Adventure, baby!

Christine Knight

Christine is the editor of Adventure, Baby! She loves cake, her tolerant husband and her busy preschooler.

The Best Things To Do In Canberra With Kids

Canberra Australia With Kids

Australia’s capital city is pretty much a playground for kids to engage in art, history and nature. You won’t be short on ways to spend a fun (and educational!) few days in Canberra with kids.

Things To Do In Canberra With Kids

National Gallery Australia, Canberra, ACT

National Gallery of Australia
The National Gallery of Australia (NGA) is the national art museum of Australia and is home to than 166,000 works of art, including over 7500 works by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders. We particularly enjoyed the Impressionist and Post-Impressionist works including a lovely Waterlillies by Claude Monet and one of Degas’ exquisite sculptures of a dancer, and the Ned Kelly series by Sidney Nolan.

National Gallery Australia, Canberra, ACT

Outside, in the grounds surrounding the NGA, are 26 sculptures on display by both Australian and International artists. It’s an extremely pleasurable experience to walk through the bush discovering these incredible works of art, and also a very easy way to introduce kids to art if you’re a bit nervous of taking them inside a gallery with their sticky hands.

National Gallery Australia, Canberra, ACT

The NGA often has dedicated sections for children to engage in the arts. Check their website closer to your visit to see what they are currently offering.

Get more info HERE.

National Gallery Australia
Parkes Pl E, Parkes
Hours: Daily, 10am-5pm (closed Christmas Day)
Prices: Free
nga.gov.au
Parking: Free underneath the gallery on weekends.

Questacon, Canberra, Australia
Questacon National Science and Technology Centre

Questacon has been THE place to take kids to learn about science since I was a kid myself and it’s amazing how over the years it’s changed but kept the same wonderful focus on engaging kids in science and technology.

Questacon, Canberra, Australia

Questacon is filled with more than 200 interactive exhibits relating to science and technology. There’s plenty of hands-on fun to be had, from robots to slides, simulated earthquakes and science experiments.

Get more info HERE.

Questacon
King Edward Terrace, Parkes ACT
Hours: Daily 9am – 5pm including holidays. Closed 25 December.
Prices: Adult $23.00, Concession $17.50, Child (4 – 16 years) $17.50, Child (Under 4 years) Free, Family (2 Adults + 3 Children) $70.00 ($8.00 for each additional child)
questacon.edu.au

Parliament House, Canberra, ACT, Australia

Parliament House
Parliament House is the meeting place of the Parliament of Australia. The building was opened on 9 May 1988 by Elizabeth II, Queen of Australia. The distinctive grass ramps on the sides recreate the shape of Capital Hill before Parliament House was constructed. They’re a lot of fun to run up and roll back down again!

Parliament House, Canberra, ACT, Australia

Of the 4,700 rooms in Parliament House, many are are open to the public. It’s incredibly easy to just turn up at any time and visit Parliament House – no booking or tours are required. There is a short queue to get through a brief security check, and then you’re on your own to discover the house. Be sure to take the elevator to the roof for an incredible view.

Get more info HERE.

Parliament House
Parliament Drive, Canberra
Hours: Parliament House is open every day except Christmas Day.
Non-sitting days 9am-5pm, sitting days Monday-Thursday 9am-6pm
Prices: Free
aph.gov.au/Visit_Parliament

National Aboretum Canberra, ACT, Australia

National Arboretum Canberra
The National Arboretum Canberra is one of the world’s largest living collections of rare, endangered and significant trees. With over 44,000 trees from over 100 countries are growing across the huge 250 hectare (618 acre) site, it’s a place to visit to to feel at one with nature and enjoy discovering trees from around Australia and the world.

National Aboretum Canberra, ACT, Australia

Its easy to drive into the Aboretum and up to the visitor’s centre where there is a cafe, incredible Pod Playground (more on that on that HERE) and maps to the various sections and sculptures. You can walk around the Aboretum, from feature to feature, if you have the time and legs that enjoy walking. If you have a little one in tow you will find driving between the significant features much easier and quicker. Make sure to visit the ‘Nest III’ and ‘Wide Brown Land’ sculptures before you leave.

Get more info HERE.

National Aboretum Canberra
Forest Dr, Canberra City
Hours: The Arboretum grounds and Pod Playground are open daily from 6am to 8:30pm during Daylight Savings Time and from 7am to 5:30pm during Eastern Standard Time (Non-daylight Savings Time).
Prices: Free entry
nationalarboretum.act.gov.au

Old Parliament House, Canberra, ACT, Australia

Old Parliament House
A visit to Canberra is a journey through our nation’s past. It’s impossible to visit Australia’s Capital City without recognising where we’ve come from and, also, where we’re going. An important place to make a stop to learn about our past is Old Parliament House, the seat of the Parliament of Australia from 1927 to 1988.

Old Parliament House, Canberra, ACT, Australia

The Museum of Australian Democracy at Old Parliament House has incredible programs for families all-year round as they are is committed to engaging families and young people in conversations about democracy and their voices in it. From free Family Action Packs to the PLAY UP and DRESS UP sections designed specifically for kids, there is plenty to engage little ones at the House.

Old Parliament House, Canberra, ACT, Australia

We particularly loved the outdoor rose gardens, which are free to visit and a beautiful spot to scoot through or have a picnic.

Get more info HERE.

Old Parliament House
18 King George Terrace, Parkes
Hours: Daily 9am-5pm (closed Christmas Day)
Prices: $2 adults, $1 children (free for children under 5 years old) and concessions, $5 family
The Old Parliament House Gardens are open to the public year round: Summer hours (during daylight savings): 7am to 8pm, Winter hours: 7am to 5pm. Entry to the gardens is free.
https://moadoph.gov.au/

Australian War Memorial, Canberra, ACT

Australian War Memorial
The Australian War Memorial is Australia’s national memorial to the members of its armed forces and supporting organisations who have died or participated in wars involving Australia.

Australian War Memorial
Kids Story Time, Hands on History and Craft Public Programs, 7/10/2016

The Memorial caters to children, aiming to educate and engage them in history through story time, museum theatre shows, family tours, holiday workshops and drop in craft. A Discovery Zone has been set up as an educational space for visiting school groups (and the public on certain days and times), featuring five environments inspired by Australia’s military history.

