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Ten ways to keep the family happy when its cold and wet

THE FINE weather, sunshine, and beautiful natural surroundings of our region make us spoiled for choice when it comes to the outdoors.

From farmers markets to beaches, bushwalks, and barbecues, there's plenty to do when the weather is perfect.

But for better or worse, there'll always be stretches of dismal weather, and this winter is no exception.

Here are some inexpensive and fun things for families to help avoid cabin fever and an overdose of screen time.

1. Murder she wrote?

VISIT one of the many warm libraries in our region - from Casino to Byron Bay, our libraries are a wonderful resource for books, DVDs, music and audio-books, and internet. And they're free! Go to rtrl.nsw.gov.au for more info - you can also download and borrow e-books and music.

2. Roll the dice to play

DUST off an old family board game favourite, or perhaps invest in a new one. From Scrabble for spelling maestros, to Pictionary for budding artists, there's always a classic lying about. New-style "Euro" board games are well worth the spend, with Settlers of Catan one of the most popular.

3. Slip slide away

DIVE in to the heated swimming pool at Goonellabah Sports and Aquatic Centre. For those unfamiliar with GSAC, it also boasts an indoor water slide which is great fun for kids.

4. Cop a roasting

COOK a hearty soup or stew with a handful of local produce you can source from our bountiful farmers' markets, which always go on, rain hail or shine. For a full list of the market nearest you go to bigvolcano.com.au/active/markets.htm. Minestrone is an easy winter vegetable classic, or a rich lamb shank stew for meat lovers.

5. Beetroot and choc?

BAKE some muffins or cookies - you'll have plenty of time to experiment with fun new recipes and there's thousands available in cookbooks and online. Try making beetroot chocolate fudge, for example.

6. Couch to karaoke

FIND a much-loved CD, turn it up loud, and burn off some energy with some dancing. This one is especially good for kids under eight, and can be done with a moment's notice.

7. Picture this favourite

TEXTAS, crayons, pencils, and paints may not be every parent's favourite pastime, but they occupy the kids and are infinitely more healthy than computer games and TV. Make sure you have ample art and craft items on hand and with a little guidance the young ones will always find something fun to make.

8. Make the matinee

CINEMAS - an easy one but a favourite. Birch, Carroll and Coyle in Lismore has $6 family films on Saturday and Sunday from 10.30am, except on long holidays and school holidays.

9. Camp or glamp

PICK up some woollens and thermals and perhaps some rain gear/umbrellas from an op-shop or one of the many camping stores in the region. They will make it fun to go outside and keep you safe from chills.

10, Looking ahead

Holiday packages are being offered by sport and recreation centres across NSW for the July school holidays, with bookings now available.

Both day-time and overnight school holiday programs are on offer in beautiful Australian bush locations for children aged seven to 16.

Winter Kids' camps run from Saturday, June 29 - Friday, July 12. The camps offer a very diverse range of activities like rock climbing, building camp fires and rope courses - all under the supervision of friendly and qualified staff.

Packages include all activities, accommodation, nutritious meals and 24-hour supervision.

For information and to book, visit the NSW Government's Sport and Recreation website or phone 131 302.



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