Canberra With 20 Kids

Sarah Pye is the author of ‘Kids Welcome to Queensland’ the first in a series of family friendly guide books. Sarah recently travelled to Canberra with her daughters Cubs troop and was kind enough to share the group’s travel experiences with us.

Ah, Canberra. Say to a born-Aussie that you haven’t been to the national capital and they look at you as if you came from another planet…

Well, in a way, I did. It was called England. And being an immigrant means I didn’t get the obligatory school excursion to Canberra in my youth. Imagine my excitement, then, when my daughter’s cub troop planned a driving holiday over the last school holidays. Also imagine my (perhaps misplaced) enthusiasm when I put my hand up to cook for 20 kids and eight adults for the entire journey. Yes, perhaps this ex-pom had spent too much time in the mid-day sun.

It was a Sunday when we gathered outside the den. The pile of luggage towered above the bus and kids in specially-made red Canberra T shirts bustled and giggled as the cub leaders (and me) stuffed every possible space.

The next four days were an adventure in their own right: sleeping on reciprocal den floors, scoffing down donated cakes, posing in front of the Golden Guitar, chiming the Peace Bell at Cowra and watching the Dish move at Parkes. Many rest stops (and renditions of Mama Mia) later we drove into the capital and 20 kids’ eyes lit up in anticipation.

The nation’s capital didn’t let us down and this age (8-10) was the perfect range to explore here. First stop was Questacon to let off a little steam and stretch our scientific minds.

The next day was the one we had come for…

We arrived on the front steps of Parliament at 9am and made contact with our guide for the day: Nathan. What an amazing tour we were given, and most of if behind the scenes in areas the public are generally not permitted. We saw Julia’s offices, The House of Reps, Senate and even held the whip (which is a symbol of Nathan’s office). It is his job to make sure all the members get to voting on time. Clocks throughout the building are synchronised and they are given four minutes to get to the chamber when needed for a vote. How exciting Parliament was.

Next stop was the Australia War memorial with rooms dedicated to each of the wars in which Australia has participated. We lunched on the lawns out front then some of us went in while others had another sort of adventure: grocery shopping in Belconnen. If I never see Belconnen again, I will be happy. Road works ruled, and the shopping centre parking was the worst I have ever seen...

Miraculously, we finished and returned just in time to meet the bus at The Mint. I could have spent far longer here. What a fascinating history of coinage in Australia. Here I picked up a small booklet called “Passport to Canberra”. It lists so many attractions that I wish we had another week…

On the drive back to the scout den we drove by the Embassies. I hadn’t realised they were all next to each other, and it was marvellous to see the different architecture, levels of opulence and flags flying high: Definitely worth a detour for anyone visiting this area with kids.

Now, I know I am not the only immigrant in this wide brown land and I venture to say there are two travel pilgrimages that are a must in Australia… one focuses on a very large rock and the other, the centre of power. Taking kids makes them both even better…

Thanks for sharing your first Canberra experience with us Sarah. We look forward to hearing about more of your travels in the future - TWT

 

The first in a state-by-state series, Kids Welcome to Queensland is jam-packed with around 1000 age-appropriate activities, attractions, tours, restaurants and places to stay. Each is rated for its suitability for three different age groups – preschool, primary and teen. Destined to be a staple on the family bookshelf, this colourful A5 reference comes complete with Hema maps. It fits in the glove box on a road trip, or slides easily into a handbag. The book retails for $24.95 and is available from major bookshops and tourist information centres or online at www.kidswelcome.com.au

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