We rounded up four of our favourite family-friendly outings that remind us why the Coal Coast is a fantastic place to bring up kids…
Early Start Discovery Space
There’s play centres… then there’s the Early Start Discovery Space. Australia’s only dedicated children’s museum, and the first of its kind in the world based on a university campus, the Early Start Discovery Space is operated and supported by the University of Wollongong. And it’s amazing! Catering for babies and toddlers through to school-aged kids, there is oodles to do with plenty of indoor and outdoor spaces. Different activities run during the week and the school holidays see plenty of programs that range from puppets through to robotics and arts and crafts. A yearly membership is well worth the spend. Added bonus? The attached cafe makes a mean latte and the sweet potato fries with aioli are insanely good.
Wollongong Harbour is a pretty unique place – where else does the marina butt up against the beach in the Gong? While the harbour itself is swell, make a proper day of it by kicking off your adventures at über playground Stuart Park, with its flying foxes, slides, full-sized bike track and picnic spaces. Pack your bikes or go on foot and follow the path from Stuart Park past the lagoon and around to the beach. Grab a coffee or a bite to eat from Diggies Cafe (great kids’ menu), then keep following the cycle path around past the rockpools to Belmore Basin where there’s a playground and lighthouse to explore.
Glow Worm Tunnels, Helensburgh
Wanna get up close and personal with a whole bunch of glow worms (and get a side of history to boot)? The Helensburgh Metropolitan Tunnels are a must-see. Dating back to 1888, the tunnel and accompanying platform were used up until 1915 for travel. You can check out the original platform, walk the tunnels, check out the glow worms and if you’re lucky (or unlucky, perhaps) have an experience of the supernatural kind. Yes, the tunnels are widely thought to be haunted by the ghost of miner Robert Hales who was hit by a train while walking in the tunnel in 1895. If you’re feeling brave, you can even return at night for a ghost tour with Wollongong City Ghost Tours. Spooky!
Plenty of people know about the Minnamurra Rainforest Centre but not as many have visited the Minnamurra River. This Instagram-worthy spot is an absolute paradise for families. The fresh water estuary is the perfect place for paddle boarding, swimming (if the weather is warm enough!), and just lazing around, while a short walk over the sand dunes brings you out at the saltwater Mystics Beach, part of the Killalea State Park National Surfing Reserve. There’s plenty of space for a picnic, public toilets on-site and even a playground. And in winter, it’s far less busy, but just as lovely.
For more ideas, head to Parents Guide Illawarra, www.parents-guide.com.au