WIN 4 tickets to Strike Bowling – perfect for the school holidays

Win 4 Free Games of Bowling at Strike Bowling

Thank you to everyone for entering this giveaway. Congratulations to our 3 winners:

A Cleland

N Biviano

S Hinaki-McDade

A great indoor activity for the kids these school holidays is ten pin bowling. No matter what the weather is outside, there is loads of fun awaiting inside.

Strike Bowling Bars in VIC, NSW and QLD offer ten pin bowling alleys, where you and your friends can play a traditional game of ten pin bowling, 7 days a week.

As well as ten pin bowling lanes Strike also have projector screens that play the latest video clips, creating a party atmosphere and keeping you rocking out between turns.

We have 4 games of bowling (to give away to 3 winners) at Strike Bowling so you and the kids can ‘strike’ your stuff these school holidays.

To enter simply tell us your kids favourite indoor activity in the comments below.

Terms & Conditions: Contest open Australia-wide until 9pm AEST Wednesday 25th June 2014, entrants must be aged 18+. 3 winners will be randomly drawn on Thursday 26th June after contest deadline closes. Each winner will win 4 games of bowling at Strike Bowling. We will share the winner’s details on this page, so keep watching. You’ll have 7 days to respond and claim your prize.

Best educational holiday destinations for kids on the Gold Coast

Koala’s at Currumbin Wildlife

The Gold Coast is famous for its golden beaches and fun theme parks.  The Gold Coast also offers plenty of interesting and educational attractions to entertain and captivate your children on holidays.  Even in winter time, the Gold Coast has plenty to offer and there are fewer crowds to battle with.  Days are beautifully warm without being sweltering hot so it’s the perfect time to visit.

Here are a few of the activities you might want to explore during your next Gold Coast getaway.

Sea World is more than just a theme park.  It is a marine animal sanctuary.  Children can get up close with king penguins while learning about ecosystems and conservation.  Don’t miss the sharks, manta rays and of course, cheeky and intelligent dolphins.

In the hinterland behind the Gold Coast is a rock feature carved into the side of a rockpool known as Natural Bridge.  Located in Springbrook National Park, the rock has been worn into a natural arch that has become home to thousands of glow worms.  Hike down there in the early evening for a close encounter.

Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary is a perennial family favourite on the Gold Coast.  Kids can visit the wildlife hospital, learn about endangered species and cuddle a koala.  The highlight of any trip to Currumbin is feeding the wild lorikeets by hand.  These friendly birds will nestle on your hands, arms, even your hair.

Brisbane is a only a 1 hour drive from the Gold Coast, making a day trip to the Queensland Maritime Museum in the heart of South Bank a perfect family day out.  Kids can take a voyage through Australia’s seafaring history, learning about shipwrecks, mutiny and diving for pearls and explore the Diamantia, a Royal Australian Naval frigate used in the Second World War.

Build-A-Bear

Ripley’s Believe It or Not in the heart of Surfer’s Paradise is a great way to spend a wet afternoon.  Brain teasers and mind benders will entertain adults as well as kids.  The science of levitating frogs and the surprising amount of static electricity in your t-shirt will all be revealed.

Keep an eye out for one the Build a Bear Workshops taking place on the Gold Coast. Children of all ages can learn how to create their own plush toy and enjoy the interactive experience of designing and dressing it themselves.

In the heart of the hinterland is a skywalk high above the rainforest.  The Tamborine Rainforest Walk is an eco-adventure exploring rainforest habitat and breathtaking scenery.  It includes the Rainforest Eco Gallery containing fun and educational displays of local flora and fauna for the budding conservationist.

Tamborine Rainforest Walk

Connect kids to the source of their food at Tropical Fruit World.  This is Australia’s largest plantation orchard farm and research park, just 10 minutes south of the Gold Coast in northern New South Wales.  There are daily Magic Garden shows letting children touch, taste and learn about a kaleidoscope of tropical fruits and take a Plantation Tour to see how avocados grow and learn to crack open a macadamia.

Conclusions
As you can see, there are so many wonderful and interesting attractions you will never be short of fun and educational ways to entertain the whole family.  It is worth planning ahead to make the most of your time on the Gold Coast. There are also many accommodation options to help you enjoy your stay so it is worth looking for a holiday house deal on the Gold Coast for you and your family.  The money you save will leave you more to enjoy these great family attractions!

Been to the Gold Coast? What was your favourite family activity? I’d love to find out.

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.

