Happy New Year to all our readers! We hope everyone had a wonderful Christmas and New Year’s break. I still can’t believe 2018 just flew by like that, and we are already in 2019!
We’ve been busy like most other families with events on with our family and friends. In fact, we have just recently returned from a short getaway to Canberra with our friends to celebrate the New Year there. This is our second year in a row celebrating the New Year in Canberra, and I have to say that I prefer it so much better than celebrating back here in Sydney. We stayed in a wonderful family-friendly hotel that was walking distance from the CBD, yet despite the proximity, the streets were not crowded, the roads were not jammed with traffic and the tourist attractions were all open for business.
We stayed for 3 nights and with only 2 full days, we targeted 3 attractions that were suitable for young kids, the National Dinosaur Museum, the National Arboretum – specifically, their amazing playground, and Questacon. (Last year, we also went to the Canberra Reptile Zoo, the National Zoo and Aquarium, and the Telstra Tower among other places).
The National Dinosaur Museum
The first place we visited was the National Dinosaur Museum, which houses the largest permanent display of dinosaurs and prehistoric life in Australia. We arrived early in the morning before it opened at 10am. In front of the entrance was a large outdoor dinosaur display. Free of charge to enter, it was great for visitors to stroll around and take photos with a range of life-like dinosaurs. A firm favourite was the ginormous moving T-Rex that stood tall amongst the rest of the dinosaurs in the Dinosaur garden.
Once inside, you will be guided by displays that take you through the evolution of life, from the very beginnings of life on Earth to the more recent times. After getting our tickets and entering the exhibit, the little boys and girls in our group were immediately intrigued by all the life-like dinosaurs and fossils surrounding them. The two older girls (which includes our Miss 7) were given a quiz to work on, and upon successful completion, they would be awarded with a certificate, a dinosaur puzzle and a 50 million year old fossil. Needless to say, they were excited and carefully scoured the 2-level museum for answers (of course with help from the adults).
After finishing our tour of the museum, which took us approximately 1.5 hours, and the girls receiving their certificates, puzzles and their 50 million year old shark tooth fossil, pictured above, our self-guided tour was mostly finished. If you were keen on learning more, there are also guided tours and hundreds of informative displays for you to read. However, with a group of kids, under 7 – they weren’t much too excited by the technical side of things.
The National Arboretum – Pod Playground
In the afternoon, we visited the National Arboretum playground, the POD playground. It was such a hot day that us adults just sat around the shade chit-chatting away while the kids played around us. So unfortunately, I didn’t have any photos that I’d taken of my own, but the above picture is a snapshot of one part of the playground. The playground features climbing structures, tunnels, slides, swings, musical instruments, sand and many other fun activities suitable for all ages. Next to the playground is also the Village Centre with a cafe inside which was exactly what we needed when it started to rain and we were all needing a break from the outside heat.
Canberra’s Science and Technology Centre – a fun-filled centre full of fascinating, inspiring and interactive activities and experiences for scientists, young and old. It is pretty much a “must-go” if you are visiting Canberra with kids. Questacon has 8 interactive age-recommended galleries consisting of over 200 hands-on exhibits, as well as additional exhibits located in the foyer and garden.
Within Questacon is a gallery catered for below 6’s, called the Mini-Q. It is a custom-built space for the little ones to explore and play with age-appropriate activities. Mini-Q is ticketed during school holidays, and each ticket is allocated to a half an hour time slot. There are several exhibits within Mini-Q, which include the Active Play space, the Baby Space, the Quiet Space, the Role Play space, the Sensory Space, the Space Play and the Water Play space. The above picture is of Mr. 2 in the water-play space, getting drenched and refusing to leave after the time was up.
Relaxing up close under the moon in The Moon Gallery. The kids loved lying around with cushions shaped and designed like moon rocks, and having a little bit of quiet time to recharge inbetween exploring all the different galleries of the museum.
Overall, we were expecting to leave Questacon shortly after lunch, but at about 4pm, the kids still showed no sign of boredom and we had to drag them to leave. Never would we have guessed that they would have so much fun in the one place. As mentioned above, definitely a must-see for families visiting Canberra!
New Year’s Eve
We topped off our Canberra trip by watching the 9pm family-friendly fireworks on New Year’s Eve. This was the perfect final night in Canberra for our friends and our family. We strolled out into the CBD 10 minutes before the fireworks started. Found a good spot to settle in and the kids were eagerly waiting for the fireworks to be set off. In Sydney, this would have been pretty much impossible with the crowds, the traffic, the parking… but in Canberra – though the fireworks were not as spectacular as Sydney’s, for young kids and families, it was definitely more than enough for everyone to experience this amazing end-of-year event with no added stress.
Happy New Year again to all our readers! We hope 2018 ended with a bang for you, and 2019 will be another amazing year for everyone!
* Click here to read about how we spent Chinese New Year 2019!