We all know the best things in life are free, you just have to know where to find them.
If the thought of yet more school holidays brings on panic attacks with visions of long queues, fractious kids and attractions that simply don't meet expectations (apart from the maxed-out credit card, that is), read on.
Once you start looking, Melbourne is chock-full of great things to do in the holidays, and heaps of them are free. In fact, the biggest problem is deciding exactly which is the best.
You could get the family out into the fresh air in one of Melbourne's many gardens or national parks. Why not have a picnic or go for a walk? Click here for walks and here for picnic spots around Melbourne.
There are more ideas for walks here. And more fabulous gardens here
And if the photos above have got you interested in visiting Birdsland or Bass Coast, there's more info here and here.
Too cold or wet to go outside? Remember the Melbourne Museum is free for kids. Show me a child not inspired by that huge dinosaur skeleton near the museum entrance and I'll show you... well, a child that's remarkably hard to inspire.
Gorgosaurus, by Ed Shipul, Wikipedia. Hat and pointy finger optional.
Such a child might like to stay home and help make fondue - either the traditional cheese variety or the decadent chocolate version. See here and here if you're looking for fondue inspiration. (And he/she might like to help eat it as well).
Now that's serious chocolate, by Chmouel, Wikipedia
And speaking of staying inside, an afternoon indoors, rain beating against the window, doing a jigsaw puzzle, eating chocolate muffins is hard to beat. Local libraries stock heaps of games and puzzles and they're all free to borrow. If you're looking for a muffin recipe, you could start here.
Is there anyone that doesn't like the smell of baking chocolate muffins? - Fir0002, Wikipedia
Eventually the sun has to come out, right? For another free activity, why not get the kids involved in the frog census. You don't need to be an expert on frogs, but you'll rapidly learn all about them. See here for more details.
For yet more ideas on free school holiday activities, check out the ideas here, here and here.
So now it's over to you. Do you have any tips for top school holiday activities, ones that won't cripple the credit card?
Please let us know, we'd love to hear your comments.