... a dreamer, freelance writer, massage therapist, naturopath, mother & drop-out social work student living, working and writing in the Blue Mountains. When not occupied with the real world, she writes fantasy.
Published July 2nd 2012
Indoors activities like these keep mum and dad warm and the small fry occupied.
This list is dedicated to that very challenged and long-suffering group: Parents Looking After Kids on Freezing Cold Days and in the School Holidays. If you are ripping your hair out over what to do with your miniature beloved read on.
With the oft foul winter weather in mind, there's a bias towards places you can go indoors, with the added benefit it won't be you paying for the heating bill. There are suggestions for physical activities indoors as well as outdoors – so there's no need to freeze while they run about. Stave off the cabin fever, whingeing and boredom and spare yourself angst.
A summary of ideas is provided here so you can scroll down quickly through this list. Go directly to the links in the article to find out further information about each activity from the relevant website. While most of these activities are in Sydney, for those in the suburbs or regional Australia, you can Google search for something similar closer to home. Bookmark this list for future reference on those days when you're stuck for ideas.
In the interests of parents everywhere, please feel free to leave comments for further creative suggestions of things to do or helpful information about your personal experience.
PHYSICAL ACTIVITIES – OUTDOOR
Pony Riding at Centennial Park This 10 minute hand-led pony ride is for children 4-10 years. Children must be accompanied by adults. When: 7th, 8th July, 4th, 5th August, 10am-2pm Where: Tickets are sold at the Visitor Information Counter, next to the Kiosk, Banksia Way, Centennial Park, which is also the meeting point. Price: $14 per person. Bookings are not required. Purchase your ticket on the day. Please note: The activity is cancelled in wet weather.
My Little Ponies This activity includes a short pony ride and tour of the place where the horses live plus talk about what they eat and how to care for them. This is popular so advance book through the website. This is for children 2-5 years old. They must be accompanied by an adult. Maximum 3 places per booking by customer. When: 17 July, 26 July, 14 August and 23 August 2012, 10.00 am - 11.00 am Where: Meet at Equestrian Centre Gates, cnr Cook & Lang Rds. Price: $18 Phone: (02) 9339 6699 to book. If it is outside business hours, you can complete their online Booking/Enquiry form.
Activity Parks Tree Top Adventure Park
Contains105 challenges in the tree tops including 20 flying foxes of different lengths and a high ropes course hidden in the forest. Courses are graded according to level of difficulty for all ages and cater to all skill levels. Where: Red Hill Road Wyong Creek in Ourimbah State Forest. Phone: 02 4025 1008 (Please keep trying the phone is not disconnected.) When: The park is open 7 days a week. From 27th April to 18 September: Weekend - 9am to 4:30pm, Mon-Fri - 10am to 4pm. Entries after 2 O'clock is only by prior arrangement. Cost: Children 3 - 9 years old: $25 Juniors 10 - 17 years old: $35 Adults: $45. Book online to avoid disappointment as there are limited places in this multi-tourism award winner.
Hire rowboats, canoes, paddleboats or bikes. Where: The Boatshed, Riverside Drive, North Ryde. Near picnic area 6 on the South side of the River. See the website for location directions. Hours: 10am-5pm weekends and public holidays. Price: See detailed info on the website. As a guide, a 2 man canoe costs $40 to hire for 2 hours and $30 for one hour.
Hire a canoe to explore the river at Lane Cove Boatshed.
Bundeena Kayaks and Paddleboards
Kayaking activities for groups of children. Unfortunately, you have to organize the group. See the website for more info.
Kids need to be competent swimmers and preferably over 8 years old. Other options here include sunset tours and lessons or just hiring a kayak.
Cycling – Centennial Park
Centennial Park Cycles offers a wide range of bicycles to suit all types of cyclists - from beginners to the experienced. Their hire fleet includes mountain bikes, road bikes, kids bikes and even pedal cars. See the website for hiring rates. Where: You can find Centennial Park Cycles adjacent to the amenities near Federation Valley, approximately 100m from the intersection between Grand Drive and Hamilton Drive. When: 9.00 am - 5.00 pm, seven days a week (last hire 4.00 pm) Phone: (02) 9398 5027
** Please note: you can also hire bikes at Sydney Olympic Park.
Go to this link to the website.
