HOW TO TAKE YOUR KIDS TO AUSTRALIA
Without leaving your city (and dealing with a horrendous long-haul flight)
Like our ‘trip’ to India and Japan, we recently spent a month reading books that take place in Australia (basically all the books are about Australian animals rather than the country), colouring pictures of Australia (urm, once again Australian animals), trying Australian food and visiting our Australian friends at the zoo.
Here are our fun picks if you want to learn all you can pretend to take a holiday to Australia:
by Mem Fox with pictures by Julie Vivas
This was one of my favourites. Mostly because it involves food.
Grandma Poss and Hush live in the bush. Grandma Poss does bush magic on Hush so that she is invisible and safe from hungry snakes. But one day Hush wants to be seen. Unfortunately, Grandma Poss forgets the spell! She only remembers it has to do with human food.
So the pair set off around Australia eating food from each region: Anzac biscuits in Adelaide, pumpkin scones in Brisbane, Vegemite sandwiches way up north, and, my favourite, lamingtons in Tasmania.
This is a fun book for a tour of Australian cities and food – it gave me the excuse to eat Anzac biscuits and lamingtons in the same city (we skipped the Vegemite).
by Bruce Whatley
This is one of those funny books that you can read again and again without getting annoyed.
This little wombat doesn’t seem to do much save for sleep, scratch and eat grass. It’s pretty funny how much she pesters the humans and ‘trains’ them to feed her carrots and oats. So much so she decides to move in with them.
Reading this made me wonder if wombats really did pester people (like racoons here in Toronto) – the answer is yes. We watched some pretty cute videos of wombats in action.
by Mme Fox with pictures by Pamela Lofts
There once was a koala baby so soft and round that everyone loved her. Especially her mother who called her Koala Lou.
When Koala Lou becomes the oldest of lots of baby siblings, her mother doesn’t have as much time for her. She decides to enter the Bush Olympics and compete in the gum tree climbing event to get her mother’s attention.
It’s sweet, touching and filled with stunning imagery of Australia’s animals.
by Aaron Blabey
Blabey always has hilarious books and this one is funny and educational.
Koalas are NOT bears. Australia doesn’t have bears! Bears live in Canada, the USA and the Arctic but NOT Australia. Koala’s are marsupials – along with kangaroos, possums, wombats and Tasmanian devils.
My favourite part is when our friend the Koala explains to us how Captain Cook got it all wrong from the start.
by Kaz Cooke
This is a very hard book to track down but it’s worth it if you can!
Chock-full of typical Australian humour, Wanda-Linda is forced to wear her most terrible underpants when she has no other clean underwear.
Her parents assure her that no one will see it but not on this windy day! It really is a hilarious book that will have your kids giggling. I loved her pet hairy-nosed wombat named Glenda.
by Julia Jarman with pictures by Lynne Chapman
This is another hard-to-track-down book but is quite fun if you can.
It’s a rhyming (and sometimes tongue-twisting) romp through the Australian outback. When Kangaroo visits Paris, he falls in love with the city, especially the Cancan dancers.
He decides to start his own Cancan café in the outback but has a hard time recruiting the right dancers. Until he meets a shy emu who is the perfect dancer for his troupe. Soon he has the most popular café that is a little piece of Paris in the Australian outback.
by Bronwyn Bancroft
This is a really neat book of Australian vocabulary (including a glossary of Aboriginal words) with illustrations in the style of Aboriginal art.
There are more animals that we have never heard of like a quokka or a quoll so it was fun to look them up!
by Marcia Key Vaughn
This book is a classic an Australian classic. On the banks of a billabong, a clever dingo catches a wombat and decides to make a tasty wombat stew.
Too bad for the dingo that the bush animals are just as clever and want to save their friend the wombat. They trick the dingo and he makes a stew that he will never forget!
This book is perfect for some storybook play where you can get your kids to make their own wombat stew. There are lots of ideas if you google them but here is one we really enjoyed: Fun Making Wombat Stew With Your Kids.
We had so much fun with our Australia month. There are lots of great youtube videos to see Australian animals in action and lots of great songs to play in the car (I’m looking at you Wiggles).
I did get a bit sick of ‘Waltzing Matilda’ though.
Here are some things you can try if you are in Toronto (or hopefully wherever you are a google search will help you find similar things!):
We trekked to the far side of the city to check out this Australian café where we read our books and ate: an Anzac cookie, a fairy cake (in Australia and NZ they butter white bread and cover it with sprinkles – a kid’s dream. Here it is a yummy vanilla cake full of sprinkles and topped with more sprinkles!) and a lamington. I also had a flat white – which according to reviews this café does the right Australian way (I don’t know what that is).
It was so fun to eat some of the treats from Possum Magic. I only wish this café was closer because it’s really nice.
We hope you have fun learning about the land Down Under and trust me: make these Anzac biscuits – they are SO YUM.
Here are some other Australian options in the GTA:
Meat pies are very Australian and these ones are sooooooooo yummy!
2. Arvo Coffee
This cosy cafe is in the Distillery District and I actually didn’t know it was Australian until I started doing this research. They take coffee very seriously (urm, read pretentious which doesn’t always mix well with rowdy kids) and have AWESOME avocado toast.
Another serious coffee place that does Australian coffee right (again – I didn’t know this was a thing). It happens to be near a super awesome PLAYGROUND so that is a bonus!