Adventure, baby!

Outdoor Play

Cathy Freeman Park + Olympic Cauldron, Olympic Park, Homebush

Cathy Freeman Park & Olympic Cauldron, Sydney Olympic Park

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

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

Cathy Freeman Park & Olympic Cauldron, Sydney Olympic Park

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

Cathy Freeman Park & Olympic Cauldron, Sydney Olympic Park

Cathy Freeman Park & Olympic Cauldron, Sydney Olympic Park

Cathy Freeman Park & Olympic Cauldron, Sydney Olympic Park

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

Cathy Freeman Park & Olympic Cauldron, Sydney Olympic Park

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

Sydney Olympic Park

Sydney Olympic Park

Sydney Olympic Park

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

Vivid Sydney: The Highlights

Vivid Sydney: The Highlights via christineknight.me

Vivid Sydney is an annual outdoor lighting festival featuring immersive installations and projections all around Sydney. The festival has grown over the years from humble beginnings to the largest light festival in the world. Each year Vivid grows a bit bigger: this year new additions include the Royal Botanic Gardens, who are celebrating 200 years in 2016, and Taronga Zoo, as part of their 100 year celebration this year.

Vivid installations can also be found in Darling Harbour and Chatswood – both smaller outposts of the festival that draw smaller crowds and hence are ideal for families wanting to experience a taste of Vivid without heading to the larger venues.

Vivid Sydney at Taronga Zoo via christineknight.me

We hit up Vivid at Taronga Zoo as a family on the first night it opened. Taronga has emerged as the perfect Vivid experience for families due to its crowd control (it’s tickets so there are limited numbers), large, interactive and kid-friendly animals lanterns, stroller-accessibility and family facilities, and it’s size – long enough to make a night of it but not too long to exhaust parents and kids alike. Lights turn on at 5:30pm at both Taronga and Chatswood, making the time just that bit more family-friendly.

Vivid Sydney: The Highlights via christineknight.me

Circular Quay has long been home to the bulk of the Vivid installations and is still the best place to visit for the full festival experience. I like to catch a bus or train to Town Hall station and walk down through Pitt st Mall and Martin Place to experience the dispersed installations long the way. These areas have a few lights to see, but aren’t big enough to go out of your way to discover if you’re pressed for time, or with kids in tow.

Vivid Sydney: The Highlights via christineknight.me

Down in Circular Quay, the light show projected onto the Sydney Customs House is an entrancing highlight. This year’s theme is “Sydney’s Hidden Stories”, and it’s worth having a seat and enjoying the entire show.

Vivid Sydney: The Highlights via christineknight.me

A walk around the foreshore to the Sydney Opera House reveals the stunning “Songlines” display on the sails of the Sydney Opera House. The light display showcases Australian indigenous art. I would recommend getting up close to a speaker so you can listen to the Indigenous music that is paired to the display.

Vivid Sydney: The Highlights via christineknight.me

Quite a few of the Vivid exhibits are interactive, making them super popular with kids. They’re dotted around the foreshore here and there, in a path that leads to the Sydney Opera House, and, this year, the Royal Botanic Gardens.

Vivid Sydney: The Highlights via christineknight.me

The Royal Botanic Gardens has been a Instagram hit this year with its “Cathedral of Light” installation emerging as the most selfied exhibit of the festival. While the lights are indeed just gorgeous, I would suggest arriving before the lights turn on at 6pm and positioning oneself in the cathedral when the lights go on for an experience with minimal people (thanks Jayne at Girl Tweets World for the tip!). I arrived at about 7:30pm and it was the busiest exhibit we came across.

Vivid Sydney: The Highlights via christineknight.me Vivid Sydney: The Highlights via christineknight.me Vivid Sydney: The Highlights via christineknight.me

Other projected light displays in the Circular Quay area include the Museum of Contemporary Art and Cadman Cottage, both on the other side of Circular Quay.

Vivid Sydney: The Highlights via christineknight.me

A short stroll up this side of the harbour takes you to the perfect spot for watching the show on the Opera House sails, too, as well as past some other fun interactive exhibits, such as the heart that lights up when you scream “I love you” into the speaker.

Vivid Sydney: The Highlights via christineknight.me

Vivid Sydney: The Highlights via christineknight.me

If you’re taking the kids, my best suggestion for enjoying the main area of Vivid is to get there BEFORE the lights turn on, with the kids already well-fed. I also highly recommend going Mon-Thurs as the weekends get the most crowded. Parking and driving in the city can be difficult so take public transport if you can, or pre-book a parking spot at a larger car park if that’s not possible.

