Top 5 school holiday activities that won’t break the bank.

It’s been a long, hot, expensive summer and it ain’t over yet.

But don’t fret – we’ve got you covered with theses budget friendly school holiday ideas.

We’ve compiled a top 5 list of school holiday activities that will keep the kids entertained and also help you keep more of your hard earned money in your pocket (or at least help pay off that sizeable Christmas credit card debt :I).

  1. Cool off at the coast

If your kids love the water then there’s no better place to cool off on a hot day than the Yeppoon Lagoon. This fantastic FREE facility on the foreshore is open from 6am until 9pm and is patrolled every day. Once they’ve wrinkled up nicely, you can all dry out at the nearby playground and skate park – just to make absolutely sure they’ve burnt up every last ounce of that endless school holiday energy. There’s plenty of free parking within walking distance or you can pay $2 per hour to get close to the action.

Pro tip: If you’ve got littlies and you’re not keen on a dip yourself, you may prefer to let them run around at the Keppel Kraken water play area, just a couple of hundred metres away in the heart of Yeppoon. Also free and also fantastic.

2. Meet the meerkats

As locals, we often take it for granted that we have a pretty great attraction right here on our doorstep at the Rockhampton Botanic Gardens. The Rockhampton Zoo has more than 60 species of native and exotic animals. The best part? It is completely FREE!

Late last year, the zoo welcomed its newest residents – a family of meerkats! If you’ve never seen these gorgeous little creatures up close, then this is your chance. The kids will love it! Some of the other popular attractions are the Asian small-clawed otters, the chimpanzees including babies Capri and Gandali, wombats, macaques, koalas and crocodiles. Open seven days a week from 10am to 4pm (Covid-19 restricted hours) you can stay as little or as long as you like.

Pro tip: If you’ve got a whole day to burn, you can do it easily at the Rockhampton Zoo and Botanic Gardens. After you see the animals, get your caffeine recharge at the kiosk and grab the kids an iceblock before hitting the playground. Take a stroll through the Japanese gardens, the tropical fruit arboretum and the beautiful banyan figs. Don’t forget to check out Murray Lagoon where you can see Krefft’s river turtles, snake-necked turtled and broad-shelled turtles.

3. ‘Gram the Gogh and spend the day in Emerald.

Ok, so this isn’t the most original idea we’ve ever had, but if you haven’t posted a picture of yourself in front of the giant Vincent Van Gogh sunflowers  – did you even go to Emerald?

The ‘Big Easel’ in Morton Park is one of seven sites in the world chosen by Canadian artist, Cameron Cross . The oversized reproduction is a tribute to the local sunflower industry as well as a symbol of life and hope. But of course, we know there’s so much more to Emerald than one insta opp. Another great place to spend some time is at Lake Maraboon, Queensland’s second largest lake. You can hire a kayak and go for a gentle paddle or cast a line for eight different kinds of stocked fish including barramundi, golden perch and silver perch. The biggest draw card for locals is the redclaw crayfish.

Pro tip: Lake Maraboon and Fairbairn Dam are one in the same. Kind of. Technically, the water is Lake Maroon Fairbairn Dam is the structure that contains it. If you think you’ll want to throw a line in with the kids or catch a few redclaw, make sure to plan ahead because a stocked impoundment fishing permit is required at Lake Maraboon. A weekly permit costs $10 but hey, that’s a pretty cheap family dinner!

4. Pick a page turner and become a bibliophile.

I’m gonna take a wild guess here and assume that you don’t realise how fantastic the Rockhampton Library is. If you’ve never gotten around to taking the kids or it’s been a while since your last visit – now is the time to check it out. Escape the heat outside and spend some time browsing the aisles, choosing some page turners for the kids and maybe even something for yourself. There’s nothing like fostering a love of books and reading to set the tone ahead of a new school year. Settle in for a story or two and sign up for a FREE membership. There really is so much more to our region’s libraries than dusty old books. But don’t take my word for it – go and explore them for yourself!

Pro tip:   Wherever you are in CQ, there’s a library near you. There’s 10 in the central Highlands alone! Be sure to call ahead for operating hours.

5. Pack a picnic and head for the hills.

Save yourself the effort of cooking and opt for a twilight picnic atop Rockhampton’s highest peak – Mt Archer.

Sure, it takes a little bit of prep work but if you rope the kids in to help plan and pack, they’ll enjoy the experience all the more!

Keep it simple with some sandwiches and include a few of the kids’ favourites. Don’t forget the picnic rug.

When you arrive, you can check out the city views along the 500 metre, easily accessible Nurim Circuit elevated boardwalk. The views are spectacular and you can learn a thing or two about local Darumbal culture along the way. The kids can burn off some energy in the playground while you find yourself a spot to settle in and enjoy the sunset over the mighty Fitzroy.

Pro tip: For a fresh and healthy dessert option, grab some fresh fruit at Doblo’s Farmers Market on the way – open weekdays until 5.30pm and weekends until 2pm, cnr Goodsall Street and Lakes Creek Road.

See also