Even though the hipster scene here is flourishing, there are still plenty of brilliantly nerdy things to see and do. Leigh Ann Pow likes:


The Questacon is crazy good: seven science-themed rooms in which absolutely everything can be pushed, poked, cranked and jumped on. The most popular room by far (measured by how long it takes to extract kids) is the high energy Excite@Q, with its giant wall of vacuum tubes sucking up and spitting out neon scarfs, mammoth six-metre free-fall vertical slide, robotic air hockey game and the 360 Swing that requires a safety suit, lots of strapping and a strong stomach. King Edward Terrace, Parkes; 02 6270 2800.

National Library of Australia

In addition to being a brilliant example of funky 1960s architecture, the library boasts every book ever published in Australia and a permanent exhibition of historical curiosities in the Treasures Gallery, which includes Captain James Cook’s journal. Kids are fascinated by the reading room, like a giant cone of silence where no one seems to talk. Parkes Place, Canberra; 02 6262 1111.

National Gallery of Australia

It goes without saying that the art is completely compelling, but children tire of this super quick unless it’s different and unique: ta da, the Children’s Gallery, which allows kids to engage with art from around the gallery at their own eye level. Parkes Place, Canberra; 02 6240 6411.

National Museum of Australia

What’s not to love about a museum where a Wiggles’ skivvy is a revered exhibit? There’s lots geared to children here, from the Kspace, which allows them to design dwellings of the future on a computer that projects them onto a giant screen in 3D; to the treasure hunt that leads them in search of weird and wonderful artefacts. Lawson Crescent, Acton; 02 6208 5000.

National Arboretum Canberra

Enough of being inside: the National Arboretum is the place to get your fill of the outdoors. A sprawling space that includes the Village Green complete with café and restaurant; a gorgeous collection of teeny tiny bonsai and, for teeny tiny people, the amazing Pod Playground with its banksia cubby houses, wooden pods shaped like acorns, ropes and tube slides. Forest Drive, Weston Creek; 13 22 81.


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