After a Harry Potter exhibition, I'm going to need something interesting.
February 28, 2012 2:27 AM   Subscribe

An appeal to the tiny minority of Mefites who are Aussies: I'm taking my kids to Sydney this weekend. We're going to the Harry Potter exhibition at the Powerhouse Museum on Saturday afternoon. What else can we see/do while we're in Sydney?

We've done the museum/art gallery/Darling Harbour/walk across the Bridge/touristy stuff a million times before.

I'd dearly love to go to the Police & Justice Museum, but I don't know that taking a 13 year old and 10 year would be appropriate.

They're both fairly mature for their ages. Oh, and the 13 year old is on crutches so walking any distance is out of the question.

Is there something, perhaps on Sunday morning, that we shouldn't miss? Maybe we should just have brunch and people-watch in Hyde Park, or something?

We're staying in the CBD. Despite me completing a stunt-driver course, I really don't enjoy driving in Sydney so would be looking for something central, ie, I'm not driving to Hurstville or Hornsby.

Any locals know of any way-cool stuff that a childish mother and her country kids shouldn't miss?
posted by malibustacey9999 to Grab Bag (16 answers total)
Best answer: This weekend is Mardi Gras. Why not view the parade? If they're from the country, it's big and glamorous and something different to home.
posted by quercus23 at 2:39 AM on February 28, 2012

Ferry across the harbour and zoo visit? Maybe that counts as too much walking.
posted by trialex at 2:41 AM on February 28, 2012

Best answer: There's a visiting Picasso exhibition on at the Art Gallery of NSW right now. The gallery has a series of kid's podcasts which might help get them interested.

At the opposite end of the spectrum, the upstairs foodcourt at the new Westfield mall in Pitt St is...actually pretty cool. Huge open space, flashy architecture, interesting lighting, comfy seats, consistently good food. Not exactly a tourist attraction, but possibly an impressive place to take a couple of country kids for lunch. (I'm a city girl and I was impressed when it first opened. Reminds me of the mega-malls in Thailand).
posted by embrangled at 3:00 AM on February 28, 2012

The sydney aquarium has some utterly glorious creatures/exhibits and is well worth seeing. And it's very central.

The aquarium will lend you a wheelchair for free, which might help with the crutches/walking issue.

"Sydney Aquarium has extensive wheelchair access facilities throughout the attraction.

Wheelchairs are available for free hire from guest services on arrival.

Please note: we require a security deposit, such as a credit or bank card, which is returned upon return of the wheelchair."

For that matter, Taronga Zoo provides free wheelchairs as well:

"Taronga provides sturdy, all-terrain manual wheelchairs at no cost to those who require mobility assistance (ID required) and a disclaimer form must be completed. These wheelchairs must be pushed by a carer/companion and seat belts are required to be worn. Advanced booking is recommended (02 9969 2777) Wheelchairs may be hired from the ‘Animal Encounters’ store (map reference 19E)."
posted by Year of meteors at 3:02 AM on February 28, 2012 [1 favorite]

Best answer: The Aquarium is pretty terrific, but you might have looking-at-stuff overload after the Powerhouse (you are planning to check the whole museum out, yes?), so I'd have to urge you to stroll back down to Chinatown afterwards, for browsing and eating. It's as safe as houses, and wonderfully colourful and interesting - if you go into Market City you can access a bunch of neat stuff all under one roof, from great food (be sure to get a halo-halo from the dessert place in the centre of the food hall, and encourage the boys to get the weird eyeball looking toppings, like basil seeds, they are all delicious), arcade games, some factory outlet shopping, Morning Glory for awesome Korean novelties and stationery, and many other interesting and "city" things that it looks like I am craving myself.
posted by thylacinthine at 3:04 AM on February 28, 2012

Response by poster: MARDI GRAS THIS WEEKEND?!? OH, HELL, YES!

I have wanted to see the parade for ever. And my kids would love it. Piggyback question: best spot for viewing, considering the crutches? The 13 year old is freakishly tall but the 10 year old would need a spot where he can see, too.

I won't mark best answers yet (so other answerers aren't discouraged), but... that is seriously perfect. We're open and honest about different lifestyles and sexual preferences (to the degree where the 10 year old son gets cranky with other kids calling stuff 'gay'). Words fail me. I can't describe how that is just the perfect answer to my question.

We've done the Aquarium, the ferry-to-the-Zoo, Chinatown and all that sort of stuff, so I wanted something out of the ordinary, something that we don't do every time we, yawn, go to Sydney.

