When a sunny, summers day arrives in Sydney it is all too easy to head to one of the city’s stunning beaches. Problem is that often, the rest of Sydney has the same idea as you. You end up struggling to lay claim to your own piece of sand and often find yourself wedged between families with crying children getting sand in their eyes, teens playing ‘stacks-on’swearing and joking around and groups of lobster coloured backpackers baking themselves in the sun. That is only after you have had to park in the next suburb and struggle with your beach bag, umbrella/sun-tent etc on the long walk through the back streets from the car to the beach.
What if there was an alternative? What if there were an oasis in the Eastern suburbs, away from the hoards, that offered lush, green grounds and gardens to lay your picnic blanket with plenty of shady trees to relax to the sounds of the surrounding birdlife? What if there were farm animals for the kids and on-site coffee for the adults? What if there were soft, grassy hills to roll down and all of this was just a stones throw away from a harbour beach where you could loll about in the water dreaming of what life might be like if you lived in one of the harbour side mansions dotting the shoreline.
As much as you try to recreate the feel of travel in your own city, when you have to return home the holiday is over and you return to the same chores and routine you had when you set off for the day. There is something special about spending the weekend away from home- even if you are really still only down the road.
So, when my brother and his family asked us to house-sit (more specifically dog-sit) their place in Mosman, we saw it as an opportunity for a mini staycation. Housesitting is a great inexpensive way to get a mini-holiday with all the the conveniences of home including toys and kitchen basics, and all for the price of walking and feeding the dog!
Finding things to do on weekends can be challenging enough, but throw in two straight weeks of school holidays and it can be hard to keep coming up with new and fun things to keep the kids occupied- especially ones that don’t cost the earth. So, here are my top 10 things to do in Sydney these school holidays to give you some inspiration.
1. Check out one of Sydney’s fab winter festivals. Whether you choose to don the ice-skates or simply soak up the winter sun whilst sipping on a hot chocolate and checking out all the free entertainment on offer, these festivals are certainly a grew way to spend a few hours on a winter’s day. Read here for more details on winter festival locations in Sydney this school holidays.
2. Go Paddle boating in Lane Cove National Park. Paddle boating brings back great memories from my childhood, and you can now create these same memories with your family in the gorgeous surrounds of the Lane Cove National Park. Check out this blog for more information.
3. Ferry to Parramatta. A trip on Sydney’s harbour coupled with an adventure down the Parramatta is a great way to keep the kids entertained. Couple it with an exploration of Parramatta Park, lunch at Jamie’s Trattoria and maybe a show at the Riverside Theatre and you have an action-packed day of fun. Check out this blog for more details.
4. Build a campfire at Manly Dam. When I was a kid I was fascinated by campfires and I loved foraging for kindling and working hard to get the fire started. I also loved cooking marshmallows over the open fire. A day-trip to Manly Dam lets you do just that and there are plenty of bush walks as well. This blog will give you the full low-down.
5. Be Tourists in Circular Quay. There is always plenty to see in Circular Quay including an array of buskers providing entertainment along the boardwalk. Take the time to stop and watch their shows rather than rushing past. Check out the exhibitions and activities at the Museum of Contemporary Art, visit the Sydney Opera House and run up the stairs, rediscover the Royal Botanic Gardens or get a round-trip on a ferry. There’s loads to see and do and you can check out this blog for more.
6. Food & Cultural tour of Cabramatta. Join with the kids and discover all of the great Vietnamese and South East Asian food in Cabramatta. You can get the train right to the city centre and there are temples and a range of cheap Asian food stalls scattered around which are great fun to explore. It’s South East Asia in a day and you can read more about it in my blog.
7. Learn about our WWII history at the Kokoda Track Memorial Walkway. This is a real suburban gem that I only recently discovered. It is a great way to get outside and engage the kids in learning about an important part of Australia’s history in beautiful surroundings. Read more about this great, free attraction here.
8. Go whale spotting. It is still whale migration season so there is no better time to pick your favourite viewing point, pack the binoculars and try and spot some whales. Check my blog for some popular viewing points around Sydney.
9. Go to a farm and pick your own mandarins. Forget about Coles & Woolies, take your kids to one of Sydney’s great ‘pick your own’ farms and help them get a greater appreciation of where our food comes from. Gorgeous surroundings and great fun for everyone! Check out the second section of this blog for more.
10. Pack a picnic! Picnics are great fun. Get the kids to help with making up the picnic food (check out these tips for how to pack an easy picnic) and head to one of the great parks Sydney has on offer to enjoy your spread. You could try the Shire’s Camellia Gardens, Clarkes Point Reserve near Woolwich, or get the ferry to Watsons Bay– there are endless possibilities of beautiful picnic spots in Sydney.
It’s no secret that our family loves to go camping. This time though, we headed further afield, six and a half hours north to Arrawarra, just north of Coffs Harbour on the NSW North Coast. Although we love bush camping, with two small children the lure of on-site amenities, pool with a waterside and a giant jumping pillow was still attractive so after a little research we found the perfect location for our five day camping adventure.
With Summer coming to an end and the days getting shorter, the family and I packed the car full to the brim with camping gear and headed south to the Royal National Park, just 1hr from Sydney, in order to make the most of the last weekend before Autumn descended.
We have camped at the Bonnie-Vale camping area near Bundeena in the Royal National Park many times before – pre-children – and although we have taken the kids camping before, this was the first time in a bush setting without the onsite pools & jumping pillow distractions of a Big 4.
We managed to secure a great large site at the back of the camping area close to the toilet/shower block and nestled against dense bushland. The kids and I explored the site and set up our solar lights to charge while the tent fairies (AKA my husband) set up the tent & gazebo in the morning heat. The girls and I grabbed a small snack while we sat back to watch the man at work but it wasn’t long before we had a visitor… a large goanna! Continue reading Camping in Royal National Park→
It is no secret that I love summer and all that the hot days and nights bring with it. I love holidays, festivals, beaches, time with family, outdoor eating and drinking. Following a great Summer family holiday on the North Coast, my husband and I returned to Sydney leaving the kids with their grandparents. Although returning to work, we were determined to the make the most of our child-free time via a series of date nights. Here are our six dates that made the most of Summer in Sydney. Continue reading Six Summer Dates in Five Days→
This is the final blog in the Singapore series. We had such a great family holiday and our final day did not disappoint. We wandered down to Clarke Quay to catch a River Cruise that could take us the scenic route to the Marina Bay Sands. After a short wait for more tourists to arrive, we boarded the River Boat.