Centennial Park, Learners Cycle way
Rollerblading – Centennial Park
Centennial Park's Grand Drive has a 3.6 kilometre cycling lane with low gradient which is ideal for rollerblading. Cycle helmets and safety equipment is recommended. Please read the Parklands Rules and Regulations before rollerblading in Centennial Parklands.
If you don't possess your own rollerblades or safety equipment, you can hire it from: Skater HQ Shop 2154 The Entertainment Quarter, Moore Park. Phone: (02) 9368 0940
Monster BMX and Mountain X Track, Sydney Olympic Park
250 metres of downhill dirt jumps and turns. Free for use when not in club use. Suitable for ages 8-15 years. When: Daily, sunrise to sunset Where: Mountain X Track, Sydney Olympic Park Cost: Free to use. Contact: Phone: 02 9714 7888
BMX riders at Sydney Olympic Park
There's nothing to stop you grabbing a kite and taking it for a fly. However, below is a Kite workshop your kids might enjoy. Kite Fly By and Workshop
The meeting place is supplied upon booking. The activity includes a kite-making workshop by a discovery ranger and is suitable for ages 5-12. Presented by NSW National Parks & Wildlife. When: Thursday 5th July 2012, 12.30-2.30pm Where: Middle Head, Mosman, Sydney Harbour National Park Cost: $12 per child, Accompanying adults free of charge. Phone: 92530888 or book online here.
PHYSICAL ACTIVITIES - INDOOR
Teenage Play Zones - Laser Skirmish, Bowling, etc
Various locations and companies to choose from. Here's some.
They have 43 centres across Australia with entertainment ranging from bowling to arcade games and M9 Laser Skirmish. Click on the link above for more info.
First Floor, 507 High Street, Penrith
Phone: (02) 4722 2203
235 ClARENCE STREEt sydney SYDNEY
Phone: 61(2) 9299 2888
4 hi-tech bowling lanes, a laser skirmish arena, 3 private karaoke rooms, a cocktail bar and an outdoor terrace,
Xtreme Playzone, Asquith
57 Salisbury Rd, Asquith
Phone: 02 9476 8801
Also has cosmic glow in the dark golf, bumper cars and other fun activities. Have seen this reviewed positively by parents who've been there with their kids.
ICE-SKATING – INDOOR AND OUTDOOR
This winter you have a range of ice-skating options including annual Winter Festivals and dedicated indoor ice-skating rinks. Whether indoors or outdoors, you'll need to rug up – these places are chilly.
Sydney Winter Festival, Bondi - Ice Skating Rink
The huge open air ice skating rink is the main feature of this festival. On top of that enjoy music and food. There'll be stuff for adults to do too. Where: Bondi Beach When: 29th June – 15th July Hours: The ice skating rink is open from 10am – 10pm every day throughout the festival. Details: The skating sessions commence every hour on the hour. The last session therefore commences at 9pm each day. Each ice skating session is 45 minutes long. It is recommended to book online. When you go to the website link (in the heading) check out the FAQ page for all info about the ice-skating rink.
The Ice Skating Rink at Winter Light Festival, Parramatta
Macquarie Ice Rink
Offers skating sessions, skating parties and Kiddies Klub (skating lesson, snow play and little lunch for 2 to 5 year olds). Please note: Kiddies Klub is not available during the school holidays. Where: The rink is located within Macquarie Shopping Centre on the corner of Waterloo and Herring Roads, North Ryde. You can get three hours of free parking in the Shopping Centre, and the fourth hour free if you get your parking ticket verified by the centre.
Penrith Ice Palace
Offers public skating sessions, programs for kids, birthday parties, discos and programs to learn ice skating. Also has a canteen offering some basic refreshments.
Ice rink is 30 x 60 metres (Olympic sized). Indoor temp is 12 to 16 degrees Celsius. Where: 7 Patty's Place, Jamisontown 2749 Phone: (02) 4733-2611 Cost: Children 11 and under: $17, Children 12 and over: $18. Adults: $20. Family ticket available. Note: Skating sessions runs to specific times. Consult the website for more info.
