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NSM Review: Sydney Royal Easter Show 2015

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As a kid, the Sydney Royal Easter Show was always a big deal. The day the showbag options were printed in the newspaper, we would pour over them, comparing each price to the estimated value, weighing up which bag would give us the most enjoyment and anticipating the adventure to follow in a few days time. It was an outing we looked forward to with equal excitement as a visit from the Easter Bunny himself.

As a parent, though, the thought of taking two small children to an enormous event with thousands of other kids and endless opportunities for impulse spending can seem a little overwhelming, and I found myself wondering how my mother did this with such good humour year after year. On approach, I found myself dreading finding a parking spot, hoping the kids would be able to contain themselves on the walk to the park, and wondering if the lines at the entrance would be endless.

Arriving

As it turned out, the Easter Show is run with an impressive degree of efficiency. The parking is both ample and easy to get to, with the P1 parking garage located conveniently close to the action. The entrance is well manned, too, with easy access entries for both prams and wheelchairs, and when we went there was no waiting to enter. Immediately after arriving, we were met with half a dozen Show Staff offering maps and free bright orange wristbands for kids. In fact, as we would find out, there are plenty of Show Staff around the grounds at most locations and all are eager to help. The wristbands are a great idea for parents with ‘spirited’ children – those parents with kids who generally like to run away at the first sign of something shiny in the distance – offering an alternative to scribbling a phone number on their arms in black marker.

Our Show route

There is plenty to do to delight the kids and entertain the adults, and the event is laid out extremely well. We started with a few rides in the Kids Carnival, which is right at the entrance, and a quick stop in Kids World where my daughter had her face painted. The entrance to the Animal Walk is next to the Kids Carnival, so we followed the blue paws to the many animal pavilions. The kids were delighted by the walk, which is a reminder of the Show’s roots and raison d’être – it is an opportunity for the country to bring their wares to the masses in the city and showcase aspects of the distinct culture that exists within our regional and farming communities. A particular favourite was the Farmyard Nursery run by Golden Ridge Animal Farm. Here, kids can pet and feed a range of farm animals freely, from chickens, ducks, goats and sheep, to cows and even deer.

The Animal Walk finishes just outside the Dinosaur Ice World exhibit, and with a five year-old boy in our party, there was little doubt this would be a hit. This year, the display features some of the animals of the Ice Age. This can get busy later in the day, but we were lucky enough to avoid the crowds by visiting by mid morning.

We continued to through to the ‘action’ section of the Show, stopping in at a showjumping event (to the excitement of my daughter) at the Spotless Stadium, and passing the pony rides on the outskirts. We stopped in briefly at the Flower and Garden Pavilion, where the kids made cupcake craft using real flowers with ‘Mrs Kangaroo Paw’. My daughter also loved the floral displays, which heavily feature Australian natives this year. The kids rolled their eyes when my husband and I said we wanted to stop in at the Woolworths Fresh Food Dome, which houses the regional fruit displays – I’m pretty sure I did the same when I was a kid. This year’s theme celebrates the 100th anniversary of the ANZAC Gallipoli landing by recognising ANZAC men and women in the artworks. My son, who is obsessed with all things military, soon marvelled at the intricate displays. There is also fresh fruit and honey for sale here.

We moseyed along the path, stopping to enjoy some live music and pausing for a marching band to pass us on one of the crossroads. It was a great opportunity to soak up the atmosphere and enjoy the country sights and smells – the kids were astonished to see cows being washed and groomed in a side alley in a similar fashion to ‘the way we wash our cars’. We arrived at the Coca-Cola Carnival for a final couple of rides and finished our day at the Showbag Pavilion – a welcome reward for two tired children.

Top tips for going to the Show

Planning. You can download the Easter Show app (with the tractor logo) prior to your visit. The app has a section called ‘Attractions’ which includes times and locations for events like woodchopping, precision car driving and motorbike stunt shows, agricultural performances, and concerts. This year’s line up includes performances by My Little Pony, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and Giggle and Hoot. You may want to time your day around those performances if you have young ones.

Packing. Don’t forget to include your hats and sunscreen, as well as plenty of water, as there is very little shade in parts of the showground. There are plenty of options for food and drink along the way, but we chose to take food with us and stop to eat it at some of the shaded spots hosting table and chairs.

Getting there. If you are driving, try to park in P1 – it is the closest parking station to the entrance and an easy walk to the action.

Rides. When planning your trip, I would suggest deciding on a number of rides before arriving and purchasing coupons first thing as the lines get busier during the day. You can buy ride coupons just inside the entrance. There are two carnivals – the Kids Carnival and the Coca-Cola Carnival. Most of the rides in the Kids Carnival average 3-5 coupons and most rides are accessible for kids over 100cm (some require a parent to go with the child if they are fewer than 120cm high). There are plenty of rides for smaller kids, too. The Coca-Cola Carnival is primarily for bigger kids, and rides average 6-8 coupons. Some of the rides are accessible with a grown-up for kids above 100cm – the Pirates Revenge (8 coupons) was a favourite for my five year old son.

The Animal Walk. In my opinion, this is a must for kids, though you don’t have to enter each Pavilion if you want to do an abridged version of the walk. Kids can pick up passports which get stamped at each display. The Pat a Pig attraction is very popular, so it may be prudent to time your walk for a petting session; they are on the hour from 10am to 4pm. The Farmyard Nursery is an absolute highlight, but there is no food allowed, so be sure to eat snacks before going in. Feed cups are $1.

Showbags. Most Showbags are at the Showbag Pavilion near the Coca-Cola Carnival, however we spent a great deal of time looking for the Dinosaur showbag only to find it was back at the Dinosaur Ice World display. It may be worth a quick look online, or in the Easter Show app, so check on what you may want and where you can get them.

Our verdicts

The Easter Show has something for everyone.

Five-year-old boy – ‘I loved the Wave Swinger and Pirates Revenge. The Rides were the best. Other kids will really like them. And there are heaps of showbags. It’s really hard to choose!’

Four-year old girl – ‘I love the flowers and having my face painted. And I really love all the animals. I got to pet all the animals and feed them!’

Dad – ‘The parking was easy and the Show is well set out. The day was far less expensive than I thought it would be.’

Mum – ‘I love the fact that next Easter my kids will spend a few weeks anticipating the Easter Show the way they look forward to Christmas. The way I did when I was younger.’

Tell us, have you been to the Sydney Royal Easter Show yet? Or do you have any other advice to share with NSM? We’d love to hear about your experiences in the comments section below.

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