Traveling with kids is very different from traveling as a single or married adult. Which is how our Australian adventure began today with McDonald’s, and then we spent the majority of the day at the Sydney Aquarium.
The Sydney Aquarium has a reputation of being an amazing aquarium, and it is well deserved. It is easily one of the best aquariums I’ve been in, if not the best. The amazing thing is that it’s true even as the aquarium is expanding/renovating and will unveil new displays in September 2012.
There is a platypus by the entry, but we did not see the shy little creature. Hopefully we’ll catch a peek at one of the 8 million Australian animal themed things we’ll do in the next week.
There are many halls, but the two biggest draws are the Great Barrier Reef exhibit and the shark exhibit.
There are many different windows into the GBR exhibit, but the best has to be the part where you can you walk over, through and under the exhibit at the same time. Ellie and Rhi were both taken by the fish, rays, and sharks surrounding them.
They also have a glass bottom boat that floats along the top of the GBR tank. We had originally planned to take both girls, but Rhiannon protested the life jacket with a full banshee wail. THIS WAS NOT TO BE TOLERATED. So she and Ravi stayed below and enjoyed being encircled by fish, as Ellie and I floated above them. Sorry, the photo didn’t quite work the way I’d hoped.
We also got to see some baby sharks in the nursery, which is above the GBR tank. Sharks may be scary as hell when they’re full sized, but just like every other baby, they are cute as hell when little.
As a child well versed in Disney, Ellie immediately made the Finding Nemo connection, and we talked about the Dory Fish and the Nemo Fish. Of course, to her, all fish are Nemo or Dory, just as all lions are Simba or Nala.
There was another large window into the exhibit where I meant to take pictures, but I got distracted by this Lego Display. Both the mural and the whale are Lego. I was impressed by the Moby Dick whale, but what really blew me away was the mural behind it. I don’t have the patience for sets of Legos made for six year olds…can you imagine the kind of hard work and vision it takes to create something like this?
I actually had to go up close to the mural and touch it because I was so amazed by it. According to the sign, there are over 300,000 Legos in this display.
Next we wandered toward the shark display. On the way, we passed through a display where a sting ray became enchanted by Elanor (following her the length of the tank) and vice versa.
Along the way, we met this fellow-a Japanese Spider Crab. According to the Wikipedia Article, their leg span can get as large as 12 feet. These guys were perhaps not THAT big, but they were frighteningly large.
Ellie was inspired and we got her to sing “Part of your World” from The Little Mermaid.
I loved the murals on the way down to the shark tank, that told the legend of the mermaids, and how most mermaids were likely manatees (among other creatures). Click on them individually. I really loved how much the aquarium seemed to believe in and incorporate art into their displays.
The shark tanks were walk through (although it was only on either side and above you, as opposed to all of those plus underneath you as in the GBR tank. Both girls were quite impressed.
I have to give the Sydney Aquarium a metaphorical 4 stars…it was engaging for the girls and for us, had a wide variety of exhibits, and was stroller friendly. Absolutely worth the cost of admission. Go here for more information about the aquarium.