According to the Longitudinal Study of Australian Children LSAC), as of 2015, the average child here in Australia spent over two hours per day (the recommended daily limit) in front of some type of screen. The bad news is that this number has probably increased since 2015, as screens in all their various forms are only becoming more predominant in everyday life. With the kids on school holiday, it is easy for screen usage to increase with more available time during the day. This doesn’t have to mean we spend more and more time with our technology though, especially when you live on the Sunshine Coast!
This community has endless opportunities for kids and families to get active and engaged, sans screens. Kids can enjoy some of these activities year-round, but some of them are specifically planned for this break from school. While this list is nearly exhaustive in terms of keeping kids moving (while having fun yourself), with creativity and research there are surely even more ideas out there! The best part about living here is you don’t have to spend lots of money to have a great time and enjoy our beautiful community. That’s why the first ideas are all things you can do – totally free! Year-round attractions, classes, and workshops are all options for your kids over the next two weeks; read on to get all the ideas you’ll need to keep the boredom away this school holiday!
Best Sunshine Coast Beaches for Families
You can reach most of the fantastic beaches on the Sunshine Coast in less than an hour from most areas. Mooloolaba is perfect for younger children with its ever-calm waters. A snow cone mobile also frequents this beautiful beach (snowcones do come at a price). A little further away, Coolum Beach features not only a scenic beach but also an awesome skate park and playground to entertain kids with various interests. Coolum is also a longer stretch of coast, preventing over crowding. Kings Beach in Caloundra features playgrounds, a water park, and a lively surf for the older kids! No matter the age, though, the beachfront saltwater rock pool is also available and even features access for people with disabilities. Even more information can be found at Queensland Uncovered. Of course, there is Noosa & Peregian just to name a few others.
School Holiday Nature Opportunities
While the beaches here are amazing and incredibly picturesque, there are even more natural spots to enjoy for free. The first on the list to check out is the Maroochy Regional Bushland Botanic Garden. This beautiful garden offers two types of free guided walks on Tuesday mornings. This attraction is a wonderful, educational place to get kids in tune with nature. For more information, see the Friends of Maroochy Regional Bushland Botanic Gardens website.
A little over twenty minutes away from the garden, in Maleny, you’ll find Gardner Falls. This is a great spot for families, with a short, even trail to a scenic swimming spot. There are smaller swimming holes along the trail, but Gardner Falls is the largest and final stop along the path. Gardner Falls isn’t the only place like this, Kondalilla Falls is nearby as well and is another gorgeous, natural spot to swim and enjoy the lush rainforest views. Information about both of these waterfalls is given on A Travellers Footsteps.
In line with ways to get students engaged with nature (and yourself too!), you could visit the Palmwoods Community Garden. This community hub is a place for you to learn about healthy, natural agriculture and you can even try growing something yourself! Nicknamed “Soil and Soul”, the garden declares its mission as being a place to “grow and help others grow”. This activity will teach kids about sustainable agriculture and protecting the environment, which is a great hands-on educational experience.
Purely Fun, Organized, Free Events this School Holiday
While many planned events have a small fee or charge, Kanawa Shoppingworld in Buddina will be offering Free Slime Workshops. This is a fun event to watch your kids learn about science and play with other children! This event is offered 9/23-9/27, but at the time of writing the only available date left is Wednesday, September 25. To reserve your time, visit their page on Eventbrite. If you don’t get this reserved in time, they also have a beach zone and ball pit from 9/28-10/4 from 11:00-2:00!
Ausfunk Cheer & Dance will host a tumble in the park near Coolum Beach on Wednesday, October 2nd. They will be hosting multiple other events for varying fees, as well. For more information, visit their event page.
The Ginger Factory in Yandina is getting in on the free activities for students on school holiday, too! They will offer two shows daily, one at 9:30 and one at 11:00. This show will encourage kids to stay active with fun dances and the message will inspire them to follow their dreams! The show is completely free; tours, rides, and food are available on-site at cost, as well. For more information, visit their event page.
Noosa Aquatic Center will also offer up to five free classes 9/30-10/4 for children under the age of 5 to celebrate National Learn to Swim Week. They offer a variety of classes and fun activities (inflatables!) for all ages and experience levels, and you can find more information here.
