10 family holiday destinations in Australia for the perfect school holiday escape

Where to spend the holidays with the kids in Australia.

Anything from one week to six. That’s how long the Australian school holiday period can last.

If they (or you) are likely to go stir-crazy staying at home the whole time, or if you feel a family getaway is on the cards, these are the domestic locations that offer family-friendly activities to please all.

Happy holidays!

Hoping to take the family away during school holidays? Check when they are in your state here.

1. The Great Barrier Reef and Far North Queensland

Perfect for: Families who like to enjoy sun, sand and surf

A visit to the Great Barrier Reef is a fundamental part of any Aussie childhood. From snorkelling the colourful reef to a day trip through the Daintree, it’s an eye-opening experience that offers endless fun. It's warm year-round, so is perfect for any of the school breaks.

Top family holiday accommodation

Hotels: Paradise on the Beach Palm Cove
Apartment: Rent an apartment through Homestay

Top family holiday activities

Great Barrier Reef 45 minute Scenic Flight
2 Day 1 Night Great Barrier Reef Liveaboard Tour
Great Barrier Reef 1 hour Scenic Flight

2. Surfers Paradise

Perfect for: Thrills, spills and general adventure

It’s not called paradise without good reason. The sun and surf at Surfers Paradise could be classified as “pristine”. It has plenty of theme parks in one space, with Dreamworld, WhiteWater World, Sea World, Movie World and Wet’n’Wild available to keep kids entertained all holiday long.

Top family holiday accommodation

Apartment: Burleigh on the Beach Apartments Hotels
Hotels: Artique Surfers Paradise

Top family holiday activities

Gold Coast Beaches, Glow Worms and Rainforest Tou...
Family Drive Pack - 2 adults & 3 kids - Gold Coast

3. Coffs Harbour

Perfect for: Relaxing beachside holidays

Coffs Harbour is right up there with other coastal holiday escapes for families from Sydney or Brisbane searching for a fun road trip. Naturally, you can fly into Coffs as well. The kids can encounter sea lions and dolphins at the marine park and spend their days playing along the beach.

Top family holiday accommodation

Resort: BreakFree Aanuka Beach Resort
Cottages: Ambiance Holiday Apartments

Top family holiday activities

Coffs Harbour All-Terrain Segway Tour
White Water Rafting, Nymboida River 1-day - Coffs...
Surf Rafting, Coffs Harbour

4. Kangaroo Island

Perfect for: Younger families and wildlife encounters

Kangaroo Island is a short flight from Adelaide or a short and scenic ferry from Cape Jervis. You’ll find everything paradise is expected to inhabit, from resplendent vistas, native wildlife and powder soft sands. Exploration by quad bike or boat is a must, as is marine-life watching.

Top family holiday accommodation

Apartment: Aurora Ozone Hotel
Hotel: Mercure Kangaroo Island Lodge
Accor Hotels

Top family holiday activities

Single Kayak
Edge of the Earth Quad Adventure

5. Canberra

Perfect for: Educational escapes

Canberra offers a laid back, quiet city break with more than a dash of culture and education attached. Visit the War Memorial, Parliament House, National Gallery and Questacon, and then take a foodie break at the Old Bus Depot markets while you wait for your Brodburgers to fry. Canberra is also a good gateway to get to ski resorts like Thredbo and Perisher during the winter months.

Top family holiday accommodation

Apartment: Pinnacle Apartments
Hotel: QT Canberra

Top family holiday activities

Thredbo or Perisher Weekend Snow Trip
3infun Canberra Attraction Pass Including the Aus...
Hot Air Balloon Ride

6. Rottnest Island

Perfect for: Water babies

If you’re heading to Western Australia, a definite contender for family-friendly adventure is Rottnest Island. Teeming with marine life and water activities, kids can splash around at on one of 65 pristine beaches if the weather is warm enough, or hop in a kayak and paddle about from sun up to sun down.

