Capital Fun Canberra for Kids |

Capital Fun: Canberra for Kids

Capital Fun: Canberra for Kids

Canberra, Australia’s National Capital, often gets labelled as ‘boring’ thanks to all those politicians. Having spent 10 years living there, I can assure you that’s far from the truth. For Expedia’s Aussie travellers, the small city is gaining popularity as a short stay for the whole family, with 1-2 night stays plenty of time for kid-friendly fun.

And did you know Canberra turns 100 this year? With plenty of extra celebratory events, this is the perfect time to plan your family holiday.

Questacon – The National Science and Technology Centre

Kids don’t have to like science to love Questacon. The amazing hands-on interactive centre has exhibits mostly suitable for children over the age of eight. Play robot hockey, experience a simulated earthquake or watch the spectacular caged lightning display (fun for big kids too!). Take babies, toddlers, preschoolers and kids up to six to MiniQ, a gallery designed just for little ones. Don’t miss the live performances by the in-house science theatre troupe for the older kids, and the Puppet Shows for younger kids (2-5 years old). These shows are included in your entrance ticket. Open daily (except Christmas Day) 9am – 5pm. Kids under four free.

The Australian War Memorial

All Australians should visit The Australian War Memorial at least once in their lifetime and why not when it’s open every day (except Christmas Day) 10am-5pm, free to enter and very family friendly. Many exhibits are largely visual and free guided tours (90 minutes) throughout the day take in the most notable sections of each gallery. Storytime on Friday mornings is at 10.30am, aimed at preschool children but older siblings are welcome too.

Exhibits cover all the conflicts and missions Australian troops have been a part of. If you visit in the afternoon make a point of staying for the Last Post ceremony at 4.55pm. The ceremony starts with the National Anthem, followed by a piper. Each day a name from the Roll of Honour is chosen and the story behind that name is told. Lest we forget.

National Dinosaur Museum

I don’t know any kid who doesn’t love seeing dinosaur skeletons and the National Dinosaur Museum houses the largest permanent display of dinosaur and other prehistoric fossil material in Australia. Open every day 10am-5pm and children under four are free.

Cockington Green

This is the land of miniatures, an award-winning attraction which opened back in 1979. Cockington Green’s beautiful gardens are dotted with life-like scale models of English villages, Castles, Train Lines, Stonehenge and even Petra in Jordan (a site made famous in the movie Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade). The attention to detail in each model is incredible.

You’ll find a lovely picnic area with free BBQ’s right next to a children’s playground. Miniature Steam Train Rides offer young and old a ride to remember. Open daily (except for Christmas Day and Boxing Day) 9.30am – 5pm, children under four are free.

Lake Burley Griffin

Canberra’s man-made lake has always felt like the heart of Canberra to me. Walk, cycle or picnic along the shoreline, take a boat cruise or even hire a canoe. It sits at the centre of so many key attractions – the National Museum of Australia, Blundells Cottage, National Carillon, and Old Parliament House – and in autumn the trees lining the shore are breathtakingly beautiful. Bring a camera!


If you have a car, and the time, a trip to Tidbinbilla Nature Reserve is a must. Just a 40 minute drive from the city centre, the Reserve has picnic spots, bushwalks and lots of local wildlife – kangaroos, emus, even platypus call this sanctuary home. The Discovery Playground is very popular.

While you’re in the area, stop by the Canberra Deep Space Communication Complex, Corin Forest Recreation Playground (think flying foxes and bobsleds), and the historic Lanyon Homestead, dating back to the 1850’s and now lovingly restored.

Where to Stay

If you’re heading down with the kids during school holidays, make sure you book accommodation in advance. The peak periods are busy but there’s extra activities for little ones. Popular with Expedia families are the Clifton Suites on Northbourne – offering two bedroom apartments close to the city centre with kitchen, washer/dryer and an outdoor pool.

On the other side of Lake Burley Griffin, close to Parliament House and the National Gallery of Australia, the Kingston Terrace Serviced Apartments have similar family-friendly facilities too.

Images by Chris Holly, Australian Capital Tourism and Questacon

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Linda Anderson

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