Guide to Summer School Holidays in Canberra
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Guide to Summer School Holidays in Canberra

Guide to Summer School Holidays in Canberra

on 03 December 2018 in Family

Summer is a fun time in Canberra with a huge array of family-friendly attractions around the city. So if you’re planning a family holiday in the nation’s capital, make sure you read our Summer School Holiday Guide, packed with great things to see and do and family-friendly places to stay from December to February.

Fun day trips


If you’re only in Canberra for a short time, here are some of the must-see highlights;

  • National Dinosaur Museum – if your kids are into dinosaurs (and let’s face it, whose aren’t?), they’re guaranteed to enjoy a visit to the National Dinosaur Museum in Gold Creek Village. It has one of the biggest displays of dinosaurs in Australia, including skeletons, models, fossils and even robot dinosaurs that move and roar.

  • Questacon – Want to count like a computer? Want to know how taste buds work or how to make a rocket blast off? Questacon, (The National Science & Technology Centre) in King Edward Terrace Canberra has daily demonstrations and events throughout the school holidays on seriously fun science topics for kids of all ages.   

  • Inflatable World – take the whole family for a bouncing good time at Canberra’s newest indoor play attraction in Kambah. There are a huge range of inflatable activities to play on and parents are encouraged to take off their shoes and join in with their kids.

  • Royal Australian Mint – a must-see when in Canberra, this is the place where every Australian coin is made. Located in Denison Street Deakin, the Mint is free to visit and boasts a collection of Australia’s rarest coins including a 1930 penny, a 1 kilogram gold coin and the famous “kookaburra” pennies. You can also mint your own collectable one dollar coin and browse the Mint Coin Shop for gifts, collectables and mementos.

Holiday classes

If you’re going to be in Canberra for a few weeks, you may want to sign the kids up for some of these great school holiday programs and classes including;

  • Kids Biz – with locations in Pearce and Gungahlin, Kids Biz provides a big range of sports clinics, dance programs and other activities for primary school aged children. Whether they want to learn dance, arts and crafts or sports such as basketball, soccer, tennis, cricket and golf, Kids Biz has a school holiday program to suit.

  • Learn to sail – the Canberra Yacht Club conducts very popular family, adult and children's three, four and five day sailing courses over summer on Lake Burley Griffin. So if you want to learn the difference between a mainsail and a mizzenmast, now’s the time to book (places fill fast).

  • Kids Pantry – Canberra's only cooking school and kitchen garden designed exclusively for kids, Kids Pantry in Deakin offers children an introduction to gardening, cooking and healthy eating in a range of school holiday programs conducted in a fun and supportive environment.

Natural attractions

Summer’s the time to get outdoors and in touch with nature and Canberra has lots of natural attractions the family will love. If you’re a family that likes walking, there are numerous family-friendly walks around Canberra, including Black Mountain Nature Reserve, Jerrabomberra Wetlands, Lake Burley Griffin and Gungahlin. Top nature-based destinations also include;

  • Tidbinbilla – just 40 minutes from Canberra, Tidbinbilla Nature Reserve is Canberra’s leading ecotourism attraction and a great place to see koalas, kangaroos, wallabies, emus, possums, platypus, pelicans and reptiles in their natural habitat. Enjoy a scenic drive, take one of the walking tracks or join a ranger-guided walk or activity in this awesome reserve, which includes a Nature Discovery Playground for the kids and lots of shady spots for a picnic.

  • National Arboretum – just 6 kilometres from town at the western end of Lake Burley Griffin, the National Arboretum boasts 94 forests of rare and endangered trees from Australia and around the world. Walk, drive or cycle around the 250 hectare site and be blown away by the sheer variety of botanical beauty. Enjoy free guided and self-guided tours, interactive displays, a Pod Playground for the kids, a café and shop, outdoor sculptures and picnic areas with spectacular Canberra views.

  • Botanic Gardens – Australia’s national botanic gardens have everything for the perfect family day out. Just minutes from Canberra, on the lower slopes of Black Mountain, they offer a range of walking trails to suit all abilities, a wide range of interesting plants and animals, educational activities for the kids, a Botanical Resource Centre, numerous picnic tables and a cafe and bookshop. The gardens are the only place in the world where you’ll see as many Australian native plants in one location and entry is free,

Where to stay

Whether it’s you and your partner or the whole tribe, there are plenty of family-friendly accommodation options in and around Canberra including;

  • BreakFree Capital Tower – family apartments on the shores of Lake Burley Griffin.

  • Mantra On Northbourne – hotel rooms and self-contained family apartments one block from the CBD.

  • Ibis Styles Canberra Eaglehawk – spacious suites set in natural landscaped gardens in Sutton.

  • Capital Executive Apartment Hotel – studio and family apartments, just a 5 minute walk from the CBD.

  • Best Western Sundown Motel Resort – ground floor apartment style accommodation on the south side, minutes from all major attractions.

  • Canberra South Motor Park – self-contained cabins, caravans and camp sites located close to Fyshwick and Symonston.

  • Manuka Park Serviced Apartments – executive-appointed suites to spacious family apartments located in Griffith.

  • Kingston Terrace Serviced Apartments  – luxury apartments for the cost of a hotel room, conveniently located in Kingston.

While you’re in Canberra, make sure you call into The Marketplace Gungahlin, home to an eclectic mix of retailers and dining options from across the globe. We offer an extensive school holiday program for kids that’s sure to get their creative juices flowing and there’s something new every day of the holidays. And best of all, it’s free! From arty food fun to back to school crafts, check out the program with our What’s On news.




