Yesterday I visited the PBC Expo – for the third time in 1 year. I visited this time last year when I was heavily pregnant with my son; then we visited around Oct/Nov last year when he was 3 months old. And now, as an almost 10 month old boy, I went with my son and some Mother’s Group friends, with an added bonus of participating in an amazing Curash project along the way.
Attending the Expo for the third time, I knew what to expect to a certain degree. I knew there’d be stalls, some deals and free samples, and the general layout of the Expo. However, talking with friends I realised that not everyone is familiar with the expo. As a mum blogger – with an aim of helping new mums out there – I thought I’d knock up a brief review of the PBC Expo for any pregnant or new mums who don’t know what it’s about. More specifically, I’ve put together a couple of “checklists” (absolutely FREE, NO signing up required!) of stalls you’ll want to check out if you’re pregnant, have a newborn, a toddler or a child. Hopefully this’ll map out a bit more of the expo for you. I know this is later than I would have liked (ideally I would have had it done last night for mummas going today) but we were knackered after spending over 3.5 hours there!
I’d love to hear your experience of the expo and whether there was anything that really stood out to you.
Intro to the PBC Expo
The PBC Expo stands for the Pregnancy, Babies and Children’s Expo. It is held across Australia in the major cities throughout the year – for 2017, there is still the Sydney (May 19-21) expo, then Brisbane (June 16-18), Perth (August 11-13), Melbourne (October 6-8) and Sydney again (November 11-12). In Sydney, the expo is held at the Showground at Sydney Olympic Park (SOP) which is perfect for me because I’m familiar with the area due to work (for the other locations, visit the website HERE for more information). With such a big venue, there is plenty of space for stalls, where exhibitors come to share baby-related products and information; engaging presentations by experts in the field of maternal and baby health and wellbeing; food and coffee areas; and a baby care room for feeding and changing bubs. The PBC expo is jam packed with so much, that it can be overwhelming if you’re not sure of what to look for.
Expo Parking and Transport at Sydney Olympic Park
If anyone is like me, the parking situation might make you a bit anxious. I’ve parked in different carparks for the three different times I have visited. My first visit (heavily pregnant), I parked in the P5 parking at SOP. The expo has a shuttle bus that picks you up from the carpark and drops you almost at the front door of the expo. This is a great option, however keep in mind that there are MANY other mums with prams, and you’ll have to navigate fitting prams on the buses and getting in and out at each end. For our second expo visit, we parked in the P1 concrete jungle. This was within walking distance, but still a bit of a trek, so if you have bought many big boxes or items you may need to be mindful of this.
For this expo, I pre-paid for parking (which you can do HERE, $25 for day parking) at the P6 carpark. This is directly opposite the showground which is perfect for walking distance. My only issue was finding the carpark in the first place. I literally drove through and around SOP for 15 minutes trying to find it – the signs appeared to suddenly stop. The P6 parking is closest to the P1 and P5 side, so going left through SOP is your best option.
There is also a train station at Sydney Olympic Park if you’d prefer to catch a train.
Entering and Navigating the Expo
If you’ve gotten your free ticket beforehand, have it ready to be scanned as you enter outside the Showground doors (you can have a paper copy ready or your phone – I found it easier in the end to have it accessible on my phone). KEEP THIS TICKET HANDY as there are many opportunities to scan the ticket at individual stalls to enter competitions and receive free samples. These are all used by QR readers. You’ll receive a pink enviro bag – empty – to collect all your samples and leaflets in. I found this to perfect length to sit over the pram to save me from carrying it too. If you haven’t collated them off the net already, you’ll also get a coupon booklet to use at different stalls. If you’re a keen bean (like me), you’ll have most likely been through it on the internet before arriving as this will help you prepare for the day. If you haven’t had a chance, have a quick flick through before starting through the expo as you’ll want to know what to keep an eye out for. Many stallholders won’t tell you about their free samples or goodies unless you specifically ask for it with the coupon, so make sure you know about them beforehand.
The Expo is one big maze of stalls, so checking out the map beforehand might also be helpful. It is also handy to know where the Baby Care rooms are, the food and coffee areas, and the bathrooms.
Unfortunately we didn’t use ANY of the facilities this time around. I kind of have the mindset of getting in, doing our thing, and getting out. I didn’t get to try the food (although when I walked past it smelt amazing!), but there looked to be options such as burgers and chips, quiche with salads, etc. Some decent food (and soft drink, coffee, etc).
We also didn’t try the Baby Care room, as we just motored through. However, there is changing facilities, and the Baby Care room is off to the corners of the Showgrounds, giving privacy for breastfeeding mums and a place to put your feet up. There’s also microwaves to warm up bottles or meals.
Our Experience of the PBC Expo in 2017
For this expo, I was going with our son by myself (last Oct/Nov I went with hubby), so I made sure I was adequately prepared. I had Starfish in our Manduca baby carrier, and also had our new Steelcraft Strider Company Deluxe ready to go to carry our goodies (and fit our monstrous nappy bag underneath too while I carried Starfish). Parking in the P6 carpark – despite being hard to find – was amazing as it was literally a 2 minute walk to the Showground. I didn’t have to worry about carrying heaps of stuff back to the car via shuttle bus, train or 20 minute walk which, in the end, worked out perfectly for us.
