A quick two-hour trip from Wollongong and we were ready to start kickin it with the kids in Canberra. The purpose of our trip was some quality family time and birthday cake with the sister-in-law. In the meantime we had three days to fill and two kids to keep entertained. Questacon was the suggested first stop for the weekend.
After a tag teaming some mountain biking riding and trail walking M and I bundled the boys into the car. Now I like to think I’m a great navigator and like any good directionally illiterate traveller I plugged the destination into Google Maps. Turns out I’m not so great even when technologically assisted. Google Maps failed to tell us there are two Questacon buildings and took us to the one we didn’t want to go to.
The first Questacon we arrived at, which was actually the Ian Potter Foundation Technology Learning Centre (connected to Questacon), was closed. Not far away though, down on the edge of Lake Burly Griffin, next to the Canberra Library, was the very open Questacon, National Science and Technology Centre.
Given our slow start and our false beginning it was lunch time on our arrival at Questacon and so we started where others may finish, at the Megabyte Café. It was an excellent choice. There was good food and coffee and the prices were reasonable. But the troupes were restless. The fries had filled their belly and they were off up the ramp to explore Questacon.
Masters almost two and almost four, started running riot. They were touching, poking, splashing, hitting, jumping, running, sliding on everything. And we let them because that’s exactly what Questacon is about.
Three levels atop of a windy walkway, the eight different themed displays and 200 hands on exhibits had our boys scurrying around like kids in a candy store. They weren’t quite sure what to do first.
Awesome Earth science world was an instant favourite. The earth moved in Earthquake house. Then they were struck by lightening as they watched an impressive display of high voltage power, 3.5 million volts of power. They’re mouths were open watching for the tornados and their brains in overload as they tried to figure out how deep the [gravity] well could be.
Mini-Q was the other big hit. Especially designed for zero to six year olds, Max was quick to find the water play area and I was quick to strip him down to his nappy so I could salvage some dry clothes to go home in. Ruben climbed in, out and through the active play area, role played being batman and tried out his sight and sound in the sensory play area.
There were also lots of mums with babies and toddlers there in Mini-Q. With toilets, baby changing and café close by this world of science is popular for many mums for a regular playdate, especially when Canberra’s outdoor weather can prove to hot or cold on any given day.
From newborns to the bus-loads of south-western New South Wales school kids that arrived just before us, Questacon is a popular attraction.
There are lots of other exhibits like Wonderworks, Q Lab, Excite @Q, H2O, Science Garden and Foyer exhibits, so many things to do and see at Questacon, if you were in town for a while a members pass might be worth your while.
Adults $23, Child/Concession $17.50 (children under 4 free), Family 2 Adults and 2 Children $70
King Edward Terrace, Parkes ACT 2600
+61 2 6270 2800
*Images courtesy of Questacon
Like all good parents, we love to wear our kids out so they will sleep well at night and we can eat and drink in peace. So the next day we set off for the Arbouretum. I know right, weird word, hard to pronounce but an awesome sight to see.
48,000 trees from 100 countries set on 250 acres of rolling hills makes the National Arboretum a a very spacious place. A place that has attracted more than 500,000 visitors since it opened in March 2013
The Arbouretum is an impressive place and the first thing we noticed (other than the $2 per hour parking and the cars parked on the side of the road trying to avoid it) was the amazing Pod Playground. Max and Ruben were off and it was hard to get them out of there.
With striking acorn pods and banksia cubby houses there’s hours of entertainment to be had. Be warned though the highest pods are high and the little ones will want you in there to climb with them. So like any good mum I sent Dad in there with the boys. There were as many parents climbing it as there were kids.
If you can get past the Pod Playground, you’ll find your way into the heartland of the Arboretum, The Village Centre. With it’s cavernous ceilings and a cathedral like feel, it’s home to the casual Sprout café, the classier (and more expensive) Conservatory Restaurant and the great gift shop where I purchased Keep Cup number 10 (don’t worry M this one’s a different colour and it’s glass).
But wait there’s more as this is an Arboretum; or as Wikipedia describe the word, a botanical garden devoted to trees there are a bevy of botanical species to behold and great gardens too.
As you would expect for a centre open less than two years ago, the trees are small but one day they will be an impressive sight to behold.
Dairy Farmers Hill and its Wide Brown Land Sculpture to the Himalayan Cedar Forrest, the Bonsai Deck and the Discovery Garden the forrest to be will be an impressive sight to see in five years or so.
The panoramic views over Canberra are impressive. The guests arriving for the wedding at the Margaret Whitlam Pavilion, opposite the Village Centre must have thought so too.
The Amphitheatre and Event terrace sit between the Village Centre and the Margaret Whitlam Pavilion and they are a work in progress.
The National Arboretum is must see when you go to Canberra and don’t worry about the paid parking, the entry is free!
Forest Drive, off Tuggeranong Parkway, Weston Creek.
13 22 81
Free entry. Parking $2 per hour unless you find a park on the road as many people did.
So with the kids suitably worn out from their two days of adventuring we journeyed back to base camp for red wine and an italian family feast. After all we had to prepare for the Sunday afternoon birthday festivities the next day. Got to love a long weekend.
*Images courtesy of Questacon