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Lamenting the lack of decent places to take kids in Canberra, and wanting to maybe change that…

Madam Cholet 22 November 2011 145

It has long occurred to me that Canberra has a distinct lack of places where you can take your young’uns at the weekend – and by that I mean a place where kids can have:

  • a bit of freedom to run around safely,
  • decent, challenging, safe and non-vandalised play equipment 
  • decent healthy affordable food
  • insode activities for rainy/wintery days

and where parents can have:

  • peace of mind that their kids are safe to move about without having to be behind them all the time
  • a decent meal/coffee that doesn’t cost an arm and a leg or is not sub-standard
  • a place to relax/read the paper/surf the net/chat….

You get the picture?

Mr Cholet and I have sniffed out a few places that we like to take Master Cholet, for example, Lanyon Homestead, although once he’s exhausted the gardens, there ain’t much more to interest him and in the winter, you have to be inside the cafe anyway.

There’s another homestead sort of place with horses in the Hall area – but that’s a way for us to go and again, not that much there for him, once he’s looked at the horses and had a milkshake. A few clubs around have playrooms, but I’m not that keen on the plastic environment and being shut inside a club. And don’t get me started on those set and forget play areas populated by Mums who just want to text their friends while Billy Jo runs riot…apologies to those people.

I’ve got to the point where I’m keen to start looking at ideas for a new kid & adult friendly place with a view to maybe actually putting the idea into practice if I can get the right mix. Thought I would run the gauntlet of RA….I know some will say that I am talking about a park and a picnic, (and even do some of the entertaining myself…!), but I’m also keen to provide somewhere that could cater for winter with inside activities – possibly with play leaders to provide constructive activities whilst Mum and Dad relax – just a bit, but not enough to remember what it was like before they had kids!

So, do you think there is a space in the market for somewhere that is an improvemnet on what is available right now? What would you like to see available in t erms of play, food, environment from such a location, and where abouts do you think it should be? I have more ideas on how it could look/run, but I think those questions are fine for now. Any ideas gratefully accepted…if not I know it’s prolly a fizzer!


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Lamenting the lack of decent places to take kids in Canberra, and wanting to maybe change that…
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BigBangBallers 10:27 am 05 Jun 13

Hi all,

The Big Bang Ballers run day camps during most school holidays at indoor venues in Red Hill and Belconnen.

We teach kids 4 and up how to play basketball, give them an opportunity to run around and expend some energy, provide them with lessons on teamwork and focus, and generally just have a great day together which then leaves them exhausted and ready for an early night. (You’re welcome, Parents!)

Depending on the time of year, we either charge a couple bucks or nothing at all, and of course Parents are encouraged to join in… however if you just fancy a cuppa and a good read, there is plenty of room to get comfortable and still be right next to your kids.

Best way to stay up to date on when our camps are is through our mailing list, which you can sign up to at http://www.bigbangballers.org

If you’re in Queanbeyan, don’t fret, we do camps around your way too.

Why do we do these camps for essentially nothing? Easy. The healthier, happier and mentally able kids around us are, the better for the entire community. If we could do 7 camps a week, every week for a year, we would, if that meant no more kids in Bimberri…

We’re also available to do private camps in exchange for a donation to any of our 28 programs in 11 countries.

Thanks for your time,

Pierre Johannessen
CEO
Big Bang Ballers
“Making a difference through basketball”

miz 11:04 pm 04 Jun 13

Weston Park.

tranvo 7:25 pm 04 Jun 13

Here is an option for parents with kids and is cheap.

A new table tennis venue opened up in suburb of Mitchell called Smash Table Tennis.
They offer table tennis at $5 casual visit fee, free chess and foosball as well as a pool table charging $2 per game.

http://www.smashtabletennis.com.au

ausbuzzpost 5:12 pm 05 Jan 12

Pooks said :

Um, are you serious? Go to Questacon and take a thermos and a sandwich. The whole family will have fun there for hours.

That sounds like a horrendously blinkered way of looking at it dear fellow!! I think this is a stellar idea.

