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Fun Activities for Families & Kids in Melbourne, Victoria

You don’t have to be a big spender to enjoy Melbourne. We’ve sought out all the free/budget-friendly gems that Melbourne offers so that families can have a great time without breaking the bank. 

There is a huge range of free things for kids and families to do in Melbourne.

things to do in melbourne

The RAAF Museum at Point Cook

RAAF Museum is the official museum of the Royal Australian Air Force, the second oldest air force in the world, located at RAAF Williams Point Cook, Victoria, Australia which is the oldest continuously operating Military Air Base in the world.

Address480-490 Point Cook Rd, Point Cook VIC 3030

This is one of the most awesome free places. There is a large museum where you can see air missiles, a mirage jet, a helicopter and a boat plane in addition to the standard planes. An acrobatic plane flies at certain times during the week and it is also free to watch. You even get a chance to chat with the pilot afterward.

This is a great destination for any family which likes planes. An acrobatic plane flies at certain times during the week. Make sure you coincide your visit to match one of these times. You can get fairly close to the plane and there is a question and answer session with the pilot.

There is also a Restoration Hangar where a De Havilland DH-98, made entirely of wood, is being restored. The display of various types of planes ranging from old to modern in the main museum is excellent. You can see air missiles, a mirage jet, helicopter, boat plane in addition to the standard planes. The staff is friendly, enthusiastic and informative. Entry is by donation and represents fantastic value.

Make sure you take identification with you so that you can get into the RAAF base.

Central Melbourne

skinners park, melbourne, victoria

Skinners Park, Dorcas Street, South Melbourne

Address211A Dorcas St, South Melbourne VIC 3205

Hours

Skinners Park is open in the late afternoons weekdays and on weekends and is staffed. It is recommended for children aged 6-12 but our four-year-old loved it.

The playground has an eclectic mix of things to do including basketball/soccer court (under shade cloth), chicken house, cubby house in a tree with large curved slide, very long chain traverse, pond, trampoline, various cubby houses, structure from shipping containers, old fashioned slide, artwork, swings, see-saw, climbing net and many other things to explore.

Set amongst trees so there is quite a lot of shade. There is so much colour-splashed about that you feel assaulted by it and I was very happy to enjoy a white wall afterwards.

Has an eclectic mix of things to do including basketball/soccer court (under shade cloth), chicken house, cubby house in a tree with large curved slide, very long chain traverse, pond, trampoline, various cubby houses, structure from shipping containers (now I know where our belongings from Holland went to!), old fashioned slide, artwork, swings, see-saw, climbing net and many other things to explore.

Skinners Park is open in the late afternoons weekdays and on weekends and is staffed. It is recommended for children aged 6-12 but our four-year-old loved it.

Set amongst trees so quite a lot of shade. There is so much colour-splashed about that you feel assaulted by it. I was happy to enjoy a white wall afterwards.

Has an eclectic mix of things to do including basketball/soccer court (under shade cloth), chicken house, cubby house in a tree with large curved slide, very long chain traverse, pond, trampoline, various cubby houses, structure from shipping containers (now I know where our belongings from Holland went to!), old fashioned slide, artwork, swings, see-saw, climbing net and many other things to explore.

Skinners Park is open in the late afternoons weekdays and on weekends and is staffed. It is recommended for children aged 6-12 but our four years old loved it.
Set amongst trees so quite a lot of shade. There is so much colour splashed about that you feel assaulted by it. I was happy to enjoy a white wall afterwards.
Entrance between 209 & 211 Dorcas Street, South Melbourne.

Entrance between 209 & 211 Dorcas Street, South Melbourne. Read more about this topic at https://www.melbourneplaygrounds.com.au/

mellbourne park sanctuary

Serendip Sanctuary

Serendip Sanctuary is a 250 ha protected area in Victoria, Australia, near the You Yangs and the town of Lara, some 22 km north of Geelong and 60 km south-west of Melbourne.

Address100 Windermere Rd, Lara VIC 3212

Hours

One of our ultimate free destinations is Serendip Sanctuary near Lara. This is a great wildlife experience for the family where you can see lots of wildlife up close and personal.

The sanctuary, an excellent example of the open grassy woodlands and wetlands of the volcanic Western Plains, is the perfect place to learn about and experience birdlife and wetlands ecology.

