Don’t let the kids stop you from having a weekend break. Megan Arkinstall finds seven supreme long weekend options to keep everyone in the family entertained.
1. Compete in your own amazing race: Swan Valley, WA
The Swan Valley is a great – and very quick – getaway from the city with a premium food and wine trail featuring excellent wineries, breweries, distilleries and a huge range of eateries. So that’s the adults covered for the weekend, but what about the kids? Get them running around and exerting some energy with The Great Valley Rally, aimed at families with children aged from five to 12 years. The race takes three hours and involves hunting for cryptic clues along a route in the valley. They are rewarded at the end with a certificate and a small prize. The Vines Resort is a good accommodation option for families, offering two- and three-bedroom apartments.
Location: The Vines Resort is 25 minutes from Perth. Verdehlo Drive, The Vines; 08 9297 3000; vines.com.au
Details: Accommodation from $310 per night for a two-bedroom apartment. The Great Valley Rally is free – contact Swan Valley Visitor Information Centre for details; 08 9379 9400; swanvalley.com.au
2. Be a reptile keeper for a day: Central Coast, NSW
A family weekend away where the kids will have a ball and you can have a relaxing day to yourself? Yippee! Head to the Central Coast where The Australian Reptile Park offers a pretty special experience for little and big kids alike. The Kid 2 Keeper program is a fully escorted workshop where kids gain an insight into the life of a keeper, study animal behaviour, learn how to handle the animals and visit some behind-the-scenes areas like the reptile room. Children over six can attend without you – so we recommend treating yourself at the Tea Tree Day Spa at the Crowne Plaza Terrigal while you have some quiet moments.
Location: The Crowne Plaza is 1.5 hours north of Sydney. Pine Tree Lane, Terrigal; crowneplazaterrigal.com.au
Details: A winter ‘Discover More’ package at the Crowne Plaza starts from $159 per night. The Reptile Park is at Somersby, 30 minutes from Terrigal. Kid 2 Keeper experience is $35 for 3-6 years, $70 for 7-12 years, $105 for 13-18 years; reptilepark.com.au
3. Make your own chocolate: Phillip Island, Vic
Phillip Island is famous for its penguins, but for something a little different we think Panny’s Amazing World of Chocolate is an afternoon that all chocolate lovers, young and old, will enjoy. Learn about the story of chocolate, play games of skill to win chocolate, produce your own chocolate bar filled with any flavour, and see the gallery of vintage advertisements for, you guessed it, chocolate. When you’ve had enough Augustus Gloop fun, Silverwater Resort is a fantastic resort for families – a contemporary retreat for adults, with lots of fun for kids. There is a heated indoor pool, tennis, basketball and volleyball courts, billiard and tennis tables, a children’s playground and hours-of-fun bouncing pillows on their lawn.
Location: Silverwater Resort is two hours from Melbourne. 17 Potters Hill Road, San Remo; 03 5671 9300; silverwaterresort.com.au
Details: Silverwater Resort, from $305 per night in a two-bedroom apartment. Phillip Island Chocolate Factory, admission $45 for two adults and two children. phillipislandchocolatefactory.com.au
4. Go on a ZooVenture: Canberra, ACT
Take a behind-the-scenes tour of the National Zoo in Canberra. Feed a 110-kilogram Sumatran tiger, let Brown bears lick honey from your fingers and tickle the scaley skin of a python. A ZooVenture will certainly give you a thrill; experience up-and-close encounters with these beautiful creatures. The simple and modern Clifton Suites on Northbourne offer one- and two-bedroom apartments and several packages suitable for families.
Location: Clifton Suites Northbourne is three hours from Sydney. 100 Northbourne Avenue, Canberra; cliftonsuites.com.au
Details: Family Breakfast accommodation package from $274 per night. ZooVenture from $145 per person. nationalzoo.com.au
5. Explore Margaret River by horseback: Margaret River, WA
The scenery of Margaret River during the autumn and winter season is certainly a sight for sore eyes – and what better way to enjoy it than on horseback? Losari Retreat, set within 66 acres of stunning landscape, offers a Horsemanship Package that includes accommodation in their lovely villas, gourmet breakfast and a two-hour horse riding experience through the nearby national park – a great package for a family to get outdoors and explore together.
Location: Losari Retreat is 3.5 hours from Perth. 498 Osmington Road, Margaret River; losariretreat.com.au
Details: From $1665 for a Horsemanship Package for four people.
6. Run away with the circus: Sunshine Coast, Qld
Ever wanted to experience the whimsical world of the circus? (Well, the kids probably have…) As well as offering a fantastic kid’s club with craft and cooking lessons, movie nights, discos, face painting and an outdoor play centre, the Novotel Twin Waters on the Sunshine Coast also has circus classes. Kids can learn juggling and balancing acts, the flying trapeze, the bungee trampoline and aerial tricks. But if you are happy to leave the circus tricks up to the children, head into Maroochydore for a long lazy lunch on the waterfront.
Location: Novotel Twin Waters is located 1.5 hours from Brisbane. Ocean Drive, Twin Waters, Sunshine Coast; 07 5448 8000; twinwatersresort.com.au
Details: Novotel Family Package including breakfast and two kid’s club sessions from $229 per night. Circus Encounter package runs for 2.5 hours for an additional $95 per person; cirqueespace.com
7. Play farmer for the weekend: Robertson, NSW
A tasteful farmstay both the parents and kids will enjoy – who’d’ve thought? Accommodating up to 16 people across three dwellings, this farmstay combines nature, activity and elegance well. The farmhouse is full of character with an open brick fire place, large church doors and windows, spacious kitchen and luxury bed linen. Kids will enjoy the large trampoline, collecting eggs, interacting with the alpacas, canoe rides and roasting marshmallows on the open fire-pit. Parents will love relaxing on the sun-drenched verandah, soaking in the bath, a picnic on the property or a glass of wine by the fire.
Location: Royalla Farmstay is just over one hour from Sydney. 375 Pearsons Lane, Robertson; 0409 294 929.
Details: Farmhouse from $1700 for the weekend, sleeps up to 10; $600 for the Om Barn, sleeps two (or four with extra bedding); $500 for the Loveshack, sleeps two