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Melbourne's Top 5 Free Family Activities

Utility bills are skyrocketing, grocery bills seem to increase every time you go shopping and your wallet is so thin that it makes Twiggy seem positively rotund. Free family activities to the rescue.

We are adding these free activities on our Melbourne Playgrounds Facebook Page until we reach the best five free family activities in Melbourne and Geelong. This list will be updated weekly after we announce them on our Facebook page. Click on the link to each activity for more information such as a full review, location and a slideshow of photos (visible on computers with Flash).

Serendip Sanctuary (Lara)

This is a great wildlife experience for the family where you can see lots of wildlife up close and the experience is free! The sanctuary is an example of the open grassy woodlands and wetlands of the volcanic Western Plains and is the perfect place to learn about and experience birdlife and wetlands ecology.

See some of the 150 species of birds which breed at or visit Serendip Sanctuary from the bird hides. Birds can be seen within metres of the viewing areas preening, feeding, incubating eggs and rearing young.

The Wildlife Walk is a popular walk offering close encounters with wildlife. Meander past emus and Eastern Grey Kangaroos grazing to viewing areas, hides and flight aviaries perfect for bird watching. You may be treated to Brolgas trumpeting, Whistling Kites soaring high overhead, magnificent Yellow-billed Spoonbills wading through the shallow water, or even a glimpse of the well hidden Tawny Frogmouth as it watches you pass by.

Note: The path initially splits to either the Wildlife Walk or Pond View Walk. The wildlife walk is definitely better if you only have limited time.

At the car parking area is a big shelter with table plus lots of other shaded and unshaded tables with BBQ and toilets. The Information Centre has some displays and information but is not staffed.

RAAF Museum (Point Cook)

This is a great destination for any family which likes planes. An acrobatic plane flies at certain times during the week. Make sure you coincide your visit to match one of these times. You can get fairly close to the plane and there is a question and answer session with the pilot.

The display of various types of planes ranging from old to modern in the main museum is excellent. You can see air missiles, a mirage jet, helicopter, boat plane in addition to the standard planes. There is also a Restoration Hangar where a De Havilland DH-98, made entirely of wood, is being restored. The staff are friendly, enthusiastic and informative.

William Ricketts Sanctuary (Mount Dandenong)

Wander along the interconnecting shady paths and find the ninety two ceramic sculptures of people and animals which merge with the natural surroundings.

While you are in the area, visit some of the wonderful free gardens in The Dandenongs including the RJ Hamer Arboretum in Olinda (150 species of native and exotic trees in in plantations designed to represent forests), National Rhododendron Gardens in Olinda (brilliantly coloured blooms of rhododendrons, azaleas, camellias, cherries and daffodils) and Alfred Nicholas Gardens in Sherbrooke (take a walk past little ponds and then through shady trees down to a picturesque lake).

Eastern Beach Reserve Swimming Enclosure (Geelong)

A top free activity for summer is a visit to the waterfront in Geelong. Mum and Dad can admire the magnificent Art Deco building, white Spanish staircase and a large fountain with crane and tortoise statues. The kids can enjoy the children's pool with fountain in the centre and the whole family can enjoy a swim in the swimming enclosure which sweeps in a half circle around 8 1/2 acres of sea water. The enclosure has diving board and floating islands with a nice sandy beach backing onto the children's pool. When you are out of the water there is a great playground on the east side. Explore the Geelong Waterfront Area to find the 100 delightfully carved and painted bollards scattered about the area.

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