While heading to your favourite holiday spot might be off the cards for now, there are still many ways families can have an Australian adventure - with free art, games and educational experiences - all whilst staying at home.
To this end, Tourism Australia has outlined some great school holiday activities from virtual excursions to doing science and art at home.
"Families across Australia have had to put their Australian holiday plans on hold until it is safe to travel again," Phillipa Harrison, Managing Director for Tourism Australia said.
"Until then why not immerse yourself and your family in some of the most iconic and incredible destinations and experiences our country has to offer - all from the comfort and safety of your home."
Once it’s safe to travel again, make sure you head out and see all these wonderful art galleries, wildlife sanctuaries and experiences in real life, but until then, settle in and be inspired from the comfort of your own home.
Set their Australian spirit animal free - raising a budding zoologist? These experiences will have kids feeling as if they’re standing in the animal enclosures alongside the keepers and animals themselves.
- Through accessible user-friendly technology, Sydney’s Taronga Zoo is helping kids stay connected with their online education programs. New to the program is a series of ‘Ask An Expert Webcasts’, with a range of sessions available from April to June. This video conference series will connect school students with Taronga Zoo’s world leading experts, where children will be able to ask questions and receive first-hand information into what it takes to work for Taronga Zoo and the wide array of career pathways available to follow. There’s also the newly launched Taronga TV for your daily dose of animal antics. Tune in daily for a packed schedule of fascinating keepers talks and shows, 24/7 live animal streams and behind-the-scenes sneak peeks at what the animals (and the keepers) actually get up to when the zoo is closed.
- The Australian Reptile Park is inviting kids to connect with wildlife and nature virtually with a new series of educational videos. Created to help assist parents that may now be home-schooling their children, the new series called ‘Animal Tales With Tim Faulkner’ will be hosted on YouTube and even includes ‘homework’ for children complete. There are also daily live streams available including animal feedings, play time and cuddles with dingoes and virtual tours of different areas within the park available to viewers at home on their Facebook page.
- If you’ve ever wanted to learn more about Australia’s most iconic animals and colourful sea life, the teams behind SEA LIFE Melbourne, SEA LIFE Sydney and Wild Life Sydney Zoo have you sorted with new daily animal live streams now available. Hosted on their respective Facebook pages, there is plenty to keep those at home entertained including Q&As sessions with lead divers and keepers, feeding sessions, quokka cuddles and downloadable educational resources for kids. Times, weekly sessions and schedules are available online now, with previous content available to view and post each live session.
- Unlock the mysteries of the Great Barrier Reef and see what some of Australia’s favourite Reef animals are up to with Reef Tracks by Citizens of the Great Barrier Reef. With real-time data, tracking turtles, sharks and manta rays kids can pick their favourite, like Myrtle the Turtle or Holly the Tiger Shark, and track their movements!
Get active - with playgrounds currently off limits, it’s time to get creative about the different way’s children can stay active without leaving the home.
- To keep budding ballerinas moving – use The Australian Ballet’s free morning classes. Hosted by Artistic Director David McAllister via live stream, learn five simple ballet exercises that are perfect for small spaces, starting with the plié. After the tutorial, over on Ballet TV dance enthusiasts can find full-length ballets videos to watch with plenty of excerpts, interviews, and behind-the-scenes documentaries.
- Experience aspects of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures from your own backyard, by learning and playing some Yulunga Traditional Indigenous Games with the kids. These free resources are available to download from Sport Australia, and can provide hours of fun with a range of ball, skipping, tag and water games to learn and play.
- For promising actors, sign up for acting classes with Marian Street Theatre for Young People over the break, who have updated their holiday curriculum to be delivered online as interactive innovative online drama workshops.
Find their inner artist - let their imagination and creativity run free with these uniquely Australian art and craft ideas.
- With extra little artists at home at the moment, iconic Australian artist Ken Done has shared free educational resources which are available for download on his website. Made for primary, high school and senior students, the bright colours and engaging questions will keep kids (and parents!) of all ages entertained.
- Online, find the ‘Thinking About Jimmy Pike’ Visual Arts program which includes 15 classes of 50-minutes duration for primary-aged children. One of Australia’s most famous artists, and one of the first Indigenous artists to shift to vibrant colours, these art activities can be used as separate short projects, or together will equal a semester-long art program, concluding with a final art project.
Science at home - level-up a crafternoon with experiments you can do in your own backyard.
- Run a variety of experiments and activities in your own home with guidance from the experts at Questacon. Their at home resources for kids of all ages, provide hours of entertainment with experiments from how to make salt crystals and slime to bottling clouds!
- Online, find The Museum of Contemporary Art’s activity resources designed by a young Australian artist Rebecca Baumann, who plays with the link between colour and emotion. The activities, including learning how colours mix together in different solutions, can provide fun family activities for the afternoon, and some of the time intensive projects like art journaling will provide kids with ongoing entertainment.
