After last weekend’s outing to Pittwater and the way it all went rather pear-shaped when Amelia got over-tired and fed up, we had the sense to leave her behind this weekend for our trip to our nation’s capital, Canberra in the ACT. We dropped her off at my parents’ place on the way down south and headed off on Saturday morning with just two kids, which already felt more manageable!
Our first stop was Questacon – The National Science and Technology Centre on the shores of Lake Burley Griffin. If you’ve got kids you’ve probably been there a number of times, but ours are only recently age appropriate. It’s fun, interactive, educational and there’s plenty of physical activity involved too. My only criticism was that there weren’t enough watering holes for the parents along the route from Gallery 1 to 8!
Just checking how I’m hoping to look when I’ve lost the last 8 kilos! Yeah, dreamin’.
It was invasion of the Segways. A group of about 30 went past outside, looked like such a fun way to get around town, especially as Canberra is mostly flat.
Mini Q is the area reserved for the little ones aged 0-6. There’s a quiet area for sleeping babies, a feeding area, lots of space to crawlers and my only complaint was there wasn’t a bar! Otherwise we could have spent hours there.
There’s a couple of areas where they can dress up and pretend to be a baker, a vet, a mechanic or a builder. The kids loved this.
In the Fun Zone you can try the Free Fall ride. Charlie was eager to have a go, but without really seeing what it involved I was surprised by his enthusiasm. When he got to the top, he had a first attempt and chickened out, but tried again after everybody else had been down. He hung there for about 15 seconds, but couldn’t let go, so they pulled him back up. Bless him for having a go.
I don’t blame him for backing out – I would have, it’s about a 9m drop!
In one of the galleries there’s an earthquake simulation house – which recreates the effects of about a 5.5 Richter earthquake. It was violent and very uncomfortable, so I can’t imagine it must be in anything stronger.
That night we stayed at the East Hotel in Kingston. I highly recommend this place, it was terrific and very kid friendly but also hip, cool and modern! The rooms were spacious, well designed, open and extremely well catered and equipped.
I didn’t take any pics of the hotel, but these are pulled off their website. The kids’ room includes bunks with kid size furniture, X Box, drawing and games plus free movies, popcorn and cookies. The kids were thrilled! (not my kids in photo below)
The main reception foyer had three iMacs to use which the kids thought was amazing! The in-house restaurant Ox Eatery was brilliant, and served probably one of the best hotel breakfasts I have ever had.
For dinner we tried our luck at local eatery Me and Mrs Jones on the main drag of Kingston, just five minutes up the road. Not realising this was one of the most popular restaurants in town and normally you have to book weeks ahead, we lucked it with a communal table and the promise to be out in one hour. Easy to do when you’re dining with a fractious 3 and 6 year old!
The fitout was very cool, kind of New York industrial chic with a great menu and fast, efficient service. We relented and took along the iPads for the kids to amuse themselves with during the wait for dinner, as we knew we couldn’t bare the whining, whinging, grizzling and impatience that would otherwise dominate our dinner. It did buy us 30 minutes of peace.
Sunday saw us taken in a nostalgic pedal car ride around Lake Burley Griffin in the centre of the city. We hired our bike from Mr Spokes Bike Hire and set off around the perimeter of the lake for about an hour, stopping at a few play areas on the way and finally reaching the National Carillon (bell tower donated by the British Government) before we turned around. Our legs sure were burning by the end.
About midday Sunday we decided to push our luck, and visit the Australian War Memorial. Everything in Canberra is very easy to find and reach, particularly because of the symmetrical and logical way Canberra and its road system is laid out.
The War Memorial is a very impressive place, not just because of the nature of it as a commemorative museum but the way it has been set up is fantastic. The design of the buildings and layout are fabulous, but from an historical and educational point of view, it’s a wonderful and very touching experience.
We were only sorry we took the kids with us, because they were bored within minutes and whined and groaned around the galleries until we couldn’t stand hearing “This is the most BOOOOOORING day of my life!” one more time! We’ll have to go back on our own, because there was so much to look at, read, learn and take in about the place, that it really needs a few solid hours of commitment and concentration to appreciate and fully absorb the experience. I did keep thanking my lucky stars we had the sense and opportunity to leave Amelia behind!
They did enjoy themselves in the Discovery Zone which caters to young kids especially and gives them a chance to dress up and pretend to fly a helicopter, go in a submarine, the trenches and gives them a look at modern day military involvement.
Outside the Commemorative Courtyard is very peaceful and reflective, where the kids tossed coins in the Pool of Reflection leading up to the Hall of Memory with the copper-clad domed roof.
Inside this awe inspiring space you look up to see the domed ceiling which features a beautiful mosaic depicting the souls of the dead rising from earth towards their spiritual home, represented by a glowing sun within the Southern Cross. It’s very beautiful.
The Tomb of the Unknown Australian Soldier is in the centre of the Hall: he represents all Australians who have given their lives during wartime.
There are 15 stained glass windows representing different defining qualities of the servicemen and women at war.
The Roll of Honour walk is very contemplative and moving, a solemn reminder of the extraordinary number of lives lost over the years in battle – 102,000 named in bronze.
Paper poppies are added in remembrance.
It was at this point I lost my temper as the kids were getting rowdy, restless and increasingly disobedient and not in the mood to show the respect and appreciation I was hoping for, although after a full day it was a lot to expect from a 3 and 6 year old admittedly.
So, the lesson learned from our successful weekend away ? Only have two kids.