Things to do in Sydney with kids

Luna Park, Sydney
Luna Park, Sydney
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EVERYONE knows Sydney Harbour Bridge and Sydney Opera House are the Australian city’s two most famous landmarks but what’s the best way to get the perfect vista of the pair together?

The standard manner, of course, in which to see their vast splendour is by cruising into Circular Quay on a ferry, witnessing the scene unfolding bigger and bigger.

Big Bus Sydney

Big Bus Sydney

There is another more intoxicating method, though; from the top of a hurtling rollercoaster in Luna Park.

Sat at Milson’s Point, on the northern side of the harbour, rarely can an amusement park anywhere in the world have such a spectacular backdrop.

With its traditional fun fair-vibe - a Ferris Wheel has dotted the skyline here since 1935 in case you wanted a more tranquil vantage post than that Wild Mouse rollercoaster - it feels like a trip back into yesteryear with all of life’s simple pleasures.

Just how great are the dodgems everybody and what about that Hell slide Devil’s Drop?

Kangaroos at Wild Life Sydney Zoo

Kangaroos at Wild Life Sydney Zoo

I was in this part of Sydney, and various other areas of New South Wales, recently to cover Hull FC’s historic tour of the region.

The East Yorkshire club faced Wigan Warriors down the coast at Wollongong, the first-ever Super League game played outside of Europe, and then took part in a double-header involving NRL teams at Sydney’s ANZ Stadium.

But with a couple of days off - well, one-and-a-half - I had to be pretty smart with how I used the time in order to see the most of what Sydney truly has to offer.

Who am I kidding? The family had tagged along, too. In reality, then, this was all about my three year-old son and five-year old daughter...

Hopscotch for Geniuse at Powerhouse Museum

Hopscotch for Geniuse at Powerhouse Museum

So, what to do in Sydney with the children?

Luna Park was obviously a big hit and always a definite on the list.

However, spending time down at Darling Harbour was well worth it, too, with SEA LIFE Sydney and Wild Life Sydney Zoo handily next door to each other.

Although it boasts around 700 species of fish, SEA LIFE is certainly no ordinary aquarium.

It is also homes a pair of dugongs - the beautiful creatures often referred to as sea cows - called Pig and Wuru, the only two of this fascinating but hugely endangered species in human care in Australia.

Apparently, European sailors first finding their way in Australian waters, used to mistake them for mermaids but visitors here can get a far closer look at their magnificence to clearly see the difference…

Another major attraction is the Penguin Expedition which allows people to ride through and witness numerous different types of penguins while learning about the threats they currently face.

With the chance to walk through tunnels and be surrounded by menacing sharks, gliding stingrays or stunning seahorses, there is something to pique everyone’s interest including, of course, the obligatory Nemo and the world’s largest Great Barrier Reef display.

Alternatively, if it’s more land animals you fancy perusing, then Wild Life Sydney Zoo is a must-see.

Our kids are slightly obsessed with koalas so the chance to see them up close was brilliant.

Although the law in New South Wales says people aren’t allowed to handle these amazing animals, the zoo here does offer the opportunity to get inside their enclosures and view them at close hand, a guide giving an informative talk at the same time.

There’s no promise they’ll be awake, mind; these iconic animals have to somehow fit in 20 hours sleep per day.

Furthermore, you can wander through a kangaroo trail, go see those wonderfully mysterious Tasmanian Devils or hear the story of Ringo, the zoo’s resident wombat.

Perhaps the most fascinating - and daring - adventure, though, is to go face-to-face with a crocodile. Admittedly, there’s a window you peer through as you walk out through a see-through tunnel but it still seems close enough to witness the sheer size and ruthless potential of these majestic beasts.

There is also a daily feeding time slot if you want to see them come alive from their brooding inertia.

Another fine spot - especially if the weather isn’t great - is the Powerhouse Museum which offers a veritable feast of intriguing and fascinating insights into not only the world of science but art, space travel, computers, design and (with a nod to our own York Railway Museum), steam locomotives, too.

With so many interactive aspects, it is a dream for inquisitive and enquiring youngsters and also pleasing for the parents as well as Under 16s gain free entry.

There are numerous permanent exhibitions to absorb but also an eclectic mix of temporary ones.

Currently, there is Learn & Play! teamLab Future Park, a completely immersive light and colour exhibition where ‘imagination meets technology’ and your own artworks come alive, constantly evolving as you work your way through various installations.

For our second day, we made use of Big Bus Sydney - the hop-on hop-off service that is perhaps the best way to see all the city has to offer.

There are two options. The City Tour that includes 27 stops taking in all the usual suspects - Sydney Opera House and Harbour Bridge as well as the Royal Botanical Gardens and Sydney Tower Eye, which is the second tallest observation structure in the whole of the southern hemisphere.

However, having seen most of those, we branched out and opted for the Bondi Tour, a 45 minute jaunt out to the city’s famous Bondi Beach.

If tired of city backdrops, it is a great way to instantly unwind and savour an altogether different experience at one of the nation’s iconic spots.

The kids loved it, too - peering out from the top of the open-top bus almost as much as the beach itself - and, let’s not forget, they’re always the ones in charge...