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COVID-19: Socially distanced winter school holidays guide
The disorganised family’s guide to what to do in Victoria over the winter school break.
Welcome to winter school holidays – like we’ve never seen them before. No escaping to Bali or Queensland, and no spur-of-the-moment boredom busters, as cinemas, museums and zoos instigate booking systems to manage social distancing and attendance restrictions.
But despair not – even the most spontaneous (or disorganised) family can get the kids off the couch with these fresh-air-friendly, fun, and mostly free activities. Before you embark on your next adventure though, take a moment to call ahead to make sure your chosen activity is open and welcoming visitors. And whatever you're up to, don't forget to maintain social distancing and good hand hygiene to keep your loved ones and others safe.
Boredom busters to keep the kids entertained this winter
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 last July, and a half-kilo lump worth $35,000 outside Bendigo two months earlier.
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, book a tour with Gold and Relics Gold Prospecting Adventures which offers RACV members 20 per cent off full and half-day tours.
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 right now. You could easily spend several days exploring the area, basing yourself at RACV Goldfields Resort in Creswick.
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 each, in the state’s east. Devised to support bushfire-affected communities, the Victorian Fisheries Authority’s Golden Tag program has resumed after COVID-19 restrictions were lifted, and the cash incentive is a terrific hook to get the kids to try fishing.
If the east of the state is too far for you, 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.