Darling Harbour

At Darling Harbour at a wide promenade (good for strollers) extends from King Street Wharf, past the Sydney Aquarium, down to Cockle Bay Wharf, up and around to Harbourside. You'll find our favorite playground in Sydney, Tumbalong Park, museums, an IMAX theater, and restaurants with outdoor dining, cafes, take-out and ice cream stands. On Saturday night there are often fireworks.

Sea Life Sydney Aquarium - Experience the unique aquatic life of Australia – tropical fish in the Great Barrier Reef, unusual dugongs, huge barramundi, little penguins of the Southern oceans, Port Jackson sharks that live in Sydney Harbour. At the Discovery Rockpool, touch bright blue sea stars, shark eggs and chocolate chip sea stars. Kids will be wowed by the huge oceanarium (Shark Valley) with sharks gliding overhead, and don't miss the shark feedings daily..
Wild Life Sydney - Australia is such a big country, it would take days to see all the different animals here at Wild Life Sydney. Walk through habitats with kookaburras in the trees or kangaroos the outback, check out nocturnal animals such as possums, geckos, and bats, watch wallabies on the rocks, and have your picture taken with a koala. Most impressive is Rex, the big saltwater crocodile - his feedings are Mon., Wed. and Friday. For a special treat, a buffet breakfast with a koala at your table.
Madame Tussauds – A good rainy day activity, check out life-size wax figures of famous Australians such as outlaw Ned Kelly, film stars Nicole Kidman and Hugh Jackman, Mary McKillop (first Australian saint), musicians Slim Dusty and Dannii Minogue, writers Henry Lawson and Banjo Paterson, cricket player Donald Bradman, and woman surfer Layne Beachley.
Boat rides - Ferries, cruises, whale watching trips, water taxis depart from King Street Wharf or Aquarium Wharf.
Ride the ferry - It takes about 25 min. to ride the ferry from Darling Harbour to Circular Quay (including going under the Sydney Harbour Bridge). Free if you have a MyMulti ticket.
Whale watching cruises - May through November, take a whale watching trip to spot humpback and southern right whales. During a three or four hour trip, you'll have a chance to see these magnificent whales, breaching in the air, as well as dolphins, sharks, and seals.
Water taxis - Zippy boats will take you wherever you want to go in the Sydney Harbour, particularly to places, such as Shark Island or Fort Denison, without regular ferry service, as well as mini-harbor cruises.
Australian National Maritime Museum - Ships and the sea are very much a part of the history of Australia. The museum includes galleries with exhibits and historic ships.
Museum - Inside the museum are displays about ocean voyages that brought people to Australia, including the first peoples of Australia and their connections to the sea (lovely bark paintings of sharks) and European explorers (check out the beautiful model of Captain Cook's ship). On a more contemporary note are ship's flags, Fresnel lens from the Tasman light, modern Navy helicopters, and a boat made entirely out of beer cans.
Visit historic ships -
- HMB Endeavour - In April 1770, Captain Cook anchored his ship the Endeavour at Botany Bay, near to present day Sydney. Walking aboard this exact replica of the Endeavour is to imagine the boat rocking under your feet and wind in the sails on a voyage of discovery. Go down to see where the captain and crew lived and ate, and learn about life aboard ship.
Note: This ship can actually sail, and when we visited, the Endeavour was out to sea. Instead, another tall ship was docked, the Duyfken, a replica of the Dutch ship that visited the coast of Australia in 1606.
- HMAS Onslow Submarine - Tour the submarine Onslow, used by the Australian Royal Navy until 1999. Inside the submarine kids will see the tiny galley kitchen, control room with two periscopes, engine quarters, crew's quarters with bunks stacked three deep. Tip: Kids have to be 90 cm (3 ft) tall to tour the submarine.
- HMAS Vampire - There's plenty of room to run around this destroyer, loaded with big gun turrets and anti-aircraft guns.
Tip: To get to the Maritime Museum, it's a fun walk west across the Pyrmont Bridge, with all the activity in the harbor below.
Tumbalong Park - At the southern end of Darling Harbour is our favorite playground in Sydney, Tumbalong Park. It has the best water play area, with flowing water to wade in, pumps and water wheels (kids will get wet for sure), rope climbing structures, swings, slides. Next to the playground is an old-fashioned carousel, and there are lots of cafes and snacks. Kids could spend hours here.
Also, the big grassy park area is the site of all kinds of festivals with food and music - Japanese, Thai, Malaysia, Burma, Greek, Thai, Chinese New Year, etc. Check here for the festival schedule.
Chinese Garden of Friendship - Explore an exquisite landscape, typical of a Ming dynasty garden, with a "Lake of Brightness and lotus pond, weeping willows, magnolias, pines, bamboo, waterfalls and running streams, pavilions with tiled roofs, and rocks in the middle of the lake, symbolizing dragons. Hire Chinese costumes, adults and children's sizes, for photos of yourself as an emperor, princess or warrior. Stop into the tea house for dumplings, steamed buns, and tea.
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