Our kids (well at least the big two) have become so used to overseas adventures that they haven’t done much travel in Australia in recent years, especially to Sydney – where they have been many times but generally don’t leave the airport other than the trip from domestic to international or vice versa. In fact the last time we stayed in Sydney with them was when Astrid was under 3 and Soren 4 months old. Soren had been bugging us to go and see the Harbour Bridge and Opera House. Granny had thought all 3 kids would enjoy a trip to Frozen the musical, which was on at the Capitol theatre in the city. With tickets for the Easter school holidays, a few days away in Sydney was planned.
Despite yet another incident of our pre-booked well in advance accommodation being turned into a quarantine hotel at the last minute, we were rebooked at the Adina apartments Darling Harbour, which turned out to be an even better spot with the kids. We arrived on a very pleasant and sunny Friday afternoon, and after a bit of unpacking set out to explore and stretch our legs from the drive.
The apartments were right next to the aquarium and a very easy stroll around Darling Harbour. The kids were off in search of places to eat and things to do. We couldn’t have asked for nicer April weather!
They may have conned an afternoon icecream out of me, but when on holidays icecream is definitely the way to go!
Soren and Astrid were taken with the ships and sub at the Australian National Maritime museum so after talking them down from wanting to go right then and there, we hatched a plan to visit the next morning. Then it was a late afternoon wander back to our apartment, enjoying the last of the sunshine and contemplating what we wanted for dinner!
There were no complaints about the location of our apartment, a quick stroll to Darling Harbour and Barangaroo. Our balcony had pretty good views over Darling Harbour. Granny got excellent views of the aquarium and the cafe downstairs did good coffee with the bonus of friendly rainbow lorikeets who hung around.
An evening wander into Chinatown for a yummy dinner gave us pretty good views of the sunset (and expensive boats Soren would one day like to own!).
The after-dark views from our balcony were pretty good too……. and provided plenty of opportunity to laugh at the young people stumbling around in the dark and cold after a few too many drinks on their dinner cruise 😉
Day two and with Frozen tickets in the afternoon, we had a plan to hit the Maritime Museum in the morning with the kids, while Granny and Max worked up the energy for an afternoon of kiddy excitement!
It was another beautiful and sunny Autumn day as we wandered from the apartment and over the bridge to the Maritime Museum.
When we arrived the lines weren’t too long. Soren was keen to go on the submarine, but Zinnia was both too short for that and you needed additional tickets, so we negotiated that if we visited everything else first we might get back to the sub. Luckily he was happy to start with HMAS Vampire.
Zinnia was *just* tall enough to get aboard and it was only mildly terrifying with her running around the decks.
The inside was set up well and there were a few guides scattered around to give us plenty of info.
The kids (big and little) decided to be helicopters on the landing deck (which incidentally wasn’t strong enough to actually land a helicopter on) and run up and down every set of stairs in a terrifying manner.
Next it was onto the Duyfken, the replica of the Dutch ship that landed in Australia over 400 years ago. Again there were great guides and we had an interesting tour.
After a wander around the ships you could view from the waterfront, but not go aboard, it was over to the replica of the HMB Endeavour.
Due to Covid restrictions you can currently only tour the top-deck but we had the guide to ourselves for most of the tour and he had a good chat to the kids about all the ship and the history of James Cook’s voyage to Australia.
Running out of time before we needed to be back for lunch and Frozen, it was a quick tour of the inside exhibits of the museum. It was a little reminiscent of Lennusadam, the Seaplane Harbour in Tallin, Estonia. We had really enjoyed our visit there back in 2017 and bits of this museum reminded us of our Tallin experience.
We could have easily spent a couple our hours wandering around, and only did a quick half an hour before getting side-tracked to the Wildlife Photographer of the Year exhibit.
In the end we had to drag Soren away from the rescue helicopters, and me away from the photography exhibit, before we needed to hightail it back to the apartment for lunch.
After a quick lunch in the apartment, the kids were into their Frozen finery, and posed for a quick photo, before we walked them up to the light rail stop. They looked pretty cute, but didn’t stay that clean for long with non-stop eating of food courtesy of conning Granny and Max!
Granny took a few photos on her phone of the non-stop eating and general excitement. They all had a ball and even Zinnia managed the 2.5 hour show after skipping her nap.
After a relaxing afternoon of no-kids, bike shops, photography exhibitions, and a nap, we went to pick the over-sugared and tired kids up from the light rail station before hosing them down and contemplating an early dinner.
