It has been 2 weeks since our fun in Sydney ended and we are still missing it terribly. So what better way to relive it than to glean the top 10 highlights of our trip and share them with all our readers.
1. Mowbray Park Farm
For the monkies, our farm stay at Mowbray Park undoubtedly ranked as their top highlight of our trip. The kids got the chance to be farmers for a day as they tagged along a farmer to feed farm animals, milk cows, collect chicken eggs and ensure that all the enclosures were secured. Did I mention pony-riding, whip-cracking, boomerang-throwing and an awesome billy tea and damper session out in the woods? No wonder the boys were on the verge of tears when we checked out!
2. Luna Park
Granted it is no Disneyland or Universal Studios, but this restored 1930s theme park still charmed the socks off us. There is something magically old-school about it, with its heart-racing rides, attractions and a refurbished 1930s fun house Coney Island which contains a heap of nostalgic rides such as the Giant Slides, Turkey Trot, Wonky Walk, Mirror Maze and Barrels of Fun.
3. Sydney Fish Market
Sydney Fish Market is the largest market of its kind in the Southern Hemisphere and the world's second largest seafood market in terms of variety outside of Japan. This was one of those places that the wifey and I wanted to visit more than the monkies but in the end, it turned out that they enjoyed it more than us.
They had a field day in trying to identify the wide array of fresh seafood on display, though I suspect they loved the attention they received when we were trailed by seagulls and pelicans more. It was also their first time trying oysters, albeit cooked ones. They absolutely loved the Kilpatrick Oysters - oysters grilled to perfection with cheese and bacon. As for me, the sight of seeing all the raw fishes had me craving for fish head curry.
Waking up to a view of the magnificent Sydney Harbour every single morning - how can this not rank as one of the highlights of our Sydney trip? Everything about our 2-bedroom accommodation at Quay West Suites was impeccable; from its superb location (walking distance to Circular Quay), room amenities (full kitchenette facilities and washing machine and dryer) to its ever-accommodating staff.
5. Darling Harbour
If you are travelling with kids, then Darling Harbour is the place to be. Brimming with world‐class attractions, it is Sydney’s best attractions all packed into one location. We visited the SEA LIFE Sydney Aquarium which boasts the world’s largest collection of all-Australian aquatic life, and the Powerhouse Museum which houses more than 250 fun-packed exhibits that feature an assembly of technical, scientific and industrial wizardry. And the monkies loved them!
If you are there over the weekend, do catch the Harbourside Fireworks too. They may not be as impressive as our NDP fireworks, but there is something extraordinary (and less perspiration-inducing) about watching fireworks in a cooler and less humid climate, and I will never say no to that.
6. iVenture Card
If you are visiting tons of touristy locations, get the iVenture Card so that you can save lots on all the attraction entrance fees. The iVenture Card is a 'smart card' - like a credit card with a computer chip inside - which allows you completely cash free entry or access to your choice of top experiences in Sydney. We had the 3-day Sydney Unlimited Attractions Pass, together with unlimited travel on Sydney's buses, trains, ferries and light rail, and it was super convenient!
There can only be one option for us when it comes to getting around Australia, and that is to self-drive. We didn't need a car during our stay in the city centre of Sydney though because its transport network is pretty much all-encompassing. That, and the fact that parking is terribly exorbitant - A$19 for an hour's worth of parking, anyone?
But once we made our way to Kiama and Blue Mountains, we had our fantastic rental vehicle which came in the form of a 7-seater Toyota Kluger, thanks to Hertz.
8. Blue Mountains
We loved our 3-night stay atop Blue Mountains, never mind that it dropped to a numbing cold of 4 degrees during nightfall! There is just so much to do there that I would highly recommend all families spend a minimum of 2 nights at Blue Mountains if your schedule allows.
Besides the famous Three Sisters, we visited Scenic World, explored the Jenolan Caves, and joined in the festivties at the annual Winter Magic Festival. Scenic World is home to 4 attractions, of which the most famous is the Katoomba Scenic Railway - at 52 degrees incline, it is the steepest passenger railway in the world. The Jenolan Caves was truly awe-inspiring, made even more so with the fact both Ash and Ayd manage to tackle the 910-steps Lucas Cave - deemed as the hardest cave walk there.
9. Sydney Harbour Tall Ships Cruise
Sure, there are plenty of options when it comes to cruises along the Sydney Harbour. But to step back in time and board a historic Tall Ship while sailing along Sydney Harbour, nothing comes as authentic as Sydney Harbour Tall Ships. This one cruise where one can get involved and help hoist the sails or just sit back, relax and enjoy. Better yet, Ash and Ayd attempted the Mast Climb as they scaled the 15-metre mast while out at sea!
10. Optus A$2/day Data Plan
I saved the best for last because quite frankly, there is nothing like being still able to stay connected to the online world while on holiday. Or maybe that's just me.
But just in case if there is anyone out there who doesn't mind an affordable data plan while holidaying in Australia, be sure to purchase the its-too-good-to-be-true A$2/day prepaid SIM card from Optus. There is one shop located just after you exit the Custom Clearance at the airport and all you have to do is tell the staff how many days worth of data you would want to purchase; i.e. you pay A$10 for 5 days worth of unlimited data connection. Only drawback? It is an Australian mobile number so that means you are restricted to voice calls and messages within Australia, though I could still access my usual Whatsapp messages. But that's a small price to pay in exchange for access to Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, no?
Hope that you have found them to be useful in drafting out your Sydney itinerary if you have the intention of heading there for a getaway! I will be blogging in detail about our various experiences in Sydney, but those blog posts will only come at end of this month or early August, at the request of Destination New South Wales. So if you are in need for more travel ideas and tips, do visit sydney.com.