La Perouse is located at the northern headland of Kamay Botany Bay National Park, near Maroubra. Named after a French explorer who landed on the northern shore of Botany Bay, to the west of Bare Island in 1788, La Perouse has great walks, restaurants, historic sites and sheltered beaches.
The traditional owners of this land, the Aboriginal people, lived in this area thousands of years before the First Fleet arrived.
La Perouse Beaches
The most family-friendly of the La Perouse beaches, Frenchman Bay is located at the eastern end Botany Bay.
A sheltered, calm bay, Frenchmans Bay has easy access from the street and plenty of off-street parking nearby.
There are plenty of shops and restaurants located right across the road from the beach. We loved The Boat Shed, which is extremely family-friendly and located above Frenchmans Bay.
There is a reserve behind the beach with a newly-built children’s playground and public toilets.
There is very little shade on the beach, so a beach tend or umbrella are a good idea.
Be warned that the beach is not patrolled by lifeguards or lifesavers.
Another calm La Perouse beach, Congwong Beach is a sheltered bay located inside the Botany Bay National Park.
To access Congwong Beach, follow the track that leads down from the car park.
Little Congwong Beach is a further 600m down the same track that leads to Congwong Beach. Take in and out any food and rubbish that you have with you – there are no rubbish bins available. The nearest public toilets are located at the start of the track that leads to
Once considered an unofficial nudist beach, signs at the entrance to the track leading to Little Congwong Beach now aim to deter nudity.
Another calm La Perouse beach, Congwong Beach is a sheltered bay located inside the Botany Bay National Park.
The beach is accessed down a 100m path down stairs from the La Perouse Loop Road. Little Congwong Beach is located a further 600m down the track. Look for the sign at the south end of Cann Park. The beach can also be accessed from the carpark on Anzac parade, opposite Endeavour Avenue
In the past Little Congwong has been known as an unofficial nudist beach, however there are signs at the entrance to the beach trail that state clothes must be worn.
Public toilets are available on Anzac Parade near Cann Park, around 50m from where the beach track begins.
There is no drinking water available at the beach. Drinking water available via bubblers at the amenities block, plus from taps in Cann Park.
Take all rubbish with you as there are no bins on the beach.
While the best food option is to take a picnic down to the beach, if you want to buy food there are shops and cafes around 100m from the track beginning, on Anzac Parade. We loved The Boatshed.
There are no lifeguards or lifesavers patrolling the beach, so be safe when you go.
There is also very little in the way of shade on the beach so take down a tent or umbrella with you.
There is free three-hour parking available at Cann Park and near the entry gates on Anzac Parade.
To reach the beach by public transport, take bus L94 or 394 to La Perouse from Circular Quay, Martin Place, or Hyde Park via Maroubra Junction. Visit Transport for NSW for details.
Inside the Children’s Library & Family Spaces at the State Library of NSW
Step inside the new Children’s Library and family spaces at the State Library of NSW. The library opened its new spaces to the public on Saturday 12 October, designed to give young readers and their families a place to read, play and rest in the busy CBD.
The Children’s Library is a maze-like space located within the Bashir Reading Room, on lower ground 1 floor in the Macquarie Street building. The Children’s Library is brimming with Australia’s best children’s books, as well as international classics.
Kids can read a book in a little nook or lie down on the floor if they choose. If they look up at the ceiling they will see an array of books attached to the roof that appear to be flying overhead.
The books in the Children’s Library are suitable for younger readers up to the age of 16. The books stay in the library so are available for anyone to read.
No library card is required to browse these books. Prams and bags are allowed inside. If kids need to eat, take them to the verandah area outside the reading room or on the ground level.
John B Fairfax Learning Centre
This fantastic room is located on the ground floor of the Mitchell Building, next to the Family Space.
Designed to inspire curiosity, creativity and critical thinking, the John B Fairfax Learning Centre is a space for kids K-12, their teachers and families to enjoy a hands-on, digitally rich learning environment.
Enter through a hidden door, through a four-metre tunnel filled with historic artefacts embedded in the walls, through to a light-filled space dominated by two huge arched windows.
The learning centre offers so many activities for kids to do, including dress-ups, colouring in and crafts, books to read, blocks to play with, magnetic word games and digital screens where you can design your own galaxy.
