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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.

The Early Start Discovery Space via christineknight.me

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.

The Early Start Discovery Space via christineknight.me

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

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.

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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

 

Summer at the Sydney Opera House

Summer at the Sydney Opera House via christineknight.me

This January, the Sydney Opera House is jam packed with free fun for kids. Drop by the House to enjoy this free fun (you don’t need to be seeing a show to play – just pop on in!).

Summer at the Sydney Opera House via christineknight.me

Creative Play: The Unbroken Line
January 2016, 10am-4pm
Kids can try to break un unbreakable digital line on a massive interactive digital wall. The line twists into patterns as it is pulled and pushed by participants, turning into a glorious array of colour and light. I visited with other kids aged from 4-6 and it was torture removing kids from this play area to take them home. This play space is a wonderful respite from the heat on hot days, so take advantage of it!

Summer at the Sydney Opera House via christineknight.me

‘Salsedine’ Summer Playground
January 2016
This month, the Western Broadwalk and Foyers at Sydney Opera House have been transformed into an Italian Riviera. Enjoy alfresco dining and family-friendly entertainment by the Hot Potato Band, Kiki and Pascal and The Jitter Bugs, set against, stunning Sydney Harbour views.

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Food choices included fruit cups $7 and pastries from $5, or Italian dishes like antipasto, panini and pizza cooked in a coal oven from 12pm till late.

Summer at the Sydney Opera House via christineknight.me Summer at the Sydney Opera House via christineknight.me

Summer at the Sydney Opera House via christineknight.me Summer at the Sydney Opera House via christineknight.me Summer at the Sydney Opera House via christineknight.me

Lounge in the sun (or, like us, under a shady patch) and enjoy free family-friendly performances, or take a breather while kids build castles in the sand pit. We caught Kiki and Pascal’s performances and were very entertained. Suitable for kids and adults, their comedy/magic/acro act was light and uplifting.

Summer at the Sydney Opera House via christineknight.me

Kids can also get close to nature with Nature Play at the House. The nature corner lets kids use all their senses in play, from smelling plants in the garden, building with wood and decorating garden-themed colouring pages.

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Chrissie Gifts Sorted at the Myer Christmas Giftorium

The Opening of the Myer Giftorium via Christineknight.me

The holiday season is my favourite time of year. I admit to going a bit overboard with the festivities – I just can’t help myself. This past weekend I was invited to the opening of the Myer Christmas Giftorium in Sydney. The Giftorium is more than just a store, it’s a really one-stop Christmas destination in Sydney where kids can meet Santa, write him a letter with their wish list, ride a mini train and also check out the hottest gifts for the whole family.

The Opening of the Myer Giftorium via Christineknight.me

The Opening of the Myer Giftorium via Christineknight.me

The Frozen and Disney section was a very popular section of the store, particularly the Elsa singing gloves and Anna and Elsa dolls. Still a hit, almost two year on. This is also the area where you’ll find Toy Story, Minnie & Mickey, Cinderella, Marvel Avengers and Inside Out toys.

The Opening of the Myer Giftorium via Christineknight.me

The talking storm troopers in the Star Wars pop up were also extremely popular. We have a Star Wars lover in our house so I think we will be revisiting this section shortly…

The Opening of the Myer Giftorium via Christineknight.me

Myer have really upped their personalised gifts this year, which are MY personal favourites. The Peanuts pop up store is particularly cute. Choose your artwork and name, et voila, custom artwork.

The Opening of the Myer Giftorium via Christineknight.me The Opening of the Myer Giftorium via Christineknight.me

Preschoolers will love the array of Peppa Pig toys.

The Opening of the Myer Giftorium via Christineknight.me

This Toy Story booth is a cute photo opp for kids to pretend to be a toy on sale for Christmas.

The Opening of the Myer Giftorium via Christineknight.me

Arty kids are covered with a particularly big arts and crafts area, including brands like Crayola and Seedling.

The Opening of the Myer Giftorium via Christineknight.me

Another hit with the preschooler set is this huge Thomas the Tank Engine and toys.

The Opening of the Myer Giftorium via Christineknight.me

A bit of face painting fun at the craft station.

