Want to keep the nippers happy? Roadtest our ten best boredom killers
It's beautifully laid out, and – most importantly – the place is full of animals. Really interesting ones too: along with the lions and tigers and bears (oh my!) you’ll find young elephants, chimps and giraffes, and now, brand new baby tigers! Also Taronga classics (pygmy hippos, the komodo dragon, koalas, platypi, Andean condors) and many exotic creatures you may not be immediately familiar with. Make a day of it: pack a picnic, enter by ferry from Circular Quay, and take in the shows (especially the bird and seal performances) as well as the feeding times.
This former power station opened as a fun and funky museum in 1988 and is the largest in Australia, with a collection of 385,000 objects, 22 permanent and five temporary display spaces, and more than 250 interactive exhibits. Harry Potter fans will love the new exhibition with hundreds of props, sets and costumes spanning the entire Harry Potter film series. And don’t miss the 20th anniversary exhibition for the Wiggles. Alongside the usual performance paraphernalia, you’ll find interactive exhibits like the Captain Feathersword’s life-size ship and a virtual version of the Big Red Car.
Luna Park is very much a vintage attraction. Martin Sharp's iconic clown face at the entrance, the rickety wooden rides, and the vaudeville decor gives the park a strong sense of nostalgia. If a great night out means going on every ride four times and screaming yourself hoarse then you are in for a win, if you just want to soak up the history of a classic amusement park, you can do that too. And the park gets bonus points for boasting some of the city’s best harbour views.
For those who want to make the most of the fresh air and get outdoors, Sydney Olympic Park is teeming with activities to keep the whole family busy. Have a BBQ at Wentworth Common, grab a bike and head to the wetlands, meander around the parkland circuits, cruise around the Cauldron, meet a ranger and learn some wildlife tips, and navigate your way around the park with compass and clues. Or try the flying trapeze workshop. Or golf. Or – you get the point – get down there and see for yourself.
The Utzon-designed marvel isn’t just for adult culture vultures. The Sydney Opera House has an awesome kids programme too. The 2012 season kicks off with an interactive stage adaptation the Lynley Dodd classic Hairy Maclary and Friends. Or, for musical nippers, check out the much-loved Babies Proms series, which sees a range of composers and conductors raise their batons for the city’s toddlers. You might also find circus performances, musicals, films, or dance. And for a little history lesson in architecture and performance, take the Kids Tour – a junior version of the ever-popular Opera House Essential Tour.
The city’s leviathan summer festival boasts an awesome family-friendly programme. Holly Throsby, local songstress and one third of Seeker Lover Keeper, will perform her debut kids album See! in a magical and very interactive show at the Famous Spiegeltent. At Animagica you can see the films that revolutionised the film industry from the 20s to the 40s, including childrens’ classic Cinderella. And for knee-slapping fun, award-winning comedy duo the List Operators will take you into a new world of cyberspace and fart-ificial intelligence.
This city is serious about surf culture, and learning the ways of the waves is fun, and open to all ages. Time Out recommends taking to the sea with the helpful guidance of Manly Surf School. You can make the lessons private or join a small group and hit the big blue with some new mates. You will learn surf etiquette, the basic rules, how to stand up on the board, and, of course, how to actually stay up on the board. Tubular, bro.
Take the whole family to AGNSW for a day of art performances, workshops, and tours. Every Sunday you can see art through the looking glasses of drama, storytelling, music and mime, during the Gallery Kids performances (2.30pm, FREE). Or, why not ake a tour through the gallery’s collections with a whacky character during the Interactive Character Tour? AGNSW also offers a continually rotating programme of origami, sculpture and sketch classes, and nothing beats a good ol’ fashioned wander.
The beautiful and vast Centennial Parklands has great walking and cycling tracks, but it’s also one of the world’s only urban parks with riding facilities, with a huge 210 stables and five riding schools that can take you out for a trot any day of the week. Care to canter? Each school will offer lessons catered to your age and level of experience, and all the necessary equipment is provided.
The work of the late May Gibbs has given Australian children wondrous fantasies for years with Snugglepot and Cuddlepie. Nutcote is where she wrote her books and long-running cartoon strip Bib and Bub. Reminisce about Gumnut babies and Banksia men in that childhood fantasy world.