Warrnambool is an great family vacay destination in itself. Located on Victoria’s spectacular Great Ocean Road and with pods of Southern Right Whales viewable from the beach there are some strong natural drawcords. Every July though, during the winter school holidays scores of families converge for Fun 4 Kids – Australia’s largest kids festival.
We were Fun 4 Kids newbies at this year’s festival and weren’t exactly sure what to expect. What we found was an extensive all weather festival over two sites. Headlining an impressive line up of performance artists was ABC Kids Jimmy Giggle. A regular in our own lounge room for 9 years Jimmy hasn’t aged a bit and certainly knows how to bring it. As a mother to a tap dancing son I was blown away by Raw Metal, a male tap troupe who take tap/percussion to new levels using Aussie thongs, flippers and basket balls (must be seen to believed) My toddler loved boogying to the Trolls show. Other performances were delivered during the five day festival by prestigious acts including Opera Australia, Melbourne City Ballet and comedian Frank Woodley. I was personally devastated to miss the Spicey Girls performance (a Spice girls tribute act)
The Fun 4 Kids festival headquarters housed ten interactive zones and two performance spaces. There was a strong arts and craft theme in the interactive zones. Nana’s Nook was a nurturing space staffed by volunteer Nana’s dedicated to sharing their traditional arts and crafts with children. The Nanas were patient and skilled. Super Box World was a hall where children where children built an entire world from cardboard boxes. The creativity and ingenuity displayed by the Aussie children that created Super Box World should be applauded. Once again volunteers staffed and facilitated this space. My son could have stayed for hours creating in Super Box World.
Other craft activities included artist directed face making using re-purposed children’s toys and creating a giant poo out of paper mache (to remind families to pick up after their dogs). Construction was also facilitated in the Fairbrother Woodwork and Paint it zone that saw children create substantial woodwork projects using provided kids. The Fun 4 Kids Headquarters also hosted an impressive hands on animal area that gave children the opportunity to pet both native and farm animals, as well as a kids kitchen and cooking lessons (seperate to the animals of course!).
The second festival venue – connected with the headquarters is Flagstaff Hill Maritime Village- which takes visitors back in time to experience nineteenth century Warrnambool. Entry to Flagstaff Hill was included for Fun 4 kids ticket holders. At Flagstaff hill my kids experienced a Victorian era classroom (they may never complain about school in Melbourne again), met the Maremma dogs that guard the little penguins on Middle Island and that featured in the movie Oddball. Kids cooking, paper making and arts and craft activities were all on offer too.
We capped our own visit to Fun 4 Kids off with some ten pin bowling at the local bowling alley which was included in our ticket.
Fun 4 Kids does not do anything half heartedly – all the crafting activities were substantial and the volunteers engaged. Let me take the opportunity here as an out of towner to congratulate the many, many volunteers that clearly are the backbone of this festival. From the local scouts representatives that created a Pirate Cove obstacle course (my kids wanted to go back again and again), to the volunteers dressed as scarecrows that were the focus of any lost children search and rescue operations at the Festival, and of course the Nanas who took their time to teach their craft.
Finally, by best tip for families visiting Fun 4 Kids in the future – this is a full on sensory experience for children. Do yourself a favour and purchase one of the multi-day tickets. This will allow you to spread your visits out. There are many aspects of the interactive zone that I wish my children could have experienced for a whole afternoon – we’d do that next time.Danielle, All rights Reserved. Written For: Bubs on the Move