The Opening of the Myer Giftorium via Christineknight.me The Opening of the Myer Giftorium via Christineknight.me

The most popular item at the Giftorium this year – personalised Nutella jars. For only $12, it’s a gift that is unique, cheap and delicious. Myer is the only retailer in Australia to offer this service in-store. It’s available in all stores as well as online from November 6.

The Opening of the Myer Giftorium via Christineknight.me The Opening of the Myer Giftorium via Christineknight.me The Opening of the Myer Giftorium via Christineknight.me

Christmas decorations abound with plenty of ideas for making your home look jolly.

The Opening of the Myer Giftorium via Christineknight.me

The Opening of the Myer Giftorium via Christineknight.me

Right in the back of the store is a mini train that gives free rides to kiddies.

The Opening of the Myer Giftorium via Christineknight.me

Next to the train depot is this little indoor play area. Perfect for letting kids run their sillies out with one parent supervising while the other does some sneaky Christmas shopping.

Santaland is next door to the train – beat the queue by booking online. This year Santa has brought his reindeer with him – kids can give the slumbering Rudolph a little pat when they visit.

The Opening of the Myer Giftorium via Christineknight.me

Another personalision service available at the Myer Christmas Giftorium – custom Santa sacks and Christmas stockings.

The Opening of the Myer Giftorium via Christineknight.me

My two favourite takeaways from the Myer Christmas Giftorium.

Are you excited about Christmas too? What’s on your Chrissie wish list?

Sydney Festival: Highlights For Families

Sydney Festival Family-Friendly Events via christineknight.me
Viviana Cangialosi © Salvador Dalí, Fundación Gala-Salvador Dalí.

The Sydney Festival is back for 2016 and loaded with family-friendly events. A lot of them are free and suitable for all ages. I’ve put together a round up of the best events for families with little kids, and two events for slightly bigger kids that look pretty good, too.

The People’s Tower
Drop by with kids on Jan 8 & 9 for a BOXWARS creative workshop. Kids can build and decorate their own miniature cardboard creations.
Darling Harbour
FREE

The Ephemeral City
Creative workshops for kids at BOXWARS Kids’ workshops 12-24 January, 2pm-7pm. Or try the flying fox 8-24 January, 2pm-8pm.
The Cutaway Barangaroo Reserve
FREE

Arquitectura De Feria
A fantastical playground for the whole family: think ferris wheels fitted out with toilet seats and a bicycle-powered carousel. 7-24 January Tue-Thur & Sun, 2pm-8pm, Fri & Sat 2pm-10pm. Closed Mondays.
Prince Alfred Square
Parramatta
FREE

Family Week
Free activities for kids during the school holidays. Drop by the City of Sydney’s Lawn Library, make masks with the Australian Museum and discover rhythms with Adam Page. The Silent Bubble Disco in particular looks like a lot of fun. Head to the website for more details on the event.
12-16 January
Festival Village
FREE & Ticketed events
Silent Bubble Disco: 12-15 January, 10am-3pm, 16 January, 12-3pm

Sydney Festival Family-Friendly Events via christineknight.me

Sunny Ray And The Magnificent Moon
A delightful show for littlies about what it’s like to stay up all night.
Ages 4 and up
12 January 3pm
13-16 January 10am & 12pm
Magic Mirrors Spiegeltent
45 mins
Tickets $25

Sydney Festival Family-Friendly Events via christineknight.me

Tolu
A family-friendly gravity-defying circus.
Ages 4 and up
14-16 January 1pm
The Famous Spiegeltent
45 mins
Tickets $30/27

Sydney Festival Family-Friendly Events via christineknight.me
Credit: Telia Neville

My Family’s Weirder Than Your Family
A funny family show by comedian Josh Earl.
Ages 5 and up
12 January 10am
13 January 11am & 1pm
14-16 January 11am
The Famous Spiegeltent
45 mins
Tickets $35

Australia Day
Various FREE events all over Sydney, such as a Wiggles concert on the Sydney Opera House forecourt (note the event is still ticketed even though it is free). See the website for info on all events happening.
Jan 26

The Rabbits
An adaptation of John Marsden and Shaun Tan’s picture book set to Kate Miller-Heidke’s score, alongside opera singers. Ages 8 and up.
14-24 January
Roslyn Packer Theatre
60mins
See website for ticket details.

Sydney Festival Family-Friendly Events via christineknight.me
Viviana Cangialosi © Salvador Dalí, Fundación Gala-Salvador Dalí.