I’m assuming you have kids – if so, how many times are you prepared to go to Questacon per year to satisfy the whole-family satisfaction it offers? Do you go there every week then, just so you can hang with your kids? What about if you or, heaven forbid, they get bored?

You, sir, are a dope.

sepi 9:44 pm 01 Jan 12

Or you could buy this place and do it up:
http://www.allhomes.com.au/ah/act/sale-business/the-fun-factory-fyshwick-canberra/1316796278211

You’d need to add fine dining. and enclose the walls. And a garden, but there is some potential.

As for the posts above – we are talking about tiny kids, not teenagers. Your kids may love BBQs at the lake and visiting the skate park – good for you. but noone takes 3 toddlers to the lake for a BBQ to catch up with a friend. what do you do with them while you cart all the stuff to the BBQ – leave them locked in the car? Who minds them while you cook? How do you chat to anyone while watching 3 kids who can run off, but not yet swim at the lake???? it doesn’t sound very relaxing for the parents.

and your 3 year old may love the War Memorial, but I challenge anyone to take 3 tiny loud kids to the war memorial and not spend the entire time watching their every move – there is no chatting to friends there either – lucky if you don’t end up screaming.

the Xmas holidays is a total dead zone for the under 5 age group in Canberra. If someone started something up – toddler dancing, or storytime or the like they would be over run with bookings.

dpm 7:06 pm 01 Jan 12

This is not 100% related to the initial query, but may be of some use?

http://www.canberratimes.com.au/specialfeature.aspx?id=5892

HenryBG 2:08 pm 14 Dec 11

Deref said :

Jethro said :

I’ve always thought Canberra is one of the best places in Australia to bring up little kids.

Hear, hear. There are so many places to take kids in Canberra that we have an embarrassment of riches. If you can’t find any, you’re not looking.

Spot on.

The reasons that Europeans have so many all-in-one cafe-playgound-style facilities are:

1/ The weather’s shit
&
2/ They all live in little boxes with no garden of their own and certainly no space to entertain

This is the precise reason I chose to live in Canberra: we can afford a house with a garden. We can afford lots of rooms so friends can come over, and they can even have a sleep-over if they’ve come from afar. We only have to drive 20 mins and we’re in the bush. And there’s bush all over the place to choose from: Tidbinbilla, The Cotter, Kowen/Blue Tiles/Molonglo Gorge, Kambah Pool, Casuarina Sands, Pine Island, Angle Crossing, Gibraltar Rocks, Corin Dam, Googong and London Bridge, all sorts of places along Boboyan Road, Namadji National Park and in the Brindies, the list is endless. Then there are all the places a short drive away: Wee Jasper & Burrunjuck, spectacular Bungonia, Tallaganda, Deua, Monga, Bendoura and Budawang Forests/Parks.
Oh, and all the stuff that’s in-town: big parks with BBQ facilities around all the lakes, too numerous to mention.

The fact is: in Canberra we don’t need noisy, dirty, rip-off indoor playgrounds.
What we have is so much better.

Oldmate 1:27 pm 14 Dec 11

madamcholet said :

fllen – he does go to day-care, but not all week – whether someone has to earn a living and use day care is not part of this conversation and your veiled accusation that I put my child in day care so I can have time off is offensive. I’m guessing & hoping you are not married and do not have children and that the realities of life have not set in, otherwise you would not make those thinkly veiled accusations about teh use of child care.

If you read the post the question was about whether the idea was of merit & not whether I was blind to the great attractions that Canberra has already. I live in Canberra so I know about all the open spaces, museums and interesting things to do. My son is three and maybe not into the war memorial right now – but hopefully will be in the future. He already attends swimming lessons and probably will be going to gym classes in the new year and little athletics when he is old enough. We take him out on his bike, and on our bikes and when we feel inclined out to tea at places like Rose Cottage to catch up with friends. We also sometimes get a baby-sitter and leave him for a few hours – shocking as it may sound.

Knowing my child and the fact that he needs to expend a lot of energy, it’s probably sometimes not fair to take him to places where he must be on his absolute best behaviour – and I wouldn’t want to inflict it on the general public either. And before you kid yourself that I am therefore saying my son is a brat, well he’s not – he’s a great kid and very well behaved – to the point where we get somments on his politeness and good demeanour, however there is no doubt that he needs to move about freely in his “leisure time” – and I’m happy to provide that for him.

