Koorong Book Store, 28 West Parade, West Ryde Sydney

Reviewed by B

Overall: OK. Great for rest and play, very basic for nappy changes and feeds. Great for a bookstore. Haven’t come across another that caters so well to little people.
Good Points: Outdoor undercover play area is huge. Nappy change & feed space is pretty basic, but it’s clean. Indoor enclosed play area in the children’s book section – love it! Highchairs in the instore cafe, and also in the outdoor eating area next to the playground.
Bad Points: Very basic nappy change and feed space, located in the disabled bathroom. Extremely tall child safety gate on the outdoor play area – get on your tippy toes! Massively overpriced less-than-average food at Pages Cafe.

Pouring down with rain yet again in ye olde Sydney, both bubby and I were going a bit mental being inside the house for another day. Found another bag of great unwanted clothes at home, so decided to hop in the car to deliver the clothes to Vinnies in West Ryde. Found a great set of flanny sheets for bubs cot too – only $4. Bargain!!

Anyhoo, looking across the railway line I could see Koorong. It’s one of the most recognisable Christian bookstores in the country. Once upon a time it was my favourite shopping destination….and then I joined the Catholic church (and now Dan Murphy’s is my favourite store hehehehe). Tummies grumbling and remembering the bookstore had a cafe, we got back in the car (trying our best to NOT get drenched by the rain which seemed to decide to pelt as soon as we were in the open) and headed round the other side of the train line to Koorong.

Parking!! Well it’s not the easiest place to park. There’s off-street parking, which you’ll find when drive past the front of the store. To your left is the driveway, so nip in there and try your luck at finding a space. We did get one (lucky us!), but there’s not much room to move in either the car space itself, or in the car park when you’re trying to get in and out of the place. No pram parking either, so make sure you park nose first otherwise you might find it tough getting the pram out of the boot.
Something good is the ramp access into the store. We didn’t use the stroller but it just makes life simpler for everyone when you have the choice of ramp or stairs. Specially with little pixies that see a set of stairs and just want to jump up, jump down for the next 30mins.
As you’re walking along the ramp, the entrance to Pages Cafe is to your left, the bookstore entrance directly in front of you, and the massive undercover outdoor play area to the right of you (where there is also an outdoor eating area for the cafe). We glance at the bulging bargain book tables flanking our path into the store, and head in.

Whoa!!! Seriously!! Has anybody else noticed how all Christian bookstores smell the same? What  is it? Doesn’t matter if it’s Word or Koorong, they all smell the same! It’s freaky. And you know what, regular bookstores and even Catholic bookstores don’t smell like this store. Very very strange.

Inside the store, it’s a Christian booklovers paradise. Anything you can think of, from t-shirts to Bibles, romance novels to Bratz style dolls called ‘God’s Girlz’, through to Sunday School lesson books and kids story books – this place has it all!! And the best bit……the kids play area inside the children’s book section.
It’s just the best idea ever. Pop your little one inside the enclosed play area, smack bang in the middle of the children’s section and you can just keep on shopping. It’s brilliant!! More and more stores need to adopt this idea. The play area does have a few ‘Please Supervise Your Children’ signs, which is fair enough….although it could be tempting to leave them there and just nip in to the cafe to order your coffee.
Outside the little play area is a table and some chairs for little ones. There wasn’t any toys on the table or pencils etc, but I’m guessing it’s meant to be used as another way of entertaining your little ones while you shop. Or kids can take my lil bubs queue – bring the chair to the play area for leverage to climb over the fence. Good thinking!

Our next task was to check out the Parent Room. Now I had a fair idea it would not be flash, as it’s only a bookshop and not a massive shopping centre. My expectations were met, not exceeded, but at least they were met.
Head to the back of the bookstore, past the Sunday School materials, and in the back right corner is the hallway leading to the bathrooms. Head for the disabled loo and inside you’ll find the facilities to change your little one’s bottom and have a quick rest.
Again, it definitely is not a sexy Parent Room. It’s basic, but it is clean, and it is quiet. And you do have it all to yourself – remember to lock the door on the inside when you get in there. There’s a fold out change table mounted to the wall, with nappy bins underneath. The sink, soap dispenser and paper towels are all within close reach too (on your left and behind you against the wall). There’s a single office chair next to the toilet, which could be handy if you want to feed your little one in privacy. It’s not going to be the most comfortable setting, but it is lovely and quiet which is something you don’t often get when your out with your baby.

After all our wandering about and playing, our tummies were really starting to tell at us. Food food FOOD!! I had eaten at Pages yeaaaarrrss ago and it wasn’t so hot, but maybe it had improved in 10years? Hmmm….no. Cherub ordered cheesy fingers from the kids menu ($4), and I ordered a chicken, avocado, sundried tomato open melt ($12). For the price, I was thinking we were going to get something a little better presented and more tasty than:
strips of homebrand tasty cheese, melted on budget white bread slices – cut into soldiers
bbq chicken chunks, half a container of sundried tomatoes, smeared avocado, hiding under melted homebrand tasty cheese on……..budget white bread slices.
Am I too picky? Do you really only qualify for budget white bread and tasty cheese for $16? Really, I could make a whole loaf of cheesy fingers at home and still have change from $4. When it comes to feeding the kids at Koorong, BYO!! And maybe think about making extra portions for you too, unless you really are happy to shell out your dollars on an overpriced, low on taste, toasted sanger.