins. Maroubra Beach and nearby Mahon Pool are a beautiful part of Sydney, making for the perfect day out in any season (ok, maybe not when it’s raining …).
Tips For Visiting Maroubra Beach and Mahon Pool
“Maroubra” comes from the Aboriginal word meaning “like thunder”, which is the perfect name for this beach with giant waves that pound the shore. One of Sydney’s most popular surfing spots, Maroubra is also one of only two National Surfing Reserves in Australia.
The beach has two surf life saving clubs and is patrolled year-round by lifeguards.
Maroubra is less sheltered than other beaches, with can result in bigger waves. Swim between the flags only, as the waves can be dangerous. If you or your family aren’t strong swimmers, consider visiting another nearby more sheltered beach.
Despite its strong waves, Maroubra is still an excellent beach for families.
The kilometre-long sandy stretch of beach has a wide, flat path running adjacent to it, bathroom facilities at the surf club, a large, nautical-themed fenced playground and excellent skate park.
We were really impressed with the skate park and kids in it. There were a lot of younger kids from ages 3 to about 10, then teenagers and even a few adults, all skating in the park. The older skaters took a lot of care around the younger kids, which was so great to see.
There’s also a free outdoor gym, free BBQs, outdoor showers, changerooms and bathrooms.
A cafe-kiosk on the beach provides an excellent location for sitting in beanbags and enjoying the waves. You can also walk across the street to the strip on cafe and restaurants that are located on Marine Parade, directly opposite the beach.
We walked up the hill to try Pool Cafe, located across the road from Jack Vanny Reserve. The cafe is excellent. Delicious food, fast service, cute wall art and really fun vibe. Highly recommend. Note there is no kids’ menu, but lots of food kids will eat.
Pool Cafe is located at 94 Marine parade Maroubra. Get more info on the Pool Cafe here.
Free parking is available behind the beach and in its side streets. The parking closest to the beach is 4 hours, side streets unlimited. There are also car parks north of the beach at Jack Vanny Reserve and at South Maroubra Beach.
In the middle of the beach is a large Rubix cube. While this may look like an art work it’s actually a storm water drain cover. The Rubix cube is popular for climbing.
If you have time, go exploring. South of the beach lies Arthur Byrne Reserve and headland, Broadarrow Reserve is to the west and Jack Vanny Memorial Park, Mahon Pool and the rocky headland are situated to the north.
The spectacular Mahon Pool is located 500 metres north of Maroubra Beach, up a steep-ish hill. Enter via Jack Vanny Reserve. Follow the path and steep steps leading down from the reserve to the pool.
Mahon Pool was carved into a rock flat in 1932, a 30-metre pool where you’ll find waves crashing over the sides at high tide. Visit at low tide to enjoy the pool with calm water (and plenty of fish inside!).
There is a free car park, toilet block with showers and change rooms located at the top of the reserve.
The rock flat is a great place to climb rocks up to the headland. An excellent view of the coast is available year-round, and migrating whales can be spotted from here between June and July.
Vivid Sydney is, without a doubt, one of my favourite times of year. 2019 marks the 11th anniversary of Vivid Sydney, the world’s largest festival of light, music and ideas. From 25 May to 16 June the event lights up Sydney over 11 precincts, each featuring their own unique light sculptures.
Top Tips For Visiting and Photographing Vivid Sydney
What’s on at all 11 precincts
This year Vivid Sydney is spread across 11 precincts. Each features their own specific light installations.
This incredible, giant puppet, was made by Erth, the creators of Erth’s Dinosaur Zoo. It has to be seen to be believed!
The octopus returns! Chatswood is a top pick for taking kids to see Vivid. Lights go on at 5:30pm at Chatswood! Perfect for taking the kids. Grab some food at around 5pm and you’ve got yourself the perfect early night Vivid experience.
This year Darling Harbour will feature an inclusive light playground, Tumbalong Lights. The light display has four interactive play installations that give children of all ages and abilities an inclusive and accessible experience.
Find a prime position near the lights that you want to see the most without a hoard of people and wait patiently until the lights get switch on. BAM – lights minus the crowds.
Lights go on at 6pm at all locations other than Taronga Zoo, where the lights go on at 5:30pm.
Hit up the most popular installations first
This has always been a key for me in conjunction with the point above. I circle back to those that it’s easy to see even with a crowd last, such as the Customs House, MCA and Sydney Opera House.
