I can’t tell you how many times I’ve driven by the Civil Defence Heritage Gallery thinking I’ve GOT to take my boys there because they are going to love it! And I was right, they LOVED it – because let’s face it; what boy doesn’t like fire trucks and the opportunity to talk to a real-life fireman? But we also went to Fort Canning Park and the last time I was there was for a WOMAD festival after Steve and I just met, dancing in the rain, as well as a few drunken rolls down the hills – how things have changed.
The Civil Defence Heritage Gallery is located at Central Fire Station, 62, Hill Street, Singapore 179367 (phone 6332 2996) admission is free and it’s open from 10am-5pm Tuesday to Sunday, although between 9-11am on Saturdays the kids can go into the firehouse next door and see a real fire station in action. We missed it this week and definitely need to go back. Located around the corner from Clarke Quay, we parked up at Liang Court and walked around to the Heritage Centre. However, half a kilometre away is Clarke Quay, City Hall and Bras Basah SMRT Stations, so if you are happy to integrate a walk into the adventure, you can catch the train as well.
The Civil Defence Heritage Gallery is not huge, but it’s got two floors of stuff related to Singapore’s Civil Defence history, with plenty of buttons and knobs on trucks for the kids to play with. The older the kids are, the more they’ll get from the written and video history, but for all of them, there was a real-life modern fire truck to climb into, some vintage trucks and equipment to look at, bits of hose to play with, and access to the levers at the side of some of the trucks ensuring my boys were in absolute heaven. Boys really do love this stuff.
Upstairs there are four “rubbing” stations, and Lex – my most active and adventurous child – spent about forty five minutes rubbing trucks and images. I couldn’t believe it and even had the opportunity to meet and speak with another mother who also had two boys 15 months – let’s just say we could relate to each other! Upstairs, there are also firemen costumes for the kids to try on, a water gun to put out the “fire” on a burning car, and all in all, some good interactive things for the kids to do. I found the staff very friendly, with a few firemen wandering around talking to the kids, and they didn’t bother us, which is always nice.
As I said, it isn’t a big place, but the boys certainly had a really great time and we’ll be back for sure. If you want check it out in advance, you can do a virtual tour here.
From the Civil Defence Heritage Gallery we walked around outside towards the Philatelic Museum but we didn’t go inside. I’m sorry to any passionate stamp collectors reading this, but I really couldn’t think of anything worse and I know it’s not going to capture my kids’ imaginations – not at this age anyway. It is an option if you think your kids will love it though? Instead, we walked up past Flutes at the Fort and took the steep stairs up to Fort Canning Park near the Marriage Registry, and parked up on a bench for our lunch. We then walked up and over the hill, checking out the canons, city views, trees, and all sorts of other stuff before finding the steep path back down towards Clarke Quay.
We could have done so much more at Fort Canning Park, but I had two whining lads on my hands by that point – because it is a HARD walk up and over this hill – and I agreed to take them back towards the car. Next visit I must take them to the actual Fort, although if it’s been a while since you’ve visited Fort Canning Park, I can definitely recommend it. The history of this area is really interesting and some of the huge trees are spectacular.
Once back down on Clarke Quay, the GMAX Reverse Bungee was in action and guess who wanted to go on it? No way boys, that’s something you can do with your Dad. Instead they got a Sicilian Gelato, a little bit more of an explore of Clarke Quay (which means fish tanks, including the one inside Forbidden City) and back into the basement of Liang Court, where there is a speciality Japanese supermarket – MEIDI-YA which is really awesome – all sorts of treats available.
By this point, we’d been on the go about five hours, we were hot and sweaty, and we’d all had enough. I could have pushed this adventure out much longer, but exploring the Clarke Quay/Fort Canning area with the Civil Defence Heritage Gallery in the mix, is a great day out for the kids, everyone gets lots of exercise and you’ll all be exhausted by the end of it. Take hats and lots of water though – it’s thirsty work walking up and over Fort Canning Park.
Let me know what you think if you’ve done it and any other great adventure recommendations you may have that we haven’t done yet?