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Autumn school holiday activities in Melbourne

Fun and educational activities for kids and the young-at-heart
Baby dinosaur at Melbourne Zoo
Photograph: Supplied
By Time Out editors |
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Just because summer has come to an end doesn't mean that the fun is all over. This year's autumn school holidays (April 6-22, 2019) coincide with the Easter public holidays, which means double the fun is happening all over Melbourne. There are plenty of activities for kids and young-at-heart grown-ups, and here are the best. 

For more Easter fun, check out the best hot cross buns for the sweet stuff and fish and chip shops for your seafood fix.

1
Billionaire Boy
Photograph: Supplied
Kids

Billionaire Boy

icon-location-pin Arts Centre Melbourne, Southbank
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What would it be like to have a billion dollars? It seems like winning life's lottery (perhaps literally!) would mean an end to any and all problems, but for 12-year-old Joe, mo money does mean mo problems.  Joe has everything a kid could want, including a golden underwater Ferrari (we assume just for show; he is 12, after all) and his very own cinema. But that does not mean his life is gilded. He has altercations with the school bully and has to make his peace with his dad's new girlfriend (no mean feat), as well as facing the scariest thing of all for a kid: the world's worst school canteen. There is an Auslan-interpreted performance at noon on April 6 and a relaxed performance for those with stimulus sensitivities on April 10 at 11am.  Based on the heartwarming book by David Walliams, Billionaire Boy has been adapted for the stage by Maryam Master, who also wrote the play based on Walliams' Mr Stink. The show is appropriate for kids ten and up.

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Baby dinosaur at Melbourne Zoo
Photograph: Supplied
Things to do

Dinosaurs at the zoo

icon-location-pin Multiple venues
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Working in a secret lab, scientists at Melbourne's main three zoos have discovered a way to clone dinosaur DNA, found inside mosquitoes trapped in amber. They've filled in the missing sequences using frog DNA to create moving, roaring dinosaurs, which you can see for 100 days throughout the zoos. What could possibly go wrong? OK, we might have got a little bit over-excited about the prospect of dinosaurs at the zoo. These dinosaurs are large-scale models of these ancient beasts, but they will be roaming around at Healesville, Werribee and Melbourne zoos for 100 days. If you're lucky, you might see a keeper waking a sleeping dinosaur, or come face to face with a moving prehistoric creature. At Melbourne Zoo you can experience Dino Park, where dinosaurs made by Erth Visual & Physical Inc come to life.  At Werribee Open Range Zoo, you calk walk through the new Zoorassic river trail. There are nine life-sized dinosaurs to see. And Healesville Sanctuary has ten examples of megafauna (think giant kangaroos, giant crocodiles and giant wombats) in its MegaBeasts exhibition.  All three dino experiences are running for 100 days over autumn and winter, so get in before they go extinct. 

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3
Otway Fly
Sport and fitness

Otway Fly

High above the Otways rainforest, this platform-to-platform flying fox takes you on seven ziplines of varying speeds and lengths, and two rope bridges. There are no excursions beyond 4pm, so as not to disturb the largely nocturnal wildlife. As for the experience itself, while exhilarating (particularly when the fog is so thick as to render the next platform invisible), it also feels very secure. Even those with a fear of heights (we have our hands up here) will find they're soon impatient to be airborne as they progress from platform to platform. If you're not game enough to fly (or abseil – there's that, too), you could try the treetop walk.

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Gumbuya World
Photograph: SDP Media
Kids, Active events

Gumbuya World

"Gumbuya Park, where the city meets the country..." Chances are you grew up hearing that jingle on the radio. But Gumbuya Park has had a $50 million facelift and rebranded as Gumbuya World – and there is a lot more fun to be had. Gumbuya World comprises four discrete areas: Oasis Springs, Wildlife Trail, Oz Adventures and Outback Explorers. The Oasis Springs water park features fast slides with steep drops and exciting twists and turns. For a walk on the wilder side, there is the Wildlife Trail, with more than 50 animal species to see. Visitors can hand-feed kangaroos, wallabies and emus, and there are also two new young koalas in the park. Little ones can get up close and personal at the petting zoo, where they can pat lambs, ducks and baby goats. Oz Adventure is a rides section for everyone, and Outback Explorers comprises rides for smaller visitors. Gumbuya World is open every single day except Christmas Day, so it's a fun place to take children who are bored by their school holidays. Here's hoping for a great day out.

