Six Of The Best Train Themed Experiences In Sydney And Nearby
Mums & Bubs
By: Stephanie Boyle, ellaslist explorer
My three year old son Ayman is a train fanatic. While he absolutely adores Thomas the Tank engine, his obsession extends far beyond this. At two, he learnt all of the stations on our train line and would recite them in order, to the initial delight and increasing frustration of the other passengers, all the way to the city. Now, at age three, he knows every single train station in the Sydney Train network and can tell you how many stations it is from A to B, list stations beginning with a particular letters and likes to create his own train stations while playing with his train table. As a result of this obsession which shows no signs of abating, I’m always on the lookout for new and exciting train themed experiences for him to enjoy. We’ve road-tested just about all that Sydney and its surrounds have to offer at present and I’d like to share with you what I believe are six of the best.
Trainworks is indisputably Sydney’s premiere destination for train lovers. It is the sort of place where an entire day can easily be spent. The site itself is enormous and children and adults alike love just simply wandering up and down the many rows of historic engines and carriages. There is a lovely playground and picnic area but if you forget to bring food with you or the weather isn’t great, there is also a little cafe within the museum. Trainworks is a terrific place to visit no matter what the weather is like since the bulk of it is undercover.
The first time we visited we were pleasantly surprised to discover that there was a performance of ‘The Little Engine Who Could’ on and I understand that there are different theatre productions on at various times throughout the year. The museum also runs terrific craft activities. However, one of the absolute highlights of the Trainworks calendar is the Day Out With Thomas. We took Ayman as part of his 2nd birthday celebration and he had a ball riding the mini trains, taking a steam train ride, having his photograph taken with a life-sized Thomas the Tank Engine and bouncing on the bouncing castle. The Trainworks website is really user-friendly and you’ll find all the information you need on there to plan a fabulous day out.
MORE INFO HERE.
2. Sydney Trains Track Safety Day – Central Station
Once a year (in August) Sydney Trains host a free track safety day at Central Station for pre-schoolers to coincide with track safety week. It’s a fantastic opportunity for your child to learn about rail safety while having a ball. There is a Thomas the Tank Engine story time, songs to teach the proper way to behave both on and off the train, a chance to ring the bell and sit in the driver’s seat on a real train and an opportunity to pose for a photograph with Thomas! My son went last year and still makes a point of mentioning how to get on and off the train safely each time we ride. It’s both fun and effective! Make sure you check the Sydney Trains website for details of this year’s event which are yet to be released. While the event is free of charge, bookings are essential.
The Sydney Live Steam Locomotive Society was founded in 1948 in West Ryde and has been in the same spot ever since on the corner of Anthony Road and Betts Street. On the third Saturday of each month from 1:30 to 4:30pm, the Society offers miniature railway rides which are a huge hit with children. The park setting is fantastic for picnics and its not unusual to find a birthday party taking place. Your little engineer will have a wonderful time and with rides only $1 each, you can let them go crazy!
MORE INFO HERE.
We love the Powerhouse Museum for a number of reasons (the Wiggles exhibition is always a favourite) but it also has a fantastic range of train related exhibits. I’ll never forget the look on my son’s face the first time he walked into the foyer for the first time and found Locomotive number 1 sitting there! As the first train to have operated in NSW it has quite a history and Ayman loved being able to walk along side the train and its carriages and peer into the windows. Further train related exhibits are located on level 2.
MORE INFO HERE.
5. NSW Toy and Railway Museum – Leura
I should begin by mentioning that we almost didn’t get to leave this museum! My son was devastated (to put it lightly!) to be told that we needed to go home and tears ensued. Next time, we will arrive earlier and stay longer. The grounds of this beautiful historic home are sublime and even if you’re not especially interested in trains or toys, you will enjoy the wonderful house and gardens which was the former home of notable Australian Dr HV Evatt. For train lovers though, this museum is a paradise. There is an enormous collection of model trains, a huge range of vintage rail signage and other memorabilia are scattered throughout the gardens and the Matterhorn Mountain Railway which takes for its inspiration a number of the European railways and runs through a landscaped tunnel system. Make sure you bring some gold coins with you, or your little one will be extremely disappointed since the Railway is coin operated. If you are in the Blue Mountains, this is not to be missed.
MORE INFO HERE.
Every Sunday the Heritage Railway, formerly used in the transport of WW2 munitions, takes visitors to Sydney Olympic Park on a short trip around the historic Newington Armory. It’s a 30 minute ride and tickets are $5 each with children under three free. Tickets can be purchased from the Armory Visitor Centre. This makes it an extremely affordable and fun activity. Adults will appreciate the scenery and commentary on the historical value of the site while the little ones will just enjoy the ride. There are so many other wonderful things to do at the Armory and there is a terrific cafe and playground so make a day of it! Make sure you get there early though (first ride is at 11am) because tickets sell out quickly and parking at the Armory is at a premium.
MORE INFO HERE.
Once you’ve exhausted all of these fabulous activities, why not grab a rail map from Sydney Trains, let your child choose a destination and ‘ride the rails’? Do it on a Sunday and each member of your family will pay only $2.50. My little explorer loves it and I’m sure yours will too.
Stephanie Boyle is currently a stay at home mother with two gorgeous children. Prior to becoming a mum she trained as a lawyer and worked in various Government positions. She is currently completing a Masters of Teaching. Stephanie and her Algerian husband Kamel have two sons, Ayman (3 years old) and Younes (3 months) and they are doing their best to raise their sons as tri-lingual global citizens. When Ayman arrived three years ago, it became immediately apparent to Stephanie that neither of them were homebodies and so they set off on what would become three glorious years (and counting!) of adventure and excitement throughout Sydney and its surrounds. Stephanie believes that childhood should be pure magic and she is on a continual mission to make this the case for her sons. She loves discovering new places and activities, throwing amazing parties and running a bookclub for her boys and their little friends. In addition to her reports for ellaslist, you can also follow Stephanie and her boys on Instagram @moukinina.
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