School Holidays are here again, how did that even happen?  And yes of course, it is always great to have extra time to spend with our little cherubs, but let’s be honest; school holidays can be exhausting, expensive and leave your house looking like a crime scene of craft and Lego.  Whether you are a mum, a dad or a grandma spending time with the kids this school holidays – as the household Entertainment Managers, there is a lot of pressure from a very tough audience, who are quick to call “boredom” even when surrounded by toys and activities.
Fear not! Check out this life-saving list of some great school holiday activities on the Central Coast that is guaranteed to keep the kids entertained while keeping your budget and sanity intact. Most importantly –  you can keep your house craft and Lego free.  A glitter free zone!

Mingara Aquatics

Who says it is only the summer holidays that is for swimming?
Mingara Aquatics has loads of water fun in one place.

  • a heated 50 metre Olympic pool,
  • a leisure pool play area filled with fun water features;
  • and for the competent swimmers – the Rapid River, a moving whirlpool of water .

It may sound like a water theme park, but you can find all of this inside Mingara Aquatics. This is a perfect activity no matter what the weather because at Mingara Aquatics, every day is swimming weather.
Inflatable Fun runs every weekday during the school holidays in the Olympic pool and cranks the fun dial up to 11.  The kids can climb, splash, jump and slide to their heart’s content, while you watch on from the sidelines with coffee. Oh, and there is great coffee and food available at the pool entry Wellness Cafe, so Mingara Aquatics has got you covered there too!
Hours: The pool is open from 5 am-8 pm Monday – Friday, with Inflatable Fun running weekdays from 3rd – 14th July from 12pm-2pm for Children 6-12 years.
Prices: Pool entry: 2-11 years $4.50 , >12 years $6 , Spectator $3. Inflatable Fun: $5 plus pool entry
Tip:  While there are lifeguards on duty at all times around the pools, children must be supervised by parents at all times, so be sure to keep an eye on your little ones.


Build-A-Bear, Erina Fair

So cute we can’t bear it!
Prepare for some cuteness overload when you take the kids to experience a Build-A-Bear Workshop at Erina Fair these school holidays.  Join the team from Build-A-Bear in Centre Court where you can bring your furry friend to life with a heart ceremony, fun and games and of course lots of cuddles.  Your bear will come with a personalised birth certificate to become an official member of the family! So get in early to reserve your place at the Build-A-Bear Workshop Experience at Erina Fair these school holidays!  The kids’ are guaranteed to have a beary good time!
Hours:  from 3-7 July – 10am-3pmCost: $5 per child
Tip: Places are limited so reserve your place now.

Somersby Falls Picnic Area, Brisbane Water National Park

Adventure time!
This gorgeous little gem tends to be a little bit forgotten by locals as it sits there basking in its beauty not far from the exit of the freeway.   Somersby Falls is a perfect place to picnic and explore, and has you feeling like you are far away in a scenic rainforest when you are about 8 minutes from Gosford.
You can have a picnic or BBQ in the park with the kids and then head down along the walking track to explore the beautiful waterfalls. It is a perfect track for those kids who suffer from ‘tired legs’ as it’s only a 500-metre return walk so whinging is guaranteed to be kept to a minimum.
Hours:  The Park is open from 9am-5pm during winter.
Cost: Entry is free, but there is an $8 parking fee which is coins only, so be sure to bring the right amount of change and leave your ticket on your windscreen to avoid a fine.
Tip:  It’s slippery when wet so walk carefully and sensible shoes are a must.

The Playhouse, Mingara Recreation Club

Supervised fun …and coffee time for mum!
Another perfect option for a rain, hail or shine kind of day and a particularly good activity to keep up your sleeve for those days when you need some time out from these, err, adorable kids.  Enjoy a work out at Mingara One Fitness, or go for some great coffee and lunch with a friend at The Roasted Berry, or simply treat yourself to some time on your own.  There are plenty of places to sit and relax with a cuppa, and you won’t even need to hide from your kids – because they will be in the capable, safe and friendly hands of The Playhouse staff.    The Playhouse is filled wall to wall with an adventure castle, slippery dips, ball pits and bridges, X-Box, Playstation and an array of arcade games and age appropriate areas. The Playhouse team are big (responsible) kids themselves and love nothing more than playing with the kids, keeping them safe and occupied and ensuring that they have a great experience! This place is kid heaven, and you will be guaranteed the break that you need.  So sit back and enjoy your coffee, you’ve earned it.
Hours: School Holiday hours are 9 am-7.30 pm or 9 pm depending on the age group.
Prices: $10 per child for up to 3 hours
Tips: It can get busy during school holidays so be sure to book by calling 4349 7799. Socks are a requirement of entry.

