Well we made it. Out the door, embarking on our big adventure – but only just. I’ve been really sick since Christmas with a nagging chest infection (culminating in an ambulance call at 2am on New Years Eve, not much fun) followed by a bad reaction to one of the travel vaccines mixed with my antibiotics that had me acquainted more than normal with the toilet bowl of a vomiting variety 🙁 So that put us behind a bit with preparations.
The last few days were a complete blur and pretty full on packing up the house and doing all those last minute things that compounded into a whole pile of last minute things and we didn’t quite get them all done. So a MASSIVE thank you to family who have helped us out and picked up some of those things that we didn’t quite get done. We appreciate it so much.
Anyway with all of that happening and a repack of about 10 times in the last 24 hours including one at 6am on the morning of departure, we made it to flight NZ119 with time to have a quick goodbye lunch with some of the kid’s cousins before we zoomed through customs.
We tried REALLY hard to be frugal with the packing but have still got more stuff than we would like.
We’ve found it difficult to cut down any more without sacrificing a minimum of 7 days worth of clothes each (we really don’t want to be washing clothes every second day), schoolwork resources, Jack’s hearing aid kit, various electronics and a well-decked out first aid kit. We’ve ended up with 2 x 20kg backpacks plus 1 x cabin bag (packed with the schoolwork resources mainly), a daypack, 2 x Boostapaks which double as the kids backpacks filled with their toys and carseats, 1 x handbag, 1 x camera bag and our trusty old stroller which I wouldn’t be surprised if we ditch at some stage once the kids get that little bit older and we get sick of lugging it around.
On the one hand that’s not bad for 9 months on the road, but it’s probably one bag more than we would have liked. I’ll write a post soon about what we’ve taken for anyone who’s interested, and what’s proved useful vs not. A couple of people have also asked me about the Trunki Boostapaks, so I’ll give you the low down on them. I’ve read lots of family travel blogs that travel on trips like ours with carry on baggage only – all I can say is kudos to them, that’s amazing and I don’t know how they do it!
So off to Sydney we went for a fleeting 3 night visit. The kids were excellent on the plane, enjoying the latest Air NZ on-flight entertainment and we were like ‘“lap it up” because it’s el-budget Air Asia from here on in! We landed to 18 degrees and rain in Sydney which was actually colder than what we’d left in Auckland and very unseasonable. A day earlier and we would have got 38 degree heat, very random.
Our main reason for coming to Sydney was for family time. We got picked up by Aunty Margaret at the airport and we are very lucky to be staying at Aunty Janice’s house for 3 nights in Rozelle. We ditched our bags, got settled in and then went to Margaret’s place for a lovely BBQ dinner and catch up. The kids did so well considering the massive few days they’ve had, but hit the wall about 8pm Sydney time, so we came home and they instantly fell asleep.
Here’s what we got up to for the remaining 48 hours we were in Sydney:
Just a wander up the hill from where we are staying is the weekly Rozelle market. A true flea market with a vintage vibe, it’s full of old treasures from yesteryear and worth a potter.
Exporing Rozelle and Darling Street:
We love wandering the streets of Rozelle and Balmain which are full of gorgeous 18/1900’s period terrace housing, many of which have been renovated with original facades and funky interiors. Darling Street in Rozelle is full of cool shops and cafes, we had a lovely brunch at Rozelle Espresso which had a great kids’ menu and play area. There’s also a few great kids playgrounds in the area that we made the most of.
The newly completed Barangaroo Reserve on Sydney’s waterfront sandwiched between the Rocks area and Darling Harbour is brilliant. We spent a fun couple of hours first soaking up the sun and having a coffee in the picturesque residential/marina area at Walsh Bay, then we walked through the Barangaroo reserve itself. The kids absolutely loved playing on the giant sandstone rocks throughout the reserve, climbing all over them and spotting the ‘dinosaur fossils and footprints’ embedded in them and collecting the ‘precious crystal gems’ of the multicoloured sandstone — none of it true but great imaginative play invented by them.
We watched a giant cruise ship sail out of the inner harbour and under the Sydney Harbour bridge, letting rip with a giant blast of the horn as it sailed under the bridge.
The first spill of the trip happened as Jack fell over on one of the rocks and ripped open his knee, the first of many I would say. He was pretty upset but came right once the magical sticking plasters came out.
The kids loved this place so much they wanted to go back the next day and cried when we ran out of time!
This was a big ‘must do’ on the kid’s bucket list and it didn’t disappoint. We got the ferry over from Circular Quay and caught the gondola up to the zoo entrance. It was quite a novelty and included in the ticket price. It provided some absolutely stunning views over the harbour and Sydney, my goodness it’s such a beautiful city.
The zoo is very well laid out and has some great hands on experiences, where keepers and volunteers talk about the animals or bring some of them out so you can see them up close. It’s also a bit commercial in some bits though – $25 AUD to have your photo taken with a koala bear for example. Here’s a photo of our kids meeting Nigel the blue-tongued lizard (for free).
The highlights for our kids were the kangaroos and wallabies, gorillas including the cutest ever baby gorilla, the reptile section with its snakes and some of the nocturnal animals like bats, possums, owls and other Australian natives that I can’t remember the name of!
The other thing they loved was the seal show, where the seals perform a 20min show that’s based around conservation of the oceans.
This is where I don’t want to be too judgemental but there were a few things at Taronga Zoo that made me go really?…. I was pretty sure it was a conservation-based organisation, and I don’t know the facts, but the seal show made me a bit uneasy as they were literally ‘performing seals’. Maybe they enjoy it and it’s good for their mental health but I know these kinds of shows are getting a bit of a bad rap these days.
Also in one of the gift shops were paintings done by elephants – again I’ve recently been reading how training elephants to do these paintings in mainly Asian countries involves co-ercing them with sharp objects and they do it out of fear. There was another interpretive sign by the elephants talking about how elephant rides for tourists in Thailand now provides the elephants and mahouts with a livelihood now that logging has been stopped – but I know that this is actually not a great thing to do for the elephants as they’re not made to carry heavy loads on their backs and again cruel torture methods can be used to train the elephants to carry the tourists. I thought it was a missed opportunity to educate people about how this is actually really bad for the elephants and people shouldn’t actually support these kind of tourist enterprises.
Anyway off my high horse, I’m certainly no expert in these things so I might have the wrong end of the stick! Overall we had a great day out and really enjoyed it.
Our main reason for coming to Sydney, it was so lovely to spend time with our Aussie family and show the kids where their Aussie aunties and cousin live. We had 2 lovely home cooked dinners, a lovely place to stay, and wonderful hospitality, we were very spoilt. Sophie has declared that when she grows up she’s going to move to Sydney and live in a house near the aunties 🙂 It’s definitely her kind of place.
Here are 5 random things we learned during our time in Sydney:
-A ‘fluffy’ (New Zealand speak for a small frothed milk for kids) is called a ‘babyccino’ here
-A bongo is not only a drum but also a type of antelope
-Snakes are actually deaf, however all other reptiles can hear
-The best pizzas outside of Italy can be found at Rosso Pomodoro restaurant in Balmain (according to our cousin Molly and we agree with her!)
-There is a LOT of activewear and collagen lips going on in Sydney. Just saying.
Next stop: Kuala Lumpur