Hmm. The Picasso exhibition might be the go, too. And I think we might end up eating at the Pitt St mall over the weekend.

posted by malibustacey9999 at 3:37 AM on February 28, 2012

Its always enjoyable to catch the ferry and head to Taronga zoo. You can also catch a ferry out to Manly Beach - I'm not sure if that would be too much walking from Manly Wharf through the arcades down to the beach.

Also, I like MCA Museum Contemporary Art in the Rocks which often has free exhibits and kid friends things. The rocks has alot of cafes, shops, great restaurants and convict history including The Rocks Discovery Museum and an outdoor market specifically a foodies market on Sundays from 10am-4pm. All a short walking distance from Circular Quay.

Moonlight cinema is also on saturday and sundays in the gardens, again depends on films showing and their appropriateness for the kids.
posted by Under the Sea at 3:43 AM on February 28, 2012

Response by poster: Thanks, Under the Sea, but we did Manly last year. Both the MCA and Moonlight Cinema might be worth checking out though...

At this rate, with these great suggestions, we might have to spend a week in Sydney instead of a weekend.
posted by malibustacey9999 at 3:50 AM on February 28, 2012

Unfortunately in order to see anything of Mardi Gras, you'll have to get there early. You want to be there at the latest as they start to close the roads. Milkcrates are the time honoured way of offsetting shortness. I went last year, (or maybe the year before??), and people started to give up about half way through, so another option would be to head down towards the end.
posted by kjs4 at 4:07 AM on February 28, 2012

Best answer: I just wanted to give a tip on the Harry Potter exhibit itself. If it is the same exhibit we saw at a Boston museum they will start out with the crowd bunched up outside the closed entrance. The exhibitor will call everyone to attention, then ask for a volunteer to come up to be sorted by the sorting hat. If you kid is up near the front and know it's coming, they can be quick on the enthusiastic hand-raising draw and be chosen while the other kids are still processing the question.
posted by mikepop at 6:11 AM on February 28, 2012

Milkcrates are the time honoured way of offsetting shortness.

Offsetting shortness at Mardis Gras has turned into a sort of arms race. All the retailers on Oxford street sell these little plastic stools, and even the tall people stand on them to see over the crowd in front. I'm not tall, and last time I went I could barely see the parade, despite having a stool of my own. So basically, get there early and be prepared to do some serious sympathy-milking to squeeze your kids towards the front. The crutches might be an advantage in this regard.
posted by embrangled at 3:48 PM on February 28, 2012

Best answer: If it is the same exhibit we saw at a Boston museum they will start out with the crowd bunched up outside the closed entrance. The exhibitor will call everyone to attention, then ask for a volunteer to come up to be sorted by the sorting hat.

I just want to confirm that this is how it's being done in Sydney too, but they seemed to be ignoring the older kids in favour of the cute little 5 year olds so I am not sure how much luck a 10 and 13 year old would have even if they were the first hands up.
posted by lwb at 8:41 PM on February 28, 2012

Response by poster: Our plans might be thwarted by the weather anyway. Sydney is getting so much rain that Warragamba Dam is expected to overflow. If that happens, our only two access roads to Sydney will be impassable, due to the Nepean and Hawkesbury rivers rising to cover bridges.

I love a sunburnt country,
A land of sweeping plains,
Of ragged mountain ranges,
Of droughts and flooding rains.

posted by malibustacey9999 at 12:24 AM on February 29, 2012

Response by poster: For anyone checking in to see if we survived the 400km trip through torrential rain, we made it to Sydney unscathed but we didn't make the parade after all. The weather was still yukky and the kids were tired after the Powerhouse Museum, so we bunkered down in our motel room after going out for dinner.

(My son didn't get picked for the Sorting Hat, but he did get picked to answer a question about the houses in HP, so he was happy with that.)

Their favourite part of the trip was seeing a 3D film of prehistoric sea creatures at Imax at Darling Harbour on Sunday morning.

And they did get to see some costumed Mardi Gras participants who were staying in our motel, so that was a bit of a bonus (especially for their mother - buff young men in Cupid costumes and tiny togas... oh my.)
posted by malibustacey9999 at 2:28 PM on March 4, 2012

Glad you made it! (Have you safely made it back?)
posted by embrangled at 3:49 AM on March 5, 2012

Response by poster: Thanks, embrangled, despite the best efforts of drivers on the M4 on Sunday, we did make it back alive. I've now seen first-hand that P-platers really do text on their phones while doing 110 km an hour. Insert horrified facial expression here.
posted by malibustacey9999 at 2:26 PM on March 5, 2012

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