When it comes to finding the best school holiday activities in Ballarat, this summer look no further. From gold mining to medieval knights and wildlife, you are sure to find something that is guaranteed to excite the whole family. We have compiled all the best school holiday ideas and the top attractions in Ballarat for you these December & January school holidays. In this article you will find updated and new events for the summer period!
Ballarat is a classic Victorian mining town and does a great job of blending their history and surrounds into a range of December & January school holiday activities in Ballarat. As locals, we embrace our region and with so many things to do in school holidays in Ballarat, we really are spoiled for choice.
Kids school holiday activities this summer don’t have to be a chore, even if you stay at home (check out our stay at home ideas included below). No matter the weather, you will find something to entertain children of all ages with these school holiday activities in Ballarat. Take a look at our list of school holiday fun activities then get out there and enjoy!
We have compiled the complete guide to the best school holiday activities in Ballarat over the December & January school holidays to help make your life so much easier! Our activity recommendations come to us straight from the activity providers themselves, they email us all the time to update this article! So, let’s get stuck in! 🙂
Summer school holiday dates:
State schools finish on Wednesday 20 December and return to class on Monday 30 January 2024.
Summer school holidays in Victoria are Thursday 21 December to Sunday 29 January 2024.
Fun things to do for the Ballarat school holidays this Summer
We have broken our list of Ballarat school holiday activities into sections to help you:
- Fun things to do for the Ballarat school holidays this Summer
- 10 fun free school holiday activities
- 10 fun cheap school holiday activities
- 10 BIG days out in Ballarat these school holidays
- 15 things to do at home these school holidays
- Theatres with kids shows on in Ballarat these school holidays
- Ballarat kids holiday ideas
- Even more VIC school holiday ideas:
- Summer school holiday dates:
As with everything at the moment, please check with the venue directly (either by their website or social media pages) to ensure they are open during the times you wish to attend. You should also check their current policy around advanced bookings, entry requirements and timings.
10 fun free school holiday activities
Sometimes the school holidays can seem like they go forever, so it is great to have a heap of free fun things to do in Ballarat to fill in some time. Take a look at our list of free attractions in Ballarat, because we know the kids will love them!
Ballarat Botanical Gardens
We enjoyed spending time wandering (and letting the kids loose) in these beautiful botanical gardens, located on Lake Wendouree. Broken into four zones, it is easy to see why these gardens are loved by locals. You can even take a guided tour through the gardens or just enjoy the plant life and marble statues on display.
Insider tip: The Tramways Museum, located in the gardens, is free and a great add on to a gardens visit.
Oh, how much do we love this playground?! Lots! Victoria Park is a great space to go and burn off some built up energy. Featuring an all-inclusive playground, it is a fabulous place to spend some time outdoors in Ballarat. Kids will love the swings, slide and double flying fox, as well as the imaginative water precinct. Walk down the tree lined walkways to fully admire this park (also a great place for a game of hide and seek!)
Explore the goldfields
It’s impossible to come to Ballarat and not check out some of the old mining areas. Long Point Bushland Reserve is a great spot to visit and wander through what was once a gold mine. The kids can take a look at an abandoned mine then collect some of the quartz lying around – or maybe they will strike it rich and find a gold nugget.
Black Hill reserve mountain bike park
Got some bigger kids that want to practice their riding? Bring them out to Black Hill reserve to try out their mountain bike moves. Dirt tracks wind through bushland giving kids thrill as the ride downhill. Parents, bring along a picnic and sit at one of the picnic tables on site.
Originally a quarry, this is now a recreational space filled with birdlife that is perfect for a relaxing day out. These school holidays you can get the kids outside and enjoying one of the walking trails or spending time at the playground before enjoying a barbeque lunch. Located just outside the city this is a great option for a family day out.
Lake Wendouree Adventure Playground
The Lake Wendouree Adventure Playground is a must see for all kids on holidays in Ballarat. This enormous playground is built entirely from wood and features equipment that has to be seen to be believed. It is an all ages playground where a family can easily spend a few hours tiring kids out. It is also a great place for a lunch stop as undercover barbeque facilities are on site.
Insiders tip: Bring some food to feed the local ducks but be sure to check out the duck friendly food on the website first – no bread allowed.
In need of a little quiet time? Head to the library and let the kids enjoy one of the many school holiday programs on offer. There are a great range STEAM (science, technology, engineering, art and mathematics) on offer as well as story time and rhyme time all year round. If you can’t make it in, take a look at all the virtual activities available on the website.
