We were travelling with our two kids aged nine and 14 and the serviced apartments were just right. The apartment building is a converted mill and stands right next to Darling harbour and the monorail. The apartments are compact but cosy with everything you need for a family.
243 Pyrmont Street
Darling Harbour, NSW 2009
Phone +61 2 9518 5166
1800 996 922
Google map: tinyurl.com/pqts47
Parsley Bay is a small, secluded beach surrounded by bush in Sydney's Eastern Suburbs, on the Harbour (not the ocean).
Go there for an early morning swim (there's a wire mesh net across the mouth of the bay to keep sharks out!) then have breakfast at the cafe there. If going on weekends, get there before 9.00 or else the small car park (with its narrow, steep, one-lane driveway) is full and you have to park way up the hills on either side and walk down. As well as a beach there's a large grassy area for picnics, and a children's playground.
Other pleasant places to swim and eat in the area include Camp Cove and Nielsen Park.
There's more cafe choice at Balmoral on the north side, but weekend parking is even more impossible - get in by 8.00!
The home of Eric, the infamous three-legged croc, also spider world and other aussie perils. The education officer's talks are informative yet, more importantly, entertainingly memorable - as he has a dry line in sarcasm, usually directed at kids!
Heaps more fun than Taronga zoo and cheaper. You can pet kangaroos while eating your sarnies outdoors in the picnic area. Dingos, Tasmanian Devils, koalas, mate, it's all there and it's all good!
This is a great value, B&B style, 19th century budget hotel. You can get rooms for less than $100, which is especially good value as it is short walking distance from Darling Harbour. Good option for families. Book in advance.
22 Allen Street
Tel: (02) 9552 4773
Fantastic, small scale wildlife park which is ideal for kids. You can get up close and personal with all the animals without the usual queues found else where.
Our kids loved it and got loads of photos with the koalas. A great way to spend a morning or afternoon in Sydneys suburbs.
West Pennant Hills, Sydney
One of the best attractions in the city, and a must-see for visitors. It is expensive - $27 single or $65 for a family of four - but well worth it. From the large opening platypus tank (try and count the shrimp) to the crocodile, seals and penguins, the aquarium has all the big draws. The most popular area is the shark tunnel - but don't miss the stunning Barrier Reef exhibit. Dozens of smaller tanks cover all of Australia's marine habitats - it really is a great aquarium.
Darling Harbour, west of the city centre
There are plenty of museums in Sydney - some good, some decidedly average. The Museum of Sydney ($7) tells the story of the city from 1788 to the present, and although small is extremely interesting. Also worth a look is the nearby Hyde Park Barracks Museum ($7), built by convicts in 1818, which shows the history of the fledgling community through the people who were housed there - convicts, immigrants and soldiers. Finally the Powerhouse Museum ($10) is a fun and massive collection devoted to science, transport and technology - where you could spend hours. Kids will love it.
On the downside is the Australian Museum (£10). Despite having been there three times, I've always felt let down at the size and content. For such a huge building, there really is precious little on display apart from the ubiquitous animal bones and minerals. If you can make it over to Canberra, the National Museum of Australia there is far, far better.
MoS - cnr Phillip/Bridge Sts, city centre
HPBM - Queens Square, Macquarie St, city centre
Powerhouse - Harris St, Ultimo (Central station)
Australian Museum - College St, Hyde Park
Got kids? Need to relax but keep an eye on them? Get on the Manly Ferry - so easy to use, and great fun as well as a super view of Sydney. When you get to Manly get off and turn left and keep walking until you can go no further on the beach and you'll be at a cove called Shelly Beach. This little horseshoe is for parents and kids - the water is cyrstal clear and about 8"-12" deep for a good 100 yards, so ideal for little ones with no menace, unlike the big surf furhter along.
Then, when you are all famished, wander 25 yards to 'The Kiosk' the misleadingly named and wonderful restaurant on the front there, and eat your fill of Morton Bay Bugs, Sushi, etc, etc for buttons. Great easy day. The other thing you could do is peel off to Manly market and buy a tray of mangos to eat on the beach - it will add half an hour to the journey out there though! Again, costs buttons as do most things out there.
Ferry leaves from Sydney harbour every hour.
The ferry between Darling Harbour and Circular Quay gives you one of the best views of the Harbour Bridge as you actually sail under it. It is a fitting end to a visit to the Australian Maritime Museum. This free museum is well set out and has plenty to keep children interested while still being fascinating to adults. It includes some naval vessels such as a submarine but there is a charge for going aboard.
Pyrmont Wharf, Darling Harbour
Taronga Zoo is better than your average zoo, set on the north shore with spectacular views of the city. It is worth going to see all the weird Australian wildlife and also to see how happy the giraffes seem compared with the three miserable looking beasts at London Zoo. Take the ferry there from Circular Quay. The recently refurbished and reopened Luna Park, almost under the Harbour Bridge, is also fun for children.
Taronga Zoo is around 12 minutes by ferry from Circular Quay and the CBD. Tel: +61 2 9969 2777; www.zoo.nsw.gov.au/
Some British visitors to Australia are put off indulging in one of its greatest attractions, swimming in the sea, for exaggerated fear of the beasties lurking therein.
A supervised dive at the Oceanworld aquarium in Manly might prove an antidote to such an aversion. The big sharks here, the Grey Nurses, are, like the rest of the swimming displays - among them enormous, velvety black rays and constantly curious little Dog Sharks - too well fed to consider nibbling on you. But even were that not the case, the jaws of the Grey Nurses are, despite their fearsome appearance, quite the wrong shape to make lunch of one of your body parts.
Sharks should probably fear humans at least as much as the reverse: many of them, such as the Grey Nurses, have become endangered due to fishing and other human activities. You can also simply view the aquarium animals through the glass.
West Esplanade, Manly
+61 2 9949 7950
Little Bay is a beautiful and protected beach in the eastern suburbs of Sydney. Drive through the old close Prince Henry hospital ground, walk through a golf course and head down the stairs. It's an un patrolled beach but has a small nature reef that protects it from the elements. Great for kids and dogs and has heaps of over hanging rock ledges for shade.
South east of Randwick in Sydney and is bounded by Malabar to the north Chifley and Phillip Bay to the west, and La Perouse to the south.
Once yearly show (around Eastertime) where Sydneysiders can see a bit of the old country on there doorstep. Excellent shows (sheepshearing, hearding, etc), traditional food and a great fairgound.
But best of all the show is famous for its children's goodie bags - children can buy for next to nothing themed bags of sweets and toys. Our kids still go on about them a year later. As parents we were dreading it but had a great day out!
Royal Easter Show, Sydney Showground,
The Harbour trust runs tours to some of the best kept secrets of Sydney Harbour at very reasonable prices. Some of the destinations include Cockatoo Island, North Head, Middle Head and Macquarie Lighthouse. In addition to the tours they also run free events.
ph +61 (0)2 8969 2131
15 minutes east from the CBD, Parsley Bay feels like your own private harbour front park, complete with a sheltered beach spanned its own miniature timber suspension bridge. Walk under the sandstone cliffs out to the end of the fishermens jetty for a spectacular view of the harbour, and maybe the glimpse of a ray or squid swimming in the cystal clear water beside. At the kiosk grab a latte and a couple of paddle pops for the kids, and then try to extract them from flying fox and slipperydip at the recently rebuilt playground.
Parsley Bay Reserve, Vaucluse
You can do laps or just loll, and with your head at the just the right level, watch the ferries glide across the horizon.
Take the ferry or jetcat to Manly, turn left out of terminal and walk along harbourside walkway past Aquarium around to Fairlight.
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