SNOW IN THE HUNTER VALLEY GARDENS
Okay, so this isn't exactly in Sydney, but it sounds like damn fun. For two weeks over the winter school holidays the beautiful Hunter Valley Gardens will be transformed into an enchanting winter wonderland. Have fun on the skating rink to disco music and smoke machine. Please note: ice-skating sessions are limited and must be pre-booked. Other activities include treasure hunt, jumping castle, play zone, mechanical snowboarding, snowball challenge and a performance by the Scallywags. Suitable for all ages. Check out more on the website. When: 30th of June until the 15th of July. Entry Prices: Day: Adult $25, Pensioners, Concessions and Locals $20, Children (4-15 years) $13, Children (3 years & Under FREE), Family (2 Adults & 2 children) $65, Extra Child with Family $7.00 (4-15 years)
INDOOR ROCK CLIMBING
Girl at Climbfit. Should keep them busy.
The Edge Adventure Centre. Rockclimbing Sydney
Tallest indoor rock climbing and abseiling centre in Australia with over 120 climbs. Where: 9/10 Hudson Ave Castle Hill NSW 2154 When: Open 7 days, Monday to Friday - 12pm to 10pm
Saturday / Sunday / Public Holidays - 9am to 6pm
School Holidays - 9am to 10pm Cost: Child: $15,00. Prices: Child $15.00, Concession $17.00, Adult $20.00, For the complete package (includes instruction, harness, shoes and chalk hire) add another $10.00.
Climbfit, St Leonards
One of Sydney's largest indoor climbing centres. Has over 200 set routes and caters to all levels of experience and expertise. Group bookings, memberships, courses, birthday party packages and clinics are also available. Cost: Entry starts at $16 for adults and $10 for children. Harness hire is an extra $6. Where: Climb Fit Indoor Climbing Gym, Sydney, Unit 4/12 Frederick St, St Leonards NSW Trading Hours: Monday, Friday 6am - 10pm Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday 6am - 11pm Saturday, Sunday 8am - 8pm Public Holidays 9am - 9pm. Phone: 02 9436 4600
LIVE SPORTING GAMES
For sporty kids, take them to watch a live game of tennis, basketball, soccer, football or so on. Unfortunately, being a person who stumbles over their own feet and wouldn't know a tennis ball from a billiard ball, I have no information on this.
KIDS SHOWS / THEATRE
Ahhh, now something I know about ...
Disney on Ice
Ice-skating show spectacle featuring Disney characters. Check out their website for comprehensive information on how to get there, where to park and so on – it's quite complicated. Be prepared. Where: Allphones Arena, Sydney Olympic Park Price: ranges from $23.50 to $69.50 depending on seating.
Disney On Ice - high quality kids entertainment at Allphones Arena, Sydney Olympic Park, Homebush.
Seussical Jr, Bankstown Theatre Company Young Performers
Where: Zenith Theatre, Corner of Railway and McIntosh Streets, Chatswood When: Wednesday 6 July – Thursday 14 July Details: Musical based on the works of Dr Seuss including Horton the Elephant, The Cat in the Hat, Gertrude McFuzz, Lazy Mayzie, and tiny Jojo. Price: Adult $25, Concession $20, Groups of 10 $20 each, Family Pass (2 adults, 2 children) $70 Information or to book: phone 9777 7547
Lah-Lah's Musical Wonderland
An interactive musical show for kids featuring Lah-Lah and her band including Buzz the bandleader, Lola the dancing double bass, Squeezey Sneezy the allergic piano accordion, Mister Saxophone and Tom Tom the drums. Suits kids up to the age of about seven.
Lah-Lah is a child-focused five piece chamber ensemble run by experienced performers and music educators When: 9 July 2012; 10am & 12pm Where: City Recital Hall Angel Place, 2-12 Angel Place, Ticket prices: All ages $21, Family of 4 $75 (additional fees may apply) Bookings: 02 8256 2222
These are usually run by RSL's and other clubs. Here's one to get you started. At $5.50 this is cheap entertainment.