Get more info HERE.

The Australian War Memorial
Treloar Cres, Campbell
Hours: Daily 10am-5pm daily. Closed Christmas Day.
Prices: Free
https://www.awm.gov.au
Additional image courtesy of the Australian War Memorial.

Lake Burley Griffin, Canberra, ACT, Australia

Lake Burley Griffin
This ornamental lake was built in the centre of Canberra and is the perfect spot to scoot or ride a bike around, stop for a picnic and meet the wild swans and ducks. In autumn the leaves around the lake are stunning.

Australian Institute of Sport
Photo courtesy of http://havewheelchairwilltravel.net

Australian Institute of Sport
A guided tour is the only way to go behind the scenes at Australia’s premier elite sports precinct. As well as getting an overview of what goes on at the Australian Institute of Sport (and possibly seeing some of Australia’s top athletes in training), all tours include a visit to Sportex, an interactive sports exhibit. Guided public tours depart daily from the AIS Visitor Centre at 10am, 11:30, 1pm and 2:30pm and go for 90 minutes. Bookings are not required.

Australian Institute of Sport

Leverrier Street, Bruce
Hours: Tours Desk is open Monday to Friday: 8:30am-5:00pm, Weekends and public holidays 10am-4pm.
Prices: Adults $19.50, Children (5 – 17 years) $11.50, Student/Seniors $14.50, Family (2 adults and up to 3 children) $55.
http://www.experienceais.com/

Cockington Green Gardens
Photo courtesy of http://havewheelchairwilltravel.net

Cockington Green Gardens
Cockington Green Gardens is a park of miniatures set in beautifully landscaped gardens. This family-owned and operated attraction has been running for over the past 35 years. Take a look at the highly detailed miniature versions of popular attractions around the world on a stroll through these delightful gardens.

Cockington Green Gardens

11 Gold Creek Rd, Nicholls
Hours: Daily 9:30am-5pm
Prices: Adults $19.50, Seniors $14.50, Children (4-16 years) $11.50, Family $56 (2 adults & up to 3 children) Extra children with family $5,
Miniature Steam Train Rides $3
cockingtongreen.com.au

3inFun Canberra Pass
If you’re planning to visit Cockington Green Gardens, Questacon and the Australian Institute of Sport, the 3inFun Canberra Pass offers a saving of 25% on the usual price plus a free return visit to one of the participating attractions.
http://www.3infun.com.au

Places To Eat in Canberra

Patissez, Canberra, ACT, Australia

Pâtissez
Home of the freak shake as well as delicious food, we highly recommend visiting one of Pâtissez two locations for brekkie and a shake.
http://www.patissez.com.au

East Hotel Canberra + Agostinis Restaurant Australia

Agostini’s
We discovered this new gem at the base of the East Hotel and loved it so much we ate there twice. An absolutely delicious family-friendly Italian restaurant.
6/4 Giles St, Griffith
http://www.agostinis.com.au

How To Get Around

I would advise driving in Canberra if you can either drive to the city in your own car, or hire one when you arrive. The attractions are far apart and the hotels are not within walking distance. If you don’t drive, there is a local bus service you can use. For more info: http://www.transport.act.gov.au

Where To Stay in Canberra

East Hotel Canberra + Agostinis Restaurant Australia

East Hotel
This boutique hotel is 2.3 km from Parliament House and 2.9 km from the National Gallery of Australia. The East Hotel is vibrant, contemporary, and very artsy, offering free bicycle rentals and dishing out lollies in reception.

East Hotel Canberra + Agostinis Restaurant Australia

A big draw of the East Hotel, beyond the contemporary aesthetic, are the bright rooms that feature either kitchens or kitchenettes, balconies, free limited Wi-Fi and Nespresso machines. There are one and two-bedroom apartments that have full kitchens, and fantastic rooms for kids with bunk beds, bean bags and Xbox 360 video game consoles.

Get more info HERE.

East Hotel
69 Canberra Ave, Kingston ACT
Book your stay at the East Hotel

Novotel Canberra, ACT Australia

Novotel Canberra
The Novotel Canberra is a 4 ½ star hotel with 286 rooms. It’s located 0.2km from the city centre, entertainment and retail precincts and 8km from the airport, making it a very central base for a Canberra stay.

Novotel Canberra, ACT Australia

Bring your swimmers to make the most out of their newly renovated indoor swimming pool. Kids will love the play space in the lobby and the awesome Angry Birds welcome pack.

Get more info HERE.

Novotel Canberra
65 Northbourne Ave, Canberra
Book your stay at the Novotel Canberra

This post contains affiliate links, which means I will receive a small commission if you book using my links. It will not cost you any extra. Thanks for supporting Adventure, baby!

Christine Knight
Christine is the editor of Adventure, Baby! She loves cake, her tolerant husband and her busy preschooler.

Canberra Travel Guide: Australian War Memorial

Australian War Memorial, Canberra, ACT

A must-visit in Canberra, the Australian War Memorial is Australia’s national memorial to the members of its armed forces and supporting organisations who have died or participated in wars involving Australia.

It’s a sobering visit that requires attention and time, and I would advise leaving aside the majority of a day to adequately explore its shrine, museum and garden.

Australian War Memorial, Canberra, ACT

The Memorial’s purpose is to commemorate the sacrifice of those Australians who have died in war and to help visitors interpret and understand the Australian experience of war and its enduring impact on Australian society.

Australian War Memorial, Canberra, ACT

Covered in detail are Colonial Conflicts, the First World War, the Second World War and
Conflicts 1945 to today, with halls dedicated to the Anzacs, aircraft and valour (distinguished service people). The stories are told through dioramas, artefacts, photographs and videos. It’s a confronting, emotional experience to walk through the halls and learn about the sacrifices made for future generations to live in peace.

Australian War Memorial, Canberra, ACT

The Hall of Memory, set above the Pool of Reflection, is the heart of the Australian War Memorial. The walls surrounding the pool is the Cloisters, where the walls have been created as a Roll of Honour, inscribed with the names of 102,000 people who have given their lives in the service of this country. Inside hall lies the Tomb of the Unknown Australian Soldier, a place to stand still and contemplate all that’s past in the hopes of future peace.

