Melbourne comes alive in winter – you just need to know where to look (and remember to pack a scarf)! Here are a few of our favourite suggestions:
Heide Museum of Modern Art
This former dairy farm 20 minutes from Melbourne was designed by Sunday and John Reed in 1934 as a way to integrate art into nature. Children under 16 are free, but for $8 a head you can include art tours to take your students through the artistic history of Heide and its cultural significance, or for $20 per student take part in a longer, more in-depth workshop.
Ballarat is home to Kryal Castle, which offers day visits for schools up to Year 10, starting at $20 per student and incorporating the curriculum into the excursion. Historical tours feature ladies in waiting, knights and peasants, detailing how people lived in medieval times – simpler times of jousting, archery and axe throwing! And any trip to Kryal Castle wouldn’t be complete without a trip to the maze.
Scienceworks & the Melbourne Planetarium
Spotswood is the quiet home to one of our favourite children’s educational centres. Scienceworks focuses on the ways science contributes to daily life and will shape our future. Watch out for the ‘Illuminate: How science comes to light’ exhibition which explores perception through colour and sound, using your body and lasers to activate parts of the exhibit. Entry is free for children, but fees apply for any additional exhibitions, starting with Planetarium shows at $9 per child.
Organ Pipes National Park
Pack lunchboxes and wet weather gear and head 25km out of Melbourne to the Organ Pipes National Park. The walking trails are not arduous, and there is a picnic ground with toilets just near the organ pipes themselves, which are breathtakingly beautiful, and well worth the trek. An easy day trip with plenty of outdoor adventure and Australian beauty.
Old Melbourne Gaol
Built in the mid-1800s, closed in 1929, and the scene of Ned Kelly’s final reckoning, Melbourne’s gaol is a portal into our past. Abundant school tours have been designed with different age groups in mind, including Court Room Drama where Grades 5 and above are able to take part in a trial, and The Watch House (Years 9–12) where students are arrested and processed through the lock up. The team at the Old Melbourne Gaol have worked tirelessly to bring history and entertainment together. Prices start at $7 per student.
Located at Docklands, ArtVo is a 3D trick art gallery, home to 100+ hand-painted 3D artworks, each created so that when you stand at the wall marker and take a photo, they create a special 3D effect. Featuring optical illusions, you become part of the artworks. Starting at $18 for children, this is also an opportunity to check out the changes made to Docklands over the past few years.
The Melbourne Museum can cater to whatever your class group is learning about, with school programs covering all kinds of topics, including First Peoples of Victoria, Ancient Greeks, climate change, rocks, bugs, and more. Its current blockbuster is Triceratops: Fate of the Dinosaurs – an immersive voyage into a lost world, where visitors can explore the landscapes of the Cretaceous and get to know the creatures that thrived there. The museum seeks to reaffirm the importance of learning and relearning, remembering history, and telling stories. Free for children.
Melbourne has some fantastic farm experiences, including Myuna Farm in Doveton, Chesterfield Farm, Bundoora Park Farm and Homestead, Collingwood Children’s Farm, CERES in Brunswick, and more. Great for kids who might not spend much time around farm animals, a gentle introduction with milking, gardening, outdoor playgrounds, tractor rides, and craft workshops. Entry can cost as little as a donation, and many of these farms are ready for school groups, with expert rangers available to answer all kinds of tricky questions.