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Indoor outings

Family holiday + rain = disaster.

A common formula for holidays, but it can be easily fixed. With a wealth of interactive exhibits, fun activities and gripping shows, Sally Barker realises that these indoor attractions might actually be better than the beach.

When the rain hits right in the middle of a coastal family holiday it can put a real dampener on everyone’s spirits. If you’re not familiar with the area, it could end up with a day spent in the hotel room and the whole family going stir crazy. To combat the rainy blues venture out to some of the indoor tourist attractions. They often have engaging exhibits and activities especially aimed at kids that will keep them occupied for hours. Be prepared for the bad weather and keep these fantastic indoor adventures in mind.

ACMI – Australian Centre for the Moving Image Melbourne, VIC
DreamWorks Animation: The Exhibition
When: 10 April to 5 October 2014
Time: 10am to 5pm, 9pm on Thursdays
Details: Step into the worlds of the entire DreamWorks catalogue of 29 films including ‘Shrek’, ‘How to Train Your Dragon’, ‘Madagascar’ and ‘Kung Fu Panda’ in the exciting premiere of this international exhibition. Over 400 items are on display across three sections: Character, Story and World. See the township of Berk through the eyes of Toothless the dragon in the ‘Dragon Flight: a Dragons-eye view of Berk’, then create your own animations using a simplified version of DreamWorks’ own software that you can email and share with friends and family.
Cost: Adult $22.50, child $10, family $50*

Clip ‘n Climb Melbourne, VIC
When: Tuesday to Sunday – Mondays in school holidays
Time: Hourly sessions – check website for trading hours and bookings
Details: Test your climbing skills across 33 exciting challenges open to all ages. Race friends and family on the Speed Wall, test your endurance on the Stairway to Heaven or have fun bouncing off the Inflatable. For the daredevils, the Leap of Faith and the Vertical Drop Slide are sure to get the adrenaline pumping and are available for an extra fee. Keeping in mind the safety of little ones, every child under 12 must have their harness checked by an adult before making each ascent and a 15-minute safety and harnessing briefing is delivered before each hourly session.
Cost: Everyone over five $18.50, under five $12.50, plus extras


Powerhouse Museum Sydney, NSW
The Wiggles Exhibition
When: Daily
Time: 10am to 5pm
Details: Step into a wiggly world of skivvy-wearing delight with rooms dedicated to each of the Wiggles and all the things they love. While parents gain an insight into the global phenomenon still going strong after more than 20 years, kids will get to know all their favourites, from Dorothy the Dinosaur to Captain Feathersword.
Cost: Free with museum admission (adult $15, child (4 to 15) $8, family $38*)

Zero Gravity Space Lab
When: Daily
Time: 10am to 5pm
Details: Do you have a potential astronaut in the family? Well, you better bring them here where they can learn everything there is to know about travelling into space. Find out how astronauts work, eat and sleep plus experience what it’s like to float in zero gravity.
Cost: Free with museum admission.

Sydney Observatory Sydney, NSW
When: Daily
Time: 10am to 5pm; telescope and 3D theatre sessions at various times – check website for more details
Details: Sydney Observatory has a rich history and the four free exhibits – ‘By the light of the southern stars’, ‘Cadi Eora birrung’, ‘Transit of Venus: the biggest ruler in the world’, and ‘Observing the weather’ – aim to showcase this and the role the site plays as an astronomical centre. The telescope sessions give families the opportunity to gaze at the sun through a special solar telescope, the 3D space theatre shows a range of short space-themed films, and the planetarium offers regular sessions with changing films based on astronomy and the history of space flight.
Cost: Entry is free; planetarium, daytime telescope and 3D theatre sessions: Adult $10, child (4 to 15) $8, family $26*

Wannabees Family Play Town Frenchs Forest, NSW
When: Daily
Time: Mon and Tues 9.30am to 2pm, Wed to Sun 9.30am to 5pm
Details: This indoor theme park houses a child-sized city where kids can dress up, play grown-ups and live out their future occupations and aspirations. On weekdays between 9.30am and 2pm there are scheduled activities including Story Time, Parachute Games, a Teddy Bear Picnic and an obstacle course or limbo dance. Weekends offer a fashion parade, ‘firefighting’, and a disco dance concert. Parents can retreat to the café with free Wi-Fi while your little ones explore imaginative role-play.
Cost: Adult $4, child (5 to 12) $15.90, child (1 to 4) $12.90

