I asked my girl where she'd tell her friends to visit if they ever went to Australia. "The Sydney Opera House!" she exclaimed. To which my younger boy retorted something along the lines of "Duh... Everyone knows you're supposed to go to the Sydney Opera House." So okay, it's not exactly an undiscovered gem that we unwittingly stumbled upon. But still, I'm glad that the kids enjoyed it so much that it's at the top of their Kiddie Fun List. Because when you're taking little ones to visit architectural wonders, you're never quite sure if they'll be bored to tears while the grownups ooh and aah over sweeping lines, expressionist design, and spherical geometry. (Actually, I think my insightful comments were more like, "It's so pointy.") Fortunately, we visited during the local school break when the Opera House had shows and Creative Play activities to lure in the younger crowd.
|Making all the sails with the same curvature solved a major construction challenge.|
Pick a Tour
The Sydney Opera House has numerous tour options from going backstage (minimum age: 12 years) to the Kids Discovery Tour. We opted for the standard tour, and it worked out just fine with the children. I really liked that everyone was given headsets so they could hear the guide. First, we sat on the foyer steps watching a couple movies about the design and construction challenges of building such an unusual structure. Then, we finally entered the main Concert Hall. While the exterior is world famous, I had no idea what the interior venues look like. As we sat in the smooth, white birch plywood seats, I admired the clean lines and modern aesthetic which, oddly, reminded me of IKEA. Did you know that this hall houses the world's largest mechanical tracker-action pipe organ? I sure didn't. We then crossed over to the Joan Sutherland Theatre located beneath the smaller sail next door. On stage, a crew was busily working out the lighting for Verdi's A Masked Ball which was to open in a few weeks. I loved getting this behind-the-scenes glimpse of what it takes to put on a show.
Free Creative Play for Kids
After the tour, we headed over to the Creative Play area which they set up during school holidays. I think this was my daughter's favorite part and what propelled the Sydney Opera House to the top of her list. With Seussaphones hooked up to the Listening Wall and making flashlight puppets, I saw tons of young kids falling in love with the Opera House. There was even a master storyteller!
|Doesn't this look Fun?|
Enjoy a Show
One of my husband's memories of his childhood visit is sitting in front row seats at the Opera House listening to a children's symphony. Apparently, the front row has an awful view and were the only seats available walking up to the box office on the day of the show. So, I planned ahead and bought on-line tickets to ImaginOcean: The Live Glow-in-the-Dark Family Musical which was playing in the Drama Theatre.
The kids and I enjoyed the bouncy music and fluorescent puppets that glowed beneath the black lights and danced around the stage. Hubby, however, has one wonky eye, so he saw people dressed in black holding non-fluorescent puppets with one eye while the other one saw the intended show. Mildly discombobulating to say the least.
|Where the outside meets the inside.|
These precast concrete ribs support the outer shell.
Dine at The Opera Bar
This restaurant deserves all its popularity and numerous awards. The fantastic view of both the Harbour Bridge and the Opera House combined with deliciously tantalizing food made it a top notch dining experience. The kids enjoyed it as much as the adults.
|The Opera Bar (clockwise): The interior; Linguine with broccoli, chilli, and preserved lemon; Pizza with prosciutto, provolone and rocket; Spaghetti with baby clams, tomato and parsley; Not Pictured: Margarita pizza|
Keep an Eye on your Kids in the Gift Shop
At the end of our visit, I made good on my promise to buy my boy a LEGO Sydney Opera House Kit. That's when my girl attempted to straighten up the display of Swarovski Crystal-tipped pencils... and proceeded to knock down the entire thing. Imagine the sound of hundreds of pencils clattering to the floor. Unfortunately, some of the crystals got knocked off, and this mama spent $126 on damaged merchandise. $126!! Ack!
Hop a Boat to See It from the Water
One of the classic views of the Opera House is from the harbour. We took a short stroll over to Circular Quay, enjoying the street performers along the way, (I think my oldest is now considering this as a career choice), and hopped on board the ferry to Manly. It was a great end to our visit.
|As seen from Sydney Harbour|
This post is part of Travel Photo Thursday on Budget Travelers Sandbox, Photo Friday at Delicious Baby, and Friday Daydreamin' at R We There Yet Mom? Check them out for more around-the-world travel inspiration.