Australia has a number of holiday destinations and activities that you will want to make sure your kids don't miss out on. We detail the very best that we can think of below - your kids will never forget their time at each of these holiday wonderlands. Travel expert, Linda McCormick, gives us her best tips.
1. Rottnest Island, WA
A short ferry ride from Fremantle or Perth, Rottnest Island is a fantastic day-trip for families. Populated with loads of fuzzy marsupials called quokkas, your kids will giggle every time they see these adorable balls of fluff hopping about. As cars are not permitted on the island (except in rare circumstances), visitors hire bicycles upon arrival and use the many trails to explore the island. Bring a picnic, cycle down to the lighthouse, and eat lunch on the beach. The island is also perfect for snorkelling, swimming and bushwalking with the family.
2. Surfers Paradise, QLD
You won’t be surprised to learn that kids love theme parks, and there are plenty to choose from in Surfers Paradise. One thing that you might be surprised by, however, is that your kids are never too young to enjoy them. Regardless of whether your child is a toddler or a teenager, there is plenty available for them to experience in Surfers Paradise. Kids of different ages will react to the same thing in a completely different manner, and it’s so cute to see little tots light up at the sight of their favourite characters wandering around the park, while older kids get excited about zipping around on the scariest rides. Whether you want the educational fun of Sea World, or your child wants to pretend they’re a star in Movie World, you’ll find plenty to do. And afterwards, you can laugh about your experiences while building sandcastles on one of the golden beaches that have made Surfers Paradise famous throughout the world.
3. Red Centre, NT
Often referred to as the 'heart of Australia', the Red Centre offers countless opportunities for exploring fascinating rock formations, while learning about geology and Aboriginal cultures. The most famous landmark in Australia, Uluru (Ayers Rock) is popular with kids because it’s so huge – abruptly rising out of the desert without any warning. Kids will want to climb it, but there is much more to be seen around the base of the rock (and the local Aboriginal owners would prefer you stayed on the ground as well). After exploring the caves, water holes and rock markings, head to the Kata Tjuta (the Olgas) and marvel at these magnificent dome-shaped rock formations. Kids of all ages will love trawling through the many rocks on the ground.
4. Canberra, ACT
Today’s kids are tomorrow’s leaders, so it’s important to encourage an understanding of the responsibility voting entails, and how our country is governed. Take a free tour of Parliament House, and if you can time it right, you might get to see democracy in action, and ‘Question Time’ can be very entertaining. Kids will also love a visit to Questacon, the National Science and Technology Centre, where they can press plenty of buttons to make cool things happen. Take time to see the Australian War Memorial, Australian National Museum and many other centres that feature our cultural heritage. Canberra should definitely be on your list!
5. Snowy Mountains, NSW
Learning to ski is much easier when you’re a kid - after all, you have less distance to fall - and snow holds a certain magic quality for young children. Kids throughout the world love to build snowmen, go snowboarding, have snowball fights, make snow angels and build snow forts. Every kid in Australia should get to try this – at least once in their childhood. Adults will quickly find their inner child when they encounter snow too. Visit the Snowy Mountains on your next trip!
6. Ballarat, VIC
Travel back in time with your kids, and take them to Sovereign Hill. Kids will have a blast learning about Australian history while panning for gold and experiencing life in an old mining town. There are plenty of fun shows aimed at entertaining and educating Australians about our rich history in the Victorian goldfields, and how it has influenced life in Australia today.
7. Port Arthur, TAS
Aussie kids learn at school that an important part of our history is the convict era. But at Port Arthur, a former penal settlement, your family can step back in time to the mid-1800s and experience that period of history. When you arrive, pick up a copy of the Port Arthur Journey Activity Book – a special activity book designed to help kids learn while they explore.
During the summer holidays, Port Arthur has a special Family Activity Program with plenty of shows and colonial era games for kids to play, as well as the chance to try their hand at being an archaeologist. There is plenty to keep the adults intrigued at Port Arthur as well, making this a really interesting Australian break for the whole family.
8. Whitsunday Islands, QLD
Every kid in Australia should experience, at least once, the feeling of sailing around the world’s most beautiful islands, of watching whales playing in the distance, or swimming in crystal blue waters and frolicking through clean white sand in their bare feet. Every child in Australia needs to explore the nature reserves of the Whitsundays, snorkel the reefs and marvel at the tropical fish and colourful birds of the region. If every child could experience the Whitsundays, a whole generation would truly understand why nature conservation is so important – why we need to really protect Australia’s beauty and resources, and why so many people in the world wish they too, could live in Australia.
9. Cleland Wildlife Park, SA
Head to the Adelaide Hills, where you can learn about numerous Australian animals, feed kangaroos, emus, wallabies and even have your photo taken with a cuddly koala. Children love Cleland, as the animals are friendly and have no worries about snuggling up to you while you pat them. Knowledgeable park rangers are on hand to provide insightful presentations about the various animals.
10. Your favourite holiday spot as a kid
Let’s face it – there are many amazing places to take your kids in Australia, each offering different degrees of fun, education, wonder and relaxation. But one place your kids will really want to see is your own favourite childhood holiday spot. Maybe you have happy memories of staying near a small beach that no one has ever heard of – or maybe that beach has now become really popular and you’re wondering how much it’s changed.
Maybe you really loved going to a particular zoo, or had fun in a holiday park somewhere. Make sure you take your kids there before they grow up – they’ll have fun learning about the holidays you had when you were young, and will be excited to be an addition to your childhood holiday memories. Finding the perfect accommodation for your family: It can seem tough, sometimes, to find genuinely family-friendly accommodation – many places cater specifically to adults, and there are countless that try to attract honeymooners. Stayz has made finding family-friendly accommodation easy though. Click on our family-friendly listings and then simply choose the location you’re after from our drop-down lists. You’ll find the perfect break for your family in no time.