School Holiday Survival Guide For Brisbane Parents

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School Holiday Survival Guide For Brisbane Parents

Mums and dads, school holidays have come to Brisbane once again. It’s a time when we often realise just how long those days really are, and how they seem so much longer when children are hanging off our arms and legs whinging their school holiday anthems:

I’m bored” and “There’s nothing to do!”

Try though you might to convince them that a little boredom never killed anyone, and they might benefit from making their own entertainment, the chants continue. So, if you really need something to do with them in Brisbane, here are a few ideas.

The SLQ Summer Festival

The State Library of Queensland has really delivered a godsend to parents these school holidays with their Summer Festival program. Running between 18/12/17 and 21/01/18 the festival focuses on tech + stories + play. There’s a massive choose-your-own-adventure program with loads of free activities that will keep kids occupied, and parents happy. Most workshops are free, although some require you to book a space, there are also activities for ‘drop-ins’.

SLQ Summer Festival virtual reality
Virtual Reality fun

Your Local Library

If you have kids of a primary school age, there’s a pretty good chance you’ll find some school holiday activities being run at your local library. You can check this online with your council, or if your library has a website. Look for things like story-time activities, children’s story workshops, reading and dress up days, and more. When your local library isn’t running a program, you’ll still find lots of entertainment there in the form of books and games. Plus, getting out of the house is always a winner.

Hit The Gold Coast

Jumping in the car or getting a train down to the Gold Coast is not a bad way to spend a sunny summer’s day. Yes, it can be a bit hectic to take kids down to the coast, but a day of sun, sand and sea is sure to tire out even the most hyper child. There are lots of activities on the Gold Coast as well, ranging from free things like nature walks to the more expensive big-ticket items like theme parks.

Have A Picnic In Mt Coot-tha

Who doesn’t love a picnic in the summer? As long as you don’t forget the sunscreen or the bug spray, it’s a lovely day out, and Mt Coot-tha is an ideal place to go. The Mt Coot-tha Botanic Gardens are a stunning and beautiful local spot that families have often chosen for picnicking. You can have a wander down the children’s trail, have a picnic on the lawns, or even just try what’s on offer at the café. Then head up to Mt Coot-tha itself for a look at the view!

Visit Queensland Gallery of Modern Art

It might not be your first choice to visit an art gallery with your children, but the Queensland Gallery of Modern Art is not just any gallery. There’s a Children’s Art Centre that is free to enter and contains interactive installations, activities and projects for kids. All kids have an interest in their own art! The museum has a rotating roster of activities for children, and there’s stuff for parents as well, including a dining space and café!

GOMA Obliteration Room fun for Brisbane kids
Check out the Obliteration Room at GOMA

See Some Koalas

The cuddly koala is a favourite among most children, which is why the Daisy Hill Koala Reserve is such a fantastic spot. Not only is the reserve focused entirely on educating the public about how special koalas are, it’s also free. Heaps of koalas call the Reserve home, and with both interactive displays and boardwalks where you can see the koalas, it’s a family favourite. Don’t forget the other bushwalking and picnic opportunities!

Take A Dip At Southbank

Centrally located on Brisbane’s riverbank the South Bank precinct is a super family-friendly spot, and it’s not hard to see why. Acres of stunning parklands with loads of children’s play areas, cafes and eateries, as well as the lagoon and waterpark for a long day of splashing and swimming for families. The best and worst part of South Bank is that it’s free, so it can be busy. Get in early to secure a nice spot and you can spend the entire day looking out over the water and letting your kids wear themselves out. Perfect!

Explore The Museum Of Brisbane

Located in the Brisbane city hall, the Museum of Brisbane makes for a great school holiday outing. Don’t worry, this isn’t the stuffy museum you might be associating with the term. Instead the Museum of Brisbane is focused on the living history of the Brisbane city and surrounds. Entry to the museum is free, and it is open 7 days a week. Tours of the museum and City Hall building are also free, and there’s even a tour of the clock tower (free again!) that gives you a stunning view of the city. Worth it!

Check Out The City Botanic Gardens

If you’re already in the city, you might as well have a look at the beautiful urban green space that is the City Botanic Gardens. This is particularly true for parents of differently-abled children, with a playground available for children of all abilities including those in wheelchairs. Once your kids have exhausted themselves on the playground, you’ll find lots of lawns for picnics, as well as free guided tours at 11 am and 1 pm from Monday to Saturday.

Playground at City Botanical Gardens
The great playground at City Botanical Gardens

Jump On The CityHopper

They say that everyone should see their own city as a tourist, and the best way to do that in Brisbane is to jump on the CityHopper. A free ferry service, the CityHopper makes its way along the Brisbane River making a number of stops at key terminals and tourist spots. There isn’t much better than spending a day on the river, making little stops along the way to check out the sights and sounds around town. It’s also perfect for families not wanting to fight for parking, just get on and off!

Ride The Rails At The Workshops Rail Museum

The Workshops Rail Museum has long been a school holiday must-do for Brisbane families. While the museum isn’t free, it is worth the fees with lots of activities for kids of various ages including driving train simulators, a miniature railway, an exploration of the history of trains, and other interactive exhibits. If you happen to have a child who loves trains, you could easily spend all day on-site, and for those on a budget, it’s totally ok to bring your own food and have a picnic.

Get Lego Crazy At Bricks n Fun, Capalaba

Most families have a big-time Lego lover in their house, and if you’re one of them then the place to go to keep boredom at bay this school holidays is Bricks n Fun in Capalaba. Here you’ll find a place of dreams: a Lego Buildroom where kids can spend 1 or 2 hours (booked sessions) putting together Lego kits from an enormous variety. Don’t worry, instructions are included, and there’s something for most age groups. This one is a must for the Lego engineers among us!

