School holiday activities: New South Wales & Sydney

Kids in the Park: Circus Art Hoops
Kids in the Park: Circus Art Hoops Photo: Supplied

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The Art Gallery of New South Wales has a tonne of activities on for kids, including tours, art workshops.

More information: visit their website.

Kids in the Park

Sydney Olympic Park school holiday program runs more than 70 activities in autumn. New activities that will delight and surprise the kids without breaking the bank include Park Patrol - Camouflage where participants can discover some surprising residents of Bicentennial Park and take home a spider fact sheet for as little as $15 for the first child and $10 for each additional sibling.

More information: call 9714 7888 or visit the website.

Classical Music Classes

The Classics for Kids program, presented by CBeebies and featuring the Sydney Youth Orchestra, is a series of interactive children's concerts on the final two days of BBC Proms Australia (15-16 April)

More information: visit the website.

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Sydney Opera House Junior Adventure Tour Pack

The Sydney Opera House is inviting all curious young minds into "the house". There is plenty to discover on the Junior Adventure during the April School holidays! Enjoy a jam-packed journey through the iconic Sydney Opera House filled with interactive activities and games for the whole family. Adventure beneath the sails with your expert guide for this one hour tour, learn the tricks of the trade, discover sneaky disguises and surprises along your way to becoming a Sydney Opera House star!  Book online and save 10% on Junior Adventure tickets - running daily at 12.30pm during the April School Holidays!

More information: visit the Sydney Opera House website

Storytime Ballet: The Sleeping Beauty

Everyone's favourite fairytale ballet comes to life on stage in a brand-new production of The Sleeping Beauty for children aged 3 and up.

More information: visit the website.

Australia's first LEGO dimensions workshop

A series of fun, interactive school holiday workshops merge the creativity of hands-on LEGO building with the epic storytelling of the popular LEGO Dimensions video game available on Xbox One. Recommended for children aged 7-14 years, the two-hour workshops will take place Monday to Friday at the Microsoft Store, Sydney, during the school holidays. 

More information: visit the website.

Symbio Wildlife Park in Helensburgh is about to create a new interactive farmyard exhibit that will open in spring this year, presenting Australian farm culture with interactive exhibits. Currently you can hand feed ponies, sheep, goats and alpacas. As one mum commented "The alpacas are easier to hand feed - they eat quickly and are less slobbery". Symbio also presents native and exotic animals in large enclosures with great viewing including kangaroos to hand feed, tigers, small monkeys, koalas, reptiles and meerkats.

More information: 4294 1244, symbiozoo.com.au

Golden Ridge Animal Farm in Dural: is open daily in the school holidays, at 10.30am on weekdays and 11am on weekends. This farm has the friendliest of animals and families participate together. This includes meeting, patting and feeding big and little animals (feed costs $5 for a four-litre bucket), a tour of the farm, holding baby animals and bottle feeding baby lambs, goats or deer. All this takes about 90 minutes but families can stay on to explore further, visit the duck pond, and have a picnic or barbecue. There is also a kiosk. This program costs $15 per person. Be a Farmer for a Day events run from Thursday 14 to Sunday 17 April with farm activities from 10am to 3pm (or arrive for breakfast from 8.30am, extra charge) including those above plus egg collecting, sheep and goat racing, gumboot throwing, musical hay bales, egg smash and goat milking. This costs $25 per person, $20 for ages one to three years.

More information: 9651 1028, goldenridgeanimalfarm.com.au

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Photo: Supplied

Taronga Zoo in Mosman has a Farm Feed at the Backyard to Bush exhibit at 2pm daily. The children help a keeper feed the pigs, ducks, chickens and goats and learn about farms. This activity is included in the entry price: adult $46, child $26, child under 4 free, concession $36 and a family $129.60 (less online). Taronga Zoo is open daily from 9.30am to 5pm.

More information: 9969 2777, taronga.org.au

Tobruk Sheep Station near Wiseman's Ferry puts on damper and billy tea at 10.30am followed by a whip demonstration, duck mustering by the dogs, sheep mustering and sheep shearing, finishing at 12.30pm (economy program; adult $46, child $37). Stay on for a barbecue lunch and whip and boomerang participation until 2.30pm (premium show; adult $69, child $49).

