Low-cost and no-cost ideas to keep the kids entertained this autumn
Play all day
There are playgrounds… and then there are the bells-and-whistles wonder worlds that wow kids and delight parents simply by being way more fun than a smartphone screen.
Regional Victoria is dotted with them: Warrnambool’s Lake Pertobe Adventure Playground is a grassy eight hectares with flying foxes, giant slides, a maze and pedal boats on the lake, while Bollygum in Kinglake has a Bower Bird’s Nest, Platypus House, tunnels, musical instruments and a skate park on the side. Bendigo’s Eaglehawk Playspace is an all-ages zone of silliness referencing the Banjo Paterson poem Mulga Bill’s Bicycle.
Our guide to country playgrounds highlights seven of the best in regional Victoria.
Hunt for gold
They say there’s more gold still in the ground in Victoria than was ever taken from it in our gold-rush days. Prospectors have never stopped fossicking, and have found plenty of success, particularly in the so-called ‘golden triangle’ cornered roughly by Ballarat, Bendigo and Wedderburn. A two-kilogram nugget was found near Ballarat in July 2019, and a half-kilo lump worth $35,000 outside Bendigo shortly before that.
So pick up a 10-year Miner’s Right licence, hire a metal detector, download a goldfields map, then pack up the kids and head for central Victoria to try your luck. (If you want to learn the basics or some insider tips, several companies offer tours in the goldfields region.)
Even if you don’t find gold you’ll bring home treasure – little nuggets of history, a carful of country air … and plenty of gold-rush bakeries and toy and lolly shops could do with your business.
Read more about gold prospecting in Victoria.
Catch a fish
There’s gold in them thar rivers and lakes too, as anglers scramble to hook a golden-tagged fish, worth $2000 or $10,000 each, from waterways throughout the state. Devised to support bushfire and COVID-affected communities, the Victorian Fisheries Authority’s Golden Tag program released 1000 tagged fish, and only 100 have been caught so far. The cash incentive is a terrific hook to get the kids to try fishing.
And if you’re just getting started, cast a line (without the cash lure) at one of the top beginner fishing spots in Nine of the best places to go fishing in Victoria.