Australia’s Free Stuff and School Holidays

If I walk out of my front door and turn left, then left again and keep going for about 500 km, I get to a town called Roma, which is in the western Darling Downs. The town of Roma has a population of just under 7,000 people, and it is to those people that I apologise for opening my big mouth.

On Monday I said that the flooding was over here in Queensland whilst, at the very same time, around 88 mm of rain was falling on Roma. Roads were closed, around 180 houses were flooded and 380 homes lost power. If it’s the third time the town has been flooded in the last 12 months.

So, Roma, I’m sorry.

It’s School Holidays!

As I mentioned last time there was a school break, there’s always lots of free things to do to entertain the kids during the school holidays. And in my post about the cost of going to the movies in Australia, I also included a list of lots of the free stuff going on here for kids.

Today, my little girl has gone off to the city with her mummy, as have lots of other little children with their mummies, to learn how to do circus tricks. Again, for free.

They’re not back yet, so I can’t tell you how it went. But I do expect Elizabeth to be proficient at juggling, spinning plates, trapeze tricks and walking the tightrope when she returns. We’ll see.

And with that little intro, I can now catch up completely with my Australia and New Zealand magazine articles with this reprint of my March editions’ Expat Diary entry called……

Fun for Free.

If ever you’ve been involved in a conversation comparing the cost of living in Australia with England, you’ll probably know how heated that debate can become.

ANZ MarchI’ve been involved in a few such discussions myself and have my own views, here’s one of them. Yes, some things in Australia are more expensive but there are also so many things you can do to entertain yourself that are free. It’s much easier to go out and have fun without continually putting your hand into your pocket.

Let’s face it; entertainment is part of any family’s budget. We’ve all got to find things to do to entertain ourselves and the children at the weekend. And when things are tight, it’s easy to say to the kids, “Let’s just have a quiet weekend in. We can play Monopoly!”

Here in Australia, you don’t have to. I’ve lost count of the number of free events we’ve been to and how much fun we’ve had for nothing. Here are some freebies I can remember. The big event here in Brisbane is Riverfire. It’s a spectacular firework display over the Brisbane River in the heart of the city. It can be seen from miles around and we have viewed it from South Bank Parklands, Mount Coo-tha and from the city itself. But it didn’t matter where we watched it from, it was always free.

Talking of fireworks, every year we go to a local free event, called Bush Christmas. Father Christmas is always there, they have carol singing and entertainment and, yes, fireworks! All free.

Tropfest was my favourite free event last year. Screened live in seven or eight venues around the country, it’s a short film Festival that shows the 16 movies that made the final. It’s a great night’s entertainment, free of course, and they were also giving away free ice creams and iced tea.

I went into the city to watch that one, but more locally we also have free movies in the park. Last year it was called “Biff in the Burbs” and the event toured around many Brisbane suburbs showing a movie for kids, for free. There was also a free bouncy castle, free popcorn, free fairy floss and free toys, crayons and colouring books. And face painting! Move to Australia and you’ll never need to pay for face painting again.

We’ve also been to Art in the Park, free, Pullenvale Nature Trail, free, GreenFest, free and we’ve met Mr Brumble (the clown), Shrek and some fairies, for free.

And if you can’t wait for a free event, there are always all the free barbecue areas in any one of the hundreds of parks around. Here in Australia, it is also very popular to hold kid’s birthday parties in the park, for free! Saves getting the house wrecked.

Party in the Park

Many beaches have free barbecue areas too, as well as free swimming areas with slides and playthings for kids. All free. Did I mention that? And when was the last time you went to a beach and parked for free? Apart from the cities, parking here in Australia is almost always free. I still haven’t found a free lunch though.

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