Round up the Troops! These Destinations are Perfect for Family Holidays
Posted by Stephanie Mikkelsen on Wednesday, August 23, 2017
Whether your family is the road-tripping type, or the sort that loves nothing more than chilling by the pool; holidays with the family are always something to look back on fondly – no matter how crazy it was!
Before you start planning those epic Monopoly marathons and outdoor adventures though, you need to decide on a destination. Where you head with your troop will be influenced by what you enjoy as a family – are you an outdoorsy bunch, or do you love the cultural side of a city or town? Knowing that your destination of choice comes well equipped with family-friendly credentials doesn’t hurt.
So, to help make that decision about where to go on your next family getaway, we’ve identified some of the best family-friendly holiday destinations around Australia. As well as having accommodation options that will please everyone in your group, these places have plenty to keep your crew occupied.
FOR THRILLS AND ADVENTURE
Image: Gold Coast. Julia Ingall; Tourism & Events Queensland
The Gold Coast is one of Australia’s favourite family-friendly playgrounds. It has everything. The theme parks delight the young and young at heart, and the endless stretches of golden-sand beach are perfect for building sandcastles, splashing about in the gentle breaks and settling in for a day spent under your lolly-coloured umbrella. Wander among the lofty canopies at O’Reilly’s Treetop Walk, or peer down at the streets below from the incredible view at the Skypoint Observation Deck.
Image: Luna Park at Milsons Point. Steve Black; Destination NSW
Cities don’t come much buzzier than Sydney. The energy of Australia’s (arguably) most famous harbourside side is electric; meaning families looking for a bountiful buffet of to-dos won’t be disappointed. Jump aboard a ferry to Manly, or skip between roller coasters and adrenalin-pumping rides at Luna Park. You might pull on a blue-and-grey jumpsuit to take on the incredible Sydney Harbour Bridge climb. It’s then on to any of Sydney’s galleries or museums. Finish your day with a dip at Bondi beach or a pedal-car hire in Centennial Parklands.
Image: Penguin Parade viewing platform. Phillip Island Nature Parks; Visit Victoria.
Watching the Little Penguins at Phillip Island scuttle up the beach at sunset never gets old – watching the face of someone seeing it for the first time is just as good. Walk through a wildlife sanctuary or working farm, learn to surf or paddleboard. Head to A Maze’N Things for a day of mini-golf, puzzles and games. Admire the view of the coastline from The Nobbies Centre, or see the shore from a different perspective by hopping into a kayak and paddling Phillip Island’s waterways.
FOR NATURE AND THE GREAT OUTDOORS
Image: Reeds Lookout, Grampians National Park. Robert Blackburn; Visit Victoria.
This is one for outdoorsy families. Rugged escarpements, wildflower-dotted hills and charming towns are yours to discover when you venture to the Grampians. Fill your lungs with deep, restorative breaths of crisp mountainous air by making for the trails weaving throughout Grampians National Park. Keen rock-climbers can scramble up Mount Arapiles for a sweeping panorama of the Wimmera Plains, or paddle out in a canoe on Lakes Bellfield or Wartook. Visit surrounding hubs – gold rush-era Ararat, beautiful Halls Gap, gourmet-credentialed Dunkeld – to swap trees for townships.
Image: Shelley Beach, West Cape Howe National Park. Tourism Western Australia.
Western Australia’s South West coastline is a haven for all families. Albany and Denmark are the regional pillars of the area. Make your holiday base in either town, or choose to split your time between the two. Get a glimpse into Albany’s past at King George Sound and the Historic Whaling Station, then move to Torndirrup National Park for cliff-top walking tracks and naturally eroded rock formations. From Denmark, discovering Greens Pool and Elephant Rocks at William Bay National Park is a must.
Image: Seal Bay Conservation Park. Adam Bruzzone; South Australia Tourism Commission.