Vivid Sydney at Taronga Zoo via christineknight.me

Vivid is completely accessible for wheelchairs and strollers, and if visiting on a week night you’ll have no trouble navigating through people either. If you’re tackling any of the Vivid spots on a weekend, consider a carrier (we use the Ergo performance carrier for Cheese – it has a weight limit of 20kg). A carrier is also a great way of keeping you – and the kid! warm during the frosty nights.

Looking to dine out during Vivid? Check out Little Munch’s suggestions of where to dine in the City during Vivid.

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Vivid Sydney
27 May – 18 June, 2016

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

Vivid Sydney at Taronga Zoo via christineknight.me

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

Vivid Sydney at Taronga Zoo via christineknight.me

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

Vivid Sydney at Taronga Zoo via christineknight.me

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

Vivid Sydney at Taronga Zoo via christineknight.me

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

Vivid Sydney at Taronga Zoo via christineknight.me

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

Vivid Sydney at Taronga Zoo via christineknight.me

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

Vivid Sydney at Taronga Zoo via christineknight.me

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

Vivid Sydney at Taronga Zoo via christineknight.me

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

Vivid Sydney at Taronga Zoo via christineknight.me

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

Vivid Sydney at Taronga Zoo via christineknight.me

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

Vivid Sydney at Taronga Zoo via christineknight.me

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

Vivid Sydney at Taronga Zoo via christineknight.me

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

Vivid Sydney at Taronga Zoo via christineknight.me

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

Vivid Sydney at Taronga Zoo via christineknight.me

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

Vivid Sydney at Taronga Zoo via christineknight.me

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

Vivid Sydney at Taronga Zoo via christineknight.me

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

Vivid Sydney at Taronga Zoo via christineknight.me

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

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

More things to do in Sydney

Find a list of the best things to do in Sydney with kids here.

Find things to do in Sydney for free here.

Get a list of the best kid-friendly beaches in Sydney.

Find the best animal experiences in Sydney here.

Visit the best kid-friendly restaurants in Sydney here.

Find the best high teas in Sydney here.

Head to one of the best museums in Sydney here.

Check out things to do in Sydney on a rainy day here.

Enjoy one of the best ocean pools in Sydney here.

First time visiting Sydney? Get tips for first time visitors to Sydney here.

Secret Sydney: Wendy Whiteley’s Secret Garden

Wendy's Secret Garden, Sydney via christineknight.me

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

Wendy's Secret Garden, Sydney via christineknight.me

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

Wendy's Secret Garden, Sydney via christineknight.me

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

Wendy's Secret Garden, Sydney via christineknight.me

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

Wendy's Secret Garden, Sydney via christineknight.me

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

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

Wendy’s Secret Garden
Lavender Bay
Get Directions

The Central Gardens Nature Reserve Merrylands: Southwest Sydney with Kids

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

More things to do in Sydney

Find a list of the best things to do in Sydney with kids here.

Find things to do in Sydney for free here.

Get a list of the best kid-friendly beaches in Sydney.

Find the best animal experiences in Sydney here.

Visit the best kid-friendly restaurants in Sydney here.

Find the best high teas in Sydney here.

Head to one of the best museums in Sydney here.

Check out things to do in Sydney on a rainy day here.

Enjoy one of the best ocean pools in Sydney here.

First time visiting Sydney? Get tips for first time visitors to Sydney here.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

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

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

TreeTop Adventure Park Western Sydney

TreeTop Adventure Park Sydney via christineknight.me

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

TreeTop Adventure Park Sydney via christineknight.me

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

TreeTop Adventure Park Sydney via christineknight.me

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

TreeTop Adventure Park Sydney via christineknight.me

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

TreeTop Adventure Park Sydney via christineknight.me

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

TreeTop Adventure Park Sydney via christineknight.me

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

TreeTop Adventure Park Sydney via christineknight.me

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

TreeTop Adventure Park Sydney via christineknight.me

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

TreeTop Adventure Park Sydney via christineknight.me

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

TreeTop Adventure Park Sydney via christineknight.me

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

TreeTop Adventure Park Sydney via christineknight.me

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

TreeTop Adventure Park Sydney via christineknight.me

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

TreeTop Adventure Park Sydney via christineknight.me

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

TreeTop Adventure Park Sydney via christineknight.me

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

TreeTop Adventure Park Sydney via christineknight.me

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

TreeTop Adventure Park Sydney via christineknight.me

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

Sydney’s Best Parks & Playgrounds: Blaxland Riverside Playground

Blaxland Riverside Playground via christineknight.me

Once of the fun things about being new to being a parent in Sydney is discovering for the first time fun kid-related things, such as the Blaxland Riverside Playground. Even though I grew up in Sydney, so much has changed since I was a kid that a lot of the city feels brand new to me.