Taking family time out in Newcastle and still educating the kids

As far as successful family holidays go, the beautiful beachside town of Newcastle has to be one of Australia’s best kept secrets.  Easy to get to and situated close to both Lake Macquarie the Hunter Valley, and only a few hours from Sydney, this tranquil city is surrounded by natural beauty, world class beaches and packed with things to do including museums, dining, shopping and sight-seeing.

Better still, being Australia’s second oldest city, Newcastle is steeped in colonial history with plenty of attractions to educate and entertain the kids while you are away!

Fort Scratchley

•    Start with Fort Scratchley Historic Site, an imposing structure standing guard over Hunter River Estuary; it affords stunning views of the city and coastline.  Built over 200 years ago to guard the coastline from attack, kids can learn about Australia’s colourful military past on a fully guided tour of the site and underground tunnels.
•   Then head to the Convict Lumberyard, a historically significant site for convict workers and industry.  The site also contains archaeological evidence of indigenous life prior to 1804.
•    Get back to nature at the Hunter Wetlands Centre, a sanctuary for over 200 species of wildlife with activities including trail walking, canoeing, feed talks and a children’s discovery playground, there is plenty of fresh air and space for the kids to run around.
•    In the heart of town you will find a heritage listed police station converted into a museum and art space at the Lock-Up Cultural Centre.  The kids will love visiting cells occupied by some of Australia’s most notorious bank robbers.  With tours starting at $3 per head, it’s a steal.

Blackbutt Reserve

•    Also check out Newcastle Museum.  They have activities and exhibits targeted directly at children, including under-5s.  Check online for the latest events.

•    Pack lunch and head a short 6km out of town to Blackbutt Reserve to relax and unwind.  This vast nature reserve contains walking trails, picnic areas and open spaces.  Perfect for spotting animals.  Kids can also learn about local wildlife and ecosystems at the excellent Blackbutt wildlife exhibit.

Newcastle Ocean Baths

•    For something fun and when it’s time to stretch the legs, take a stroll up to Newcastle’s famous lighthouse to enjoy some spectacular views.  If it’s warm, bring your bathers for family fun at historic Newcastle Ocean Baths and Merewether Baths.  They are open all year round!

To really make your time in Newcastle easy and enjoyable, find centrally located accommodation.  There is plenty of accommodation that will suit your family and budget and the Newcastle Crowne Plaza is a good place to start if you are travelling with kids.  From here you can easily access all of Newcastle’s most interesting activities.  You can also take advantage of the free (yes, free!) inner city bus service to avoid the stress of bundling kids into a car every day.

Newcastle is definitely a surprising holiday destination for keeping the kids busy and entertained, while having some fun and learning.  Newcastle shares all of Sydney’s natural beauty, beaches and historical sites, but at one-tenth the size, it is easier to get around, more relaxing and cheaper – making it the perfect place to spend time with family.  It’s hard to believe that it is still a secret from anyone!  With so many interesting activities to stimulate the senses and blow off some steam – the whole family will be sure to enjoy a memorable holiday.

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.

A Trip to NSW’s Snowy Mountains Might Be Just the Thing for the Kids this Winter

A trip to NSW’s Snowy Mountains might be just the thing for the kids this winter.  Here are five things we think they will love about the Snowies:

Racing downhill really fast

By which we mean, of course, they’ll have a wealth of cool snow-related sports activities to choose from. If they’re a little too young to ski – and if you’re not keen on seeing them speeding down the slopes on a snowboard (just yet) – there’s always the option of tobogganing or tubing.  Perisher’s “Tubetown”, for example, offers a safe, well-organised environment for families to enjoy some fun in the snow.

Of the four main Snowy Mountains Winter Resorts, however, the Selwyn Snowfields actively caters for families. It offers gentler slopes, family-friendly holiday packages, and a Snow Sports School which caters for children as young as 18 months. It’s also the perfect place to start skiing if you’re a parent who’s just as new to it as your kids!

Trekking

If you’re looking for some quality family time away from the hectic pace of the Ski-Resorts, trekking in specially-made “snow-shoes” is a great alternative. They’ll get some fresh air and fitness while discovering the beauty of the snowy wilderness.

You’ll find a variety of guided snow-shoeing family adventures out there and – unlike skiing – they don’t require any previous skill or experience.  And, of course, like most snow-related activities it’s a terrific way to wear them out really quickly!

Getting warm

Spent a big tiring day on the slopes? Well, the Snowy Mountains offers plenty of accommodation to rest weary legs. And there’s nothing better than coming in from the cold and kicking back in front of an open log fire or enjoying a hearty meal.