Free School Holiday Schedules Hosted by Sunshine Coast Organizations
Refocus Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Child & Family Wellbeing Service has an exciting schedule available for children while on this holiday break. Tuesday, September 24 they are hosting a Slip and Slide Day at Rosemount Hub. Wednesday, they’ll have a fishing and BBQ event on Chambers Island and Thursday the 26th they’ll have “Bushlore”, which will teach kids valuable survival skills. A perfect excuse to get into the Sunshine Coast’s beautiful environment, 10/1 they’ll be hosting a bushwalk and swim in Kondalilla Falls. Next, on Wednesday the 2nd at Rosemount, the whole family can enjoy movies, popcorn, lunch, and outdoor games! Their big finale will be on Thursday in Mudjimba Beach in the form of a BBQ lunch. For more information about this organization, visit their website or for event-specific information, call 5442 3992.
The Rivershore Resort in Maroochydore will have a variety of school holiday events, some of these events are free and other events will have various prices to attend. Some free events are on 9/24 a treasure hunt, 9/26 pet rock decorating, a kids’ disco on 9/27, on 9/28 they will host Luke’s Reptile Kingdom Show, 9/30 there will be a fishing competition with prizes, and live music on 10/3. See a full schedule of all events and their locations here.
The Sunshine Plaza will be where the Sunshine Scouts Clubhouse hosts another free event series. One event, Story Time with Harry Hartog and I Heart Brownies will run 9/24-9/28 starting at 10:30 and 9/30 to 10/5 starting at 9:30. Kids will have the opportunity to make something new every day, including a kite, toolbox, fossil, friendship bracelets, and cardboard binoculars. They are also having a cooking class, customized for kids! Find more information here.
Free Events to Keep Kids Learning this School Holiday
The next idea is an opportunity to spark young student’s love of reading early-on through bringing stories alive. In the Noosa Botanic Gardens, there will be a storytime featuring dinosaurs with a dinosaur dig and treasure hunt on Wednesday 10/2 at 9:00. While this is a free activity, booking is required which you can do here. Connected to the Noosa Botanic Gardens, Noosa Library is offering multiple other free events, like a playtime event 9/25 and 10/1 and a cardboard carnival 9/26 and 10/3 to teach about the fun things you can do with recycled materials. Here is a downloadable guide, with all the free events at the library and surrounding areas.
If you’re wondering if more free classes are available, the answer is yes! Matt Fiddes Martial Arts is offering free classes for new students and they have multiple locations. They will also be having Ninja Day Camps. Find more information online or by calling 1800 840 403.
While it’s important to stay active, mental health and mindfulness are also wonderful skills to teach young children. At the Magic & Mindfulness Festival on 9/28 and 9/29 in the Stockland Birtinya Shopping Center, kids will get the chance to learn yoga poses, magic tricks, and create their own zen garden! The weekend is free to attend and more details can be found here.
Sunshine Coast Attractions for $20 or Less
Nearly free, the Nambour & District Historical Museum Association is a local treasure, with items from the now closed Moreton Central Sugar Mill. For only $1 per school aged child and $5 for all other parties, you can see lots of local history and learn about this community’s past. They have special displays regularly, to see specifically what’s available for exhibit check out their website.
Children and parents, ages 5 and over, can enjoy a large outdoor pool for only $2 per person! The Goodlife Community Centre in Buderim has inflatables and a nice pool for the whole community during the school holidays. Registration opens 30 minutes before the swimming session begins and sessions start at 12:00 or 1:30 and are one hour each. On the event page, you can find the center’s address and other information to participate.
The picking season at Strawberry Fields in Palmview is upon us! The cost of the strawberries fluctuates, but they have great rates and a pick your own field to explore with the whole family! They are open 7 days a week 8:00-4:00 and there’s no need to book your visit in advance. You can stop by 133 Laxton Rd in Palmview and start picking!
Teaching kids about agriculture and respecting the animals that provide for us is absolutely essential for our society’s future. For $11 per person, your children and family can learn how to procure dairy products from start to finish at Maleny Dairy. For another $10 per person, you can take a tractor ride to view the gorgeous landscape and watch the calves be fed. Accessible for individuals with disabilities, this is a wonderful activity for all families. Reservations aren’t necessary, but you can find more information here.
School Holiday Specials for Less than $20 on the Sunshine Coast
The Bavarian, along the Riverwalk at the Sunshine Plaza will host pretzel decorating now through 10/7 from 12:00-2:00 for only $5 per pretzel! You’ll need to book your slot to ensure availability, and you can do that here. Kids also eat free at the Bavarian from 11:00-4:00. This makes it a perfect spot for an afternoon activity and dinner.
At the Salt Health Club, you can get in shape while your little ones get active too! Children ages 5-12 can participate in a variety of fitness classes like yoga or boxing for $7 for members and $10 for non-members. Classes are 60 minutes and you’re welcome to work out in the gym while your student enjoys their own class. You can register online or at the health club.
