Four major family attractions, all in the one location
Gold Creek Village is located in the suburb of Nicholls, 20 minutes north of the city. The quaint village has a number of popular tourist attractions, with busloads of visitors getting dropped off every day to enjoy Cockington Green Gardens, the National Dinosaur Museum, Canberra Walk-In Aviary, Canberra Reptile Zoo and also the giftware shops, cafes and English pub in the area. For kids it is a smorgasbord of fun places to visit all in the one location - but which one do you choose to visit? If cost is no boundary, you could easily fit a few of these attractions into one day (allow 1 -2 hours for each one), however if you only have time for one, see the list below to get an idea of what to expect. It doesn't matter where you decide to visit however - you are sure to leave with a smile this wide...
1/ The National Dinosaur Museum is located at the entrance to Gold Creek Village, with at least a dozen life-like dinosaur statues out the front, to welcome you in. For kids of all ages, particularly smaller kids, this is a fun area to run around on its own, exploring and touching all the different types of dinosaurs. For older, primary school-aged children, it is interesting to then go upstairs and walk around the small museum and look at the exhibits and read about the various dinosaurs through the ages. Many of the dinosaur statues inside are robotic and on a sensor, so when you walk by they turn their heads to look at you - guaranteed to give the kids a squeal! Downstairs is an extensive gift shop with real fossils and gems to buy, as well as a range of dinosaur-themed children's toys you can't find anywhere else. See here for details
Moving dinosaur heads and interesting panels to read at the National Dinosaur Museum
2/ Cockington Green Gardens is a quaint family friendly experience, where visitors walk around the gardens and marvel at the miniature English villages on display. Now in its 38th year, Cockington Green Gardens keeps getting bigger and better every year. Walk around and look closely at the miniature figurines telling stories in the displays, which will make you smile and often chuckle. You may see a robber climbing out of a chimney with police figurines positioned underneath, or a streaker getting chased at a football match. There are also small toy trains that you can press buttons to make stop and start through the village, as well as a real miniature steam train to ride on (for an extra fee). The gardens are popular with all ages, big and small. See here for details.
Kids will enjoy looking for the miniature figurines telling a story at each display. Source: Original photos from Cockington Green Gardens Facebook
3/ The Canberra Walk In Aviary is a netted area in the centre of the Gold Creek Village, with over 500 birds flying around freely. After paying your entrance fee, visitors are given a plate of cut apple and meal worms to feed to the birds. Depending on hungry the birds are, lorikeets may be attracted to your plate as soon as you walk in, however keep walking along the paths and discover new and beautiful species that you may not have seen before. There are 60 different species of parrots, finches, doves and quail, from Australia and around the world. If you love birds, you can spend an hour or two taking photos of their beautiful array of colours. Occasionally the birds will be startled and do a "fly-over", which kids enjoy - although you may want to duck! See here for details and for a full article on the Top 3 Highlights of the Canberra Walk In Aviary, see here.
Get up close and personal at the Canberra Walk In Aviary
4/ The Canberra Reptile Zoo is a small private zoo with over 50 different types of species of reptiles and frogs on display. What they may lack in size, they make up for in interaction, as there are staff members walking around with reptiles for kids to touch and learn about. It is this hands-on interaction that the kids will remember, long after they have gone. This zoo is constantly being upgraded, with more reptiles on display, a colourful playground, extensive party area and new products in their gift shop. If you would like to keep up with the latest reptiles on display, or get a behind-the-scenes glimpse into the what happens at the zoo, check out the Canberra Reptile Zoo Facebook for more details. It is a "must" for all snake lovers! See here for details.
5/ Family Friendly eateries are located all around Gold Creek Village, making it an easy place for families to visit for morning tea, lunch or stay for dinner. Opposite the National Dinosaur Museum is the quaint English pub George Harcourt Inn - complete with fireplace, beer garden and impressive kids menu. Café Injoy, out the front of the Canberra Reptile Zoo, is another family favourite with a colourful toddler playground. Thumper and Miss Bunny is a small café with a cute name and delicious sweet treats. Also choose between T on the Square, Sweet Copper, Stripey Sundae and the Gold Creek Café - see here for a Google map of Gold Creek Village (with café locations). There is also a McDonalds at the far end of the village, with playground.
Gold Creek Village is an enjoyable area to wander around for all ages, with shops to browse, historical points of interest to learn about, attractions to visit and a variety of eateries to try. It is an easy village to explore, just park your car and then walk the village by foot. Who knows what else you will discover along the way?