More information: tobruksheepstation.com.au

Earn Your Tucker for ages five and up at Rouse Hill House & Farm is on Thursdays 14 and 21 April at 11am ($17 per person). Families get to experience farm chores such as pumping water, churning butter, feeding chooks and collecting eggs. The activity finishes with a snack of freshly baked bread spread with the churned butter and jam.

At 11am daily is a farmyard tour taking in chooks, cow and horses, feeding some of them and visiting the gardens. It's included in general admission: adult $8, child and concession $4 and a family $17.
Earn Your Tucker is also on at Vaucluse House on Thursdays, where you help in the kitchen garden, churn butter and do some laundry before your snack.

More information:  1300 448 849, sydneylivingmuseums.com.au

Calmsley Hill City Farm in Abbotsbury is a 200-hectare working farm with interactive experiences and farm animals to get close to. The Animal Nursery is open all day for hand feeding the goats and sheep (feed bags $2). Presentations include animal patting, a milking show, and the tractor ride ($3). From 12.30pm to 2.30pm there is a stock whip show, a working dog show, a sheep shearing show, and the koala talk where you pat a koala. You can also hand feed kangaroos throughout the day. The farm is open daily from 9am to 4.30pm, and entry costs adult $25.50, pensioner $18, child $15, child under three free and family $75.

More information: 9823 3222, calmsleyhill.com.au

Koala Park Sanctuary in West Pennant Hills presents the Stockman Show at 10.30am and 2.30pm daily. Learn about the wool industry in Australia and see a sheep shorn. Also at the park are kangaroos to hand feed, koalas to have your photo taken with and other native animals including dingos, wombats, wallabies, turtles and birds. The park is open daily from 9am to 5pm, and entry costs adult $27 and child $15.

More information: 9484 3141, koalapark-sanctuary.com

Featherdale Wildlife Park in Doonside has a farmyard area with rabbits, pigs, goats and ferrets and you can hand feed a goat. This park has Australian birds, mammals, marsupials and reptiles, and runs presentations. You can also hand feed kangaroos all day (feed costs $2) and have a photo taken with a koala. Featherdale is open daily from 9am to 5pm, and entry costs adult $29.50, child $16, student/pensioner $23, senior $20.50 and family $83.

More information: 9622 1644, featherdale.com.au

FAMILY THEATRE

There are new shows for families with kids of all ages, from tots to teens.

Mr Stink tells the story of Chloe, a lonely girl bullied at school. To make matters worse, her mum is running for parliament and has been somewhat neglectful of the family. Chloe makes friends with Mr Stink, the local tramp. Director Jonathan Biggins loves the Roald Dahl-style irreverent naughtiness that is in David Walliams' book, and in this production. Mr Stink suits ages six and above and plays at the Sydney Opera House (9250 7777, sydneyoperahouse.com) from April 9 to 24 (excluding April 13 and 19). Tickets from $30.


Also playing at the Sydney Opera House from April 20 to 24 is Cautionary Tales for Children,a cabaret for ages seven and up based on the wonderful comic verse of Hilaire Belloc ($30), and Stunt Lounge, a new show from the Flying Fruit Fly Circus for ages 12 and older, playing from April 13 to 17 (from $25). The free creative play activity in the western foyers is Digital Drawing Wall.

The King and Queen of Green is an interactive play for ages six to 12 in the Royal Botanic Garden Sydney (9231 8134, rbgsyd.nsw.gov.au) that is full of environmental skills such as reusing, recycling and composting. The fun includes a sorting relay race and jewellery and crown-making using recycled materials. It's on from April 11 to 17 at 11am and 1pm and costs $12 per person.

The Bee and the Tree (0402 413 617, mongrelmouth.com) is an original piece with songs, music and games for infants to 10-year-olds. It is an immersive experience where the audience helps Bette the Bee and friends save the last tree. The children decide which character they will join in with and the story outcome. Duncan Maurice, director, producer and co-writer, says, "We aim to create children's theatre that lives up to their imagination and where you don't have to sit down and be quiet." It plays at Leichhardt Town Hall at 11.30am and 1.30pm on April 14 to 24. Tickets cost $20.