If you join Cinebuzz, Event Cinemas is selling movie tickets for $12.50 per ticket each day during the school holidays. This great price applies to big-name, new movies! To take advantage of this deal, visit their event page.
The Noosa Leisure Center will host a kids’ playroom each day of the school holiday (9/23-10/6) for only $5 per child! Your child will be sure to expend their energy, with activities like a trampoline, jumping castle, balance beam, and jungle gyms. No sign up is required for this activity, but more information is on their page.
Sunshine Coast School Holiday Classes for >$20
If your little one has culinary energy to put out, mini chef lessons will be provided by the Noosa Civic Shopping Centre for a $5 donation to the Slow Food Noosa Program. There will be two classes per day, each day until 10/4. The classes are one hour each and start at 10:00 and 11:00. Booking the class online in advance is essential.
Maroochy Regional Bushland Botanic Gardens has put together a workshop series that will educate students about recycling and how we can make many products with recycled materials. The series is dubbed Waste to Art and there are multiple dates and topics available here. Tickets are only $7.50 and this is an educational opportunity that could end up changing the world.
Get your kids’ creativity going and engage their artistic abilities with rock painting at the Noosa Regional Gallery on October 3rd from 10:30-11:30. While this activity is perfect for younger kids (ages 6-8), there are other activities for kids 9-12 as well including clay animal and stone sculpture. All sessions are $15 per child and more details are outlined in this handy graphic.
Again, for $15 per child, the Caloundra Regional Gallery will be hosting printing workshops using various media. Dates for workshops are 9/24, 9/25, 10/1, and 10/2 and are suitable for ages 4-7 or 8 and up, depending on the class. To register (which is necessary), go to the Sunshine Coast Caloundra Gallery website.
For $20 per child, the Noosa Leisure Center is hosting a jungle themed dance and yoga workshop on 9/26 from 4:00-5:00. The event will also include a craft, so it’s important to book in advance to ensure materials are prepared.
Sunshine Coast Wildlife Attractions – Spend Less than $50
Animal lovers of all ages will appreciate the Wildlife HQ Zoo in Woombye. At the zoo, visitors will see a wide range of animals in a pleasant atmosphere. The admission is $15 for kids and $29 for adults. Bundle deals are also available. The zoo is open daily 9:00-4:00 and while you must pay for admission when you arrive, more information about the zoo is available online.
Take advantage of living on the coast and visit the Sunshine Coast Sea Life Aquarium sometime this school holiday! For $32 per adult and $22 per child, you receive general admission to the main exhibits. An additional $10 more per person will get you a more behind the scenes look into the aquarium and you can tour the turtle rehabilitation area, too. For additional costs, you can have your picture taken – or even swim with – a seal! Online reservations aren’t required, but to ensure you get the access you prefer and to skip the line at the door visit their website and reserve your tickets.
Adrenaline-Fueled Fun for the School Holiday For Only ~$50
If you have kids, young or old, with a need for speed – Big Kart Track has something for them! The park’s hours are Sunday – Thursday 9:00-5:00 and Friday to Saturday 9:00-10:00. The price for kids over 5 ft tall and 12 years old is $45 per 15 minutes or $75 per 30 minutes. After 30 minutes, additional 15 minute intervals are $35. Under 12, kids can take advantage of the kid’s track for $20-$25 for 10 minutes. Tickets can be booked online or at the gate.
For real adrenaline-lovers, Aussie World is an amusement park in Palmview that’s a blast for everyone. For $38 per person (kids 3 and under are free), you’ll enjoy a full day with access to over 30 awesome rides, multiple other attractions, and shows. Again, tickets can be reserved on their website or at the gate, but you’ll save big buying them online!
For $25 per child and $15 per adult, you can experience Australia’s first mobile waterpark – Waterworld! The park will be setting up in Caloundra at the Senior Rugby League Club. Inflatable pools and slides are only part of this attraction! They also have “Zorb Cylinders” – where you can see what it’s like to walk on water!
School Holiday Day Camps $50 or Less
Another day camp is located in Twin Waters, hosted by Apex Camps Sunshine Coast. Online booking is required. To ensure the activity’s quality is first-class, they are all carried out in small groups. The day camp runs from 8:00-3:00, or as late as 4:00. Each session is 2 hours and costs $20, or children can spend the full day with lunch included for $70.