Kangaroo Island off the coast of the Fleurieu Peninsula is an untamed isle, teeming with protected nature reserves, native wildlife and pristine beaches. Check out wild sea lions soaking up Vitamin D on the beach at Seal Bay, splash about in the lagoon at Stokes Bay, gawk at the Remarkable Rocks or watch fishermen pull in their catch on the jetty at Vivonne Bay. Hire a sandboard to coast down one of the island’s undulating dunes (toboggans are a good choice for nervous beginners), or snap up a quad bike if you’re after something with more horse power.
Image: Maguk, Kakadu National Park. Shaana McNaught; Tourism NT.
There is no shortage of outdoor adventures to be had in Kakadu on a family holiday. A cruise on Yellow Water Billabong at sunrise or sunset treats families to wildlife spotting, beautiful landscapes and insights from Indigenous guides. Take the plunge at Gunlom Falls, a magnificent site where a waterfall cascades into a idyllic plunge pool. A more off-the-beaten-path pool for swimming is Maguk. Or, more waterfalls can be admired at Jim Jim and Twin Falls. Be sure to see Ubirr, an Aboriginal rock art gallery that can be viewed from a kilometre-long walking loop.
Image: Lake Jindabyne, Jindabyne. Kristen Greaves; Destination NSW.
No matter what time of year you visit, a getaway to the Snowy Mountains is sure to be a hit with your brood. Unsurprisingly, winter sees the Mountains come alive as alpine resorts open and slopes fill with skiers, boarders, tobogganers and snowman-makers. Once the snow melts, the Mountains transform into a outdoor-lovers paradise. Think mountain biking, horse riding, exploring caves and maybe even walking up Mt Kosciuszko. There’s even a bobsled in Thredbo.
FOR BEACH BLISS
Image: Four Mile Beach. Peter Lik; Tourism and Events Queensland.
Book an excursion out to the Great Barrier Reef, where young ones will love snorkelling to spot Nemo, while older kids could even try their hand at scuba diving. To keep your feet closer to terra firma, wander the aerial walkway in the Daintree or strap on a helmet and whizz through the air on a high ropes course. Hiring a car makes it easier to motor between sites and attractions, however families seeking a leisurely break could easily base themselves within walking distance of everything Port Douglas town offers, such as markets, great restaurants and pretty beach walks. When you do want to go for an ocean dip, make sure to check current and crocodile warnings first.
Image: Apollo Bay. Great Ocean Road Marketing; Visit Victoria.
From Torquay and Lorne to Port Fairy and Warrnambool; it is too hard a task to pick just one great beach destination along the Great Ocean Road. As you would expect of a 243-kilometre road that hugs some of Victoria’s prettiest coastline, there are a bounty of beaches to comb or lounge on. Waters can be brisk in autumn and winter, and currents can be strong so take care to always swim between the flags. Break up your beach days with trips inland, exploring the Great Otway National Park with its waterfalls, nature trails and treetop walks.
Image: Jervis Bay beach. Adam Taylor; Destination NSW.
Jervis Bay on NSW’s South Coast has some of the prettiest stretches of beach in the region. The superstar is Hyams Beach, an expanse of white sand that gives way to crystal-clear waters perfect for swimming and snorkelling. It is also great for family picnics. Other top beach picks around Jervis Bay include Greenfield and Chinamans Beaches. When you’re not lazing on the sand or wading through the shallows, there are plenty of activities around the Shoalhaven to keep you occupied; dolphin-spotting cruises, hike to Drawing Room Rocks and excursions through neighbouring national parks.
Image: Francis Peron National Park, Shark Bay World Heritage Area. Tourism Western Australia.
The water along WA’s Coral Coast is dazzlingly clear, and it’s the chance to snorkel, swim or doggy-paddle through these waters that draws visitors to this destination’s shoreline. Making time for the World Heritage-listed Shark Bay and Ningaloo Reef is an absolute must. All kids, no matter their age, will love the chance to meet the bottlenose dolphins at Monkey Mia, or perhaps sandboard across the dunes at Sandy Cape. Marvel at the alien-like structures at the Pinnacles, or set out on easy day-walks in a nearby national park.
