Cheap and cheerful ideas for the school holidays
You’ve managed to make it through three school terms and the countdown to Christmas is on. The shops are starting to stock up on decorations and trees, so saving a few dollars in September is even more important than ever.
To help minimise the damage on the hip pocket, we’ve come up with a few ways to keep the troops entertained, without blowing the budget.
- While this one’s not free, a trip to the zoo is the perfect school holiday activity. It’s a great learning experience and lots of fun for all the family. Australia Zoo in Queensland is well-known for its crocodiles, snakes and even wombats who are sometimes seen being walked around the grounds. Taronga Zoo in Sydney is open every day and you can take a ferry from Circular Quay. Dubbo Zoo is a great day out, as are the zoos in Melbourne and Perth.
- Take a city cruise and spend time with your children out on the river. In Brisbane, the City Cats travel up and down the river all day stopping off at landmarks including South Bank and New Farm Park. In Melbourne, cruise the Yarra River and check out the sights, or take a ferry trip to Manly in Sydney.
- Have a scavenger hunt. Hide clues around the house or the neighbourhood and give your children a treasure map to start out with. Take them on a tour of the neighbourhood, or buy some cheap dinosaurs and bury them in the garden. Buy some spades for digging and you’re away.
- Go for a bush walk and collect some rocks, leaves, bark and wood to bring home to make a nature collage. Glue pieces on to a piece of cardboard and illustrate around it. Do some leaf rubbings with coloured pencils.
- Go to the park. Get the children to help you make some sandwiches, pack a picnic and head to the park. Kingsley’s Shepherds Bush Park in WA has a great bike or scooter track and New Farm Park in Brisbane is perfect for a day out.
- If you have a tent but don’t have the time to go away, set it up in the backyard and have a camping adventure. Children love sleeping outdoors – even if it’s only for an hour until they want to get back in to their own comfortable beds. If you don’t have tent, set up a cubby house in the lounge room and let the children add dimensions to it during the holidays.
- Plant some vegetables in the backyard. Find containers to recycle as pots, paint them and plant some seeds in them. Choose something that grows fast so your children can see them grow each day.
- Make some Rocky Road – it’s simple and it’s cheap. Break two blocks of 200g milk chocolate into single pieces and put them in a microwave-proof bowl. Melt the chocolate by giving it three or four 30 seconds bursts and stir it in between. When it’s smooth and melted, mix in one cup of desiccated coconut, about a cup of chopped up red frogs and one cup of marshmallows, also chopped. Line a baking tray and pour in the chocolate mixture, and refrigerate for three or four hours.
- Look up a few science experiments online and then do them with your children, such as the Mentos and Diet Coke on. You will need one bottle of cola (diet works best), one packet of Mentos and an outdoor area (this is messy). Drop the Mentos into a bottle of diet cola and watch the liquid shoot out the top of the bottle. Visit www.kidspot.com.au/things-to-do/collection/science-experiments
If that's not enough to get you started, here are a few city-specific ideas:
- SYDNEY: If you are in Sydney, visit Bondi Beach, walk across the Sydney Harbour Bridge or take a trip to the Art Gallery of NSW or the Museum of Contemporary Art Australia which is free.
- MELBOURNE: Enjoy a Port of Melbourne boat tour from Williamstown’s Gem pier or Victoria Harbour, take a trip to the Caldermeade Dairy Farm and Café and pat the baby animals or have a picnic at the Royal Botanic Gardens.
- CANBERRA: Take a trip to the National Museum Australia or pack a picnic and head for the Australian National Botanical Gardens. If you have bigger children, put on the walking shoes and head for the lakeside walk which begins at Commonwealth Place. It’s a 2km easy walk.
- PERTH: Visit Kings Park and Botanic Garden for a day out in the sun, visit Elizabeth Quay or take a drive to Shoalwater Islands Marine Park, which is accessible from Rockingham about an hour’s drive south of Perth.
- BRISBANE: Check out the Gallery of Modern Art’s 16,000 works and take a walk along the Brisbane River. Jump on the city hopper which goes from one side of the river to the other, and stop off at South Bank beach for a swim.
- ADELAIDE: Take a trip to Semaphore and stroll the esplanade, eat fish and chips and have a play in the park. Or hop on your bikes and explore the city which is mostly flat. Otherwise, take on the ride to Henley Beach along Linear Park. It takes about 40 minutes each way.