Today’s outing is to Manly on the northern side of Sydney Harbour. We need to take a ferry to go there, and so we purchase the $2.50 Sunday Funday tickets that allow us to use all forms of public transport.

Manly is a southerly isthmus, offering bay beaches and ocean beaches to its residents and visitors. We’re not here for the beach, which is just as well because it rained on and off during the afternoon. Our main destination is Oceanworld which sits on the other side of Manly Cove from the wharf.

Oceanworld is located in an older building, which means that it contains stairs and no lifts, and as the attractions are spread across three levels, it means wheels can’t get past the main foyer. There’s a designated pram-parking area inside the entrance, but parents with sleeping babies and toddlers are left to hover over their prams.

David snoozing, January 2012
Inside the facility, David naps in a quiet corner while Delaney sleeps in her stroller.

The main aquarium in the foyer is empty, which is not a good sign. But others are indented into the walls, and they contain creatures. I really like the amount of information given next to each exhibit.

Inside Oceanworld Manly, January 2012
The seahorse aquarium contains a wall of netting that gives the seahorses something to hang onto. Outside the building, a similar netting keeps a portion of the beach free from sharks, and a large colony of potbellied seahorses lives there too.

Seahorse, January 2012
At feeding time, wse watch the seahorse vacuum up microshrimp.

Perhaps it was because we’d already spent time peering into waterworlds at the Sydney Aquarium, or maybe just because they were tired. But our girls weren’t really interested in the big fish — they just wanted to play at the touch pool.

Inside Oceanworld Manly, January 2012
The touch pool holds the greatest attraction for our girls. They spend hours playing with the different creatures in the water and listening to the staff member talk about each one.

Brioni touching a starfish, January 2012
Everything in the pool can be handled except for a little shark who is a bit stressed out from all the attention.

Sea Biscuit the green turtle, January 2012
As a baby, Sea Biscuit the green turtle was washed ashore on a local beach, missing one flipper. She's been rehabilitated by Oceanworld Manly and is thriving in their snorkelling pool.

Inside Oceanworld Manly, January 2012
Large, harmless sharks patrol the aquarium.

Inside Oceanworld Manly, January 2012
Scuba divers enter the tank to swim alongside the sharks. David did this when part of a scuba-diving club in his pre-Lauren, Sydney days.

Inside Oceanworld Manly, January 2012
It's fascinating to examine the rays and sharks' undersides up close! You can see their gills clearly, and the girls and I speculated on each one's gender based on the genitals on display.

When we finally left the aquarium, we headed back to the ferry wharf, where enterprising amusement-ride operators had set up their attractions. I thought we would have had enough rides to last the year, but the girls’ eyes were focusing on something new.

Advertised as the opportunity to “walk on water”, these large, plastic balls provide enough room for a person to stand up within them as they float in a shallow pool. The challenge is to stay upright, to actually stand or walk on the water.

Brioni in a bobble, January 2012
Running inside the ball is the closest that Brioni comes to walking on water.

Brioni in a bobble, January 2012
Brioni says that this is the most fun she's ever had (even after our fantastic day of amusement-park-rides)!

Aisha in a bobble, January 2012
The bubbles sit in a shallow pool of water and each player gets between five and ten minutes of play. The humidity of being trapped inside the bubble means that — despite the fun they were having — both Brioni and Aisha were happy to escape when their turns were over.

Sydney Opera House, January 2012
The ferry ride back to the city takes us past the famous Sydney Opera House. It's a glorious view, and I don't think I could get tired of it.