Finding a way to keep the kids happy, active and cool in the summer holidays can sometimes be a challenge, especially when on a budget. But there is a way! In Australia we're lucky to have access to a myriad of pools and water playgrounds that are awesome fun and totally FREE!
Here are some for you to try out this summer:
Streets Beach, Brisbane
This man-made lagoon in Southbank features sandy beaches, palm trees and crystal clear water. Exactly what you'd expect to find on a tropical island, except Streets Beach is situated right in the middle of the city. It's a welcome reprieve after a day spent shopping or site seeing. While the kids are splashing around and having fun, parents are able to totally relax and watch the action along the Brisbane River. As if this pool couldn't be any safer, it's patrolled by professional lifeguards, seven days a week.
Settlement Cove, Redcliffe Peninsula
Featuring a deep blue lagoon, wading pools, barbeques and toilet/shower amenities, Settlement Cove is the perfect place to laze around and enjoy a family friendly day out. Patrolled by lifeguards in the summer months, it's open every day of the year.
Wynnum Wading Pool & Foreshore, Brisbane
The Wynnum Wading Pool was built in the 1930s and fills itself with sea water when the tide comes up. It's a great alternative if you'd prefer to be shark-free! There are plenty of picnic areas and electric barbeques and a handy fish and chip shop nearby.
Kings Beach Pool, Caloundra
Set against the Sunshine Coast foreshore, Kings Beach Pool is a 25 metre lap pool that fills with the tide. It also features a wading area for littlies and shade sails and barbecues if you'd like to make a day of it.
Cairns Esplanade Lagoon, Cairns
Filled by sea water from the Trinity Inlet, this beautiful crystal blue lagoon is manned by lifeguards during opening times and is free from sharks, crocs and stingers. It's open every day of the year, from 6am to 9pm Thursday to Tuesday, Wednesdays from 12pm to 9pm, and 6am to 9pm on public holidays.
Leanyer Swimming Pool, Darwin
The Leanyer Swimming Pool is a child's idea of heaven! The pool features plenty of water slides, a huge water-filling bucket to soak anyone game enough to stand under it, and lots of playgrounds. There are plenty of shaded areas and barbeque facilities, with an onsite kiosk for ice cream and coffee. The pool is open every day in school holidays and public holidays, with hours limited to 10am to 7pm, Wednesday to Sunday during school terms. Safety is big as lifeguards are on duty whenever the water playground is open.
New South Wales
Dee Why Rockpool, Sydney
A 50 metre sea water pool enclosed in concrete and sandstone walls, Dee Why Rockpool is great for kids of all ages. Older kids can swim freely in the main pool and the smaller ones can play in the toddler area. Open all year round, the pool also has toilets and showers.
Bronte Baths, Sydney
Not far from Bondi Beach, the 30 metre Bronte Bath pool (also known as Bond Ocean Pool) has an area for lap swimmers and an area set out for recreation and fun. It's right on the edge of Bronte Beach and has onsite toilets and showers.
Maccallum Pool, Sydney
On the western side of Cremorne Point sits the Maccallum Pool, filled by the Sydney Harbour waters. Small and narrow, it's great for a cool-off and offers fantastic views of the Harbour Bridge and Opera House. It does have a small shallow area for the little ones. It is closed one day a week for cleaning and filling.
Freshwater Ocean Baths, Sydney
Nestled in amongst rocks, Freshwater was the first of its kind to open on Sydney's Northern beaches, and once served as a swimming spot for women only. It's a pretty shallow pool, reaching only a metre high, but is 50 metres long, so it's great for kids and any parent wanting to swim laps!
Newcastle Ocean Baths, Newcastle
These historic baths opened officially in the 1920s, and feature a beautiful Art Deco pavilion. The baths are a swimmer's (and photographer's) paradise. Virtually like swimming in the ocean (only safer), the baths are open all year round from 6am to 6pm except for daylight savings time, when the pool is open until 9pm at night. Winter hours are understandably shorter, opening from 6am to 4.30pm. Lifeguards are also present within certain times.
Whiteman Park Mini Water Playground, Perth
This pool is a little smaller, with a 30cm deep wading pool, however it has plenty of water spraying from all sorts of spouts, so it's great for kids of all ages. There is plenty of shade around the pool for the adults to relax under and this water playground is open from 10.00am to 5.00pm in the warmer months (from October to April).
Ellenbrook Rainbow Waters Park, Perth
More of a water playground than a pool, the kids are guaranteed to get just as wet as they would in a full pool. Parents too! There is barely an area in this playground that doesn't have water spraying out of it. There are 15 different water features, including bubble jets, water guns, fountains and shade sails everywhere. The kids will love it! It's opened every day from 9.00am – 7.00pm in the warmer months (from around September until May).
Eastern Beach, Geelong
Eastern Beach is an Art Deco treasure built in the 1930s. It features an arc-shaped shark gate, so you're actually swimming in the bay. But you're safe! Great for older kids too, it has a diving board, floating islands as well as a sandy beach and wading pool for the littlies. There's a kiosk on site and a large playground also. It's open every day of the year.