If the big resorts don’t take your fancy then you might choose to rent out a self-contained holiday house, cottage or cabin for an unforgettable family holiday experience. Your options are easily accessed on-line – those looking for accommodation with access to the Selwyn Snowfields, for example, should visit the Snowy Mountains Holiday Centre.

Learning

Okay, in theory “education” is probably not the way to get the kids excited about their holiday – but in practice there’s plenty of scope for fun in the Snowies where they’ll be able to learn stuff.

Aside from gaining confidence and skills on the snow-fields through the various ski-schools on offer, you will also be able to check out one of the great engineering marvels of the world – the Snowy Hydro-Electric Scheme. They’ll find the scale of it (seven power stations, two of which are underground, 16 major dams and over 140 kilometres of trans-mountain tunnels) really cool – and the stories behind this incredible exercise in national building very inspiring. Check out the Snowy Hydro Discovery Centre in Cooma for a state-of-the-art learning experience.

Adventure

You can promise them ADVENTURE to be had in the Snowies – and plenty of it.  Of course, strapping on the skis for the first time and taking off down the slopes is an obvious way to get the ol’ adrenaline charged, but there’s an ample amount of other cool stuff on offer. From riding horses to riding segways, cross-country skiing through a pristine snowy world, or just taking off on a chairlift up the side of a mountain – there are loads of mind-blowingly new experiences to give them. Or, if they prefer, they can just play in the snow!

Head over to VisitNSW.com for more great tips on the Snowy Mountains including great tips on what to do and where to stay in Thredbo and Perisher.

WilderQuest Discovery activities offered these school holidays by NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service

Want to get your kids off the couch these school holidays but having trouble getting them motivated? With today’s influx of video games, countless apps and i-devices, it sometimes seems impossible to get kids to draw their eyes away from the computer and get outside.

Aimed at kids between the ages of five and eight, WilderQuest has a range of fun filled Discovery activities on offer these School Holidays sure to get kids moving and outside this summer.

WilderQuest encourages kids to be active and enjoy their own backyard, local park or national park and inspires them to learn through play and in-nature experiences.

See below for more info on just a few of the many WilderQuest Discovery activities happening around NSW these school holidays:

– Friday January 4th 2013, Urban WilderQuest Hunt and Gather Event, Royal National Park Visitors Centre – Thursday 17th January 2013, Urban WilderQuest Hunt and Gather Event, Kamay Botany Bay Visitors Centre At these Hunt and Gather events the lucky participants will take the journey with Aboriginal Discovery Rangers and learn some of the secrets of tribal life as well as getting the chance to investigate and discover what animals and plants live there through lots of fun hands-on and informative activities.

– Tuesday 8th and Tuesday 22nd January 2013, Coastal WQI Investigation, Bonnie Vale Picnic area Another exciting WilderQuest Discovery activity on offer these school holidays sure to get the beach goers excited. This adventure allows kids and their families to explore the weedy shore environment and the creatures that inhabit it. Explorers will explain how these creatures truly live “on the edge” between two different worlds and why the sandy shore is not an easy place to survive.

The WilderQuest website is live now and the app for the iPad is available for free downloads from the App Store. For more information on the WilderQuest website and the Discovery activities on offer these school holidays please refer to the site: http://www.nationalparks.nsw.gov.au/wilderquest

Submitted by Corinne Cowlishaw of Starr Public Relations

Geocaching – treasure hunting with a technological twist!

Geocaching

Every kid loves a treasure hunt! Geocaching is treasure hunting with a technological twist. With the help of a GPS receiver or mobile device, you and your family can hunt for and find treasures, called geocaches, anywhere in the world. This can be a weekend activity in your local area or a continual activity during a holiday anywhere in the world.

Geocache locations are recorded online with their specific global coordinates so that others can find them. There are over 1,532,000 geocaches in the world in over 100 different countries, and so there are certainly several near you!

A geocache is a waterproof container that holds a logbook where geocachers enter their codename and date they found the geocache. They also contain some kind of small “treasure” such as a toy, ornamental object, unusual coin, CD, or book. There are also treasures that can be tracked online as they travel from place to place, such as Travel Bugs or Geocoins. A treasure may even have a specific goal, such as to be placed in a certain cache far away, or to go to a certain country. (Or course, dangerous or offensive items such as weapons and pornography are not allowed to be used as geocaches.) Treasures are usually meant to be taken and replaced with a treasure of your own.

