GETTING OUT AND ABOUT: WHERE I GO FOR INFORMATION AND INSPIRATION

Finding family friendly things to do in a new city can initially seem very overwhelming and does requires a bit of research. But since moving to Sydney, there are a number of fantastic websites, blogs and resources that I'm constantly looking to for inspiration and information.

I've compiled a comprehensive list below and while many of these cater to families with kids of all ages, they have been a great starting point to find toddler friendly activities and outings. We're based on Sydney's Upper North Shore so if you're also on the northern side of the harbour, all the information you need is in this handy directory! 

visitnsw.com

If you're visiting from interstate or overseas, a great starting point, to give you an overview of what Sydney and New South Wales has to offer, is the Visit NSW website. It's the official government tourism site and has information for family friendly sights and tourist attractions 

Website | Facebook | Instagram

ellaslist

ellaslist started out in 2010 when one mum decided to create a family friendly local guide for parents, based on things to do with her daughter. It's now grown into a huge online resource of everything that is happening for families in both Sydney and Melbourne. It's so comprehensive and jam pack with information. 

Website  | Facebook | Instagram

Hello Sydney Kids

Hello Sydney Kids is another resource that has been created by an inspiring mum who has meticulously detailed her families adventures across Sydney. It's full of great articles on beaches and playgrounds and things to do in Sydney and surrounding areas. 

Website | Facebook | Instagram

Busy City Kids

Busy City Kids is my go to place to find out about current kid friendly museum and art gallery exhibits. It's also created and curated by mums and has reviews and guides for attractions and activities in Sydney and Melbourne. 

Website | Facebook | Instagram

Kid Size Living

Kid Size Living is another local guide and directory for all things kids friendly in Sydney. It has a handy breakdown by area - ie: inner west, northern beaches, inner city

Website | Facebook | Instagram

Adventure, Baby

Adventure, Baby is a blog by travel writer Christine Knight. While she has travelled extensively around the world and shares lots of stories, guides and international travel tips, she's based in Sydney and always has a great articles on things to do in her home town with her daughter.

Website | Facebook | Instagram

The following are websites and social media accounts that focus on a specific area of Sydney. Created by local parents, they are handy resources for finding out whats on closer to home. These are the ones I refer to regularly - they are a great way to discover new playgrounds and kids friendly cafes! 

Hills District Mums Website | Facebook | Instagram

Northshore Mums Website | Facebook | Instagram

Ryde District Mums Website | Facebook | Instagram

ParraParents Website | Facebook | Instagram

Another great, free resource is Child Magazines - you can pick them up monthly at libraries, shopping centre and cafes; they have some informative articles and a list of what's on for kids that month. Plus the website has even more parenting related content - check out their mini mags! 

Website | Facebook | Instagram

Hashtags  

I'm a big fan of Instagram and recently discovered that you can follow hashtags! It's an ingenious way to see what other people are up to and perhaps even connect with like minded parents. A few of my favourite ones to get you started are #sydneywithkids #sydneykids #sydneywithbubs #sydneymums

Subscribing to Newsletters

All the websites listed above have the option to subscribe to their newsletters which is a great way to received ideas and inspo directly to your inbox! I've also signed up to the newsletters for many of the museums and art galleries around Sydney, to stay up to date with upcoming exhibits and activities. 

Good old fashioned face to face conversation

Asking other local parents what they got up to on the weekend is an obvious way to get new ideas and recommendations. It's a great conversation starter and you'll get an honest review of things. It's my go to question for small talk at playgroup and playgrounds. 

I hope this list inspires other parents to find new adventures for your little ones and create some wonderful family memories.  If you're not a Sydney local, it only takes a bit of web searching to hunt down similar online resources for your own home town. 

Have I missed anything? I'd love to hear your tips and suggestions! Feel free to leave your comments below. 

Learn & Play! teamlab Future Park at The Powerhouse Museum

Learn & Play! teamlab Future Park at the Powerhouse Museum is an amazing, innovative exhibition for the whole family. Described as a digital playground, Future Park combines light, art and technology in an incredibly interactive way. 

The Powerhouse Museum has been a weekend favourite of ours since moving to Sydney; there is always so much there to entertain a toddler (The Wiggle Exhibit being the main drawcard). This was actually the second time we visited Future Park, the first time Farley and I came with my friend and her little 18 month old. This time we had our husbands along for a combined family day out. (And Hallie of course - although technically she was with us the first time). I'm not sure who had more fun, the toddlers or the dads! 

Farley loves colouring so naturally she was captivated by the exhibits were you can colour in an image with crayons, scan it and the image then appears on one of the large screens, animated and interacting with all the other scanned characters. The Sketch People sections allows you to bring a person to life, which is similar to the Sketch Town section where you can create cars, trucks, and rockets. The Graffiti Nature area is an amazing section where you can bring a variety of creatures to life and watch them crawl around a big pit like sapce that you can climb up and slide down. The Light Ball Orchestra, where huge illuminated balls change colour when you touch them, was a huge hit with everyone. There was a smaller ball section, ideal for little ones, as the bigger area does get pretty hectic with enthusiastic older kids. 

