Holidays on a Budget; Visiting Geraldton with kids

The key to school holidays for most of us is to keep things cheap and fun.  With 3 boys from 6 to 10 months it can be a challenge for me to find something we can all do within our budget- here’s what we will be doing over the school holidays while we stay in the windiest place on Earth in WA.  

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Head to the foreshore playground

No matter what age children you have this is always a winner.  The City of Greater Geraldton has spent a lot of money and time creating a community space that is fun for everyone and it is evident by how well it is used that it was well worth the effort- this is such a great FREE activity and the views are pretty special too!

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It is a pretty large area and has 3 playgrounds in it- all have at least a bit of shade (some more than others) and toilets and cafe’s close by.

There is the adventure playground for bigger kids- it has an wheelchair accessible roundabout and my kids all love spinning it, plus it has a huge tower and giant slide.

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It has certainly got an air of adventure about it, with gigantic climbing blocks, and quite a bit of height to the tower and platforms- the kids really love it.

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It is here that there is a tech game, where kids have to hit flashing lights in time and earn points- its the perfect cross between video game and physical exercise.

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Then further down the foreshore there is the smaller kids playground- it has what H calls a ‘spiderman’ net, and the standard slides and monkey bars.

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It is surrounded by grass and some small trees that provide just enough shade and is where we often take a morning tea to enjoy together. A big plus for me is that it also has shade sails over it- while my kids do wear hats most of the time the more sun protection the better.  This is where you can find us on a weekend when we have a few hours to kill if we are in town.

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Next to this is the junior playground, the first big tick is that it is fenced!  If you have a runner as I used to (both big boys have grown out of it and Charlie isn’t walking get- phew) then having a fence is a huge plus!  This playground is divided into two parts- there is a large sandy area with swings, slides, digging tools, a boat and a small climbing net.  Then there is a really little kids area, with a tiny slide, bobbing horse and a tunnel, along with sliding balls and toy binoculars.  Inside the fence is plenty of seating for tired Mum’s and Dad’s and is such a great place to take your toddler or small children and let them play safely.

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Walk to the “Crayfish by the Sea”

This isn’t it’s official name-it’s actually called the Geraldton Esplanade, but the southern tip of the Geraldton foreshore has a giant orange lookout that very closely resembles a artsy crayfish with it’s orange colour and ‘horns’ sticking out- at least in my (and my Mum’s) opinion- have a look and tell me what you think.

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The walk down to the lookout is perfect for most people, it is not too long and there are plenty of spots to rest and enjoy the view, landscaping or information boards.

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When you reach the end you can watch the activity in the port, or try and spy a sea lion on ‘seal rock’, where a colony like to sun themselves.   We often ride a bike, scooter, or just walk together down there- even the baby loves the sights and sounds.

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Visit the HMAS Sydney Memorial

My kids are pretty oblivious to the meaning behind this beautiful and touching memorial to those that lost their life in the sinking of the HMAS Sydney (though we have talked to them about it).  But they still enjoy heading up to the rotunda, called the dome of souls and counting the birds in the roof commemorating each person who lost their life, or looking out over the Geraldton Port along with the waiting woman statue.

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Photo by Orderinchaos

While it’s a great educational opportunity if your kids are that way inclined, it is also lots of fun for the kids to balance on the walls, or try to find a letter I give them on the lists of names, and the views are spectacular.  The wide walkways make this place pram and wheelchair friendly.  Geraldton Volunteer Tour Guides conduct tours at 10.30am most days.

Head to the beach

I have a confession- I hate the sand!  But my kids love it, and beach combing and darting in and out of the waves is something that can keep them entertained for hours.  If it’s warm enough you can take a dip, and if it’s too cold just take off your shoes and go searching for shells.  In winter all sorts of seaweed, sponges and other wildlife is washed up to shore, just keep a look out for the bluebottle jellyfish (small blue or purple bubble like jellyfish which have a nasty sting). The beaches we visit most often is the foreshore beach, Pages beach and Backbeach.