META DESCRIPTION: Summer in Canberra can get pretty hot, so it’s just as well there are lots of great swimming pools. Check out where to go in our guide to canberra pools.

Canberra Pools to Cool Off in During Summer

Canberra is renowned for its hot summers, so it’s little wonder there are plenty of public swimming pools to cool off at when the mercury rises. And these are some of the most popular places to head for in the nation’s capital this summer…

Manuka Pool

An historical outdoor pool with a lovely old art deco building surrounded by lots of shady trees. This pool is popular with families because of its shady toddler area and pirate ship playground.

  • Location – 10 minutes south of the CBD in New South Wales Crescent, Griffith.

  • Facilities – outdoor 6 lane 30-metre pool, shaded outdoor toddlers pool, expansive shaded grounds, children’s pirate ship playground and café.

  • Sessions – open in the warmer months only, weekdays 6.30am to 7pm and weekends 8am to 7pm.

AIS Aquatic Centre

The state-of-the-art aquatic facilities used by Australia’s elite athletes are open to the public and two indoor heated pools are available for public swimming. They are also available for hire and can be set up for competition swimming, water polo and many other sporting events.

  • Location – in the heart of the AIS campus in Leverrier Street, Bruce.

  • Facilities – 50 metre and 25 metre indoor heated pools, a swim school, fitness centre and holiday program.

  • Sessions – open all year round, weekdays 6.15am to 9.50pm, weekends 6.15am to 7.50pm (lane restrictions may apply and opening times are subject to change at short notice due to AIS commitments).

Dickson Aquatic Centre

A popular outdoor swimming pool since 1960 with bbq facilities, lots of grassed areas to spread out in and a family-friendly atmosphere.  

  • Location – 4 kilometres north of the city in Cowper St, Dickson.

  • Facilities – 3 heated outdoor pools, 7 lane 50 metre pool, shaded learners pool, shallow toddlers pool, kids water play park, shady barbeque and picnic areas, Shark Bite Café, disabled and family change facilities with hot showers, free all day parking, beach volleyball courts, learn to swim lessons and private lessons and poolside massage therapy centre.

  • Sessions – open in the warmer months only, weekdays 6am to 7pm, weekends 8am to 7pm.

Gungahlin Leisure Centre

A large new facility run by the YMCA, with 3 pools, a creche, a gym and a wide range of classes and programs.

  • Location – the Valley Avenue, Gungahlin.

  • Facilities – 50 metre indoor pool, toddler pool, 25 metre pool for programs, crèche, gym, café, swimming lessons, squad training and fitness classes,

  • Sessions – open all year around, weekdays 5.30am to 9.30pm, weekends 7am to 7.30pm.

Canberra Olympic Pool

Run by the YMCA, this popular pool is conveniently located in the CBD, making it ideal for local workers and tourists wishing to drop in for a quick swim.

  • Location – in the heart of the city, corner of Allara Street and Constitution Avenue.

  • Facilities – 50 metre indoor pool, toddler pool, 25 metre outdoor dive pool, picnic areas, kiosk, gym classes, aqua aerobics, children's swimming lessons, school holiday programs and swimming and water safety lessons for people with disabilities.

  • Sessions – open all year round, weekdays 5.30am to 9pm, Saturdays 7am to 7pm and Sundays 8am to 7pm.

Big Splash Waterpark

Something for everyone, with a 50 metre pool with an inflatable obstacle course for the kids, 9 water slides, a toddler pool and play area, a hot and cold food outlet and lots of shady areas to relax and take a break.

  • Location – Catchpole St, Macquarie.

  • Facilities – 50 metre pool, 9 slides, kiddies pool, Splash Island, pool inflatables, play pool and kiosk.

  • Sessions – open in the warmer months only, 10am to 6pm every day.

Phillip Swimming and Ice Skating Centre

This popular centre offers the best of both worlds, with an outdoor swimming area open over summer with 3 pools, a waterslide, BBQs and a kiosk and an Olympic size ice skating rink for family fun during the winter months.

  • Location – 20 minutes south of the city in Irving Street, Phillip.

  • Facilities – heated 50 metre 8 lane swimming pool, 20 metre learners pool, toddlers pool, free waterslide, barbeque facilities, kiosk and group private swimming lessons by appointment.

  • Sessions – pool open in warmer months only, weekdays 6am to 6pm and weekends 7am to 6pm.

Lakeside Leisure Centre

Run by the YMCA, this popular centre has 3 different indoor pools and an outdoor splash park for the kids with buckets, sprays and fountains shooting water in every direction.

  • Location – 25 minutes south of the city, corner Anketell Street and Athllon Drive, Greenway.

  • Facilities – 50 metre lap pool, 25 metre heated indoor leisure pool, baby pool, shallow toddler pool, creche, cafe , health club and group fitness studio.

  • Sessions – indoor pool open all year round and Splash Park open in the warmer months only, weekdays 5.30am to 9.30pm, weekends 7am to 7.30pm.

Swimming safety

Every child should learn to swim, not only for their own safety, but also for the sheer enjoyment that splashing about in the water brings. So if you’d like to use your leisure time at the pool as productively as possible, why not sign the kids up for swimming lessons while you’re there.

Centres that offer lessons for all ages with accredited instructors include Kingswim at the Deakin Swimming School in King Street Deakin, the Swim School at Dickson Aquatic Centre in Cowper St, Dickson and Gungahlin Leisure Centre in Valley Avenue, Gungahlin.

And when you’re in Gungahlin, don’t forget that the Marketplace Gungahlin offers FREE summer holiday entertainment. So come down, shop up a storm, dine on delicious food and check out what’s on in air conditioned comfort.