The Hopscotch for Geniuses and the Connecting: Block Town sections were also wonderful for our inquisitive toddlers. All the bright moving images that react to your touch had our little ones mesmerised.  It's kind of mindblowing to think that while this sort of technology is amazing to us as parents, it will be pretty primative compared to the kind of technology our kids are going to grow up using. 

Learn and Play! teamlab Future Park is one of the best museum exhibition I've been to! It's not often that together; children and adults can create, interact and immerse themselves in such a sensory way. It is, however, quite difficult to photograph, in order to really do it justice. Hopefully my photos below give you a good idea. 

Braino's verdit: This is way better than that exhibit we went to at the Art Gallery! (He's referring to Pipilotti Rist: Sip My Ocean)

 

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TIPS AND INFORMATION

  • Where: The Powerhouse (The Museum of Applied Arts & Sciences) 500 Harris Street, Ultimo, NSW, 2007
  • When: Learn & Play! teamlab FUTURE PARK is on until the 30th of April 2018
  • Cost: Adults - $28, Concessions - $22, Child(4 - 16 years) $17.50, Child (Under 4 - Free) The Future Park tickets also include asscess to the rest of the Powerhouse Museum. It is recommended to book tickets in advance during weekends and school holidays. 
  • Pram Friendly?: The Powerhouse Museum is very pram friendly however prams are not permitted in the Future Park exhibition. Prams are required to be checked in at the cloak room outside the entrance. Bring a carrier for smaller bubs. 

Check out the website for further information - maas.museum/event/future-park/

 

SUNDAYS WITH PIPILOTTI RIST | MUSEUM OF CONTEMPORARY ART

Since November I’ve seen the Pipilotti Rist: Sip My Ocean exhibit at the Museum of Contemporary Art pop up on my Instagram feed a number of times and I've been meaning to go. Things got pretty crazy over the festive season and then with Hallie's arrival, but with only two weeks until the exhibition closes, I was having serious FOMO. However, this weekend, it appeared that most of Sydney also had a fear of missing out, due to the size of the crowds. 

Pipilotti Rist is a prolific artist in the area of experimental video and multi-media installations. Sip My Ocean showcases key pieces from her career; it’s immersive, interactive and a full sensory experience, which makes it very engaging for kids. I had read a few review on the blogs I regularly follow about it being a real hit with young ones and I wondered if it would be good for a toddler too. Sundays are the best day to go as there is Sundays with Pipilotti, a free interactive creative space where children can experiment with techniques inspired by Rist. 

On arrival we first headed to the Sundays with Pipilotti area first and let Farley explore. There were small tables set up with different cut out images and mirrors that you could use to photograph your own reflected montage inspired by Rist’s work. In an adjoining room, there were projectors set up with transparent images, leaves, feathers and cellophane to project your own kaleidoscopic creation on to the wall. Farley loved this, we spent quite some time helping her create different artworks. It was fascinating to watch her make the connection between what was on the projector and what was on the wall. 

I was in two minds about actually going into the exhibit, due to the size of the crowds but I decided I’d be annoyed at myself if we came all this way and didn’t see it. However, would I recommend it for a toddler? Probably not. While Farley seems to be having a great time, intrigued and excited by all the colourful projections and sounds, there were a few easy to touch (and potentially break) elements to the artworks. For example the suspended balls in the Sleeping Pollen section and the suspended sheer drapes in the Administrating Eternity section. We didn’t even make it into the Pixel Forest Mutterplatte section, which is a room full of 3000 suspended LED lights, due to the ridiculously long queue. The 4th Floor to Mildness section which was a room full of beds with a video projection on the ceiling was so full, every bed had someone lying on it and most of the floor had people laying down too! It was pretty bizarre. When we entered Braino was like ‘ what on earth....?!?! And Farley was commentating quite loudly all the things she could see on the projection. 'Butterfly!' 'Stingray', 'Where's butterfly gone?' It was cute, but probably a tad annoying to those around us.

Having studied Film and Television Production at university, I was really keen to see the work of someone who has pioneered experimental video art; however Sip My Ocean left me feeling curious, if not a little confused. I'll admit, I don't do well in crowds and was probably a little distracted with having the little ones in tow. It's an amazing exhibit but one that you'd want to take the time to fully immerse yourself in. It did get me thinking about what constitutes video art and how it compares to the use of traditional and more technical filmic languages.

Braino's thoughts: "That was probably the weirdest thing you've convinced me to go to."

I love the fact that the Museum of Contemporary Art provides a free space for children to explore, learn and experiment with art. It made for a great Sunday afternoon family adventure; it's wonderful being able to share my interested with my kids, even at this young age. Oh, I should probably mention Hallie, she was indeed with us. I had her in baby sling the whole time, she was asleep for most of it, only needing one feed and waited until we were about to leave to wake up. Starting the appreciation of art at a very young age! 

