Looking for something fun and unique to do at night with kids in Sydney? Sign up for the family tour at Sydney Observatory.
Part of the Powerhouse Museum, Sydney Observatory is located in Observatory Hill Park which is on the other side of the Sydney Harbour Bridge from The Rocks.
Observatory Hill Park is free to enter, but you need a booking in order to join a tour at Sydney Observatory.
Keep reading to find out what to expect during a family tour at Sydney Observatory.
Looking for more things to do with kids in Sydney? Here is our Sydney with Kids Itinerary.
Tours at Sydney Observatory
Sydney Observatory offers different types of tours. Their regular tour takes place each Wednesday to Saturday. Four tours are offered each night, the earliest at 6:30 pm and the latest beginning at 8:30 pm.
The family tour at Sydney Observatory takes place each Friday and Saturday night throughout the year (holidays excluded) and on Wednesday and Thursday nights as well during the school holidays.
Usually, 2 family tour times are available, 6 pm and 7:30 pm, though during school holidays there is a 5:30 pm tour as well.
The family tour is recommended for those 6+ while the general tour is for 12+.
Both the Sydney Observatory Tour and the Sydney Observatory Family Tour last around 1 hour.
Other special events take place throughout the year. While some of the special events are free, all of the events require booking in advance.
Getting to Sydney Observatory
Sydney Observatory is located in Observatory Hill Park at 1003 Upper Fort Street in Millers Point.
Depending on your location, you can take public transportation, a taxi, or walk.
We walked from the Rocks, where we had dinner before our family tour at Sydney Observatory. If that is your plan, remember to walk under the bridge and not on it. Do not climb up the stairs to Harbour Bridge.
Sydney Observatory is located in Observatory Hill Park and can be seen from the bottom of the hill. Even though it is dark, take the path up to the Observatory.
Someone will be at the gate with a clipboard checking off names. As you are excepted to arrive 15 minutes early, there is time before your tour begins.
Toilets are accessible and there are picnic tables right outside the Observatory where you can sit and wait, or you are welcome to walk around outside.
Family Tour at Sydney Observatory
Meeting our Tour Group
The family tour at Sydney Observatory takes place on Friday and Saturday nights throughout the year. During school holidays, an additional tour is held on Wednesday and Thursday nights.
Family tours take place at 6 pm and 7:30 pm throughout the year. During school holidays, a 5:30 pm tour is added.
After meeting our group, which consisted of 3 families, we began our tour outside the building. Due to a late booking, we were only able to get on the 7:30 pm tour and while that is late for us, the kids were interested in the tour and able to stay up later than usual.
The other families in our group included kids from almost 6 to teenagers. There were 7 kids in total, 4 parents, and a baby.
Sydney Observatory Family Tour
Before heading into the building, we walked around to learn more about why the Observatory was built and how it played a role in the area.
The most memorable stop was when we learned about the use of flags. Flags were used as a way to communicate to and from the boats in the harbor.
We were all given a flag decoder and time to figure out what a few flags meant. Flag decoders can be kept, and of course, my kids kept them.
Once we walked into the museum, we stopped to see meteorites.
Star Gazing on the Family Tour
While the email sent to us said to expect lots of stairs, this is not the case on the family tour. We did walk up a narrow staircase to the first telescope, but each telescope was only up 1 short flight of stairs.
Unfortunately, during our tour the sky was cloudy. We opened the dome but as it was too cloudy, the guide focused on a flag on the Sydney Harbour Bridge instead of stars. Everyone got a turn looking into the telescope.
The second telescope is the oldest telescope in Australia. We opened the dome and again, it was too cloudy to see stars so we focused on the clock in the clock tower, about 2 kilometers away. After everyone got a turn looking at the clock, we put everything away before realizing that an area of the sky was clear and we could look at the moon.
Even though the tour should be over, the tour leader set everything back up and let us all have a turn looking at the moon.
As soon as we walked outside, the sky was almost completely clear. We could easily see the Southern Cross.
The Sydney Observatory was built in the 1850s. It was originally built to guide ships through weather and then to determine the correct time.
The Observatory is also a place to determine the weather, and on the family tour, we were able to see the devices that show us what the weather is like when we are checking on our phones.
While clearing out the land, it was found that a fort had once stood next to what is now Sydney Observatory. The fort was built between 1804 and 1806 and even included a bomb shelter, but was never finished.
Sydney Opera House has a kid-friendly tour too. Check out their Junior Adventure Tour during school holidays.
Sydney Observatory Wrap Up
I definitely recommend a family tour at Sydney Observatory for families who are looking for something to do at night with kids in Syndey.
Even though we went on the late tour, the tour was interesting and held the kids attention.
The Sydney Observatory is worth visiting. Definitely plan to be there a few minutes early as it may be hard to find (and remember, don’t climb the stairs up to the bridge, cross under the bridge if you are coming from The Rocks).
The Family Tour at Sydney Observatory is age appropriate for kids 6+ and holds the attention of parents too.
Sydney Observatory FAQ
While the park access is free, there is a fee to enter the Sydney Observatory. Entry is only allowed through tours which need to be booked in advance.
The Sydney Observatory is a place to learn about Sydney’s past and to look at the moon and stars.