Kids & Pets

7 simple school holiday activities you’re guaranteed to enjoy too

Nothing like a bit of old-fashioned fun.
Pergolas paved with Strada Quartzite from 3D Stone run along the north-western side of the home. "This is a great home for entertaining," says Leanne. "The kids are in the pool all summer, and in winter the outdoor area is lovely. Everyone finds their own space to relax and enjoy themselves." The Wyandotte chooks are all fans of 'free ranging'. "Every time the kids go to the produce store, they seem to come back with another one," says Leanne of their brood, which has grown to 18.Photography: John Downs / Styling: Kylie Jackes

While going to a theme park, the cinema or a pantomime are all wonderful, they’re not always possible (or affordable). Most of us aren’t going to be able to do an extravagant outing every day. The good news is, there are many school holiday activities that are fun, easy and don’t involve you forking out a fortune. The hardest part is coming up with them, so here are a few ideas to fill the days ahead. We’re pretty sure you’ll adore doing them too.

1. Cook s’mores on a campfire

You don’t need to go away anywhere to enjoy a s’mores-making session. If you have a fire pit or outdoor fireplace, toast marshmallows then sandwich them between biscuits with a piece of chocolate. Enjoy your gooey treats while watching the fire crackle (also known as a bush TV). If you have a tent, set that up too and it’s one of those school holiday activities they’ll remember forever.

A reclaimed brick outdoor fireplace in a garden.
There’s something about an outdoor fireplace that gets everyone together. (Photography: Marnie Hawson)

2. Do a house swap

As the saying goes, “A change is as good as a holiday!” Plan with another family who owns somewhere you’d like to stay like this characterful Toowoomba farmhouse and do a house swap. It could be for the whole holidays or even just a night. This will take some planning and coordination but it’s a fun way to experience another neighbourhood without paying for accommodation. Agree on terms of food and housekeeping and enjoy their home as if it was your own. Your holiday can then be as extravagant or as frugal as your budget allows.

We wouldn’t mind swapping for this characterful Toowoomba farmhouse for a night. (Photography: Hannah Puechmarin / Styling: Cheryl Carr)

3. Have a zesty bake-off

You could make a whole day of this activity, starting with going on the hunt for juicy oranges. You might even go orange picking if there are orchards near you, or just head to your local markets, and pick up all the ingredients you need for these orange custard doughnuts. They’re fluffy, delicious and a nice change from basic kids’ cupcakes!

A wooden tray with orange and custard-filled doughnuts.
Delicious recipe for orange custard doughnuts. (Photography: Nicky Ryan / Styling: John Mangila)

4. Go on an animal walk

Just like when you go to a wildlife park and the kids carry a map and stamp animals they’ve seen, create your own animal map for your local area. Maybe you see a horse in a local paddock (or know someone with ponies, like the owners of this modern country farmhouse), notice magpies at the park and have lizards that bask on your deck. Whatever there are, create a map for the kids to stamp and go on a walk around your area.

Ruby leads Rivi the palomino for a walk around her family’s modern country farmhouse. (Photography: Louise Roche / Styling: Kylie Jackes)

5. Make a wild bouquet

Hunt for foliage or flowers (whatever’s in season). The kids can display a bunch in their bedrooms or press them between pages of a book and after 10 days take them out to see how they’ve dried beautifully. You could even frame a few to put on the wall.

At an off-grid cottage in the Southern Tablelands, a tall flowering weigela shrub grows alongside smaller shrubs of columbine and foxglove. (Photography: Brigid Arnott / Styling: Jodie Gibbons)

6. Take a drive

A good old-fashioned car trip is literally a breath of fresh air for the whole family. You don’t even need an itinerary! Set off with friends and drive in convoy to a destination – perhaps a great park or waterhole you’ve heard of. Stop plenty of times along the way and take the slow route. If going further afield, wind in and out of country towns, play ‘I Spy’ with the kids and linger under trees and in parks to soak up the daylight hours. Do nothing and everything.

Driveway flanked by trees at a property owned by Charlie Albone and Juliet Love in Ourimbah.
The tree-lined drive at Charlie Albone and Juliet Love’s Ourimbah home. (Credit: Ray White – Long Jetty)

7. Have a movie marathon

On those days when you’re all a bit worn out and need a bit of a ‘nothing’ day, a movie (or Bluey!) marathon is just what’s in order. Set up the living room with cosy quilts and pillows. Put on the popcorn and settle in to watch some favourites. The special 28-minute Bluey episode has just been released, so be sure to include that in the line-up. It’s where Bluey’s family sells their house and (spoiler!) you’ll enjoy it as much as the kiddos.

<p><strong>LIVING AREA</strong> This is one of Annelise's favourite rooms. "It's a perfect space for the family to come together and watch movies, or for guests to relax in before and after dinner," she says. The Coast to Country Custom Furniture sofas are ideal for sinking into after a long day, and have been paired with <a rel=
(Photography: Natalie Hunfalvay / Styling: Lisa Burden)

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