School Holiday Ideas
School Holidays are nearly upon us ... yes, already! And if you are like many parents you may be thinking of ways to keep the kids occupied (and happy) during the kids two week hiatus.
Many families are so busy, and it isn’t always possible to take long breaks away together as a family, so if you can get getaway for a few days and spend some quality experiential time together that would be a bonus, right?
So, if you are looking for a family holiday filled with a historical difference, Q Station, located at North Head on the shores of Sydney Harbour, is the ideal base for your holiday. Hidden amongst native Australian bush land with stunning views overlooking the Sydney Harbour you are a short ferry ride away from all the action in the heart of the city, yet far enough away to get away from it all.
To take the stress out of the school holidays we have created a 3-day itinerary for you and the kids to explore Northern Beaches ‘backyard’ and learn a lot about our history and culture along the way.
7:00am: Enjoy a hearty breakfast
Enjoy a hearty early morning breakfast at the Views Restaurant at Q Station overlooking the picturesque views of the Sydney Harbour and get set for a jam-packed day!
You are staying within the Sydney Harbour National Park so there’s no need to take the car you can set off straight from the hotel and explore and the Q Station has a downloadable map to get you on track.
8:30am: Fairfax Walk
The Fairfax walk is an easy and enjoyable 1 kilometre loop ideal for children and as the path is paved, is wheelchair accessible. The walk offers incredible views and the track starts at the end of the North Head Scenic Drive and then loops around the top of North Head. The circuit has three lookout points offering postcard views over the ocean or the harbour to the CBD. It’s an exceptional walk for keen whale watchers during the June-July and August-October migration seasons so bring your binoculars!
10:00am: Explore Q Station Visitor Centre
When you return from your walk head to the Q Station Visitor Centre where you can immerse yourself into the history and heritage of the Q Station. The Visitor Centre is located on the wharf adjacent to Quarantine Beach, within what was the luggage storage facility of Sydney’s former Quarantine Station which also functions as a museum with significant features being preserved. The centre offers free admission so pick up a takeaway coffee at the Visitor Centre Café and explore the museum yourself until the Wharf Wander Tour begins.
11:00am: Wharf Wander Tour
The Wharf Wander Tour is the perfect tour to understand the arrival and daily operation of residents at the Quarantine Station. The tour runs for 45 minutes where you will explore the heritage buildings and discover the stories of migrants through the 19th and 20th centuries. We recommend that you arrive 15 minutes for before the start of the tour and make certain you are still wearing comfy walking shoes!
If you are here on a weekend you may want to take part in the longer running 2-hour Quarantine Station Story Tour where you will really find out what it was like to be quarantined!
Book a tour online or in person at the Visitor Information Centre.
12:00pm: Enjoy a Light Lunch
Enjoy a light lunch at the Visitor Centre Café and spend more time immersing yourself in the history and heritage.
1:30pm: Spend the afternoon at the beach
After a busy and informative morning, head back to your room and change for some family time at Quarantine Beach located a 5-10-minute walk depending on where your accommodation is located. The beach is 200m long, faces northwest into the North Harbour and is in a quiet and sheltered location hemmed in by rocks and national park with silvery sand and clear, calm water. Relax on the beach, build sandcastles or throw a frisbee with the kids and dip your toes in the water and enjoy some quality relaxing time with the family.
5:00pm: Early Dinner at the Engine Room Bar
Enjoy an early relaxed dinner at the Engine Room Bar which overlooks the beautiful Quarantine Beach. The tasty pizza or burger menu will be sure to warm your belly before getting the chills on a ghost tour!
6.30pm: Get prepared to be Scared!
Reputed to be one of Australia’s most haunted sites, ghost tours have operated here since the early 1990’s. Bring the whole family together to take part in the Ghost Trackers Ghost Tour for a spooky night of ghost stories and ghost hunting! Running for 2.5hours the tour is recommended for children 8 years and over and adults alike.
