Get ahead of the ‘I’m bored’ comments and plan the activities you want to do with your kids on the holidays. Not only can it be a great motivator for them (clean your room or else….) but it gives you a chance to put aside a little money each week to fund a few more outings. Read below for our favorites for this summer.
Water, water, water!
A sure winner amongst kids is water play. The good thing about water parks is they appeal to children of all ages from babies to teenagers. Victoria is increasingly spoilt in the number of venues that offer water activities, especially given that for several months of the year we shiver all day and face snow in some regions. One of the best known water parks in Melbourne is the Adventure Park which is actually in Geelong. Well worth the day trip down, it is only an hour’s drive from the Melbourne CBD which makes the journey even quicker for those living on the north and west of the city. Its size is currently unrivalled and there are a variety of options for the more adventurous thrill seekers to the baby paddling pools.
Also of interest for summer 2018 and on the other side of Melbourne, is the $50 million renovation of Gumbuya Park in Tynong North that’s currently underway. Due to open December 2017, we are expecting big things in this improvement that’s promising to be the ‘Disneyland of Victoria’ with the first stage proposing a new wildlife area, roller coasters and Australia’s tallest water slide within their new water park.
Other great water play options include the fun slides as Glen Eira sports and Aquatic Centre (GESAC). Also try the Seville Water Play Park which houses free, outdoor water activities from 8am to 9pm and is located next to Seville Recreation Reserve, making it a great picnic option also.
In the north, there is Funfields in Whittlesea with the new Gravity Wave, various water slides, and toddler water area, ideal for families visiting Melbourne. You can also go on a number of rides and activities from go karts, mini golf, a carousel, toboggans and roller coasters. Watermarc in Greensborough is popular indoor venue with water activities for babies through to teenagers. Slides, tarzan ropes, inflatable obstacle course and plenty of jets, wheels and fountains for the littlies. There are plenty of family change facilities here also.
If you’re more centrally based, there’s a water park in the Royal Botanic Gardens near the Observatory or Melbourne Sports and Aquatic Centre (MSAC) in Albert Park offers a water slide, wave pool, diving boards and toddlers pool.
Interactive Puzzle solving
For the more land based, consider taking slightly older children along to an escape room puzzle challenge. Originally designed for adults, many venues around Melbourne have adapted their interactive, problem solving games to suit a younger audience. Most venues will offer a variety of themes to choose from such as medieval quests, lost tombs and pirate treasure hunts. Other activities along these lines that children will also enjoy include Virtual Reality (VR) experiences such as Minecraft parties, VR workshops held at the Australian Centre for the Moving Image (ACMI) in Southbank or the Augmented Reality Program for kids at Lemonade Stand in the Melbourne CBD.
Creativity and children go hand and hand, so even if you’re not so arty yourself, give your kids an opportunity to be involved with imaginative experiences to broaden their mind and better develop their communication skills. These days councils and governments are acknowledging how enriching the creative industries are for the health, prosperity of their populations and economies as a whole, and are funding more programs to encourage children to engage with the arts. Artplay in Melbourne is one such program where babies up to 12 year olds can attend workshops and performances all year round.
Check their website (other resources here) for the calendar and booking details as most are free events with a mixture of booked and drop in sessions available. Also head online to council websites around Australia whether it be inner city or regional for their children and family programming. From rhyme and story time, dance classes, battle of the bands and local theatre, most council events are also subsidised to keep costs down and provide additional programming during the school holidays.
For the youngest of children, there is typically less on offer until they become more mobile. The Melbourne Museum, however, has a dedicated play space for zero to five year olds called the Pauline Gandel Children’s Gallery that has a superb range of activities for kids to explore, play and learn in. Its immersive indoor and outdoor environments include a discovery garden, camouflage disco, climbing net, light displays, puzzles, books and plenty of soft, child friendly surfaces. Older children will also enjoy the wider museum with gigantic dinosaur fossils, IMAX theatre and a range of rotating exhibitions and plenty of school holiday activities and classes on offer. The National Gallery of Victoria (NGV) also has rotating children’s exhibits and activities, many of which are low or no cost; sign up to their online newsletter to get the latest information for their summer programming.
Melbourne is also blessed with a vibrant sporting culture so consider enrolling your child in one of the many sport camps or clinics available, whether it be in AFL, netball, cricket, soccer, tennis or gymnastics. Head to vic.gov.au for a comprehensive list of programs available throughout the state including inner and outer suburbs, coastal and regional areas. Cricket and football nuts may also appreciate a tour of the iconic MCG where guides will take you to the inner sanctum of the venue including the Long Room, player change rooms and a walk on the world class pitch. Whilst you’re there, check out the National Sporting Museum that houses the Australia’s largest sporting collection. Kids will particularly enjoy the interactive gallery called Game On! which has cycling, running, throwing and AFL challenges to complete and participate in