06 July 2017
FUN4KIDS FESTIVAL WARRNAMBOOLby MATT CHARLESWORTH
During Winter school holidays, many children find themselves cooped up at home in front of a telly; however, that’s not how kids in Warrnambool do it. I joined them to see what makes Fun4Kids Australia’s best children’s festival. We were a little taller than most other festival goers… but that didn’t stop us from getting amongst the fun and excitement! Two blocks of town were shut down to accommodate live performances, activity zones and workshops. The festival grounds were designed to be completely enclosed. The youngsters were trapped; although, they really didn’t seem to mind. Live entertainment in Festival Hall, is one of the main attractions for parents and kids; 15 acts took to the stage during our Fun4Kids adventure. Each day the festival hosts new entertainers totalling over 70 live performances across the 5-day event. The “Gravity Dolls” certainly captured our attention. Mesmerised by each aerial maneuverer, the crowd was silenced. We quickly realised the festival resembled a mini theme park as we took time between acts to explore.
First stop, Sungold Pirate Cove. Girls and boys were challenged to “walk the plank” and cross swing bridges in this creative and impressively life-like obstacle course. The pure joy on each face was a fair indication that this activity zone definitely got the tick of approval. Next stop, we stumbled upon an engineering masterpiece, Superbox World! Old packaging boxes were given a new lease on life by the creative minds of festival attendees. Imagine a room full of boxes, new found friends and an imagination larger than life; a highlight for many of the children I’m sure. Another activity zone that really stood out was the Sinclair Wilson Animation station. The idea was to pick a toy, take consecutive still photographs making small movements and merge them together to make mini-animations. It was a thrill to watch the kiddies turn “make believe” into something real as they took over the role as director for the day. Creativity continued at the “Funky Toyface” workshop. Freya Jobbins, an alternative artist from Sydney, uses recycled toys to assemble face sculptures. Freya provided the materials and safety knowledge for the kids to do the same. The little artists weren’t just having fun, they were also participating in up-cycling, creating a new purpose for old and unwanted goods.
Our Fun4Kids ticket also covered entry to Flagstaff Hill. Interest in the attraction and Middle Island penguin colony has skyrocketed since the recent release of “Oddball”. A film that tells the story of ‘Swampy’ Marsh, a local legend who trained a Maremma Sheepdog to protect an endangered penguin population. We were lucky enough to meet a Maremma! The gentle giant weighing in at 56kg stood taller than most of the youngsters. Convinced that this furry friend was Oddball, the kids treated him like a movie star. As we wandered through the 19th century buildings, we enjoyed meeting in-character volunteers scattered throughout the village.
Our visit proved that one day at Fun4Kids is never enough. Unfortunately, we just couldn’t squeeze everything in. Although, July did prove to be a fantastic time of year to visit the Western side of the Great Ocean Road. We spotted 6 Southern Right Whales from Logan’s Beach lookout and explored the historical town of Port Fairy the following day. There’s no doubting that the stories and memories made at this event will headline “show and tell” first day back at school. As we all say… If only I was a id again!