See the lights without the crowd
There are a few spots where you can see Vivid lights that are away from the general crowd. For a good view of the Harbour head to the top of the Cahill Expressway (lift at Circular Quay).
You can also visit the Observation Deck of the Sydney Tower Eye for a birds-eye view of the lights, zero crowds!
Lastly, walk over the Sydney Harbour Bridge. It’s free to walk the pedestrian and bike path. I would suggest walking in one direction from The Rocks to Milsons Point, and catching the train back again.
Dedicate several nights to see it all
I’m sure it’s possible to see everything in one go, but why do it if you can spread it out? With so many locations, Vivid really needs at least three nights to see everything. Break it down into sections that can be covered together. Taronga and Chatswood or Luna Park, Circular Quay, Martin Place and Botanic Gardens plus Barangaroo and the Rocks, and lastly Darling Harbour, which can be done with another of the options with a bit of commuting in between.
It gets cold at night, especially near the water. Dress warm including a coat and a beanie and gloves.
Take the kids to Taronga
This is my pick for kids because it’s ticketed, so less people, and the lights go on earlier than the other locations.
Don’t bypass the smaller Vivid locations, especially with kids
With kids in tow, the locations such as Darling Harbour and Chatswood are also an excellent idea as these spots don’t get as large crowds as the CBD does.
Pick a quiet day to go
We always go the first weekend or Monday to Thursday. The first few days are always the quietist, before photos start appearing in the news and reminding people that it’s on. The second weekend, from Friday onwards, is when it starts to get really busy. If there is a big event on elsewhere while Vivid is on, that is also a great night to go!
Take public transport to the city or pre-book parking
Pre-book a car spot if you ca’t take public transport as parking is an absolute nightmare. When taking public transport, be aware that Circular Quay train station might be busy and be prepared to walk to another station if needed.
This is for two reasons – one, because it’s night time and little people get tired, but also to keep them out of the way of being stepped on by adults.
Eat food first
We always arrive early in the city and eat before the lights even turn on. My pick is Gateway Sydney for casual, great food.
Tips for seeing Vivid with kids
Take them to Taronga or Chatswood, where lights go on at 5:30pm instead of 6pm and the crowds aren’t as bad. Darling Harbour, with its interactive light playground, is an excellent choice for families as well.
Take a stroller or baby carrier for little ones.
Feed them first or bring plenty of food for on the go.
Pick up free Lost Child Wristbands for the kids at info booths located on near the Overseas Passenger Terminal, Customs House and Darling Harbour.
Dress kids in high visibility clothing and keep them in sightline at all times.
Take a good camera
Take the best one you have. If you have an SLR, bring it. If the best you have is a point and shoot or your phone, then that will do. One of my old photography teachers once said “the best camera is the one you’ve got” and I’ve always remembered it!
A better camera will however produce better results, so when you’re in a tricky lighting situation such as an event after dark, I find it’s always worth bringing the best camera you’ve got.
Turn off the flash
Please, please, please turn off your flash! A good flash on an SLR camera only has a range of about a metre, so a flash on a phone is even more ineffectual. Use light from the installations to illuminate your subject matter rather than the flash.
Caveat: If your subjects are standing in front of an extremely large light sculpture and you want them facing the camera with the object BEHIND them, then this is the one time when I would suggest using the flash. There is a photography op at Taronga with gorillas that is exactly this circumstance.
Use the sculptures to light faces
Instead of using the flash, position people near the sculptures with the light directing onto them faces. Move yourself into a position where you can see the faces illuminated. Then take the photo.
Take a tripod
Obviously this is a “if you have one” scenario. In any lowlight situation a tripod is your best friend to providing camera stability and resulting in sharper images without needing to over compensate for the low light by adjusting other camera settings as much.
Lean on fences or props
If you don’t have a tripod or, like me, don’t take one because they’re quite hard to manage with a crowd or you’ve got kids in tow, wedge your camera on solid, immovable objects to get sharper shots. I use fences, the backs of chairs, you get the picture.
Bump up the ISO
If you have manual settings on your camera, bump up the ISO A LOT. I bump mine way up to ensure that the photos are in focus. The photos are grainier as a result, but at least they’re in focus.
Give kids an old camera or phone
I gave Cheese my iPhone to shoot with this year and I loved the photos she came up with. Kids have a different perspective to adults so the angles and perspectives she shot were completely different to mine.