THERE is plenty that can be done these school holidays to avoid cabin fever, from dinosaur exhibitions to animal encounters.
Westfield Kotara hosts a series of activities these holidays, including scooter and skate classes at Parrey Skate, football skills at Everything Football, story time at Harry Hartog bookstore, burger-making classes with Grill'd, Guitar Hero play station, and face painting.
The final day of Stockand Glendale's pop-up Wonder Fun Park will be held on Saturday, which features an inflatable obstacle course, merry-go-round and bungee trampolines (from 10am to 3pm).
Stockland Green Hills hosts a final day of free Kids In the Kitchen Easter-themed cooking classes on Saturday (book at eventbrite.com.au).
If you prefer to avoid the mall, check out these other events:
Carnley Avenue, Kotara. If in doubt, an animal encounter is always a winner with kids. Blackbutt Reserve hosts its reptile show daily at 11am (except public holidays) during the holidays, where kids can get up close and learn all about a variety of scaly creatures (bookings at the kiosk).
Read more: Reptile shows return to Blackbutt Reserve
There are also free daily feeding and talks at the enclosures: wombat feast at 10.30am, bird brunch at 10.45am, nocturnal nourish at 1.30pm, and koala dining at 2pm. Crafty kids can also take part in making a stick insect and taking home an animal replica as part of Blackbutt's Fantastic Phasmids school holidays activities (until April 26). Sessions are held at 12.30pm and 1pm. Tickets cost $5, available on the day from the kiosk. Further down the coast, the Australian Reptile Park at Somersby has superhero-themed activities on during the holidays and, of course, lots of opportunities to meet animals.
Hunter Wetlands Centre
1 Wetlands Place, Shortland. The centre has unveiled a simulated dinosaur dig for its Easter school holidays program that allows dinosaur-mad kids the opportunity to channel their inner archeologist. A huge, resin cast of a Camarasaurus, which has more than 100 bones, is 'buried' in a to-scale dig site where kids can marvel at the size of the prehistoric giant.
The replica is one of several in the Dinosaurs & More exhibition which features dinosaur casts and, wait for it, fossilised dinosaur poop from the collection of Speers Point palaeontology expert, Michael Dawson. There is also dinosaur colouring-in, craft and hopscotch, as well as dinosaur-themed meals at the cafe. An Easter fun day will be held on Saturday (April 20) from 9.30am, with face painting, jumping castles, Easter craft, sausage sizzle and appearances from the Easter Bunny. Ticket prices and bookings available online at wetlands.org.au. The exhibition continues until April 27.
Hunter Valley Gardens
2090 Broke Road, Pokolbin. If one day of dinosaur adventures is simply not enough, Hunter Valley Gardens' popular Mega Creatures event is back for another year, with a collection of animatronic dinosaurs sprawling throughout the site, including an eight-metre T-Rex and giant triceratops. New additions to this year's event include replica dinosaur skeletons.
Kids can participate in a fossil dig and follow a discovery trail to find and identify the prehistoric creatures on display around the Gardens. It's not all about dinosaurs though - there's also fairground rides and Easter-themed fun is planned for Saturday and Sunday, with egg hunts, gingerbread decorating workshops, and an Easter hat parade. Open from 9am. For tickets and bookings, visit hvg.com.au
3443 Nelson Bay Road, Bobs Farm. If you get the right day for it, a sunny afternoon spent on the lawn at Murray's Brewery really can't be beat. Their annual Easter Blues and Brews Festival always draws a big crowd, but don't let that deter you.
There is ample space at the venue, which underwent a major rebuild after being destroyed by fire a few years ago, and the kitchen get orders through fast even when they're under the pump. For the big kids, Murray's has a new white chocolate Easter egg beer on the menu, as well as a hot cross bun beer, and Easter cocktails. Blues bands perform live on Saturday and Sunday, the latter of which includes activities for kids from 11am to midday, including an egg hunt and games. Bookings are essential for the kids activities and if you want to secure a table. Otherwise, pack a picnic rug or chair and pull up a spot on the lawn under the gumtrees. Phone 4982 6411.
5 Lincoln Street, Charlestown. What's better than an jumping castle? A bowling green full of them. Club Charlestown is again hosting Inflatables On The Green these holidays, with slide inflatables, a jungle-themed adventure land, obstacle inflatables and more. Tickets cost $5 per child, which includes entry for the day from 10am to 2pm, or $15 per child for unlimited access throughout the duration of the event which continues until Monday. Sausage sizzle is available for lunch from the barbecue, or order a meal at the bistro. There will also be a visit from the Easter Bunny this weekend. For more inflatable fun, Revolution Sports Park at Maryville not only has stacks of trampolines to enjoy, but a huge range of inflatables operating daily during the school holidays (revolutionpark.com.au).