Located on the ground floor of the Mitchell Building, the Family Room is a space dedicated to the library’s youngest guests and their carers. The room is designed for kids under five years of age with books, puppets, dress ups, games and activities.
The Family Room is open 9am-5pm weekdays and 10am-5pm weekends.
Kids Activity Trail
Pick up a free Kids Activity Trail and explore the library!
Scout is Australia’s first chat-bot, designed to get kids reading. A fun, interactive robot, Scout uses a conversational interface to help children discover books matched to their interests and general reading ability, suggesting a list of up to five books they will enjoy reading in The Children’s Library.
Scout is located on the ground floor of the State Library’s Macquarie Street Building.
School holidays and special events
The library runs activities year-round, including special family days and workshops for various age groups. Check their website for upcoming events.
State Library of NSW Corner of Macquarie Street and Shakespeare Place, Sydney NSW 2000 Phone: +61 2 9273 1414 sl.nsw.gov.au
Swing, slide and climb the weekend away at one of these excellent playgrounds in Sydney. There are all-abilities playgrounds, spaces for teens, tweens, toddlers and everyone in between in this list of playgrounds in Sydney.
Oatley Park Inclusive Adventure Playground
The Oatley Park Inclusive Adventure Playground is an adventure playground designed to blend into its bush setting, incorporating nature-based play elements and built with predominantly natural materials.
The park features seperate play zones with a toddler play area, a flying fox with river views, an active play zone, giant tube slides and a teen zone. This has to be one of the best natural playgrounds in Sydney.
Jubilee Park Adventure Playground, Mortdale, Sydney
The Jubilee Park Adventure Playground in Mortdale, Sydney, features a large climbing frame with nets and slides, a children’s bike track, junior swings, flying foxes and multi-purpose sports courts.
The excellent new multi-million dollar Jubilee Park Adventure Playground is a great addition to the community. Built behind the existing Mortdale Community Centre, the playground has revitalised the park and given the community a great spot to picnic, play and get fit.
Strathfield Park, the oldest public park in Strathfield, is home to a huge playground with three play spaces, spanning 1.5 acres.
The park was renovated in 2017, with the resulting play spaces uniquely designed to compliment each other, taking into account the various ages and abilities of children who might enjoy the play equipment.
The most centrally-located Sydney playground features a 21-metre flying fox, water play area with pumps and buckets and plenty of slides, climbing structures and swings. It’s a must for kids visiting the city. The Darling Quarter Playground is without a doubt, one of the best playgrounds in Sydney.
This beautiful playground in Pyrmont has shiny, well-designed equipment, a water play area, sand pit with shade cloth, new, well-maintained bathrooms (including baby change facilities) and a cafe with shaded seating. Street parking is available. Pirrama Park features grasslands, wide avenues for scooting and entry into the harbour for swimming.
Kids can play astronauts at this excellent park which features two space rockets, a large grassy area with plenty of trees, swings, slides, a climbing net and see-saw. The park has partial shade so bring a hat and sunscreen.
The Annette Annette Kellerman Aquatic Centre is located in the park so bring swimmers if it’s hot. There are plenty of kid-friendly cafes nearby, including Petty Cash, which is just across the road from the playground. Enmore Park, without a doubt, has the best playground in Sydney for wannabe astronauts!
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. Fairfield Playground is absolutely one of the best playgrounds in Sydney, particularly for older kids.
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.
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 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.
Livvi’s Place in Five Dock, Sydney, is a playground designed for children of all abilities. The equipment and unique design of the playground ensures that all kids, including those with special needs, are able to enjoy playing side-by-side.
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 $4 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.
Built into the slope of the hill on the river’s foreshore, the Parramatta CBD Foreshore Playground has got some really cool features like a 4 metre slide and rock climbing. In summer, water features are turned on near the sand play area.
Be aware that the playground is not fenced, not does it have any shade cover or bathrooms.
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.
Sydney’s newest precinct, Newmarket Dining is a place to eat at cosy cafes and restaurants, picnic in the park and play at a state-of-the-art playground. The playground has the most incredible slide built into the centre of what used to be a horse sale yard.
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.
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.
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.
A 40 hectare green space near St Peter’s, Sydney Park was built in the space once occupied by Bedford Brickworks – the chimneys of which have been left and are a feature of the park that can be seen from some distance away. Features of the park include a large playground on its western side, the Sydney Park Cycling Centre on its northern side, winding pathways over hills for walking and cycling, wetlands, a kiosk and bathrooms.
