As the Australian capital city and home to the Australian Government, Canberra has many national attractions as well as local exhibitions and activities to suit people of all ages. This year Canberra is celebrating its 100th anniversary, so there are added special events and exhibitions for this occasion too. There is plenty of accommodation in Canberra for all budget levels, varying from five star and heritage-listed hotels to serviced apartments and camping options; many offer special packages and deals for short breaks for families throughout the year. Plus there’s no shortage of child-friendly dining.
The city itself is spacious and easy to get around. It is one of the few ‘planned cities’ in the world, and bush and parkland feature heavily – so much so it’s often referred to as ‘the city in the park’. There are lots of walking trails and cycle paths around the city and lake, but if you’re after something a little less energetic, and want to learn something about Australian culture and heritage, take a look at some of these attractions:
Royal Australian Mint Ever been floored when your child asked you how coins were made and who or what was on an Australian coin? A visit to the Royal Australian Mint will answer just about every question there is! You can see coins being made in a production factory and kids will love minting their own $1 coin. As well as housing a collection of national coins, (the Australian Mint keeps two of everything it makes) there are also exhibits of rare and historically significant coins. Kids and adults alike will also enjoy the exhibit of rare mistakes – next time you find an odd coin in your pocket, it might be worth checking to see if it’s worth a few thousand dollars!
New Parliament House Home to the Australian Government, a visit to Canberra isn’t complete unless you visit New Parliament House. Here you can actually see democracy in progress by viewing proceedings from the public galleries of both the House of Representatives and the Senate whenever the Houses are in session.
The building itself is an impressive sight, and once inside (you will need to enter via a security screen) you can either walk through the public areas on your own or take a guided tour and view historic documents such as the Magna Carta. Also of interest is The Parliament House Art Collection which consists of several thousand art and craft works, including one of the world’s largest tapestries hanging in the Great Hall.
National Museum of Australia The galleries at the National Museum of Australia have a lot to offer to keep the kids entertained as well as teaching them about Australia’s social history. Kids will love learning about some of Australia’s unique animals as well as seeing the Wiggles t-shirts and the Playschool flower clock. They can even audition as a volunteer announcer at the Goolarri interactive radio recording studio.
Throughout the holidays, the museum has special children-orientated programs where they can have fun participating in, themed art, craft and other activities.
National Capital Exhibition This exhibition is a fascinating insight behind Canberra’s development. It explains just about everything and everybody who contributed to it: the people, events, history and design.
There’s a scale model with the Canberra Sound and Light show and you can also learn about the Indigenous people of the Canberra area.
Australian Institute of Sport (AIS) What child wouldn’t get inspired when they see where Australia’s sporting champions live and train? A visit to the AIS will give your children some insight into how hard Australia’s top athletes train to be the best. The behind-the-scenes tour is guided by an elite athlete, so there’s plenty of opportunity to ask questions and to learn what it’s like to being at the top.
The tour takes you through the world-class sporting precinct, and you may see some of Australia’s top athletes in training. There is also Sportex, an interactive sports experience, where you can give a whole range of sports a go, including rock climbing, football penalty shoot-outs, and winter sports.
Carla C. Burton is a self-employed Travel and Hospitality writer with a BBA in Business Administration from Bond University. Although a Gold Coast native, Carla moved to Melbourne in 2008 to further her writing career in the Travel industry. Carla has become a top contributor to many Travel blogs world-wide and thoroughly enjoys the freedom that self-employment has provided her. To find out more about Carla or to follow her other posts, follow her on Twitter @CarlaCBurton.