All of this for free
Looking for some fun and interesting free things that will keep both yourself and the children amused?
RAAF Museum (Wikipedia)
# RAAF Museum in Point Cook is a great start, it's informative, interesting and free. You can get up close to the aircraft and see interactive flying displays at 1pm on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Sundays. Point Cook is an operating base so you need to present identification at the gate to pass security and you must stay in the designated areas once inside the base.
# Port Of Melbourne Boat Tours are running again from September 29th and monthly thereafter. Gather at Williamstown's Gem pier at 9am or 11am for cruises that last 90 minutes, alternatively from Victoria Harbour at 1:45pm, 3pm or 4:15pm for a 60 minute cruise. The kids loved doing this boat trip last year, though we were a little disappointed that only a few big ships were in port to look at. The cruise speed is very slow so you don't cover much water in the 90 minutes, but it's free and it's fun.
# Playgrounds are a cheap and easy entertainer for children and we are lucky to have many fantastic parks and playgrounds. Skate parks for the older kids keep them off their computers and games.
My top picks are:
Montrose Community Playground
St Kilda Adventure Playground
Bayview Park, Point Cook
Bicentennial Park, Chelsea
Mackenzie Reserve, YarraGlen
Yarra Glen playground
#Markets can be fun for both adults and children especially the bigger ones that cater for everyone, such as the South Melbourne Market, Queen Victorian Market and Craft Markets Australia which have markets in Mornington, Red Hill, Flemington and Yarra Glen. Admittedly it will cost you money unless you're happy to browse and not let temptation get the better of you.
# Caldermeade Dairy Farm and Cafe may be left of center for many but it's one of our family favourites. Our kids love going to watch the 400 Holstien cows get milked (3:30pm everyday), patting baby animals and having fun on the play equipment. There is no entry fee but there is a really nice little cafe that is perfect for lunch, morning/afternoon tea or just ice-creams and milkshakes.
We usually make a day trip of it and visit the Tooradin market, which is held on the third Sunday of the month and Tooradin airfield is a good spot for watching sky divers.
Point Nepean (Wikipedia)
# Fort Nepean is a great spot to take the kids with their bicycles, with around 7 kilometres return of undulating road to ride on, not to mention the best views in Victoria. Whilst you're there, show them around the bunkers and gun emplacements and teach them a little of Victoria's early history. And yes it's totally free.
Cranbourne Botanic Gardens
# Botanic Gardens are the perfect spot for a picnic on a lush lawn enjoying sunshine surrounded by beautiful gardens.
Top picks are:
Cranbourne Botanic Garden
Royal Botanic Garden
Castlemaine Botanic Gardens
Geelong Botanic Garden
Ballarat Botanical Gardens
and although not a botanic garden, the Fitzroy gardens is a great spot with children.
Sandringham Yacht Club
# Discover Sailing Days are a fun and free way to see if you enjoy sailing. Have a look at theirwebsite to see which clubs are participating and dates they are operating. I could only find one in the school holidays but there may be more. Australian Discover Sailing Day is October 27th where all sailing clubs are participating.
Remembering some of the best free things are the simple pleasures we take for granted, such as walking along the beach with the sand on our toes with the sunshine on our backs, or bush walking through a beautiful rainforest, spending time playing games with the kids or having a BBQ out the back. No need to spend a fortune.
Wouldn't it be nice to be a kid again!