Lal Lal Falls
Allocate a day to exploring Lal Lal Falls. Situated just outside Ballarat these falls are 30m high and you can get a great view from the viewing platform. Bring a picnic and spend some time here letting the kids run around while you listen to the roaring of the falls. There is a little playground here as well as sheltered barbeque facilities.
Lydiard Street North Heritage Trail
Take a self-guided walking tour of this historic part of Ballarat. Make sure you download the trail before you go then take a leisurely walk along Lydiard Street. Stop at key points along the way such as the house built by a former mayor, the church built in 1890 and remnants of the old bakery. This is an easy activity to do with kids as you can pick and choose the length the suits you.
Visit Mount Buninyong
Nothing says excitement like a volcano – and that exactly what Mount Buninyong is, an extinct volcano. You can take a walk through the crater and imagine what it was like when the volcano was active, or you can walk to the summit and enjoy the views from the lookout. Mount Buninyong sits 745m above sea level so offers great views of the surrounding landscape.
10 fun cheap school holiday activities
School holidays don’t have to break the bank to leave a lasting impression. If you know where to look (and we do!) you will find some great activities. Plus, we have included some indoor activities in Ballarat for when the weather isn’t so great. There is a reason why we say ‘we know because we go’! 😉
Ballarat Centre of Music and the Arts (BCMA)
What if Dorothy’s ending, wasn’t what you expected. What if ‘There’s no place like home’ wasn’t referring to Kansas? What if she took a different brick road? The BCMA is delivering a juke-box style musical with a soundtrack collection of songs that will take you on a roller-coaster of emotions as Dorothy and cohorts Lion, Tinman and Scarecrow, bound, leap and cartwheel on a journey that you will almost recognise….but not quite.
& DOROTHY is a superb showcase of stunning choreography, cuteness overload and incredible harmonies, set to entertain you and leave you questioning all that you knew about Dorothy Gale.
Date: Saturday 9 & Sunday 10 December, 2923
Where: 1220 Howitt St, Wendouree
The Art Club Hub
A place for creative minds to come together and express themselves through Art. Led by qualified artists, they run school holiday art classes for all ages -kids, teens & adults. They provide everything you need to explore different mediums and art styles. Their club offers the perfect opportunity to explore your creative side and make friends along the way.
Grow You Good Things
In celebration of Youth Fest 2023 Y Ballarat Youth team, in collaboration with Food Is Free Inc & the Wendouree community are pleased to present workshops on all things indoor plants and veggies, live music, great food, stellar company and a heap of creative opportunities this two day event is open to young people 12-25 years.
Monday 18th and Tuesday 19th Sept, 10am-1pm
The Grove @ 35 Violet Grove, Wendouree
Ballarat Tramways Museum
Trams are an iconic part of Ballarat’s heritage and were used extensively for almost 100 years. Take a ride on a tram along the original tram line along Lake Wendouree. Trams are staffed by authentically dressed volunteers and tickets display the original prices (1 shilling). Museum entry + tram ride – adults $10, children $5, concession $8, family $30. After your ride, visit the museum and check out the displays, including 14 electric trams and a horse tram!
Ballarat Bird World
If you (or your kids) love birds, then Bird World is a must for your to do list. You can take a walk through the massive (1200m2) free flight aviary with over 500m of raised walkway. See Australian parrots as well as many other species. Kids can get close to the 10m animatronic dinosaur or have a go at navigating the timber adventure maze.
Gold Rush Mini Golf
Challenge the family to a game of mini golf these holidays. Gold Rush Mini Golf offers an indoor and outdoor course, so no matter the weather you can still have fun. Outside is a gold rush themed course while inside kids will have a blast playing the Lost Worlds glow in the dark course. Barbeque facilities are available to it’s the perfect place to spend a day.
Ballarat Aquatic and Lifestyle Centre
If the kids are getting bored, just add water! Take them to the Ballarat Aquatic and Lifestyle Centre for a day of fun. With a fantastic outdoor water playspace and an indoor pool for those cooler days, there is always something to do. There are also a number of gymnastics options available for those that don’t want to swim.
Fun Bugs play house
This giant indoor playground is perfect for kids up to 8 years of age. Watch their eyes light up as they spot the huge colourful slides, climbing equipment and trike area. Parents, there is a toddler zone and crawler zone, as well as a relaxation area if kids get tired. An added bonus a plaster activity, where kids can enjoy some downtime painting plaster figures to take home.
