Holiday Activities in Melbourne.

Ohi ohi ohi ohi, I’m in love with your body, blasts from of the car radio. The windows are down, the chorus line repeats as the kids burst into harmony. I raise the volume, the crescendo builds and I join in. Come on be my baby come on. The energy of the kids is infectious on this glorious autumn day.

Pelicans, not so uncommon, but always loved.

We’re off to Melbourne Zoo. I’m keen to keep the costs down as school holiday activities can often blow the budget, especially given that Melbourne is such an expensive city. Children receive free admission to the Melbourne Zoo ( as well as at Healesville Sanctuary and Werribee open range zoo) on weekends, public holidays and Victorian School holidays. It’s a good time to go but expect it to be more crowded than usual. Tickets for adults cost between $25- 30. Adult tickets can be purchased online, saving the need to queue at the gate.

Haloumi pies from the A1 Bakery, Brunswick. $3 each.

First stop is early lunch in Brunswick. The kidlets love Lebanese Haloumi cheese pies from the A1 Bakery. Patrons help themselves to large bottles of chilled water and glasses. The children know that any request for sugar drinks will be met with a stern glare. They carry their water bottles when out on a trip: most venues in Melbourne offer water bottle refilling stations, including the zoo.

We park in Brunswick close to the Upfield train line. A few stops down the track is Royal Park Station, a dedicated zoo station and the best way to go. Kids find the train journey as fascinating as the zoo itself. The ever-changing graffiti along the route keeps them amused. If travelling with kids, make sure to purchase a children’s concession MYKI travel card at a staffed station before your trip. Most un- staffed stations have machines to top up your cards, but don’t issue new passes for children, seniors or anyone eligible for a concession.

Orangutan, Melbourne

On the train, we plan our adventure together. Each child nominates one enclosure they would like to see. Melbourne Zoo is huge and as we usually go there once a year, it’s important to make a plan before you go. They agreed on the following: baboons and orangutans, seals and penguins, elephants, butterflies, and tigers. Of course, en route, a few extra characters caught our attention.

Melbourne Zoo’s Giraffes

The 8-year-old was put in charge of the map and leadership for the day. They take turns with this task each year.

Ollie is in charge of the map.

One of the more impressive features of Melbourne zoo is the dense jungle planting near the elephant and tiger park. Over the years it has developed its own micro climate. The area has recreated an Indonesian village, with signs above shaded picnic tables in Bahasa Indonesian, Indonesian artifacts and dense forest planting.

The Butterfly enclosure is enormously popular. I managed to grab a seat inside and while the butterflies were lovely, I was more interested in the human reaction to them. People noticeably changed as they entered. Smiling, serene faces filled the space as old men, babies and children gazed upwards, all delighted. I enjoyed observing a three-month old baby almost leaping out of her pram- her eyes amazed and bewildered by the butterflies above. It’s very humid and close inside, but no one is in a rush and the atmosphere is hushed.

Butterfly enclosure

The zoo staff are active in promoting environmental messages about changing shopping behaviours to conserve habitat. The kids signed a petition to ban balloons from their birthday parties and received a fridge magnet to remind them.

‘Dolphins, whales, turtles, and many other marine species, as well as terrestrial animals such as cows, dogs, sheep, tortoises, birds and other animals have all been hurt or killed by balloons. The animal is usually killed from the balloon blocking its digestive tract, leaving them unable to take in any more nutrients. It slowly starves to death. The animals can also become entangled in the balloon and its ribbon making the animal unable to move or eat.’¹

Display near the penguin and seal enclosure
Penguins, Melbourne Zoo

The other strong message concerned the massive increase in the use of palm oil and its effect on habitat. A display of common supermarket items, ranging from Lindt chocolate to chips, biscuits, soaps and shampoos, made it clear to kids what products contain palm oil.

‘To make room for palm crops, huge areas of tropical forests and other ecosystems where conservation is important are being stripped bare. Critical habitat for orangutans and many endangered species – including rhinos, elephants and tigers – has been destroyed. Forest-dwelling people lose their land, local communities are negatively affected.’²

Many products containing palm oil are disguised with labels such as vegetable oil, sodium laurel sulphate, glyceryl, to name a few.

This display had a profound affect on me and the older children eventually got the connection.

Elephants, Melbourne zoo.

Costs per child: Melbourne Zoo, free. Haloumi pies, $3 pp, icypole $3pp. Train fare $2.10 pp. Total per child, AU$9.10 plus adult costs.



Butterflies, Melbourne Zoo

29 thoughts on “Holiday Activities in Melbourne.”

  1. Oh! What a wonderful journey your blog has taken us through. It really is one of the best zoos to experience. My first step into photography started at the very same zoo. I was 8yo and our Boy’s Cub group spent a day there journeying in from the far-outer suburbs. I was leant my grandmother’s box brownie with a total of 16 black & white negs on the film roll. I remember the pressure put upon me to “Take my photo”, “Take my photo”, by my fellow “Grubs”. I was determined to save the shots for the zoo but all along I pretended to take shots of us at Flinders St. Station, I must of taken about 200 shots. All too easy with digital these days. I still have one photo from that day which is of an elephant used for short rides around a circle. That memory is bought back with your wonderful blog. Thanks again Francesca, what amazing energy you have.

    Liked by 3 people

  2. The children looked like they were having a ball. A memory to treasure. The Botanic Gardens are another good spot, especially the Children’s Garden and the Fern Gully. All free, too.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. All my lot were there on Monday before jumping on a plane and coming north. They had a ball. The 18month old wasn’t interested in the animals but they couldn’t get him out of the mini car/trolley. The 12yr old lectured us all about palm oil yesterday

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Thanks Lisa. Big bad Nana loves to play and post in the school holidays. The kids don’t mind seeing these events recorded for future reference.
      Yes, anyone who grew up in Melbourne would have very strong zoo memories.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Sometimes I wonder about plastering my family life onto my blog and the big world, but then I remember that it’s as much a journal for them as it is anything else.
      Oh and Daisy is onto me, asking about all my make up and hair products now. the one child I thought had missed out on the palm oil message is the only one checking up on me.
      Oliver read the post and commented that I had put one too many OHI’s in the opening lines by Ed Sheeran. Hanging out with the young folk is great fun but they keep you on your toes too. IRL!


Now over to you.

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.