Sydney Olympic Park was purpose-built for the 2000 Games and ever since, Homebush has come into its own, as a destination for families who love active pursuits.
Photo c/o- Sydney Olympic Park Facebook page
When was the last time you visited this sprawling outdoor site? If it was the Olympics, or a rock concert, you may not be up to date on all it has to offer in the way of leisure. The school holidays, a long weekend, or indeed any weekend, are great times to re-acquaint yourselves with the Park and its surrounds. Or, if you're looking for a place for your toddlers to burn off some energy of a weekday morning, perhaps arrange your next mother's group meet there?
Built originally for Olympic race meets, this competitive pool complex now offers much wider facilities and services to the public, including Learn To Swim classes. Splasher's Water Playground is a sight to behold and you can sign your kids up for school holiday recreational programmes and diving clinics. You may also steal an hour for yourselves, mums, and take a group exercise class or a personal training session.
A friend was raving today about how much her six-year old enjoyed a day at the Archery Centre and what a great place it would be for a kids party. This is a new one to me but what a great way to expose your children to a potential new sport, by booking a place in an archery or laser tag school holiday programme? Or, impress the kids in their class by booking an archery party for your child's next big celebration.
This Sydney institution continues to be a busy, family favourite for BBQs, strolls, dog walking, cycling routes (including bike hire), playgrounds (including a Liberty swing), water play, the mangrove boardwalk, waterbird refuge and... coffee and brekky at WatervieW Café. Can't forget the coffee, mums! Parking is timed and can be a bit mad, so this is one part of the precinct I'd particularly recommend for a weekday playdate or mother's group.
This one reminds me of a scene out of the Teletubbies with its smooth, rolling hills, shaped into an adventure playground of mammoth proportions. If you're fortunate to be free on weekdays, take advantage and avoid the crowds, though the park is really best suited to kids of an age where they can hold their own in the playground. There is a large outdoor, water play facility (open 10am - 4pm), a double flying fox, mega swing, tunnel slides, Viking swing, spinning play disc and multi-level treehouse. What could be more fun!
Named after the great Olympian, this green space is right in the hub of things. It's not the first place I would recommend onsite for families but it is central to all the main facilities. It's a space for chilling out or admiring the sculptures near the ANZ Stadium, including the famed Olympic Cauldron. Movies By The Boulevard are held here and there are restaurants, as well as the traditional parkland features like picnic areas, walk and cycleways and playgrounds. There is also an over-sized chess set to play with.
If you sign up to the Olympic Park newsletter, or log onto Events, you'll never miss the special festivals that are being held all year round. In January, why not check out a movie on the VERY big open-air screen in the park. Boss Baby and Lego Batman are just some of the kid-friendly films showing this January.
If you are brave enough to take your kids to the mega-playground at Blaxland Park, reward yourself with a visit to The Armory while you are there. It's my favourite of ALL the amazing spaces in the Olympic Park precinct. There is a Heritage Railway Discovery Tour (on Sunday morning), a BirdLife Discovery Centre, Disc Golf, further bike and Segway paths and... best of all, the Armory Wharf Café by the riverside, near the boat launch ramp. Coffee is essential for any outing with your kids, so treat yourself after they have enjoyed a frenzied adventure in the mother of all playgrounds.
To round out the list, here is one of the other great places to go with super-active kids. A mini version of Blaxland Riverside Park, it's a large, grassy park with an adventure playground, featuring a shaded giant sandpit, climbing frames and swings. And like any decent park these days, there is also a flying fox.
What's you favourite Sydney Olympic Park destination? Is there anything we have missed? Join the Conversation and post your thoughts in the comments...