Kids show and disco, The Jitterbugs at Club Five Dock
EDUCATIONAL / CULTURE / MUSEUMS: Sydney Observatory – 3D Space Theatre and Telescope Dome Tour
Probably the most popular activity at the Observatory. Consists of a film in which you see the Universe come to life and the chance to view the universe through Observatory telescopes with the assistance of staff and good weather. When: Monday to Friday 2.30-3.30pm, Weekends 11am, 12pm, 2.30pm, 3.30pm during school terms. July School Winter Holidays program is on Sat 30th June to Monday 16 July 2012. Price: Adult $8, Child (4 to 15 years) $6. Family packages and concessions available. Bookings only needed for large groups.
Holidays-Program]July 2012 School Holidays Program.[/LINK]
Now, that's ugly - amazing creature in the Deep Oceans Exhibition.
Chronicles of Narnia – Exhibition – Powerhouse Museum
This exhibition gives the chance for children to experience three dimensional settings including the White Witch's throne, a frozen waterfall, battlements and over 150 costumes, set dressings and props from the movie. When: Till 26 August 2012 10am - 5pm (latest entry is 3.30pm). School holiday hours 9.30am to 5.30pm (last entry 3.30pm) Where: Powerhouse Museum, Ultimo, 500 Harris St Ultimo
Phone: 92170111 Cost: Adult : $17, Children [4-15] $12. Note: the ticket includes general admission to the museum. Concessions and family ticket prices are available. See the website.
The Ice Queen's Throne at the Chronicles of Narnia Exhibition. Very ''cool'!
Ghost Stories on Manly's Q Station
Listen to scary stories and legends about internees at this former Quarantine Station. This walking tour takes 2 hours. Maximum participants for each tour is 24. Suits children 5-16 years, but they must be accompanied by an adult. You could also stay overnight at this excellent hotel. Where: Q Station, North Head Scenic Drive Manly When: 6-8pm Fridays and Saturdays (winter) Price: $34.00 Adult, $26.00 Child, $30.00 Concession (Students & Pensioners), $109.00 2 adults & 2 children
Ghost Tours at the Rocks, Sydney
The tour lasts 90 minutes and bookings are essential. Suitable for children over 8 years old.
Explore the dark lanes and alleyways of the Rocks while listening to true ghostly tales. When: Every evening. Where: Cadman's Cottage, 110 George Street (below street level) The Rocks, Sydney Phone: (02) 9241 1283 Cost: Adults: $40, Children: $30.
Ghostly experience, Q Station
MOVIE OPTIONS WITH A DIFFERENCE
Imax Cinema, Darling Harbour Sydney Where: 31 Wheat Road, Darling Harbour
Has the distinction of being the world's biggest movie screen and we all know bigger is better. Often has popular latest release 3D films and 3D docos.
Govinda's Movie Room Where: 112 Darlinghurst Rd, Darlinghurst NSW Phone: 02 9380 5155 When: Evening movie session times only. On weekends these start a little earlier in the evening. The movie room is closed on Mondays and Tuesdays. Details: You can also eat from the vegetarian buffet. Try this movie experience on cushions for something different. Come early as people start queueing for the best cushion spots about half an hour before the movie starts and this is a very small cinema. Ahh ... and you need to book.
The cushioned Movie Room at Govinda's. Movie with a difference and the veg buffet is yummo too.
Drive In Movies at Randwick Racecourse
Sorry, not much info on the website, but maybe you can do better than me. When: Every Friday, Saturday and Sunday night throughout July and the rest of winter.
STEAM TRAIN RIDES
Trainworks, Thirlmere Village
Trainworks is one of the largest train and rail attractions in the southern hemisphere. With 5 hectares of grounds there's ample space for a picnic or BBQ. There's also a shop on premises if you can't be bothered with bringing food. Train Works showcases a range of Steam Engines, Carriages and Rolling Stock from the 1800s and 1900s. There are regular events suited to kids including Thomas the Tank Engine Days, Steam Train Rides, Vintage Train Days, Special Events such as Santa's Steam Train at Christmas. Check out their winter school holidays program. Also see the Day out with Thomas information (below). Where: 10 Barbour Road in Thirlmere - about 90 minutes south of Sydney. When: Trainworks is open 7 days a week. Monday to Friday 10am - 4pm Saturday and Sunday 9am - 5pm Phone: 02 4681 8001 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
Trainworks Day out with Thomas When: 14, 15 July 2012, 9am-5pm Where: Trainworks, Thirlmere (Where?? - near Picton) Details: Suitable for little ones, this full day activity includes a Thomas the Tank Engine themed steam train ride from Sodor Island Railway Station, jumping castles, inflatable slide, mini train rides, story-telling and face painting. Includes activities and entrance to Trainworks. Phone: 02 4681 8001 Cost: Adults: $35 per ticket and Children (ages 2-16) are $25.
