I am a great believer in the value of gifting experiences rather than objects when it comes to kids – so a gift membership is a perfect present for families and kids who have it all!
Here's a list of my must-have memberships for Melbourne families. Some are free to join, some are paid – but all are extremely good value.
1. Your local library
Libraries are my number one parenting resource. Membership is free and you can borrow more than just books – audiobooks, DVDs, games and even toys are available.
You also get access to library programs, workshops, seminars and school holiday activities which are often free.
Related: Best libraries in Melbourne
In addition to joining your local library make sure you join Melbourne Library Service for CBD/inner-city library access. Membership is free and open to all residents of Victoria. You can borrow books and other items and access a range of services by becoming a member.
City Library, 253 Flinders Lane Melbourne 03 9658 9500
Kathleen Syme Library and Community Centre, 251 Faraday St, Carlton 03 9658 7310
Library at The Dock, 107 Victoria Harbour Promenade, Docklands 03 9658 9998
East Melbourne Library, 122 George St, East Melbourne 03 9658 9600
North Melbourne Library, 66 Errol Pl, North Melbourne 03 9658 9700
Southbank Library at Boyd, 207 City Rd, Southbank 03 9658 8300
Library membership is free, and you can sign up for a Library card online.
As a Library member, you can access over two million books, photos, artworks, documents, maps, manuscripts and more when you visit State Library of Victoria. Members can also log in to thousands of online databases, journals, magazines, ebooks and newspapers from around the world.
While the rarity of their collection means that you are not able to borrow items, you can browse many popular and recently published books and journals in our public reading rooms, and many items are available for interlibrary loan.
State Library of Victoria, 328 Swanston St Melbourne 03 8664 7000
For only $99 a year, families (2 adults and 4 children up to 16 years) receive unlimited free general access to three Melbourne museums (Melbourne Museum, Scienceworks and Immigration Museum) and to other museums around Australia, including Australian Museum (Sydney) and Questacon (Canberra).
You can also gain special access to events and activities, presale ticket opportunities and tours and viewings not open to the general public. Members also receive regular updates on what's happening at the three museums via the museum magazine and emails.
Other benefits include cheaper parking at Melbourne Museum, member prices for IMAX Melbourne, the Lightning Room and Melbourne Planetarium at Scienceworks, access to special events and touring exhibitions and special discounts at the Museum shops, especially around Christmas.
|Concession (Student, pensioners/seniors, or health care cardholders)||$39|
Melbourne Museum, 11 Nicholson St, Carlton 03 8341 7777
Scienceworks, 2 Booker St, Spotswood
Immigration Museum, 400 Flinders St, Melbourne
Zoos Victoria membership provides unlimited entry to Melbourne Zoo, Healesville Sanctuary and Werribee Open Range Zoo. As zoo entry costs over $30 at a time, a Zoos Victoria membership of $10 per adult per month (over a 12-month membership) is good value if you're likely to go around 4 times a year.
In addition to unlimited, express entry members can access member-only events and exhibition previews, discounts on zoo experiences such as Wild Nights Werribee Zoo, Sunset Safari Werribee Zoo, Wild Encounters at Werribee Zoo and a 15% discount at all Zoo shops.
Members can keep up to date with a free subscription to the quarterly member magazine Zoo News and via the monthly e-newsletter.
If you're travelling interstate you also receive free reciprocal entry to select interstate zoo, including the magnificent but very expensive Taronga Zoo in Sydney.
This membership may be best for families with non-school aged children as all children get free entry to the zoos during Victorian public holidays and school holidays.
|Prices||per month||per year|
|Child (0-15 yrs)||FREE||FREE|
Werribee Open Range Zoo, K Rd, Werribee South 03 9731 9600
Melbourne Zoo, Elliott Ave, Parkville 03 9285 9300
Healesville Sanctuary, Badger Creek Rd, Healesville 03 5957 2800
Find Hotels and Airbnbs near Melbourne Zoo
National Gallery of Victoria is Australia's most visited public art gallery and they always have amazing children's gallery exhibitions.
While entry to the gallery is free, membership is worthwhile if you visit the special, ticketed exhibitions regularly.
NGV Members receive a free ticket to a major exhibition of your choice, discounted entry and priority access to ticketed exhibitions, members-exclusive curator floor talks and exhibition previews, discounts on public programs, 10% discount at NGV design stores, cafés and Garden Restaurant and 15% discount on parking at the Arts Centre and Federation Square – convenient when I'm going to shows at the Arts Centre!