- Take an at-home voyage with the Maritime Museum through the fun-filled online games, activity sheets, print-out-and-make templates that allow kids to play, create, learn and discover! There is even a specially curated selection of online exhibits available here, for kids to explore stories about significant events and people.
- ABC Education provides access to more than 4,000 free videos, interactive resources and fun. With quick three to five minute videos the BTN educational resources introduces kids to everything from why Australian icons have Aboriginal names, growing a bush tucker garden, and what it’s like being a kid koala carer.
Change up their self-isolation space - Aussie kids love to be outdoors, and while it’s not advised to travel right now, you can still go outside and soak up Australia’s iconic sunshine from the comfort and safety of your local park or backyard.
- Put the camping gear to good use by setting up a camping trip in your own backyard with the kids. Relax and recharge to the soothing sound of Australia’s unique wildlife or if you are located in a city, why not try Calm app and listen to the sounds of waterfalls, calm islands or distant ocean waves.
- Calm app also has a great selection of Australian sleep stories such as ‘Crossing Across Australia by Train’ which will have you feeling as if you are sitting upon The Ghan and ‘An Australian Adventure’ narrated by wildlife warrior, Bindi Irwin from Australia Zoo.
- Or, make it educational by downloading the Museum of Applied Arts and Sciences’ Australian Monthly Sky Guide podcast to learn about the southern night sky narrated by experts from Sydney Observatory.
Take a virtual excursion - live stream some of Australia’s most adorable animals or explore some of Australia’s most iconic landmarks with 360 videos.
- Tune in for live streams of cute and cuddly koalas alongside other Australian native animals with Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary in Queensland. As the world’s largest koala sanctuary, and with six cams set up, you can enjoy watching the young joeys and koalas relax as they lounge around eating eucalyptus leaves and snoozing.
- Zoos Victoria has set up live streams at some Melbourne Zoo and Werribee Open Range Zoo enclosures so kids can visit their adorable animals any time online. With live streams of penguins, lions, snow leopard cubs, zebras and giraffes to choose from, there is always something happening in the zoo.
- The CaPTA Group Wildlife Parks in Queensland are also sharing a daily dose of cuteness on their Cairns ZOOM Facebook page, which includes a live stream of their beautifulAustralian wildlife in “hibernation mode” and Q&As with the zoo keepers.
- For all the adrenalin junkies, Illawarra Fly Treetop Adventures is offering a live stream of a virtual zipline tour via their Facebook page. Feel like you’re soaring across the canopy and look out over the stunning Illawarra/South Coast countryside and coastline from the top of the Illawarra Escarpment.
- For those kids who would rather be on a ferry on Sydney Harbour, Webcam Sydney provides a panoramic livestream where you can easily spot the Sydney Opera House, Sydney Harbour Bridge, Circular Quay and The Rocks.
- With Tourism Australia’s collection of 360-degree videos, your family can explore in the depths of Australia! From the famous Sydney Harbour Bridge and Sydney Opera House, snorkelling in the Great Barrier Reef, riding through Rottnest Island and more, get the family ready to immerse themselves in some of Australia’s most beautiful aquatic and coastal experiences - all from the comfort of the couch. For added engagement encourage your kids to play a round of iSpy while you play though the clips!
- Transport yourself to the Outback in the Northern Territory and explore the iconic Uluru via Story Spheres, which provides you with 360-degree images and storytelling to serve as excellent research for when you can visit this magical part of the world.
Put your feet up for an evening of entertainment, whilst maintaining young minds: introduce them to Australian films and programs, that will have them planning their next great Australian adventure.
- Pop on Babe (film, 1995) and not only keep the family entertained, but let the lush green pasture lands of Robertson and Exeter in the Southern Highlands of New South Wales keep the family inspired for future travel and holidays.
- For a feel-good classic, press play on Finding Nemo (film, 2003) and witness the animated magic of diving or snorkelling on Australia’s Great Barrier Reef. Home to the most vivid colours, Australia’s Great Barrier Reef was the real-life location that inspired this classic family friendly film. Follow the story of a clown fish named Marlin who loses his son, Nemo, all the way to Sydney Harbour. No matter your age, this film with leave you wanting to plan your next trip to this coral reef system where you can try and spot (don’t touch) all of the films other characters including Dory (Regal or Blue Tang Fish), Gill (Moorish Idol Fish), Bloat (Pufferfish), Peach (Starfish) and Crush (Sea turtle).
- For a family feel good, Red Dog (film, 2011), is based on the legendary true story of a red dog uniting a local community like no other whilst roaming the Australian Outback. Known simply as Red Dog, the red kelpie was known for stopping cars on the road and then he would hop in and travel to wherever the car's driver was going. If you want to plan a trip to Australia’s North West, once it’s safe to do so, you can book a flight from Perth or Broome airports and road trip through the Kimberley and Pilbara region. Be sure to take a selfie with the Red Dog statue, at the entrance to the town of Dampier, before taking part in the Red Dog Trail.