This was the first visit to Sydney for the kids and I and we were all looking forward to it. Not just because we wanted to check out the city’s icons but also because it was Christmas time and we would be spending it with four of the finest people on the planet – Paul (Moose), Tanya, Georgia and Jesse. These guys, initially from Perth, are a dynamic globe-trotting family who for the last two years have called Sydney home. We are never quite sure where or when we will catch up with them but it is ALWAYS fun.
Spending Christmas away from home was a little strange but we still managed to have a great time and Moose and Tanya were definitely the hosts with the most!
To say that Sydney is a busy place would be a total understatement. The place is crazy nuts! The sheer volume of people moving around the city was amazing and the harbour was a constant blur of activity. We loved our time at the historic precinct of The Rocks – checking out the very cool laneways and also visiting Circular Quay where we watched the continuous coming and goings of the huge Sydney Ferries.
We headed to The Opera House and to be honest I was slightly underwhelmed. I realise that architecturally it is amazing but it was a little grimy and I just didn’t experience the WOW factor I was expecting. I actually enjoyed looking at it more from a distance, where you could see all of the ‘sails’ together and the overall impact was a bit more dramatic. Seeing it lit up at nighttime and from the opposite side of the harbour was probably my favourite view.
The Sydney Harbour Bridge, however, totally provided me with the WOW factor. It was just amazing and I couldn’t stop looking at it no matter where I was. It really is an amazing structure and even if you weren’t looking at it you could still ‘feel’ its presence. It really is awe-inspiring. I just loved walking around it and reading of its history. Moose and Tanya are lucky enough to have done the bridge climb and I loved hearing about some of what they had learnt while on the climb.
We were also fortunate to spend New Years Eve at the bridge, for the massive fireworks display that is held there each year. We arrived at Milsons Point early and spent the afternoon chilling out waiting for the displays – there is one at 9pm for the families who may wish to head home early and then the big one at midnight. The kids were absolute champs (the fact that they were exhausted helped) so it was a little annoying that after waiting there all day their view was blocked by hordes of people who arrived just before the fireworks started and took up position right in front of our little people. Not to worry, we still had a great time and can say that we have experienced a Sydney Harbour New Years Eve.
Not far from the Opera House are the Royal Botanic Gardens which are just beautiful, with some interesting history. These gardens have been developed from the original spot of the very first garden established on mainland Australia. A short walk from the gardens is Mrs Macquaries Chair which has been carved into a rock ledge. This was done in the early 1800’s, by convicts, for the wife of the then Governor who would enjoy sitting on the point watching ships sail into and out of the harbour.
Between the parking fees and road tolls getting around Sydney can be quite expensive, so if you are thinking of visiting Sydney, it may be worth taking advantage of Family Funday Sunday which enables you to travel on all ferries, buses and trains in the city, all day, for $2.50 per person.
Knowing that we were going to be in Sydney around this time my brother Martin and his beautiful fiance Pip organised a family pass for us to visit Taronga Zoo. We spent a full day here and had a great time. There are a few shows that run throughout the day and we managed to catch the bird, seal and elephant ones. We were also fortunate to catch a glimpse of three tiger cubs that had been born here a few months previously. As well as the fabulous animals at the zoo, without a doubt one of its best features would have to be the views of the city.
Another gift the kids received was a pass, from my parents, to Luna Park. The kids loved it here and value for money I believe that it beat Dreamworld hands down. There is no entry fee to the park so you can go in for a look around without a cost. The unlimited passes were $35 each (make sure you purchase online to get a discount) and an extra $10 gets you into Coney Island which comprises of lots of old-fashioned rides but make sure you wear closed in shoes otherwise you won’t be able to go on all of them.
The kids took a little while to warm up to the faster rides, with the firm favourite being The Wild Mouse rollercoaster. But by the end of the day they were braving The Rotor which spins at 60 km an hour and makes me want to vomit just thinking about it!
Naturally we had to spend some time checking out a number of Sydney’s beaches while we were in town, it was just unfortunate that it wasn’t really beach weather on some days with a few beaches actually closed due to the windy conditions. A crowd pleaser was calling into Palm Beach where the TV show Home & Away is filmed.
We also visited Manly, Freshwater, Bronte, Balmoral and of course the famous Bondi but the beach that will forever stick in our minds is Long Reef for it is here that Ben fractured his elbow!
The kids had been splashing around for a while and we were wrapping things up when Ben tripped with his arms outstretched and landed awkwardly. He squawked a bit but we didn’t really take it too seriously at the time. After jumping into the car and heading back to The Mason’s his elbow started to swell and it became obvious that something was amiss. The abbreviated version is that we ended up at the ED at Royal North Shore Hospital. An x-ray was taken which was inconclusive, he was given a collar and told to return the following day. This is where things really get interesting as we were supposed to be leaving the next day!
We had put Stan into storage on NYE as we had been unable to secure a booking anywhere and were dossing on the floor of the Mason’s apartment. After some frantic phone calls we were able to get a site ($37 a night) in Lane Cove National Park which is a great spot and just 11 km from Sydney but for only two nights. The trouble was that after another hospital visit, this time including a CT scan and a temporary cast we were told we would need to come back in another three days! After explaining the situation Paul was able to get another site on the other side of the park for another couple of days so we could make the appointment. The beauty of the situation is that we got to spend extra time with The Masons!
The final (probable) diagnosis was that Ben had managed to shave some bone off of the inside of his elbow and would require a full arm cast for three weeks. Now, when given the choice of any colour cast he would like it is only natural that an eleven year old rough and tumble boy would opt for flourescent pink! The cast was christened Pinky and became a part of the family for the next three weeks. It also introduced the joys of the $50 challenge! This involved the promise of fifty bucks to Ben if he managed to touch his nose with all of the fingers of the immobolised hand.
The joys of parenting.
*insert evil laugh here*