Central Coast Bike Tracks

Get on ya bike!
Kids of the Central Coast are so lucky to grow up in such a scenic part of the country and are spoilt for choice with our beaches and lakes.  What better way to spend the day than to jump on your bikes and explore one of the many beautiful bike tracks that are on offer in our glorious backyard!
Here are a few notable mentions:

  • Gosford to Woy Woy:  A beautiful way to take an easy jaunt around the spectacular Brisbane Water!  As you ride along to Woy Woy you will pass wetlands, scenic waterways and finish at Woy Woy where you will be welcomed by the local pelicans!
  • Tuggerah Lakes Bike Track is a divine, scenic 12km track that hugs the foreshore of the lake along to Chittaway Bay, or for a ride that is kinder to the littler legs, you can head north across The Entrance Bridge to Magenta which is around 4km.

Cost: Free
Tips:  Keep things interesting and create a list of things for the kids to look for and tick off their explorer’s list along the way, and enjoy a screen/device free day in paradise!? Don’t forget helmets, water and sunscreen regardless of the weather!

Kid’s Picnic at the Roasted Berry

Heaven on a plate for your little people!
When it comes to taking kids to cafes it can be pretty hit and miss, but with The Roasted Berry’s “Kids’ Picnic” on the menu, you have the recipe for school holiday success.  A delicious, fresh sandwich on house-baked bread with a side of fresh berries and a sprinkle milkshake – which will be the cutest, most delicious meal they’ve ever been served, and it looks as good as tastes.  The kids love them, and the bonus is that you can sample one of the other delicious meals on the menu.
If good coffee is what you need to survive these holidays, The Roasted Berry will be your saviour.  Every coffee is made with love and has rescued many tired mums, dads and grandparents from all over the Central Coast.

Lake Macquarie Variety Playground, Park Road, Lake Macquarie

The Disneyland of playgrounds!
OK, now this one is a little further away and almost squishes into Newcastle, and yes there are fantastic parks everywhere all over the Central Coast, but there is something about getting in the car for a change of scenery. Speers Point is worth the trip. There is the mother of all slippery dips and it has been confirmed is awesome.  There are little paths, tracks and roads galore for scooters and bikes complete with little street signs and crossings, monkey bars, flying fox and ropes to satisfy the climbers, enough grass to kick a football or play a game of soccer.  There is something for everyone with activity levels for all ages. There is a perfectly placed café for you to get a coffee. With so much for the kids to do there is a good chance that you’ll actually be able to drink it.
Cost: Free
Tip:  Pack bikes, scooters or your wheels of choice. There are some picnic tables and bbq’s available but take a rug in case you miss out on one.

Open Air Ice Skating in Kibble Park

The Central Coast’s winter wonderland!
Central Coast Council will once again host the open air Ice Skating Rink in Gosford’s Kibble Park this school holidays! Ice skating outdoors day or night will bring the beautiful spirit and feeling of winter to these school holidays. For the little ones that might be a bit too wobbly to skate – they have the ‘push penguins’ to help keep them on their feet.
Sessions run for 50 minutes on the hour, so the kids have plenty of time out there on the ice learning to get the hang of it. There will also be some great themed activities running throughout the week including a Disney themed day where kids are encouraged to come along dressed up as their favourite Disney character; and a Family Fun Day with giant games, musical and circus performers and face painting. Sessions are limited to 100 people, so it is a good idea to get in early and book online today.
When: Sessions will run from 10 am until 7 pm (from 7th – 15th July).
Cost: $10 per child (includes push penguins if required)
Tips: Book early! Beanies and gloves are a good idea!

Kids in the Kitchen

What could be better than kids learning how to cook?
The answer is – kids learning how to cook and making a mess that you don’t have to clean up! Erina Fair is running some pasta making workshops for kids which will be facilitated by a qualified chef.  The kids will learn cooking basics and the importance of good hygiene as they make their own pasta from scratch, and the best bit – they can eat it when they are done, or take it home and share it with the family.
When: There will be three sessions each day from Monday 10th July to Friday 14th July.
Tip: Book early to avoid disappointment

Ferry to Ettalong to Palm Beach

You know what they say…. “half the fun is getting there”!  This certainly rings true when the “getting there” part involves cruising in a ferry across Pittwater to beautiful Palm Beach.   It is just a short and sweet 20-minute trip, so perfect for the short attention span, and anyone who doesn’t have sturdy sea-legs.  Once you arrive at Palm Beach, there are a handful of great cafes for lunch or grab fish and chips and eat it in the park, the kids can have a run around at the playground or in the sand.  You can jump on a bus or do the 15-minute walk to Palm Beach, and for Home & Away lovers, you might even catch a glimpse of Alf Stewart! Stone the crows!
If you are up for a bigger adventure, jump on the connecting ferry from Palm Beach to The Basin (Ku ring gai National Park) for bush walks to Aboriginal engravings and a lovely walk to Great Mackerel Beach.
Ferry Timetable here.
Cost:  Adult $23.20, Child $11.60 (return)
Tips: Parking can be difficult at Ettalong, so allow yourself some time to find a spot in plenty of time for the ferry.
Note: The Ferry will be leaving from an alternate dock until July 3, 2017. Details here.
So as the mid-year, half-year, winter school holidays loom it is time to brace yourself and prepare…winter school holidays are coming!
Visit MIngara to see What’s On