Ian Potter Children’s WILD PLAY Garden, Centennial Park
The Ian Potter Children’s Wild Play Garden opened in Centennial Park in October 2017. The 6500sq m nature-based play area features a 7m-high climbing tower, wooden bridge, water play area and an open play area where kids are encouraged to use sticks and natural materials to make their own shelters, artworks and games.
This park consists of 115 hectares of open spaces and playing fields, including the ES Marks Athletics Field, an 18-hole public golf course and golf driving range, tennis courts and netball courts.
The Entertainment Quarter at Moore Park has plenty for kids to do, from plaster painting, a Hoyts movie cinema, Monkey Mania play centre, Strike Bowling as well as two partially shaded playgrounds with excellent bathroom facilities.
Queen’s Park, Randwick
A 26-hectare urban park with panoramic views and natural sandstone cliffs. Queen’s Park has an excellent gated and partially shaded playground for kids next to a kid-friendly cafe, Queen’s Park Shed (read more here).
Waluba Park, Waterloo
A beautifully designed and landscaped park featuring a mega slide, three-story climbing tower, swings, picnic and BBQ area and bike paths.
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 $4 million park opened in May 2019 on the site of an old golf course. Spread across 15 acres, the new park includes:
Ninja training circuit for adults and teenagers
Eight-metre-high Sky Walk and tunnel slide for older kids and teens
Swings including a nest swing
Dual flying foxes
A fitness training area for adults that is located some distance from the main facilities
Separate off-leash parks for big dogs and small dogs
Flat paths for scooting or bike riding
Shaded picnic shelters
Large, clean bathrooms
There is parking right near the main playground equipment, however it is minimal. There is more parking available at the Casula Powerhouse Arts Centre further down the road, however it is a long walk back particularly for small kids.
How to get there
Finding the park can seem tricky. Enter Powerhouse Road via Shepherd Street and keep driving – the park is on your left hand side.
If travelling by public transport, take the train to Casula station, then walk 10 minutes to the adventure playground
Casula Parklands adventure playground has men’s, women’s and disabled toilets. Covered picnic shelters are available along with water bubblers.
Food and Drink
The nearest cafe is Bellbird Dining and Bar at the Casula Powerhouse Arts Centre. Advertised as a 10 min walk, it would be longer with kids.
Blast off into space at the new Apollo 11 exhibition commemorating the 50th Anniversary of the Moon landing at the Powerhouse Museum.
The new exhibition explores the defining moment in history when the first astronauts landed on the moon, with over 200 objects including Luke Jerram’s iconic Museum of the Moon, archival objects from the Powerhouse Museum collection and a new virtual reality work (ages 11+). Apollo 11 will also explore the crucial role Australia played in transmitting the famous footage of the landing around the world.
The exhibition is in two sections. On the lower level is the highlight of the exhibition, the incredible Museum of the Moon, seven-metre wide, internally-lit artwork created by artist Luke Jerram. It combines detailed NASA imagery of the lunar surface with a sound installation by award winning composer Dan Jones. The Museum of the Moon is at an approximate scale of 1:500,000. Each centimetre represents 5km of the moon’s surface.
Walk underneath and admire the incredible detail. It’s as close as most of us will ever get to looking at the surface of the moon.
The second part of the exhibition is accessed by escalator or elevator to the floor above. It contains over 200 pieces on display including archival pieces, scientific models and installations.
Representing Australia’s involvement is part of the iconic CSIRO Parkes Radio Telescope, responsible for receiving some of the first images of the moonwalk and broadcasting over 2 hours around the world.
Visitors can peer into a life-size replica of the Mercury Capsule, look at a piece of moon rock and try their hand at landing a lunar shuttle.
Those over the age of 11 can experience the Apollo 11 mission from the unique perspective of Michael Collins, the third astronaut who remained in orbit aboard the Command Module, through a virtual reality program.
The gift shop houses a wide range of space-related goodies to take home.
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 24 May to 15 June the event lights up Sydney over 9 precincts, each featuring their own unique light sculptures.
Top Tips For Visiting and Photographing Vivid Sydney
What’s on at all 10 precincts
This year Vivid Sydney is spread across 9 precincts. Each features their own specific light installations.
