Canberra with kids.

Forget what you have heard about Canberra being a boring bureaucratic wasteland.  Canberra is a wonderful place to visit with children.  Those of you that read my previous post “That I will be thankful” will know that I was not looking forward to my trip to the Australian Capital Territory.  The visit was to allow me to attend a conference, and as I am a package deal at the moment, I made the trip with two small boys in tow.  Just as has occurred on my most recent trips, Bub 2 did become unwell within a few hours of departure. Thankfully, my lovely mother had agreed to meet us on route and I was able to take work/travel/kids/illness in my stride as a result of her assistance for the 5 days of our trip.  The flight days were also optimised by visits to the Qantas Club family zones, and an array of helpful strangers that offered to carry my bags.

We live in the tropics so the cold weather (just above freezing) was exhilarating, especially because it was coupled with brilliant sunshine.   It was cold enough to avoid the usual arguments about wearing socks, shoes and long pants that my boys bring with them on any trip outside of Queensland – they wanted to dress in their warm gear.  We stayed in the upmarket suburb of Manuka and as a vehicle is necessary to negotiate Canberra we hired a car.

Visitors with children to Canberra are spoilt for choice when it comes to enjoyable activities.  Being an old school nerd (I am a Space Camp alumni), my top pick goes to Questacon, the National Science and Technology Centre.  Questacon is truly amazing in its ability to inform, engage and entertain.  Both my boys loved it, particularly the “Mini-Q” zone for 0-6 year olds.  If I were a Canberra resident I would purchase an annual pass and visit the Mini-Q zone weekly as I am yet to come across any indoor play/learning area for children that surpasses it.  Thanks to Questacon Bub 1 (4 years) can now formulate discussions about gravity eg “the ball fell down because of gravity” and “the helicopter is working against gravity”.  My one disappointment is that I couldn’t revisit Questacon without the boys in order to enjoy the exhibits at my own pace.

I was a little dubious about another recommended outing; “Cockingnton Green and Gardens” a private attraction consisting of miniature buildings.  Both my 1 and 4 year old enthusiastically embraced Cockington however, due in large part to the interactive component of the display, a number of trains and windmills that the boys could control by pushing buttons.  There is also a small ride on train, for a fee additional to the entrance cost :( and playground.  I was surprised to find myself really enjoying the international miniature village that is funded by  a variety of international embassies and other donors for the insight it provided into contrasting architectures around the world.

For those looking for a free activity with the kids in Canberra I suggest the Botanic Gardens (near Black Mountain).  We took the boys on the children’s discovery walk, and although they didn’t see any wildlife they thrilled at engaging with the flip signs along the path and seeking decorative animals in the trees.  They were also provided with an activity/colouring book that integrated with the discovery walk.

In summary, I would strongly recommend that families plan at least one visit to the Australian capital.  For our part, I will be looking for opportunities to organise another on soon as there was plant of exploring that we didn’t do because of our time limitations.

© Copyright 2012 Danielle, All rights Reserved. Written For: Bubs on the Move