The Eureka Centre is a place to explore the history of Ballarat and more importantly, the Eureka Stockade. The centre has a strong focus on educating children so be sure to take a look at the specialised school holidays program before you go. It is also situated beside the Eureka Memorial, believed to be the site of the rebellion, so a great add on for the visit.
Insiders tip: Take a look at the website for a range of educational activities for kids to do at home.
Ballarat bike hire
Let the wind blow your hair back as you cycle the streets of Ballarat. Ballarat bike hire has bikes for adults and kids and has all the knowledge of where to go and the best bike tracks for your family. Best of all, they can deliver the bikes to you and pick them up later at a pre-determined time. With all that flexibility, there really is no excuse to not get on a bike!
If you are looking for an indoor activity in Ballarat, you can’t go past Chipmunks. Designed for kids up to 11 years, this playspace has multiple levels of fun and features interactive and sensory equipment. Dedicated age zones make it easy to relax with a coffee while the kids enjoy themselves. Tickets are valid for the whole day, so it’s a great place to stay and play!
Ballarat Indoor Go Karting
Get behind the wheel and indulge in an action packed day. Race your family for the honour of victory at Ballarat’s only indoor go kart venue. Afterwards, enjoy a game of laser tag in the massive action packed arena. If this is a little too much adrenalin, relax with some of the latest arcade games in the arcade entertainment zone.
Get the kids to bounce off some energy these holidays at Xtreme Bounce. No matter what you are up for, you will find an activity that suits everyone. There is a high jump airbag, a heap of inter-linked trampolines, Xtreme basketball and even a wipe-out challenge. This is a great place to spend a morning.
10 BIG days out in Ballarat these school holidays
Every holiday needs some big days out. Take a look at our list of top places to visit in Ballarat to leave the kids with some something to brag about.
Sovereign Hill is THE venue to come to when you visit Ballarat. It is a living outdoor museum of the regions gold mining history. A gold mining township has been recreated and kids can experience mine tours, pan for gold, watch fascinating demonstrations (like musket firing and gold pouring) or just watch the street performances. Make sure you take the time to spend a day here as you will need it. There is just so much to see!
Ballarat Wildlife Park
Specialising in native Australian animals and a large variety of exotic animals, the Ballarat Wildlife Park is well worth the trip. See presentations from zoo keepers or just wander around with the free roaming animals and see them in their native environment, free from cages. Grab a coffee from the café and let the kids enjoy the animals.
This incredible replica medieval castle is truly a sight to behold. Watch knights jousting in the main arena, venture in the dragon’s labyrinth or tour the torture dungeon. Kids can learn the skills of knighthood and try their hand at sword fighting. Make sure you check out the school holiday program before you go.
Grampians Adventure Golf
Tee off with your friends during a fun round of golf at the Grampians Adventure Golf Course in the lush Grampians National Park. Easily one of the most beautiful golf courses in the country, the 18 hole course is set amongst two acres of beautifully landscaped gardens featuring six waterfalls and five tranquil ponds to make it a touch more challenging for punters.
Many of the holes are named after famous tourist destinations such as The Grand Canyon, The Pinnacle and many more to add an extra element of fun. The Grampians Adventure Golf Course is a great school holiday activity or addition to any itinerary while visiting the Grampians National Park.
Insider Tip: This course can be challenging and is best suited to older children and teenagers while younger children will need assistance.
Escapade puzzle games
If you have kids who love puzzles, then bring them here. This is a live action experience where you are locked in a room and need to solve clues and puzzles to get out. It is a great family bonding experience as you really need to work together to escape. Families tip: This is an activity for kids 14+.
Need a bit of time away from the kids? Disappear into a maze and see if they can find you! The Maze House is a hedge maze that is over 27 years old and is full of twists and turns. Find all eight clues in the maze and win a prize. Located just outside Ballarat it is well worth the trip.
Carman’s Tunnel mine tour
Take a tour through an old unfinished mine tunnel. You will be guided by candlelight, giving kids a great feel for what life was like for the miners. The tunnel has been unaltered and is in the same condition it was left in.
Locals tip: Dress warmly as even summer can be quite cool.
Doran Park Trail Riding
Take some time to see the pristine bushland from on top of a horse these holidays. Doran Park has horses to suit all riding abilities, including beginners. You choose the length of ride that works for you and let them do the rest. Quite often you will see kangaroos and wallabies, so make sure you bring your camera!