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TIPS AND INFORMATION

  • The Exhibit: Pipilotti Rist: Sip My Ocean is on until the 18th of February 2018 - one more weekend to go. The Sundays with Pipilotti creative space will also be running on Saturday the 17th as well as Sunday the 18th. 
  • Getting there: The Museum of Contemporary Art is located right on Circular Quay, making it very assessable by public transport. We drove in and parked at the Sydney Opera House, which has a flat weekend rate of $15. 
  • Cost: Entry in to Pipilotti Rist; Sip My Ocean is $22 for an adult, $17 for a concession, $12 for kids between the ages of 12 - 18 years old. Kids under 12 are FREE. Entry into the Sundays with Pippilotti section is FREE
  • Pram friendly?: Bringing a pram would possible although a little inconvenient. We had Hallie in the baby sling and Farley as started to become really good at walking longer distances. She walked all the way from the Opera House. We had all the baby gear in a backpack which we did have to check into the cloakroom.  
  • Parents Room: We found the parents room on the ground floor was nothing flashy but totally fine for nappy changes and breastfeeding.
  • Dining: There are a few options for food with in the MCA; the MCA Cafe on the rooftop and GRAZE on the ground level. More info here.

Website: https://www.mca.com.au/pipilotti-rist/

Address: 140 George Street, The Rocks, Sydney, Australia

 

ROUSE HILL HOUSE & FARM IN LEGO® BRICKS

After a few days of being at home resting, I was keen to get out and about with both Farley and Hallie. Braino had gone back to work but Mum was still staying with us so I had an extra set of hands to help navigate taking both toddler and newborn out for the day.   

I was thinking of going to the Brickman  Awesome Exhibit at the Sydney Convention Center but the thought of traveling in to the city felt a little ambitious. I remembered that Rouse Hill House and Farm also has an interactive LEGO® display and decided it would be a good alternative. It oddly combined two things I'm interested in - LEGO® and historic homes! 

Rouse Hill House and Farm is a 200 year old property that is part of the Sydney Living Museums network. The LEGO exhibit is located in the visitor centre and features a detailed LEGO® model of Rouse Hill House and the surrounding buildings, built by the Southern Hemisphere’s only LEGO®-certified professional, Australia’s Ryan McNaught, as well as the opportunity for kids to explore and build their own LEGO® creations. There is also DUPLO® and MEGA BLOCKS for younger kids. 

I would highly recommend it as a toddler friendly activity. Farley enjoyed looking at the LEGO® model of Rouse Hill House and loved playing with all the different styles of LEGO®. It kept her entertained for longer than I expected. Hallie had a feed and then slept the whole time while I wore her in the baby wrap. It’s in a comfortable air conditioned room which makes it a great option for a rainy or really hot day. The staff member who was co-ordinating the LEGO® exhibit was lovely and overall the display was well co-ordinated. You can pre book one of 3 hour long session throughout the day and number for each session are kept to a minimum, which gave each kid enough space to do their own thing. 

Also at Rouse Hill House and Farm you can take a tour of the farmyard, the house or the school house. We actually arrived a little too late for the farmyard tour but we did do the house tour, many for my enjoyment ( I'm a bit of a geek when it comes to abandoned buildings and historic homes ) however I wouldn’t recommend it with a toddler. The house is literally filled with antiques and is in a state of arrested decay. On the guided tour we were instructed to not touch anything, which is a challenge for a two year old, so Mum carried Farley the whole time but she naturally got very bored and squirmy. The house tour is not pram friendly but a baby or toddler in a carrier would be ok. We decided to give the following tour of the school house a miss but I imagine the farmyard tour would be more appropriate for toddlers.  

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TIPS AND INFORMATION

  • Getting there: Rouse Hill is a bit of hike from the city but it’s not too far if your in Sydney’s north or west. Driving is the best option and there was plenty of free parking on site. More info on getting to Rouse Hill House and Farm can be found here. 
  • Cost: Entry for the Rouse Hill House and Farm in LEGO® BRICK exhibit is $12 for adults, $8 for concessions and kids under 5 are free. This admission prices includes the tours of the property as well. 
  • Pram Friendly?: The LEGO® exhibit is in the visitor centre and access is pram friendly. We were able to take our pram right into the room however, during busier times, prams are required to be left on the deck. The tours are not particular pram friendly. The grounds of the property are quite large and the tour groups leave from the visitor centre in an extra large golf buggy. Prams can be left at the visitor centre but I'd recommended backing a carrier for babies. 
  • Food & Dinning: There is a large shaded deck attached to the visitor centre with lots of tables and chairs and complimentary water, tea and coffee bit there is no cafe or any where to purchase food, so definitely bring a packed lunch or snacks
  • Baby change facilities: There was a large disabled toilet with a baby change table located in the visitor centre. 
  • Sun protection: The LEGO exhibit is indoors but if you do take one of the guided tours, I'd recommend backing a sun protective gear as the grounds are large and sunny. 
  • Address: 356 Annangrove Road, Rouse Hill, NSW, 2155

The Rouse Hill House and Farm in LEGO® Bricks display is on until Sunday, 22nd of July 2018. Visit the website here