See some of the 150 species of birds that breed at or visit Serendip Sanctuary from the bird hides. Birds can be seen within metres of the viewing areas preening, feeding, incubating eggs and rearing young.

Serendip Sanctuary is a great place to visit with the family. Have a picnic, enjoy the many walks, experience the wildlife up close and learn about our natural environment.

Start your Serendip experience at the Information Centre with a peek down the giant microscope or step into the Underwater World. There are four interconnecting nature trails throughout the sanctuary, all within walking distance from the Information Centre. Each trail is no longer than two kilometres return. Take the journey along these trails, viewing wildlife in their natural habitats.

The Wildlife Walk is a popular walk offering close encounters with wildlife. Meander past emus and Eastern Grey Kangaroos grazing to viewing areas, hides and flight aviaries perfect for bird watching. You may be treated to Brolgas trumpeting, Whistling Kites soaring high overhead, magnificent Yellow-billed Spoonbills wading through the shallow water or even a glimpse of the well-hidden Tawny Frogmouth as it watches you pass by.

Serendip Sanctuary is a 250 ha protected area in VictoriaAustralia, near the You Yangs and the town of Lara, some 22 km north of Geelong and 60 km south-west of Melbourne. Originally used for farming and other purposes, it was purchased in 1959 by the State Government of Victoria for wildlife research and the captive management and breeding of species threatened in Victoria, such as the brolgamagpie gooseAustralian bustard, and bush stone-curlew. The sanctuary contains many different types of wetland and is home to many plant species as well, such as river red gums, tall spike rush, and tussock grass. Serendip now focuses more on environmental education about the flora and fauna of the wetlands and open grassy woodlands of the Volcanic Western Plains of Victoria. It was opened to the public in 1991 and is now managed by Parks Victoria.

melbourne park

Maritime Cove Community Park Playground, The Boulevard, Port Melbourne

Address200 The Blvd, Port Melbourne VIC 3207

Hours

A brilliant place space created by the Port of Melbourne using re-purposed equipment to create a Maritime-themed park. The playground weaves equipment such as a Crows Nest, channel markers, marine bollards, colored buoys, rail lines, ladder bridge and steel buoys into a fun and exciting play environment.

Standing high upon the playground is a lookout tower with a spiral slide which takes some effort to reach the slide. Take your pick from wooden ladders, rope ladders or a wibbly-wobbly bridge to reach the first level of the tower. Then scramble up a vertical rope tunnel to get to the top of the slide. Unfortunately after all that effort, the slide wasn’t very slippery or maybe I just had high friction pants on.

The base of the tower has a wooden bridge that leads to a traverse across a thick rope and another traverse across a thin rope bridge to the site of sand play heaven. In this area, there are lots of buckets, channels, chain pulleys and cranes to move sand about.
This is a brilliant area for budding construction workers to practice their future careers. You can also scale the Crows Nest. Crows never had it so good.

At the northern end is an area for the younger kids which has a water play area with a hand pump where you can pump water through a series of channels and tables, an old fashioned metal kaleidoscope, car tire on springs, a big metal disk that rotates and moves around, a long wall with lots of sand play equipment, sea lion sculpture, turtle sculpture, a wooden pyramid with tiny metal slide, wooden boat, really interesting mechanical sand digger and a shiny black block with slits which you can hit with a clanger to make truly beautiful music.
Normally I don’t like the sound of clangers but this one could only be described as melodious.

On the western side is a concrete area that has some water sprays on top of some tall poles. I’ll leave it to you to work out the devious ways to get the sprays working but one tip is to investigate the wonderful see-saw made from a wooden pole.

A metal ladder from a ship has been turned into a horizontal traverse. There is a high ropes course to traverse across which includes several elements including some thin ropes, net and spider web. A large buoy has climbing holds and there is a wonderful area where logs are pile up in all sorts of directions to make a fun and exciting climbing area.

On the beachside is a boardwalk with a fun and innovative exercise area for both the body and mind which includes a fantastic log sawing station. Can you become the Australia log sawing champion?

acmi, melbourne, museum center

The Australian Centre for the Moving Image

The Australian Centre for the Moving Image, at Federation Square, Melbourne, is Australia’s national museum of film, video games, digital culture and art.