09:00am: Snorkeling at Shelly Beach
After a leisurely breakfast at the Views Restaurant, pack your bag with swimmers and a towel, lace up the walking shoes and head to the tour desk to hire a snorkel and flippers for a walk out to the gorgeous Shelley Beach for the morning – approximately a 35-40 minute trail walk from the hotel (if your feet are a little tired from yesterday it’s only a short drive from the hotel).
Popular with Scuba Divers and Snorkelers alike, Shelley Beach is a protected marine reserve which lies adjacent to North Head. With a maximum depth of 12 metres it is home to a large variety of marine life which can be viewed in the relatively shallow water.
1:00pm: Enjoy Lunch at The Boat House Restaurant (Shelly Beach)
Set right on the beach The Boat House Shelly Beach is an idyllic spot to enjoy an incredible seafood lunch after all that snorkeling. If you are a lover of seafood delish menu selections like the Kingfish Carpaccio, Cold Seafood Platter or a simple light lunch of a bucket of tiger prawns and sourdough washed down will an icy cold bear or glass of wine are exquisite.
3:00pm: Kayak and Paddle Board Action
Time to head back to the Q Station Tour Desk and hand over the snorkel and flippers and hire out some single or double kayaks and paddle boards. Head back down to Quarantine Beach and the calm and serene water and paddle out and around to Collins Beach and back and time for another swim in the ocean before heading back to the room for a rest before dinner.
6:00pm: Dinner at the Boilerhouse
Enjoy fresh modern Australian cuisine at the Boilerhouse Restaurant & Bar. Housed in the original boiler house building from the days of the Sydney's former Quarantine Station and refurbished into a uniquely styled restaurant, the Boilerhouse have an incredible atmosphere of natural surroundings and overlooks one of the most magnificent views of Sydney.
8:00pm: Adults Only – Extreme Ghost Tour
Leave the kids with a babysitter and have a quick drink in Engine Room Bar for courage before heading back to the Visitor Centre to take part in the Extreme Ghost Tour. Not for the faint hearted (or for people under the age of 18 years) this tour offers a personal immersion into the spiritual energy of the Quarantine Station site and takes a unique path through stories of the darker side of the quarantine as told by psychics and mediums.
9:00am: Experience Sailing with the family
After a leisurely breakfast at the Views Restaurant, take a 10-15 minute drive to the Manly Yacht Club and meet with the team from Manly Sailing who will take you and the family on a 3 hour sailing experience on the Sydney Harbour. Their professional skippers will literally show you the ropes, so you can help sail the yacht around the harbour – or you can just sit back, relax and take in the view. For more information and bookings its best to contact the team from Manly Sailing directly.
1:00pm: Lunch at Bella Vista (North Head Sanctuary)
Dry off and head back down the walking track to North Head Sanctuary for a leisurely (and well deserved!) lunch at Bella Vista Café, located inside the Heritage Listed North Fort Building at North Head Sanctuary. Bella Vista overlooks incredible views of the Darling Harbour and brings together the delicious flavours of homemade traditional and modern Italian cuisine.
3:00pm: North Head Sanctuary
It’s time to walk off that yummy Italian lunch and take the 1.5 – 2-hour Sanctuary Loop which passes by former School of Artillery buildings. You will experience diverse birdlife, flowering plants and as you explore you will encounter diverse wildlife and flora, military remains and incredible views of the city and harbor.
6:00pm: Dinner at the Engine Room Bar
After a jam packed 3 days we think you can be certain of a relaxed and quiet dinner with the kids at the Engine Room Bar followed by an early bedtime where the groans of ‘I’m bored’ will be replaced by ‘I’m tired’ and the good news is you won’t have to hear it for long before they crash out leaving mum and dad time to enjoy what’s left of the last night and think about the incredible time away you have all had.
If you’ve got more time there is still so much more to experience without needing to roam too far from the hotel and this brochure gives you even more insight on the tracks and tours. They are even more things to see and experience around Manly and the heart of Sydney too so if you don’t have time this trip we are fairly certain you will be back to explore and stay with us again at the Q Station.