Questacon – the best place to visit with kids in Canberra [UPDATE]

We visited Questacon this month so I had to update a few things in this post. Most notably the change to one of the downstairs areas, what happens to Mini Q when its busy and the food situation in the Cafe.  Definitely read on to see what is different. But, I will say this: Questacon is still the best museum I have ever visited. 

Questacon 

My goodness Questacon is amazing. It calls itself Australia’s National Science and Techonolgy Center but that is a very boring description for such an incredibly cool place. If you’re in Canberra with kids and you don’t visit Questacon you’re crazy!

Questacon is not an ordinary museum or gallery. You’re encouraged to explore, discover and touch everything! There are over 200 hands-on exhibits in interactive galleries.

Even as an adult, I, who does not like science or such, loved Questacon. It is a place you have to visit at least once in your life.

Edit following our December 2018 visit: Having said all of that, if you are basing your visit to Canberra on Questacon, which a lot of people do, don’t plan to visit in between Christmas and New Year. It gets extremely extremely busy. It’s best to visit on a random weekend than during this period or school holidays. 

 

My goodness Questacon is amazing. It calls itself Australia’s National Science and Techonolgy Center but that is a very boring description for such an incredibly cool place. If you’re in Canberra with kids and you don’t visit Questacon you’re crazy!

 

Questacon 

 

What is Questacon

Questacon is a hands-on discovery centre. 

There is a robot that sings and dances, magic mirrors and that’s just in the foyer – not the two Galleries on the first level.

For all the information about getting there and getting in, head on down to the bottom of the post.

 

Questacon for small kids

 

I’ve been asked if Questacon is good for small kids and the answer is yes. Yes Questacon is good for small kids. You may not get as much value out of it for ages 2 – 4 but there is plenty to still do. I think 4+ is the best age to start visiting Questacon because they can get so much from the experience as your child begins to get curious about how things work.

 

For me, it’s a hard decision when you have small kids, do you let them play in Mini Q for ages and wear them out or let them go up to the top and then come back down to Mini Q. I will explain all the places and Galleries below so you can decide.

 

I’ve been asked if Questacon is good for small kids and the answer is yes. Yes Questacon is good for small kids. You may not get as much value out of it for ages 2 – 4 but there is plenty to still do. I think 4+ is the best age to start visiting Questacon because they can get so much from the experience as your child begins to get curious about how things work.

The best spaces for young kids

Mini Q and Excite Q would be the best places for little kids. But that is not to say that they won’t love the other Galleries.

 

If you’ve got kids, my thinking is:  don’t get stuck, wind up the ramp all the way to the top of the building and start with Gallery 1 and then work your way down to Gallery 6,7 and 8.

 

Questacon: The Galleries

 

Gallery 1: Colour

Gallery 1 is all about colour and seeing the world in new colour. Here you can take photographs of your eyes, check out how light has split and learn how animals use colours to their advantage.

 

 

Gallery 2: Fundamental

Fundamental is just crazy. I had no idea that science principles could be fun. I know that sounds silly but it’s true. Here you can discover a Harmonograph or take a picture of your shadow.

 

My kids had the most fun shooting a basketball, with air into basketball hoops. My 2 year old also spent ages trying to get round discs to stand on a spinning surface.

 

 

Gallery 3: Awesome Earth

You get to watch lightening and experience an earthquake. Is that not enough? There are so many more things in this Gallery but those two are enough to give you a taste of what to experience. In the earthquake experience you get let into a closed off room where you build a little tower out of building blocks, that gets put on a surface surrounded by corn and then the staff members turns on the shuddering earthquake simulator. It is amazing!!

 

The lightening is set in the same Gallery in a massive cage and every so often the lightening strikes. It is incredible to watch.

 

For more (unedited) photos of Questacon head to the Questacon album on the AllThingMomSydney Facebook Page. 

 

Gallery 4: Q Lab

Here you can “observe, examine and experiment” as there are live demonstrations and activities with Questacon staff and visiting scientists.

 

 

Gallery 5: The Shed

This was one of my son’s top two finds. In this gallery you “Tinker”. Both times we have visited there have been different tasks. 

 

The first time we visited it was all about building rockets: 

He spent an hour in The Shed building a rocket out of papers and tape and then waiting his turn to pump it up and fire it. This activity may not be on when you’re there but there will be another hands on activity based on science principles.