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Tour the Geraldton Museum

Part of the WA Museum, not only does it have some awesome exhibits year round- including a shipwrecks gallery with booty and history aplenty- it also has some great hands on kids activities.  In the school holidays a kids program is run, in my experience the cost can be $0 – $3 and is a lot of fun- you can check out their website for what they currently have happening here.  My kids love exploring the Shipwreck gallery, watching and listening to the recordings and finding all the coins in the displays. A donation is requested for entry to the museum.

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Photo by Vunz

Once you’ve finished in the museum itself, walk along the marina and check out the Batavia longboat replica, which is generally anchored next to the walk way.  Or look for dolphins- they like to hang out in the marina and are often seen gliding by.

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Replica Batavia Longboat, Photo by Dinkum

Search for wildflowers

While it can be a bit of a drive, head east to Mullewa or Coalseam conservation park and check out the amazing wildflowers from July to October.  The road is lined with an array of flowers of different colours, sizes and shapes in the spring. The Mullewa area has a rich farming background and has several drive trails and historical buildings along the way and is a fun drive.

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Despite living on a farm, the kids still spend most of the drive gazing out the window watching the different crops, farm machinery or flowers that you can see from the road.

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Explore the library

Apart from being somewhere that you can go to have a moment of peace or access the free wifi, the Geraldton library also has kids activities and a great book selection too.  During term the library runs a rhyme time and story time sessions (Thursdays and Fridays) for children too young for school, and when school holidays come around they put on special activities for older kids.  The cost can be a few dollars for craft session, but is generally free.  While you are in there, have a look through their books selection, read the newspaper or read a book to your child (my boy’s favorite is Mighty Dads)

Run wild at the Sun City play center

For $3 you can let your kids play for as long as they like in the enclosed play center, just taker your own pair of socks for them to run around in.  Within the play center is a cafe for parents to relax, while their hellions bundles of joy release some energy and play with other kids.  When the weather isn’t ideal, but the kids need to run around this is a fantastic place to come.

Take your picture at the Geraldton Butterflies

This is a fairly new street art that is a lot of fun.  Butterfly wings have been painted at different heights for people to take picture with.  Located in the West End of Marine Terrace, grab a coffee or milkshake at one of the gorgeous cafe’s and take a snap with your own set of wings- just remember to tag #lovegeraldton.

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Check out the Lighthouse

While it’s rare that you can actually get up close or even go inside the Geraldton lighthouse, it is a pretty gorgeous sight to see.

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Photo by Orderinchaos

It’s candy cane paint job definitely catches the eye and makes for a nice picture with the family.  Walk down to the beach to watch kite surfers or windsurfers play.

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Photo by Orderinchaos

Wander the Platform Markets

Each Sunday people descend on the old railway platform in the middle of town to buy and sell a range of goodies.  Fresh fruit and vegetables, books, crafts, jams, cakes, coffee, clothes, lollies, crystals- it’s all there!

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My kids love to wander the sights and smells, we grab some fresh spring rolls, a cake or a coffee and have a look at the second hand book stall, then with the boys help we pick out some fruit and veggies, before we swing past the gardening guru with his seedlings and maybe stop to look at the yabbies and chooks.  While it gets pretty crowded and isn’t great for a pram (though it can be done), I love to wander around with the kids, it’s a messy, colourful crowd of people and produce and is always worth a look.

 

So there you have it- this isn’t even an exhaustive list! If you are still looking for things to do on a budget, try the Lavender Valley Farm in Chapman Valley,  Old Geraldton Gaol, Greenough Wildlife Park , St Francis Xavier Cathedral, the Geraldton Art Gallery and more. Plus there it seems like there is always an event happening in or around the town- ag shows, festivals and other free or cheap events to check out.

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There are several great child friendly eateries and a few less budget friendly things to do as a family- Geraldton is a great place to visit with kids!

What would you add to this list if you’ve been to Geraldton? And what would your kids love if you came for a visit?

 

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