From outer space to time travel, the nation’s capital has a host of child-friendly activities that don’t cost a dime.
The National Arboretum’s Pod Playground looks like a work of art but features giant acorn cubbies, nest swings, net tunnels and a spiral slide for kids to explore. Grown ups can admire the spectacular scenery from the safety of firm land.
They’re a little off the beaten track but Gibraltar Falls, Canberra’s only waterfall, makes for a gentle, picturesque bushwalk older kids will enjoy. The site has picnic tables, so take a thermos and lunch to dine al fresco.
History comes to life at the Australian War Memorial where youngsters can dodge sniper fire in a First World War trench, take control of an Iroquois helicopter and peer through the periscope of a Cold War submarine in the Discovery Zone. This Discovery Zone is open to the public 12.30pm to 1.30pm on weekdays and all day on weekends and public holidays.
Make some coin
Teach kids that money doesn’t grow on trees and see real robots live in action on a trip to the Royal Australian Mint. The tour is free but you’ll need to front $3 if you want to print your own coin at the end.
Blast to the past
The National Museum of Australia’s KSpace is a game-ified interactive experience geared towards five to 12 year-olds. They’ll love working together to build a time-travel pod before being sent back in time to a significant period of Australia’s past. They’ll have fun, learn some history and collaborate with a team of other kids.
Explore outer space
See a real piece of the moon that’s billions of years old, check out what’s happening in the solar system and discover what astronauts eat on space shuttles. There’s something for every age at Canberra Deep Space Communication Network.
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Take the bikes out
Take advantage of good weather by exploring the capital on two wheels. Lake Burley Griffin offers a stack of picturesque routes to choose from and little ones will love feeding the ducks.
Kids might not like the classical collections at The National Gallery of Australia, but the sculpture garden and intriguing “outside rooms” provide plenty to look at as well as space to run around.
Pack a picnic
The Australian National Botanical Gardens are a great spot to have a picnic before getting acquainted with some native flora and fauna. See how many different birds you can spot.
Go bus hopping
Canberra’s free City Loop bus means you can see many of the major sights without anyone needing a nap or getting tired feet.
Lay down the law
Join an expert guide on a tour of both chambers of Parliament House, the Marble Foyer, Great Hall, Members’ Hall and the Parliament art collection. At the very least, youngsters will enjoy doing cartwheels on the lawn.
Go for a dip
Just 25 minutes out of the CBD, Cotter Avenue Reserve has everything you need for a day out. Cook lunch on the barbeque facilities, go for a swim in the Murrumbidgee River and check out the Cotter Dam wall before taking one of the reserve’s many walking trails.