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5
Super Amazing Giant Girl
Photograph: Supplied
Kids

Anna Lumb and Jez Davies: Super Amazing Giant Girl

icon-location-pin Melbourne Town Hall, Melbourne
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The show combines comedy with circus for a laugh-inducing, awe-inspiring show that will appeal to kids of all ages. It has toured Australia to rave reviews and is sure to delight parents as much as their young children.  The story centres on Super Amazing Giant Girl, who needs to learn to embrace her super size and super strength. It can be hard to fit in as a giant, after all. Anna Lumb is an internationally renowned comedic and circus performer. She spent six years as part of Melbourne-based performing arts company Strange Fruit. Jez Davies has performed with Circus Oz and does juggling, acrobatics, magic and clowning.  

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The Listies in ROFLSHABOWCO
Photograph: Supplied
Kids

The Listies: ROFLSHABOWCO

icon-location-pin Malthouse Theatre, Southbank
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You know the first four letters, and the rest stands for … So Hard A Bit Of Wee Comes Out. ROFLSHABOWCO is the latest show from kids’ comedy sensations the Listies, who are always a huge favourite with the small set. The show promises to be “gratuitous, ridiculous, hilarious, and possibly hazardous”, as well as “magically stupid bonkers comedy”. If previous shows are anything to go by, you can expect plenty of improv and surprise laughs, and adults will be just as delighted as their young charges. Matt Kelly and Richard Higgins formed the Listies in 2009 with The Listies More Fun Than a Wii, the only children’s show to ever be nominated for the MICF Barry Award for best show.

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7
Live Wire Park
Photograph: Supplied
Attractions, Theme parks

Live Wire Park

icon-location-pin Lorne

Live Wire Park is passionate about two things: adrenaline rushes and sustainability. The high-flying elevated adventure park is the first of its kind in Australia to go completely off the grid, with its attraction powered by the sun and its water collected and treated on site. But you're here for the zip lines, and they don't disappoint. Live Wire Park has four zipline circuit experiences ranging in thrill level from mild to scream your lungs out. There's the leisurely 120-metre Canopy Circuit for those looking for a scenic flight; the hair-raising 525-metre Shockwave Zip Coaster for adrenaline junkies; the challenging Super Circuit for the puzzle lovers and the Short Circuit for kids looking to test their physical and mental problem-solving skills.  The Canopy Circuit is included with general admission, with each additional zipline circuit incurring an additional fee. 

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The Gruffalo
Photograph: Supplied
Kids

The Gruffalo

icon-location-pin Athenaeum Theatre, Melbourne
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Written by playwright Julia Donaldson and illustrated by Axel Scheffler, The Gruffalo is a children’s book about Mouse, 1who goes for a walk in the forest one day. Mouse goes on an adventure through the forest as he encounters dark and dangerous creatures with a penchant for murine snacks. Mouse rebuffs them by declaring he’s best friends with the terrifying Gruffalo – half grizzly bear, half buffalo. But what happens when Mouse meets a real Gruffalo? This enchanting story has delighted audiences around the world, including on London’s West End and Broadway. It makes a triumphant return to Australia and is designed for children aged three and up.

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9
Are Arr We There Yet
Photograph: Supplied
Kids

Head First Acrobats: Arrr We There Yet?!

icon-location-pin The Spiegeltent, Melbourne
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Head First Acrobats will be combining awe-inspiring circus techniques with slapstick humour in this pirate-themed show for pint-sized landlubbers and sea dogs alike. From walking the plank to steering the ship through a rollicking storm, the acrobats will be bringing the high-stakes world of old-school piracy to life. They are looking for gold, but parents might find this one a treasure. There are plenty of thrills and spills, including juggling knives and steering the ship while spinning upsdide down in a roue cyr (giant hoop). 

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Super Amazing Giant Girl
Photograph: Supplied
Comedy, Comedy festival

The (Very) Big Laugh Out

icon-location-pin Multiple venues
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Enjoy world-class family entertainment and plenty of big laughs, for absolutely free. Acts include Pedro Tochas, Biggest Little Circus, Cho Kairin, the Chinese Acrobat, Daisy the Cheerful Vampire, Celeb Five, the Listies, the Birdmann, Head First Acrobats, Double Denim, Super Amazing Giant Girl, Don’t Mess with the Dummies, Tessa Waters, Clara Cupcakes, Paul Currie and more. The showcase takes place at Federation Square and is a 90-minute show. There are also 35- to 45-minute shows at the Melbourne Museum plaza.   

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Want to get out of the city for the holidays?

Great Otway National Park
Photograph: Robert Blackburn
Travel, Short getaways

The best day trips from Melbourne

The state of Victoria is full of friendly neighbourhood towns, whether you're in the mood for a winery tour, a road trip or a national park to explore. 

More to explore

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