Thomas the Tank Engine at Trainworks - sure to enchant little ones!
MANLY FERRY RIDE
At $7 for a one-way adult ride to Manly this is a cheap but still entertaining idea – especially enjoyable on a sunny day. My daughter loved the ocean, gazing at Luna Park's smiling funny face and the ice-cream at Manly.
AMUSEMENT RIDES / PARKS Luna Park
Everyone knows this place or has been there in childhood. I don't really have anything more to add to what you already know. Enough said. See the website for prices and hours.
KIDS INDOOR PLAY CENTRES
Castle Slide at the Jitterbugs Play Centre. Helps you have a break.
These seem to be growing in popularity and sprouting up everywhere. Here's two just to give you a taste.
One of the most successful kids indoor playland franchises with at least 14 centres in Australia. Check out the website to locate one near to you. The Penrith one has a huge climbing playframe 6 metres high which includes a Speedy 3 Lane Carnival Slide, a Slippery Bouncy Slide, bridges, tunnels, large ball pit, flying fox and much more. There is a Teapot and Teacups Merry-Go-Round, Make Believe shops, PC's with games for different ages and air hockey. Adults can relax (or attempt to – hey, I'm not guaranteeing anything) in the café. Check out the programs for the winter school holidays ranging from face painting to shows.
The Jitterbugs Playland and Café, Castle Towers, Castle Hill
Relax in the cafe while being able to watch your child play safely in the soft play centre. Includes jumping castle, ball pit, slides and so on. Very reasonably priced. When: 7 days per week 9.00-5pm Sundays 10.00-5pm. Also open public holidays. Where: Jitterbugs Playland and Cafe, Shop 300a Level 3 Castle Towers, Castle Hill. Price: $3.50 for non walkers, $8.00 under 2's, $10.00 over 2's. This includes unlimited all day playtime. Adult entry is free as it should be - holy moly, we don't really want to be there in the first place. Phone: 96341674
Jitterbugs Playland Cafe Counter - be served by ladybugs.
SYDNEY OLYMPIC PARK
This deserves it's own section. Sydney Olympic Park has developed into a top venue for a wide range of physical activities for both adults and children. It's also a popular entertainment venue. Kids in the Park Program
The kids in the Park program contains many free or cheap options for things to do. Some of what's on offer includes:
- Free AFL Clinics on 3 and 5 July from 9am-10.30am.
- Free Rugby League Clinics on the 4th and 11th July from 9am-12.30pm, (kids aged 6-12)
- Baking day at Lilies on the Park café. Cost: $19. Dates: 3, 5, 10 and 12 July at 10am and 2.30pm. With some grown up help, kids aged 2-5 can roll-out and decorate their own cookies and take them home in their own cookie bag at the end of the day.
- One hour archery lesson - 2-13 July 2012 11am, 1pm and 2.30pm - Archery Centre cost: $16
- Circus Solarus Pirates of the Cauldron (2-6 & 9-13 July 2012 11am and 1pm) - Cathy Freeman Park. This pirate adventure with Circus Solarus is free.
- Writing workshops
- Tennis Camp
- Table Tennis for Beginners
- And much more.
To find out more see the info on the website, call the Sydney Olympic Park Infoline on 02 9714 7888. Also, check-out Sydney Olympic Park's YouTube Channel.
When: Kids in the Park activities are on every day from Saturday 30 June - Sunday 15 July.
Circus Solarus Pirates of the Cauldron Kids in the Park Activity
** Anytime of the year, there is the opportunity for cycling, skateboarding swimming (heated pools) and more at Sydney Olympic Park. Add that to your list.