We’re just back from a super fun science-themed mini-break in Canberra, Australia’s capital city - known for its Parliament House, man-made lakes, summer nats racing and National Gallery…and, as I discovered, it is filled with fun activities for little kids and big kids (yep, us adults) as well as a hefty layer of orange autumn leaves at this time of year.
It took us around three and a half hours to get there from Sydney, but that’s because we had five roadside pit stops, it should take just under three. And we stopped for Maccas at the Exeter Bundanoon exit. Maccas is allowed on roadtrips…that’s the rule, right?
The following morning after a chaotic breakfast and with two excited astronauts, we were off to Questacon. It’s Australia’s national science and technology centre and is absolutely stuffed with sciencey things to learn and do. After playing with the talking robot, the heat sensor handprint wall and avoiding the rush to buy slinkies at the gift shop, we started with the science time kids space session where around 10 children and two Questacon scientists chatted about astronauts, the solar system, rockets, watched a video about space shuttle launches, and everyone got to make their own space shuttle craft and launch a few rocket balloons.
There are also heaps of shows about such diverse topics like why your body bruises to dinosaurs to ecosystems and extreme environments. You could stay at Questacon all day going from room to room and from show to show - there’s even a Mini-Q room for pre-schoolers with a construction site, shops, a doctors surgery, a space centre and a water play area – water proof smocks supplied! The kids loved cruising from room to room and discovering and exploring without a timetable to follow.
There is so much to see at Questacon and its so hands on – the best learning is when kids are having fun playing and figuring things out, not sitting reading off the blackboard, right? And it’s fun for mums and dads too, I had a go on the 360 and while unsuccessful, my thighs got a good workout.
Em was in her element shooting scarves up suctioned tubes and catching them as they shot out across the ceiling and fluttered down, we learned about gravity, fired rockets, saw the Octonauts and rode a dive bell in the Deep Oceans exhibition, played with water and the construction site, went in the earthquake house (one of the favourites) looked under microscopes, pressed buttons and lost against the robot arm in foosball.
It’s well worth a trip – but we were there for almost six hours so make sure you plan for at least a couple of hours. The café has pre-made sandwiches, burgers and standard café fare so is fine for a rest stop and a snack or lunch.
Questacon is open from 9 - 5pm each day and kids under four are free (fist pump) with adults $21.50 and four and over $17.50.
We booked a serviced apartment in Kingston, near Manuka and close to Questacon, Parliament House, and the National Gallery, through Nagee Apartments (phone 02 6162 0668). Nagee offers a collection of quality apartments and residences for rent, and for $220 a night our almost-new two bedroom, two bathroom secure rental was good value. There was even a café just a walk away on the corner doing chaotic yet yummy
coffee and breakfast, and they were not at all concerned to have two very excited kids in for pre-Questacon breakfast.
For a local perspective and the inside scoop on what to see and do in Canberra visit our friends at hercanberra.com.au