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The Ultimate Day Out For Kids in Canberra - Summer

Home > Canberra > Family | Fun for Children | Picnic Spots | School Holidays | Swimming Pools
by Sue W (subscribe)
New to Canberra, I love exploring this city and the secrets that it holds with my family.
Published November 9th 2017
Summon your energy for this huge day in the Capital
Summer is a beautiful time in Canberra - it can get hot, but that is just a good excuse to take a dip in the river or visit a thrill-seeking water park! There is a wide range of things to do each summer for kids and families, with national parks and the Murrumbidgee River less than 20 minutes from the city centre - as well as shopping centres, swimming pools and indoor play centres just minutes from the suburbs. In the cooler months, I wrote the article "The Ultimate Day Out For Kids in Canberra - Winter" and now - finally - it's summers turn!

Below is just one itinerary for an ultimate day out for kids in Canberra during the warmer months - but be warned - if you do it all, you will want to go to bed before the kids! So perhaps pull out the most suitable attractions for your family and make the most of the warm Canberra weather this weekend...if you dare!

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Big rides for big kids at Big Splash Waterpark!


8am - BBQ Breakfast at Lake Burley Griffin

As the mornings are often fresh and cool before the day heats up, it is a good opportunity to take advantage of the many scenic BBQ areas around the iconic Lake Burley Griffin. Popular areas include Lennox Gardens, Weston Park, Black Mountain Peninsula and near Boundless Playground (see here for a full list). Grab a picnic table, cook up some bacon and egg rolls and start the day with a hearty breakfast before moving on to the next, exciting location...

10am - Big Splash Waterpark, Macquarie

After your relaxing morning, take the 15 minute drive north to Big Splash Waterpark - Canberra's only waterslide park. This popular venue opens at 10am so that you can lay down your towels and have a swim in the pools before it gets too busy. At 11am, the locals start to arrive just in time for the waterslides to open and the fun begins! Younger kids have their own toddler areas, however, older kids (over 110cm tall) can spend hours flying down the 9 hair-raising slides and twisters. There is a kiosk there for lunch or you are also welcome to take your own picnic to enjoy in the shade. You could easily stay here all day, with the entry ticket and rides lasting until 5pm. See here for details. For a full article on Big Splash Waterpark, see here.

When you leave Big Splash Waterpark and have dried off, why not enjoy a spectacular treat at Ricardo's Café and Patisserie at Jamison shopping entre across the road. Their Zumbo-like creations need to be seen, to be believed!

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Pre-schooler fun at Big Splash Waterpark


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Decadent desserts at Ricardo's, a short walk from Big Splash Waterpark


1pm - Option 1 - Questacon Science Museum

If you feel like the kids have had enough sun, then why not spend the afternoon at Questacon Science Museum. This fun museum is designed just for kids to get "hands-in" and learn from science experiments over different levels within the museum. See here for details and entry prices.

1pm - Option 2: Cotter Avenue

As this is the hottest part of the day, the kids are probably getting restless again and looking for another cool place to swim. Cotter Avenue is a popular swimming area on the Murrumbidgee River, with a few choices along the bends of the river to have a splash in the water. Hop in the car for the 20 minute drive to this remote location and take the first turnoff you see to Casuarina Sands. This section of the river has white sand along the river, BBQ areas and a small playground for toddlers. Skim some stones and have a paddle in the river, before hopping back in the car to Cotter Avenue itself. Here you can take a walk to look at the Cotter Dam, have splash in the river, play on the large toddler playground and also walk across the bridge to Cotter Bend, another swimming spot. See the article Top 3 Things to do at The Cotter For Kids for more details.

* Please be aware that this remote location has little phone coverage, snakes and no life-saving equipment. Swimming is at your own risk, so please take note of the warning signs at the swimming areas and don't venture out too far.

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Walking down to the sandy shores at Casuarina Sands


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The popular Cotter Avenue reserve


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Take a walk down to the river for a splash


1pm Option 3: Attractions along Tourist Drive 5

Also in the same direction, past Cotter Avenue, is Tourist Drive 5 and its wide variety of choices on offer. The road twists and turns along the Murrumbidgee River until the turn off to the Canberra Deep Space Communications Complex, which is perfect for any space enthusiast in your family (open 9am - 5pm daily). Just a short drive further along is the entrance to Tidbinbilla Nature Reserve, which has an entry fee per car to get in and a variety of family friendly walks and a playground to enjoy. Spot kangaroos, emus, koalas and even platypus as you walk through the well-marked paths.

If you have the time, even further along Tourist Drive 5 is the turnoff to Gibraltar Falls and Corin Forest - which has a downhill bobsled ride that is guaranteed to get the heart pumping (open weekends, public holidays and ACT school holidays 10am - 4pm). It is then a 50 minute drive back to the city centre.

With so many choices, which option(s) will you choose?

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Whizz down the mountain on a bobsled at Corin Forest each summer


6pm - Dinnner at Brodburger, Kingston Foreshore

After going back home or to your hotel for a rest, summon up the energy to go out one last time for a leisurely dinner on the water. One popular area to dine is along the Kingston Foreshore on Lake Burley Griffin, with cool breezes off the water and a "holiday feel" as the sun sets over the city. Take a walk along the foreshore and see what restaurant grabs your attention, or my pick would be to take the short walk behind the strip of restaurants to the Canberra Glassworks and visit Brodburger underneath. This is arguably the best burger joint in Canberra - where you can eat inside or order takeaway and take it down to the water. If you're still hungry afterwards (which you may not be - the burgers are huge!), then enjoy dessert at Movenpick or Max Brenner on the waterfront.

8pm - Bed!

For parents too!

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Burgers and ice-cream - a perfect end to the perfect day!

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Why? Enjoy the summer weather in the Capital!
When: Big Splash Waterpark is open between November and March yearly
Phone: Big Splash Waterpark - (02) 6251 1144
Where: Big Splash Waterpark - 1 Catchpole St, Macquarie ACT 2614
Cost: See individual websites for details
Your Comment
Well done Sue - what a superb article - I love all the activities especially the look of the bobsled at Corin Forest - have you ever tried it? Though, must admit, I'm also slightly envious of your award - we seem to be having a bit of a drought on the Sunny Coast with the 'ribbony' things, lol!😊
by Elaine (score: 3|4448) 36 days ago
Foodi Photoh Classie
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