Cosmos Centre Charleville, QLD
Astronomy by Day

When: Monday to Saturday – Sundays in high season
Time: 10am to 4pm
Details: Want to know if stars can actually fall, or if they can shoot? Are you curious as to why Pluto is no longer considered a planet but is now a dwarf planet? Find out all the answers as you hold space rocks; learn about the five dwarf planets in a short presentation; and discover how planets formed, the influence of the sun and the moon and why life exists on earth in the short film ‘Journey to Infinity’ at the Cosmos Theatre. Several hands-on exhibits allow you to traipse the history of astronomy, visit earth’s nearest star and find out the difference between astronomy and astrology.
Cost: Adult $10, child (4 to 14) $8, family $28*

Gravity Discovery Centre Gingin West, WA
When: Tuesday to Sunday – Mondays in school holidays
Time: Weekdays 10am to 4pm, weekends 10am to 5pm
Details: Just one hour north of Perth you can oppose the law of gravity and engage in many more fun scientific experiments. Learn all about wave motion and how energy moves along an object with the giant slinky; defy gravity with science as you practise magnetic levitation; or fly around aboard a small craft fitted with an ion engine (an all-electric rocket with no moving parts). If you still want more, see if you can handle G forces, test your strength with the magnetic pole or see how much you weigh on different planets.
Cost: Adult $18, child $12, family $54*

Australian National Maritime Museum Sydney, NSW
Family Fun Sundays
When: Sundays during school term
Time: 11am to 3pm
Details: Travel full steam ahead to the Kids on Deck area of the museum and learn about the history of ships, the role the ocean has in connecting the world and the critters that lurk beneath its surface while crafting a longship, Viking helmet or amulet.
Cost: First adult $3.50, additional adults $7, child $8.50 (includes galleries ticket)

Mini Mariners
When: Tuesdays during school term
Time: 10am and 11am
Details: Specially designed for those aged two to five, kids are taught about the ocean in a fun, interactive and friendly atmosphere. Follow your costumed guide through the galleries, singing and dancing along the way; get creative in the play room with craft and dress-ups; and finish with a story.
Cost: First adult $3.50, additional adults $7, child $8.50 (includes galleries ticket)

PowderPak Park Carrum Downs, VIC
When: Wednesday to Sunday
Time: Wed to Fri 6pm to 9pm, weekends 12pm to 6pm
Details: Less than an hour from Melbourne lies the first indoor terrain park in Australia, giving you and your kids the opportunity to ski and snowboard all year round. Made from the same artificial snow surface that is used by most ski resorts, it’s the perfect place to maintain and build your skills, or introduce the family to the world of snow, giving everyone the opportunity to learn the ropes before hitting the slopes to get the most out of your ski holiday.
Cost: Members $25 per session, non-members $35 per session

Sir Thomas Brisbane Planetarium Mt Coot-tha, QLD
When: Tuesday to Sunday
Time: Opening times vary, check website for more details.
Details: Located in the Brisbane Botanic Gardens, the Planetarium offers a great place for your kids to learn all about space and our place within it. Be immersed in both entertaining and educational experiences in the Cosmic Skydome; marvel at curious artefacts and displays including asteroid fragments and a full-size replica of Neil Armstrong’s spacesuit in the Display Zone; or watch some of the short feature films about space in the Mini Theatre. Special children’s shows are run on certain days including Perfect Little Planet, Secret of the Cardboard Rocket and Tycho to the Moon.
Cost: Adult $14.80, child (3 to 14) $9, family $40*

iFLY Downunder Penrith, NSW
If you’ve ever dreamed of flying, now’s your chance to make a dream come true. iFLY Downunder is the very first indoor skydive centre to hit Australia’s shores, open now in the Penrith Panthers Entertainment complex in Sydney after three years of planning. The five-metre-wide SkyVenture glass chamber is state-of-the-art, one of the world’s largest vertical wind tunnels, where guests can hang suspended above four 450hp electric fans. iFLY has had success across the globe, with more than 5.5 million people enjoying the unparalleled freedom of body flight. With the success of its first Australian venture, parent company Indoor Skydive Australia Group is looking to create centres across the country, so look out for an iFLY near you, where flying has never been easier, whether you’re three or 103.

*Family based on two adults and two children


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