HOT: Australia Day at Government House, Government House Dr, Melbourne

Australia Day Government House

Every year on Australia Day, the official residence of Victoria’s Governor-General, Government House, opens its doors and the gardens to the public.

Australia Day Government House

It’s one of the best things to do with kids on Australia Day and all the activities are free!

This is the one opportunity for the community to visit the historic house and its extensive gardens and so the lineup can be long ahead of the gates opening at 9:30am. My tips is get there around 9am with snacks and sunscreen – there’s normally someone handing out balloons along the queue and street entertainment.

Australia Day Government House

Generally the forecourt area host displays from community services such as the Royal Flying Doctor Service and Country Fire Authority.

Australia Day Government House

Kids can have the opportunity to visit the inside of a RFD plane and to ride a CFA fire engine.

Australia Day Government House

Last year Collingwood Children’s Farm had a penned area to pet some of the animals.

Australia Day Government House

Inside the building Inside the Brick set up an amazing Lego display of Government House as well as free Lego play. That was the only part of Government House we saw as the kids were not so interested in touring the building. You can access it from the side entrance without having to go through all of the house.

Australia Day Government House

Australia Day Government House

Various sporting clubs also have try-out activities, include croquet and tennis and AFL plus free face painting.

Australia Day Government House

Australia Day Government House

For refreshments there are various food trucks and cheap and delicious scones from the Country Women’s Association. Otherwise BYO picnic and enjoy the live music throughout the day on the West Lawn.

Australia Day Government House

Just outside Government House other Australia Day festivities include the multicultural Australia Day Parade down Swanston St/St Kilda Road and the RACV Australia Day Festival Kings Domain.

Australia Day Government House

Australia Day Government House

Click here for all events happening in Melbourne for Australia Day.


HOT Tips:

  • Government House is 1.5 kilometres and a 20-minute walk from Flinders Street Station. There is no vehicle access to Government House;
  • Parking is limited and parts of St Kilda Road are closed off for the Australia Day parade. If you arrive early you may find a paid parking spot further down St Kilda Road or surrounding streets;
  • Bring hat, sunscreen, water as there’s not a lot of shade;
  • Arrive at 9am to beat the queues;
  • Free entry
  • Access is pram friendly.

Australia Day at Government House Government House Dr, Melbourne

9.30 am to 3.30 pm.

Self-guided tour of the State Apartments 10.00 am to 3.00 pm             

HOT: NGV Kids Summer Festival 2017, NGV International and NGV Australia, 180 St Kilda Rd and Federation Square, Melbourne

NGV Kids Summer Festival 2017

From Monday 16 January to Australia Day Thursday 26 January the National Gallery Victoria on St Kilda Road (NGV International) and Ian Potter Centre at Federation Square (NGV Australia) are hosting its annual NGV Kids Summer Festival with 11 days of FREE events for families.

NGV Kids Summer Festival 2017

This year the festival’s activities are inspired by David Hockney: Current and Viktor&Rolf: Fashion Artists and the artists’ shared love of dogs.

NGV Kids Summer Festival 2017

NGV Kids Summer Festival 2017

You can design your own paper dog with illustrator Alice Oehr….

NGV Kids Summer Festival 2017

….and then take your dog for a walk in Alice’s dog park…

NGV Kids Summer Festival 2017

… make magical masks with Kitiya Palaskas..

NGV Kids Summer Festival 2017

NGV Kids Summer Festival 2017

…watch sausages become sausage dogs with Soft Stories adorable installation ‘A Matter of Factory’…

NGV Kids Summer Festival 2017

NGV Kids Summer Festival 2017

…plus participate in kids yoga, magician performances and other creative workshops with local artists.

NGV Kids Summer Festival 2017

On Australia Day make sure you have a front row seat for the dachshund fashion parade!

NGV Kids Summer Festival 2017

NGV Kids Summer Festival 2017

Check out the full program at ngv.vic.gov.au plus of course don’t forget the current exhibitions suitable for kids – the NGV Car Wash and Atelier: Viktor & Rolf for Kids.