La Verita
Circus, clowning, acrobatics, dance and music. Ages 7 and up.
8-17 January
Riverside Theatre
125 mins incl interval.
See website for ticket details.

The Sydney Festival runs from Jan 7-26 2016.

Wild Planet at the Australian Museum

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Australia’s first museum has had a bit of a facelift. The aptly named Australian Museum recently unveiled a beautiful new entrance and exhibition that has brought a new lightness to the educational and cultural institution.

Wild Planet at the Australian Museum via christineknight.me

Another big change to the museum is their first permanent gallery to be added in over 50 years – Wild Planet. The gallery houses 400 animal specimens including lions and a very tall giraffe.

Wild Planet at the Australian Museum via christineknight.me Wild Planet at the Australian Museum via christineknight.me Wild Planet at the Australian Museum via christineknight.me

Upstairs, another new addition awaits – a roof-top cafe with an amazing view across the city skyline.

Wild Planet at the Australian Museum via christineknight.me

Wild Planet at the Australian Museum via christineknight.me

We trialled the cafe on our visit during the school holidays. I was excited to see great kid-friendly items on the menu like the $8 lunch boxes, but when we went to buy our lunch at 1pm, most of the food, including the kids boxes, were sold out.

Wild Planet at the Australian Museum via christineknight.me

Their milkshake machine had also broken, so there wasn’t much in the way of food left except for adult sandwiches and fried chips. D’oh. On the plus side, you can head up to the cafe without paying admission.

Wild Planet at the Australian Museum via christineknight.me

The kids’ favorite parts of the museum were the Wild Planet Activity Room and KidSpace.

The Wild Planet Activity Room costs $5 per child wanting to create a craft activity. When the kids got bored with colouring in their animal mobiles, they had fun dressing up and doing puzzles.

Wild Planet Activity Room
When: Daily
Time: 10am–3pm
Ages: All
Cost: Child $5, adults free (after general admission)
Booking: None required

Wild Planet at the Australian Museum via christineknight.me

The Kidspace area is free after admission and is especially designed for children under 5. The kids would have really been happy to just stay in the Kidspace all day. A great deal of thought has gone into this “mini-museum” to stimulate young children’s imaginations and introduce them to the natural world through real-life objects waiting to be touched, and specimens ready to be viewed under magnifying glasses.

Wild Planet at the Australian Museum via christineknight.me

Cheese really enjoyed the five cubby house “pods” that were filled with activities and natural materials.

Wild Planet at the Australian Museum via christineknight.me Wild Planet at the Australian Museum via christineknight.me

For tiny ones there is a baby-friendly space designated for crawling babies only, fenced off to keep them safe. Additional kid-friendly features: pram parking, a bottle warmer (just ask one of the staff), change and feeding space.

Kidspace
When: Daily
Time: 9:30am-5pm
Location:Level 2
Cost:Free after admission

Wild Planet at the Australian Museum via christineknight.me

Australian Museum
1 William St, Sydney NSW 2010
Hours: Open daily, 9:30am-5pm
Prices: Adults $15, children under 16 free.

Rooftop Café - Australian Museum Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

MCA Light Show, Light Lab & Family Fun Day: Sydney Best Art Galleries For Kids

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The Museum of Contemporary Art has continued to surprise and impress us since we moved back to Sydney. Not only does it have world-class exhibits, it also runs kid-friendly labs as part of the exhibits, and a variety of family programing every week for kids of all ages: from babies to toddlers, preschoolers and school kids. Literally something for kids of every age.

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Because of their family-friendly programs, we have been feeling brave enough to venture back into the gallery with Cheese. She is not that into art thus far, being more interested in running and causing chaos instead. With the MCA’s set-up, it means we can see the exhibit we are interested in, as well as having a way to engage Cheese that she enjoys too – win-win for everyone, and we also hope that by doing this, our child will grow up to share our love of art.

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The current exhibit at the MCA is Light Show (open until July 5, 2015). Light Show is a spectacular multisensory exhibition by artists all around the world, with the one theme in common – light.  The show features a variety of installations and immersive experiences that are suitable for people of all ages – including wiggly preschoolers like our Cheese.

We did see the exhibit at our typical break-neck speed, close on the heels of our speedy preschooler, but this exhibit caught her interest and we doubled back to see rooms and installations repeatedly at her insistence.

