How well-equipped is this city for those raising infants/toddlers? Specifically, are there public places to change diapers, maintained playgrounds, etc?
All major department stores and shopping complexes feature facilities such as baby change and feeding rooms for babies and younger children. Train transport is relatively stroller-friendly, but bus and tram travel can be a little more challenging. Most suburbs will have maintained parks with play equipment for youngsters.
Where can I get a list of reliable childcare providers/nannies?
The phone book offers a comprehensive list of childcare centers, family day care and kindergartens. Also, consider a referral service such as Susan Rogan Personnel, which specializes in babysitters and nannies.
Discuss any safety issues for children in this city.
Melbourne is a safe environment for children, although it is recommended that you speak to your local school to find out whether there are any particular concerns specific for your area. Bike helmets are compulsory when riding a bicycle at any age and normal supervision of children is required. Children are required to be securely harnessed in child safety seats when in cars. In the summer, children should wear hats and sunscreen to protect against harmful rays. At surf beaches, be sure children swim between the flags -- where lifeguards are on duty.
What are the most popular kid-friendly attractions in the area?
Melbourne Zoo, close to the heart of the city, is a popular excursion. A bit further afield you'll find Puffing Billy, a steam engine that does a circuit through picturesque scenery at Gembrook. Another must is the famous Healesville Wildlife Sanctuary on the outskirts of Melbourne. The Melbourne Aquarium at Southbank is also fun for the kids. Scienceworks in Spotswood is a must and The Melbourne Museum has an area dedicated to children. Luna Park also offers fun for children of all ages- open weekends and public holidays. Local libraries offer story time for the toddlers and we also have toy libraries in every local council area.
What are the most popular activities for kids after school or on weekends?
Schools provide after-school activities such as sports, art and drama classes. In the summer, swimming at a local beach or pool is favorite pastime and in winter football and basketball/netball are very popular.
What's it like to be a teenager in this city? Are there any particular challenges I should be aware of as a parent?
You and your older children should be familiar with local drinking and driving laws.
Are there any organizations/social groups in the area that cater exclusively to young people ages 12-17?
Youth groups such as the Scouts or Guild guides are popular, as are church groups and supervised youth discos. Summer camps focused on a particular sport, such as tennis, are also popular. many sporting clubs offer teams/lessons for teenagers.
I want my child to get the most out of our stay in this country. Are there any specific opportunities to teach young people about the local culture?
The Moomba Festival in March is Melbourne's main festival event. From an Aboriginal word meaning"let's get together and have fun," the Moomba festival runs for 10 days. It incorporates street entertainment, art shows, sports events and fire works. The Royal Melbourne Show is on during school holidays in September.
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