Blaxland Riverside Playground had been suggested to me by a few friends, so I checked it out on a hot Autumn day with Cheese and my parents. Turns out the playground is the biggest in Sydney, with new play equipment set among three hectares of rolling green 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.

Since the play space is so spread out, it really forces – I mean, encourages – parents (or carers) to get actively involved with the play.

I was incredibly impressed with the playground, with the only improvement I’d have liked being shade cloths over the equipment where possible.

Blaxland Riverside Playground via christineknight.me

Blaxland Riverside Playground via christineknight.me

Blaxland Riverside Playground via christineknight.me

Blaxland Riverside Playground via christineknight.me

blaxland-riverside-park-7 Blaxland Riverside Playground via christineknight.me Blaxland Riverside Playground via christineknight.me Blaxland Riverside Playground via christineknight.me Blaxland Riverside Playground via christineknight.me Blaxland Riverside Playground via christineknight.me

Blaxland Riverside Playground via christineknight.me

Blaxland Riverside Playground via christineknight.me

Blaxland Riverside Playground via christineknight.me

If you get hungry or thirsty, there’s a little cafe in the playground serving basic pastries and lunch food. In the same block are facilities such as a family room with changing tables.

Blaxland Riverside Playground via christineknight.me

Blaxland Riverside Playground
Jamieson St, Sydney NSW 2127
Hours of operation of water play: 10am – 4pm

Parking: Free parking is limited. You can also park in P5 car park, located off Hill Road, and make use of the pathways to cycle or walk to the play space. Parking at P5 carpark costs $4 per hour, maximum $20 (except on event days, when a flat fee of $25 may apply).

Vaucluse House Egg-cellent Easter Trail

Vaucluse House Egg-cellent Easter Trail via christineknight.me
This year we spent Easter Sunday at the beautiful, historic Vaucluse House, taking part in their Egg-cellent Easter Trail. The event is held on Easter Sunday each year, towards the back of the estate, on one of their huge lawn areas.

Vaucluse House Egg-cellent Easter Trail via christineknight.me

$17 per child gets you a trail map, four activities, and an Easter treat at the end. The activities are geared towards slightly older children than the Centennial Park Egg Hunt: a Hen Hunt (find the picture of the breed of chicken on the map and write it down), egg-rolling, which was kind of like egg croquet, an egg-and-spoon race with wooden spoons, and the hot cross bun station, where kids were given all the ingredients of a traditional hot cross bun to explore, and then write them down in the correct spot in the recipe in their book.

Vaucluse House Egg-cellent Easter Trail via christineknight.me

The Egg-cellent Easter Trail has three timed entries and the activities can be done in any order. There are only three timed groups, and each one has an hour to complete the activities before the next one begins. It’s more than enough time – but also really great to not have to rush, particularly with little kids.

Vaucluse House Egg-cellent Easter Trail via christineknight.me

This is an all-weather event – so bring gum boots, rain coat and umbrella if the forecast looks grim. It rained during our session which inspired us to do all the activities pretty quickly, but didn’t take away from the enjoyment.

Vaucluse House Egg-cellent Easter Trail via christineknight.me

As well as the Egg-cellent Easter Trail activities, Vaucluse House puts on free Easter colouring in near the animals, and also free traditional games on the front lawn for everyone to enjoy.

Vaucluse House Egg-cellent Easter Trail via christineknight.me

Vaucluse House Egg-cellent Easter Trail via christineknight.me

We all had a turn at croquet, quoits, skittles and hula hoops.

Vaucluse House Egg-cellent Easter Trail via christineknight.me Vaucluse House Egg-cellent Easter Trail via christineknight.me Vaucluse House Egg-cellent Easter Trail via christineknight.me Vaucluse House Egg-cellent Easter Trail via christineknight.me

The Tea Room at Vaucluse House is open Easter Sunday, so we reserved a table in advance (a must as they are always booked out on special days), and enjoyed high teas, fish and chips and other such delights. For a full review of their high tea, check out this post.

Vaucluse House Egg-cellent Easter Trail via christineknight.me Vaucluse House Egg-cellent Easter Trail via christineknight.me

Vaucluse House is holding a host of fun-looking events for kids over the upcoming school holidays, mostly geared towards older children.

The house is celebrating its centenary as a museum at the moment, so it’s a particularly great time to visit.

Vaucluse House Egg-cellent Easter Trail via christineknight.me Vaucluse House Egg-cellent Easter Trail via christineknight.me

Vaucluse House
69A Wentworth Rd,
Vaucluse NSW
(02) 9388 7922
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