The best kid-friendly things to do in Canberra Australia

By Stephanie Yeo   — January 24, 2018
  • Why Canberra?
    1 / 6 Why Canberra?

    The Australian capital probably isn’t on your travel radar, but it should be.

    During a whirlwind two-night trip there, I had the chance to see why Lonely Planet named it the third hottest destination to visit in 2018, after Seville in Spain and Detroit in the US.

    Kids will love Canberra’s wide, open spaces and fresh air – literally, as it’s the third cleanest city in the world according to the World Health Organization – and there’s plenty of child-centric activities to make it an unforgettable holiday. These attractions impressed me most:

    Related: Watch our video of Canberra’s must-visit attractions

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  • National Arboretum Canberra
    2 / 6 National Arboretum Canberra

    Don’t leave Canberra without taking the kids to visit the delightful Pod Playground here (pictured above), which has tree-themed cubbies. Older kids will love the climbing nets, rope tunnels and tube slides, but there’s a lovely toddler-friendly area with sand play, slides, swings and more as well.

    While you’re here, take time to explore the expansive space of the arboretum, which was created in the wake of devastating bush res in 2003 that came dangerously close to Canberra.

    Its 94 forests of trees are a peaceful haven that you can explore – y a kite or pack a picnic lunch and let the kids cut loose while you admire the scenic views. Admission is free and there is a cafe.

    Visit www.nationalarboretum.act.gov.au

    Related: These Singapore kids have been travelling around the world since they were babies

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  • Questacon – The National Science and Technology Centre
    3 / 6 Questacon – The National Science and Technology Centre

    If your kids like the Singapore Science Centre’s Kidsstop section, they’ll absolutely love the 200-plus interactive exhibits at Questacon, which makes science fun and accessible.

    Its Mini Q gallery is a wonderland for tots and preschoolers up to age six, with everything from water play to sensory spaces, space play and role-play sections.

    You could easily spend half a day at this section alone, but take note that it’s

    ticketed during Australian school holidays. Family tickets cost AUD$70 (S$73) for two adults and three children. Kids under four enter for free.

    Visit www.questacon.edu.au

    Related: Travelling with kids: 4 safety tips every parent must follow

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  • National Zoo & Aquarium
    4 / 6 National Zoo & Aquarium

    This private zoo offers several tours that get you up-close and personal with its animals – safely, of course. While some may baulk at the thought of wild animals being treated like pets, I didn’t get that feeling during my Zoo Venture Tour (ages 12 and up).

    I fed a bear and tiger, patted dingoes and a white rhino, and let a snake wrap itself around my shoulders (the giraffes didn’t feel like being fed that day). And I left with a deep respect for how much these wild creatures need to be conserved for my children and grandchildren.

    There’s a Family Tour for ages four and up, which runs from Thursdays to Sundays; prices start from AUD$85 per person.

    The zoo also houses Jamala Wildlife Lodge, which has luxury suites set within the zoo. Feed a giraffe from the balcony of a Giraffe Treehouse, and wave at a lion or cheetah from a Jungle Bungalow, where all that separates you is a glass wall (age restrictions apply).

    Rates for early March start from AUD$1,125 per room per night, which includes afternoon and morning safaris, dinner, pre-dinner drinks and breakfast. Kids must be at least six years old, but the Lodge has Family Nights once a month, where
    it allows children aged four and up to stay.

    VISIT www.nationalzoo.com.au

    Related: 6 travel health mistakes that could ruin your family holiday

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  • Cockington Green Gardens
    5 / 6 Cockington Green Gardens

    I chuckled at the kitsch factor of visiting miniature buildings with tiny people, but there’s an old world charm to Cockington Green Gardens that grows on you.

    This family-owned attraction started in 1979 with 1:12 replicas of buildings in Great Britain, and now includes buildings from all over the world as well, all set in a lush garden setting that changes with the seasons. Part of the fun is looking out for the figurines placed in humorous situations.

    A ride in the miniature steam train is a must – you see the Gardens from an elevated perspective as the train loops around. Entry is AUD$19.50 for adults and $11.50 for kids aged four to 16, but take advantage of the value packs it offers, which bundle train rides and other discounts.

    VISIT www.cockingtongreen.com.au

    Related: 11 new theme parks and rides your kids will love 

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  • Modern and convenient
    6 / 6 Modern and convenient

    Canberra is a planned city and many of its attractions are a short drive away. Hire a car for convenience.

    Eat and shop
    Canberra turned out to be more exciting than I had imaged, with trendy restaurants at the Kingston Foreshore and Lonsdale Street, and a modern mall, Canberra Centre, which has over 260 shops.

    Have a bite at the Insta-worthy Pollen Cafe at the Australian National Botanic Gardens and then go for a stroll in the beautiful Gardens – I saw a wallaby while walking off my lunch; kangaroos are a common sight, too.

    The popular Frugii Dessert Laboratory in hipster Lonsdale Street churns out deliciously exotic ice cream flavours, including Tim Tam and peanut butter and bacon. It’s tucked inside a nondescript building, but there’s almost always a queue.

    If you prefer a centrally located hotel, Avenue Hotel has modern, comfortable one- and two-bedroom apartments with a kitchen and living room.

    For more information on Canberra, go to VisitCanberra.

    How to get there

    Singapore Airlines flies direct to Canberra four times a week – daily from May 2018 – so getting there is fuss-free. Alternatively, you can take a scenic three-hour drive down from Sydney to spend a few days in Canberra.

    (Photos: VisitCanberra)

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