Dinner for the night was a restaurant on Darling Harbour which had yummy food and good cocktails. The kids were a tad exhausted but still managed to eat plenty despite non-stop snacking during Frozen (which they all loved).
Day 3 was to be our Sunday at Taronga Zoo. We planned to tick off a few of Soren’s sight-seeing highlights with a ferry ride from Barangaroo over to Taronga. Unfortunately the long gap between ferries meant we opted to walk down to Circular Quay instead. A pleasant but brisk stroll to start the morning……….
On the upside, plenty of leg-stretching and the kids got their obligatory ‘in front of the bridge shot’ before the quick ferry across to the zoo.
With pre-purchased tickets it wasn’t too long before we were up the hill, checked-in, and ready for a day of animal action. The kids donned their paper crowns and were ready to go…….
Zinnia’s current favourite animal is the meerkat, so they were a favourite. I do think they are cute but was very impressed with the multi-million dollar view over the harbour the giraffes have from their enclosure…….
We ticked off most of the animals in the African animal area, minus a few who were off sleeping, before timing it well enough to watch the gorillas get fed, which was one of the highlights of the day…..
Next we decided to do the bird show, since Covid limits mean numbers were somewhat restricted, and we happened to be in the area at the right time. It also gave us a chance for a sit down and some lunch as we’d already racked up several kilometres of walking.
Again the birds had pretty good views as they flew around. We got some very close up views of the owls and black cockatoo, who were flying to the instructor standing right near us. You could even see evidence of Mr Owl’s tasty snack on his beak!
The kids firmly voted for the seal show next, so we dutifully lined up and made sure we got seats. I’m not sure it was as good as the seal show at SeaWorld on the Gold Coast but they did enjoy it and it wasn’t too long.
We were glad we opted for seats well away from the ‘splash zone’ as the beautiful Autumn weather had been replaced with a rather windy and cold day, so we weren’t all that warm.
We then stretched our legs with the tigers and sun bears. All of whom were enjoying afternoon sun.
It was time for some bird spotting in the walk-through aviaries.
We then circumnavigated the hills of the zoo what felt like about 20 times trying to see all the animals we hadn’t yet caught up with. We did see the monkeys getting some food, and visited the penguins which the kids always love. At this point Zinnia had finally succumbed to a stroller nap, despite some fierce resistance.
We wandered past a few more exhibits, and the kids now cold, and with tired legs, voted for a cable car ride rather than another six trips up and down the hill to see any remaining animals. With the cable car closing at 3pm we high-tailed it back to the top station so they could enjoy the ride down.
Again there were some pretty good views. Taronga would have to be one of the most scenic zoos. Up there with the Alpenzoo in Innsbruck in the the Austraian Alps, which was pretty impressive. We were a little disappointed with how many animals were out and about, given it was school holidays, but we did see plenty in our 5 hours of wanderings.
The cable car dropped us back down at the ferry terminal and pretty soon we were zipping back over the harbour to Circular Quay. This time we stayed outside for some photos, well at least Astrid and Soren did. Zinnia and I succumbed to the cold and moved inside after awhile but it was definitely good views, if rather breezy!
Off the ferry at Barangaroo, and we picked a dinner place on the walk back to apartment. All a little bit tired after well over 12km of walking and some cold windy weather, it was a little bit of quiet time and then back out to a Greek restaurant in Barangaroo for an early dinner.
The food and the happy hour cocktails were pretty good and we had a great last night out!
Our final day was upon us. The kids voted for a walk and chocolate shops rather than a dinosaur exhibit at the museum, so chocolate shopping at Haighs it was, followed by coffee and hot chocolates at a cafe. Zinnia wasn’t happy when her hot chocolate was finished!
They then conned Granny into a ferris wheel ride at Darling Harbour. Granny was happy to subsidise the activity but wasn’t going up, Anto got that pleasure!
We wandered across the bridge to the other side of the harbour again, and tickets purchased the kids were happily spinning Anto around and around while the rest of us watched from below, thinking we got the better deal!
Unfortunately hotel check-out time was upon us, so we had to head back to the apartment. Once last walk around Darling Harbour for some sunshine and the impressive views. The kids voted they’d had a fabulous time and had ticked quite a few items off their bucket list. Bonus of no long flights and jet lag to contend with. The disadvantage of a few hours drive home and, both cars having random unintentional detours through Sydney traffic.
All in all a fun trip for everyone, lovely weather (mostly), great food and lots of fun, and plenty of Frozen!