Mildura is a terrific place to visit with kids at almost any time of year.
Its Mediterranean climate means hot summers and mild winters, with rain unlikely to trouble you for long. And it’s a city that’s easy to enjoy with children without breaking the budget – many of the best things to do are free or low-cost.
Guest blogger Erika Jonsson spent many of her own childhood holidays in and around Mildura and now loves going there with her own kids. Given the city is centred around the banks of the Murray River it’s not surprising that many of the best things to do involve water.<
Here Erika shares her list of the top 10 places to go with kids in Mildura.
Mildura’s water play park is paradise for kids. There are pumps, weirs, sensory stones, bridges, fountains… There’s shade and sun, plenty of space to set up for a picnic (or grab a coffee and a sweet treat at the vintage caravan) and, best of all, it’s free.
Its riverfront position is a lovely starting point for walks too.
Mildura Water Play Park, Hugh King Drive, Mildura
10am–9pm daily during summer
2. Jaycee Park
If the weather is cool or you forgot your bathers, Jaycee Park is a lovely alternative in the riverfront area. There’s lots of play equipment (though not a lot of shade) and Cafe de Caravan does a roaring trade in lattes and light food options.
Jaycee Park, Hugh King Drive, Mildura
TO SEE & DO:
Children who like to know how things work will love Lock 11, where boats and paddlesteamers pass through different sections of the Murray River between gates controlling the water level.
You can walk across a bridge to a manmade island for a short walk to see the weir – you’ll hear the water roaring through the spillway long before you see it. Keep going and you can find sandy beaches to paddle your feet, but always be careful as the depth increases steeply and the current can be strong.
Lock 11 and Mildura Weir, Hugh King Drive, Mildura
Three paddlesteamers operate on the Murray at Mildura, with two-hour cruises daily. The tours are informative and include passage through Lock 11. The grand old boats will enchant adults and children alike.
5. Orange World
Orange World is in NSW but it’s just eight minutes from Mildura. You can take a tour on the tractor-drawn “train” through the grove of oranges, mandarins and avocados to learn about the citrus industry in the region, finishing with a glass of freshly squeezed juice. Orange World is a really fun little local attraction – young kids in particular just love this place.
9.30am – 4.00pm 7 days.<
February: 7 days. Closed Christmas Day, Boxing Day and New Years Day
Geologists believe the Perry Sandhills were formed about 40,000 years ago after an ice age – skeletons of megafauna have been found here and it isn’t hard to imagine more under the constantly shifting dunes. The sandhills are just outside Wentworth, about half an hour from Mildura. Take plenty of water if you’re going in warm weather.
The botanic gardens were the first in the Southern Hemisphere to showcase semi-arid plants and the desert landscape. There is a children’s garden with cubbyhouse, sand pit and musical instruments, and a tractor/train offers rides on Saturdays. There is a coffee shop on site. Entry is free, with donations appreciated.
The decor at Woodsie’s Gem Shop hasn’t changed one bit since it opened, but that won’t worry children. This kitsch gem of a place (pun intended) features crystals and gems from around the world – but the real highlight is the maze, which you can enter for the laughably low sum of $1. There’s a cafe and souvenir shop featuring jewellery of varying quality and price as well as turned stones.
9. Big Lizzie
The pride of Red Cliffs, Big Lizzie was the biggest tractor in Australia when she was built in 1915. In 1921 she began clearing Mallee scrub to create the soldier settlement blocks that were critical to the region’s development. Big Lizzie was designed to work in the area’s sandy conditions but she was eventually superseded by vehicles with caterpillar tracks. She’s hard to miss – 5.5 metres high and 10 metres long, Big Lizzie is the centrepiece of a lovely little park on the Calder Highway on the way to Mildura from Melbourne.
10. Grand Hotel
Stefano de Pieri opened his eponymous Stefano’s Restaurant in the cellars of the Grand Hotel in 1991. Since then the Grand has become a Mecca for good food, with restaurants and cafes catering for different budgets and experiences.
Pizza Cafe is ideal for families, offering wood-fired pizzas, pasta and salads at a reasonable price point. The pizzas are superb and the staff are friendly and helpful, providing paper and crayons even on a busy day. High chairs available.
Grand Hotel, Seventh Street, Mildura
Note there’s not a lot of kid-focused eating simply because children are welcome everywhere. Most cafes have high chairs and kids menus.