School holiday survival guide
THE summer school holidays are upon us.
And, before you start wracking your brain trying to think of something to keep the kids entertained, we've compiled a list of activities to do on the Northern Rivers to keep you busy this school holiday.
We've tried our best to give you ideas that are both fun and affordable.
We will also be publishing reader's holiday pictures over the summer. Grab a snap at your favourite summer holidays spot on the Northern Rivers and post it, along with a few words about what makes it so special to our Facebook page.
Buy The Northern Star!
Between December 26 and January 17 we will be running daily holiday fun pages for kids in the paper.
Meet man in red
WITH Christmas just around the corner, there is nothing better than dropping by and saying hello to Santa to get you in the festive mood.
Santa has taken some time out from making toys on the North Pole and will be outside Big W at Lismore Shopping Square between 10.30am and 1.30pm Monday to Saturday up until Christmas Eve.
He will also be hanging out at the Square on Thursday evenings between 4-7pm.
Go for a Christmas lights tour
At this time of year the region glimmers with Christmas lights, making beautiful displays kids love.
Check out the locations of some of the lit-up homes near you using our Christmas lights map. If you know of any that aren't there, let us know so we can add them.
Fun in the sun
WE HAVE so many beautiful beaches on the Northern Rivers and with summer in full swing, there is nothing like heading down to the sand and enjoying some quality time with the kids.
The Serpentine Beach at Ballina is a calm beach which is a good place to take the kids. There are plenty of places for mum to sit and read a book and lots of shallow water to run around in.
The Serpentine is located under Missingham Bridge in East Ballina.
Go to the library
The Richmond Tweed Regional Library is running an extensive program of activities for school-aged children at the Lismore library though January. Activities range from making art with sand to learning the drums.
Phone 6621 2464 for details.
An amazing place
SOMETIMES the kids just need somewhere to run around that is bigger than the backyard.
Amaze n Place (coincidently) has a maze the kids can get lost in for a while, alpaca feeding and a big deck to have lunch on afterwards.
It's not far out of Alstonville but just far enough to feel like you're out in the country.
Amaze n Place is at 149 Wardell Rd, Alstonville. It is open every day during the school holidays between 10am and 4.30pm.For more information phone 6628 6286.
Step on out
THE HOUSE with no Steps has a water park, a playground, a cafe, a garden and gift shop.
It also does great work to help people with disabilities access stable employment.
The cafe is open 9am to 4pm every day.
For more information phone 6628 0610.
THERE are markets on almost every weekend around the Northern Rivers and they are a great place to go as a family.
It's also a good way to support local craft makers and food stallholders.
The Channon Market is nice and shady during summer and the Lismore Carboot Markets are the best pick for the second-hand bargain hunter.
Lismore Carboot Market is on the first and third Sundays of each month and the Channon Market is on the second Sunday of the month.
The Lismore Organic Market is on every Tuesday morning from 7.30-11am and has local farmers travelling to the Lismore showgrounds to sell in-season organic vegetables.
FEED some furry critters, play some putt-putt golf, take a train ride around the castle, or enjoy a cup of coffee in the shop. If you haven't seen it yet, the castle's new Kangaroo enclosure is a bit special, and they've also revamped the barbecue area, so you can make your own hot lunch while you're there.
The Macadamia Castle is on the Pacific Hwy at Knockrow and is open 8am-5pm daily. Admission is between $10 and $18.50.
Walk on wild side
CHECK out the natural beauty of the Northern Rivers by visiting Bundjalung, Nightcap and Border Ranges national parks or the Whian Whian Conservation Area.
National parks across the Northern Rivers feature many spectacular bushwalks, waterfalls and picnic locations.
Camping is available at the Black Rocks camping area in Bundjalung National Park, Rummery Park camping area in Nightcap National Park, Forest Tops campground and Sheepstation Creek campground in the Border Ranges National Park.
Bowl 'em over
THERE'S sometimes nothing better than hocking a heavy ball down a lane towards 10 innocently standing pins with all your might.
During the school holidays many local tenpin bowling alleys hold special events for kids.
Ballina Ten Pin is open Monday-Thursday 9am til late, Friday 9am-11pm, Saturday 10am-11pm and Sunday 10am-6pm.
Lismore Ten Pin is open Monday to Thursday 10am-8pm, Friday to Saturday 10am-10pm and Sunday 10am-6pm.
Throw a line in
GRAB your fishing gear and bait and take the kids fishing. Whether you wet a line in the Richmond or Wilsons rivers or off the beach, fishing is relaxing way to enjoy the outdoors.
Catch a little train
The miniature train at Lismore's Heritage Park runs between 10am and 2pm most days through the school holidays and costs $2 per person or $8 for a group of five. Even without the train, the park's a great holiday activity in itself and is equipped with picnic tables and barbecues.
The waterslides at the Goonellabah Sports and Aquatic Centre and Ballina pool are constant favourites with kids. The Ballina slides are open every day during the holidays from 10am to 5pm and costs $15 per person (which also covers the school entry fee). That can get a little pricey if you have a few kids, but on the other hand, once you're in you can stay and ride the slide as long as you like.
The Goonellabah slide is free with entry to the GSAC pool ($4 for children aged 4-17). The pool also has a giant inflatable ... thing ... kids seem to enjoy playing on. GSAC is open 6am to 7pm Monday to Friday, 8am to 5pm Saturdays and 10am to 5pm Sundays.
Convince someone else to look after them for you
While we're talking about GSAC, Lismore City Council also offers a vacation care program through the Sports and Aquatic Centre. Phone 6625 5370 for details.
If you suspect you may reach a point in the holidays where you will need some time off from the kids, there are a wealth of school vacation programs running across the Northern Rivers (although, unfortunately, most of them don't kick in until the New Year). Go to the CareForKids website to find the your closest vacation care facility.