A Family Day Out in Darling Harbour & Surrounds

posted in: Day Trips, Life | 0

Darling Harbour has CHANGED and it’s not just for tourists anymore! Gone is Sega World, the IMAX, the Entertainment Centre and the monorail you might remember, and in its place a $3.4 billion precinct that’s more than 22ha!

Consider the area in 3 sections:

  • Darling Harbour is the original entertainment area.
  • A bit further south you’ll find Darling Quarter, comprised of the playground, new International Convention Centre (ICC), lots of restaurants, the Chinese Garden of Friendship and Tumbalong Park.
  • Further south again and closer to Haymarket, you will find the latest district – Darling Square which is a vibrant neighbourhood full of mouth-watering dining, laneways bars, village square and educational and cultural institutions. 

Here’s the highlights reel of the whole area:


Darling Quarter Playground

Kids will ADORE this awesome playground, with plenty of equipment to choose from including a flying fox, climbing ropes, swings, slides and probably best of all – water play. There are pumps, channels to direct water flow and all sorts of mechanical components to keep the play interesting.

Adults will appreciate the shade sails, ample seating, toilets with change tables and vast array of eateries nearby. Beware though as it can get really busy.

Read more here.


Chinese Garden Of Friendship

The Chinese Garden of Friendship is a stunning oasis amongst the hustle and bustle of the city. Built in 1988, it is a symbol of friendship between Sydney and the southern Chinese city of Guandong.

In a 30 minute stroll, you can enjoy waterfalls and lagoons filled with lotus plants, spotting wildlife such as turtles, carp fish, birds and water dragons, and stopping for a break in the peaceful pavillions. The tea house is also open and offers Yum Cha!

Entry is $8 for adults and $4 for kids and is there is a pram friendly route on the lower pathways.

Read more here.


Restaurants, Cafes, Food Courts & More

Skip the overpriced tourist traps and head straight to Darling Quarter and Darling Square. In particular, Darling Drive, Steam Mill Lane and Little Hay Street.

At Darling Quarter, there are loads of great options from take-away to cafes and restaurants. Take the time to walk along Darling Drive and see it all, you’ll be spoilt for choice.

At Darling Square, there is a lovely outdoor space with a variety of casual restaurants around it. A few steps away at Steam Mill Lane you’ll find lots of casual eateries and some of the areas best cheap eats. Afterwards, make sure to stop at Electric Treat Street (Little Hay Street) laneway for dessert.

Kids aside for a moment, Darling Square and Quarter are particularly great for pre-dinner/drinks if you’re heading to the International Convention Centre, The Capitol or State Theatre which are all a short stroll away.

Read more here.


Attractions and Entertainment


Sea Life Sydney Aquarium

Complete with glass tunnels, living coral, brilliantly coloured tropical fish and of course Sharks, SEA LIFE Sydney Aquarium is one of the world’s largest aquariums with over 700 different species and 13,000 animals in an impressive six million litres of water. 

Read more here.


Wildlife Sydney Zoo

See the “big five” – kangaroos, crocodiles, koalas, wombats and platypuses – plus many more gorgeous animals to meet, feed and learn about at this harbourside zoo.

Read more here.


Madame Tussauds

Get up close and personal with life-like wax figures of your favourite celebrities and cultural icons.

Read more here.


Australian National Maritime Museum

With a wonderful collection of boats, ships and a submarine, the Australian National Maritime Museum explores the history, technology and everything connected with the maritime nation of Australia.

Read more here.


The Powerhouse Museum

Located in Ultimo, The Powerhouse Museum is the perfect family destination for exploring the interactive side of arts and science and entry is FREE.

Read more here.



Sound Shell

Adjacent to the playground, a new Sound Shell has been added to Tumbalong Park, a $10 million investment from Placemaking NSW. It will become Sydney’s newest home for live concerts, sporting events and community festivals.

The sound shell design has a unique cantilevered roof resembling a cockle shell that is a symbolic link to the history of the area. Tumbalong also means ‘the place where shellfish is found’ in Gadigal. The state-of-the-art structure includes two new 9 x 5 metre digital screens, permanent speakers, acoustic panelling and a motorised truss.



Getting There

Accessing Darling Harbour, Darling Quarter and Darling Square can be done in many ways! Whether it be by train, bus, ferry, light rail or car, here’s everything you need to know.