Australian War Memorial, Canberra, ACT

Australian War Memorial, Canberra, ACT

For a place of quiet contemplation, I suggest visiting The Memorial Sculpture Garden, located to the west of the main building.

Australian War Memorial, Canberra, ACT

I would suggest timing your visit to co-incide with the closing of the Memorial to witness the beautiful farewell ceremony that is carried out daily. At the end of each day, at 4:55pm AEST, the Memorial farewells visitors with its moving Last Post Ceremony.

Australian War Memorial, Canberra, ACT

The ceremony begins with the singing of the Australian National Anthem, followed by the poignant strains of a lament, played by a piper. At each ceremony the story behind one of the names etched on the Roll of Honour is told. The Ode is then recited, and the ceremony ends with the sounding of the Last Post. It is an incredibly moving experience.

Australian War Memorial, Canberra, ACT Australian War Memorial, Canberra, ACT

Visiting the Australian War Memorial with Kids

The Memorial caters to children, aiming to educate and engage them in history through story time, museum theatre shows, family tours, holiday workshops and drop in craft. A Discovery Zone has been set up as an educational space for visiting school groups, featuring five environments inspired by Australia’s military history: a trench on the Western Front in France from the First World War, the Australian home front during the Second World War,
an Iroquois helicopter hovering in a field in Vietnam, an Oberon Class submarine, searching for enemy targets and a peacekeeping mission in a war-ravaged community.

Australian War Memorial
Kids Story Time, Hands on History and Craft Public Programs, 7/10/2016

Children can climb, jump, crawl, touch and explore in all areas of the Discovery Zone. It’s open to the public from 12.30pm to 1.30pm on weekdays and all day during weekends, public holidays and ACT school holidays.

Australian War Memorial, Canberra, ACT

The Australian War Memorial
Treloar Cres, Campbell
Hours: Daily 10am-5pm daily. Closed Christmas Day.
Prices: Free
https://www.awm.gov.au
Additional image courtesy of the Australian War Memorial.

Christine Knight
Christine is the editor of Adventure, Baby! She loves cake, her tolerant husband and her busy preschooler.

12 Tips For Travelling with Kids

12 Tips For Travelling With Kids

When kids come along, it’s an adjustment in many, often unanticipated, ways. If you’re like us, a couple who loves to travel, there’s no reason why you can’t keep journeying around the world with your new sidekick in tow. A bit of planning (ok, a lot of planning), and these helpful tips will help make your next family holiday run smoothly.

Parliament House, Canberra, ACT, Australia

Make lots of lists
Preparation is always the key! A few weeks before a big trip write down a list of everything that you need to buy, pack and prepare for your trip and categorise it according to the timeliness. It should include things like “empty the fridge”, “take out the garbage”, “buy batteries”, “charge cameras”, “put on mail hold” as well as a packing list. Check everything off and leave the house stress-free knowing you haven’t forgotten anything.

Chiang Mai, Thailand

Check visa requirements
Do you need a visa to travel? Contact the consulate of the country you’re planning to visit well in advance. You might need to apply for an ESTA if you’re visiting the United States or an eTA if you’re heading to Canada. Don’t leave it to the last minute to apply. Visas can take months to organise.

Chiang Mai, Thailand

Know your baggage limits
Check your baggage limits for each flight before packing, including the number of bags allowed and weight per bag. We have a portable luggage hand scale (like this one) that we keep in our suitcase to make sure we don’t get hit with excess baggage fees at the airport and always pack a foldable bag inside our luggage to bring home loot we accumulate.

Barcelona: Montserrat Day Trip via christineknight.me

Buy advance tickets to attractions online
Not only are many attractions cheaper if you buy them in advance, it also means you don’t risk spending hours queuing or miss out on seeing something entirely. Many tourist attractions are also cheaper see when you buy a combination city attraction pass that includes many of the top sights in a city. Even if you can’t buy your tickets online, at the very least double check the attraction is open on the day and time you’re planning to visit. For example, many museums are closed on certain week days, like Mondays or Tuesdays.

Barcelona, Spain Get travel vaccinations
Are your vaccinations up to date? Do you need additional vaccinations depending on the countries you’re visiting? Schedule an appointment with your doctor at least two months before your flight dates to get info on any destination-specific vaccines you and the kids might need. Find out more about vaccinations on the Australian Government website smartraveller.gov.au.

Buckingham Palace #London via christineknight.me Buy travel insurance
Absolutely never travel without insurance! Worst case scenarios can absolutely happen and you need to be protected in case of serious illness, accidents and bag loss or theft, plus if your trip is cancelled or postponed. Some policies cover dependent children and grandchildren without charging any extra, so check if your policy offers this benefit and, if so, what the conditions (if any) might be. Lastly, read the Product Disclosure Statement (PDS) carefully to make yourself aware of what is and isn’t covered. Get more info on travel insurance.

Hamelin bay Stingrays, Western Australia Use the hotel concierge
Your hotel concierge will be a top source of information on your destination, so don’t be afraid to ask for their tips on where to eat and visit with kids.

Parliament House, Canberra, ACT, Australia

Watch out for different safety standards
Stay vigilant when it comes to the different safety standards when travelling around the world, including child safety standards for pools, balconies, car seats and play equipment, which could be much laxer than they are in Australia.

Augusta, Margaret River, Western Australia

Read up in advance
Find family travel blogs on your destinations! I usually find that blogs, combined with the destination’s tourism sites, are the best way to find out what attractions are the best suited for kids, as well as finding out about hidden gems that are off the tourist path, like really great parks or playgrounds, kid-friendly eateries and events for families. A few of my fave family travel blogs for international destinations include Travel Babbo, y Travel Blog and Boy Eats World.

Travel Guide: Singapore With Kids via christineknight.me

Pack the essentials
We never leave home without: wipes (both baby and anti bacterial), sunscreen, mosquito repellant, children’s pain killers, empty refillable water bottles, a backpack (we use this one that folds into a small pouch), plastic bags like nappy sacs or doggy bags for emergencies, ziplock bags for half eaten food or snacks, kid headphones and universal power adaptors.