Located in: Fed Square
AddressFederation Square, Flinders St, Melbourne VIC 3000
Ticketsfree · acmi.net.au

The Australian Centre for the Moving Image at Federation Square has wonderful exhibits for all members of the family including some bouts of nostalgia for Mum and Dad. Check out Screen Worlds where there are loads of interesting interactive computer games to play.

Located in the heart of Melbourne’s Fed Square, ACMI (formerly Australian Centre for the Moving Image) celebrates the wonder and power of the world’s most democratic artform – fostering the next generation of makers, players and watchers.

Stories that transport you. Ideas that transform you. Immerse yourself in the world of film, television and digital culture at the Australian Centre for the Moving Image (ACMI).

ACMI celebrates, explores and promotes the cultural and creative richness of the moving image in all its forms – film, television and digital culture.

Through a vibrant calendar of award-winning Australian and international exhibitions, films, festivals, live events, creative workshops, education programs and Collection resources, ACMI provides diverse audiences with unsurpassed ways to engage with the moving image.

The centerpiece is a new, free entry, permanent exhibition charting the journey of the moving image and, in particular, Australia’s engagement with screen culture as a consumer and creator. Screen Worlds: The Story of Film, Television and Digital Culture is a unique, interactive and immersive exhibition that dynamically illustrates how each of the forms of the moving image has emerged and evolved as a powerful creative medium.

The exhibition is the cornerstone of the major development project which also includes a second special exhibition space, two new state-of-the-art production studios, a new national screen culture resource center – the Australian Mediatheque – and a unique external exhibition space, the Video Garden.

melbourne park

Royal Park Nature Playground, Gatehouse Street, Parkville

Address28 Gatehouse St, Parkville VIC 3052

Hours

An award-winning playground with natural play elements including an area of high rope traverses, a large climbing structure made from logs and ropes, a water play area and landscaped areas. The playground is most suited to older kids (at least five years old).

In the center of an amphitheater with rock step sides is a wonderful ropes course with rope traverses, elevated horizontal logs and ladder and rope net. The elements are at different heights but some of the course is high enough to give Mum a few nervous twitches. On the sides of this amphitheater are three metal slides – one slide is steep, fast and twisty, another slide is shorter but very steep and the third slide is wide with a gentler pace. Located above this area are six swings (some with safety chains) and overlooking the whole playground is a steep grassy hill that provides endless fun rolling down the side of the hill.

There is a lovely water play area with hand pumps, a couple of water sprays and channels to control the flow of water down to the sandpit below.

At the lower part of the playground is a huge log and rope climbing structure, another (dry) sandpit since it is separate from the water play area, birds nest swing and metal skeleton of a dinosaur. Other elements include a metal and tree branch hut, lots of natural play elements such as huge rocks and logs and a large area landscaped with native and indigenous plants and bushes with paths winding through them.

There are two areas with picnic tables, water taps and BBQs plus unshaded seats scattered about. There are no shelters or shade and toilets have now been added.

Parking can be a bit problematic during the week but is free and more available on Saturday afternoons and Sundays. The surrounding areas have one or two-hour parking during the week.

melbourne victoria park gardens

Fitzroy Gardens

The Fitzroy Gardens are 26 hectares located on the southeastern edge of the Melbourne Central Business District in East Melbourne, Victoria, Australia. The gardens are bounded by Clarendon Street, Albert Street, Lansdowne Street, and Wellington Parade with the Treasury Gardens across Lansdowne street to the west.

The best garden to explore near the CBD is Fitzroy Gardens in East Melbourne. It has a range of activities and attractions including Cooks’ Cottage (admission fees apply), a Tudor Village, the Fairy Tree, dragon playground, fountains, sculptures, Conservatory and water play area for the kids. There is even a free walking tour every Saturday.

AddressWellington Parade, East Melbourne VIC 3002

Hours

Fitzroy Gardens has a range of activities and attractions including Cooks’ Cottage, a Tudor Village, the Fairy Tree, dragon playground, fountains, sculptures and the Conservatory.

Cooks Cottage is a memorial to Captain James Cook, the discoverer of the east coast of Australia. The cottage which was used by the Cook family was transported from Yorkshire to Victoria in 253 packing cases and arrived in April 1934. The cottage has been restored as accurately as possible to its mid 18th-century appearance.