NGV Kids Summer Festival 2017

NGV Kids Summer Festival 2017


HOT Tips:

  • all of the sessions are free and drop-in, so get there right at the start at 10am or close to 3pm when it finishes (gallery closes at 5pm). It gets really, really busy;
  • not all workshops are available every day. If there’s a specific workshop/performance you want to attend check the calendar and double-check at which gallery it’s being held;
  • Also check out Atelier: Viktor & Rolf for Kids and the NGV Car Wash. The sculpture garden is a great spot for lunch;
  • While you’re at NGV also check out:

NGV Kids Summer Festival 2017, NGV International and NGV Australia, 180 St Kilda Rd and Federation Square, Melbourne

Monday 16 Jan – Thursday 26 Jan 10am-3pm

Gallery open 10-5pm daily

Free, no bookings

HOT: Screen Worlds, ACMI Australian Centre for the Moving Image, Federation Square, Melbourne

Screen Worlds ACMI

ACMI stands for the Australian Centre for Moving Image and it’s Australia’s national museum for film, television, video games, digital culture and art. The free Screen Worlds exhibition is a fantastic destination for families.

Screen Worlds ACMI

I had always assumed that Screen Worlds was a historical display and thus aimed at older kids who could read exhibition plaques. In reality it’s a lot more interactive than that and there is a fantastic Kids Space area that’s great for under 5s (as well as older kids).

Screen Worlds ACMI

Lady AB skips past all of the displays and zooms straight into the Kids Space. It features four mounted ipads filled with fun and educational games and two TV screens with a selection of cute short films. Lady AB plays tic tac toe with The Gruffalo, reads storybooks and helps a toy rabbit get dressed and fed!

Screen Worlds ACMI

In this i-generation even the youngest baby seems to know how to swipe and click and by the time they’re Lady AB’s age (5) they can pretty much manage the iPad games and TV touch screens without much adult supervision. As such, the Kids Space area a very relaxing place to hang out if you need to have some zone out time with electronic babysitters!

Screen Worlds ACMI

Baby 2.0’s favourite area is the Games Lab, with a semi-circle of TV screens and a selection of iconic video games. He tries to play Mario Kart a couple of times, never gets the hang of the joystick, but seems to enjoy trying and watching the other kids play. As you can imagine it’s a particularly popular area with kids so it’s worth visiting at opening time 10am so you can grab a console.

Screen Worlds ACMI

The Games Lab has a dedicated Minecraft area too which is hot demand. 

Screen Worlds ACMI

The kids are so absorbed by the Kids Space and Games Lab that I am able to spend some time wandering through the exhibits.

Screen Worlds ACMI

You’ll find Dexter, the Perfect Match Robot…

Screen Worlds ACMI

…. the car from Mad Max…

Screen Worlds ACMI

….and other Australian cinema paraphernalia and interactive works. If you have more time you can deep dive into different cinematic themes and watch lots of content. We just scratch the surface of all that’s available!

There is a free ‘Kids Trail’ self-guided activity booklet to help younger visitors navigate the exhibition but to be honest the games and iPads hold much more attraction!

As well as presenting Screen Worlds ACMI holds family-friendly exhibitions, film screenings (including the popular Kids Flicks) and free and paid workshops and activities every school holidays.

Screen Worlds ACMI

In January 2017 younger kids can make a flip book and thaumatrope at drop in sessions of Flip It and Spin It. Most of the other sessions are for children 8+ years. More info on school holiday programs here.

ACMI Cafe Bar

After your visit to Screen Worlds drop into the ACMI Cafe and Bar. It has loads of room for prams, booths, high chairs and a choice of children’s dishes for $12.

Note if you’re a frequent visitor to ACMI it’s worth taking up ACMI’s household membership. It provides discounted rates for ACMI programs and activities, $12 parking at Federation Square, discounts at the ACMI shop and cafe and free member-only screenings. On joining you receive 2 x Member Exhibition Pass for a paid exhibition and 4 x Member Cinema Pass, which basically covers the cost of your membership fee of $90. Click here for other must-have memberships for Melbourne families.