I also pack emergency medication for the whole family, including kiddie and adult Nurofen and Panadol (which are hard to find overseas), broad spectrum antibiotics, rehydration sachets, plus a medical kit for scrapes and cuts with disinfectant and wound dressings. We actually used these on our trip to Dubbo, in the photo below, when Cheese slipped on a log and took a giant chunk out of her leg.

Staying at the Zoofari Lodge, Taronga Western Plains Dubbo Zoo, Australia

Find out what your hotel includes
Some hotels charge extra for rollaway beds or crib hire. Rollaway beds in particular can also be rented on an “as available” basis rather than a guarantee and can attract a surcharge. Check with the hotel in advance and ensure there are enough beds for your whole family.

What To Pack When Flying With Kids

Prepare for flights
Read up on what you can take on board or check in as part of your free baggage allowance. The usual rule is that strollers, portacots and car seats can all be checked in for free, and car seats are usually allowed on board as additional carry on luggage. Check with your airline in advance, however, to confirm this is the case. You will also need to request a baby or child special meal in advance of your flight date, or have your travel agent do so at the time of booking. Travelling with a toddler? You might also want to try one of the new travel inflatable cushions to help your child lie down flat during overnight flights.

Ready to fly? Tell me where you’re heading to next!

This blog post was produced in partnership with Westpac. All tips and opinions are my own.

Christine Knight
Christine is the editor of Adventure, Baby! She loves cake, her tolerant husband and her busy preschooler.

Canberra Travel Guide: Old Parliament House

Old Parliament House, ACT, Canberra

A visit to Canberra is a journey through our nation’s past. It’s impossible to visit Australia’s Capital City without recognising where we’ve come from and, also, where we’re going. It’s one of the best things about visiting IMHO. An important place to make a stop to learn about our past is Old Parliament House, known formerly as the Provisional Parliament House, was the seat of the Parliament of Australia from 1927 to 1988.

Old Parliament House, Canberra, ACT, Australia

Old Parliament House is now a Museum of Australian Democracy, and an exciting place to visit to really get a feeling what life was like in politics during this period.

Old Parliament House, Canberra, ACT, Australia

The house itself is a fine example of 1920s architecture and design, and the museum offer  a range of exhibitions and engaging activities which explain how the building, its spaces and objects connect us with Australian democracy.

Old Parliament House, Canberra, ACT, Australia

We visited on Easter Sunday when they were running a free Easter Egg hunt that involved an educational scavenger hunt through the house to find answers to clues, finishing up in the gardens with an Easter treat and free games. Such a fun way to spend a day.

Old Parliament House, Canberra, ACT, Australia

The Museum of Australian Democracy at Old Parliament House has incredible programs for families all-year round as they are is committed to engaging families and young people in conversations about democracy and their voices in it.

Old Parliament House, Canberra, ACT, Australia

If you’re bringing kids to Old Parliament House you needn’t worry they’ll be bored – there’s plenty for kids to keep them occupied.

Old Parliament House, Canberra, ACT, Australia

My favourite were the free Family Action Packs, available to borrow at the information desk. There are two packs to choose from: Stanley Action Pack and Press Gang Action Pack.

Old Parliament House, Canberra, ACT, Australia

Stanley Action Pack takes kids outdoors and into the grounds of Old Parliament House in search of Stanley, the Superb Blue Wren, and his feathered friends. Kids receive a safari hat, binoculars, magnifying glasses, a notebook to observations of Stanley and his friends in the collaborative bird-watching journal, and modelling clay to make their own Stanley.

Old Parliament House, Canberra, ACT, Australia

 

Press Gang Action Pack sends kids hot on the heels of a breaking news story throughout the inside of Old parliament House. Step back in time to a world of typewriters and shorthand and catch a glimpse of what it was like to be a reporter inside at Old Parliament House.

Old Parliament House, Canberra, ACT, Australia

Littlies will enjoy the PLAY UP section of the house, which is a hands-on space for kids to dress up, get creative and play. It’s an evolving space curated for, with and by children.

Old Parliament House, Canberra, ACT, Australia

 

Next door to PLAY UP is the DRESS UP space, where kids can discover the changing fashions of Democracy.

Old Parliament House, Canberra, ACT, Australia

Outside, the Old Parliament House Gardens are a gorgeous spot for a picnic lunch, a wander among the roses or a scoot along the wide, flat paths. The gardens are located in the heart of the Parliamentary Zone on either side of Old Parliament House. They feature seating pavilions, pergolas, rose arbours, pathways, gateways, tennis courts and a bowling green.

Old Parliament House, Canberra, ACT, Australia

The Old Parliament House Gardens are comprised of two separate gardens: The House of Representatives Garden, which features the Ladies Rose Garden (Hybrid Tea and Floribunda roses)and Macarthur Rose Garden (China, Tea and Noisette roses), and the Senate Garden, which is home to the Broinowski Rose Garden (Shrub roses) and Rex Hazlewood Rose Garden (Asian and European history of the rose, includes roses by Australian rose breeder Alister Clarke). 

Old Parliament House, Canberra, ACT, Australia Old Parliament House, Canberra, ACT, Australia Old Parliament House, Canberra, ACT, Australia Old Parliament House, Canberra, ACT, Australia Old Parliament House, Canberra, ACT, Australia Old Parliament House, Canberra, ACT, Australia Old Parliament House, Canberra, ACT, Australia Old Parliament House, Canberra, ACT, Australia

Old Parliament House
18 King George Terrace, Parkes
Hours: Daily 9am-5pm (closed Christmas Day)
Prices: $2 adults, $1 children (free for children under 5 years old) and concessions, $5 family
The Old Parliament House Gardens are open to the public year round: Summer hours (during daylight savings): 7am to 8pm, Winter hours: 7am to 5pm. Entry to the gardens is free.
https://moadoph.gov.au/

 

Christine Knight
Christine is the editor of Adventure, Baby! She loves cake, her tolerant husband and her busy preschooler.