The Conservatory, which copies the Spanish mission architectural style, opened in 1930 and provides spectacular floral displays. There are five separate displays each year. Near the Conservatory is the Statue of Meditation, a statue of a draped form in marble.

Ola Cohn’s Fairies Tree, comprising a series of lovely carvings on the stump of one of the original Red Gum trees in the Fitzroy Gardens, is well over 300 years of age. The tree contains carvings of fairies, dwarfs, gnomes, jackass, koalas, flying foxes and a range of typical Australian animals and birds.

Sinclair’s cottage is a rare example of an Italian Romanesque style as adopted for a gardener’s cottage for James Sinclair and his family to live in.

There is a range of wonderful sculptures including “Boy on the Turtle”, a bronze sculpture of a child astride the back of a turtle located in the lower lake in the Gardens. The heavy sculpture was stolen from the Fitzroy Gardens in March 1977 but was recovered by the Victorian Police, two and a half years later abandoned in a car park in Richmond.

The sculptures “Boy and Pelican” and “Mermaid and Fish” are mounted on sandstone gate posts at the Hotham Street entrance to the Gardens.

The Conservatory Fountain (Boy with Serpent) is located near the rear entrance to the Conservatory. There stands a cast-iron ornamental fountain featuring a snake coiled around the figure of a boy, atop a granite-shaped ball.

The “Dolphin Fountain” consists of a pyramid of granite boulders upon which are mounted assorted sea creatures – dolphins, octopus, crabs, sea birds, sea horses, starfish, turtles and shrimps.

The statue of Diana and the Hounds, the work of W. Leslie-Bowles is located outside the Conservatory.

The “Grey Street Fountain” opposite Grey Street on the east side of the Gardens is one of the oldest fountains to be found in Melbourne’s Gardens. It was first commenced in 1863 and the concept incorporated a pool 30 m long and a central cluster of rocks, from the midst of which water was thrown up to a height of nearly 15 m in a solid jet.

The “People’s Path” consists of 10,000 ceramic tiles decorated by Victorians on an opening day in February 1978 of the Arts Victoria ’78 Crafts Festival. The decorations on the tiles reflect the diversity of backgrounds and ages of those who took part in Arts Victoria ’78. They range from detailed drawings and intricate patterns to symbolism, graffiti and obscure personal messages. The 10,000 decorated tiles are supplemented by 10,000 plain tiles. The tiles form a unique garden walkway in the northwest corner of the Gardens.

The River God fountain which comprises the figure of a man on bended knee bearing an open clamshell on his shoulders was one of the first major pieces in the gardens.

The Scarred tree is a reminder of Wurundjeri Aboriginal people that lived in the area before the European settlement of Melbourne. Scarred trees are trees that have had bark removed by indigenous Australians for the creation of canoes, shelters, shields and containers. Bark was removed by making deep cuts in a tree with a stone axe. The area of bark removed is typically regular in shape, often with parallel sides and slightly pointed or rounded ends, and the scar usually stops above ground level.

The Tudor Village is a series of model buildings that represent a typical Kentish village built during the “Tudor” period of English history. The village is composed of various thatched cottages, a village church, school, hotel, barns, stocks, pump, and all public buildings which make up one of the delightful villages. Also included is a scale model of Shakespeare’s home and Anne Hathaway’s cottage.

The Gardens also have a wonderful playground with a dragon slides and giraffe swings.

The Fitzroy Gardens are 26 hectares (64 acres) located on the southeastern edge of the Melbourne Central Business District in East MelbourneVictoriaAustralia. The gardens are bounded by Clarendon Street, Albert Street, Lansdowne Street, and Wellington Parade with the Treasury Gardens across Lansdowne street to the west.

The gardens are one of the major Victorian era landscaped gardens in Australia and add to Melbourne‘s claim to being the garden city of Australia. Set within the gardens are an ornamental lake, a scarred tree, a visitor information centre and cafe, a conservatory, Cooks’ Cottage (a house where the parents of James Cook lived, brought from England in the 1930s), tree-lined avenues, a model Tudor village, a band pavilion, a rotunda, the “Fairies’ Tree”, fountains and sculptures.

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