The immersive nature of the exhibit was hypnotic – the three of us were mesmerised by the glittering, twinkling lights, and visual illusions that lead us to believe we were moving, or falling, all by means of clever placement and design of light. We spoke with Cheese about the lights. See how if you move this way or that, the image we see changes? What happens if you put your hand here? Or stand there? When you look at these coloured lights, and then look at the white wall, what new colours do you see? She particularly loved anything interactive, like the dark room with the beam of light that she could dance in, jabbing her wand into the light ray to try and capture it.

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Outside the Light Show is the free Light Lab for kids. Set up into two rooms, one has a light projected onto a wall which captures movement – perfect for entertaining kids and teaching them about their shadows. The second room had UV lights installed on the ceiling shining down into the art works kids were making with simple white paper and highlighters. Simple but enthralling concept: shine the light on paper and it glows. Cheese wanted more and more paper to keep creating her artworks for us, which were quite Miro in style, I have to say.

Museum of Contemporary #Art, #Sydney  via christineknight.me

Museum of Contemporary #Art, #Sydney  via christineknight.me

Also running when we visited was the monthly Family Fun Day. This free program gives kids activities to perform in the gallery, followed by a craft activity in the National Centre for Creative Learning next to the Light Lab on level 3. The program is aimed at school-aged kids, so around 4 or 5 and up, but there were a lot of younger kids enjoying the activities with their families.

Museum of Contemporary #Art, #Sydney  via christineknight.me

In the main gallery area, kids were lying on the floor with their parents, drawing pictures of the outfits worn in the artwork. The “MCA Sketch” sheet they were given with the Family Fun Day activities on it asked kids to find pictures of outfits in the paintings and then draw a new one on their paper. Upstairs in the learning centre was the craft area part of the day (which had a gorgeous view of the Harbour Bridge, by the way). Friendly staff handed kids a tray filled with craft materials and asked them to create their own superhero wearable artwork, like a badge, headband or the like. The art supplies were basic pipe cleaners, paper, sparkles and so on – perfect materials for letting kids’ imaginations run free.

Museum of Contemporary #Art, #Sydney  via christineknight.me

Museum of Contemporary #Art, #Sydney  via christineknight.me

Museum of Contemporary #Art, #Sydney  via christineknight.me

We helped Cheese with her outfit of crown, wand, necklace and wrist cuff. Her superpower, she decided, was “freezing” (thanks Elsa), and “flying”. After which she proceeded to “fly” through the gallery, stopping now and then to press a “button” on her cuff to power herself up again. Crazy cute. I appreciated the idea from the MCA staff to help fuel her imagination.

Museum of Contemporary #Art, #Sydney  via christineknight.me

Museum of Contemporary #Art, #Sydney  via christineknight.me

Museum of Contemporary #Art, #Sydney  via christineknight.me

Museum of Contemporary #Art, #Sydney  via christineknight.me

Museum of Contemporary #Art, #Sydney  via christineknight.me

Museum of Contemporary Art
140 George St,
The Rocks NSW 2000
Phone: (02) 9245 2400
Get Directions

A huge thank you to the MCA for hosting us.

Jungle Buddies Play Centre: Indoor Play Centres Inner West

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With a super active 3.5 year old, I’m a frequent visitor to play centres, particularly on rainy days. Even on days when the weather is clear, it’s still great to have somewhere safe for Cheese to burn her energy off.

Jungle Buddies Play Centre, Five Dock via christineknight.me

Jungle Buddies at Five Dock is a huge, clean and bright play centre. The climbing structure is massive, with plenty of nocks and crannies and levels to keep kids entertained for hours. The equipment is all extremely clean and new, which is an added bonus for me and my hatred of dirty sticky things.

Jungle Buddies Play Centre, Five Dock via christineknight.me

The cafe area in Jungle Buddies is quite unique in that they have made a big effort to create a menu that delivers guests delicious, healthy food choices. We were at Jungle Buddies for a party and were extremely happy with our menu of sliders, pizza and fruit.

