Our Journey to Australia Part II: Sydney with Kids!

To get caught up on our entire journey, you can find all parts of our Australia adventure below!

Our Journey to Australia Part I: The Park Hyatt Sydney for Families

Our Journey to Australia Part II: Sydney with Kids!

Our Journey to Australia Part III: The Australian Outback and Uluru

Our Journey to Australia Part IV: Adventures in Cairns!

Our Journey to Australia Part V: Hamilton Island

 

There are so many things to do with kids in Australia and in Sydney, in particular. It was hard for us to decide what the best choices were for our group that included four kids. As I’ve mentioned before, we consult Adventures by Disney to ascertain what they’ve determined are the best things to do with a group of travelers that include children. And that’s how we planned our entire Australian adventure. I like to call it “Adventures by Our Frugal Life.”

But let’s start at the beginning. As I’ve mentioned, we managed to get our family of four and my sister’s family of four to Australia for the holiday season in business class which was a feat that I’ll likely never be able to repeat. In order to get us all there in business class, however, we needed to travel one day apart. So, we arrived into Brisbane on the 23rd and my sister’s family was to follow the next day.

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My daughter in her Qantas business class seat on the upper deck of the 747.

We decided that we didn’t need an extra day in Sydney, waiting for their arrival, so we spent our first day in Brisbane. After contemplating whether we should spend that time at the Australia Zoo (home zoo of the Irwin family) or the Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary, we ended up choosing the sanctuary due to the great reviews, the fact that we’d be visiting the Taronga Zoo in Sydney on Christmas day. And the fact that my daughter was absolutely set on holding a koala also might have played small a role in the decision.

And it was a great choice. We were able to watch a sheep dog show (seeing what our dog was bred to do), we saw a real platypus for the first time (not Perry), and even some Tasmanian devils. But the highlights were definitely meeting the kangaroos and the koalas. The kangaroos were friendly and allowed most anyone to pat them and the koalas were so cuddly. Of course, we got the token picture of our family with the koala on our daughter’s lap. That was the highlight of the trip for her.

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Sheep dog show

It was a pretty hot day in Brisbane so we stayed at the sanctuary for only 3 or 4 hours before we made our way to our hotel. Our flight out of Brisbane was early, so I think we all were asleep by 5pm that night. Overall, our time in Brisbane was short, but enjoyable and we would highly recommend the sanctuary to anyone, with our without kids.

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A New Friend

Our time in Sydney was bit restricted given that we arrived on Christmas eve and that our time in included basically four days of holiday festivities. Christmas eve, Christmas day, and Boxing day made up 3 of our 4 days. But, we managed to schedule our time to take advantage of what was open.

On Christmas eve, we got acquainted with our hotel and surroundings. The kids loved the pool and we spent a good amount of our time there. We had a nice dinner out and prepared our minimal gifts for Christmas morning.

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Park Hyatt Sydney Pool with Harbour Bridge in Background

Lucky for us Taronga Zoo and the ferry system were operating on Christmas day so that’s where we spent the majority of our Christmas. We saw lots of animals, including those native to Australia along with those native to Africa. We bought our zoo tickets at the ferry terminal so we were able to bypass the ticket queue and make our way straight to the gondola taking us up to the top of the zoo. We made our way down on foot, stopping to see the exhibits along the way. It was much different than any other Christmas we’ve experienced, but lots of fun!

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Taronga Zoo

The next day (Boxing Day), we made our way via taxi to Bronte Beach where we walked along the cliffs to Bondi Beach. The mile and a half journey was a pretty easy one, but our kids were tired and spent a lot of the time during the jaunt complaining. As an FYI, one stroller and two tired kids does make for pleasant walking.

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View on Cliff Walk from Bronte to Bondi Beach

Upon arrival at Bondi, bathing suits were donned and it was into the water for some beach time. The kids had lots of fun splashing about, but the waves were really strong so we didn’t spend a ton of time in the water. That combined with the strong sun motivated us to do a little shopping then head back to the hotel for some relaxation and pool time. That afternoon my aunt and her husband arrived and our party of eight had now increased to ten. So. Much. Fun.

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Bondi Beach

On our final day in Sydney, we woke up to dreary, cool weather but we decided to head off to Manly beach anyway where a few in our party wanted to learn to surf. Unfortunately, the cool air and cool water resulted in nobody giving it a go. The kids did play in the water for a bit while the adults shivered on the shore. As the morning progressed, the weather improved so we did a little (mostly window) shopping on our way back to the ferry to take us back to Sydney.

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Cloudy Morning at Manly

That afternoon, we met up with our guide at Bonza Bike Tours for the two and a half hour Sydney Highlights bike tour. We were a group ranging in ages from 4 to 61 yet the Highlights tour worked great for everyone. Our four year old is a pretty good bike rider, but the company appeared to only have one tagalong so she was relegated to spending her tour in a cart instead of the back of my bike. She did swap with her brother for a brief period, but mostly she just enjoyed the ride.

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Bikes Built for Ten! Notice the Crowds…

For the most part, we enjoyed the two hour Highlights tour. Much longer and I think many would have started to complain. It wasn’t the best day of the year to embark on the tour since the city was literally the most crowded it ever gets. Our guide said that the last time he remembered the city so crowded was the same day a year prior. Negotiating the area with wall to wall people was a challenge. But the weather was nice and we enjoyed the ride.

And the next morning we were off to the outback for a little time in the desert. Our time in Sydney was great. We hit all the highlights (including the Harbour bridge and Opera House from our hotel). The holiday period did not disrupt our visit other than the fact that some restaurants were closed which limited our dining choices. But the roads were clear which made for shorter (and cheaper) than normal taxi rides!

The one activity that would be a “not to miss” in my book but that we did not partake in during this visit would be the Bridge Climb on the Harbour Bridge. We did this climb on our short visit to Sydney in 2007 and absolutely loved the experience. But our kids are a little too young for the climb and given that my husband and I have done it before, we didn’t feel it necessary to do it again. If we do find ourselves in Sydney when the kids are a little older, this will definitely be an activity we’ll do together.

We really loved Sydney as a city and would love to return someday. But our bucket list is long so “someday” may be many years away. I’d highly recommend Sydney as a family destination and again would recommend the Park Hyatt as the hotel of choice. I know you’d be hard pressed to find anything better in a city that is correctly positioned on the top of family bucket lists around the world.

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Harbour Bridge View from Park Hyatt

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