There is something wrong about ice skating in Australia. It may be winter but the sun is shining and it’s still warm. But there was something so right about spending the afternoon pushing my three year old on “super penguin” with the sun in our faces, the dramatic St Mary’s Cathedral as a back drop listening to summer tunes like Bob Marley’s Could this be love.

Winter Garden Sydney, located outside St Mary’s Cathedral until the 19 July, is the annual winter festival offering winter fun, food and drink that tours locations around Australia.

On offer is ice skating, a giant inflatable slide, mechanical surf ride, Zorb balls or you may just want to relax in the Winter Garden Après Skate Lounge with some Glühwein.

Skater boy
We booked our 45 minute skating slot for 2pm. Advisable to book, especially at weekends. Ticket prices start at $18 for an under 12 and $27 for an adult. There are off peak/ on peak prices so best to check the website.

The organisers make it easy even for a lone mum of two to enjoy the ice. I teamed up with my three year old (plus penguin) and one of the staff helpers took my five year old around. I thought the kids would last about 10 mins tops but my eldest lasted half an hour and every time I tried to exit I was greeted with cheers of more more more. So my son and I lasted the full 45 mins. It was great fun. But I knew my back would pay the price the next day!

After skating we refreshed ourselves with some deep fried apple and banana skewers. There are about six kiosks serving food and drink the style of a Christmas market. Including Agapé Organic Food, Authentic Turkish Gozleme, German Sausage hut, Puntino Trattoria, Teppanyaki Noodles and Woodstax Woodfire Pizzas and of course the Lindt cafe.

We then went to find the slides. From the road/cathedral, it looks like the activities are just in one area but if you go behind the swimming baths, you will find the alpine inflatable slide, the corporate igloos, a wood fired pizza place and the mechanical surf ride. We got lucky as the Kindifarm was just setting up for the afternoon. A result as my kids were first in line to hold a rabbit, guinea pig and baby duck. And when they got bored of that, the face painting lady was setting up, so they were first in line again.

Quick tip: Late afternoon was a good time to go on the slide as it was post most family’s and pre any office workers looking for a quick adrenaline fix.

So, there were only a few kids on the slide when we were on it. Perhaps due to timing but also probably because of the $6 per slide price tag. You could get unlimited slides for $20 but with two or more kids it becomes an expensive day out. The problem with charging per slide is, one slide is never going to satisfy a child. I thought a three or five go option for $6 would be a fairer price or even $6 for 5/10 minutes. I did notice a few families walking away once they saw the price tag.

Despite the over-priced ticket, it was great fun. A steep climb for little legs and an unfit mother (in the physical sense) but well worth the effort. At one stage we were the only people on it so could go and go.

The kids were shattered but still attempted the mechanical surf ride. Too young to stand and get the full impact but they had fun lying on it and falling off. The only thing we didn’t try was the Zorb balls. My kids were too small. Thankfully, as being a human hamster on water isn’t my idea of fun.

We finished the day, as the sun was setting, with one of the nicest hot chocolates I have ever tasted and we were done. A well thought out kid’s experience for all ages.  We even got to take a goat for a walk and take home a freshly laid hen egg. Didn’t expect that from a winter wonderland.

Further information and tickets