Having done all of the above listed things with him, I personally feel that there is something else to be had in terms of both his and our enjoyment. This is a hard ask I know, but what about seeing someone else’s point of view?

You really do sound like a banana. Show me a 3 year old who doesn’t love the War Memorial and I’ll eat my hat.

Oldmate 1:22 pm 14 Dec 11

Not trying very hard are you? Literally dozens of great parks and reserves, free galleries and museums, lakes and skateparks…I can’t think of anywhere better in THE WORLD to keep kids busy.

EvanJames 2:53 pm 09 Dec 11

Watson said :

It annoys me to no end how quick people are to judge parents. Especially other parents! Where in the manual does it say that you have to be a martyr at all times to be a good parent?

If your kids are upsetting and annoying other people, then you are doing a crap job of parenting, QED.

Watson 12:41 pm 09 Dec 11

Jethro said :

Watson said :

It annoys me to no end how quick people are to judge parents. Especially other parents! Where in the manual does it say that you have to be a martyr at all times to be a good parent?

FFS, all the person is suggesting is a place where parents can sit comfortably with a good coffee and some food that isn’t dripping with fat and have a conversation while keeping an eye on their child playing happily in a playground. Too much to ask? Get a life, people!

Sorry Watson.

If some unsupervised child punches my kid in the face or pushes them into a wall and their parents aren’t around to stop their behaviour, I think I’m perfectly entitled to judge them.

I used to hate going to busy playground because of all the parents who DID watch their kids but didn’t think it necessary to intervene when precious little Johnny didn’t wait his turn, pushed other kids and monopolised the slide. Years later that little Johnny is probably stll a little antisocial AH even if he is now the age where he should not need constant supervision anymore.

So I get you, but it has nothing to do with the OP and all the insinuations that they are lazy and irresponsible for even considering such a frivolous activity as having a coffee whilst watching their kids.

Jethro 11:37 am 09 Dec 11

Watson said :

It annoys me to no end how quick people are to judge parents. Especially other parents! Where in the manual does it say that you have to be a martyr at all times to be a good parent?

FFS, all the person is suggesting is a place where parents can sit comfortably with a good coffee and some food that isn’t dripping with fat and have a conversation while keeping an eye on their child playing happily in a playground. Too much to ask? Get a life, people!

Sorry Watson.

If some unsupervised child punches my kid in the face or pushes them into a wall and their parents aren’t around to stop their behaviour, I think I’m perfectly entitled to judge them.

Silveras 10:22 am 09 Dec 11

Why not take the family out to a picnic on or near the lake? Forget paying exorbanent amounts for restaurants it was good enough for me when I was a kid you make the food, and take a frisbee with you as well. You’ll be promoting outdoor exercise for the kids and you’ll be the one making the food so you wont have to worry about chicken nuggets. The Ponds in Gungahlin has a good outdoor area for children and also hot plates for a BBQ and a flying fox. Use your imagination.

poetix 10:15 am 09 Dec 11

Jethro said :

I’ve always thought Canberra is one of the best places in Australia to bring up little kids.

……

Now I don’t think it is my place to discipline other people’s kids, so I usually just move my own child to another area away from the hitter. But I have to say, the huge numbers of under-supervised kids at these places is probably the biggest issue I have with going to them.

Some parents are slack. Yet they’d probably sue if their child drowned in a fish-pond at the gardens or was locked in the earthquake room at Questacon overnight. Now there’s a good idea for the really annoying vicious ones… (I am not talking about OP here, who has a different idea from just letting kids run wild in a public space.)

When I first came to Canberra I thought any child brought up here would be developmentally delayed due to its pleasant country town atmosphere, but now I can see that pollution is probably not essential for intellectual growth.

Watson 10:09 am 09 Dec 11

It annoys me to no end how quick people are to judge parents. Especially other parents! Where in the manual does it say that you have to be a martyr at all times to be a good parent?

