Published in Holidays with Kids.
Feeding a tiger, minting a $1 coin, dressing up in wartime costumes and looking at a 3.8 billion year old moon rock are some of the fun activities that will keep kids occupied during a visit to the National Capital.
Bored in Canberra? Never. Most of the major attractions have activities designed especially for kids, and the good news is that many of them are free. The National Museum of Australia, for example, has some great cubbies such as a treehouse (complete with python and mysterious footprints), a tankstand hideaway (shared with a crocodile) and a magic wardrobe cubby. Littlies also enjoy the museum’s Story Place, where storytelling, puppets and videos take place in a boab tree.
Old Parliament House has dress-ups and a Super Sleuth clue hunt, the National Gallery has a special children’s area, and the National Screen and Sound Archive has lots of interactive exhibits.
The Australian War Memorial invites kids to dress up, role-play and handle objects. And here’s an insider’s tip: the sound and light show themed around World War II Lancaster bomber “G for George” actually stops teenage visitors from text-messaging!
Questacon is one big magnet for kids with its interactive science exhibits, including an earthquake simulation, while the CSIRO’s Discovery Centre showcases Australian research and innovation with a touch-sensitive 3D computer and virtual reality theatre.
At the Royal Australian Mint, it’s a thrill for kids to mint their own $1 coin. It costs $2 but perhaps that’s a lesson in life.
Ever wondered what it takes to become an elite athlete? Now’s your chance to find out at the Australian Institute of Sport, where the athletes conduct the tours. While here, you can visit Sportex, where you can test your reactions, simulate skiing and see how you would fare as a wheelchair basketballer.
If the AIS is home to our sporting giants, Cockington Green is for those who appreciate things small-scale. This miniature village with its beautifully tended gardens is loved by people of all ages, and has a small steam train to ride on.
The Deep Space Communication Complex at Tidbinbilla has a fascinating collection of space-related objects, while the National Zoo and Aquarium has some great behind-the-scenes tours.
There are lots of recreational activities, too, such as kayaking and paddleboating on Lake Burley Griffin, tandem and family bikes for hire, and a terrific old-fashioned merry-go-round in the city’s pedestrian mall.
© Christine Salins