Leap Back In Time At The Brisbane Tramway Museum

Once you’ve had a look at the trains, it’s time to see the trams, and the best spot for that for Brisbane families is the Tramway Museum in Ferny Grove. In this tranquil bush location, you and your family can ride the trams, spend some time exploring restored trams, and learn all about trams. It’s a must for transport lovers, and kids will certainly enjoy ‘riding the rails’ on the old-style trams. Entry is at cost, but prices are reasonable and the museum is run by dedicated volunteers!

Brisbane tramway museum
Brisbane Tramway Museum

Trek Through The Robelle Domain Parklands

Outdoors enthusiasts looking for a new spot to explore will find more than enough to keep them, and their little-legged beasties occupied at the Robelle Domain Parklands. Located in Springfield Central, the 24-hectare parklands offer some 11km of boardwalks and cycle tracks as well as great playgrounds, a waterfall and a scenic riverbed. Along with that there are gardens, outdoor art, picnic spaces, a tree-top walk and a café. Basically, everything you need!

Go To Outerspace At The Sir Thomas Brisbane Planetarium

Children often have a deep fascination with space, and if you’re looking to nurture that and get them doing some learning during their school holidays, the Sir Thomas Brisbane Planetarium is a fantastic spot to visit. The planetarium may not be free, but the shows at the Cosmic Skydome are truly outstanding and absolutely worth it. Even better, they have a variety of different shows for different age groups, so you can ensure you’re getting the best visit for your little ones.

Take A Trip To Settlement Cove, Redcliffe

Brisbane’s North might not be the place you’d expect to find a tropical island paradise, but you’ll get just that at Settlement Cove. Located in Redcliffe, Settlement Cove is a family friendly tropical seafront pool that is just perfect for hot Brisbane summer days. The lagoon is open 24 hours a day, but it is not lifeguard patrolled all day so keep an eye out for that. The best thing about Settlement Cove is it’s totally free! Pack your togs and everything you need for a day out, and you’ll be making this spot a regular!

See The Sights At The Queensland Maritime Museum

The Queensland Maritime Museum is well worth checking out if you’ve got a boat fanatic in your family, and you’re guaranteed to have a great time checking out all the different historic vessels. The museum is home to boats and ships of all shapes and sizes, and there are even big exhibits like warships just waiting to be explored. Make sure you check out the program online so you don’t miss any potential school holiday events!

Maritime Museum
The kids will love checking out the boats and ships at the Maritime Museum.

Get Arty At The Ipswich Art Gallery

What’s so good about the Ipswich Art Gallery you ask? Well, it’s Australia’s first children’s interactive space designed with under 12s in mind. Pretty impressive and a perfect school holiday day out. Inside you’ll find child-centred programs unique to the centre, including lots of hands-on exhibitions and free-play opportunities for your kids. The exhibitions range in cost, but they are very affordable for families. Remember, all kids love to create and explore, so give them a chance to do just that!

Play Old Macdonald At Maleny Dairies

For families with a passion for Old Macdonald, the Maleny Dairies is an unusual but engaging way to spend a day these school holidays. The dairies are a fantastic place to educate kids on where their milk and dairy products come from and are only a short drive from Brisbane. There are public tours from Monday to Saturday, with four tours a day of 1.5 hours each. The 2:30 pm tour includes a display of the cows actually being milked, but all the tours offer chances to pet and even bottle-feed baby cows, which kids will delight in.

Make It Handy At Bunnings

Parents are often big fans of Bunnings, but your kids can also get some entertainment at the warehouse superstore thanks to Bunnings’ school holiday DIY programs. Check with your local store and have a look at the programs and workshops they are running, which could include anything from making trucks and toolboxes to planter boxes and painting projects. Workshops run on every single Saturday and Sunday, and you can make bookings. The workshops vary in cost, but they’re definitely a load of fun and a great excuse to visit Bunnings yourselves!

Run Away To The Circus

Let’s face it, we’ve all entertained the idea of running away to the circus, but for Brisbane kids this school holidays is the time to live that life with Flipside Circus. Queensland’s leading youth circus, Flipside circus offers both performances and fantastic circus workshops to children of all ages in a variety of circus skills. There are so many programs available, from one-day to five days, and the skills taught range from acrobatics to performance skills. Parents are absolutely encouraged to stay and watch, so settle in for the show!

Flipside Circus
The kids will love joining the Flipside Circus

Go Wild At The Zoo

Animal lovers of all ages, these school holidays are the perfect time to get to your local zoo or wildlife park. Brisbane residents are spoilt for choice when it comes to seeing the wildlife of our country and others with several zoo and wildlife park options. These include the Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary, Australia Zoo, Queensland Zoo at the Big Pineapple and Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary, as well as a number of speciality parks like the Lyell Deer Sanctuary and Underwater World. Depending on how far you want to travel, there’s something for you!

Take A Trip To Bribie Island

For a simple but satisfying day trip from Brisbane city, Bribie Island is the smart choice. Just over an hour from Brisbane, Bribie Island is accessible by road so there are no ferry or plane logistics. The beaches are stunning, the location is ideal for summer fun, and there are so many things to do. Check out the surf spots, lie in the shade, build a sandcastle, have a look at the information centre, explore the museum, visit the local community arts centre, or take your pick from the many markets. Believe us when we say you will not be short of things to do!

How do you like to keep your kids entertained in Brisbane during the school holidays? Any favourite spots or activities that keep them occupied during those long summer weeks?


Katie -


Katie is the Managing Director and Editor of Mums of Brisbane. Most days will find her drinking copious amounts of coffee, cuddling her kids and trying not to step barefoot on lego. Katie lives in Beautiful Brisbane with her husband and four gorgeous children.