Ice Age Live! A Mammoth Adventure (ticketek.com.au/iceagelive) has landed for the first time in Australia on a world tour that began in 2012. Your favourites from the Ice Age movies, including Sid, Manny, Diego and Scrat, are joined by new characters on a fresh adventure, presented using ice skating, aerial arts, puppetry and film. It plays at Allphones Arena on Friday 15 at 2pm; on Saturday 16 at 10am, 2pm and 6pm and on Sunday 17 at 12pm. Tickets start at $40 and meet and greet packages are available.

The Peasant Prince is a new work from Monkey Baa Theatre Company (8624 9340, monkeybaa.com.au) based on the children's picture book by Li Cunxin written following the international success of his autobiography, Mao's Last Dancer. We see Li sent to Beijing from his family and village at an early age to train in classical ballet. Then as a young man he must make the decision to leave China forever. Director Tim McGarry believes this is a story with resonance for many Australians as it is "a migrant story of someone on a journey looking for a better life. Li lives by his mother's words to 'follow your dreams and don't look back'." The Peasant Prince suits ages six and older and plays at Lendlease Darling Quarter Theatre at 3pm on April 9 and at 10.30am and 12.30pm on April 11 to 20 (not Sunday 17). Tickets cost $29 or $104 for a family of four.


FESTIVALS

Holiday festival fun ranges from film to comedy, art to boats, with something to please everyone.
Youth Week (youthweek.nsw.gov.au) runs from April 8 to 17 with more than 3000 young people organising more than 890 local NSW Youth Week activities including workshops, live performances and sporting activities for those between the ages of 12 and 25.

The Irish Film Festival is on at the Chauvel Cinema in Paddington (irishfilmfestival.com.au) with the animated Song of the Sea for ages six and up screening at 2pm on April 9. Festival director Enda Murray explains this film is "a beautiful piece of work that is based on the old Irish legend of the seal people". Adding to the Irish film experience, Taste of Ireland is sponsoring Irish chips and pop (soft drink) at the screening. Tickets cost adult $20 and child $15.

Riverside Theatres in Parramatta (8839 3399, riversideparramatta.com.au) presents School Holiday Films - A Robin Williams Tribute from April 12 to 14. Screening are Jumanji (PG), Mrs Doubtfire (PG), Hook (PG) and Aladdin (G). Tickets cost $10 and family $35.

The Biennale of Sydney (8484 8700, biennaleofsydney.com.au) has drop-in art-making workshops at two venues. Contemporary Kids for ages 4 and up is at the Museum of Contemporary Art in The Rocks, from 10.30am to 4pm on April 12 to 16. School holiday workshops are being held at the Public Program and Education Hub on Cockatoo Island from 11am to 1pm and 2pm to 4pm on April 19 to 23.

The 2016 Classic and Wooden Boat Festival, on at the Australian National Maritime Museum in Darling Harbour (9298 3777, anmm.gov.au), will feature The Kids Boatshed for ages 5 to 12 outside Wharf 7 from 12pm to 5pm on Friday 15 and from 10am to 4pm on Saturday 16 and Sunday 17. There are craft activities including making a model sailing vessel, face painting and dress ups. The Boatshed activities and some other festival activities are free, as is entry to the permanent galleries. Also in the museum are the family-friendly exhibitions Action Stations and Horrible Histories - Pirates (admission cost).

Sydney Comedy Festival (9020 6966, sydneycomedyfest.com.au) is taking over the Sydney Town Hall and presents Comedy For Kids! from April 19 to 24. The Lower Town Hall will be transformed into a tropical jungle with three stages, breakout stations and workshops. Performers on the main stage include the Ongals, Trash Test Dummies and Erth's Dinosaur Petting Zoo. Sessions run for two hours starting at 10am and 2pm and the only charge is a $2.50 booking fee.

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