The Sunshine Coast Recreation Centre will be getting in on the school holiday festivities! They are open each day of the break and will have a variety of activities available. The least expensive is rock climbing, only $12.15 per person and suitable for ages 5+. The Coast Club has morning and afternoon sessions ($29.05 each) or daily sessions ($67.05 per day) for kids over 8. To sign up in advance, which is required, visit this page.
Full day, holistic childcare will be provided by Immanuel Lutheran College for full or half days. The college will facilitate games and activities that target each childs’ interests to keep everyone engaged! For full days, the cost is $54 per child or $27 for half days. Sign up is required and can be done on the website.
School Holiday Classes Under $50
The Boardstore in Caloundra will have lessons available throughout the school holiday, with lessons lasting one hour each. You must pre-register, and tickets are $22.19 per child. Get your tickets for a lesson for any skill level on their website! Be sure to arrive 30 minutes prior to your lesson to ensure you get your full hour of education.
Check out the Noosa Leisure Center. On Thursday October 3rd, the Center will have a class for children to learn mindfulness and yoga, while creating a craft and participating in guided meditations. The class is in the evening, 4:00-5:30 and the cost of attendance is $25 per child. You must book in advance; to do this you’ll need to call Emma at 0413 401 144.
A workshop to support healthy friendships, specifically for young girls (8-12), will take place 9/29 at 11:45. Young girls will learn skills like conflict resolution, confidence, and active listening at this workshop in Buderim at the Fusion Youth Hall. This event will allow young girls the opportunity to build relationships with other like-minded young ladies, while learning how to build the best, healthiest relationships possible. This 3-hour workshop is $45 and more information and essential booking information is on their event page.
A fun and interactive class will teach cupcake decorating to kids interested in the culinary arts! The Kawana Forest Meeting Place, will be the location for Spooky Creations’ cupcake decorating lesson on October 4th 10:00-12:00. All school age children are welcome, ages 5-7 may need parental assistance to fully enjoy the event. The cost is $50 per child, but for multiple children there is a 10% discount. Booking in advance is required, find more information and book here.
Classes by The University of the Sunshine Coast $60 & Under
Does your child have humanitarian interests or goals? If so, they might love the idea of helping with real-world crises by helping solve mapping mysteries with the use of technology. For children 8-11, the University of the Sunshine Coast will give kids this opportunity on 10/2! Signing up is done online and costs $30 per student. Be sure to sign up by 10/1, tickets are still available now!
The University of the Sunshine Coast will also host events for 9-15 year olds, teaching them about robotics using LEGO® MINDSTORMS®. The events will be 10/1 and 10/2 and tickets are $50 per child. More information and reservation information is found online here. Younger children (8-11) will have a camp called “Lotsa Bots”, as well. This camp on 10/2 or 10/3 teaches simple coding and robotic basics to get kids familiar with these concepts at a young age, providing a great foundation for future learning. Sign your 8-11 year old up online for $50 per child, as well.
Beyond robotics, the university will partner with Lou Jaeger for a watercolor camp 10/1 and 10/3 for $50 per child. This type of art does not require experience and may wake up an artistic spirit in your child! Find tickets and more information on the event’s page.
Another event by the University of the Sunshine Coast with tickets available online, on 10/3 there will be a camp dedicated to building hexapods. The class will be for 9-15 year olds and is from 9:00-12:00. The cost per ticket is $60.
$50+ Awesome Ideas for School Holidays
For $65 per child, per day, your kids can have access to an enormous indoor skate park! With three days of attendance, your child can decorate their board in a workshop for an additional $65. This includes all materials for the workshop. There will be professional coaching and free skate sessions, with competitions and games to keep things exciting. Discounts of 10% for 2 kids or 20% for 3 kids are available. Booking and other information can be found online.
In Ilkley, there is an opportunity for kids to get an in-depth look at gardens with topics like micro-gardening, botany, and horticulture. There will be crafts and creations that will get kids thinking about how they can impact the environment positively. Workshops will take place daily until the end of the school holiday and the daily cost is $70 per child. The event is hosted at the Bee Grubby House and you can book your tickets by emailing [email protected] and to see more details first visit their website.
Alcooringa Youth and Community Centre has brought in an internationally published children’s author, Aleesah Darlison, to teach 7-14 year olds about creative writing. There will be games and prizes along with quality lessons about writing successfully. You can now buy tickets online for the workshop on 9/25 and each ticket costs $70.72.
Get Moving and Have Fun!
While this is not a completely exhaustive list, there are 40+ ideas to keep your family having a great time this school holiday! Not every idea will be ideal for everyone, but there is definitely something for all people on this list. With many activities available at no or low costs – there’s no reason not to have a great time this holiday.