I know some of you are wondering what we did in Australia. I’ll share some notes and tips from our trip to Sydney in this post – hopefully, these will help you prepare for your trip down under.
Before I go into the details of our trip, I’d like to share one thing that made this trip different and more enjoyable. It was Kyle’s first trip since last year and I guess he missed traveling. When we got to Sydney, I was so surprised at how cooperative he was when taking photos – I don’t even know why because wala naman kapalit (I didn’t bribe him with something). During the trip, Kyle already started to pose for photos and no one was even telling him what to do! It really made me super happy because it feels like a milestone. I’m sure many moms can relate – it’s just SO HARD to get your kids to sit still or smile properly to get a good photo of them. With Kyle, he’ll disappear or run away after one or two seconds before I can take a good shot. He would even tell me that he doesn’t like photos. He really would not cooperate when it comes to photo taking. This was the first trip where Kyle did a lot of poses on his own and you can see in the photos how game he was about it.
When we travel, we never take those package tours because we don’t want to be restricted with time. We want to be able to enjoy the places we visit. If you’re into DIY travel, this article can help you plan out your family trip to Sydney. (WARNING – this is a pretty long post with lots of stories aside from travel tips. You know how I am, I love telling about my adventures, haha!)
I mentioned in my last post that we had to be out and about from Day 1 of our trip. After we landed in Sydney at 6.30am, we left our things in the hotel then met up with our team for lunch at Darling Harbour.
Darling Harbour involves a lot of walking but it’s really pleasant because it’s a mix of the city and the harbour. It’s like a mix of our previous trips to Singapore and Balesin where there’s the water and there’s the city. The clouds also looked different, there’s something about Australia that really makes clouds pop out in photos – you’ll see what I mean in the photos.
After lunch, we fed the seagulls with leftover french fries. This was Kyle’s favorite part of the day. He especially liked the seagulls because he watched Puffin Rock in Netflix; he was very, very happy to see the seagulls in real life and not just on TV. He would feed the seagulls with the leftover fries and they would crowd around him. Nung wala na yung fries (When the fries ran out), he just started chasing the seagulls. He was super, super happy and it’s the kind of happiness that money just can’t buy.
One note about Darling Harbour that you might want to know is that it’s near Sea Life Sydney Aquarium. If you’re planning your day, you might want to do Darling Harbour, Sea Life Aquarium, and the Maritime Museum in one go. We didn’t know about Sea Life Aquarium until it was too late, so we had to miss this part. We had other plans for the day and couldn’t squeeze it into our itinerary.
After Darling Harbour, we visited the Maritime Museum which was just nearby. Entrance is free and it is essentially a display of life on a ship. Here, I saw how Kyle can really appreciate travel because he asked a lot of questions. He asked me about the submarines and the ship cabins and the different things he saw. He was really attentive and he even asked me how three people can sleep in one small cabin. It made me see another side to Kyle, this time as a child who loves to discover and understand things.
We called it a day after the Maritime Museum because we got in super early and didn’t get much rest during the flight.
Since Australia is known for its koalas and kangaroos and it’s something Kyle wanted to see, we made it a point to visit a zoo to see them. We came across Taronga Zoo when we were doing our trip research but I found out that they didn’t have a kangaroo and koala encounter. Even though Taronga Zoo is just in the city, we choose to go to Featherdale Zoo instead. We actually got this tip from our Uber driver who picked us up from the airport – he recommended Featherdale because it has the kangaroo encounter. We also booked an Uber to go to Featherdale but when the driver picked us up, he said the ride would take an hour and a half. He suggested we take the train instead as it would be faster and also cheaper. So the driver dropped us off at the train station and we took the train to Featherdale. This was Day 2 of our trip.
What I like about Featherdale Zoo is that it isn’t too big. We were still really tired from the day before, so we started late on the second day. We wanted to leave 8:30 am but everyone didn’t wake up on time. We finally left almost close to noon, ate our lunch and arrived at the zoo almost 3:00 pm. Because Featherdale Zoo was so compact, we were able to finish seeing everything by 5:00 pm, which was perfect. Some of our teammates opted for Taronga Zoo and they spent the whole day there without even finishing it. For us, it was a very good decision to pick Featherdale over Taronga Zoo. We really just wanted to have the encounter with the koalas and the kangaroos. We’ve been to a lot of zoos already and they’re basically the same. We wanted something different and special, so Featherdale was the best option for us.
