Sydney is one of our favourite cities in Australia to visit. It is a beautiful city to wander around in, and there are lots of family friendly things to do. The drive from Adelaide takes about 15 hours, or the flight is about 2 hours, we’ve done both, although there is a lot more traffic than we are used to! What we love most about Sydney, is that the iconic views of the Harbour area, with the Sydney Harbour Bridge and Opera House, still have that wow factor no matter how many times we visit.
Sydney is the site of the first British colony in Australia, which was established in January 1788 at Sydney Cove, by Captain Arthur Phillip. Originally a penal settlement, the city grew on the hills surrounding Port Jackson, (which is commonly known as Sydney Harbour). The area is surrounded by national parks, and beautiful coastal bays, rivers, inlets and beaches, including the famous Bondi and Manly beaches. Also within the city there are many parklands, including Hyde Park and the Royal Botanic Gardens. Australians celebrate Australia Day each year on January 26th to mark the anniversary of the arrival of the first fleet from England.
There are hundreds of options for family accommodation in Sydney to suit every budget, but two that we have used and can recommend are the Oaks Goldsbrough Apartments at Darling Harbour and the Lane Cove River Tourist Park. At the Goldsbrough Apartments we enjoyed being close to the city centre and within walking distance of the Darling Harbour restaurants, cafes and attractions. We also had the convenience of self catering, as the apartment was spacious and included a kitchen. We stayed in a two bedroom apartment which accommodated 4 people with a double bed in one room and two singles in the other. Our apartment was over two floors, with a narrow staircase, but it’s worth checking to see if there are others in the building without stairs if that is a concern. The apartment was clean, modern and comfortable. The building was originally built in 1883, as Sydney’s original Goldsbrough-Mort Woolstore and still maintains many historical features, such as the ironbark columns and tallow-wood flooring, which we really liked. The kids loved staying here, enjoying the novelty of apartment style living and of course the indoor heated pool!
Equally as enjoyable, but a totally different style of accommodation was when we stayed in our tent at the Lane Cove Tourist Park. This was, hands down the best camping experience that we have ever had. The park offers a variety of camping options, powered or non-powered, grass or concreted campsites, for motorhomes, caravans, campervans or tents. There are also onsite cabins available for a more comfortable option. There’s a swimming pool and paddling pool, and you can cook up your meals in the campground kitchen, or on one of a number of electric barbecues. The campground itself is in a truly beautiful, natural setting with an abundance of wildlife that will come right up to (or in to!) your tent. The kids loved taking a torch tour in the evening to get up close and personal with possums, and beautiful birds joined us for breakfast. Lane Cove Tourist Park is still very accessible to central Sydney, just a short 30 minute drive away, or by public transport at the North Ryde train station.
When in Sydney, we enjoy wandering around the harbour area taking in the sights and watching the world go by. It’s easy to spend a few hours walking along the foreshore soaking it all up. Close by is also the area known as ‘The Rocks’ where it is easy to get a feel for what historical Sydney might have been like shortly after Europeans arrived. There are more than 100 heritage sites and buildings in The Rocks, and the oldest house is Cadman’s Cottage, built in 1816. The Dawes Point Battery is the oldest remaining European structure, built in 1791, and three remaining walls of Fort Phillip, still standing on Observatory Hill, were built 1804.
Our children quite enjoy a day out of exploring new areas, as we try to make the day as interactive and informative for them as we can, learning about our surroundings together. We think it’s important to share history and stories with our kids, no matter how young they are, and we’re always impressed by the tid-bits of information that they recall later on. To keep the kids engaged when visiting a city, we also try to include a few outings to places that we know will appeal to the young, and young at heart, and Sydney has no shortage of those! Check out Time Out’s Guide to Sydney’s 10 Best Activities for Kids. We would also add the Sydney Sealife Aquarium to the list, where we spent a thoroughly enjoyable morning. Also, a visit to Sydney would not be complete without a ferry ride to Manly for the most amazing views back toward the Harbour, and a fun day at the beach.