The best free things to do with your kids this school holidays.

There was a time when my mother had five children and a close-to-zero budget for holiday fun. Of all the boring places, we were in Canberra — but my simple school holidays now form some of my fondest memories.

Big fun doesn’t cost a thing. My long summers were filled with was three-out- all-out cricket in the front yard with the neighbours.

But if badly played backyard sport doesn’t scream school holiday fun for you, then try some of these ideas to get out of your hood, free of charge:

The main events

Mamamia’s Jo Abi, a mum of three, has shared her top tips for the main free events.

Sydney’s Beach: As part of the Sydney Festival there is a “beach” made up of over one million little white balls and you can “swim” in it and “surf” it and “float” on it. So fun. It runs from 7-29 January.

Michael Jackson tributeGet you and your one white glove down to this library workshop in Melbourne where a professional dancer teaches kids the moves to Thriller, Smooth Criminal and Black and White.

Haighs free chocolate tourThis free guided tour in Adelaide teaches your kids about the history of chocolate. But be armed with money for the shop at the end.

Trace your family history: at The Migration Museum in Adelaide. This free event allows visitors trace find out about long lost relatives and map how they ended up in Australia.

Life’s a beach

I was raised inland so the beach is still a place of wonder to me.

It’s the perfect place for families. From Bondi to Broome, we have some of the most stunning beaches in the world here in Australia.

Take a walk

I recently did Sydney’s famous Bondi to Bronte walk. It’s not pram-friendly, but with older kids it’s incidental exercise with a free swim at the end.

All over Australia there are safe treks for families and a great chance to share an experience together.

ACT: A walk around the basin of Lake Burley Griffin is so Canberra or trek up Mt Stromlo to see some Kangaroos in the wild.
NSW: The Bondi to Bronte walk makes you glad you were born Australian.
NT:  A guided walk in Litchfield National Park might just be worth buying.
QLD: You can potentially spot a platypus on the Eungella National Park trek in Mackay’s hinterland.
SA: Kangaroo Island has organised walking tours as well as shorter strolls and the mainland has a wide variety of rambles.
WA: The best hike near Perth is said to be Sullivan’s Rock to Monadnocks Shelter on the Bibbulmun Track.


A photo posted by Casey Hollis (@case_hollis) on

Park life

If you don’t have a decent local playground, there are plenty of excellent parks that you can enjoy alongside the kids.

This year, my favourite find has been Clontarf Reserve in Sydney. There is a shaded playground and a place to swim.

ACT: Pod Playground at The National Arboretum – but get there early and bring sunscreen.
NSW: The Clontarf Reserve in Sydney has a beach and a playground – with shade.
QLD: The Sunshine Coast’s Dick Caplick Park is close to Eumundi Markets.
NT: Darwin’s Botanical Garden’s playground is fenced and suitable for toddlers.
SA: Bonython Park in Adelaide has a giant hamster wheel – what more could you want?
WA: Kings Park and Botanic Garden is great for a family picnic.

GOMA has a host of fun stuff on. Image supplied.

Get arty

My father dragged my brother and I around Canberra's art galleries on our school holidays, and I am so glad. Art is one of the best ways to escape suburban life, if only for a moment.

More and more galleries have interactive activities for children - below are some of the best.

ACT: Paws for Art, a pet friendly day for art-lovers at the National Gallery of Australia, Canberra.
NSW: Tatsuo Miyajima Family Space at the Museum of Contemporary Art, Sydney.
NT: Chalk it up. Street art for kids at Museum and Art Gallery of the Northern Territory, Darwin.
QLD: Toddler Tuesday at The Queensland Gallery of Modern Art.
SA: START at the Art Gallery of South Australia is held on the first Sunday of every month.
VIC: The National Gallery of Victoria has a kids area and kids hunts around the art exhibits.
WA: Drop in and draw at Art Gallery WA, Perth.