Melbourne gets hopping this Easter school holidays, with a basketful of fun, family-friendly things to do and see in the city and beyond.
MELBOURNE The world’s largest species of crab will take centre stage at SEA LIFE Melbourne Aquarium’ in an amazing new exhibit Claws opening 1 April. Six new tanks with six new species including the Japanese Spider Crab, (which can reach three metres across when fully grown – pictured below) feature fun and interactive displays that will give kids and parents a real insight into all things crustacean. Kids will also love the new interactive art experience at Coral Caves, where they can create their own sea creatures and watch them spring to life in a nine-metre-long virtual aquarium. Open daily through the holidays, SEA LIFE has more than 10,000 animals on show, from one of the country’s largest saltwater crocodiles to newly hatched King Penguin chicks.
Visit Melbourne Zoo from 28 March where the new Wombat’s Secret Maze offers riddles, activities and daily animal presentations for little ones. Families can stroll through the picturesque grounds to check out their favourite creatures or have the option of booking five to 10-year-olds in for a full-day Kids Go Wild holiday program.
More rustic animal encounters can be had at Collingwood Children’s Farm, situated on seven acres of bucolic farmland just 10 minutes’ drive from the city where there are goats, pigs, ducks, geese, twice-daily cow-milking sessions, and the on-site café which is a lovely spot to refuel.
Eureka Skydeck 88, the highest public viewing platform in the Southern Hemisphere, has Easter-themed activities every day of the holidays, including badge and bunny-ear making. The iconic Melbourne Cricket Ground, the curve of Port Phillip Bay and the distant Dandenong Ranges can all be seen from the 300-metre-high enclosed deck, while thrill-seekers can test their mettle on The Edge, a glass cube that projects three metres out from the building.
Scienceworks has a range of fascinating permanent exhibitions, as well as several school holiday activities including the screening of Back to the Moon For Good at the Planetarium, while the Light Spectacular and Trick of Light performances will dazzle visitors with illusions and illuminations.
All things cinematic, digital and creative can be explored at Federation Square’s Australian Centre for the Moving Image, the only facility of its kind in the world. Children will love the interactive Screen Worlds exhibition and dedicated Kids Flicks, or they can delve deeper with special holiday programs that provide hands-on movie-making experience.
The Melbourne International Comedy Festival (25 March – 19 April) has a hilarious line-up of over 130 family friendly shows on this year. Comedy Club for Kids brings Easter holiday fun to the festival, with gags, games and great laughs aimed at kids aged six to 12, The (Very) Big Laugh Out sees street performers (pictured) take over Federation Square and City Square, and The Famous Spiegeltent’s afternoon sessions have some of the Festival’s best adult comedians test out their material on the smallest, harshest critics of all.
Also at Fed Square, National Gallery of Victoria Australia’s new exhibition The Kaleidoscopic Turn showcases artists working with colour, light, sound, movement and space, while the annual StArt Up: Top Arts 2015 exhibition lets older kids see what the top art and design students across the state have dreamt up. Shifting Gear: Design, Innovation and The Australian Car, at NGV Australia, will also show kids the development of the family car from its earliest form, as a steam-powered ‘horseless carriage’, through to its present-day role as a major design object and efficient means of transport.
At NGV International on St Kilda Road the Express Yourself: Romance Was Born for Kids exhibition provides a technicolour, multimedia environment where children can make their own accessories and drawings inspired by Australian fashion label Romance Was Born.
More DIY creative fun can be had at the Immigration Museum this school holidays, with visitors able to decorate their own helmets, horns, toy cars, prams or walking frames with wild colours, sparkles, lights and more as part of the Dazzling Deco-Rides activity.
OUT OF TOWN
Geelong and The Bellarine
The new Gorilla Rangers on Patrol experience (pictured) at Werribee Open Range Zoo, (around 30 minutes’ drive west of Melbourne) gives children an insight into how the zoo keepers monitor and care for the zoo’s primates. A free Safari tour takes passengers around the park in an open-air bus, where they can get up close to some of the world’s most iconic grasslands animals – including zebras, rhinos, giraffes, bison, antelope and ostrich – living together in a mixed species environment.
With its Penguin Parade, koala sanctuary and Grand Prix track go-karts, Phillip Island has a plethora of attractions for families year-round. These Easter holidays the Island ups the ante with the Churchill Island Easter Fun Festival. From 4-5 April, kids can join professional LEGO masters as they turn more than 250,000 of the colourful blocks into a wonderland. A Punch and Judy show, stilt-walkers, vintage cars and an Easter egg hunt are also on the cards.
Healesville Sanctuary’s Corroboree program launches just in time for school holidays on 28 March to celebrate Indigenous people, culture and the land. Activities include rock art painting, bracelet weaving, boomerang throwing, bush tucker tasting and music sessions with the park’s Indigenous staff and visiting elders leading the way.
Three of Victoria’s popular alpine resorts will form the stunning backdrops for the Adventure Kids Festival, which provides fun, safe activities in the great outdoors for kids under 12. Obstacle courses, bike rides, nature walks and even fly-fishing are all part of the Easter events program, which takes place at Mt Baw Baw (28–29 March), Falls Creek (4–5 April) and Lake Mountain (18–19 April).
Kryal Castle, about 90 minutes north-west of Melbourne near the historic city of Ballarat, is celebrating all the wacky characters from Alice in Wonderland this school holidays, with daily appearances by the Queen of Hearts, the White Rabbit and, of course, Alice. Kids can join the twice-daily Mad Hatter’s Tea Party or see Tweedle Dee and Tweedle Dum in the Jester’s Theatre.
Also in Ballarat, Sovereign Hill recreates a lively 1850s goldfields town with shops, a theatre, schools, factories, a gold diggings and underground gold mines to explore. Visitors can pan for gold, see traditional sweets being made and take a ride on a horse-drawn coach. These school holidays visitors will be in awe of a spectacular four metre wide dress on display along with other wonderful costumes, and children can get hands-on with craft activities and even play dress-ups.