FFS, all the person is suggesting is a place where parents can sit comfortably with a good coffee and some food that isn’t dripping with fat and have a conversation while keeping an eye on their child playing happily in a playground. Too much to ask? Get a life, people!

Deref 9:38 am 09 Dec 11

Jethro said :

I’ve always thought Canberra is one of the best places in Australia to bring up little kids.

Hear, hear. There are so many places to take kids in Canberra that we have an embarrassment of riches. If you can’t find any, you’re not looking.

Jethro 9:29 am 09 Dec 11

I’ve always thought Canberra is one of the best places in Australia to bring up little kids.

It is a city designed around the concept of outdoor space, so almost everyone is only a few minutes from parkland, bushland and playgrounds.

Plenty of national institutions to take the kids, some truly fantastic picnic spots and playgrounds that are worth the drive across town, bike paths absolutely everywhere. I have never been left wanting for something to do with my kids.

You mentioned that your youngest is 3, and that you are looking for somewhere safe enough to take them where you don’t have to be standing over their shoulder all the time. I’m sorry but at that age, you do need to be on hand to watch your kids.

My youngest is 1 and I try to take him out at least 2 or 3 times a week – maybe once to questacon, once to somewhere like the Botanic gardens, once to a good playground somewhere. I would say that on more than half of these occassions he is hit, punched, pushed over, has his toy stolen or otherwise bullied by a child 1 or 2 years older than him. Most of the time there is not a parent to be seen to discipline the child.

I certainly don’t blame the children for this type of behaviour – they’re 3, they don’t really have a clear concept of right or wrong. But that is where the role of the parent comes in. Those kids need a mum or dad to step in and let them know what they have done is wrong. (“We don’t hit other children, look at that little boy. He is hurt because you hit him. If you hit anyone else we will have to go home.”). If mum and dad have decided that it is ok for them to be somewhere else all together, having a coffee and a chat, these children miss out on the corrective discipline they need and fail to learn right from wrong.

Now I don’t think it is my place to discipline other people’s kids, so I usually just move my own child to another area away from the hitter. But I have to say, the huge numbers of under-supervised kids at these places is probably the biggest issue I have with going to them.

madamcholet 9:02 am 09 Dec 11

fllen – he does go to day-care, but not all week – whether someone has to earn a living and use day care is not part of this conversation and your veiled accusation that I put my child in day care so I can have time off is offensive. I’m guessing & hoping you are not married and do not have children and that the realities of life have not set in, otherwise you would not make those thinkly veiled accusations about teh use of child care.

If you read the post the question was about whether the idea was of merit & not whether I was blind to the great attractions that Canberra has already. I live in Canberra so I know about all the open spaces, museums and interesting things to do. My son is three and maybe not into the war memorial right now – but hopefully will be in the future. He already attends swimming lessons and probably will be going to gym classes in the new year and little athletics when he is old enough. We take him out on his bike, and on our bikes and when we feel inclined out to tea at places like Rose Cottage to catch up with friends. We also sometimes get a baby-sitter and leave him for a few hours – shocking as it may sound.

Knowing my child and the fact that he needs to expend a lot of energy, it’s probably sometimes not fair to take him to places where he must be on his absolute best behaviour – and I wouldn’t want to inflict it on the general public either. And before you kid yourself that I am therefore saying my son is a brat, well he’s not – he’s a great kid and very well behaved – to the point where we get somments on his politeness and good demeanour, however there is no doubt that he needs to move about freely in his “leisure time” – and I’m happy to provide that for him.

Having done all of the above listed things with him, I personally feel that there is something else to be had in terms of both his and our enjoyment. This is a hard ask I know, but what about seeing someone else’s point of view?

fllen 6:48 am 06 Dec 11

you have got to be kidding me…. canberra has ample places to take the kids for fun safe play. war memorial, national museum, the foreshore of all four lakes, the carillion, duntroon. your need for a meal and coffee ha ha – take a thermos and a sandwich. I think your inconvenience is that you actually might have to engage with your child – i bet your child spends all week in a childcare centre too!

sepi 11:48 am 25 Nov 11

ps Pialligo has a couple of cafes in the outdoors too, with some play equipment.
Also poachers pantry, and the odd winery.

8

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