Jungle Buddies Play Centre, Five Dock via christineknight.me

Jungle Buddies Play Centre, Five Dock via christineknight.me

Jungle Buddies Play Centre, Five Dock via christineknight.me

Jungle Buddies Play Centre, Five Dock via christineknight.me

If you’re dining in, there are even more choices on the menu such as salads, Serendipity ice-cream, and a range of locally-made cakes from Sweetness The Patisserie, and biscuits from Rowie’s Cakes. The ingredients for the meals are all from local producers, too, like Bowan island Bakery. It’s a real pleasure to take the kid to a play centre and not just watch her have a good time, but to be able to have some really good food myself while I’m watching her play.

Jungle Buddies Play Centre, Five Dock via christineknight.me

Jungle Buddies Play Centre, Five Dock via christineknight.me

Jungle Buddies Play Centre, Five Dock via christineknight.me

For kids under 3 there is a separate soft play area.

Jungle Buddies Play Centre, Five Dock via christineknight.me

Jungle Buddies is very light and bright, with natural light streaming in through the windows. It has clean bathrooms and baby change facilities, and a large parking area downstairs, where it’s easy to walk a few steps to the elevator which takes you right to the front door of the play centre. Very easy to navigate with a stroller.

Jungle Buddies Play Centre, Five Dock via christineknight.me

The staff were very friendly, and were especially great with the birthday girl and her guests.

We really enjoyed our time at Jungle Buddies and will be back to play again.

Jungle Buddies Play Centre, Five Dock via christineknight.me

Jungle Buddies Play Centre
2/97 Queens Road,
Five Dock NSW 2046
Phone: 1300 883 819
Hours: Daily 9:30am-5pm
Get Directions

Barbie Princess Power High Tea at The Langham Hotel Sydney

Barbie High Tea at The Langham Hotel #Sydney #Barbie via christineknight.me

I was a Barbie kid myself, so it’s been an enjoyable case of history repeating to see my own preschooler getting out my old Barbie dolls and playing with them at the same age that I did. Barbie and I experienced so many adventures during our time together, and I love watching Cheese take the same Barbies (and a few new ones who have much better hair than mine) on her own magical outings.

Barbie High Tea at The Langham Hotel #Sydney #Barbie via christineknight.me

One such outing that almost too good to be true was the Barbie Princess Power high tea at The Langham Hotel Sydney. The Langham has recently re-opened after a significant renovation and this was our first visit since the launch. Boy does it look good. The old hotel was beautiful, and the renovation has given everything a facelift to make it brighter and shinier.

Barbie High Tea at The Langham Hotel #Sydney #Barbie via christineknight.me

The Barbie high tea was held over two weekends during the school holidays. It was more than just a high tea, it was a special event for kids who love Barbies, and their parents who love good food.

Barbie High Tea at The Langham Hotel #Sydney #Barbie via christineknight.me

The high tea was split into two rooms. One with activities and one with tables set up for enjoying the high tea. The activities room had a paparazzi style media wall set up for some photo ops, a nail salon and an activity table with stickers for the kids to decorate their own superhero masks.

Barbie High Tea at The Langham Hotel #Sydney #Barbie via christineknight.me

Inside the dining room, the new Barbie movie was set up to play on a large screen while we enjoyed our high tea. At each child’s place was a gift bag containing a Barbie doll, plus a blank mask for colouring in, and a poster that, when turned over, had more colouring and activities. The tables had containers filled with textas and pencils, so the kids has plenty to play with while waiting for their high teas to arrive.

Barbie High Tea at The Langham Hotel #Sydney #Barbie via christineknight.me

The thoughtful staff confirmed who at our tables were vegetarians, and asked the girls if they would like a hot chocolate? With TWO marshmallows? Would they ever.

Barbie High Tea at The Langham Hotel #Sydney #Barbie via christineknight.me

Barbie High Tea at The Langham Hotel #Sydney #Barbie via christineknight.me

Next came the platters of food – top tier full of sweet delights like red velvet cake, pistachio cake, and macarons, the next tier plan and raisin scones with jam and cream, and the bottom tier savoury, with sandwiches, wraps, mini burgers, pumpkin tarts and heart-shaped fairy bread.

Barbie High Tea at The Langham Hotel #Sydney #Barbie via christineknight.me

Barbie High Tea at The Langham Hotel #Sydney #Barbie via christineknight.me

Barbie High Tea at The Langham Hotel #Sydney #Barbie via christineknight.me

Barbie High Tea at The Langham Hotel #Sydney #Barbie via christineknight.me

Barbie High Tea at The Langham Hotel #Sydney #Barbie via christineknight.me

With one vegetarian adult and child, and one non-vego adult and child, we had quite the variety of food. It was hard to tell what was meant for who, so we let the girls choose what they felt like eating, and then ate the rest ourselves.

