FINANCE: Fun on a budget

30 June 2017
Reading time5 minutes

Sticking to a budget doesn’t mean that all the fun has to stop. By looking for deals and taking the time to do some research you will find activities for the whole family to enjoy. You’ll find your local area offers plenty of things to do for free or at a low cost, and the major attractions usually offer generous value for money deals.

Creating a great low-cost day out is rewarding in itself. Here are some ideas to get you started.

Cheap and Cheerful!

We live in such a beautiful part of the world that we are spoilt for choice when it comes to natural attractions such as our beaches, rivers and bushland. Here are a few other local activities that will get you out exploring and having fun in no time:

  • Get onto your council website and investigate the resources and events at your local library, botanical garden, museum or gallery. Each of these places will offer free or low cost workshops and sessions for children and families.
  • Charity stores are a treasure trove of wonders for parents and kids! Set a budget – $2 should cover it – or create a treasure hunt list of items to spot.
  • Go fishing. Many seaside towns offer a hire service for all the gear you will need or borrow the basics from a friend.
  • Wander through your local farmers markets.
  • Go strawberry picking. With no admission fees, you can choose to buy a punnet or pick your own.
  • Find out where the local wildlife spends their time. Feeding dolphins at Tin Can Bay or spotting kangaroos at the University of the Sunshine Coast are activities kids will love.
  • Take a scenic drive, pack a picnic and spend the day exploring.
  • Visit a working farm like Maleny Dairies, and if the budget stretches take in a tour.
  • Go on a modern day treasure hunt and try your hand at geocaching. You can download an App or create an account online at
  • Bunnings offer free Kids D.I.Y workshops each weekend. There is a different theme each week from garden and woodworking to paint, mosaics and recycled wall art.
  • Find out where your local BMX track is for an off-road adventure the whole family can enjoy.
  • For the aviation enthusiast find a safe spot to park at your local airport and spend a few hours plane spotting. If you are taking photos remember to turn off the flash!
  • Go to your council’s website and look for your local community garden. You can spend some quiet time with the kids investigating the plants, and you may even find yourself a new hobby.
  • Jump aboard a train, bus or ferry for a short trip to a new town and wander its streets.
  • Type Brisbane Public Harvest into your search engine. This map provides a list and the location of fruit trees on public land. Then go foraging with the kids in search of edible treasure!
  • Make a list of playgrounds in your area and go ‘park hopping’. There are some hidden gems within new housing developments.

Value for Money

Theme parks and zoos have some great value offers on their yearlong memberships plus specials for midweek visits. Be sure to check the minimum age required to buy a ticket as some places offer free entry for children under a certain age.

Sunshine Coast

The Ginger Factory

With free admission you are onto a winner already. The VIP pass is just $38 and covers unlimited rides on Overboard and the Ginger Train and other exclusive offers. The Ginger Factory also offers free kids entertainment each school holiday.

Aussie World

Check out Tiny Tots Tuesday which runs during the school term weekdays from 9am to 12pm. Adults and children under 5 years will pay just $12 each with a free coffee included for adults if you book online, $15 if you pay at the gate.

Australia Zoo

If you visit the zoo just twice in twelve months you will save money with their annual pass. Pack a picnic if the budget is tight. Enjoy the ultimate wildlife adventure all year round, with adult membership for $99 and child membership for $59.

Sea Life Mooloolaba

Become an annual pass holder to receive unlimited entry to Sea Life Mooloolaba. This pass is on sale online for $45 for the kids and $55 for adults. 

Queensland Zoo

Wander through the rainforest parks, discover Australian native animals and enjoy the complimentary BBQ facilities. Queensland Zoo offers adult annual passes for $99 and child annual passes for $59.

Gold Coast


Dreamworld’s Unlimited World Pass includes entry to Dreamworld, WhiteWater World and Skypoint observation deck. Adults are $129.99 and kids $109.99.

Sea World, Movie World and Wet‘n’Wild

With three great membership options to choose from, each featuring different levels of access, you’ll find the perfect membership to meet your family’s needs. Purchase a membership with low monthly instalments starting at just $12 a month or prepay to get one month free!

Paradise Country

Life on the farm is great fun for kids of all ages, and just two visits will more than cover the cost of your annual pass at $49.99 for adults and $29.99 for children.

Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary

Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary is voted one of Queensland’s most popular tourist destinations, allowing amazing up close and personal interactions with native Australian wildlife. They offer a 12-month passes for $65 for adults, which also gets you free entry into other National Trust properties.


Lone Pine Sanctuary

Cuddle a koala, hand feed kangaroos and encounter a large variety of Aussie wildlife. Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary offers an annual adult pass for $70 and a child pass for $45 which also includes some great discount offers.

Sir Thomas Brisbane Planetarium

The planetarium offers free entry and multi-ticket discounts with their three show pass, costing $36 for adults and $22 for children.


Become a MyMuseum member and enjoy a year of fantastic benefits to help you create your very own museum experience. At $120 per family, $39 per adult or $30 per child, the membership includes unlimited entry to the Sciencentre, 10% discount on food and purchases plus 10% discount on entry to other museums in the Queensland Museum Network.

The Workshops Rail Museum

This annual pass offers museum entry for 12 months including all events and exhibitions, 10% discount at the shop and café plus 10% discount on entry to other museums in the Queensland Museum Network. Choose a family pass for $99 or individual passes at $37 for adults and $24 for kids.

*Note: prices are current at June 2017

Written by

Christine Humphreys
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