Some geocaches can be complicated to find because they are in hard-to-reach places, such as on the top of a mountain or underwater. Other caches require you to solve a puzzle in order to find their location. Other caches are “virtual,” meaning that they do not contain the traditional box, but another object of interest that you must take a picture with and email back to the cache hider.

This is a fun travel activity for the family that always provides new surprises! Best of all, it’s free to register if you already have a mobile device. For more information, check out the geocaching website at www.geocaching.com.

This post was written by Jan Pierce, a 4th grade teacher who has over 20 years of experience in the classroom. Her interests include educational technology and online learning. She also owns the site Elementary Education Degree for students interested in earning a degree in elementary education.

Seek adventure in Newcastle for the kids this winter

Aerial view of Newcastle

From spooky, after-dark ghost tours and spotlight searches for nocturnal creatures, to biking adventures, break-dancing classes and circus skills, Newcastle offers plenty of options for keeping kids entertained this winter.

Jump, scream and shriek past some of Newcastle’s most historic (and possibly haunted!) buildings on an after-dark adventure with Newcastle Ghost Tours. Weave through old Gaol Hill, the Lock Up Cultural Centre (originally the city’s police station) and the old Cathedral Cemetery, while the tour guide retells spooky paranormal stories of Newcastle’s fascinating past. Tours run Friday nights throughout winter, priced from $35 per person.  For more information or to book, contact Newcastle Ghost Tours on 0411 357 519.

Just outside Newcastle’s CBD is Blackbutt Reserve, featuring more than 180 hectares of nature trails, wildlife exhibits and great picnic spots. Get up-close and personal with koalas, wombats, pythons and blue tongue lizards with daily Animal Encounters. Alternatively, take a guided spotlight tour, complete with billy tea and damper by the campfire, run Saturday nights in winter. During the school holidays, kids can become a Junior Ranger. The program includes games, craft, hands-on activities, an educational talk, take-home showbag and Junior Ranger certificate. For more information or to book, contact Blackbutt Reserve on 02 4904 3344.

Kids looking for fun will be spoilt for choice at The Loft these school holidays, with the youth arts and cultural centre running a jam-packed schedule of fun workshops and activities between Monday July 4 and Saturday July 16. Experiences will include a Survivor Day challenge, indoor Olympics, break-dancing classes and circus lessons, plus off-site adventures such as go karting, ten pin bowling, fire twirling, horse riding and laser tag. Activities are available for kids aged 12-25. For more information or to book, contact The Loft on 02 4974 2092.

Explore the coastline on a scenic bike ride past some of Australia’s best beaches. Starting at Merewether Beach, follow the coastal path around the country’s oldest ocean baths, past Nobbys Beach and along the foreshore of Newcastle’s famed harbour. Civic Bikes provides a range of bikes for hire, with hourly rates starting from $12 for adults and $8 for kids. For more information or to book, contact Civic Bikes on 02 4927 6277.

Voted one of the top 10 cities in the world by Lonely Planet’s Best in Travel 2011, Newcastle is a lively coastal city made up of beautiful beaches, a working harbour fringed by cosmopolitan cafes, bars and restaurants, a diverse arts culture, boutique shopping, heritage buildings, grassy parklands and National Parks – all without the capital city crowds and just two hours’ drive (or 30 minutes flight) north from Sydney.

For more information on accommodation, events and activities taking place in Newcastle, head to www.visitnewcastle.com.au. Bookings for some events and activities are essential.

Mt Baw Baw Alpine Resort – Little Mountain, Big Family Value

Husky Rides

Mt Baw Baw Alpine Resort – the season starts 11 June

From 11 to 13 June, get the family up the mountain for the first weekend of the snow season. It will be jam packed with activities including tobogganing, snow shoeing, marshmallow toasting, hot chocolate, kids giant games and our very own Baw Baw’s Got Talent.

Don’t forget to get your photo taken with Frosti the Frog, Baw Baw’s evergreen mascot!!

Mt Baw Baw, is known for having the cheapest Lift Tickets in Victoria  – a family of four being able to drive right up to the slopes and ski for under  $200 midweek!   Visiting the snow does not have to break the family budget with Value Packages offered to help with purse strings.

Only 2 ½ hours from Melbourne it’s the best family destination this winter!   This quaint Alpine Village offers loads of snow fun –it offers sightseeing, tobogganing, ski and snowboarding, Husky Dog Sled Rides, Snowshoeing, Kids Club Activities and some of the best Family Value Accommodation available at the snow. Mt Baw Baw is most certainly a Little Mountain, jammed packed with Big Value this 2011 Snow Season.

