Outdoor activities in the Sydney area for a family with a five-year-old and no car?
September 21, 2010 4:47 PM   Subscribe

Outdoor activities in the Sydney area for a family with a five-year-old and no car?

I wasn't exactly the backwoods type as a kid, but I grew up in the country and climbed trees and saw animals. My (nearly) five-year-old boy has never even seen a cow, and we haven't been to the zoo* since he was a baby.

So, spring is here, what can we do to get the family out into nature, in a way that's suitable for a kid that age, and without a car? He loves trains and buses, so I'm assuming there's a few things we can do in the Blue Mountains for instance. But are there city farms or farm-stay places we could get to? Pony-trekking? Even a visit to a racetrack would be better than nothing.

I'm not sure we're ready for full-on camping quite yet, but we could work our way up to it with bushwalking and the like.

Any suggestions will be great.
* Are there any ways people know of to get discounted Taronga Zoo entry? It's really too expensive to do more than once a year or so.
posted by AmbroseChapel to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (11 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
My first thought was Featherdale Wildlife Park, but not cheap either.

Or maybe something like this? Don't know how appropriate it would be a 5 year old, but I'm sure they'd be happy to talk to you about it. 30 minute guided rides for $30 is reasonable. (They also offer pickup from the Blackheath train station.)

For a free option, why not ring a Sydney-based pony club and ask if you could go along and watch their next get-together? This bunch meet in Centennial Park!
posted by malibustacey9999 at 5:09 PM on September 21, 2010

Calmsley Hill City Farm, ex Fairfield City Farm, could be the trick, though the website's a bit on the uninformative side. I've been bike riding around the edges of it, and though I can't speak for their business model they definitely have horses and cows.
Katoomba and the Blue Mountains are a good pick for a weekend of bushwalking and so on, and so is Bundeena/Maianbar in the Royal National Park, especially if your kid likes playing on sand and in the water. Get the train to Cronulla, then a ferry across Port Hacking. There's also lots of great walking in the Royal National Park accessible from Loftus and Waterfall stations. (Or get the tram in).
There's also horse riding in Centennial Park, though that might be a bit big for someone who's five.
posted by Fiasco da Gama at 5:17 PM on September 21, 2010 [1 favorite]

The Entertainment Book has Taronga Zoo tickets (2 for one, or something), and your 5 year old is actually 4! (or 3, or however young he needs to be to get in for free. Just make sure they don't ask him!).

They also let you in free if it is your birthday. (I believe... can't find a reference though).
posted by antiquark at 5:25 PM on September 21, 2010

The Parks and Reserves site may be of use, I'm sure they occasionally organise activities for children.
posted by medzmaestra at 7:38 PM on September 21, 2010

Does your house have a yard, or is there a park nearby? You can do a Square Foot Nature Study or do some gardening. If it's your own yard, dig a big area and wet it down so it's filled with mud and just squash around in it. Hose off before going inside.
posted by CathyG at 8:26 PM on September 21, 2010

If you would like to go to the zoo regularly, you can become a Friend of the Zoo which gives you unlimited admission all year.
posted by AnnaRat at 8:38 PM on September 21, 2010

Has the botanic gardens still got the fruit bats? An expedition to go look at them might be fun.

Perhaps also a goggles/mask/snorkel trip to a slightly reefy bit of beach (somewhere where he's got a chance of seeing a fish or two).
posted by Ahab at 9:35 PM on September 21, 2010

I always used to love catching the ferry from Circular Quay out to Manly, out past the heads- there's some nice bushwalking along the cliffs there, too. Make a picnic of it on a sunny day!

I was also thinking of taking a canoe up Kangaroo Creek from Audley at the Royal National Park, but it might be a bit tricky to get there carless- though as
Fiasco says, there is a tram out there.

There are lots of relatively easy, surprisingly scenic walks around Sydney Harbour National Park.

Sydney can be a fun town to grow up in!
posted by Philby at 3:45 AM on September 22, 2010

Response by poster: Thanks for all that so far, I really appreciate it.
posted by AmbroseChapel at 4:57 AM on September 22, 2010

Buses and trains run close to Lane Cove National Park. Lots of great bike riding, picnic and games spots, playgrounds, walking, and paddling here (boats can be hired). Just don't fall in the river... (eels, not 'ew')

You can walk through the Park and catch a bus around and back to the start, or pick up the Great North Walk and walk to the train station of your choosing. Or start north and walk back, where you can refresh in the airconditioned cafes, icerink, or cinemas of Macquarie Centre.*

There are quite a few great parks around Ryde, with bike tracks, BBQs, play areas etc. as well.

What part/s of Sydney were you thinking of? It's a big city!

*I know AmbroseChapel wants outdoor, but trust me, wet weather plans and parental relaxation are important too!
posted by liss at 4:57 AM on September 22, 2010

To add to this oldish thread before it's closed, a inner-city bushwalk: the Wolli Creek Bushland Walk is accessible from Bardwell Park Station, and the Two Valley Trail from Tempe Station and any number of buses.
posted by Fiasco da Gama at 9:03 PM on October 28, 2010

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