When I take kids the best use of the membership I find is that I'm able to access the NGV Member Lounges which provide a restful place to stop as well as free coffee/tea/babycinos, biscuits and a box of toys/books.
Two little known reciprocal benefits of being an NGV Member which is relevant for families are that you can receive ACMI Member prices for ACMI ticketed exhibitions and 20% discount off the price of general admission Adult & Child entry tickets at Melbourne Aquarium.
Individual membership starts at $110 per year and family membership (2 adults and 3 children under 18 years) is $165 per year.
National Gallery of Victoria, 180 St Kilda Rd, Melbourne 03 8620 2222
In my view toy library membership is second only to library membership as a must-have. For under $100 a year (some a lot cheaper) you can access toys for a limited period and keep a steady rotation of toys in your household without the clutter and expense.
Benefits include 25% off for FOUR further visiting friends who are not current SEA LIFE Melbourne Aquarium Annual Pass holders, discounts at the cafe, special events and gift shop.
This membership is the best value if you have a child under 4 as they enter free, which means you just need to buy a membership for the adult/s.
If you're a regular visitor then membership is worthwhile for either or both destinations as adult entry is more than $30.
There's also the Merlin Annual Pass – which gets you unlimited entry into the Melbourne Aquarium, Legoland as well as a lot of the Sydney attractions such as the Sea Life Aquarium, Wild Life Zoo, Manly Aquarium, Madame Tussaud's and a couple of others. Definitely worth it if you are considering Aquarium/Legoland membership but have a trip to Sydney within the year.
|Annual Pass Type||Price|
ADULT (16+ yrs)
|from $115 per adult|
CHILD (4 – 15 yrs. Under 4s enter FREE!)
|from $99 per child|
SEA LIFE Melbourne Aquarium Cnr King and Flinders Streets, Melbourne 1800 026 576
9. Your local Aquatic Centre
If you're regulars at your local pool or aquatic centres then they all offer special passes or membership which can cover a range of activities. Check out Aquapulse, Lara Pool and North Melbourne Pool.
ACMI’s household membership 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. Best of all 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!
Cost is $28 per year for regular membership and $350 for premium which includes all the benefits in the standard membership, plus invitations to opening nights, curated exhibition talks, and a private tour of the museum.
Australian Centre for the Moving Image, Federation Square Melbourne, Australia (03) 8663 2200
11. City farm
12. Play Centre Memberships
Relax and Play‘s membership includes fitness classes, treatments and playtime – so you really can relax while the kids play!
13. National Trust
Individual: $110, Household: $140 (including a one-off joining fee)
14. Discount voucher membership
The Entertainment Membership offers discounts for popular restaurants, attractions, shopping, travel and more for 12 months. You'll get an easy-to-use app that’s updated every few minutes giving more possibilities to discover, more experiences to unlock, and more rewards to share. It costs $69.99 per membership with 20% going towards charity sellers.
Small Ideas is a discount coupon membership specifically aimed at families, with discounts on Melbourne's best family-friendly activities and products. They only offer a digital membership for $34.95 per 12 months from the date of purchase, although vouchers renew from 1 January.
15. Cinema membership
If you enjoy going to the movies then a cinema membership is a great way to earn reward points and/or save money.
- Hoyts Rewards – has two tiers of memberships with discounts, competitions, invitations. The standard tier is free, then there's the Hoyts Rewards VIP for $15 per year.
- Palace Movie Club – complimentary pass upon joining, birthday gift of a $10 food and beverage voucher, discounts and priority access. $13.50 per year.
Our local independent cinema Sun Theatre Yarraville offers membership for $15 a year that entitles you to $15.50 tickets all around. Check out your local independent cinema as they may have a similar membership deal.
For a mere $96.10 a year Ambulance Victoria membership gives you peace of mind for your family.
I never thought I’d need it but I suffered a burning accident and had to be taken to hospital by ambulance. The bill came to almost $2000 so thank goodness we had ambulance membership!
- Heide Museum of Modern Art – unlimited free entry to all exhibitions, members-only previews and discounts in the Heide Store and the cafe. Individual $80, Family $150.
- Luna Park Annual Pass – access to an Unlimited Ride Ticket any day the Park is open to the general public. $120 per person per year.
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