Visit Mt Baw Baw, anytime and discover the hills are alive, all year round!

Mt Baw Baw big air bag and Freestyle Boarder

Mt Baw Baw provides families hours of active entertainment that will ensure a fulfilled day!  In addition to the ski slopes there are 10km of cross country skiing tracks and lots of different terrain parks to practice Freestyle Skiing including The Big Air Bag (a 15m air cushion), for older kids to practice their freestyle and aerial jumps!

Get Mushing with Husky Rides all winter season whisking families around the spectacular scenery of Mt Baw Baw by their own team of huskies.

Free Burton Learn to Ride Clinic on Wednesday 13 July where you get expert tuition and try Snowboarding for free. Includes free equipment hire and is ideal for beginners aged 6 years and over.

For those after a relaxing end to the day, or simply wishing to pamper themselves while the rest of the family get active, there is the Wellbeing centre with its outdoor Rock Spa Pool, Sauna, gym and Massage.  Lie back in the Rock Spa Pool and watch the world go by as you sip a glass of Champagne. Follow that with fine dining at the a la carte Village Central Restaurant, which is the perfect place to sit and enjoy the Mt Baw Baw Mountain to Sea vista.

Baw Baw Mountain

There are lots of things to do at Mount Baw Baw – it’s not every day you get the chance to leaving the CBD after breakfast and be doing snowboarding tricks, in a huskie driven sleigh or just taking in the breathtaking views from Mt Baw Baw before lunch.

For all Information on what Mt Baw Baw can offer you, call our Guest Services team on 03 5165 1136 or visit mountbawbaw.com.au.

Mt Baw Baw strongly advise you call ahead to book a Massage and check operating times of all activities. All outdoor activities are always subject to the elements. Ski rates include Lift Ticket & Gate Entry and do not include Ski Hire or Lessons.

Go Play – hundreds of NSW school holiday activities online

Go Play

Go Play is an online school holiday calendar featuring art, culture, sport and recreational activities for kids of all ages. It brings together in one convenient location a wide range of affordable and free school holiday activities and ideas coordinated by the NSW Government.

Go Play lists activities all over the state, with most events in Sydney and surrounds. This autumn, kids can try drumming at the Powerhouse Discovery Centre, cartooning at the State Library or bike riding at Sydney Olympic Park.

The site lets you search by age, type of activity or cost. You’ll find family-friendly information about cafes, baby change tables, disabled and pram access. The Go Play map also shows you what’s on nearby.

Visit www.goplay.nsw.gov.au for more information.

Kids School Holiday Activities in Newcastle

Join the Circus with Circus Avalon

Newcastle has some fantastic Kids School Holiday Activities this Easter, activities your kids will love! They can make their own machines, take part in a spectacular performing arts show or join the circus! See below for more details.

Tuesday 12 April

Exciting Experiments and Science with Fizzics Educations
Market Square, Newcastle

Ooh and ahh at the wonders of science as you make your own machines and participate in the fantastic Flight Show and much more, experiencing science the way it is meant to be explored. Parents and carers are welcome to come along at 4:15pm to see their child’s achievements. For more information visit www.visitnewcastle.com.au

Time: 8:30am- 5:30pm
Venue: Market Square, Suite 40 Hunter St Outlets, Newcastle Mall.
Cost: $45 per child. Bookings essential
Ph: 4925 3968

Wednesday 13 April

Glee Club
Express your talent and p[assion for the performing arts in this one day Glee Club. We incorporate song, dance and drama to bring together a spectacular show at 4:15pm for parents and carers to see your true talent shine through. For more information visit www.visitnewcastle.com.au

Time: 8:30am- 5:30pm
Venue: Market Square, Suite 40 Hunter St Outlets, Newcastle Mall.
Cost: $45 per child. Bookings essential
Ph: 4925 3968

Thursday 14 April

Join the Circus with Circus Avalon
Roll up Roll up the Circus is in town! Learn amazing new skills- juggle, spin plates and try acrobatic tricks as you make new friends. Amaze your parents with a live performance at 4:15pm showing off your new found skills.  For more information visit www.visitnewcastle.com.au

Time: 8:30am- 5:30pm
Venue: Market Square, Suite 40 Hunter St Outlets, Newcastle Mall.
Cost: $45 per child. Bookings essential
Ph: 4925 3968