Image: Flinders Island beach. Graham Freeman; Tourism Australia.
When you get away to an island, it’s almost a given that your mind turns to the beaches you’ll have access to. Flinders Island is no exception. Trousers Point has sheltered barbecue areas, while Killiecrankie Bay is where you can scour for famous Killcrankie diamonds. Palana Beach is popular, too. As well as the beaches fringing the island, visitors might also opt to explore the sandy stretches on other neighbouring Furneaux Group islands. Other to-dos on Flinders Island include Wybalenna Historic Site, Furneaux Museum and Strzlecki National Park.
Image: Dolphin Beach. Adam Bruzzone; South Australia Tourism Commission.
Whether you dip only a toe, or dive in head-first; there are plenty of beaches to experience on the Yorke Peninsula. The Peninsula’s more than 700 kilometres of coastline mean there are sandy shorelines perfect for beach cricket, public pontoons to jump off of and secret spots to cast a line. Innes National Park sits on the pointy end of the Peninsula, and boasts lighthouses, coastal walks, a shipwreck and even a historic abandoned township.
FOR SIGHTS AND SITES
Image: Port Arthur Historic Site. Port Arthur Historic Site Management Authority; Tourism Australia.
Think Melbourne and Sydney reign supreme in the attraction stakes? Hobart proves that is just not true. The Museum of Old and New Art (MONA) is a hallmark of Hobart’s stable of to-dos, and kids will love the ferry ride that transports visitors from the city’s waterfront to the museum grounds. If you want to steer clear of MONA’s more controversial installations simply ask museum staff and they’ll let you know which galleries to avoid. The historic townships of Richmond and Port Arthur offer a glimpse into the area’s convict past, or families of keen walkers can head to the summit of Mt Wellington.
Image: National Portrait Gallery. Richard Poulton; Visit Canberra.
Australia’s capital isn’t all parliament and politicians. With museums and galleries galore, Canberra makes the ideal destination for families with a nose for history, art and culture. King Edward Terrace is a great place to start, and from here you can tick off the National Portrait Gallery, Old Parliament House and the National Gallery of Australia. The National Science and Technology Centre (QUESTACON) is a guaranteed crowd-pleaser thanks to interactive displays, games and puzzles. Have a picnic lunch in the National Rose Garden, or hire a set of wheels and pedal around Lake Burley Griffin.
Image: Noosa beach. Tourism and Events Queensland.
Noosa is the epitome of a sand, sun and surf destinations. Hitting the beach or hanging by your accommodation’s pool are failsafe holiday activities, but when you want shake things up Noosa can take care of that, too. Noosa National Park has a maze of beautiful walks, and the banks of the Noosa River are scattered with playgrounds. There are plenty of shops and boutiques to wander between (Hastings Street is a top pick). Looking for something more adventurous? Head off on a day trip to discover the Noosa Everglades, Fraser Island or Australia Zoo.
Image: Houseboat near Bowhill. Adam Bruzzone; South Australia Tourism Commission.
Who ever said you had to stay in one place on your next family holiday? Rather than loading up the car every other day and hitting the road, think instead about hiring a houseboat to discover SA’s Murraylands. By captaining your own voyage, you’ll be able to stop off at whatever river bank-perched town takes your fancy, visiting local galleries, parks and markets along the way. Away from the river, between Swanport and Riverglads, is Montarto Zoo, the largest open-air zoo in the world and home to cheetahs, African lions and giraffes.
Now you've got a hit of destination inspiration, it's time to find your accommodation! Check out our collection of Family-Friendly Getaways to find a stay perfect for you and your troop.
Hero Image: Family at Greens Pool. Tourism Western Australia.