ACT Travel Guide: National Arboretum Canberra

National Aboretum Canberra, ACT, Australia
The National Arboretum Canberra is one of the world’s largest living collections of rare, endangered and significant trees. With over 44,000 trees from over 100 countries are growing across the huge 250 hectare (618 acre) site, it’s a place to visit to to feel at one with nature and enjoy discovering trees from around Australia and the world.

National Aboretum Canberra, ACT, Australia

Its easy to drive into the Aboretum and up to the visitor’s centre where there is a cafe, incredible playground (more on that below) and maps. It’s very easy to walk around the Aboretum, from feature to feature, if you have the time and legs that enjoy walking. If you have a little one in tow you will find driving between the significant features much easier and quicker.

National Aboretum Canberra, ACT, Australia

The addition of sculptures to the National Aboretum has turned the collection of forests into an outdoor art gallery of sorts.

National Aboretum Canberra, ACT, Australia
Of particular note are  ‘Nest III’ sculpture on Dairy Farmers Hill, a metal sculpture of an Australian wedge tail eagle on its nest that was created by Richard Moffatt in 2007, and the ‘Wide Brown Land’ sculpture near the Himalayan cedar forest.

National Aboretum Canberra, ACT, Australia
The three words that make up the ‘Wide Brown Land’ sculpture come from the famous poem ‘My Country’, written by Dorothea Mackellar in 1908, when the poet was 22 years old and living in England, homesick for Australia.

National Aboretum Canberra, ACT, Australia
As a side note, Mackeller became the first female writer to be honoured on UNESCO’s Australian Memory of the World Register when UNESCO included the manuscript of ‘My Country’ in the Register of Australian Literature in 2017. If you want to see the manuscript of My Country, it’s on display to the public at the State Library of NSW.

The sculpture was inspired by both Mackellar’s poem and handwriting, and created by Marcus Tatton, Futago Design Studios and Chris Viney in 2010. At  35 metres long and 3 metres high, it’s quite the sight to behold!

“Wide Brown land” comes from the second verse of the poem:

“The love of field and coppice,
Of green and shaded lanes.
Of ordered woods and gardens
Is running in your veins,
Strong love of grey-blue distance
Brown streams and soft dim skies
I know but cannot share it,
My love is otherwise.

I love a sunburnt country,
A land of sweeping plains,
Of ragged mountain ranges,
Of droughts and flooding rains.
I love her far horizons,
I love her jewel-sea,
Her beauty and her terror –
The wide brown land for me!”

National Aboretum Canberra, ACT, Australia
The National Aboretum is famous for it’s incredibly designed Pod Playground. With inspiration taken from nature in its design, the playground is challenging and exciting, encouraging kids to climb, explore, and, most of all, have fun.

National Aboretum Canberra, ACT, Australia
Designed for children of all ages, giant acorn cubbies in stilts, connected by net tunnels, appeal to older adventurous children, while the nest swings, banksia pods, sand and musical instruments engage the littlies in age-appropriate play. There is a large climbing net that is also most suitable for older kids and a musical bridge that appeals to everyone.

National Aboretum Canberra, ACT, Australia

National Aboretum Canberra, ACT, Australia National Aboretum Canberra, ACT, Australia National Aboretum Canberra, ACT, Australia National Aboretum Canberra, ACT, Australia National Aboretum Canberra, ACT, Australia National Aboretum Canberra, ACT, Australia National Aboretum Canberra, ACT, Australia
The Village Centre with a cafe is nearby if you need a coffee break, and there are bathrooms in the middle of the playground for easy access.

National Aboretum Canberra, ACT, Australia National Aboretum Canberra, ACT, Australia
National Aboretum Canberra
Forest Dr, Canberra City
Hours: The Arboretum grounds and Pod Playground are open daily from 6am to 8:30pm during Daylight Savings Time and from 7am to 5:30pm during Eastern Standard Time (Non-daylight Savings Time).
Prices: Free entry
nationalarboretum.act.gov.au

Christine Knight
Christine is the editor of Adventure, Baby! She loves cake, her tolerant husband and her busy preschooler.

Canberra Travel Guide: Parliament House

Parliament House, Canberra, ACT, Australia

No trip to Canberra is complete without a visit to the most important building in town, Parliament House.

Parliament House, Canberra, ACT, Australia

Parliament House is the meeting place of the Parliament of Australia. The building was opened on 9 May 1988 by Elizabeth II, Queen of Australia, so as you can see, it’s quite modern in its design.

Parliament House, Canberra, ACT, Australia

I would say that the grass ramps up the sides of Parliament House are its most distinctive and popular feature. As a kid I remember running up them and rolling back down again. Now sadly there is a fence that prevents you from reaching the top of the roof from the outside – it’s now required to go through the security check at the entrance, which makes complete sense!

Parliament House, Canberra, ACT, Australia

The grass ramps actually recreate the shape of Capital Hill before Parliament House was constructed. Much of the building lies beneath Capital Hill, and current shape of the hill is very similar to its original form. Parliament House sits just four metres higher than the original hill.

Parliament House, Canberra, ACT, Australia

Of the 4,700 rooms in Parliament House, many are are open to the public. It’s incredibly easy to just turn up at any time and visit Parliament House – no booking or tours are required. There is a short queue to get through a brief security check, and then you’re on your own to discover the house.

Parliament House, Canberra, ACT, Australia

The security check leads you to the foyer with it’s gorgeous marble staircase. This room leads into the the Great Hall, which has a large tapestry on display. (If you’re wondering what happened with the scooter, we left it with the super helpful and friendly security guards).

Parliament House, Canberra, ACT, Australia

While in the foyer, take a close look at the tiles on the floor. Some of them have tiny fossils hidden in them, captured while the blocks for the floor were being created. Can’t find them? As the helpful security guards who pointed them out to us.

Parliament House, Canberra, ACT, Australia

Available for visiting are the House of Representatives chamber, which is decorated green, and the Senate chamber, which has a red colour scheme.

Parliament House, Canberra, ACT, Australia

Take some time to see the fantastic art work on display in the rooms, including portraits of former Prime Ministers and important figures and documentary photography of the British Royal Family’s visits to Australia.

