I didn't walk into an art gallery until I was 17 yrs old. That perhaps has to do with the fact that I grew up in the country and we don't have too many of them out there. My boys however have been into quite a few in their short years because I love going to them and I plan to take them to many more. I don't want them to become poncey arty farty types of blokes, I just want them to marvel at what human kind can create and achieve.
Besides looking at amazing art, my other favourite thing about galleries is that they normally have a fabulous cafe attached to them, just like the Campbelltown Arts Centre does. The Arts Centre Cafe is the most perfect spot to enjoy breakfast or lunch and everything in between. It is housed at the back of the modern Arts Centre in Campbelltown and it is oh so child friendly. There is loads of parking available and you access the cafe via walking through the main entrance of the Arts Centre. Pram access is very easy and once you are inside you can easily park your pram next to your table. High chairs and excellent toilet facilities are both available at the cafe and when you combine all of this with a delightful location and equally delightful staff, you are in for one very enjoyable and family friendly experience.
The Arts Centre Cafe is surrounded by a beautiful Japanese Garden. You can choose to sit inside or out, with obviously the outside tables being the most popular. I suggest that you make a booking and place a request for an outside table as this is one very popular dining with locals and visitors alike. It is so tranquil sitting outside, the view over the lush gardens with the trickling brook full of big fat koi fish creates a very peaceful atmosphere. When we arrived at 9am on a Saturday morning for breakfast the place was filling up fast with a mix of families and couples. Parents sat back and relaxed whilst their offspring went scampering off to see what they could find.
Your kidlets can wander through the gardens, but just be aware that there is water and whilst the koi won't bite them if they fall in, they may indeed suffer a more serious fate - so keep an eye on them! I felt comfortable sitting at our outside table whilst the boys dawdled around the garden, but be warned they can wander further afield into a sculpture garden and you will have no vision of them from your table. So I suggest that you go with them on their explore for their own safety and also the safety of the sculpture!
Whilst there isn't a specific kids menu at the Arts Centre Cafe, there are more than enough options available for them to eat. The boys had toasted banana bread and kids size milkshakes (sensibly served in a small plastic cup) for breakfast. Toast, pancakes, baked goods, eggs on toast, as well as sides of hash browns and bacon are also available for them to munch on. At lunch time there is an excellent selection of sandwiches on the menu and these can be washed down with soft drinks, juices, milkshakes and of course babycinos ($1.50).
The menu is very reasonably priced and everything on it sounds delicious. We opted for poached eggs on toast with sides of bacon and smoked salmon ($15). Other items available are the Bircher Muesli Pot ($9) - with thick sweet yoghurt & strawberries; Corn Fritters with a rocket salad & either bacon or smoked salmon ($14.50); or the Trio of Benedict (where you can try one of each) - traditional ham, smoked salmon as well as spinach & relish - a perfect option for you indecisive ones!
At lunch time, as I mentioned before, they have an excellent assortment of sandwiches for $9.90, plus some very tasty salads and other wholesome dishes. How does Quinoa & Black Rice Salad with fetta, roasted kumara, rocket and balsamic orange dressing sound? Or perhaps you would prefer Brunch for Lunch - grilled haloumi, asparagus & mushrooms on toast with a poached egg - yummo! For the caffeine addicts the cafe's Coffee Roasters coffee is brilliant and tea lovers will enjoy the Teacraft blend of teas that are available.
When your meal is over, it's time check out the art gallery - don't be worried that kids will be either be bored or a bother, as children are very welcome here. My little screen junkies were transfixed by the TV installation that they encountered as soon as we walked in (oh and it is free entry!). When they tried to work out how to change the channels we decided it was time to move them on to see some of the other impressive works on display. There is a decent mix of art with some amazing Indigenous paintings that will transfix you for ages in the various rooms of the Arts Centre. When we visited we were the only people there, which meant that we could get up close and personal with all of the installations, paintings and arts & crafts on show.
During the school holidays the Arts Centre run loads of activities and workshops to keep kidlets entertained and also during the term they have other events on for families such as the Kiddies Cushion Concert. Kids can lay back on cushions whilst listening to an orchestra perform a mixture of classical music, nursery rhymes and other favourites - so for you culture vultures this is something you should check out.
So Little Munchers, how old were you when you went to your first art gallery? Have your kids been to one yet? Which one is your favourite? And most importantly - does it have a cafe?
Art Gallery Rd, Campbelltown NSW
Open Mon - Fri : 10am - 4pm
Sat - Sun: 8.30am - 4pm
Breakfast on weekends only