Open your child’s eyes to the beauty, resilience and history of Australia’s outback by visiting these top 10 attractions for kids under 10.
1. Lark Quarry, Qld
Around 95 million years ago, a large herd of dinosaurs fled across mud flats to escape a predator, and you can see their fossilised footprints at Lark Quarry Conservation Park, near Winton.
The site is the only recorded dinosaur stampede in the world (how cool is that?), and there are more than 3000 footprints of the two-legged dinosaurs. The Dinosaur Trackways, as it’s been dubbed, is part of Lark Quarry, and you can join a guided tour to make the most of your visit.
2. Mount Isa, Qld
Embrace the mining life of Mt Isa in the Mini Miner School program at outback at Isa. Aimed at children aged seven to 14 years, there are plenty of fun activities, including an underground tour where you can have a go of a rock drill.
The Mount Isa Underground Hospital and Museum is also worth checking out. Built during the 1940s in response to the bombing of Darwin, the hospital is a fascinating attraction, especially for primary-aged kids.
3. Charleville, Qld
Wow your little (or big) one with amazing views of the Milky Way from the Charleville Cosmos Centre. The centre’s roof rolls back and visitors can gaze at moon craters, the rings of Saturn and the beautiful strip that is the Milky Way through powerful telescopes.
There are five one-hour viewing sessions each night over summer and if you can’t make it during the evening, you can still head along to enjoy the new Astrodome Planetarium.
4. Uluru, NT
You really can’t go past riding a camel at sunset in the shadow of Uluru. It’s cliché, we know, but we love it because it suits nearly all ages (under fives not allowed). It’s also a fun way to see the desert and beats walking, or so the littlies think.
5. Alice Springs, NT
Tagged the “capital of the outback”, Alice Springs is a great introduction to Australia’s desert. There’s the Royal Flying Doctor Service, the Alice Springs Reptile Centre and Alice Springs Desert Park, but we reckon kids under 10 will relish getting up close to red kangaroos at The Kangaroo Sanctuary.
Join a guided sunset tour of the wildlife reserve (Tues-Fri); they go for up to three hours (so pack snacks for toddlers), you need to book a spot, and bus transfers to and from town are available.
6. Silverton “ghost town”, NSW
Journey back in time with a trip to Silverton, a tiny, ramshackle former miners’ village around 26 kilometres north-west of Broken Hill. There’s still a tiny population of residents but Silverton is often referred to as a ghost town thanks to its historic buildings and dusty, relatively empty, streets.
You will find a few businesses – shops and galleries – catering to tourists and the kids will have a ball spinning tales of ghouls in the Silverton Hotel (featured in numerous films), jail, churches and school.
7. Perry Hills and Wentworth, NSW
The idea of mega-fauna is mind-blowing for adults, so imagine what kids must think when they learn of giant wombats that used to roam the Earth.
Skeletons of mega-fauna have been found at Perry Sandhills, 400 acres of shifting dunes, which are worth checking out in themselves (and you can go sand boarding). Follow a visit to the dunes with a stop into Pioneer Museum in Wentworth to see replicas of the giant emus, kangaroos and other mega-fauna.
8. Kalgoorlie, WA
In the Goldfields of Western Australia, Kalgoorlie is home to the mammoth Super Pit, Australia’s largest gold-producing mine. You’ll be gobsmacked by the size of this pit, as well as the giant dump trucks, viewed from the safety of a bus.
If your child (or you) catches gold fever, you can also sign the family up to gold nugget and goldrush tours.
9. Lake Hillier, WA
An island is far from that iconic outback image most of us have, but what if we swapped red earth for pink water? Kids and parents will be amazed by the bubblegum colour of Lake Hillier, one of WA’s pink lakes.
Located on Middle Island, off the coast of Esperance, the lake is 600 metres long and is bound to impress not just budding scientists but the entire family. Check out the view from above with a scenic flight from Esperance Airport.
10. Coober Pedy, SA
It doesn’t get more “outback” and quirky in South Australia than the underground town of Coober Pedy.
That’s right, people live underground, and you can check out a typical home on a tour that also teaches visitors about residents’ fascination (or perhaps obsession) with mining for opals. It’s a bit of a trek to get there (a six-hour drive north-west of Whyalla) but is plenty of fun and will open your children’s eyes to another Aussie way of living.