Can’t think of a gift for that special someone? Then give them an experience they will remember long after the Christmas tree has dropped its needles.
Here are ten Sydney experiences for the grandkids to the grandparents, the adventure-lovers to the romantics.
Sydney Harbour is the sparkling heart of the city and there are many ways to explore it.
Nothing beats a view of the city from the Sydney Harbour Bridge, except the feeling of elation at having climbed to the top. Learn the history of the meccano-like maze that is the structure itself, as you climb. For ages 10 to 100. We loved our Bridge Climb a few years ago. Just wait until after the festive hangover, as climbers are breath-tested. www.bridgeclimb.com
Romantic sailing getaway
Give the gift of romance – or at least a night without the kids – with this luxe overnight sailing experience. Enjoy a two hour sail before the skipper anchors the yacht in a secluded bay, leaving guests to enjoy a delicious gourmet meal as the sun sets. Go to sleep (or perhaps not) to the sound of water lapping against the hull. Just make sure you are up and dressed before the skipper arrives next morning. My tip – upgrade so you get a longer sleep-in. www.sydneybysail.com.au
Know a nautical nut or history enthusiast? Give them a day aboard one of the ships in the Sydney Heritage Fleet, like the historic 19th-century barque James Craig, rescued from rusting ruin with a loving 30-year restoration. Hoist the sails with the volunteer crew or just sit back and relax, like I did. www.shf.org.au
Alternatively, the Southern Swan, a barquentine built in 1922, and Sydney’s only authentic timber tall ship, offers the chance to climb the ratlines to the futtock on the mizzen – how’s that for nautical terminology? Read my post Buttocks on the futtocks to learn more. www.sydneytallships.com.au
Here’s one for adrenalin lovers – or payback for boisterous teenagers. A jet boat ride on the harbour. Bounce over wakes, flick fishtails, spin wildly and screech to a halt, all while getting drenched. What’s not to love? And there is some sightseeing thrown in too. www.ozjetboating.com, www.harbourjet.com, www.sydneyjet.com.
Spice up the life of weary commuters with these fun rides.
It’s not quite the Jetson’s jet pack I’d dreamed of as a kid, but a Segway feels a bit other-worldly to ride. It only takes minutes to learn, and is thrilling and addictive. We did our first family ride years ago and eagerly returned for the cross-country adventure around Newington Armory at Sydney Olympic Park. www.segwaytours.com.au.
Ballooning in the mist
Gift this to sleepyheads and watch them crawl out of bed before dawn. Rise up through the mist as the sun peeks over the horizon, while below the Hawkesbury River carves a snaking path through patchworked farmland. Post flight champagne and breakfast at Sebel Resort and Spa tops off a great morning. Check out the post on my flight. www.cloud9balloons.com.au.
Lovers of architecture will enjoy an amble with Sydney Architectural Walks. Engaging commentary form the savvy guides, architects themselves, reveals a rarely-heard urban narrative about Sydney’s development. Choose from two-hour walks to a five-hour cycle. www.sydneyarchitecture.org
Here are three more ideas that suit the whole family.
Douse loved ones with copious amounts of water on a stifling Sydney summer’s day. Throw in some hair-raising, scream-inducing slides and a water wonderland for toddlers and you’ve got hours of fun for the whole family. Opening December 12. Better throw in a bottle of sunscreen too. www.wetnwildsydney.com.au
Talk to the animals
Animals are a perennial favourite and Sydney is blessed with a variety of parks, from the Koala Park in West Pennant Hills to the award-winning Featherdale Wildlife Park at Doonside. And at Taronga Zoo you can even sleepover with the animals on their Roar & Snore adventure . www.featherdale.com.au, www.taronga.org.au, www.koalapark.com.au,
Give the gift of culture with theatre tickets. There are so many shows in Sydney it’s hard to choose, but Disney’s musical The Lion King will suit the whole family. We saw when the kids were little, but my now teenage son has asked to go again. So guess what’s going in his stocking – but please don’t tell him. At the Capitol Theatre. www.disney.com.au