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12 Buckets, located in Perth Western Australia, is an early intervention strengths-based mentoring organisation established as a charity for at-risk and disadvantaged children.

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19 (mostly) free school holiday activities in Perth

Melinda Tognini

I don't know about you, but I can hardly believe first term is over already. And while I look forward to the break from making lunches and washing uniforms, I do wonder how I'll keep my kids occupied without being overly reliant on a screen and without costing a fortune. If you can relate, then I think we have something that might help - a list of 19 holiday activities that are either free or extremely low cost - and there's not a screen in sight.

Parks and Nature Playgrounds

1. If the weather is good, then there are numerous parks that just invite kids to play. Here's a just a sample of them across Perth:

  • Calleya Park Adventure Playground, Wattletree Ave, Banjup;
  • Heathcote Reserve, Applecross - with its giant ship playground (and a nearby coffee shop for Mum or Dad);
  • Yokine Playground, Yokine Reserve, Wordsworth Ave, Yokine;
  • McIntyre Park, McIntyre Avenue, Burns Beach - this pirate-themed park comes complete with nautical style ropes, swings, obstacles and slides for kids to enjoy;
  • Faulkner Park, Belmont - comes with 'erupting' volcano;
  • Pitstop Playground, Discovery Park, Grandis Boulevarde and Botanic Ave, Banksia Grove;
  • Meadow Springs Quarry Adventure Park, Pebble Beach Boulevard, Meadow Springs;
  • Braithwaite Park, Cnr Scarborough Beach Road & The Boulevard, Mount Hawthorn.

2. Nature Playgrounds: Braithwaite Park, mentioned above, is one nature playground, but Buggy Buddys have put together a list of another 10 top nature playgrounds in Perth, including Rio Tinto Naturescape and The Variety Place, both at Kings Park; Mawson Park Nature Playground in Hillarys and Kingsway Regional Playground.

Other Outdoor Spaces

3. Lake Leschenaultia: If you don't mind a drive, then why not head to Lake Leschenaultia for a picnic? Situated in Chidlow about 50 minutes from the centre of Perth, the sandy beaches and the lake's shallows are suitable for younger children to paddle and play. Older children will enjoy canoeing or swimming out to the pontoon.

4. Esplanade Youth Plaza: The Esplanade Youth Plaza is a family friendly space at the south eastern corner of Fremantle's Esplanade Reserve. It includes specially designed spaces for skateboarding, BMX and scooter riding, but also includes Western Australia's first outdoor parkour (shout out to the first person who can tell us what parkour is!) park, as well as stages, seating and viewing areas. For more details, check out the City of Fremantle website

If you don't live near Fremantle, then you could also factor in a train ride to get there, and make a day of it, as well as saving on petrol and parking.

Museums

5. While in Fremantle, visit the Maritime Museum, situated at Victoria Quay. There is a cost for adults ($15.00), but on the 2nd Tuesday of the month, entry is by gold coin donation. Children receive free entry. During the holidays, there are a number of children's activities, including a fishing clinic (you need to book for this) and making periscopes. You can also take a submarine tour, but additional costs apply.

6. Not far away in Cliff Street, is the Shipwreck Museum, which contains relics and artefacts from boats shipwrecked along the Western Australian coat. Entry is by donation.

7. If you prefer to visit the Perth city centre (why not do both!) then the Western Australian Museum can be found in the Perth Cultural Centre. Current exhibitions include A History of the World in 100 objects (which does have an entry fee), War at Sea and WA Press Photographer of the Year. Check out the Western Australian Museum's website for details of holiday activities.

Culture, the Arts and a little Science

8. At the Art Gallery of Western Australia, also in the Perth Cultural Centre, you can make your own comic for the cost of a gold coin donation, or experiment in the interactive drawing space.

9. Nearby is the State Library of Western Australia. Activities during the April holidays include:

  • Wednesday 13 April 1 - 2.30 pm: play giant board games, build with a Polydron construction set and make badges. No bookings required.
  • Monday 18 April 10.30 am - 12.30 pm: Join artist Samantha Hughes and help her decorate the Better Beginnings Book Club Cubby, which will then travel to public libraries throughout the state. Bookings for this are essential.
  • Tuesdays 10.30: Baby Rhymetime (no booking required)
  • Wednesdays 10.30: Storytime (no bookings required)

10. And why not check out the new state of the art City of Perth Library, which opened at 573 Hay Street recently. 

11.  While you're in the city, you might also want to check out 'Scitech does Gas' in Forrest Place. Kids will explore and experiment with interactive exhibits in Scitech's 'Science Wonderland' at this free event for all ages. 

12. A little closer to home, many local libraries run holiday programs, so contact yours to find out what's happening. For example, the Stirling Libraries are hosting robotics workshops and sessions with Scitech - all free, but bookings are essential.

Shopping Centres and In-Store Activities

13. Going to a shopping centre if you're trying to limit your spending might backfire on you, but Karrinyup Shopping Centre is turning its Centre Court into a retro roller rink, complete with live DJ. For further information see the Centre's website.

With a decorated dream catcher  (photo used with permission)

With a decorated dream catcher  (photo used with permission)

14. Westfield Innaloo has Wild and Free craft activities where children can decorate their own dream catchers or rain-sticks. One mum told me the best thing about free craft like this is that she doesn't have to clean up glitter and paint at home. 

15. Perhaps there's a shopping centre closer to home, so it could be worth checking out what's happening there.

16. Many Bunnings stores hold kids' workshops during the holidays, including gardening, game making and painting. These are free, but you do need to book. Go to the Bunnings' Kids Activities page, then click on 'contact your nearest store'. In most cases all you have to do is scroll down to the section titled, 'What's on: D.I.Y. Workshops and Activities'.

17. During the April school holidays, Ikea's Kids Academy activities include a food art workshop, kite making and photo frame decorating. There are also a variety of ready-to-play games. 

Gardening and Farming

18. Some of our 12 Buckets students have recently started a garden of their own, but these holidays, you might like to get along to City Farm. Join in a fun-filled morning of cooking, gardening and craft, followed by a shared lunch. It's free and suitable for children aged 6 to 10, but places are limited. For further details and to book, contact City Farm by phoning 9325 7229 or emailing admin@perthcityfarm.org.au

19. City kids can experience a taste of the country at the Landsdale Farm School, which can be found in Landsdale Road, Darch. The Landsdale Farm School, is open to everyone, but was developed with children with disabilities in mind and is wheelchair accessible. Entry is $7.00.

Over to You

I really hope you'll find something on this list that appeals to you and your kids. And we'd love to hear about your holiday plans. We'd also like to know: what else would you add to this list?