As you’d expect from a hotel as gorgeous as the Langham, the food was exquisite. The scones were some of the best I’ve ever tasted. The sandwiches were fresh and light, and the desserts full of flavour, with perfect pastry crusts and light creamy fillings. It was a delicious high tea.

Barbie High Tea at The Langham Hotel #Sydney #Barbie via christineknight.me

Barbie High Tea at The Langham Hotel #Sydney #Barbie via christineknight.me

Barbie High Tea at The Langham Hotel #Sydney #Barbie via christineknight.me

Barbie High Tea at The Langham Hotel #Sydney #Barbie via christineknight.me

Barbie High Tea at The Langham Hotel #Sydney #Barbie via christineknight.me

As the event wound down, the girls were getting tired from all of the excitement, which was our cue to leave. Cheese was getting over a bad cold and was very tied and grumpy – hence the next pic we asked the concierge to take outside the Langham as we were leaving, where she refused to get in the picture. A big thanks to the concierge with the wicked sense of humour who captured my cranky daughter in the photo anyway. Does this sum up life with a threenager, or what?

Barbie High Tea at The Langham Hotel #Sydney #Barbie via christineknight.me

We had a wonderful time at the Barbie high tea, and will absolutely be back for the Langham’s next event for kids.

Barbie Princess Power High Tea at The Langham Hotel
89-113 Kent St, Millers Point,
Sydney NSW 2000
Prices: Children’s high tea is $65 children with gift, $70 adults with glass of bubbles
Get directions.

Circus Factory: The Best Of Sydney For Kids

Circus Factory, Powerhouse Museum #Sydney via christineknight.me

The Powerhouse Museum is one of my favourite places to take Cheese in Sydney at the moment. Not only does it have the fantastic Wiggles exhibit at the moment, it also is home to Circus Factory. We finally got around to seeing the exhibition during the school holidays (and if you want to see it you’d better be quick as it closes May 3, 2015).

Circus Factory, Powerhouse Museum #Sydney via christineknight.me

I wasn’t planning on taking Cheese as the Powerhouse recommends it for kids ages five and over, but after seeing some adorable pics on Instagram I decided to give it a go anyway, and was so glad we did. At age 3.5 Cheese was a fantastic age for the exhibition. No doubt older kids will et even more out of it, including areas of the exhibition Cheese was too little for, but we spent three solid hours in the exhibition and I had to drag her out at the end, which says that this exhibit was a smash hit for the preschooler set.

Circus Factory, Powerhouse Museum #Sydney via christineknight.me

Circus Factory celebrates the daring, absurd and curious nature of circuses. It focuses thankfully on the human element, such as clowns, acrobats, circus acts, etc, rather than the sad history of animals in circuses.

Circus Factory, Powerhouse Museum #Sydney via christineknight.me

The Circus Factory is set up over three levels. The top floor has costumes and the bottom one has a fantastic collection of automatas – the later you can also see when you purchase a general exhibition pass. An automata is an interactive artwork, where you wind a handle and it moves the subjects inside. They automatas are kind of creepy to be honest, and they really freaked Cheese out. The subject matter includes things like freaky looking monkeys and skulls. Fascinating for adults, but some of them are a bit scary for little kids.

Circus Factory, Powerhouse Museum #Sydney via christineknight.me

We spent our entire visit on the main floor of the attraction. The massive space is broken up into many interactive areas for kids to just go wild and really experience elements of the circus for themselves.

Circus Factory, Powerhouse Museum #Sydney via christineknight.me

 

Cheese highly enjoyed each of these areas: clown costume dress ups, colouring in, a mirror maze, hula hoops (they were a bit heavy for her but she made her own game out of them), clown faces, balancing tricks (again, a bit hard for her but she enjoyed trying), the balloon room and carousel.