The Ballarat observatory has great school holiday programs on offer that happen during the day, so you don’t have to have a late night. There is of course, night programs so that kids can witness the wonder of the sky as a special treat. Storytime, movies and activities are all part of the program, making it suitable for kids of all ages.
Ballarat heritage tours
Discover the city built by gold on a Ballarat heritage tour. Hear tales of tragedy, triumph and fortune as you take in the sites of the city. This walking tour is around 90 minutes long so is great way to get some exercise and learn about Ballarat. Tours happen regardless of the weather, so dress appropriately and have some heritage fun!
Take a ride on a paddle steamer
This incredible replica of an 1800’s paddle boat is sure to give the kids something to talk about. The boat cruises leisurely around Lake Wendouree meaning it is perfect even for little ones. Encourage the kids to spot the native bird life and afterward, take a visit to the Lake Wendouree Museum. Parents tip: Stop in for a coffee after at the Boatshed Restaurant.
Insiders Tip: If you want to be more energetic you can hire peddle boats from Steve. Check the Facebook page here.
15 things to do at home these school holidays
Some days the excitement of school holidays gets too much and you need to say home, however it definitely doesn’t have to be boring. Take a look at some of these ideas to get the kids excited.
Start a garden
Start getting the kids excited about gardening and the environment by planting some seeds. Take a look at what is good to plant this season, grab some seeds and get planting!
Go on a treasure hunt
Kids just love a good treasure hunt, and it doesn’t have to be hard. Hide a treasure somewhere in the garden and then create a simple map for them to follow.
Put on a show
Most kids just LOVE performing, so why not put on a show. Put a sheet up in front of a makeshift stage and encourage the kids to do a bit of singing and dancing. Why not invite the neighbours and put on a performance.
This is great for kids of all ages. Cut potatoes in half, carve out numbers or letters into each half then dip in paint. Great for fun and learning.
Make a book out of your favourite movie
Rather than sitting in front of the tv, encourage the kids to make a book about their favourite movie instead. They can draw pictures or cut images out of a magazine or newspaper, then tell you the story in their own words.
If your kids are bored – here are 10 more things they can do at home to entertain themselves!
- Draw, color, or do a craft project.
- Read a book or listen to an audio book.
- Play with toys or make a fort.
- Write a story or make a comic strip.
- Do a puzzle or play a board game.
- Bake or cook a simple dish with adult supervision.
- Have a dance party or put on a play.
- Build with Legos or blocks.
- Do a science experiment or make a homemade slime.
- Play outside with balls, frisbees, or other outdoor toys, weather permitting.
Theatres with kids shows on in Ballarat these school holidays
Treat the kids to a movie these holidays. Regent Cinema has all the latest movies for kids (and families) to enjoy. They also offer session where you can bring small babies (Crybaby sessions) as well as sensory friendly sessions with low lighting and sound.
Ballarat National Theatre
They are renowned for ‘straight’ theatre, in that they do not usually produce musicals. They produce multiple productions per year, usually in school holidays as well as for the Ballarat Heritage Festival. Productions include Shakespeare, radio plays, Australian plays, classic British and American plays and original works.
On this school holidays:
Terry Pratchett’s ‘Wyrd Sisters’ from the fabulous team at Ballarat National Theatre.
This beautiful and iconic venue showcases the best of what Ballarat has to offer. The theatre opened in 1875 and it is worth a visit just to see the building itself. You can enjoy music, a comedy show, ballet, live theatre and much more at this historic theatre.
These school holidays:
Six screens at the Showbiz Cinema ensure you will have to something to watch these school holidays in Ballarat. Relax in a leather seat and watch a movie with the best picture and sound quality around.
Wendouree Centre for Performing Arts
This state of the art performing arts centre is a crown jewel in Ballarat. With more than 800 seats and an expansive stage, you will never miss a moment of any show.
Ballarat kids holiday ideas
If you’re looking for more things to do in Victoria, click here.
Soooo…. what do you think? Plenty of Ballarat days out ideas here to keep you and the kids entertained for the whole school holidays? These Ballarat holiday ideas are updated every term, so remember to bookmark this page.
Let us know if we missed your favourite or if you would like us to add your venue or event!
Even more VIC school holiday ideas:
If you are heading off on a Victorian road trip these school holidays check out our other articles: