Travelling to Sydney with a Toddler – January 2010

Our first trip with our then 20 months old was to Sydney for a friends wedding.  This is how we fared travelling to Sydney with a toddler.

Sydney with Toddler


For all that I knew about how to travel with babies and toddlers, I must admit I was still quite anxious about taking my son Lewis on his first flight, and on our first holiday as a family.  However, as my partner Steve continually still remind’s me “don’t worry you will have it all researched to the nth degree”.

I didn’t know Sydney at all however a friend had just returned from there, she recommended staying at the HarbourFront.  I had decided that as we were travelling with a 20 month old that the accommodation that I would want to stay in an apartment for the convenience of a kitchen and a separate bedroom so as to be able to put Lewis down while we could stay up without disturbing him.

I found an affordable apartment at the Oaks Maestri centrally located between the city, Chinatown and the HarbourFront.

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Next as we had a wedding to attend I went onto Google Maps to find out where the wedding and reception would be held.  It was a good 40km east of the city; the wedding and reception were 15km apart.  I assumed a taxi would be expensive and could be difficult to catch in the suburbs.  So I decided to hire a car.  I chose a car that would have enough boot space for our bulky pram and from a company that had a pick up in the city.  I also ordered a car seat for Lewis.

I have to say at this point I love Google Maps.  I downloaded directions to walk to the car hire from the apartment, drive back to the apartment and 3 different directions to the wedding, onto the reception and back to the apartment.

Anyway back to the preparation (I know we haven’t gone yet!).  I got everything for Lewis organised.  I bought packs of baby food, small packs of tinned fruit, baby biscuits and crackers to pack in his luggage.  For the plane journey I bought a book and some small toys, all quite inexpensive.

During the lead up to the flight I kept reminding Lewis that we were going on a flight and that he would have to stay in our seats from lunch time through to dinner..

The night before our flight Steve and I packed.  My large suit case was bulging with all the food, formula, bottles, nappies and wipes.  Not to mention my clothes and toiletries.  Yet I made sure we were within our weight limits.

Departure Day

The morning of the flight we packed up our car with the cases and pram.  On the way to the airport we stopped and bought a Cheesymite for Lewis on the flight.  We parked the car in Longterm parking (I had already researched the cost on the airport‘s website and concluded this was the best option for us).

We checked in and went through security where we advised them the bottles of water were sterilised for the baby and we were waved through.

We boarded the flight and found we were given 2 seats with a bassinet, as Lewis was 18 months he was too old to use the bassinet.  However the bulkhead did give Lewis room to play on the floor.

On take off we gave Lewis the Cheesymite (it was lunch time) to help with his ears.  I have to say for all my anxiety Lewis was pretty good.  When he started to get restless I bought out a new book or toy.  Eventually he was tired.  I had given him a bottle and made up a bed on the floor – why I did this I don’t know.  I knew sleeping on the floor was forbidden, but I thought I might get away with it as Lewis was a baby.  I did not!  No sooner had he nodded off then the flight attendant asked me to put him in the chair.  Fortunately Steve had room to move across the aisle and I moved Lewis to the seat.  A point here in bulkhead seats the armrests don’t go up.  Lewis slept for the remainder of the flight.

We arrived into Sydney with storms and had to wait an hour for our bags due to lightening.  It was nearly 9pm Sydney time (6pm in Perth) when we reached the apartment and Lewis had eaten every snack I had prepared in our hand luggage during the journey.

We found that Sydney stays open late, we found a restaurant in Chinatown for dinner, then walked into the city and located a supermarket still open at 11pm, we bought fresh fruit and groceries for breakfast.

Back at the apartment it was midnight we put Lewis to sleep, then relaxed in front of the TV.

Day 1 – Exploring Sydney with Toddler

The next morning we slept in until 10am, (7am in Perth).  We decided to stick to Perth time as much as possible as we thought this would be easier on Lewis and therefore make the holiday more enjoyable for all of us.

After breakfast we headed into the city on foot with Lewis in the pram.  Lewis was thoroughly entertained walking down George Street pointing out buses ever few moments.  We made our way to Circular Quay where we got our first look at Sydney Harbour Bridge and the Opera House.

Sydney with Toddler at the Sydney Harbour Bridge

Sydney with toddler at Sydney Opera House

Sydney Opera House

It was getting close to Lewis’s nap time and so we caught a ferry back to the HarbourFront.  Lewis was excited about going for a ride on a boat and the rocking motion helped him nod off to sleep.

As we walked back to our apartment we passed a pub on the HarbourFront offering cheap meals, so we stopped in and ordered lunch and a glass of wine.  It was the first time within a couple of years that Steve and I had actually had a quiet meal together alone (almost).

Once Lewis woke a couple of hours later we continued on our way back to the apartment and fed him.  For dinner that night we went back to the HarbourFront where Lewis got to play and run and we had a nice meal.

Day 2 – Wedding Day

I got to use those Google Maps today and they worked fairly well, though it was fortunate that the car hire place had given us a road map as the Hume Hwy has several different street names.

The wedding was in Greek (so I didn’t understand anything) but the process appears to be much the same as in English and you end up husband and wife at the end.

During the break between the ceremony and reception we went to an RSL club in the Eastern suburbs.  How amazing are these places they are like walking into a Vegas casino quite impressive and certainly surpasses our Burswood Casino.

Sydney with toddle: Bankstown RSL

The reception went well and the food was delicious.  Lewis coped well with the day and fell asleep in his pram during the reception.

Day 3 – Manley Beach

The next morning was Sunday we originally had hoped to go on a Harbour Cruise however we missed it and so decided to go to Manly Beach for the day.  This ended up being a great alternative as in Sydney the public transport has “family fun day” and the cost to go any where is minimal.

(UPDATE 2016: Sydney public transport no longer offer family fun day)

Manly is quite different than the city, it has quite a relaxed beachy feel about it.  Again Lewis fell asleep on the ferry over and we got to have a nice relaxing lunch.  Once he woke he had a play on the beach and at the play ground in the town centre.

We headed back on the ferry late in the afternoon feel tired but relaxed.

Day 4 – Tour Day

We were organised this morning and got onto our Harbour Cruise.  Whilst the Harbour Cruise was pleasant and scenic it wasn’t a smart move with a toddler.  Lewis sat calmly with us for about an hour and then he became restless.  He was up and down a flight of stairs I don’t know how many times, with one of us in tow and petrified he would fall.  We were grateful when we arrived back at Circular Quay.

Sydney harbour Cruise

Cruising Sydney Harbour

That afternoon we decided to do a tour of the Opera House.  The tour was interesting and Lewis was reasonably well behaved.

Sydney with Toddler at Sydney Opera House

With all these tours Lewis really needed to burn off a little energy before dinner so we stopped at the nearby Hyde Park for a play.

Sydney with toddler at Archilbald Fountain

Archibald Fountain

That night we went back to the Harbourfront for dinner and had a beautiful meal that was very reasonably priced particularly in comparison to what you would pay in Perth with a similar location.

Day 5

Our holiday has come to an end and after breakfast we are off to the airport.

The flight went well with the flight attendants even taking Lewis up to the galley for a while, the only negative to this was that Lewis discovered he could get out his seat.

We arrived home feeling relaxed having enjoyed our first family holiday.

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About Sally-Ann Brown

I am Sally-Ann the author of Toddlers on Tour. I am a wife and mother who has always had a passion for travel. I love sharing my experiences and lessons learned to help you have a better family holiday or day trip. Read "All About Me" under the "Home" tab to discover my story and what lead me to here.

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