Why the Ekka is the perfect outing for a toddler in Brisbane
Is it a crazy idea to take your toddler to the Ekka? No way! It can be both an educational and an entertaining experience, full of wonderful encounters that your toddler will remember for years to come.
Talk to the Animals
The Ekka is a wonderful place to expose your toddler in a safe environment to animals that they may not encounter on a daily basis. Every year, around 10,000 animals come to the Ekka to take part in live displays, competitions and shows. These include around 2,500 cattle, 150 alpacas, 2,500 dogs, 300 cats and 200 fish. Not to mention all of the chickens, horses, turkeys, pigs, ducks and sheep. A great animal event at the Ekka for your toddler to delight in is the Royal Queensland Show competition. The competition showcases and judges the very best of Queensland’s beef cattle, poultry, sheep-dogs, goats, sheep and more.
Meet the animals
Animal Boulevard is where you will find the most toddler-friendly, hands-on Ekka animal experience. Animal Boulevard has become such a big attraction that it now takes up a whole row of pavilions! Here your toddler can get up close to the animals in a non-threatening environment, and can pat and interact with them. There are so many ways for young Brisbane Kids to get involved with nature’s kids – toddlers can enjoy cuddling a lamb, watching a chicken hatch from an egg, feeding a calf, patting a pig or milking a cow!
It’s a busy area and you will probably find a line up to see the baby chickens as well as to get your photo taken with the baby lambs. For a couple of dollars you will get a cup of food that entices the animals to approach your kids. There are plenty of taps and disinfecting stations outside this area for the kids and you to get cleaned up. Interacting with the animals at the Ekka is sure to create some amazing fun-filled memories for your toddler and entire family. This is probably the epic moment for my kids that forms the basis for all memories from the Ekka. If you ask them what they remember, the animal area is their highlight.
Food at the Ekka
The food at the Ekka is diverse and now offers more than just the traditional fare that you would remember from your childhood. In addition to all the favourites like the iconic Strawberry Sundaes, you can also pick up a range of gourmet and healthy options. There is of course the famous Coon cheese toastie for just a couple of bucks. Other favourites include the Dagwood Dogs and Fairy Floss.
Budget Idea: The fact is though, if you wish to save money, you can take your own food and drink and spend less time waiting for food and more time on the rides and in the pavilions. We tend to let our kids get a Cheese Toastie each and I personally save my money for a delicious Strawberry Sundae.
Rides and Games
Whilst many of us immediately think of a hectic Sideshow Alley when it comes to rides at the Ekka, your Brisbane toddler’s ride experience needn’t be an expedition involving crazy crowds and super scary thrill rides. As well as the rides, Sideshow Alley also features games like the iconic clowns and the ball toss. Separate to Sideshow Alley, there is also an area of rides located on the St Paul’s Terrace side of the showgrounds, close to the Agriculture Hall. The rides in this area are generally far less busy and are more suited to families with younger Brisbane Kids.
Budget Idea: We tend to let our kids choose 2 rides each and for toddlers I personally recommend the fishing, clowns and Ferris wheel. The fishing involves some perception of skill, the clown is for novelty and the Ferris wheel provides the thrill of a ride without the fear of a roller coaster.
Another staple of the Ekka, Showbags have changed a lot over the years. While showbags are no longer free, there’s nothing more fun than checking out the showbag guide and choosing your showbag (or bags) for the year. The showbag pavillion is an experience that your Brisbane toddler won’t want to miss. Check the online RNA or Courier Mail Guide before you go in. You will find that most areas within the pavilion repeat the showbags sold, so you can often get them with only lining up once or twice.
Budget Idea: Plan ahead and lets the kids use their pocket money to purchase their own showbags. Start in advance and use it as an opportunity to show them how money adds up over time. Always use the showbag guide so that your decisions are made before you arrive, not when kids are tired, grumpy and possibly demanding..
End your family outing to the Ekka with a bang! The nightly fireworks displays have a definite wow factor and will cement your toddler’s adoration of the Ekka for decades to come. Grab some dinner and get into the arena early to get a great seat for EkkaNITES, running nightly from 5pm. In previous years this show included Australia’s own FMX Riders, followed by Transformers Optimus Prime and Bumblebee who transform into Monster Trucks and V8 Utes. The nightly EkkaNITES Fireworks Spectacular features lasers, lights, fountains and an amazing fireworks display.
Royal Queensland Show competitions
On top of the animal judging categories, the Royal Queensland Show competitions cover themes such as Bush Poetry, Agriculture, Fine Arts, Quilts and Wood-chopping. Generally speaking, most of these competitions are judged early on during Ekka week (or before) and are on display for all to see throughout the 10 days. Live competitions are well worth a watch, so be sure to check out the Ekka What’s On guide to catch a show that your toddler will love.
The Agriculture Hall is an incredible spectacle to show your toddler, with massive displays of fruit, vegetable, grass, grain, sugar cane and other agricultural products in creative ways. The amazing cake decorating category of the Fine Arts displays are another awe-inspiring sight your toddler mustn’t miss, with far-out creations of sweetness in glass display cases that they will be able to get up close to.
Facilities for families
- 100 litre lockers, located outside the Showbag Pavillion (fee involved).
- Toilets located conveniently throughout the showgrounds.
- Strollers can be hired for the entire day, located on King Street behind the Royal Snack Bar (bond required).
- Lost property is located at the Woolworths Fresh Food Pavillion.
- A Lost Persons Centre is located on Gregory Terrace at the Police Station and is open between 9:00am and 7:00pm. If you have lost your Brisbane Kid, don’t panic. Parents who have lost a child should report them to the Lost Persons Centre. Also, look out for Ekka staff and volunteers who are on-hand around the RNA Showgrounds to assist visitors.
- Public Transport is highly recommended. We took our kids on their first ever train ride to the Ekka. It was a life changing moment for them.
- Pay a visit to the Ekka website to find out more about this year’s Ekka and you will discover lots of fun adventures for Brisbane toddlers and for your entire family.
Check out Brisbane Kids’ related posts below for more tips on planning your Ekka experience.