HOT Tips:

  • Free entry into Screen Worlds;
  • Arrive at 10am for better access to the most popular areas for kids – the Kids Space and Games Lab. Gets busy by 11am, especially during school holidays;
  • Meet daily in front of Screen Worlds at 11am or 2:30pm for a guided tour;
  • There is a free ‘Kids Trail’ self-guided activity booklet to help younger visitors navigate the exhibition;
  • Kids’ Flicks films for kids and families screen regularly. All sessions are ticketed at the ACMI Kids’ Flick rate of $8;
  • For snacks and food visit the ACMI Cafe and Bar;
  • Within ACMI you’ll find disabled toilets;
  • Join ACMI’s household membership for discounts; and
  • Access via public transport (Flinders St station) or on weekdays park for up to 3 hours and only pay for 1 hour by using Book A Bay at Wilson Parking at Federation Square.

Screen Worlds, Australian Centre for the Moving Image, Federation Square Melbourne (03) 8663 2200

Daily 10-5pm except Christmas Day

Free entry, other paid exhibitions and workshops

Summer school holidays activities 4-25 January

HOT: Music Play, Melbourne Recital Centre, Corner Southbank Boulevard and Sturt Sts, Melbourne

MusicPlay Melbourne Recital Centre

Music Play is the Melbourne Recital Centre’s annual children’s music festival held in the January school holidays. It’s a great first child-friendly introduction to attending a show at a ‘proper’ concert hall – the Elizabeth Murdoch Hall – plus there’s always events suitable for babies up and free foyer entertainment.

This year Music Play runs from 11-14 January and includes Justine Clarke, Carnival of the Animals, a cabaret for youngsters with Ali McGregor and Polyglot Theatre‘s dreamy soundscape Bellbird.

MusicPlay Melbourne Recital Centre

Justine Clarke is not a well-known name with my kids but little did they realise that they knew many of her songs! The hour-long show is fantastic even if you’re not familiar with her work. It is pitched just right for young kids in terms of tone, pace and volume and features a bookish theme and colourful backdrops with interactive elements. Justine is a wonderful children’s performer too – warm, likeable, energetic without being too hyperactive and really knows how to engage and enthuse young kids (all those years of Play School training!).

Even better, the merch stand includes both of her storybooks for children (characters who both appear in the concert) – The Gobbledygook Is Eating A Book and The Gobbledygook And The Scribbledynoodle – a great souvenir of the concert.

MusicPlay Melbourne Recital Centre

If you get the chance to see her live in concert at another time, book tickets!

We also have fun at the Gong Wall where families can play gongs ‘in time’ with the colour projected on the wall. Really it’s just an excuse to bang some instruments! There’s only 3 spots and at a time so the line can get a bit long, so it’s not a must-do. The experience goes for about a minute.

Finally we stop into Bellbird. Lady AB and Baby 2.0 are not keen to walk around blindfolded so I also have to keep my eyes open to keep a check on what they’re doing. The space, full of dangling ribbons and tiny bells, is peaceful and restful and it is a calming end to our adventure to  Music Play.

Music Play is Day 11 of our Summer Bucket List #totsummer. Click here for other ideas for the best things to do with kids this summer.


HOT Tips:

  • arrive 30 mins early (or stay 30 mins late) to enjoy the free foyer fun;
  • bring snacks and water to have before the show;
  • book tickets ahead, most shows are at capacity;
  • pram parking available;
  • the foyer is very crowded before/after shows so if you need a quiet spot head to Grant Street playground or maybe NGV (though it was very busy during our visit).

Music Play, Melbourne Recital Centre, Corner Southbank Boulevard and Sturt Sts, Melbourne

11-14 January 2017

Various times and shows

HOT: The Grand Imaginarium by Kids Own Publishing, Abbotsford Convent, 1 Helier St, Abbotsford

The Grand Imaginarium Kids Own Publishing

The Grand Imaginarium is a book making experience for children aged 5-12 years run by Kids Own Publishing and guest artists. 

The philosophy of not-for-profit Kids Own Publishing is to give children a voice, to inspire community storytelling and to introduce children to the magic of books.

The main way they do this is to partner with community groups to teach children to write and illustrate little books. It’s simple – just fold an A3 piece of paper into a 4-page booklet (no tape or staples required), write and illustrate your book, then photocopy the A3 sheet so that your book is then ‘professionally’ printed for the world to see! How to instructions here.