The kangaroos were very friendly and you just need to buy the cup of food to feed them. I actually got a souvenir from the kangaroo encounter – it’s a scratch from the kangaroo I took a photo with. Just as a word of caution, kangaroos can be aggressive. If you see them trying to grab the cup of food from you, just throw it to them or run away. Don’t try to keep it from them because you might get a scratch, like me. Most of the kangaroos are tame, but there are those that can be aggressive. (In case you’re wondering, they don’t bite naman.) I took a photo with the kangaroo that scratched me when I saw that she was following me around. I guess she was trying to make peace with me.
One sight that I really loved was seeing a baby kangaroo sitting inside the pouch of the mommy kangaroo. It made me a bit sentimental about being a mom. Seeing the mother kangaroo carry her baby in her pouch was a really touching moment and it made me miss Kurt.
One thing to note is to allow enough travel time to get to Featherdale from the city. Last entry is around 4:00 pm and the zoo closes around 5:00 pm. I’m not so sure, but koala and kangaroo encounters might be included in combo tickets that I’ll mention later for Sydney Eye.
When we travel with Kyle, we usually end up riding all the forms of transport available. When he was younger, I would always hire a private car for us because it’s safe, secure, and comfortable. But Kyle would always ask, “Mommy, can we ride a bus? Mommy, can we ride a train?” Basically, everything that I’m trying to avoid letting him ride, he would ask if we can go on them. Now that he’s four, I thought it was time for him to experience all these things.
Kyle wanted to ride a boat so we checked what was available. We found this ferry that takes us to an outlet mall called Birkenhead Point. For Shopper Hopper, you have to book online and check the time slots before going to the port. We booked tickets for the trip going there, thinking that we will just take an Uber on the way back. As it happened, the boys wanted to ride the ferry again on the way back, so we took our chances at the ferry port. Fortunately, it wasn’t a full ride and we were able to get on the boat.
There are two points of loading for Shopper Hopper from the city – one at Darling Harbour, Circular Quay. I chose the Circular Quay port because it had a good view of the Sydney Opera House. (Note – Shopper Hopper ferries to and from Circular Quay only run until 2:00 pm.)
Another thing to remember is that the terminal for Shopper Hopper from Circular Quay is separate from the other ferry terminals, though it’s just a short walk. We were actually five minutes late for our ride because we went to the wrong area. Fortunately, we booked our tickets online and the ferry noticed that we were missing. They waited for us when they saw us running from the other terminals towards Terminal 1. Really, really good service, two thumbs up!
I loved the ride on Shopper Hopper because it took us past a marina with a lot of yachts. The views of the Sydney Opera House and the Sydney Harbour Bridge were excellent. Unfortunately, I was busy with Kyle that I wasn’t able to take photos of the Opera House. For those who plan to take this ride so you can have photos of the Opera House, the view is on the right side of the boat when you get out of the station. Mag-abang na kayo paglabas ng ferry para hindi kayo mataranta kagaya ko. (Wait for the view the moment you leave the station so you won’t panic as I did.)
For the trip back, since we finished at 4:00 pm, we weren’t able to take the ferry to the Opera House port. I initially wanted to just take an Uber back, but since both Kyle and Paul wanted the boat ride I eventually agreed. Paul also hasn’t been to Darling Harbour, so we took the ferry there instead.
The ride back was really memorable. Kyle, being very madaldal (chatty), kept telling the captain to make the boat go faster. Everyone near us was laughing. I think they liked him because he was really talkative and very bibo (charming). All of a sudden, the captain called him up and they let him steer the boat. It took us by surprise but it was really memorable – Kyle was actually maneuvering the boat with the steering wheel. Of course, they only let him do it for a short while because of safety. So they let Kyle steer the ship and he didn’t want to let go even when the captain told him to get down. He was really, really enjoying the experience. It was definitely one for the books!
