I’m going to declare up front that I LOVE CANBERRA! In fact, I could be Canberra’s number one cheerleader. Actually, scrap that, my mum is probably number one cheerleader and I come a close second. This is what happens when you were born and bred in Canberra and have been defending it for years! I’ve heard it all….too cold, boring school trips to Parliament House, too dry, too many politicians, nothing to do. Well, I’m here to tell you that Canberra is none of these things (ok, sometimes it’s cold). It is in fact actually cool! According to the New York Times, Australia’s capital features ‘big-sky beauty, breezy civic pride and a decidedly hipster underbelly’. There you have it. It’s official. Cheer, cheer!
And it makes a great place for a family weekend away from the Hills as it’s not too far. Here are some ideas to keep you entertained during your visit.
See the seasons on show
Autumn is a beautiful time of year in Canberra. It gets cool overnight but the days are usually a perfect temperature, free of the humidity we sometimes struggle with in Sydney. And best of all, in early March, Canberra Day celebrations start and the city comes to life.
One of my favourite events in Canberra is the Canberra Balloon Spectacular. This year it’s on from 10 to 18 March 2018. Held on the lawns of Old Parliament House, this is nothing short of spectacular and the kids will love it! There are normal hot air balloons but they also have a handful of awesome special shaped balloons that have appeared over the years. How magnificent are the floating nipples?! The downside is the early start – balloons start to rise at dawn – 6.15am.
Also in March is Enlighten running from 2 to 18 March 2018. Imagine a beautiful autumn evening in the Parliamentary Triangle and beyond, with some of Australia’s iconic buildings aglow with architectural projections. There are exclusive after-hour events, many of which are free. And the Night Noodle Markets are on as well.
But if the next couple of months don’t work for you to visit, don’t despair. You could always take a trip to Floriade which is on in Spring. And in winter, you could combine a visit to Canberra with a trip to Corin Forest for some snow play. If you have older kids, the dawn service on Anzac Day at the Australian War Memorial is extra special.
Visit Boundless all abilities playground
OK slightly weird that a playground features high on the list of things to do. But this playground is a cracker! Fully fenced, all abilities, fancy toilets, great equipment and best of all FREE. This park is awesome and a great break from the traditional sight seeing things you might do in Canberra. You can find out more here.
I know Questacon is probably already on your list of things to do. And it should be, as this place is great! Mini Q for kids aged 0-6 years old is fabulous. There’s also a water play area, imaginary play, a little play gym, sensory and space play. You can easily waste a couple of hours with young ones in this area. Just don’t forget a token to this area when you get your tickets as they manage the numbers they let into this space at any given time. And for older kids there’s so much to do, explore and interact with. You could easily spend an entire day here!
Yarralumla Play Station
For any Canberra old girls, this is the Weston Park Railway. It’s had a revamp and been renamed Yarralumla Play Station. The old park/playground area has been tidied up and restored to its former glory, plus there’s the Weston Park Miniature Railway, Lake Walter Mini Golf and the Petite Park Petting Zoo.
Weston Park Miniature Railway is home to a train called Bluebird that’s often mistaken for Thomas! It runs every 30 minutes during opening hours. While there are no windmills in this mini golf course (a putt putt staple!) you will spot some famous Canberra icons. And the new petting park is great for those who love animals. All in all, a great place for little ones to visit and have fun! And there’s no doubt you’ll see wild kangaroos here – they love this place!
Cockington Green is fabulous and kids just love it. Miniature houses, beautiful landscaped gardens and a little train that runs around it. It really is a wonderland for children.
What is an arboretum I hear you ask? An arboretum is a botanical garden containing living collections of woody plants intended at least partly for scientific study. Some of you will be really interested, most of you will have switched off and moved on. But don’t. The National Arboretum is home to a magnificent playground called the Pod Playground which was designed to challenge and excite. For older kids there are giant acorn cubbies on stilts, connected by net tunnels and ending in a spiral slippery slide. For younger children, Pod includes a single ladder leading into a single giant acorn cubby with a standard slide. And on a windy day the hills of the National Arboretum are perfect for kite flying. There’s even a great cafe to have a coffee, morning tea and/or lunch.
- National Dinosaur Museum
- Australian War Memorial
- National Zoo and Aquarium
- Check out the kids exhibitions/play spaces within the National Gallery of Australia or National Portrait Gallery or National Museum of Australia – they often have kids area which are FREE.
Do you have any questions on Canberra? If Justine can’t answer them she will phone a friend and get the insider info for you!