School’s out: things to do these school holidays in Brisbane
The summer school holidays in Brisbane are almost upon us, and with the excitement of the longest school holiday break of the year, comes the parental paradox: what to do with the kids?
But don’t despair, we’ve done the groundwork for you and have come up with these top things to do with your kids these school holidays in Brisbane.
Arts, crafts and smarts
Your go-to place on Brisbane’s South Bank for family-friendly activities that are also kind on the hip pocket (i.e. free) is the Queensland Gallery of Modern Art. A rotating line up of always-on and seasonal exhibitions and programs encourage little imaginations to run wild – especially at GAGOMA’s Children’s Art Centre; a creative hub especially designed for families who like to get hands-on.
The Children’s Art Centre is currently housing an interactive exhibition Island Fashion – Wearable Art, running until March 2020. Your kids can join in weaving, digital pattern making, and jewellery design, plus create their own wearable accessories under the expert guidance of four talented artists from Australia and the Pacific.
Also showing at QAGOMA is a brand new exhibition, Water, launching from 7 December 2019 and on display until 26 April 2020. Its interactive artworks will inspire young and old – meet the wildlife grazing at the watering hole, step through a real-life riverbed created in the gallery, and pay a visit to a snowman! In conjunction with Water is Below the Tide Line: a powerful sculptural display underpinned by education. Kids will learn about the impacts of plastic in our oceans via story-telling sculptures made from ghost netting – otherwise known as lost fishing nets – and how they affect our marine environment. Through hands-on workshops, interactive animations and activities, kids will gain a deeper knowledge of ocean conservation and the steps we can all take to minimise pollution.
If you’ve a budding Einstein in the family, the Queensland Museum’s new-look SparkLab (formerly Sciencentre) is just a 10-minute walk from GOMA. 40 whacky, wonderful and ‘wow’ exhibitions span three themed zones that will keep the kids entertained for hours. Children under five can visit for free, while family passes are also available – but book ahead so you don’t miss out, as this is a popular school holiday hang out.
And while you’re at South Bank why not treat the kids to a good old fashioned sky-high adventure on the iconic Wheel of Brisbane, cool off with a dip at Streets Beach, and end the day on a sweet-note with a handcrafted icy treat from Happy Pops.
From queens of pop to royalty, sporting superstars and Hollywood icons, Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary is the place everyone wants to visit for one tiny little thing: koalas. But this is not just any koala sanctuary. It’s the world’s first and largest refuge for our eucalyptus-munching, cuddly and cute native marsupials who are sadly under threat in the wild. But here, your kids will learn what they can do to help them and, with their little hearts stirred, do their bit for koala conservation.
And while tree-huggers are clearly the local heroes here, there’s a menagerie of other animals that call this place home . Listen to the soundtrack of the bush as flocks of wild lorikeets swoop in, perching on your kids while they feed them. They can get close to kangaroos and let them nibble food right out of their hands; or join a session to learn more about snakes. There’s also turtles, eagles, crocodiles, echidnas, dingos, platypus and more.
Lone Pine also runs a free outdoor movie screening for families on the 2nd and 4th Friday of each month, complete with food stalls and plenty of space to pop down a blanket and a pillow. It’s even pet-friendly, so BYO pooch for an extra fun family play date.
A trip down memory lane
A little history lesson that your kids will actually enjoy. North Ipswich’s The Workshops Rail Museum is living proof that trains really are timeless, with 150 years of continuous operation making it Australia’s oldest running railway workshop.
Invite the grandparents who’ll love to take kids on a trip down their own memory lane, sharing tales of how rail travel once was in the ‘good old days’. Winding the clock back even further, there’s a replica of a second-class carriage from the late 1800s, plus 15 permanent exhibitions to explore. Takea look at Queensland’s current rail network, stretching from the suburbs to the sugarcane fields, the Outback, rainforest and red dirt of our interior.
A play space for kids, Nippers Railway, with adventure playground and interactive railway-themed activities will give little locomotive lovers a great ride. All aboard.
A sense of adventure
If you have tweens and teens in your tribe, this one’s for them. See the city from a totally different perspective while getting outside and active at Brisbane’s Riverlife Adventure Centre.
