Want to get the kids off their butts, away from the iPad and into the Australia’s seriously great outdoors? These family holiday ideas will get them into the fresh air and make you the hero at the end of the day… (from Natural Australia: 16 Ultimate Escapes)  

1. Snorkel with salty the seal

Snorkel with whiskery Australian and New Zealand fur seals, renowned for their playfulness and aqua-batics. Day tours to Montague Island, nine kilometres from Narooma, NSW, can also include a walk to a historic lighthouse and fairy penguin spotting. See: Ultimate Escapes: Coastal Wilderness

2. Paddle with platypus

Share some time with this elusive little critter, spotting it in its natural habitat around Victoria’s Cape Otway National Park with the help of your Platypus Tours guide – who’s also a trained ecologist. Combine with a canoe and paddle along remote Lake Elizabeth, spotting birdlife, and then a dusk tour in search of glow worms. See: Ultimate Escapes: Great Ocean Road

3. Meet a devil

How about a private evening tour through the Bonorong Wildlife Sanctuary, north of Hobart, for an up-close encounter with uniquely Tasmanian wildlife: bettongs, pademelons, tawny frogmouth owls, eastern quolls and golden possums. Then the chance to meet (and possibly feed) the stars of the show – Bonorong’s 39 Tasmanian devils. See: Ultimate Escapes: Tasmania

4. Giddy up through the Snowy Mountains

Reynella Rides takes you on a family adventure they will never forget: a five-day horse-riding safaris through Kosciuszko National Park, camping along the way and wild brumby spotting en route. Depending on experience, treks are best suited to children aged 10-plus. There’s also the option to stay at the Reynella Homestead during school holidays. See: Ultimate Escapes: Australian Alps

5. Sleep in the zoo

It’s the stuff kids’ dreams are made of – camping overnight in a zoo, listening to the cacophony of hoots, howls and roars of the animals. Taronga Zoo’s Roar & Snore makes that dream come true with a sleepover package in luxury safari-style tents. Includes behind-the-scenes tours and nocturnal animal encounters. See: Ultimate Escapes: Sydney Harbour

6. See dolphins from Kangaroo

Suited to young marine lovers and adventurous kids, Kangaroo Island Marine Adventures’ boat chugs from KI capital Kingscote to the island’s most remote beaches, where you can experience a face-to-face frolic with remarkably friendly dolphins. The interactions take place in shallow water under guidelines from the Marine Mammal Interaction Policy. See: Ultimate Escapes: Kangaroo Island

7. A day and night on the farm

Give the children a real bush adventure with an Aussie farmstay on a real working property in the Blue Mountains close to Sydney. Trot through the valleys on horseback and visit historic goldmining towns with Aussie Bush Adventures. The kids can try their hand at bush crafts and after sundown, sit around a campfire while songs and yarns flow freely. See: Ultimate Escapes: Blue Mountains

8. Spot dolphins from a cat’

Monkey Mia, in the heart of Shark Bay, is famous for its dolphin-feeding experience. But why limit your wildlife-spotting to the shore? A three-hour catamaran cruise through Shark Bay with Monkey Mia Wild Sights greatly improves your chances of seeing not only dolphins but sea turtles, sharks, sea snakes, stingrays and migrating seabirds. You might even cruise past a grazing dugong. See: Ultimate Escapes: Ningaloo & Shark Bay

9. A camel train into the Uluru sunset

Lope along the dunes for an hour, watching the sunset blaze across Uluru and Kata Tjuta on the laid-back ships of the dessert. The kids will love the gentle camel’s dewy eyes and luscious lashes. Saddle up at Uluru Camel Tours at Voyages Ayers Rock Resort. See: Ultimate Escapes: Red Centre & Uluru

10. Be a Jurassic island ranger

Sit in the sand under a canopy of stars and watch as huge turtles lumber up the beach on Heron Island, accessible by boat from Gladstone. The island is aJurassicParkof creatures: ray and reef sharks gather in the shallows, mutton birds wail like ghosts from their burrows and, in early summer, the trees are filled with nests containing black noddy tern chicks. During school holidays, kids can sign up to the educational Junior Rangers program to take part in activities like reef walks. See: Ultimate Escapes: Great Barrier Reef



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