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Family getaways from Canberra to put smiles on their dials
School's out and we've got the lowdown on where you can get out in the ACT and beyond.
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Once you've tired yourself out at the museums and cycled around Lake Burley Griffin enough times, take them on an adventure beyond the capital's boundaries.
Right outside the city are mountainous highlands to climb and lakes to camp beside. Drive that much further and you'll discover beaches in New South Wales to cool their jets off at, snowy mountains to toboggan down and mining towns to discover.
Our favourite family holiday getaways in Canberra, the ACT and beyond
The Southern Highlights trail, from southern New South Wales in Camden all the way to the doorstep of Canberra in Queanbeyan, is rich in forest, waterfalls and towns big and small where flowers bloom in spring and autumn leaves rain down golden in autumn.
- Best for: Adventure seekers, weekend getaways
- Where to stay: The closest towns in and around Canberra are Braidwood and Queanbeyan though Bowral and Mittagong are worth the drive.
- What to do: Hiking through national parks, a tree top walk in Illawarra and a zipline adventure through the rainforest.
2. Batemans Bay
The ACT might be landlocked but when the sun shines overhead there's only one thing to do: hit the beach. Batemans Bay on the coast of New South Wales is one of the closest beach spots to Canberra with a drive time of under two hours. It's a family friendly place with calm waters and reefs to snorkel around, plenty of kayaking opportunities and walking trails filled with Aboriginal history.
- Best for: Marine activities, coastal treks.
- Where to stay: Coachhouse Marina Resort or Beach Drive Motel
- What to do: Go kayaking and taste the local oysters.
Keeping this getaway local? Tidbinbilla is an hour south-west of Canberra city centre and within ACT borders making it an easy option for active families that are short on time. Once inside, you can hike its myriad of bush trails where you'll meet local critters such as kangaroos. Or, you can sign the kids up for ranger activities and school holiday programs.
- Best for: Hiking and short getaways.
- Where to stay: Wildfest Pop Up Family Wilderness Camp.
- What to do: Hiking, wildlife spotting, ranger activities and school holiday programs, if available.
Slicing a border between the ACT and New South Wales are the Brindabella Ranges. Located in Brindabella National Park, families can make a day trip or weekend getaway out of this with hiking, cycling, horseback riding and 4WD tracks available through its unique alpine and subalpine landscape.
- Best for: Short getaways, outdoor adventures
- Where to stay: Coree campground, Flea Creek campground, Lowells Flat campground or McIntyres campground.
- What to do: Hiking, cycling, horseback riding, 4WDing, fishing and wildlife spotting.
Young families can make a quiet getaway to Yass for a day or two. It's only 45 minutes out of Canberra and offers a wealth of relaxing food and farm activities. Mums and dads can relish in the fresh produce – including the wine – while little ones can stay entertained at the local alpaca farms.
- Best for: Animal lovers
- Where to stay: Colonial Lodge Motor Inn or Thunderbird Motel Yass.
- What to do: Eat and drink your way around Yass, explore the local boutiques and art galleries, visit an alpaca farm and check out the historical buildings such as the Old Produce Store Binalong.
In winter the famous Snowy Mountains are a mecca for local ski and snowboard enthusiasts seeking powder in Perisher, Thredbo and Mount Buller. In summer, it transforms into an adventure-filled playground for hikers, cyclists and horseback riders.
- Best for: Active families, winter sports
- Where to stay: Jindy Inn or Lake Jindabyne Hotel
- What to do: Tour Crackenback by segway, spend a day at the snows during winter and horse riding.
7. Jervis Bay
Jervis Bay is home to the most stunning patches of sand and crystal clear waters. Take a dip, explore the world underwater with some snorkelling gear or hire a kayak to paddle the calm shores and soak up that lush coastline.
- Best for: Water babies and relaxation.
- Where to stay: Jervis Bay Motel or Dolphin Shores.
- What to do: Hop on a whale watching cruise, dolphin watching cruise or sunset eco-cruise with a picnic.
Drive 90 minutes north east of Canberra and you'll be in the sleepy historic town of Taralga. By day, entertain the family by visiting the famous Wombeyan Caves, a karst cave system formed in marble. By night, you (parents and carers) can treat yourselves to the local cuisine. Order anything with lamb, beef or berries and you're doing it right.
- Best for: Food, nature and exploration.
- Where to stay: The Barn, Wildlife Sanctuary Retreat, Wombeyan Caves or Walden Tiny House.
- What to do: Explore the Wombeyan Caves, meet the locals at Wombeyan Karst Conservation Reserve, walk the Wombeyan waterfall track and spend time in Taralga town.
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