Parliament House, Canberra, ACT, Australia

If you get hungry on your visit there is a light and bright cafe inside for casual dining.

Parliament House, Canberra, ACT, Australia

Before leaving, take the elevator to the roof for an incredible view of Canberra. You can see the Australian War Memorial Memorial in the distance – from there you can also get an incredible view back the other direction of Parliament House.

Parliament House, Canberra, ACT, Australia Parliament House, Canberra, ACT, Australia

Tips for visiting Parliament House with kids
Parliament House is extremely accessible. Strollers are fine to bring inside and there are elevators between floors.

Make it fun by running up and down the roof before going inside.

Look for the fossils in the floor in the main foyer.

Explain the rudiments of what Parliament House is for. We explained to our five-year-old that this is where “rules are made” for the country. She found that fascinating and it lead to questions like “what rules?”.

For older kids, the visit can be much more focussed on how Parliament works and how laws really do get made.

Don’t be afraid to bring kids of all ages inside. This is not some hushed library where kids have to be silent. They are very welcome to enjoy wandering around the building.

Parliament House, Canberra, ACT, Australia Parliament House, Canberra, ACT, Australia Parliament House, Canberra, ACT, Australia

Parliament House
Parliament Drive, Canberra
Hours: Parliament House is open every day except Christmas Day.
Non-sitting days 9am-5pm, sitting days Monday-Thursday 9am-6pm
Prices: Free
aph.gov.au/Visit_Parliament

Christine Knight
Christine is the editor of Adventure, Baby! She loves cake, her tolerant husband and her busy preschooler.

Canberra with Kids: Questacon National Science and Technology Centre

Questacon, Canberra, Australia

Questacon has been THE place to take kids to learn about science since I was a kid myself, so it’s been an important institution for quite a while (let’s not go into details on how long that’s been!). My childhood memories are a bit foggy but the feelings remain – visiting Questacon as a child was a place of wonder and excitement – and this hasn’t changed, even though the place itself has changed significantly since I visited many moons ago.

Questacon, Canberra, Australia

Located on the southern shore of Lake Burley Griffin in Canberra, Questacon – the National Science and Technology Centre – is filled with more than 200 interactive exhibits relating to science and technology. Their aim is to promote greater understanding and awareness of science and technology within the community in a way that is fun, interactive, and relevant.

Questacon is suited to children of all ages, however each of the eight galleries, the foyer and outdoor Science Garden areas are best for certain age groups.

Questacon, Canberra, Australia

Foyer
The fun begins before you even enter the galleries! Robo Q makes an excellent first impression. Visitors can control how this humanoid sings, speaks and makes gestures by using a nearby touch screen.
Best for: 6+

Questacon, Canberra, Australia


Above And Beyond

This is a new and temporary exhibit focussing on space. Presented by Boeing in collaboration with NASA, Above and Beyond celebrates the power of innovation featuring immersive simulations, augmented reality, interactive design challenges, (make your own space ship!) iconic pieces of history and exciting concepts for the future.
Best for: All ages (I personally thought it was best for older kids as there weren’t as many interactive elements as in other galleries).

Questacon, Canberra, Australia

Awesome Earth
Lots of hands-on ways for kids to experience the power of Earth! The Earthquake room was a major hit here, where we felt a simulated Earthquake and its effects on buildings.
Best for: 8+

Questacon, Canberra, Australia
Excite@Q

The most popular gallery when we visited, I would advise keeping a close eye on kids in this dark and busy room. The famous six metre slide still gives kids thrills in this gallery, but we were happy to play air hockey against a robot, test our reflexes against each other and chase scarves as they flew through pipes and into the air.
Best for: All ages

Questacon, Canberra, Australia

H2O—Soak Up the Science
Learn all about how water shapes our world. Hands-on features let visitors boil water, launch a hydrogen rocket, pump water towards the ceiling and reveal how much water is used to manufacture food and clothing.
Best for: 8+

Questacon, Canberra, Australia
Mini Q—fun for 0-6 year olds
Mini Q is like a children’s museum / play space, with its various areas designed to engage little scientists, especially babies, toddlers, pre schoolers and school aged children up to 6 years. Each zone in Mini Q encourages kids to explore their environment through hands-on activities. They are free to watch, try, see the results of their actions, then try again.  This process of observation, prediction, testing and refining teaches them the basic way scientists, both little and big, learn about the world around them. Mini Q is also a great spot to nurture the imagination, with zones set up to represent real-life places such as a construction site, veterinary hospital, grocery shop and car shop.
Best for: 0-6

Questacon, Canberra, Australia

Q Lab
Kids can look at the world through a microscope and slow-motion footage, try their hand at science experiments or watch demonstrations with Questacon’s science communicators and visiting scientists. The giant periodic table containing actual samples of 94 of the 118 known elements that are the building blocks of the universe is a popular feature of this gallery.
Best for: 7+

Questacon, Canberra, Australia
The Shed
Little makers, this one is for you. The Shed is dedicated to experimentation with ideas, tools, science, technologies, and art, with the highlight being a tinkering studio where visitors can design and make to their hearts’ content.
Best for: Ages 10+

Science Garden
Outside Questacon, the Science Garden features exhibits inspired by the sun, wind, water and rock.
Best for: 6+

Questacon, Canberra, Australia

What else is there to do at Questacon?
It’s easy to fill a whole day just in the galleries, but Questacon also runs daily science-based shows that are included in the general admission price. There are lots of shows on each day, so it’s hard to choose which one to see. We saw a show that was all about collisions, with an extremely engaging scientist leading the action. As there is no age guide for the shows, I would ask staff as to their suitability for your kids.

Questacon, Canberra, Australia

Eating at Questacon
We bought lunch at the onsite cafe, which serves basic sandwiches, burgers ($11.50-$12.50) and pasta dishes ($12.50/14.50), plus hot dogs, cakes and fruit cup. Kids can choose fish strips, chicken strips or pasta for $6.50, or a sandwich / grazing platter from the sandwich stand. You are able to bring your own food and eat it at the tables inside.

