This trip was a lesson in logistics. Two families booked in at an AirBNB in Sydney to go to the Monster Jam monster truck show at Homebush stadium, with a quick trip to the aquarium beforehand. Simple right?
The first sign of an issue was the afternoon before we were scheduled to drive up to Sydney, when our friends youngest had a bout of gastro hit her. It was quickly decided that her Dad would stay behind here in Canberra to look after her, as the grandparents weren’t keen on looking after a sick child. They did still offer for us to use their VW van though. The Tallblackvan wasn’t suitable for this trip, with the drawers in the back and its tall height, it would have been difficult to find a park and get around with the Delica.
So with a member down already, we headed north to Sydney early on Saturday morning, hoping that the gastro hadn’t spread to the rest of the family.
We did not make excellent time, stopping at Goulburn for Maccas and then again at Pheasants Nest for fuel and a pit stop. We got to our accommodation at Wentworth Point, near Sydney Olympic Park, without too many issues from the 2 four-year-olds after 3.5hrs travelling.
I was in the roomy back seat by myself, so I couldn’t complain either. Rosie had a great idea to put together some travel bags for the kids which helped a lot (though nothing for me).
Once we had found and settled in the apartment, we left and hurried to the nearby ferry terminal to catch a boat to Darling Harbour. We got on board without too many issues, with the two boys very excited over their upcoming trip on the water.
What we hadn’t figured on was how tired the boys would be from travelling. Both started acting up and then towards the end of the trip one of them fell asleep on his mum. We got off the boat and headed down to the aquarium. Normally this would have been fine, but it was a hot day, the kids hadn’t eaten much, they were tired and it was a 600m walk down a crowded thoroughfare.
We paid the stupidly high prices to get into the aquarium, then headed in with some kids that were over-tired and over-stimulated. They did pretty well considering, and the aquarium itself is very good. We rushed through most of the exhibits, with the highlight being the dugong tunnel. Rosie was beside herself as the dugong swam directly over our heads several times.
We rediscovered that penguins stink, skipped the 30 minute wait for some Antarctic ride, then ended up the gift shop on the way out. This was the most overpriced gift shop I had ever been in. The boys (and Rosie) ended up with some small trinkets from their trip though.
Once we were out in the hot sun again, after 3pm, we started looking for a place to eat. We found one that looked promising, but wasn’t, so we packed up and headed down to Cargo Bar which at least had fast service. A quick meal and some drinks there, a few fights with the kids about chips with green stuff on them, and then we were back hurrying to the ferry terminal. Unfortunately we just didn’t make it in time, with the two next ferries fully booked out due to high usage. With no other option, we immediately went back to the street and flagged down two taxis to get us back to the apartment.
We arrived at the apartment around 5pm after a fairly busy and stressful taxi ride through Sydney traffic. The monster trucks started at 6pm. So we all had quick showers, got changed, got our gear together and drove down to Accor Stadium. Fortunately we’d booked a carpark close to the stadium. We rushed down the 8 levels of carpark, found our gates on the entire other side of the stadium, got through the security checks and were sitting in the seats at 6.05, just as the trucks were coming into the stadium.
The stadium was incredibly loud, but it was mostly the speakers and announcers rather than just the monster truck engines. We’d brought kid sized ear-muffs for Ollie, and some ear plugs for me. The trucks were actually very interesting to us adults; we were all much more engaged than we thought we would be.
After the initial thrill of seeing the trucks wore off, both kids started to get restless and tired, which was kind of understandable after the busy day they had just been through. At halfway through the show, at around 7pm, Ollie’s friend ended up throwing up and needed to go home. Looking at our own kid slumped under the seat almost falling asleep, we decided to go home with them and call it a night.
It ended up working out okay, though the adults were a bit sad that we didn’t get to see who one the last competitions. We were only one of several other groups that were leaving the stadium due to sick or tired children – apparently this is a usual thing. Leaving early means that you miss all the traffic after a big event, so that worked out.
Once back home, the two tired kids went straight to bed, one of them clutching a vomit bag. There was no further throwing up that night fortunately. Me and Rosie walked down to a nearby Coles to get some food for the adults, then came back and ate it. No one was interested in any alcohol or trying to find a pub, and everyone was in bed by 9.30pm. It had been a very long day.
Ollie fell out of bed onto the hardwood floor around 11.30pm. Rosie ended up in his bed as a result, and he slept next to me just fine.
The next morning I woke up with a massive sore throat and swollen lymph nodes, causing difficulty in swallowing and breathing. I skipped breakfast with the rest of the crew while waiting for some ibuprofen to kick in. We packed up the apartment, left the keys on the bench and headed out into Sydney traffic again. Of course, there was a marathon or some other sporting event going on, so we had to divert the wrong way up a one-way street, but we managed to get out and onto the motorways.
With only one stop for a break this time, we got back to Canberra in the early afternoon. Once home I immediately fell asleep for 5 hours.
In retrospect, the aquarium visit was ambitious. We had 7 hours to fill, but they came and went so quickly due to small delays and changes in plans. It was still an excellent weekend though and the kids absolutely adored the experience, despite some whinging. We also found out that Monster Trucks would be much more fun as a drinking game with a group of adults, so maybe next time we’ll leave the kids at home.