Recognising the spirit and strength of First Nations Women For Vivid Sydney 2019, Exchange Place in Barangaroo will transform into Winter Camp, where visitors will experience layers of light, sound and puppetry reflective of the land and water, and inspired by changing seasons. The magnificent, six-metre tall puppet Marri Dyin (Great Woman) will return this year,
accompanied for the first time by a school of captivating fish puppets.
This incredible, giant puppet, was made by Erth, the creators of Erth’s Dinosaur Zoo.
Cristin from artsplorers.com reports as been to Barangaroo and has this to report:
“The main attraction at Barangaroo is the six-metre tall puppet, Marri Dyin. She begins the night at a huge cave-like structure at the Napoleon Plaza part of the Barangarroo walk (next to the lifts that come down from Wynyard Station). Thursday through Sundays, she is manned by several puppeteers, making a slow walk down Barangaroo Avenue (away from Darling Harbour). She’s quite impressive to see, though younger children may find her scary. This is the same puppet that was at Barangaroo last year, so if you saw it then, it won’t be new to you. We also saw a fun roving school of glowing fish, worked by several puppeteers. They don’t have a fixed location, so you just have to catch them as they make their rounds on the Barangaroo walk.”
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 my top pick looks like the super-sized trumpet flower garden that allows you to play the trumpet keys and make your own light and sound show.
The lightwalk stretches 3km from The Rocks around Circular Quay and to the Royal Botanic Gardens.
Sydney Opera House
The lights on the Sydney Opera House are always a highlight of Vivid. This year the display was created by Los Angeles-based artist-filmmaker Andrew Thomas Huang. Huang collaborated with choreographer Toogie Barcelo, dancer Jenna Moroni and animation design team Bemo to create Austral Flora Ballet, a hypnotic tribute to Australia’s native plant life.
The best view of the Sydney Opera House is from the Overseas Passenger Terminal.
The light show on the Customs House is always a favourite of mine. Kids can sit entranced watching the lights play across the giant canvas. This year the display is Under the Harbour, a surreal underwater encounter witan octopus stealing the sun.
There are lots of interactive light sculptures around Circular Quay this year which are perfect for engaging kids. We loved the The Harp of the City, a series of a giant public instruments that produces sound and an interactive light show.
Samsung Electric Playground
The Samsung Electric Playground is also a massive hit and extremely popular. I suggest lining up around 5:30 on weekends for this popular experience and being the first ones inside when the lights go on at 6pm.
It’s contained in a fenced in area that you will need to line up to enter and consists of several different zones inside that include an Infinity Slide and light up hula hoops.
The Galaxy Studio is inside the Samsung Electric Playground. The entrance to the queue to get in is near the Infinity Slide. The Studio is basically a big sell for the Galaxy phones, but it’s fun to test out one of the phones and compare it to whatever your device is. Inside the Studio are two “insta-worthy” rooms that you have to borrow a Samsung device to see inside. The process is simple but time-consuming and makes this an experience that takes a while to get inside.
The two experiences are Field of Hearts, where you share your heartbeat with a friend and Ocular Odyssey, which turns your eyes into kaleidoscope art. Both experiences are entered one group at a time, hence the long wait.
After taking photos on your borrowed device you can save 10 images to your own phone and leave. You can take as many photos and videos on your own device as well but both experiences are on timers and are very short.
My absolute favourite light installation this year is Ballerina, which dances across Campbell’s Cove to music that sounds like an old music box. Just stunning.
There are also a few interactive and fun installations north of Campbell Cove worth walking up to see, including the excellent Beat-loon interactive balloons, Regal Peacock and sparkly Let It Snow, which is the last installation as you walk around the circuit. Walk back through The Rocks to experience even more installations.
This year Darling Harbour will feature plenty of space-themed installations, with many of the sculptures being interactive and especially designed to be inclusive to give people of all ages and abilities an inclusive and accessible experience.
Robot SpaceLAND looks incredible – meet electro-automotive super-bots that have been sent to sow the seeds of a brighter, greener tomorrow.
Vivid Sydney’s inclusive playground Tumbalong Lights is back. Inspired by the next frontier, playSPACE will bring together super-scale installations that give intrepid explorers an opportunity to walk Under the Milky Sky, play with Spaceballs, and share different perspectives with See What I See. Low-sensory sessions will be catered for too.
