Free(ish) things to do with kids over the winter school holidays

Nine freshly cooked doughnuts being carried out of the oven

Lou Sanz

Posted June 23, 2021


Your guide to the best free and low-cost school holiday activities for kids.

With many school holiday go-tos closed due to current COVID-19 restrictions, we’ve put together a list of affordable activity alternatives to help keep the kids occupied over the June winter break.


10 free (ish) things to do with kids these school holidays
 

Doughnut Festival

Ok, so it might not be the most low-cost activity for the family on the list, but how expensive it ends up, well, that's entirely up to you. Expect a variety of temptations from the likes of the Bistro Morgan Bakehouse, American Doughnut Kitchen and G.Free Donuts (and loads more), including fresh hot-jam doughnuts, choc-filled vegan doughy delights to churros (yep, even the Spaniards got in on doughnuts) and a bunch of gluten-free options.
 

  • When: Sunday 4 July, 9 am to 4 pm, Queen Victoria Market 
  • Cost: We’ll leave that with you 
  • Need to book? No

Myer Mega Playroom

This school holidays Level 5 at Myer Melbourne transforms into a kid's wonderland,  with heaps of games, activities, and interactive adventures for the kids.  Including a giant colouring-in mural and special kids' studio where they can have a go at being a newsreader, sports reporter, or TV host. And between 11am-12pm, a special super-hero guest will be along to say hi.
 

  • When: 3 - 4 July
  • Cost: Free
  • Need to book? No

St Kilda Penguins

    So, it's winter, and yes it's cold, but that's no excuse not to rug up the family and get down to the St Kilda breakwater at dusk. Because getting to see the march of the Little Penguins is just too cute to miss. With a viewing platform accessible from the pier, Parks Victoria recommends coming along on a weekday to avoid crowds and keep the penguins safe and protected.  

  • When: Dusk, any night of the week
  • Cost: Free
  • Need to book? No
Children being driven around Myuna Farm in a small red truck looking at ducks

Myuna Farm. Photo: City of Casey


Old Treasury Building

For the young history buff or architect (after all, the building was designed by 19-year-old JJ Clark), check out the Old Treasury Museum and learn about the history of Melbourne and Victoria. The Old Treasury building is also home to the original gold vaults, where gold bullion was stored during the gold rush. Explore the vaults and earn your very own gold license.
 

  • When: Open Sunday to Friday (closed every Saturday) 
  • Cost: Free 
  • Need to book? No 

CERES Playspace: Terra Wonder Adventure Playground

Opened at the end of 2020, this immersive adventure park, inspired by the theme – soil, is the latest addition to the CERES Community Environment Park, and it's the perfect mix of play and education for your little ones.  Learn about microscopic recycling, the fermentation process and how vital soil fertility is to maintaining a healthy planet.  And after the kids have exhausted themselves, refuel at the café, stock up at the grocer and replenish your garden at the nursery.
 

  • When: Open 9 am – 5 pm, seven days a week 
  • Cost: Free 
  • Need to book? No 

Donna Buang Rainforest Gallery and Skywalk

Located roughly 90 minutes out of Melbourne, head to Cement Creek, about 10km from the summit of Mount Donna Buang, for an experience in and above the rainforest. An observation platform leads you into the rainforest canopy. And an elevated walkway guides you through the Rainforest Gallery, where you can get up close and personal with ancient Myrtle Beech trees, some of which are over 300 years old. And there's a lot of viewing spots along the walkways, allowing breaks for tired little (and old) legs.
 

  • When: Always open
  • Cost: Free 
  • Need to book? No 
A teenage boy skateboarding down a ramp at Riverslide

Slide into the school holidays at Riverslide Skate Park. Photo: Visit Melbourne


Riverslide Skate Park

Desperate to get the kids moving? Australia’s only full-time managed public skate facility, YMCA's Riverslide Skate Park, is located in the Alexandria Gardens, a short distance from Flinders St Station. Open seven days a week to skaters of all ages and abilities. With YMCA staff on hand, parents can feel comfortable grabbing a coffee from the café and encouraging their kids to try a 360 Inward Heelflip from the sidelines.  As it can get pretty busy with hardcore skaters from time to time, we suggest that parents with younger kids head to the park in the morning and early afternoon (before the more experienced get out of bed).
 

  • When: 10am-8pm (Monday – Thursday), 10am-10pm (Friday), 10am-6pm (Saturday, Sunday)
  • Cost: Free
  • Need to book? No

Buxton Trout and Salmon Farm

Going fishing? Why not head about 100km northeast of Melbourne to Australia's oldest commercial trout farm, located in the foothills of the great dividing ranges. With their guaranteed catch promise, rods and fishing gear provided, even the most novice angler can fish their choice of trout or salmon along the Stevensons River. No experience required. With staff on hand to give you a quick lesson on how to master the catch, it's a great way to spend a day. There are even barbecues onsite so that you cook up your catch of the day.
 

  • When: 9am to 5pm daily
  • Cost: $18 per person. For the price of admission, you also get entry to the Bucky fishout and gardens with picnic facilities, a quick fishing lesson from helpful staff with gear and rods included and perhaps most importantly, your catch cleaned, guts removed and packed on ice-free of charge. You also have to buy whatever you catch.
  • Need to book? Bookings aren't essential, but you can if you want.

Tip: With restrictions constantly changing, it's best to call ahead or check the venue or activities website to double-check dates and times before heading out.

 

Museum of Art and Play: MoPA

Move over MONA and say hello to MoPA. MoPA is Geelong's Children's Museum and one of the coolest spaces for engaging the minds of 1 to 7 years old in the whole country. Designed as a space to inspire and educate through play-based learning and creative exploration, MoPA's immersive experiences and exhibits ensure a museum encounter for your children like no other. 

Missed Dark Mofo? Don’t worry. Over the school holidays, MoPA will be hosting MoPA: Twilight Session. Every night from 25 June to 10 July, the museum will be open so the whole family can enjoy an immersive art experience along with a pre-ordered dinner. And while the kids are enjoying some bedtime stories in MoPA's reading cinema, adults can indulge in a glass of something bubbly from the licensed café.  

Currently, due to government restrictions, MoPA is operating with a self-composed capacity of 100 people at a time, so we recommend booking.
 

  • When: 9.30am to 4.30pm, seven days, 51 McKillop Street, Geelong
  • Cost: Infants free, Children $14, Adults $10 and Seniors $9. All art supplies are included in the ticket prices.
  • Need to book? Most definitely

Myuna Farm

If it’s a family day in the country you’re after these school holidays, check out Myuna Farm, a working community and children’s farm at Doveton, in Melbourne’s southeast. Spend the day cuddling up with the animals in the Animal Display Centre or having a chat with their resident cockatoo, Joey Davis, as well as his other feathery friends. There are also reptiles and all things slippery and slimy to visit, and iconic Australian native animals like kangaroos, emus and cockatoos.

But it doesn’t stop at the animals. Myuna Farm is also home to an extensive wetland that you can explore via the boardwalk. There’s also a playground and farm maze for the kids (or parents) to get lost in. An onsite café guarantees you won’t go hungry, but if you want to bring your own lunch, Myuna also provides BBQ facilities.

 

  • When: 10am to 4pm daily, 182 Kidds Road, Doveton.
  • Cost: Single entry $9, Family of 4 $34. Concession prices available.
  • Need to book? Not essential.

Tip: With restrictions constantly changing, it's best to call ahead or check the venue or activities website to double-check dates and times before heading out. 


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