Since we’ve already done the ferry ride, the next thing we did was go on the double-decker bus. Kyle was super, super excited to ride the double-decker bus. Because of this experience, all our future trips will include a double-decker bus in the itinerary because Kyle will never stop asking to go on it. One tip for those who want to have this experience is to book tickets early because they sell out really fast. We tried to book our ticket on Tuesday and the next available day was already Friday. It’s a good thing that it still fit within our trip otherwise we wouldn’t have been able to ride the double-decker bus. If you have limited time, then book the tickets early because they might not be available for the next day or even the day after.
I highly recommend the double-decker bus because it’s a really good way to see the city. There are two lines, the red line around the city and the blue line that goes to Bondi Beach. Both lines are covered by the ticket. We weren’t able to ride the blue line on this trip because we started the bus ride pretty late (again!). We stopped by a park that Paul wanted to see before going on the bus ride and the boys had some bonding time in the park. We also stopped for lunch at the fish market – the food was really good! I forgot to take photos though I have it on video 🙂
One thing that’s good about the double-decker bus is that it’s a hop-on-hop-off tour bus. If there’s a place that you would like to explore, you can just get off and come back to take the next bus. Buses usually run every 30 mins, but there are fewer buses in the afternoon. There’s also an app which tracks the buses in real time. It tells you when the next bus is coming to the nearest stop. There’s a bit of delay in the bus locations so make sure you allot a few extra minutes when you’re going to catch the bus. We actually missed the bus by just a bit the first time we tried using the app. It might be smart to head to the next stop when you see the bus near the first stop on the app, just to be safe.
We weren’t able to maximize the entire tour but I still feel that it was a good ride. You get to view the city in a different way. One ride is about PhP 1,900 per person, so it would be best if you used it for a whole day including the blue line.
Paul wanted a bird’s eye view of the city so we went to the Sydney Eye. I’m not a fan of towers, so it wasn’t that interesting to me. But for those who like to see cityscapes, it’s probably a good idea to visit the Sydney Eye. They have a 15-minute 3D experience on the attractions in Sydney near the start of the visit. Kyle was really happy with the 3D film and he actually wanted to stay when it was over! Unfortunately, we had to move up to the tower.
On hindsight, we should have done this first because watching the film would have given us an idea of what we can see around the city. Also, the tower offers a combo ticket for the Sydney Aquarium, Madame Tussaud’s and other attractions. We weren’t able to take advantage of the combo ticket because the tower visit was suggested a little late and we were already on the last day of our trip. It wasn’t so bad for us because we weren’t really interested in most of the attractions. But if there are two places in the combo ticket that you want to visit, it makes sense to get it.
We didn’t stay long in Sydney Eye because we had dinner plans with Paul’s friend. They treated us to one of the best Chinese seafood restaurants in Sydney. The place is famous for really large lobsters and it was really, really yummy! The crab was also impressive – even si Kyle, napa-WOW sya (even Kyle had to say wow). It was also my first time to try abalone, which was also good. The dinner was good and it was a chance for us to try the seafood.
One thing you need to know about traveling in Australia with a kid, cars need to have a car seat for children five and below. If you’re going to book an Uber, I suggest calling your driver to let them know you have a child with you. They’re very strict about road safety; if they don’t have a car seat for your kid, they’ll cancel the booking. An alternative is to book a bigger car, like a van, so the child can sit at the back with a seatbelt. It’s fine for taxis but private cars get fined if they don’t follow the rules.
We seldom took Uber because the unavailability of a car seat for Kyle. The Uber drivers cancel the booking last minute whenever they see Kyle because of safety regulations. It’s actually a good thing for us because Uber rides are really expensive compared to Manila rates. One 15-minute ride without traffic cost us AUD 19, which is around PhP 700. It’s quite easy to book, though, and travel is fast. Taxis are also easy to find. If you’re a big group, Uber kind of makes sense.
If you want to book in advance, we bought our tickets for many of the things we did in Sydney from Get Your Guide.
So that’s it for my trip notes from Sydney! Feel free to ask more questions in the comment section below or share your own experiences – I’d love to hear them!