Monday, 14 January 2013

They're back

Review - Sponsored by Countrylink

after 65 million years ...

The Drummer boys were quite excited when I asked them if they wanted to go on a special train trip to Sydney. It was the perfect way to celebrate finishing my chemotherapy on Tuesday.

They have seen the XPT Countrylink train at the station many times as it is nearby their school.
The sign was right in front of our seats.
They went wild when I mentioned it was to see “Dinosaurs in the Wild”.

I've always wondered what life was like when dinosaurs roamed Earth and I think I've been asked the question more than once ...were there dinosaurs around when you were little Mum ?

So Wednesday afternoon just after 2pm we boarded the XPT Countrylink train and traveled to Sydney to experience “Dinosaurs in the Wild”  {3 days-2 night family package}at Taronga Zoo.

Due to our train timetable we didn't arrive till almost 9pm and the return trip was leaving at 7am so we added 2 extra days to our package. Booking it was all was easy through Countrylink.

The boys were bubbling all day with the anticipation of riding a train instead of 'driving' the 5hours+ . It was a chance for hubby to sit back , relax and take in the scenery as well not having to drive. Due to my treatment he did almost all the driving for the last six months.

On the train, the seats are comfortable and spacious, with armrests you can lift if the kids get tired and go to sleep on your lap ;).

Hubby  seemed to enjoyed relaxing and hanging out with the boys who were busy checking out the toilets, chilled water dispenser, moving between us, eating, using the toilets, colouring-in, eating and playing snap (you have a little table like on aircraft) ...and conquering Scribblenauts !

The trains were very clean and staff came at regular intervals to empty the litter bags provided. As we rolled along the tracks the atmosphere was was jovial and relaxed. The buffet car on board provided to order select hot main meals ($9) or a cooked breakfast (depending on trip) , fresh 'cooked to order' devonshire tea was available too, at a set time.

I am amazed how quickly the time passed when we finally clickity clacked into Sydney and alighted. We had collected our bags within 5 mins and walked downstairs to catch a train to stay with a friend the first night.

You can choose which day you visit  “Dinosaurs in the Wild” at Taronga Zoo ; we planned to visit Friday.

Friday we caught the free shuttle bus 555 down to the ferry wharf at Circular Quay and boarded {with a minute to spare} the Zoo Express Cruise with Captain Cook Cruises (tickets include Harbour cruise transfer, Zoo entry and Sky Safari Cable ride - a spectacular view high over the Zoo to the city). The guide was very informative on the the return trip.

My twins rattled off names like Triceratops, Brachiosauras ,Allosaurus and Big daddy of them - 4 metre tall Tyrannosaurus Rex. We met the Aussie dinosaur from QLD - Muttaburrasaurus too. They shrieked excitedly when they moved (just the heads and not that scary for little ones) roared and grunted . The boys loved playing with the demo model on display. Sam named a new dinosaur ...Poppasauras.

They had Dinosaur Keepers on hand to guide and answer questions plus a bucket load of activities and crafts to keep kids busy.

It was our chance to learn more about these incredible creatures - seeing some of the 15 adult and many smaller Dinosaurs in the Wild as their real life size too. The aim of the adventure was to understand their story is to understand the need to protect today’s species from the same fate.

It is an understatement to say how much the Taronga Zoo had changed since my last visit when Mr 19 was about 7-8yrs. It was amazing to see new animals and exhibits, let alone to get up close to life-size and very life-like Dinosaurs in the Wild. They even have a big backyard with Silky chooks, a chookhouse, shearing shed, sheep, bunnies and guinea pigs too. The playground was popular too.

Our favourite shows were the Seal training show and the Free Flight Bird Show at 3pm...though it was stinking hot by this time.

Of course we enjoyed visiting all our favourite animals and seeing the differences between our local Western Plains Zoo and Taronga Zoo. We skipped a few animals because the kids were hot and wanting a swim tired by 4pm.
Be quick “Dinosaurs in the Wild” is only on at Taronga Zoo until February 3rd so if you think you would enjoy a short family break  these school holidays  (with options to add extra days) check -  !

Our 'Citigate' hotel stay was most enjoyable , though we had a few hiccups they were quickly sorted.We received a room upgrade because they had overbooked queen rooms with a balcony. Not a bad thing when you consider it ...curious little monkeys. They loved the view out the secure windows from the windowsill.

The hotel swimming pool was a favourite hangout too. A buffet breakfast was included for two mornings.There were dozens of restaurants within walking distance for lunch / dinner at our own cost.

All over the city was bustling with families, tourists, buskers and workers. Even though we've lived over 40 yrs in Sydney suburbs we've never seen as much of Sydney City as we did in those 3 days.

Disclaimer - We traveled and stayed as guests of Countrylink -“Dinosaurs in the Wild” Sydney adventure 3 day/2 night short break package. All up we stayed for 4 days/4 nights - the 2 extra days and all meals except breakfast were at our own expense. 

Combined with the exclusive CountryLink offer with Sydney Attractions you can purchase 2 adult tickets to any 2 attractions and 2 children get in for free (up to the age of 15).

Spend the extra day in Sydney with a Sydney Attractions combination ticket. Choose from Madame Tussauds, SEA LIFE Sydney Aquarium, Sydney Tower Eye, Manly SEA LIFE Sanctuary and WILD LIFE Sydney Zoo.

PS - Did you know up to four children from one household can travel to any of more than 365 destinations on the CountryLink network for just $1 each way, subject to the promotion conditions...but not for this package