Do you consider yourself an outdoors-y person? Nope. Me neither. But kids have all that energy to burn. Luckily, here in Sydney there’s endless ways to wear them out.
When you’re from Melbourne like we are, the standout benefit of living in Sydney is pretty obvious. The weather here is truly sensational. Not too humid like further north, but much milder than down south. And lots and lots of sunshine. So conditions are perfect for taking the kids out, winding them up and letting them go.
These are our favourite ways to get the kids out in the sunshine, having fun, getting into nature, breathing in lots of fresh air and testing their physical limits.
1. Get back to nature – West Head, Ku-ring-gai Chase National Park
Sydney is riddled with national parks, and to the north is the stunning Ku-ring-gai Chase National Park. It overlooks Pittwater, the meandering waterway which splits Sydney from the Central Coast. There’s plenty on offer here, including Devonshire tea at Bobbin Head, fishing at Akuna Bay and camping at The Basin. But our favourite is West Head.
It’s about an hour’s drive from central Sydney, so I recommend stopping off halfway for an eclair or millefeuille at divine French patisserie, Le Parisien. Or perhaps you’d prefer the seriously awesome American/Tex-Mex diner, The Old Civic? Try the Haloumi Shroomi burger! It’s super yum! Fill your boot with macarons (don’t worry, you’ll work them off soon!), then keep heading north past the horse-riding schools of Belrose and Terrey Hills and into the national park. Watch out for the crowds of serious cyclists doing their hill training and the boats being taken down to Akuna Bay marina for a day out on Pittwater.
West Head is the very northern tip and enjoys beautiful views north and east towards Barrenjoey Headland. Bring a picnic (or some macarons) and soak up that tranquil outlook – the little inlets and bays as the coastline weaves and bends, the dense bush down to shoreline carpeting the outlook in green, and the proud lighthouse surveying its domain. A little worse for wear after attack by bushfire, but still soldiering on.
After lunch stretch your legs with a short bushwalk down to West Head Beach. There are a lot of steps to get down the ridge, but it only takes about 15-20 minutes each way for little legs. Take a bucket and spade for them to enjoy the beach and it’s a terrific introduction to bushwalking. The beach is tiny and enclosed by cliffs, so it has the feel of a desert island. The large rocks cluttering up the place entice the kids to climb, explore and search for tiny creatures. Just remember that the only toilets are at the lookout, not at the beach.
Cost – National Park entry $11 per car
2. Get wet – Manly beach
Manly beach is a Sydney icon, and for good reason. As a teenager I came here for summer holidays, and now that I live nearby it has lost none of its appeal. It is simply a magnificent beach of massive proportions, complemented by wide walking and cycle paths, picnic tables, playgrounds and parkland that enable everyone to enjoy it in their own way.
It’s a half hour drive over the bridge from the city, but you really should catch the ferry and enjoy the harbour from water level.
No matter the weather the kids will still want to race on the sand, explore rockpools, build sandcastles and paddle their feet. In the summer it is easy, cheap entertainment. But if you don’t want to get sandy, then there’s so many other options. Follow the beachside path as far as their little legs will let you. All the way round to Shelly Beach if you’re keen (15 min from the Surf Club). Or bring the scooters for a bit more speed.
Hire rollerblades for the more adventurous or watch the beach volleyball. Get fish and chips from Manly Fish Market and do some people-watching while you eat them. I love listening to all the languages and accents that you get in such a popular place. Or pop over the road to Bluewater Cafe. Try and get there for breakfast. The kids will love the pancakes and the french toast comes with chocolate buttons!
Cost – $2.50 per person for unlimited ferry (and other public transport) on Sundays or park here.
3. Get up high – TreeTop Adventure Park, Abbotsbury
Do you have a climbing monkey, who is forever shinnying up poles and racing to the top of those spider web-style climbing frames? Then TreeTop Adventure Park is for you!
This outdoor complex, 45 min west of Sydney, has 3 separate ropes courses for kids aged 3 to 9. (There are 3 more for older kids and 4 for adults. Very popular with bucks parties!) It is well-designed with the kids’ courses completely separate from the other ones, and the 3 vary in difficulty. They can stay on the first one or have a go at the harder ones. And they definitely get harder!
Particularly impressive is the way that they’ve built the courses without drilling into the trees at all.
The kids are attached to the course at all times, so there is no possibility of falling.
After 2 hours of this adrenalin-packed action, they can move on to the huge playground nearby or head straight to sustenance! A pizza at Amoretti’s is sure to go down well.
Cost – $25 per child for 2 hours (supervising adult is free)
— Part of the Kidspot Voices of 2015 Put Yourself On The Map Challenge, encouraging online creatives to share three family friendly activities from their corner of the world #shareAustralia #voicesof2015 —
How do your kids like to get active?