 

We built our rocket over and over again until we had it strong enough to fly and hit the target on the other side of the room.

 

Gallery 5 of Questacon: The Shed This was one of my son’s top two finds. He spent an hour in The Shed building a rocket out of papers and tape and then waiting his turn to pump it up and fire it. This activity may not be on when you’re there but there will be another hands on activity based on science principles.

 

The ball drop

On our last visit, the aim was to get a ball to the bottom of an upstanding board. You could use pipes and sticks, tubes and pieces of gutters. The aim was just to get a small ball down the vertical board as interestingly as possible. 

 

I didn’t think I would be as obsessed with this task as I was!! 

 

We used a ladel (serving spoon) and a piece of a guitar, rubber bands and pipes to try get the miniature snooker ball down to the ground. 

 

Gallery 6: Mini Q

Mini Q is a great space for toddlers and smaller kids. It is packed with different life stations where they can play at. There is a construction site, a space station, vet and bakery. My kids favourites in this section (aside from the amazing space station) was the water play structure that spreads around part of the room and the small climbing structure.

 

This area is specifically for 0 to 6 year olds.

 

If your kids are going to get stuck into the water play like mine did then be sure to put on one of the dry smocks that are provided.

 

In very busy times such as December and school holidays, you have to get a “ticket” for Mini Q. You don’t have to pay any extra amount but you do have to get a ticket for an entry time so that they can limit the number of people that are in the area at any given time. 

 

Mini Q is a great space for toddlers and smaller kids. It is packed with different life stations where they can play at. There is a construction site, a space station, vet and bakery.

 

 

Gallery 7: Excite @ Q

This was my favourite Gallery. There was so much for the kids to do and my husband and I got a bit competitive too. We had a competition to see who could throw a ball the fastest or beat a robot at air hockey.

 

The kids got to play Whoosh where you place scarves in a tube and watch it fly around the connected tubes before being shot out into the room.

 

If you’re up for it you could even do Free Fall. Free Fall is a 6 mete high slide where you hang from a bar and then let go to get a small taste of zero gravity.

 

Questacon Facilities

Food 

Questacon has its own café on the ground floor just beyond the ticket desk and entry ramp. It has coffee, food for adults and kids. We had lunch there so it does cater for meals. The other alternative is to take a picnic and eat it on one of the surrounding gardens.

 

Following our edit, I just want you to know to PACK YOUR OWN LUNCH. If you’re wanting to spend lunch at Questacon, pack a picnic and go sit in one of the lawns – the lunch food was terrible this visit. 

 

The coffee and the snacks are okay but I wouldn’t try have a sit down meal! 

 

Accessibility 

 

If you can’t make the ramp there are lifts. You will just miss out on some of the exhibits that hang over the ramp. 

There are two lifts that I have found, one near the theatre and one next to Mini Q. 

 

Bathrooms 

You should find toilets including baby changing facilities on:

  • entry level just near the entrance and on the otherside café,
  • the very top level, near Gallery 3
  • the second level, near Gallery 6

 

Lockers

If you’re not interested in carrying a bag around, which I wasn’t, there are lockers on the right hand side of the entrance where you can put $2 in and store your things for the day. You can come and go and get things out of your locker as much as you want because you just keep using the same $2, it’s returned to you everytime you open the door.

 

My goodness Questacon is amazing. It calls itself Australia’s National Science and Techonolgy Center but that is a very boring description for such an incredibly cool place. If you’re in Canberra with kids and you don’t visit Questacon you’re crazy! Questacon is not an ordinary museum or gallery. You’re encouraged to explore, discover and touch everything! There are over 200 hands-on exhibits in interactive galleries.

 

The Basics: Getting there and Getting In

 

Where is Questacon

Questacon is located on King Edward Terrace, Parkes, in Canberra, Australian Capital Territory, Australia.

 

There is plenty of parking surrounding the building and its pretty open on the weekends when Parliament isn’t in session.

 

What time is it open  

 

Questacon is open every day of the week except for Christmas Day. It’s open from 9am to 5pm.

 

How much are tickets

 

Children under 4 are free.

Adult                                                   $23.00

Children (4 – 16 years old)                $17.50

Concession                                         $17.50

Family (2 Adults + 3 Children)          $70.00 with each additional child ($8.00)

 

 

For more (unedited) photos of Questacon head to the Questacon album on the AllThingMomSydney Facebook Page. 

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