Canberra has more family attractions than I can usually muster enough energy to fit into one weekend without collapsing in a heap on Sunday night. But, much like childbirth, I usually forget the downsides of a family weekend away.
Mother of three and avid traveller Deborah Dickson-Smith, blogs about last weekend…
Fitting all six of us in one car is the first challenge, but luckily for us we are test-driving a Ford Territory for the week – plenty of room for all. The smaller children are excited about sitting in the boot and all of them are excited about the DVD player.
Which is a god-send, because getting out of Sydney takes approximately 2.5 hours at an average speed of 40 km per hour (the traffic genies hate me). So at least the kids are happy, even if I’m not.
We finally reach our cosy Medina apartment at 9.58pm, two minutes before the girl at reception is able to go home.
Day two and our first stop is the National Zoo & Aquarium for a family tour. While this privately-owned zoo is small, it offers visitors a really intimate experience. We’re greeted on arrival by our guide Rae who is fantastic – instantly engaging the kids with her friendly manner and interesting facts.
We get to feed and pet (in order) a tawny nurse shark (my fave), brown bear (squeals of delight), white lions (jumping-up-and-down-with-excitement), giraffes, dingos and emus. Awesome.
Cockington Green is a collection of miniature towns, villages and trains – a type of tourist attraction more at home in another era – and yet the youngest among us (Daniel, 8) is possibly more excited about the miniature trains than feeding a lion.
Our third day in Canberra starts with a huge fry-up before we head five minutes down the road to the next attraction: Questacon. I love how everything is so close here.
Here was me thinking we could fit in maybe three attractions today but I hadn’t figured on Questacon being so damn good and holding the kids’ attention for over four hours. Much of that time, it has to be said, was spent free-falling over and over in the fairground-science section.
Lots of great new interactive displays (love the water science exhibition – H2O) and a great new show – Explosive Science which teaches kids about global warming and how to help save energy.
The kids learned a bit about global warming, why it’s important to recycle (and how to do it properly) and I learned why petrol with 10% ethanol is good for the environment and should be used even though it smells bad. Plus there were loads of explosions – always fun.
After a late lunch there’s just enough time to have a pleasant stroll through the National Gallery although it has to be said not ALL of the kids are enthralled by this. But hey – there has to be something for the grown-ups too right?
The Sidney Nolan Ned Kelly story is a highlight and well as the impressive collection of Moderns. And the kids manage not to touch anything or set off any alarms.
The drive home in the now quite lived- in Ford Territory is endured with help from Lilo & Stitch and Monsters Inc, and thankfully, no heavy traffic.
Deborah’s first trip with a bub of 4 months involved a 26-hour flight with no sleep, which is exactly when she realised travelling would never be the same. This has only been further confirmed as her family has grown. She’s lived in Singapore, Kuala Lumpur, Edinburgh, London and is now reasonably settled in Sydney’s northern beaches with her three children — who are now all seasoned travellers.