Cheap and cheerful holiday fun for tweens

Right about now you look in your pockets/wallet/purse and scream, “Where has all my money gone?!”

Kids are expensive. (I mean feeding, clothing and entertaining them – not buying them, of course.) And never more so than at this time of year.

What with the unreasonable demands for new pairs of shoes, mobile phones and electronic games for Christmas, the badgering has been brutal. (And that’s just for stuff for me!)

Squeezing in a late holiday break might bust the bank. Or send you around the twist.

But not if you follow these handy hints from Bound Round, an educational and interactive travel platform for tweens, where they can record their experiences in journal, postcard and photographic format. These are their top picks from the Kids’ Board for low-cost January fun, across this wide brown land.

* Growing up, my sister and I called it the “gorilla mountain”. Tibrogargan is a sheer rock face, forming part of the Glasshouse Mountains on the Sunshine Coast. The good news is, there are 11 smaller hills perfect for rock climbing and hiking. From there, head to the Strawberry Fields, where you only pay for the number you collect. And yes, the cafe sells chocolate-coated strawberries.

* Sydney’s an expensive city, right? Well, not if you go to the sprawling Darling Quarter Playground with a 21-metre flying fox, climbing ropes, giant slides, swings and water games. Or catch a ferry to Cockatoo Island to check out the city’s convict history. Campsites start from $45 a night. Grab activity booklets from the Visitor Information Centre for self-guided tours to discover the island’s shipbuilding past.

* Sometimes, I want to move to Perth, purely because of Whiteman Park. The kids can ride a vintage steam train, have a hit of tennis, explore the bike paths, check out the Motor Museum, or learn about native plants in the Children’s Forest. Afterwards, cool down in the maze of fountains at the Water Labyrinth in Forrest Place.

* If you’re doing the “Worlds” on the Gold Coast, explore farther afield at Mount Tamborine. Take a hike through the national park to see the magnificent Curtis Falls. (Mum or Dad might like to sneak away for a spell at Gwinganna Lifestyle retreat, hee hee…) Afterwards, in nearby Logan, visit the protected koalas at the Daisy Hill Conservation Park: entry is free.

* Lake Macquarie is a sleepy settlement a couple of hours north of Sydney. You can walk or bike around the lake, jump off Murray’s Beach jetty, or get “dirty and healthy and fit”, according to one Bound Rounder, with a bush walk in Watagans National Park. Drop by the Lake Macquarie City Art Gallery, where climbing on outdoor sculptures is actually encouraged.

These destinations are guaranteed to drag your tweens away from their devices for at least a few hours. And they won’t mean a trip to Cash Converters to liquidate those unwanted Christmas gifts.

Twitter & Instagram: @TraceySpicer
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