Tag Archives: National Museum of Australia

7 Free things to do in Canberra over the Spring school holidays

Our two weeks of school holidays start today!  The children definitely need the break, and their mother isn’t complaining either!  While we have a camping trip planned for the second week of the holidays, for the first week I thought we might explore a bit more of the city we live in, rather than sitting at home with eyes glued to screens.  (Wish me luck!)

There are some amazing classes, programs, and activities available during the holidays, and my children have a long wish list.  However money is a little tight, and I realised that it was probably time for us to craft a list that focussed on things that don’t cost a lot of money, but will be really enjoyable.

These giant snails next to a floral wall spelling out Floriade are beautifully colourful!

These giant snails next to a floral wall spelling out Floriade are beautifully colourful!

1.  Floriade.  Yep – it may be clichéd but the huge floral displays are open throughout the holidays, are free to enter, and provide lots of different opportunities for being involved.  There is a different program of activities every day.  The tips I gained from head gardener, Andrew Forster, were to check the program first thing each morning before planning your day.  There are great things in the ‘Fun for Kids‘ section, including potting their own plants, attending Bunnings workshops, a circus playground with workshops, and more!    (And Bindi Irwin will be at the inspiration hub giving talks one day.) If all else fails, take a picnic and let the kids run around on the big grassed areas.

2. Arboretum.  The national collection of plants is free to enter, and roam around.  In addition to the wonderful wooden pod playground, there are also open spaces for picnics and running around, and amazing photographic opportunities.  There is a free creative corner during these holidays, plus a program of workshops ranging in prices from $10 – $30.  My personal plan is to pack some food and take the kids there with their cameras/iPods etc and run a family photo competition.  If it works I will publish their entries here for you to enjoy!

National Archives of Australia |a little bird made me

3. National Archives of Australia.  You might remember that I enjoyed a tour of the National Archives as part of the discovery phase of the Human Brochure.  I have been wanting to take the children there ever since, and with the opening of the Waterhouse Natural Science Art Prize this week, the timing is perfect!  Entry to the archives is free, and there is a great range of exhibitions that I think my children will enjoy exploring – including one of ‘banned’ material that I think will appeal to my son!!

Industrial remnants installed at the National Gallery of Australia Sculpture Gardens

Industrial remnants installed at the National Gallery of Australia Sculpture Gardens

4. National Gallery Sculpture Gardens.  I suspect that taking my active children (well, let’s be honest, my son) into the Gallery could be a recipe for stress, but I think that exploring the Sculpture Gardens, with reflective sculptures, floating heads, and my favourite, the James Turrell installation “Within Without’, could be much less stressful!  I might even include that in our family photo competition!

5. Geocaching.  We have been a little slack in our geocaching for about a year (oops) but the upside of that is that there will be lots of new caches around town that we haven’t discovered.  If you aren’t aware of geocaching it involves looking for hidden caches/containers that contain a log book, and occasionally swap-able  or track-able items, using GPS coordinates.  You can download a free version of the app to your phone, or use the GPS from your car (or go really rustic and use a compass!) and search for different caches hidden in public spaces, and logged on a website so that others can look for them.  I like to pick a geographic area, park the car and then go for a walk with the kids to find as many as we can before someone gets tired and complains!

6. National Museum of Australia.  The museum is always great for an interactive experience with kids, and these holidays they are running free drop in workshops in their Discovery Space, including one where you can make your own wire sculpture.  (Wonder if the kids will realise that I am there to do it for me, rather than to entertain them?!)

7. National Library of Australia.  On 2 October the Library has a story time session and a movie for children, both of which are free.  But the thing that appeals to me for my children is the Library detective – a free ‘find it’ trail of discovery.

Handmade Markets | a little bird made me

Plus one more.  Handmade Markets.  Entry to these amazing markets (no I am not at all biased) is free!  Of course it won’t end up being truly free as the temptation to buy so many of the beautiful products there is hard to resist, so I haven’t included it in my list of 7 – but wanted to remind you that it is a great day out!  4 and 5 October at the National Convention Centre!  (I won’t have a stall there but will be there helping out anyway!)

There are many more things to do in Canberra over the holidays, but this list will keep us going I think!  What ideas do you have for free activities these holidays?