Circus Factory, Powerhouse Museum #Sydney via christineknight.me

Circus Factory, Powerhouse Museum #Sydney via christineknight.me

Circus Factory, Powerhouse Museum #Sydney via christineknight.me

Circus Factory, Powerhouse Museum #Sydney via christineknight.me

Circus Factory, Powerhouse Museum #Sydney via christineknight.me

Circus Factory, Powerhouse Museum #Sydney via christineknight.me

Circus Factory, Powerhouse Museum #Sydney via christineknight.me

Circus Factory, Powerhouse Museum #Sydney via christineknight.me

Circus Factory, Powerhouse Museum #Sydney via christineknight.me

Her absolute favourites were the carousel (we had three rides) and the balloon room. The carousel is a hand-carved 100-year-old beauty made in England around 1900. It is paired in this exhibit with the original Luna Park 89 key Gavioli organ. Absolutely magical.

Circus Factory, Powerhouse Museum #Sydney via christineknight.me

Circus Factory, Powerhouse Museum #Sydney via christineknight.me

Circus Factory, Powerhouse Museum #Sydney via christineknight.me

The balloon room was basically a netted area with a wind tunnel blowing into it, and many brightly coloured helium balloons floating in it. AKA paradise for kids, little and big. Cheese spent around an hour just in this one area chasing balloons. Thoughtfully placed couches inside give parents a place to sit while keeping an eye on the balloon activities.

Circus Factory, Powerhouse Museum #Sydney via christineknight.me

Circus Factory, Powerhouse Museum #Sydney via christineknight.me

Circus Factory, Powerhouse Museum #Sydney via christineknight.me

Depending when you visit there are a range of live activities to enjoy, too. As we visited on a Friday during school holidays, we were lucky to see a range of short performances called “Amuse Bouche”, especially created by Circa for the Powerhouse Museum. Every hour on the hour, two performers delighted the crowd with a 6 – 10 minutes acrobatic performance involving balancing, contortionism and the vertical rope. Each hour there is a brand new performance to witness, so we kept going back for more, wanting to see what amazing tricks we would be surprised with next.

Circus Factory, Powerhouse Museum #Sydney via christineknight.me

Circus Factory, Powerhouse Museum #Sydney via christineknight.me

Circus Factory, Powerhouse Museum #Sydney via christineknight.me

Here is their schedule for live activities:

Amuse Bouche by Circa
Shows on the hour, 4 Apr to 19 Apr

Science of Circus Show
Explore the physics behind circus acts like plate spinning.
27 Jan to 3 Apr, and 20 Apr to 3 May
Weekdays: 11.30am, 12.30pm and 1.30pm
Weekends: 10.30am, 11.30am, 12.30pm, 1.30pm and 2.30pm

April school holiday activity: Clown carnival
3 to 19 April
Make your own juggling balls, contribute to our giant fabric bunting, play carnival games and get a balloon animal to take home (weekends only). On weekdays, learn how to hula-hoop, juggle and more from circus experts. (Free with general admission.)

Planning on eating while you’re there? You’ll love the Black Star Pastry outlet that’s set up in the cafe area. They serve sandwiches and lunch foods, plus their famous desserts and kids’ shakes. It’s worth going for the Black Star pastries alone!

Circus Factory, Powerhouse Museum #Sydney via christineknight.me

Circus Factory, Powerhouse Museum #Sydney via christineknight.me

We had the most amazing time at Circus Factory and will absolutely go back. It helped that we were able to get in for a bit cheaper care of finding a Groupon voucher for adult general admission $7 (instead of $12). At the entrance I was able to upgrade the voucher to include Circus Factory for an extra $8, making it $15, and significantly cheaper than the full admission price of $35.

Last notes before you go:
No strollers inside the exhibition.
The Powerhouse advises that you prebook your tickets (particularly on weekends) to ensure you get in on a busy day.

Circus Factory
Circus Factory FAQs
Open 20 December 2014 to 3 May 2015
Powerhouse Museum
500 Harris Street, Ultimo NSW 2007
Hours: Daily 10am-5pm
Circus Factory entrance (includes general admission into the Powerhouse Museum):
Up to 3 kids free with each adult ticket

Adult: $35
Member adult: $25
Family: $65
(2 adults and up to 6 children)
Member family: $45
(2 adults and up to 6 children)
Concession: $20
Additional child (4—15 yrs): $8
Free entry for children under 4 years

Exhibition tickets include same-day entry to Powerhouse Museum. Transaction fees from $3.95 may apply.

Get directions.