Questacon, Canberra, Australia Questacon, Canberra, Australia Questacon, Canberra, Australia Questacon, Canberra, Australia Questacon, Canberra, Australia Questacon, Canberra, Australia Questacon, Canberra, Australia Questacon, Canberra, Australia Questacon, Canberra, Australia Questacon, Canberra, Australia Questacon, Canberra, Australia Questacon, Canberra, Australia

Questacon
King Edward Terrace, Parkes ACT
Hours: Daily 9am – 5pm including holidays. Closed 25 December.
Prices: Adult $23.00, Concession $17.50, Child (4 – 16 years) $17.50, Child (Under 4 years) Free, Family (2 Adults + 3 Children) $70.00 ($8.00 for each additional child)
Questacon online

We received tickets to Questacon for reviewing purposes. All opinions my own.

Christine Knight
Christine is the editor of Adventure, Baby! She loves cake, her tolerant husband and her busy preschooler.

Canberra Travel Guide: The National Gallery of Australia

National Gallery of Australia, Canberra The National Gallery of Australia (NGA) in Canberra is often host to the most incredible art exhibitions, and is often the primary reason for us to base an entire visit to Canberra around.

On this trip, the exhibition was Versailles: Treasures from the Palace, which brought to life the incredible history of one of the world’s most famous (and fancy!) palaces. Featuring paintings, tapestries, sculptures, furniture and objects, this exhibition brought to Australia life in Versailles during the 17th – 18th centuries.

National Gallery Australia, Canberra, ACT National Gallery Australia, Canberra, ACT National Gallery Australia, Canberra, ACT National Gallery Australia, Canberra, ACT

While the exhibition has since finished, the gallery has a series of rotating exhibitions so whenever you visit there is something incredible and new to see, in addition to the permanent galleries.

National Gallery Australia, Canberra, ACT

The NGA is the national art museum of Australia and is home to than 166,000 works of art, including over 7500 works by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders.

National Gallery Australia, Canberra, ACT

In the Australian art section, the Ned Kelly series by Sidney Nolan have long been a favourite of mine to visit, as well as the works by Australian Impressionists such as Tom Roberts and Arthur Streeton on display.

National Gallery Australia, Canberra, ACT

Upstairs, a stroll through the European and American art collections reveals Impressionist and Post-Impressionist works including a lovely Waterlillies by Claude Monet and one of Degas’ exquisite sculptures of a dancer.

National Gallery Australia, Canberra, ACT National Gallery Australia, Canberra, ACT

The NGA also displays modern and contemporary artworks in the gallery, and on this visit the whole family was entranced by a video work by Pipilotti Rist, called Worry will vanish revelation. On display until August 20, 2017, this large-scale work takes up an entire room and is completely mesmerising.

National Gallery Australia, Canberra, ACT

Entrance to the NGA is free. Fees apply for special exhibitions only. I absolutely love free galleries when we travel as a family as it means there is no pressure on us to see everything to get our money’s worth – instead we can see one thing or a few, leave when the youngest member has had enough, and even return again to see something else the following day. We did this on our recent Canberra trip when, over the four days we were there, three of them included a visit to the NGA.

National Gallery Australia, Canberra, ACT

Visiting Art Galleries With Children
I’ve been visiting art galleries around the world since I was a child myself, so when Cheese came along, she was bundled up from a few weeks of age and taken along with me to continue my artist explorations. As such she is now, at age 5, an excellent art gallery companion. When we visit galleries we do so to observe the art together, even if it’s at a much faster pace than I would go if I was doing so alone!

National Gallery Australia, Canberra, ACT

I love to observe what stands out to her when we look around galleries. It’s rarely works that are famous that will draw my attention because I recognize them from being featured in other media. She will stop before works that I might completely miss and walk past, which was the case at the NGA.

National Gallery Australia, Canberra, ACT

We stopped for quite a while in the Indigenous section while she took in the works and asked questions about what was going on in them, and she could have stayed in the video installation room all day, asking me with every changing scene what was happening.

National Gallery Australia, Canberra, ACT

The NGA is extremely family friendly, from its accessibility to friendly staff and activities designed especially for children. We’ve often been at galleries where staff have kept a close eye on us and hovered closely to ensure we didn’t get to close to the art works. It was a relief at the NGA to be able to wander through the galleries without feeling like we were constantly being watched.

National Gallery Australia, Canberra, ACT

NGA PLAY
When we visited the NGA they had a fantastic area set up called NGA Play that was designed especially to engage children in art, craft and play activities relating to the Versailles exhibition. It was a lot of fun for all of us to get involved with making objects together as a family.

National Gallery Australia, Canberra, ACT

After this exhibit is removed, there will be a new interactive feature built in its place to engage visitors of all ages.

National Gallery Australia, Canberra, ACT

Sculpture Garden
Outside, in the grounds surrounding the NGA, are 26 sculptures on display by both Australian and International artists. It’s an extremely pleasurable experience to walk through the bush discovering these incredible works of art, and also a very easy way to introduce kids to art if you’re a bit nervous of taking them inside a gallery with their sticky hands.

National Gallery Australia, Canberra, ACT

On the south side of the gallery you’ll find a major new Skyspace by American artist James Turrell. The Skyspace is a viewing chamber that uses light to affect the way we perceive the sky. It’s a wonderful work that is really engaging as well as fun as one needs to move into, through and out of it, and each step taken reveals a different element of the work.

National Gallery Australia, Canberra, ACT National Gallery Australia, Canberra, ACT

NGA Cafe
Overlooking the Sculpture Garden the newly refurbished NGA café offers morning and afternoon tea and lunch options, children’s meals, plus a selection of wines by the glass, great coffee and sweet treats. It cost us $40 for a flat white coffee, two sandwiches, Vegemite toast, a fruit salad and an apple juice.

National Gallery Australia, Canberra, ACT National Gallery Australia, Canberra, ACT

National Gallery Australia, Canberra, ACT National Gallery Australia, Canberra, ACT

National Gallery Australia
Parkes Pl E, Parkes
Hours: Daily, 10am-5pm (closed Christmas Day)
Prices: Free
nga.gov.au
Parking: Free underneath the gallery on weekends.

