Wondering what to do while you’re at home social distancing or in self-quarantine. We’ve put together a list of free movies, ebooks, messaging and games in Australia to help you and your family manage during the COVID-19 pandemic. For the latest information about the coronavirus pandemic, visit the WHO website.
Things have changed dramatically in Australia in the past week. We’ve seen schools, shops, restaurants and cafes and our movie theatres closed. And with that, lots of people have seen their hours cut back or lost their jobs. As a result, we’re all looking for entertainment on a budget. You’ll be pleased to know that there is a lot of free content out there to amuse you and your family as you bunker down at home.
Here’s our list so far. We’ll be adding to it as we find out more.
Free TV & movies
Although it’s tempting to sign up for a range of paid streaming services like Netflix, Stan and Disney+, before you do remember that there is lots of free content in Australia from the free to air channels as well as speciality indie film and documentary channels. Here’s some to choose from.
- ABC iView – Catch up on the best of ABC dramas, documentaries, comedies. For kids, there’s ABC Kids which has a ton of shows for preschoolers like The Wiggles, Bluey, Play School, Giggle & Hoot and specials like The Gruffalo and Gruffalo’s Child. For older kids, there’s ABC Me which has shows that school-aged kids will like.
- SBS on Demand – Lots of great viewing for parents. You’ll find a few G-rated animated movies for kids.
- 7Plus – Catch up on lots of TV shows including Dawson’s Creek, Grey’s Anatomy, and Packed to the Rafters. There’s also a large kids section including Beat Bugs, the Wild Adventures of Blinky Bill and Jay’s Jungle.
- 9Now – Catch up on lots of TV episodes including Australian classics like McLeods’ Daughters, Sea Patrol. There’s also a large kids section including Alice-Miranda Friends Forever, LEGO friends, Teen Titans Go and Transformers.
- 10Play – Catch up on lots of TV episodes including Australian dramas like Puberty Blues and The Secret Life of Us, reality shows and American shows. There’s also a large kids section including Bob the Builder, Care Bears & Cousins, Totally Wild and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.
- Kanopy (available through your local library)- Kanopy is the popular on-demand streaming service. It includes Kanopy Kids to inspire and inform – ABC Kids, movies and TV series, classic tales, learning about science, math, nature, food and nutrition.
- Beamafilm – Stream the latest documentaries and indie feature films for free. The site is home to over 400 award-winning documentaries, independent features and festival favourites.
Free ebooks & emagazines
With most local libraries closed, switch to ebook and emagazines instead. Sign up to your local library and start borrowing digital media. Here are some of the book applications that you can access via your library.
Axis360 eBooks – If you want to choose from some non-fiction titles, this is a great app. It contains bestselling authors as well as full-colour travel guides, children’s stories, cookbooks, study material and self-help. It runs on iOS, Android and Kindle devices.
BorrowBox – Enjoy Australian fiction by best-selling authors as well as ABC publications, picture books, biographies and true crime stories in Bolinda Digital’s Borrow Box App. You can read ebooks or listen to audiobooks on iPhones, iPads, Android phones and tablets and Kindle Fire.
Libby by Overdrive – Enjoy a wide range of fiction and non-fiction in this comprehensive e-library collection. Offered by selected libraries in Australia.
RBdigital eBooks – This app contains lots of breathtaking crime thrillers, sweeping romance novels and beloved classic
Need more free ebooks or audiobooks, visit these sites for additional titles.
- Authorama features completely free public domain books from a variety of different authors, collected here for you to read online or offline.
- Digilibraries offers a digital source of free eBooks for any taste, a vast range of titles in digital format
- Project Gutenberg – has over 60,000 free eBooks including the world’s great literature here, with focus on older works for which U.S. copyright has expired.
- LibriVox – free public domain audiobooks recorded by volunteers
Free video conferencing
Miss speaking to friends and family? Use video conference tools and video chat to keep in touch. Here are some free tools to stay socially connected.
Free music & audio
Although live music, festivals and concerts have been cancelled, you can still get your fix of music. Here’s ways to enjoy free music and podcasts.
- Amazon Music
- Apple Music – Try it free for 3 months then $11.99 per month
- Freegal eMusic – accessible via your library
- Apple Podcasts
- Google Podcasts for Android
- Audible – Try it free for 30 days then $16.45 per month
- Audible Stories – While schools are closed, Audible is providing free access to kids audiobooks. All stories are free to stream on your desktop, laptop, phone or tablet.
Free homeschooling & educational resources
With most schools pupil-free in Australia, parents are looking for educational websites and resources to support their kids learning. Here are some free online resources.
- ABC Reading Eggs is the multi‑award winning online reading program for kids aged 2 to 13, and is an excellent way to help children continue building essential reading skills from home with the COVID‑19 outbreak and in the event of school closures. They are providing 30 days’ free access to the ABC Reading Eggs online learning programs.
- Khan Academy is a non-profit educational organization which produces short lessons in the form of YouTube videos. Subjects include math from Year 1 on, physics, chemistry, biology as well as economics, American and world history.
- ABC Mathseeds ABC Mathseeds is a comprehensive online maths program for kids aged 3–9, and is an excellent way to help children continue building essential maths skills from home with the COVID‑19 outbreak and in the event of school closures. They are providing 30 days’ free access to the ABC Mathseeds online learning programs. There’s also the Mathseeds Play & Learn app.
- Scholastic Learn At Home is offering free online resources during the COVID-19, including 20 days of lessons for grades pre-K to 9 and up to three hours of lessons a day. Even though it’s American, it’s interesting and provides educational opportunities for kids here in Australia.
As we find out about more free stuff and COVID-19 specials, we’ll add it to the list. If you have some to share, email us.
Started in late 2012 by a local mum, Newy with Kids has grown into a thriving go-to family guide for the Newcastle, Lake Macquarie & Hunter region. Parents visit the Newy with Kids website to find things to do with babies, kids and teens. Whether it’s local attractions, upcoming events, kids eat free, school holiday activities or birthday party ideas, Newy with Kids is the best website for local parents to find local kid-friendly activities and information 24/7.