For kids, a new adventure is the best kind – particularly during the long Christmas break. So if you’re enjoying a staycation this year, here are some transport-themed activities that are sure to become the basis of wonderful memories.
Australia Day Vintage Bus Service
When: January 26, 2019
Where: Sydney Opera House, Bennelong Point
Getting there: Take the train from Central Station to Circular Quay Station then enjoy a harbour-side stroll to Sydney Opera House.
For a gold coin donation, you can hop on 1930s to 1980s double-decker buses from the Sydney Opera House to Milsons Point, returning via the Harbour Bridge. If you’ve already made plans for Australia Day, head to the volunteer-run Sydney Bus Museum in Leichhardt on the first or third Sunday of each month (excluding January 26) to spot vintage buses, stand in awe of the World War II exhibition and take a return trip aboard a vintage double-decker to the ornate Queen Victoria Building.
Locomotive No. 1
When: Year-round (excluding Christmas Day)
Where: Powerhouse Museum, 500 Harris Street, Ultimo
Getting there: Take the light rail from Central Station to Paddy’s Markets then walk six minutes to Powerhouse Museum, or take the bus from Central Station to Harris Street then walk one minute.
You know something’s important when it becomes a permanent exhibition – and, in the transport arena, things don’t get much more significant than the exact locomotive that hauled New South Wales’ first passenger train in 1855! Step back in time to 1863, when train travel involved a class system of carriages, to enjoy an audio-visual experience that explains the history of the state’s railways.
Summer Railmotor Rides
When: Every weekend in January and every Sunday in February
Where: NSW Rail Museum, 10 Barbour Road, Thirlmere
Getting there: Take the train from Central Station to Picton Station (via Campbelltown Station), then a bus to Barbour Road in Thirlmere.
Hosted by the NSW Rail Museum, this return 45-minute trip from Thirlmere Station to Buxton takes passengers back to the 1920s, when carriages were decked out with brass fittings and there was no escaping the bumpiness of the railmotor ride.
Riding the Rails
When: Every Sunday
Where: Newington Armory, Jamieson Street
Getting there: Take the train from Central Station to Strathfield Station then a bus to Avenue of Africa, followed by an eight-minute walk to Newington Armory.
The Heritage Train at Newington Armory used to transport missiles, torpedoes and other World War II weaponry. Now it carries even more precious cargo (families) past buildings dating back to the 1890s that once formed the Royal Australian Navy Armament Depot.
Crooked Characters Tour
When: First three Saturdays in January
Where: Cockatoo Island, Sydney
Getting there: Take the train from Central Station to Circular Quay Station then the ferry from Circular Quay Wharf to Cockatoo Island.
You likely already know that the largest island in Sydney Harbour was once home to convict prisoners, but were you aware that one of them escaped by dressing up as a woman? You’ll learn this and so much more about the rogues and charlatans on the free Crooked Characters Tour happening at the UNESCO World Heritage-listed site this summer. Want to make the most of the visit? Hire a tent or bring your own for a night under the stars, then settle in for a BBQ brekkie the next morning.
Museum of Fire’s Junior Firefighters Zone
When: Year-round (excluding Good Friday, Christmas Day, Boxing Day and New Year’s Day)
Where: 1 Museum Drive, Penrith
Getting there: Take the train from Central Station to Penrith Station then walk five minutes to Museum of Fire.
Explore the world of fire transport in the interactive Junior Firefighters Zone, where kids can take charge of a simulated fire engine, play dress-ups, go on a treasure hunt and design a fire-escape plan for their home. The Junior Firefighters Challenge can be downloaded as an audio tour on Apple and Android smartphones.
Sydney Tramway Museum
When: Wednesdays and Sundays (excluding public holidays)
Where: 2 Pitt Street, Loftus
Getting there: Take the train from Central Station to Loftus Station.
Take unlimited rides on an old-school tram, from the original Railway Square Waiting Shed (which has been carefully re-erected on the museum grounds) north to Sutherland or south into the Royal National Park. Once you’ve had your fill, head over to the Display Hall, where you’ll find Australia’s oldest electric tram and the only prison tram in the Southern Hemisphere.
The Real Deal
Where: All across Sydney
Getting there: Visit transportnsw.info to find your nearest transport point.
Did you know you can use your Opal to travel all day on Sydney’s trains, buses, ferries and light rails and pay no more than $2.70 per person ($2.50 for seniors or pensioners with a gold Opal)? It’s the perfect day-trip for families who value the journey more than the destination.
Leuralla NSW Toy & Railway Museum
Where: 36 Olympian Parade, Leura
Getting there: Take the train from Central Station to Katoomba Station then the bus to Balmoral Road, followed by a four-minute walk to the museum.
You’ll get a taste of Europe here thanks to locomotives created by well-known brands such as Hornby and Bassett Lowke (both British) and Märklin and Bing (both German) in award-winning gardens. The model trains travel through a tunnel system and into a sculpture of the Matterhorn, the most photographed mountain in the world. There’s also a large doll and teddy bear collection on display, as well as historic tin toys that date back to the 1950s.
Where: Scenic World, Corner of Violet Street and Cliff Drive, Katoomba
Getting there: Take the train from Central Station to Katoomba Station, then the bus to Scenic World.
No transport-themed article would be complete without a mention of the world’s steepest passenger railway. At a whopping 52-degree incline, you’ll all find yourselves holding on for dear life as you take in the views of Jamison Valley through the glass-roofed carriages. The adrenaline-junkies among us can slant themselves even further by adjusting their seat to achieve a 64-degree incline. Plus, until the final weekend in January, you can take the railway right in to Dinosaur Valley, a rainforest that is brought to life with more than 20 animatronic dinosaurs!