In a world consumed by technology, it’s important to remember what is outside the four walls of our living rooms and the benefits that come with getting out in the open. It is especially important to remind our children to step away from the computer or video game every once in a while and get a breath or two of fresh air.
Local Canberra family, The Reynolds, know all about the value of getting outdoors and the best places to go in Canberra for families. The family of five made up of parents Matthew – a police officer, Justine – a Curves fitness instructor and kids Elly, 18, Harrison, 12 and Abbey, 9, this family are well versed in the call of the outdoors and making Canberra their personal playground.
What do you all love about Canberra in spring?
Justine: I love Floriade, the flowers, walking my dog around the lakes, Burley Griffin and Ginninderra, getting out on the weekends to Tidbinbilla and the Cotter, going to barbecues and just coming out of hibernation after winter.
Matt: I like going for bike rides, camping at Namadgi (National Park), hiking, going to the footy, riding my motorbike and being with the kids.
Harrison: I like coming out from winter and going outside, playing football and just hanging outside with friends.
Abbey: Floriade and all the rides there and the flowers. I like going camping with dad, no matter where we go. I like being away from the cold weather and going for some walks, not big ones though. Also, picnics and going to all the playgrounds and motorbike rides with dad. I love how it’s closer to Christmas and my birthday too!
Elly: The weather. You get to wear nice clothes – shorts and a top in the day and just jeans and a singlet top at night, I like going on picnics and the fruit that comes in spring and just being outside, plus the smell of all the flowers.
Justine: We like going to the [Capital Region] Farmers Market and getting all the seasonal fruits and vegetables that come out. And it not being freezing when you get there.
What makes Canberra a fantastic place for family outings?
Justine: There’s lots of options in Canberra for outings. There’s a lot of different playgrounds and parks, lakes, bike tracks, walking tracks. It’s very kid friendly – we love to go to the national parks around Canberra and do bushwalks and day trips to places. It’s close to the coast and the snow. There’s lots of sporting events on like the Raiders and the Brumbies and free events like concerts. Canberra offers a lot for families.
Elly: There’s a lot more events on in spring because it’s daylight savings and more people want to go outside and it’s still warm. There’s a lot of variety.
What types of activities do you get up to in spring?
Elly: We like to get outside a lot.
Justine: We walk the dog, go for walks a lot more because it’s lighter for longer. We tend to do more outdoors during the day than we would in winter. We love getting involved in all the events around Canberra and supporting the community.
Abbey: I have a lot of playdates and sleepovers with my friends and we can hang out in the backyard because it’s warmer. I also like playing outside with our dog Coco and I like to eat cold things because in winter you can’t. In spring you can eat ice blocks and that’s what I love doing.
Justine: The Kingston Markets have all the food stalls and we do the food tasting.
Abbey: There’s so much food tasting there and you can taste every single food.
Justine: We’re very food orientated but very into exercise. Abbey plays soccer, Harrison plays Rugby Union and Matt, Elly and I do fun runs and similar events.
Abbey: I absolutely love playing soccer. And I do Zumba on Mondays. It’s a kids Zumba class in Page (North Canberra). I do that on Mondays then Wednesdays is soccer training, then games on Saturday.
What would you recommend for visiting families?
Harrison: Football games, go to the football ovals just to play, Questacon, the National Museum, game stores and arcades– the malls are close and full of those. There’s paintball and the [Australian] War Memorial is pretty cool.
Abbey: I would tell the kids, there’s a lot of places to see movies. There’s also two trampoline places called Flipout (Phillip) and Skyzone (Belconnen). There’s nice cafes and lots of lolly stores. There’s Ricardo’s in Jamison, Urban Roast in Belconnen where my big sister works, you should go check that out. And if you like lollies there’s a lot of lolly stores. I love ice cream and there’s Yogurtland, Goodberry’s and Cold Rock everywhere and they’re yum. We go there for special occasions. There’s a lot of parks where you can play, John Knight Memorial at Lake Ginninderra, Weston Park and the park near where we live that we call Wombat Park.
Elly: The free events that you can go to for under 18’s – like music concerts, Floriade, Nightfest and there’s plenty of nice cafes to go to. Gus’ in civic or Black Pepper in Belconnen or Max Brenner and San Churro in Woden are some of my favourites. There’s so many shops around Canberra – Canberra Outlet Centre, the two Westfields and the Canberra Centre. There’s places you can easily drive to like rivers and mountains that aren’t very far away. It’s really easy to get around and see something pretty, even if you just go for a bike ride or a Segway around Lake Burley Griffin!
Justine: For nights out, I love the NewActon precinct and Palace Electric Cinema and all the restaurants around there. Dickson is great, especially the Dumpling House because it’s kid-friendly and delicious. When we do go out, that’s where we go. Federation Square is also great for shopping. Siren Bar is really nice to spend a night out at too.
Matt: We like the George Harcourt Inn – there’s good drinks and great food as well as being kid-friendly. The sports clubs around Canberra are all really good. They always do good family meals. Harrison and I love Smoque – good American barbecue, especially the ribs.
What is your favourite thing about Canberra?
Elly: It’s just friendly, everyone knows everyone and is friendly to them.
Justine: I love the changing of the seasons and how each season seems to bring a different character to Canberra and a different feel and I like that. It’s always changing and never stays the same.
Harrison: I like that no matter what season it is you can’t predict the weather, that it could be different every day and all in one day! That’s exciting.
Abbey: I love the different holidays in Canberra because the place goes crazy but it’s a good crazy because you see lots of people and Canberra celebrates all of the holidays really well. I love how everyone is just so nice. They’ve got a good attitude.
Justine: I feel very safe living here with my family and being out with my family at night, there’s a good police force, Matt’s in the police force and it’s just great!
Abbey: In spring, if you’re feeling bored, you can just go outside and play with the flowers and make daisy chains and even in the backyard you can have so much fun. Anywhere you go in Canberra, there’s a lot of stuff you can do. And if you’re older, you can go for a bike ride. It’s just a nice place to live and we’re very lucky because we have no earthquakes or storms or anything. So come to Canberra and take a break.
Why is it getting outdoors important to you and incorporating exercise into your weekly routine?
Justine: In an age where there is so much processed food and sugar in just about everything we eat, it’s important to make sure we’re at least working that off and then teaching our kids the importance of being healthy, eating right and getting exercise. Being outdoors is also just good for the soul. To be outside your house and enjoying nature, getting fresh air, it’s nice.
Abbey: And it’s just fun. So, if you’re coming to visit then that’s a good plan because I think Canberra is a beautiful place and you will love it.