Questacon, ACT – science museum with kids

Questacon is a must visit destination for any family visiting Canberra. Questacon is the national science and technology centre and is packed full of wild, interactive, hands on exhibits divided into galleries that focus on a different area of science such as physics, colour and light, and the planet Earth.

It is a massive hit with kids and many Australians will remember visiting Questacon during school camps to the nation’s capital. We couldn’t wait to bring our own volcano obsessed little girl to Questacon and have visited a few times over the past 5 years. Here are some of the things to keep in mind when planning a Questacon day with your family.

Our Favourite Galleries

Q Lab has a huge periodic table, a mesmerizing video display showing natural phenomenons (rain falling into a puddle, a bee taking off etc) in ultra fine detail played forward and in reverse. I sat in front of this thing for a good 10 minutes while Lottie and hubby explored the main attraction of this gallery – the microscopes and light boards. There were tons of slides and specimens for kids to handle and get a closer look at.

Most kids spend ages in The Shed playing around with hands on activities. This metal grill is a strong fan blowing upwards. The aim of the game is to tear one of the hundreds of empty coffee cups laying around into a shape that will fly up to the roof and gracefully spin like a helicopter back to the ground. Lottie’s coffee cup got stuck in the rafters!

I think this awesome weighted pendulum is in the Fundamental gallery but we were having so much fun bounding through the galleries by this point I lost track!

The 236kg plate has bits of paper sitting on top of it. Inky pens hang from the roof and create the most amazing spirographic patterns when the volunteer gives the heavy plate a slight push. Volunteers hand the completed art works out to the crowd and excited little ones get their own unique souvenir.

The bug race game from the Colour gallery was Lottie’s favourite. Two players run on the spot to race their ants up the tree. Of all the amazing light and colour based experiments in this galley, the ant game was by far the most popular.

Honourable Mention

Mini Q is a dedicated space for 0 – 6 year olds where little ones can explore each station safely without getting bowled over by hyperactive 12 year olds on Year 6 camp like in the other galleries. Babies get their own space while 2 – 6 year olds roam around the sensory stations where they can climb, touch, dress up and explore.

We didn’t visit Mini Q this time round as the next available time slot wasn’t until 4pm (entry is staggered during school holidays, book your slot at the ticket desk) and our 5 year old was fine exploring amongst the big kids. However, Mini Q was a God send 2 years ago when Lottie was 3 and too tiny and timid to take part in the bigger galleries.

Mini Q features the COOLEST water play station I have ever seen so take a change of clothes so the little ones can splash til their hearts content. There is also a Quiet Space for calming down little ones.

Parking

If you are visiting Canberra as a family, it’s highly likely that you are driving or have hired a car. Canberra is a beautiful and sprawling city. Public transport is good however no where near as frequent or easy to navigate for visitors as other cities (until the new light rail opens that is).

Questacon is located on King Edward Terrace, on the banks of Lake Burley-Griffin alongside the National Library and several other galleries and museums. Questacon and the National Library of Australia share large parking lots. You can expect to pay for parking everywhere in Canberra (even the shopping centres do not offer free parking). The parking around NLA and Questacon will be $2.50 per hour or $12 for the day (9am – 5pm). You’ll need a good 3 hours for little ones to explore the Questacon galleries and even longer if your littles intend on playing in the Mini Q zone – a dedicated play and learning space for under 6s.

Hours & Tickets

Questacon is open 9am – 5pm everyday except Christmas Day

Adult $23
Concession & Children $17.50
Children under 4 years Free
Family (2 Adults + 3 Children) $70

They offer excellent membership packages if you are a local or a frequent visitor to Canberra. A family membership (2 ad + 3ch) is $160 with discounted continuing membership and variations for single parent families available. Learn more about Q Club Membership and reciprocal arrangements across Australia here.

Facilities

Pram friendly galleries and pram parking is available at the front desk. Plenty of baby changing areas and bathrooms are scattered throughout the building.

As you can expect from a major attraction, the prices at the Mega Bites cafe are on the pricey side however the menu has plenty of healthy options and there is tons of outdoor seating in the courtyard. The gift shop has so many cool science books, experiment kits and board games. We picked up a junior coding game on our last visit. The best bit about Q Shop though is it is tucked into the corner of the ground floor and can easily be by passed on the way out without tired little ones noticing.

We love Questacon and will make sure to visit every time we are passing through Canberra.

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