Perched at the base of Kangaroo Point’s cliffs, young adventurers can scale, SUP, kayak or bike the day away, with a range of family-friendly activities to try. For a two-wheel way to explore Brisbane, Urb-E electric scooters are available to hire.
Riverlife’s night paddle and barbeque tours are also a hit with older kids, with 90 minutes on the water followed by a hunger-busting Aussie barbecue under the stars.
Game, Set, Splash
Have a budding Ash Barty or Novak Djokovic in your tribe? Catch these tennis legends, as well as Venus Williams and more, when tennis comes to town in January for Brisbane International and the ATP Cup.
There’s as much action off court too, with a huge precinct of family friendly activities serving up fun all around the grounds. We’re talking giant inflatable water slides, lawn games, speed serves, live shows of Channel Nine’s Smashdown! Kids Game Show, temp tattoos and autograph sessions with the stars.
If you need even more reasons to come along, kids ground passes are free with paying adult – all week long!
Park it up
A great day out with kids doesn’t have to cost a fortune. In fact, with so many parks in Brisbane, you could fill the whole school holidays with just fresh air, shady trees and playgrounds.
Set amongst 16-hectares of sprawling gardens, Roma Street Parkland is an inner-city oasis, with free barbecue facilities, playgrounds, walking/biking pathways and the mandatory cafe for a parental caffeine fix. Seasonal Kids Collective campaigns also run during the school holidays, with free activities for kids aged 5-12.
Another family favourite is New Farm Park. Hop on the CityCat and jump off at this leafy oasis, or there is plenty of parking close by. A giant kids playground is set amongst shady fig trees, three designated picnic areas, and sporting fields for those partial to some batting and ball play.
If you’re there on a Saturday, check out the iconic Jan Powers Farmers Markets fronting the Brisbane River, where you can stock up on home-baked goods, farm-fresh produce, and all the picnic-basket goodies for one epic lunch spread.
Roll up, roll up
Step right up folks, the circus is coming to town this summer – but not as you know it. Off the back of a bumper international tour, global entertainment sensation Cirque Du Soleil is bound for Brisbane again with its 35th production, Kurios: Cabinet of Curiosities.
Taking centre stage at North Shore’s Big Top from 10th January – 9th February 2020, this acrobatic extravaganza is full of gasp-worthy moments. Be transported to a fantasy world through dare-devilry stunts, high-flying acts and heart-pumping routines that will have everyone on the edge of their seats.
Joining the circus
Keep the kids active while entertained this December 19-20 by joining the circus at Flipside Circus.
Kids aged from two to 16 can engage in fun workshops, from one hour right through to five-day ‘cir-cations’. Youngsters can try all sorts of things, from fun play on the mats as an introduction for littlies, through to older kids mastering the apparatus of a circus performer and daring to take on the trapeze.
Starry starry nights
Eagle Farm is home to Big Screen on the Green, an open-air entertainment venue perfect to take advantage of Queensland’s warm summer nights.
More than just a cinema, and laying claim to the largest screen in the southern hemisphere, all the kids’ Christmases will come at once with a movie marathon starting on 16th December through to 19th December 2019, screening favourites including Elf, Polar Express, How the Grinch Stole Christmas and Home Alone.
Beanbags are provided and all your family is invited for a fun night underneath the stars.
The importance of little things
From 7th – 11th January 2020, QPAC welcomes the beautifully curated physical comedy Stick it to Me.
This is visual storytelling at its very best, created by internationally-renowned, award-winning duo Andy Manley and Ian Cameron. The story touches on the joy of friendship and play to promote the importance of treasuring little things; this is a play your whole family will love.
Through the eyes of Jarjum
Jarjum (pronounced jah-jum) and meaning ‘children’, is a celebration of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Island children books and storytelling.
A free event as part of the State Library of Queensland 2019 International Year of Indigenous Languages, kids can enjoy reading or listening to the stories of The Rainbow Serpent, Stradbroke Dreamtime and the Legends of Moonie Jarl.
This initiative emphases the role of storytelling by sharing language, culture and lessons that span generations – and at certain times (as part of the Summer Festival from 14th December 2019 to 25th January 2020), kids can share story time with Nana Magic.
See the world through the beautiful eyes of Jarjum with a visit to the special Reading Nook where little imaginations will be ignited by stories designed to connect culture and understanding of the relationships that our indigenous peoples have with the land and community.