Cristin from artsplorers.com has visited Tumbalong Lights and has this to report:
“The sensory-friendly play space at Tumbalong Park has been revamped this year. Rather than one fenced area with a single entry, there are six free-standing installations, all with a space theme. Kids can get a “passport” card to have stamped after doing each activity, which my 6 year old and her friend got pretty invested in completing.
The passport may be turned in at the end of the night for a chance to win Hoyts movie tickets. There is a a wheelchair ride (younger children will need help from an adult), a musical ‘alien’ mushroom, a glowing large scale pinball inspired game, an alien face maker, a short movie, and a star-themed installation. Including queues, it took our kids about an hour to do all of the stations and fill up their passports.”
Harbour Lights turns the waters of Sydney Harbour into a light spectacular, with many vessels moving across the water in a gentle, synchronised lighting display. A cruise is a great way to see Vivid Sydney lights.
The entire Amusement Park comes alive with brilliant shapes, patterns and colours that light
the Midway promenade and enhance high-octane rides such as the new family thrill ride –
Volaré. Coney Island celebrates the unique history and magic of Luna Park with a grand projection on its exterior.
Duck in and out of historic laneways and discover a treasure trove of light sculptures.
Museum of Contemporary Art
Pull up a seat out the front of the MCA to watch Claudia Nicholson’s Let Me Down illuminate the front of the building. It’s mesmerising.
We loved the Pixar: 30 Years of Art & Animation light show at the Argyle Cut. The characters from Pixar Animation Studios most beloved stories come alive in this beautiful installation that spans Pixar’s history and shares glimpses of the art behind the films.
There are even behind-the-scenes sneak-peek at images from the upcoming Toy Story 4, which hits cinemas June 20, 2019.
Pieces of fake grass are on the cement to lie down on and watch from the floor.
We loved Bug Hunt, which lets viewers “hunt” for bugs projected into a building and Bubble Magician even though it was broken.
Always a beautiful location to see light sculptures by the ocean, with the Sydney Opera House in the background, the Royal Botanic Gardens are a fave of mine at Vivid Sydney every year.
While most of the light sculptures this year in the gardens are interactive, making this a hot spot for families, the highlight for us was Beetopia, a giant glowing bee hotel with oversized, colourful native bees crawling all over it. Specifically designed to be inclusive and accessible for people of all abilities. Push the bees’ bottoms to make them buzz!
The mesmerising firefly field is back, and there are several sculptures that respond to sound and movement.
There is also a pop up food court in the middle of the light walk.
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).
Sydney Tower Eye is the city’s tallest building and offers the best view of VIVID up above – especially to witness the moment the city light’s up at 6pm. There’s also a range of activities taking place on the Observation Deck such as: free glow-in-the-dark face painting for all ages, every night during VIVID (24 May to 16 June) on the Observation Deck from 5 to 7pm and capture the ultimate snap in the mesmerising pop-up light box, Endless Lights which offers a unique illusion of great height and depth.
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.
Chatswood is excellent as it is right next to the station and lots of restaurants for a pre-Vivid dinner and easy getaway – and lights go on at 5:50pm.
Darling Harbour has lots of interactive and accessible installations.
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 year we packed near the Langham Hotel in a four-hour parking zone on a Saturday so it was pretty reasonably priced.
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. There is a pop up food court at the bottom of the Overseas passenger Terminal which is great to hit up early in the evening but is a nightmare to try to buy anything from later in the evening.
We also ate at the food trucks for the first time this year and found the quality to be excellent. I highly enjoyed the vegan gnocci for $16, feta, spinach and sweet potato gozleme for $15 and a mango green tea bubble tea in a light up bulb for $13. It was great to see several vegan and vegetarian options.
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.
Pick one area to see at a time and return another night to see more.
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.
Tee off with Woody and friends at the pop-up mini golf experience, Pixar Putt in Darling Harbour, Sydney.
After making its successful worldwide debut in Melbourne in January 2019, with over 25,000 enjoying a round of Pixar Putt, now Sydneysiders can have a try at Pixar Putt in Darling Harbour from Saturday, 6 April to Sunday, 12 May, 2019.
Tickets are now on sale for the attraction. Due to Pixar Putt’s popularity, it’s highly advisable to book a session in advance.
Pixar Putt was inspired by beloved stories, characters and icons from some of Disney-Pixar’s most iconic films including Toy Story, A Bug’s Life, Finding Nemo, The Incredibles, Ratatouille, Wall-E, Inside Out and Coco.
