I'm a freelance writer living on Sydney's north shore. I like tea, books and pop music. If I can combine these into a single activity I'm a happy man.
Published May 15th 2014
Don't spend a cent on the kids this long weekend
Top 4 Free Children's Events In Sydney This June Long Weekend Wondering what to do with the kids this June long weekend? Whilst Sydney's natural beauty and ample beaches, parks and bush provide a host of free fun, if you are looking for something a bit different, take a look at this list of some of the best free activities for kids in Sydney over the coming break.
Educational and fun, the University of Sydney's Nicholson Museum has several child friendly exhibitions over the long weekend showcasing life in two of the most famous ancient worlds – Egypt and Greece.
Following up his remarkable LEGO model of the Colosseum in 2012, 'brickman' Ryan McNaught has now turned his hands to another icon of the ancient world – the Acropolis in Athens. Constructed entirely from LEGO, McNaught shows the Acropolis both as it would have appeared in its heyday during the 5th century AD, and also how it appears today in a rather more ruinous state. Adding to the quirk factor, which will probably appeal more to the parents than the kids, the model is peopled with Lego representations of the rich and famous who have visited the structure over the years, including Pericles, Agatha Christie and Elton John, who is shown belting out a tune on his piano (wearing of course the obligatory kooky glasses).
For the true history buffs, also on display is the University of Sydney's 19th century plaster model of how the Acropolis looked in 1895.
Also worth seeing is the more serious Egyptians, Gods & Mummies display. Showcasing ancient Egypt through the eyes of Greek travel writer Herodotus, who travelled up the Nile in 450BC, treasures such as carved granite temple columns are bound to bore the kids senseless however the display of mummified cats, crocodiles, birds, not to mention the three human mummies, will have them squealing in horrified delight.
The Nicholson Museum is located at the Camperdown Campus of the University of Sydney at the southern end of the Quadrangle on Manning Road. The museum is open 12pm-4pm on Saturday 7th June. Pay and display parking is available nearby. By train, the campus is a 10 minute walk from Redfern station, or 15 minutes from Central. Several buses stop on Parramatta Road near the campus, including 412, 413, 438-440 & Metrobus M10. For maps and more details, see the University of Sydney website or Transport NSW.
BirdLife Discovery Centre Sydney Olympic Park has a host of free activities for the family and one of the best is the BirdLife Discovery Centre. Situated on the edge of the park at the Newington Armory, a former depot for the Royal Navy's armaments, BirdLife allows everyone to see up close, engage with and learn about Australia's native birds as well as the exotic migratory birds that make our city their temporary home. Join in the free, hour long Saturday morning tour that will help you spot and identify native birds in the area, or if the weather is bad stay in the centre and view the exhibits and tune in to EagleCAM, the Big Brother of the bird world, which allows you to watch the activities of the park's breeding pair of white-bellied eagles high up in the tree tops.
The BirdLife Discovery Centre is situated at the Newington Armory, 1 Jamieson Street, on the edge of the Sydney Olympic Park. The centre is open Saturday and Sunday 10am-4pm. The free hour-long tours leave from outside the Discovery Centre at 10:30am every Saturday. Parking is available at the end of Jamieson Street; signs will then direct you to the centre. Public transport is difficult – the nearest train station is Olympic Park, a 40 minute walk away; buses 525, 526, 540 and 544 pass within a 25 minute walk of the centre.
Gallery Kids Sunday Performance: The Art of Drawing Part of the Art Gallery of NSW's regular kids events, on Sunday June 8 renowned children's book illustrator David Legge will be holding a half hour workshop for kids in the Gallery's entrance court, demonstrating different techniques and offering advice to any budding young artists looking to improve their craft. Legge has illustrated many children's books, including Bamboozled, which he also wrote, Kisses for Daddy and Captain Crabclaw's Crew.
Access to the rest of the Art Gallery of NSW is also free, so make time to explore the rest of the building. Kid-friendly exhibits include Nike Savvas' Rally, a 50 metre 'vast, billowing field of colour' made from 60,000 strips of coloured plastic suspended from the Gallery's ceiling.
The Art of Drawing is held at 2:30pm on the 8th June in the Art Gallery of NSW Entrance Court, accessed through the vestibule at the front of the building off Art Gallery Road. Meter parking is available on Art Gallery Road, Mrs Macquarie's Road and other nearby streets. Paid parking stations are situated nearby, including the Domain car park on St Mary's Road which offers a discount if your ticket is stamped at the Gallery information desk. Bus 441 leaves the York Street side of the QVB every 30 minutes and stops right outside the gallery. By train, St James and Martin Place are both approximately a 10-minute walk away.
The Vivid Aquatique Water Theatre
In four short years Vivid Sydney has become one of Australia's foremost cultural festival. The various light projections and installations across the city are one of the festival's top attractions, and best of all they are absolutely free.
One of the more family-friendly is the Vivid Aquatique Water Theatre at Darling Harbour, now in its second year. Staged by French water art experts Aquatique Show International, the show is described as 'completely immersive water theatre' and features dancing water jets in a myriad of colours, video projections, giant water screens, coloured lasers and sculptural fountains inspired by Louis XIV's water garden at the Palace of Versailles. If that isn't enough, some of the shows will also feature marine fireworks.
The show is free and runs on the hour, every hour from 6pm to 11pm (with an extra 8:30pm show on Saturday) so there are plenty of opportunities to catch a performance. If you feel like making a complete night of it, some of the restaurants in the area including Nick's Seafood, Cyren & Adria have outdoor areas that directly overlook the show – just make sure you ask for a outside table.
The Vivid Aquatique Water Theatre is held on Cockle Bay at Darling Harbour from 23 May – 9 June. The best vantage points are along Cockle Bay Wharf. Darling Harbour is approximately a 10-minute walk from Town Hall rail station. Buses 412 and 413 service King Street Wharf, also a 10-minute walk away. Find more public transport information here. There is a Wilson car parking station in nearby Sussex St with rates starting from $15 for 1 hours on Saturdays and Sundays.