While I had printed my ticket ready to go for entering the expo, I soon found this was hard to juggle. When scanning the QR Code at many of the stalls, I found I kept losing my printed ticket in amongst the bags of goodies I was accumulating. It was much easier for me to keep track of my phone in my pocket to scan said QR code (my handy tip!).
We first ended up at the Curash stand as I got to do some exciting work with the Curash people (stay tuned!). Starfish was a bit shy with his unfamiliar surroundings, going a bit “stunned mullet” for a while. I was finding it handy having him in the Manduca carrier, because I didn’t have to worry about keeping him occupied, or my arms going dead from carrying him around. PLUS, I soon found out shortly after my Curash stint, that it is CRAZY full of prams in the expo (duh!). It is really hard to navigate going through the expo as you are constantly running into other mums with their prams too. So my advice – if you have a baby carrier, this is highly recommended!! (Even though I took our pram too to carry things).
I met up with my 3 mother’s group friends, and this was an absolute blast. It is so fun shopping all things BABY with other mums and their bubs. You get to talk about how cute everything is, and encourage each other to splurge a little extra on something that hubby is a lot less likely to be excited about. HOWEVER, the only downer I found with this is that because the expo is so packed, it is really hard to walk alongside other mum friends; and there isn’t many spaces to easily “stop and wait” for mum friends who are perusing a stall. There is some space at the top and bottom areas of the showgrounds (where you enter, and where the cafe/food is), but not much space at all. It is a hard venue to go and “hang out” with your mum friends if you all have big prams you are lugging about. Nevertheless, it was a great experience to go with other mums an dchat about all things baby.
The Expo Deals
This has been the big thing a lot of mums have asked me – where there any good “deals”. Firstly, to be honest, I am awful when it comes to spotting deals. Unless you have done a lot of research beforehand on a product you are looking for, it is hard to spot “great deals”. Almost every stall spouts that their products are on sale for the expo, for example marked down from $45 to $30. My next recommendation is, if you’re looking for a specific product BEFORE going to the expo, check out the prices and have these in mind before going to the expo. This will let you know if you’re getting a good deal or not.
For example, I wanted to get the next size up of ErgoPouch Sleep Suit for Starfish (as the one we tried for the Winter Sleeping Bag Review was starting to get too small). I knew online they were $84.95, so when I got to the expo and saw they were $65, I was excited by the bargain! This was the only product I was preparing myself to buy, whereas many others I was just happy to go and check out on the day.
Generally, all the stalls have some sort of “deal”. You can expect that products will be cheaper at the expo than most other places you’ll find. The deals are also “bigger” for the big ticket items. For example, there are nursery products that offer $80 off, but the product was originally $200. Similarly, many of the coupons give you an extra freebie only IF you make a purchase. Really, the coupons are only helpful if you were already planning on making purchases at the expo.
Overall, the expo is great if you are in need of baby products and are already planning on shopping (or if you’re naughty like me and buy things for bub anyway!). There are plenty of comparisons to make between brands, particularly those with many competitors, e.g. sleeping bags or prams.
Ultimately, I didn’t go in with a plan of anything to buy (except a bigger size of the ErgoSuit). I was happy to wander the expo – a carefully laid plan of starting at one end and walking up and down methodically each aisle). This is a great plan, although the Expo is fast paced and you often get a bit swept up in the traffic of “keeping up”. As I mentioned, there isn’t much space to stop and “check out” the stalls around. You need to be quick and dart to anything that catches your eye.
As Starfish is nearing his first birthday, there were things I was keen to check out – particularly the Jack N’ Jill Naturals stall to look at their oral hygiene range. I have been wanting to try their new teeth and gum wipes, so I picked up a box of them (for $10.00, normally $14.95). We also found the Baby Banana Toothbrushes (made from bendable silicone) that all my mother’s group ladies were keen on, so I purchased one of these with a friend (the deal was $15 for one or 2 for $25). This was great, until I got home and saw these are recommended up until 12 months. Oh well, hopefully it’ll come in handy for the next 2 months.
We also picked up a set of Ear Muffs for Starfish from Em 4 Kids ($35.00). Never know when you’ll want some Earmuffs, plus they seem super cute.
I’m always a bit mindful of how much I’m spending (as we’re not made of money – obvs!). I was keen to get some socks and shoes, although there wasn’t much in that range. The bedhead hats and beanies were super cute (there was a dinosaur hat!!) as well, so well worth a look.
Last thoughts on the PBC Expo + Specified Exhibitors Lists
I’ll definitely be visiting again in November, as I love the atmosphere and the vibe of the expo – plus I’m a HUGE fan of baby shopping! I think that when you go to the expo, you obviously have a certain perspective going in. You’re either pregnant and going “Crap, what do I actually need for this baby?” (like I did this time last year), or have a newborn and going “Crumbs, what kind of pram do I need?”. It can be really hard to let it sink in and take it all in. I wish I had properly looked at the exhibitors beforehand so I knew what to expect and to properly look through some of the baby-specific products, like more baby shoes products.
To help out anyone planning on going to the expo tomorrow, I’ve spent most of this afternoon compiling specific lists of the exhibitors and talks for pregnant mums and new mums (Babies under 1). I hope this can help SOMEONE out there.
NOTE: Unfortunately, due to spending ALL afternoon compiling this, and in the interest of time to try and get this done by tonight, there were many other INFORMATIONAL exhibitors not on this list. Please check the full list on the PBC Expo website).
I hope you enjoy the Sydney PBC Expo as much as I did!