How to get your child outdoors


We are all spending more time in sedentary tasks – and endless hours on “screen time” and electronic technology. Every conceivable toy imaginable is now available for children to keep them entertained. There have been numerous reports and research done in both Australia and overseas about the consequences of these changes in our children’s habits, and it’s not good news.

However, the good news is that governments, community groups, and concerned citizens are now making a concerted effort to help combat the reduced time children are spending outside and being active.

In Queensland, in response to this concern, the Queensland Outdoor Recreation Federation (QORF) has rolled out a new initiative called Nature Play Qld. It is aimed at encouraging Queensland’s young people aged 0 -12 back outside for unstructured playtime, and to receive all the associated benefits that go hand in hand.

Innes and Tracey Larkin at Mt Barney Lodge are so passionate about this issue that they’ve developed a specific program of activities for guests that align with the same philosophy of Nature Play Qld – and are now an officially recognised provider of the Nature Play Qld program. Mt Barney Lodge have incorporated activities into their School Holiday Adventure Activity and CREATE program.

What is the CREATE program?
CREATE stands for “Children’s Recreational and Environmental Activities that Educate”.

The CREATE program was developed by Mt Barney Lodge back in 2008 and is a range of activities that encourage children to explore, experience and interact with their surrounding environment. Facilitated by Innes and Tracey’s, together with their knowledgeable and qualified Outdoor Education staff, children are given the rare and exciting opportunity to explore the wilderness around Mt Barney Lodge.

Their vision is for kids to engage, have fun, become immersed and connect with the natural environment and the outdoors. A range of activities are available including: abseiling, beginner and advanced rock climbing, kid’s night adventure, Australian bush buddies, bush kids, sunset eco tour, guided walks and hikes, kid’s bird twitching, construct a lantern, and the new ‘Bushtucker Tracker’ tour.

Bushtucker Tracker
Mt Barney Lodge’s new Bushtucker Tracker is a key activity in their CREATE program for children.

The activity provides children (ages 5-13) with the opportunity head off-track into nature with their Outdoor Leaders, exploring wildlife paths and corridors. The children are guided to places where they can discover native wildlife through the traces left behind like tracks and scat (kids get excited about poo!!). They are encouraged to identify hidden wildlife from laminated field cards, and from an interpretation of the size, shape and likely function of the foot prints.

Along the way, children are given the opportunity to learn about, and taste, local bush tucker in the wild. This includes scrunching up aromatic leaves, cracking open nuts, sampling fruit, and chewing on grasses – specific items depend on the season.

Learning through play, as well as a few ‘icebreaker’ games ensures the children have loads of fun. This activity isn’t only hands-on, it’s tastebuds-on too!! Cost is only $20 per child.

The adventure activity programs offered at Mt Barney Lodge have been so popular with parents and kids alike, that the September 2015 holiday program is almost already totally booked out. So get in quick, or make bookings already for the next holidays. Their website lists all the activities available, times, costs and other general details.–an-approved-Nature-Play-activity-provider

A range of affordable accommodation is offered at Mt Barney Lodge, from camping sites and camper trailers, to cabins and self-contained homesteads. The property is eco-certified, and located just a 1.5-hour drive from Brisbane in the Scenic Rim region.

Mt Barney Lodge
Tel: (07) 5544 3233
For other Nature Play Qld programs, things to do, and resources, visit their website:

For a blog about “Does your Child have Nature Deficit Disorder” click here. It refers to the excellent book by Richard Louv titled “The Last Child in the woods” – which is a very worthwhile read if this topic interests you and you want to know more.

Words: Melanie Grevis-James | Images: Katie Bennett