Australia’s capital is home to an exciting array of museums and galleries to help educate little ones about the world in which they live, with lots of fun features to boot!
1. Questacon – The National Science and Technology Centre
Feel the force of an earthquake, see lightning illuminate the room and peek inside a beehive at this science and technology museum in Parkes. Younger kids will love Mini Q — a custom-built play space for children up to six-years-old, including role play, space play and water play areas.
2. National Dinosaur Museum
Roooooaaaaarrrrr! See T-Rex and his friends at this museum in Nicholls, which boasts the largest permanent display of dinosaur paraphernalia in the country. As well as colourful exhibits and interactive areas, it has a gift shop with an impressive array of souvenirs. If your kids are really brave, you can also book to explore the museum by torchlight on a night tour.
3. Museum of Australian Democracy
This living museum in the heritage-listed Old Parliament House building in Parkes is home to the fantastic PlayUP exhibition, in which kids can explore the United Nations Convention on the Rights of a Child in a playful way. Expect everything from listening pods and a roleplay Kindness Café to a fuzzy felt wall and craft activities.
4. Australian War Memorial
Military uniforms, guns, medals, war diaries, letters, bombers, helicopters and rare army vehicles are among the historic artefacts on display at the Australian War Memorial, which charts the nation’s involvement in conflicts such as World War I and II and the Vietnam War. Make sure you stick around for the Last Post Ceremony in the courtyard at 4.45pm. It’s best book your free tickets in advance to guarantee entry.
5. National Museum of Australia
Captain Cook’s navigational instruments, penny farthing bicycles and bark canoes carved by Indigenous Australians are among more than 200,000 objects representing Australia’s history and cultural heritage on display at this museum. There are also collections on The Olympics, bushranger Ned Kelly and explorers Burke and Wills, including a water bottle which belonged to Robert Burke.
6. National Gallery of Australia
This gallery has more than 150,000 works of art, including the world’s largest collection of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander art. Head straight to the Family Desk on level one to find out what’s on display, collect your copy of the Sculpture Garden Art Trail and take part in creative artist-led activities.
7. National Portrait Gallery
Portraits of famous Australians, including Captain Cook, HRH Crown Princess Mary of Denmark and AFL player Adam Goodes don the walls of this gallery, located next to the National Gallery of Australia. Check out the website for special exhibitions, events such as dance performances, and school holiday workshops, including storytelling sessions and art classes.
8. Canberra Railway Museum
Train-loving youngsters will love exploring the locomotives and carriages on display at the Canberra Railway Museum in Kingston, which is one of Canberra’s oldest suburbs and was once its industrial heart. You can even step inside a carriage that’s hauled politicians to Parliament, wounded soldiers to hospitals, and skiers to the Snowy Mountains.
9. St John’s Schoolhouse Museum
Step back to the days of slate boards, chalk and inkwells in Canberra’s first schoolhouse, next to St John’s Church at Reid. It was built of rubble and locally-quarried bluestone in the first half of the 19th century to educate workers’ children. The museum is staffed by volunteers and is open on Wednesdays from 10am to 12pm and on weekends from 2pm to 4pm.
Where to stay in Canberra
Get 10 per cent off the best available rate if you mention Out & About with Kids when booking a room at East Hotel Canberra. Located between the buzzing shopping and restaurant hubs of Kingston and Manuka, the family-owned and operated hotel has special family rooms. The two-bedroom apartments have bunk beds, Xbox One consoles, games, bean bags and dress-up clothes. There are also free lollies in the lobby and kids’ mini bars. Its Italian restaurant, Agostinis, has a kids’ menu including pizza or pasta, gelato and a soft drink for $20. It also offers free bike hire to explore the area.
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In partnership with East Hotel Canberra