It is located at the ICC Forecourt next to Harbourside, Darling Harbour, where guests can choose between playing 9-holes or the full 18-hole course. We chose 18 holes and it took us almost 2 hours to complete the course on a busy day. Bring a hat, sunscreen and water as the weather has been hot as hades.
There are also adults only “After Dark” sessions on Friday and Saturday nights from 7pm-10pm. Pixar Putt
Dates: Saturday, 6 April 2019-Friday, 12 May 2019 ICC Forecourt, Darling Harbour (near Harbourside) NSW 2000 Hours: Sun-Thurs 10am-8pm, Fri & Sat 10am-10pm (Adults Only from 7pm-10pm) Prices: 18 holes $39.90 Adult, $29.90 Child, $119.60 Family (2A/2C or 1A/3C), 9 holes $24.90 Adult, $19.90 Child, $79.50 Family (2A/2C or 1A/3C) pixarputt.com.au
Sydney’s first LEGO® certified store has opened in Westfield Bondi Junction.
The LEGO® store has been designed to inspire creativity, with incredible brick creations and interactive experiences on offer throughout the 302sqm space, spread over two floors.
Unique Sydney icons have been created from LEGO®, including a wall mounted LEGO® Opera House and Harbour Bridge mosaic and a tribute to Bondi Beach.
The store has several hands-on interactive brick experiences which will make it a popular spot to visit with the kids as well as to shop.
These include Build-Your-Own MinifigureTM stations with thousands of combinations (including heads, legs, torsos, hairs, hats and accessories), a LEGO® Pick a Brick Wall featuring countless combinations of bricks to choose from and several LEGO® Play tables.
The store also features “The Brick Cave”, a dedicated area designed specifically for children’s parties, and custom LEGO® brick engraving service for personalisation.
There is a dedicated elevator providing stroller / wheelchair access between the floors as well as a set of stairs.
I loved the wide variety of LEGO® on offer, catering for all ages with sets for adults, teens, tweens, kids and preschoolers. The Women of NASA will be on my list!
LEGO® Store Level 3, Oxford Street entrance, Westfield Bondi Junction
When it opened in 1897, The Australian Museum became the first museum in Australia, with an international reputation in the fields of natural history and anthropology.
The museum’s dinosaur exhibition, containing 10 complete dinosaur skeletons and eight life-sized models is very popular with kids.
The dedicated Kidspace area is a hit with littles aged five and under (as well as the slightly bigger kids who still like to sneak in!). It’s full of nature-themed toys and games.
The Search & Discover public research centre is a hit with older kids. The permanent exhibition has a recommend time of one hour to see everything, however we have easily spent a lot longer than this in the single room, exploring all of the specimens and activities on offer.
Hundreds of objects, animals, minerals and fossils at your fingertips in this interactive, hands-on learning space, plus a colony of stick insects on display.
If you visit on a Tuesday morning you can watch the museum staff changing their leaves and help keep an eye peeled for escapees!
Kids can touch and interact with museum objects such as their easy-to-use microscopes. Those with assignments or a passion for science will enjoy the vast selection of identification guides, information sheets and books (including pictures books) that cover all areas of the museum’s areas of expertise; zoology, geology and anthropology. Books extend to other topics including botany, astronomy and general science.
The specimen drawers were a hit with my future naturalist. The neatly arranged drawers hold a wealth of specimens letting curious minds get up close to tiny creatures.
Other permanent exhibitions at the Australian museum include Surviving Australia, Pacific Spirit, Dinosaurs, Birds of Australia, First Australians Galleries and the latest addition, Wild Planet.
The dinosaur exhibition features the world’s first anatomically correct model of a T-Rex – a dissected 11-metre long replica created for the documentary, T-Rex Autopsy.
Wild Planet features nature’s giants such as an elephant, rhinoceros, giraffe, lion, tiger and bear as well as a wealth of other smaller animals.
Head to the cafe on level four for a bite to eat. They have cute kids meals and basic meals for adults, with a stunning view of Sydney.
Check out the museum’s calendar for upcoming events. Keep the museum top of mind for things to do in school holidays in Sydney as they always run excellent science-focussed programs.
Australian Museum 1 William St, Sydney Hours: Daily, 9:30am-5pm. Online