10 best family holiday destinations in Australia
These are the spots to take the kids this year for the perfect school holiday escape.
Plus, we've included our favourite sites to find a deal on your next holiday.
Our favourite family holiday spots in Australia
A visit to the Cairns and Tropical North Queensland is a fundamental part of any Aussie childhood. From snorkelling the Great Barrier 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.
- Best for: Families who like to enjoy sun, sand and surf
- Where to stay: Sheraton Grand Mirage Resort in Port Douglas, or Cairns Coconut Holiday Resort, which has a splash park for kids.
- What to do: Full day Great Barrier Reef cruise with snorkelling, enjoy scenic flights and learn to dive.
It's not called paradise without good reason. The sun and surf at the Gold Coast's 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.
- Best for for: Thrills, spills and general adventure
- Where to stay: Sea World Resort in Main Beach, Q1 Resort and Spa in Surfers Paradise or BIG4 Gold Coast Holiday Park in Helensvale.
- What to do: Whale watching cruise, enjoying the views from the SkyPoint Observation Deck and high ropes course in the Gold Coast Hinterland.
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.
- Best for: Relaxing beachside holidays
- Where to stay: BreakFree Aanuka Beach, Ambiance Holiday Apartments or Beach Haven Executive Apartments
- What to do: Stand-up paddle board Aboriginal culture tour, rainforest experience
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.
- Best for: Younger families and wildlife encounters
- Where to stay: Mercure Kangaroo Island Lodge,Aurora Ozone Hotel or Kangaroo Island Cabins
- What to do: Wildlife discovery tours or visit Flinders Chase National Park.
Tip: If travelling as a whole family, it may be cheaper to fly into Adelaide and transfer to Kangaroo Island by ferry.
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.
- Best for: Educational escapes
- Where to stay: Abode Woden, Novotel Canberra or Mercure Canberra
- What to do: Hot air balloon ride over the city and visit the city's many museums and galleries.
If you're heading to Western Australia, or planning to explore your own backyard, 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.
- Best for: Water babies
- Where to stay: Esplanade Hotel Fremantle, Arundels Boutique Accommodation or Hotel Rottnest.
- What to do: Bike and snorkel gear hire which includes a ferry ticket.
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.
- Best for: Land lubbers, outback encounters
- Where to stay: Kakadu Lodge or Mercure Kakadu Crocodile Hotel, both in Jabiru
- What to do: Yellow Water boat cruise and explore the park's waterfalls like Jim Jim, which has a 2-km return walk and a family-friendly pool (seaonal).
8. Sydney, NSW
Head to the big city over the school holidays and visit Australia's most popular icons. There are always child-friendly activities in Sydney throughout the school holiday periods, be it the Easter Show or Cool Yule during winter.
- Best for: City escapes
- Where to stay: Swissotel Sydney, Adina Apartment Hotel Sydney Central or Ibis Sydney World Square
- What to do: Trip to the Blue Mountains, Taronga Zoo with Sky Safari cable car and visit museums and galleries like the Powerhouse Museum and the Art Gallery of New South Wales.
9. Hobart, TAS
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.
- Best for: Seeing a lot over a short period of time
- Where to stay: Quest Savoy, Old Woolstore Apartment Hotel or Grand Chancellor Hobart.
- What to do: Kayak tour, Tahune Adventures with Airwalk and Bonorong Wildlife Sanctuary feeding animal feeding tour
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.
- Best for: Snow bunnies
- Where to stay: Mountain Dreaming Apartments or Rundells Alpine Lodge.
- What to do: Go skiing, tobogganning or enjoy other snow sports, and check out our family snow and ski holidays in Australia section below.
Beach holiday destinations for families
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 the Gold Coast 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 spoiled 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.
Where to find a deal on family holidays online
1. Best for cheap local breaks: Groupon
A name that should be on every budget savvy parents' radar, Groupon is a daily deals website that sells it all - from household goods to holidays - and all at a bargain price.
Holiday packages come and go on the site - so keep your eyes peeled because big discounts for large parties are plentiful.
- New deals every day
- Local escapes from coastal beach breaks to snow trips available
- Instant online bookings for select holidays
2. Best all-rounder: Flight Centre
Practically a household name, Flight Centre is one of Australia's biggest travel agencies. What we love about it is that he has a special "family holidays" section online with discounted breaks during those peak school holiday periods.
- Packages are broken into September, December, April and June/July to cover all major school holiday dates
- Hotels are specially chosen with families in mind with many featuring connecting rooms and self-contained apartments
- Features cruise holiday breaks
Search for Flight Centre holiday
3. Best for beach escapes: Hamilton Island
Home to all things Hamilton Island you can browse a wide variety of accommodation and holiday packages on the official Hamilton Island site. Family packages often include discounted rates, daily breakfast, free activities and tours and the use of non-motorised water sport equipment.
- Choose from hotel accommodation to holiday homes
- Earn Velocity Points on accommodation bookings
Road trip ideas for families
Thinking of changing up the usual fly-and-stay holiday this year and taking the family for an adventure? We've put together some of our favourite road trip itineraries with details on where to stay and what to see along the way.
- New South Wales road trips
- Queensland road trips
- South Australia road trips
- Tasmania road trips
- Victoria road trips
- Western Australia road trips
- Australia road trips (Our favourite itinerary for each state)
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