I tend to have a soft spot for those destinations which are often overshadowed by glitzier neighbours. The ones who tend to fade into the background as their loud neighbours dominate. The introverted cities.
Canberra is an introverted city. And I love it.
I love the calm and the order of Canberra. I love the wide open spaces. I love the grandeur of the public buildings and embassy’s. I love the art and the culture.
I have been to Canberra twice before, but both times were before I had Jacob. I was excited to explore some my loved city through his eyes; discovering the things that he does.
I only had one weekend with Jake in Canberra, so we explored as much as we could. Some of the attractions here were visited by both me and Jake, and some by Jake and his aunt while I attended a conference locally.
Questacon is Canberra’s science and technology museum. The building is shaped like a spiral. You start at the top and gradually work your way down the spiral while visiting each themed room until you reach the ground floor again. During our visit, they had a special exhibition visiting which was all about spiders. As you can imagine, this was right up Jake’s alley. There were live spider exhibits, macro photography, detailed information, and interactive games for all ages of visitors. As a extreme non spider lover I’m pretty sure I left needing some additional therapy.
Each room had a different theme. Earth science, experimentation, hydrology, etc, etc, etc. Each room has something to offer any age of child, but for the under 5’s there is one special play area just for them. Although warning on this one, it features water play and the smocks provided are not enough to keep an excited toddler dry!
Cost of entry: Adult $23, Children $17.50, Under 4’s Free
National Dinosaur Museum
The National Dinosaur Museum holds Australia’s largest collection of dinosaur fossils and prehistoric artifacts. In fact, the museum has 23 complete dinosaur skeletons on display. Take little ones on a journey through Australia’s prehistory. There are activities and guided tours throughout the day, and an outdoor dinosaur garden complete with life like fibreglass models.
Cost of entry: Adults $16, Children $9.90, Under 4’s Free
Play up at Old Parliament House
Play up is definitely not a hands off museum. The play space at Old Parliament House is curated for and by children. There are a variety of play spaces and exhibition areas, where kids can learn while touching, playing, dressing up, and imagining. Play Up is also an incredibly affordable learning space, where you can afford to return over and over again.
Cost of entry: $2 per adult and $1 per child.
The Australian National Botanic Gardens is a living collection of Australian plants from all over the country. The gardens are a great place to escape the city, and feature a range of walking tracks with varying levels of difficulty. There is also a range of activities offered, a cafe and a bookstore.
The gardens are a great place to let kids run off some energy, while offering real and engaging opportunities to educate them about native Australian flora.
Cost of entry: Free
Australian National Museum
The National Museum of Australia is primarily a social history museum – with a focus on the history of the people in Australia, and how the land has shaped the culture and experiences of the people living here. Some of the highlights of the collection include a large number of indigenous artifacts from all throughout Australia, a windmill from the “bush”, and some very interesting old forms of transport.
A great feature of the museum in the outdoor courtyard, called the Garden of Australian dreams. Every part of the courtyard represents some aspects of Australia’s history, culture, and identity. Some things are obvious, like how the design reflects the geographical layout of the country, while others are a little more obscure – like the abstract representation of a guillotine symbolizing how Australia could have just as easily have become a French colony instead of an English one.
Check out the website for a listing of the family activities and events happening now.
Cost of entry: Free