How to keep the kids entertained over the Easter school holidays

Boy sliding down a slide at a playground

Clare Barry

Posted March 25, 2021

Get out and about these school holidays with fun activities that won’t break the bank.

Blink and you might have missed the first school term for 2021. As welcome as the return to classroom learning has been, our kids and teachers are due a well-earned break and it’s parents’ turn to provide the entertainment.

But despair not – even the most disorganised family can get the kids off the couch with these fresh-air-friendly, fun, and mostly free activities. So with the Easter school holidays (2 to 18 April) kicking off on Good Friday, here’s our guide to the best things to do in Victoria that won’t break the bank. 

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.


Man, woman and child camping in a blue tent in a grassy field

Get on your bike

Exploring your neighbourhood on two wheels is a fabulous way to warm up and get your kids’ recommended 60 minutes of physical exercise in, along with a lesson in self-sufficiency. Coax them out with a simple picnic or some snacks, and pack binoculars for a spot of bird or wildlife spotting.

Cycling is a great way to get around on holiday too, and makes a perfect excuse for a day-trip to the coast or country.

Check out our guide to family-friendly bike rides for a range of fun routes, including a cosmic trip through the solar system along Port Phillip Bay, a sculpture-studded freeway trail, and a riverside wander through a hidden valley so pretty it’s classified by the National Trust.  

Take a hike

Get the kids moving with a family-friendly walk. It’s a great way to keep connected and if you play your cards right it can serve as an environmental or history lesson as well as totting up the wellbeing and social benefits. 

Take for example the 7.7-kilometre You Yangs loop walk, which has views over the western plains dotted with cone-shaped hills that are dormant volcanoes, plus a good chance of spotting lizards. Below the eastern path is a 100-metre-wide stone geoglyph of Bunjil, the eagle of Wathaurong mythology.

Forest bathing – the practice of communing with trees to make oneself feel better – is nothing new in the Dandenongs. There are magnificent mountain ash, beautiful ferns and enormous logs for littlies to climb on the hour-long Sherbrooke Falls loop walk, along with lyrebirds and kookaburras to be spotted. 

Read about these walks and more in our Five of the best family-friendly walks in Victoria.

Nurture nature

The kids can play Wildlife Detective, Rockpool Ramber or Flora Explorer with Parks Victoria’s Junior Rangers holiday program, which runs hundreds of activities in dozens of locations throughout the state. Seek freshwater minibeasts in Great Otway National Park, sea critters at Barwon Bluff Marine Sanctuary, discover a bug’s world at Jells Park or rainforest secrets at Dandenong Ranges National Park ... these are just a taste of what’s on offer in this comprehensive program.

Got a green thumb in the family? Head to the Ian Potter Children’s Foundation Garden in the Royal Botanic Gardens for inspiration. It’s a child-scaled plant wonderland with a ruin garden, cool green bamboo forest perfect for hide and seek, a plant tunnel, kitchen garden, warm-weather fountains and a gentle stream that winds its way through the garden – perfect for setting leaf boats afloat and following their voyage.