Explore your own city: our staycation to western Sydney

When you're in the thick of the weekly routine, a weekend away with the family can abstractly seem heavenly. Getting out of the inner city, breathing some different air and traipsing unfamiliar ground sounds so awesome you spend your weekdays dreaming about doing it.

Thanks to Ford, we got to borrow a snazzy car and depart on a Ford Staycation to Western Sydney to see the sights with our three boys aged 11, 8 and 3. 

Lest you thought this was going to be yet another glossy do-dah story of a perfect family staycation, I've kept it real by also giving a tantrum tally after each activity. When you have three boys of vastly different developmental stages, not only are things pretty gorgeous sometimes, they're also tumultuous and harrowing. 

We had it all in two short days on the road; toddler tantrums, adolescent angst and sibling squabbling. Because that is how we roll pretty much permanently. The first day of any trip is always hell - especially packing the car and getting out the door - and the second we settle into a rhythm and all is well again. This weekend away was no different in that respect.

What was different was was the gorgeous car that we didn't want to ever give back; our sleek gunmetal grey Ford Kuga Titanium was an incredible drive, both in the inner city and on the open road. With what I found to be a perfect power to weight ratio, we had the pick up when we needed it, the smooth sailing on the motorways and leather seats so comfy they made us look forward to jumping in the car again.

So what did we do? Here's the itinerary:

Day 1

Explored the gardens at Australian Botanic Gardens at Mount Annan

The flowers were in full bloom and our kids delighted in the beautifully-landscaped gardens which were an adventure in themselves. There are secret paths that make you feel like you're in thick wilderness and guided trails to follow from sign to sign. At the top there was a magnificent if not increasingly built-in view.

There are bike trails and a meandering drive right around the gardens with many places to stop and lots of BBQ areas for families.

Tantrums: 2

Played in the excellent playground


There is a huge fenced playground where those with both older and younger kids can let off some steam. We found equipment for babies and toddlers as well as a thrilling flying fox for older kids.

Tantrums: approximately 17 due to each boy thinking that he should have sole access to the flying fox

Lunch at Melaleuca House

The food was tasty but be warned the kids' meals are not big enough to satisfy anyone over about 7 years of age. They're more snack size for my two big eaters. Our adult meals are shown in the gallery above.

Tantrums: 0 - can't tantrum right now; eating

Drove around the Botanic Gardens and found the blue tree

The blue tree was an absolutely thrilling sight. As we rounded a corner our three-year-old shouted "Ohhhh A BLUE TREE!" and the older ones gasped while simultaneously expressing outrage they hadn't spotted it first.

We bolted up the hill to see it close up and because we were blessed with the most fantastic spring weather, the light hit the tree in the just the right way. We stayed there for at least half an hour galavanting in the grass, playing chases, laughing and squabbling. This is the stuff family memories are made of and I'll never forget it.

Tantrums: 0

Made our way to our gorgeous apartment - Quest Bella Vista

Although we only stayed one night, it was our comfy home and beautifully-proportioned and fitted out for a family.

Tantrums: 2 - over TV remote and seating

Visited the grounds surrounding Bella Vista Farm and played a spot of football there followed by family dinner

Bella Vista Farm was just around the corner from our apartment which has markets on the first Sunday of every month. We got there late in the day so it was closed so we played football in the expansive grounds surrounding it as the sun went down.

We did think we might be able to make Blacktown Drive In on this evening but it all proved too much for our toddler, so we had a tasty meal nearby and retired to the comfort of the apartment.

Tantrums: eleventy-billion - over the football

Day 2

Featherdale Wildlife Park

We had never been to Featherdale Wildlife Park before and I rue every year we didn't go because it is just excellent. The kids were riveted for hours and I found myself bewitched by the birds. That cheeky wombat up there had us in stitches as he grabbed the entire snack right from my son's hand and snaffled it immediately.

With three sons to feed, food is always a big focus of any trip away. The cafe at Featherdale is not only reasonably-priced but serves a wide range of good quality food and caters well for vegetarians. I had been prepared for the usual low quality, expensive fare but the Featherdale cafe far exceeded my expectations. My little one opted for a delicious fruit salad, one son had a vegie burger and the other had a bacon and egg roll.

We all can't wait to go back to Featherdale. Entry was $99 for the five of us.

Tantrums: 1 - over wanting to feed more animals when his feed was used up

Hot tip: right near Featherdale was the biggest Kmart any of us had ever seen. We had time to stop before we got to Featherdale and the kids had a ball selecting a memento of their weekend. 

Tantrums: 0

The writer and her family's staycation was courtesy of Ford Kuga.