School holidays, before this year they didn't faze me, I always heard other parents raving on about having to entertain their kids and I thought "whatever' I have to do that every day of the week. And then my eldest started school this year and I suddenly realised what all those complaining parents were on about. School kids get bored and bored very quickly when they are not at school - most especially during school holidays. So I have been proactive instead of reactive these school holidays and I have drawn up a list of activities for us to do every single day and those activities have mainly involved visiting kid friendly dining establishments.
Day 1 on my list involved a visit to the Hyde Park Barracks Museum and Cafe. We caught a bus into the city (which is a whole adventure in itself for boys from the burbs) and we made straight for Hyde Park. I let the boys run wild for a bit chasing all of those poor old ugly birds and then we headed over the road to the Museum. We made a collective decision to do the museum first and then have morning tea at the cafe.
Upon entering the museum, we were greeted by some overly friendly staff who told me I had to part with $20 to gain entrance. The boys received a Ratty booklet each - an activity book that they could complete as they went through the museum. They basically had to locate rat stickers throughout the museum and complete the required task. My boys are a bit too young yet to understand about convicts and they weren't very interested in partaking of any of my knowledge, they just wanted to find the rats.....so a rat hunting we went. We found all ten of them - plus loads and loads of dead ones in the exhibits - by the way if you suffer from musophobia this museum isn't the best place for you.
Depending on the age of your kidlets you may have to help them complete some of the tasks in the booklet. For once I actually had time to look at some of the exhibits whilst the boys attempted to fill out their books. The museum is really quite interesting especially if you love Australian history. It's located on 3 different levels, accessed by stairs - so if you have a bubba make sure you pop them in a carrier whist you are inside the museum (there is pram storage on the ground floor). It's most definitely a hands on museum which is perfect when you have little kids - the boys favourite spot was the hammock room. You are encouraged to lie in them and get a feel what it would have been like all those years ago when some of our ancestors arrived as convicts.
Once you have finished checking out the museum you head back downstairs to the information office and the staff have a quick squizz of the booklet and then give your kids a stamp on the back of it as well as on their hands as a small reward. During school holidays they host many paid activities for kids, such as Convict Pirates, click here for more information.
Now its time for your caffeine fix.
The Hyde Park Barracks Cafe is located across the courtyard from the museum. They have loads of seating outside which is the perfect spot to sit with kids as they can run around whilst you enjoy your cuppa. It was a particularly cold morning when we visited so I opted to sit inside as I could see a wood fire burning. Just to let you know both inside and out is pram friendly and there are also high chairs available.
Inside the cafe is warm and inviting - smartly attired staff showed us to a table near the wood fire. They also had seated us next to a table with other kids instead of near diners who were without kiddliwinks - a smart move I thought on behalf of our waiter. Table water was brought straight away as were our menus. Inside the cafe is the perfect spot for a "nice" lunch. By that I mean it is a bit more posh than the usual child friendly venues we dine at.
My boys have become pain au chocolate/chocolate croissant connoisseurs. They no longer want Vegemite toast or banana bread when they eat out and they have also become very confident in asking wait staff if they have them available - just like they did to our charming waiter at the Hyde Park Barracks Cafe. Luckily for the waiter the cafe does indeed serve chocolate croissants, and golly gosh they were fabulous. It is a freshly baked croissant that is served with a little pot of chocolate fudge sauce ($7)! So you rip off little pieces of the croissant and dip it in the oh so fabulous sauce. The boys thought this was the coolest thing ever and luckily for me I had a brand new packet of baby wipes, because I certainly needed a few to clean them up afterwards.
There is an excellent children's menu available for children 10 yrs and under. It includes items such as toasted sandwiches, home made fettuccine and gnocchi, a range of croissants, fish and chips as well as chicken schnitzel. For dessert there is gelato and for drinks there are juices, spiders and fire engines! The most expensive item on the menu is $9.90, which is quite good value considering that you are dining in the heart of Sydney.
Whilst the boys were munching on their croissants they got the giggles and started pointing and talking at the top of their voices, only like children can, asking me why those funny old men had those silly wigs on. When I turned around I saw them pointing at a bunch of silks...you know barristers....they clearly pop in for a coffee in between court appearances (Federal Court is just across the way). The men in wigs clearly not impressed at being laughed at by two minors, promptly made their way outside and enjoyed their caffeine fix out there.
Now the coffee is excellent and the perfect accompaniment to freshly baked scones ($9). There are also muffins and other decadent sounding cakes available for morning and afternoon tea as well as paninis, eggs benedict and antipasto. The Hyde Park Barracks Cafe is open for breakfast and lunch 7 days a week. The Breakfast menu is very good value for a cafe of this calibre and includes witty items such as the The Convict (eggs, spinach, tomato on ciabatta), The Barrister ( convict + bacon) and The Judge - basically the whole hog (not the whole pig, just a full on breakfast). At lunch time the menu gets a little more flash with prices heading north of $30.00. They are also licensed so you can have a tipple if you caught the bus in from the burbs, or if you are having a particularly bad day in court!
We thoroughly enjoyed our morning at the Hyde Park Barracks. If the museum is not your cup of tea you can just go and have a meal or a cuppa at the cafe. The cafe is open Mon - Fri from 8am - 3pm and on weekends from 9am - 3pm. It's the perfect spot to escape the hustle and bustle of the city. If you are travelling to the city by car I think the Domain carpark would be the closest for you to use.
Just to let you know the 4 lollipops were awarded by the boys purely based on the awesome croissant experience x
Queens Square, Macquarie Street Sydney NSW 2000
Cafe: 02 92221815
Museum: 02 82392311
The museum is open 10am - 5pm each day.