Thank you to the NGA for media tickets to see Versailles: Treasures from the Palace. All opinions my own.

Christine Knight
Christine is the editor of Adventure, Baby! She loves cake, her tolerant husband and her busy preschooler.

Hotel Review: Novotel Canberra

Novotel Canberra, ACT Australia

We often stay at Novotel hotels when we travel because they are always to the high standard we expect from hotels in this brand’s family. The Novotel Canberra is no exception.

Novotel Canberra, ACT Australia

With its excellent location right in the centre of Canberra, the hotel is a fantastic place to stay when visiting Australia’s capital city. A short walk away you will find restaurants, shops, a pharmacy, convenience stores, taxis and buses. It’s an excellent place to base yourself for a Canberra visit.

Novotel Canberra, ACT Australia

The Novotel Canberra is a 4 ½ star hotel with 286 rooms. It’s located 0.2km from the city centre, entertainment and retail precincts and 8km from the airport. 24 hour room service is available, with healthy meal options, plus the hotel offers a complimentary in-room yoga channel with yoga mats available, a newly renovated indoor swimming pool as well as gymnasium, spa and sauna.

Novotel Canberra, ACT Australia

Reception is manned 24 hours a day, which is great for late and early check ins/outs. There is a small play area in reception for kids to play while adults are handling the paperwork.

Novotel Canberra, ACT Australia

Our room was light and spacious, with two queen beds, tea and coffee making facilities, a bar fridge and a great Angry Birds welcome gift for kids.

Novotel Canberra, ACT Australia

Wifi is offered for free to members (it’s free to sign up).

We always drive to Canberra and were pleased to see that we could park underground at the Novotel Canberra at a cost of $20/night. A bit pricey for parking, but the hotel locations is such that you would otherwise struggle to find anywhere near the hotel to park.

Novotel Canberra, ACT Australia Novotel Canberra, ACT Australia Novotel Canberra, ACT Australia

As always, we highly enjoyed our stay at the Novotel Canberra.

Novotel Canberra
65 Northbourne Ave, Canberra
Book your stay at the Novotel Canberra

I received a media rate for our stay. All opinions are my own. Affiliate links are used on this page. This means if you use a link to purchase or book something, I will receive a small commission at zero extra cost to you. Thank you for supporting Adventure, Baby!

Christine Knight
Christine is the editor of Adventure, Baby! She loves cake, her tolerant husband and her busy preschooler.

Why You Should Visit Universal Studios Japan

Universal Studios Japan

As I was heading off to Japan this week a friend commented to me that they’d never thought of visiting Universal Studios outside of Hollywood, as this is the original studio and why wouldn’t you visit any but the original?

It was an interesting question, and I have the answer! It turns out that each Universal Studios has unique elements that are special to that location only, so visiting each park you are able to experience attractions or meet characters that you are only able to in that specific location. If you’re wondering why you should visit Universal Studio Japan, even if you’ve been to both Universal parks in Hollywood and Orlando, here is your answer.

The World of Minions at Universal Studios Japan

Minion Park
The world’s largest Minion-themed attraction opened in March 2017. Take a spin on the incredible Despicable Me: Minion Mayhem ride, try Minion-themed snacks, watch the crazy Minions street show and meet the characters afterwards. It’s all Minions, all the time! More info on the amazing Minions Park here.

Universal Studios Japan

Cool Japan
The attractions in the Cool Japan section of the park are all based on iconic anime, video game, music, and manga titles produced in Japan. They change seasonally so there is always something new to see. The attractions are based on games and movies such as Resident Evil, Godzilla and, when I visited, Dragon Quest.

The Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Studios Japan

Black Lake in The Wizarding World of Harry Potter
While you can visit Hogwarts and Hogsmeade elsewhere, Universal Studios Japan is the only place where you can see Hogwarts overlooking the majestic Black Lake. Honestly, the view from here is incredible and watching the evening show with fireworks reflected on the lake is just amazing. More info on the Wizarding World of Harry Potter here.

Sesame Street
This is the place to go to meet all your favourite Sesame Street characters and take a spin on some similarly themed rides. The Count, Elmo, Cookie Monster and Abby Cadabby are all ready to meet guests with hugs. Universal Studios Japan is also home to Moppy, the adorable pink Japanese Sesame Street character.

Hello Kitty
It’s no surprise to find Hello Kitty here! She is everywhere in the park, from a life-size character you can meet and take photos with, to shops, merchandise and a design studio.

Snoopy and Friends
All the Peanuts characters are here, plus a Snoopy-themed cafe and ride for littlies. Charlie Brown, Snoopy and Lucy were all around for photo ops when we visited.

Universal Studios Japan Tickets
A studio pass grants you admission to the park and a Universal Express® Pass will shorten the waiting time for attractions. The admission ticket includes park entrance and use of all attractions in the park. You can buy tickets in advance from these travel agencies or on the day at the park. Ticket Booths are open from one hour before the park opens for business.

Hotel Universal Port, Osaka, Japan

Where to stay
I stayed at the offical Universal Studios Hotel, Hotel Universal Port, which is just a short walk from the park and about 10-15 min train ride from Osaka CBD. It has fantastic Minions theming in the lobby and a few of the rooms.

Hotel Universal Port, Osaka, Japan

There are plenty of food options outside the park as well as restaurants inside the hotels if you stay onsite. You could easily spend two days at Universal Studios Japan and if you do, it’s a good idea to stay at a nearby hotel to make the commute easier.

Get more info on my stay at Hotel Universal Port.

Universal Studios Japan
Japan, 〒554-0031 Osaka Prefecture, Osaka, Konohana Ward, Sakurajima, 2 Chome−1−33. Universal Studios Japan Online

How to get there:
Take the subway to Universal City station (JR Yumesaki line). Universal Studios Japan is about a 5-minute walk from there.

For more information on on Osaka and Universal Studios Japan, head to gdayjapan.com.au

I visited as a guest of Universal Studios Japan and the Japanese National Tourism Organization. I genuinely loved the experience and all opinions are my own. Additional images courtesy of Universal Studios Japan.

Christine Knight
Christine is the editor of Adventure, Baby! She loves cake, her tolerant husband and her busy preschooler.