When I think of summer holidays, I immediately think tanning poolside with a great book in hand, eating my body weight in leg ham as I recline on a sunbed, drinking a fruity-licious cocktail … and then I remember … I have children.
Don’t get me wrong — I love the school holidays, although it can also be a time which leaves you with empty pockets … and a slight eye twitch.
To maintain sanity throughout this time, the most important preparation any parent can make is to develop a go-to list of activities that can be used as negotiating tools/bribes.
Note: consumption of wine and coffee come in a very close second and third here.
So here’s a list of school holiday activities in the Hills that will persuade your kids to be on their best behaviour and won’t break the bank.

## Cumberland State Park School Holiday Activities — $5.50 The Cumberland State Park has organised a number of super cute school holiday group activities that your kids can undertake while you slurp on cappuccinos at the resident Café Saligna. These include Fairies and Elves, where kids dress as fairies and elves and go on a mystical forest walk. Then there’s the Amazing Animals session, in which kids join a forest ranger to discover the importance of the many different animals that live in our forests. They then make and decorate an animal to take home. There are lots of other group activities on offer too. For details and dates check out www.forestrycorporation.com.au
## Featherdale Wildlife Park Kids love the zoo, but you don’t need to trek to the city these holidays to give your kids a dose of animal action! At Featherdale you can feed a kangaroo, wallaby, emu or enjoy face-to-face encounters with koalas — all amongst one of Australia’s largest private collections of Australian native animals and bird life. For school holidays there’ll be loads of extra encounters, like baby animal interactions and farmyard feeding experiences, running alongside the usual presentations during the day.  Adults $29.50 Child (3-15 years) $16.00 217-229 Kildare Rd, Doonside.
## Hornsby Model Engineers – Miniature Train Ride – Galston At Hornsby Model Engineers you’ll find a miniature railway line, just under one kilometre in length, tracking through the bush nearby. A good one if you have little ones who are obsessed with Thomas the Tank Engine, running around the house yelling “choo choo”! 29 Mid Dural Road, Galston, 2159. 2nd Sunday of every month, 10am to 3pm. Hot tip: All train passengers must wear fully enclosed footwear.

Thornleigh Mini Golf

A fun one for kids and their quietly competitive parents!
Thornleigh Golf Centre has two 18-hole mini-golf courses to choose from — Palms and Billabong. The mini-golf courses wind their way alongside rivers, across bridges, past ponds and waterfalls. It’s pretty impressive!
The Golf Centre also runs school holiday golf clinics with one of their qualified PGA coaching professionals, which includes club hire, balls, popcorn and a juice popper snack.
Brickpit Park, 142-178 Pennant Hills Road, Thornleigh. ☐