Top family holiday accommodation

Apartment: Rottnest Island Authority
Karma Rottnest

Top family holiday activities

Rottnest Island Bike and Snorkel Tour from Perth ...
Rottnest Island Round-Trip Ferry from Perth or Fr...
Idyllic Rottnest Island

7. Kakadu National Park

Perfect for: Land lubbers

Head inland for a historical and cultural adventure through Kakadu National Park. Start in Darwin and make your way down to explore the unique landscape. It's hot all year round in the Top End, so to cool down, make a well-deserved pit stop at Leanyer Water Park.

Top family holiday accommodation

Lodge: Kakadu Lodge
Hotel: Mercure Kakadu Crocodile Hotel
Accor Hotels

Top family holiday activities

Crocodile Feeding Experience - Darwin
3-Day Kakadu National Park and Waterfalls Tour fr...
Kakadu, Nourlangie and Yellow Waters Tour with Op...

8. Sydney

Perfect for: City escapes

Head to the big city over the school holidays and visit Australia’s most popular icons. There are always child-friendly activities happening throughout the school holiday periods, be it the Easter Show or Cool Yule during winter.

Top family holiday accommodation

Apartment: Waldorf Waitara Residential Apartments
Hotel: Swissotel Sydney

Top family holiday activities

AG/Blue Mountains All Inclusive for Small Group Tour
Sydney tower Skywalk + Extreme Adrenalin Combo

9. Hobart

Perfect for: Seeing a lot over a short period of time

Rent a car or campervan and drive around Tassie. Hobart is the ideal starting point, as the city offers a more vibrant atmosphere than Launceston and features the Salamanca Markets and spooky ghost tours. Venture further to see Port Arthur and hike through the lush bushland of Cradle Mountain, Freycinet National Park and Tahune Forest.

Top family holiday accommodation

Apartment: Old Woolstore Apartment Hotel
Hotel: Quest Savoy

Top family holiday activities

Low Head Penguin Tour
Bay of Fires Day Tour
Cradle Mountain Day Tour

10. Mount Hotham

Perfect for: Snow bunnies

Family snow and ski holidays are best had at one of Australia’s most popular ski resorts. On top of Jindabyne, Perisher and Thredbo, Mount Hotham is a child-friendly resort ideal for anyone coming in from Melbourne. Family activities occur all year round, with the DP Tube Park being a hot favourite with the kids during Easter.

Top family holiday accommodation

Apartment: Mountain Dreaming Apartments
Hotel: Absolutt

Top family Holiday Activities

For family holiday activities in and around Mount Hotham, see our Family Snow and Ski Holidays in Australia section below.

Family snow and ski holidays in Australia

You don’t have to travel halfway across the world for a snow and ski holiday. Australia offers numerous ski resorts, the most popular being Thredbo, Perisher, Charlotte Pass, Mount Buller, Mount Hotham and Falls Creek.

Snow season in Australia is fairly short, beginning around early June and closing off late September/early October. In 2016, the expected snow season dates are 3 June to 2 October, according to Ski Resort.
Book your holiday early and you can cash in on early bird ski lift and hire discounts. If you're looking for deals on packages and stays, check out our ski deals roundup.

Top 6 ski resorts

Family Beach Holidays

Sand is practically synonymous with summer, so you shouldn’t overlook a family getaway to one of Australia’s many enviable beaches.

The east coast of the country offers more than its fair share, with stretches of sand from Surfers Paradise and Cairns in Queensland to the Central Coast and Bondi Beach in New South Wales.

Head to the other side of the country for Rottnest Island and Eighty Mile Beach in WA, or travel south for Glenelg in South Australia and the Bay of Fires in Tasmania.

As you can tell from our top holiday destinations list above, Australians are spoilt for choice when it comes to beach breaks. Now it’s up to you to decide which one you’ll visit during the school holidays.

Need some more inspiration? These are the Australian holiday hotspots for Aussie travellers this year.

Family Holiday Deals Australia

Stephanie Yip

Stephanie is the travel editor at On top of being an avid traveller, she's an all-round bargain hunter. If there's a deal or cheap flight available, she'll know about it. And she'll let you know about it, too.

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