The Grand Imaginarium Kids Own Publishing

The book can then be taken home or housed in the Kids’ Own Book Cubby. It’s a book display module and travelling library containing over 80 books for children by children.

The Grand Imaginarium Kids Own Publishing

Every school holidays Kids Own Publishing also holds workshops at The Grand Imaginarium where you can drop in to make your own little book or participate in a drawing session with a guest artist before making your book.

I booked Lady AB into a session with Melbourne author illustrator Marc Martin because we have long admired his work. We own three of his books – Max, A River and his latest release, Lots, as well has having read A Forest and The Curious Explorer’s Illustrated Guide to Exotic Animals A to Z.

The Grand Imaginarium Kids Own Publishing

His work is typified by vibrant colours, small details and a whimsical story line told in sparse words. His illustrations are gloriously vibrant and instantly recognisable. You’ll find his mural adorning the Readings Kids bookstore

Lots is fact-based books covering a different city on every page. The joy of it is revisiting some of my previous travel destinations (with and without kids) – Tokyo, Reykjavik, London – as well as inspiring wanderlust for places such as San Francisco and Antarctica. There are lots of interesting factoids and minute details to appreciate and we can’t wait to travel the world with it!

The Grand Imaginarium Kids Own Publishing

During the workshop Marc reads from A River then teaches the children how to draw various animals from The Curious Explorer’s Illustrated Guide to Exotic Animals A to Z.

After an hour or so the children are encouraged to make their own books but Lady AB is more interested in checking out the Kids’ Own Book Cubby.

The Grand Imaginarium Kids Own Publishing

Turns out she didn’t want to make a book on the day – but has been regularly churning out little books since the workshop, short stories filled with whimsical charm and existential ideas. Her first trilogy – The Lonely Popcorn, The Unhappy Ice Cream and The Lucky Egg have become favourites in our household, re-read again and again!

To find out when Kids Own Publishing are running the workshops or opening The Grand Imaginarium sign up to their newsletter on their website. The next lot of events are 21, 22, 28 and 29 January 2017. 


The Grand Imaginarium by Kids Own Publishing, Abbotsford Convent, 1 Helier St, Abbotsford

21, 22, 28 & 29 January, 2017
Session 1: 10am – 12pm
Session 2: 1 – 3pm

$10 for 1 child and a guardian
$15 for 2 children and a guardian
$20 for 3 children and 2 guardians

HOT: Junior Chocolatier Class, Great Ocean Road Chocolaterie and Icecreamery, Cnr Great Ocean Road and Elkington Road, Bellbrae

great ocean road chocolates

Are you children crazy for chocolate like mine? If so head to the Great Ocean Road Chocolaterie and Icecreamery where children 6-12 years can learn how to make chocolate creations from the chocolatiers on the first Saturday of every month (and other days during school holidays).

great ocean road chocolates

Lady AB was invited to try out the workshop on a recent trip to Torquay. During the 45 minute Junior Chocolatier Classes everyone gets hands-on making three large chocolate creations under supervision.

great ocean road chocolates

Lady AB comes home with a huge lollipop, chocolate animals and some chocolate moulded butterflies – as well as proudly sporting her a personalised badge, healing chef’s hat and apron and graduation certificate.

great ocean road chocolates

great ocean road chocolates

As the Junior Chocolatier Class is a parent-free zone Baby 2.0 and I hung out at the shop and the new play area adjoining the cafe. It features a large sandpit with play equipment and expansive lawns for ball games.

great ocean road chocolates

Afterwards we cooled down with a freshly-churned chocolate ice cream!

The Junior Chocolatier Classes fill up quickly so be sure to book ahead online or on 03 5263 1588. The classes are also available at the Yarra Valley Chocolaterie and Icecreamery.


Junior Chocolatier Class, Great Ocean Road Chocolaterie and Icecreamery, Cnr Great Ocean Road and Elkington Road, Bellbrae

$40 includes class, apron, hat and  three take home chocolate creations.

9am-5pm (except Christmas Day), classes run on selected days for 45 minutes

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