There’s nothing like parenthood to strengthen the lure of a well-earned holiday. Yet the logistical challenges of jetting off to a far-flung destination once kids are in the mix can be a turn off.
Fortunately, Australia’s striking landscapes and laid-back nature mean you need not look any further than your own backyard for family travel inspiration. These are just a few of the best holiday ideas for families with young children.
The island break
Living on ‘island time’ may feel like a distant memory of holidays past, but you can recreate the carefree vibe of old with an island holiday that’s tailored to young families. While the very idea of your island sojourn might conjure visions of the Maldives or Tahiti, Australia boasts a number of stunning isles much closer to home.
Hamilton Island has long held firm as one of Australia’s premium travel destinations, and its credentials only strengthen when it comes to holidaying with kids. Sitting pretty in the heart of the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park, Hamilton Island is a postcard-perfect location, ideal for recharging your batteries, all while the little ones run down theirs – in the best possible way.
Go-karting, mini golf, nine-pin bowling and an array of watersports – to name but a few activities – will keep the whole family busy, while the Clownfish Club (Hamilton Island’s childcare centre) is on hand 365 days a year when kid-free moments beckon. Three of the island’s five resorts cater for young children and even include a generous ‘kids stay and eat free’ offer. Sign us up!
The group getaway
You’ve heard the expression ‘safety in numbers’, and that can apply to family holidays, too. More and more Australian destinations have started catering for large groups, making multi-generational family holidays, or holidays with friends, more appealing than ever. Sprawling homes, interconnecting hotel rooms, and side-by-side villas or cabins are all great options, giving big groups space to come together and create treasured memories. A location with plenty of nearby attractions will allow smaller groups to break away and do their own thing, which can help keep potential chaos at bay. Then again, leaning into the chaos could be an adventure all of its own!
For chilled beach vibes, Byron Bay Beach Houses might be up your alley, or perhaps you’d prefer the urban buzz of Sydney or Melbourne, in which case family-friendly hotels such as the Four Seasons, Swissotel Sydney, or Melbourne Marriott Hotel have your back. For the best of both worlds, a luxury villa from Villa Getaways on the Gold Coast has plenty to offer guests young and old.
The snow holiday
Experienced ski bunnies might have their sights on ski destinations such as Japan or Canada, but there is plenty of quality powder to be found locally, too. Of course, skiing’s not an easy skill to pick up, but don’t forget how quickly your offspring learnt to speak, walk and defy your every request. They’ve got this. Plus, many Australian resorts offer childcare and snowsport classes for kids as young as three.
In Victoria, Mt Buller has kid-friendly activities both on and off the slopes. The Buller Air Zone includes trampolines and inflatable climbing walls, while dog sledding is fun for all ages. In Thredbo, a kids-only area includes entertainment and a terrain park, and there’s also a 50-metre heated pool and waterslide. Meanwhile, parents can make a splash with a little après-ski.
The holiday park
Before kids, you might have been wary of the holiday park. But once you enter parenthood and rearrange your priorities, you’ll soon discover these places are, at worst fine, and at best fantastic. Often taking up prime real estate in picturesque locations where nature is king, holiday parks across the country are well equipped to ensure kids and, in turn, their parents, are catered for. Plus, the range of accommodation styles means there is something for everyone, from happy campers to those who prefer creature comforts.
BIG4 is one of the most recognisable names in the business and Easts Beach Holiday Park, nestled on 14 hectares of parkland just a few kilometres from Kiama, in particular, is a sight to behold. With a stunning beachfront location set against a backdrop of rolling hills, it’s the perfect base for young families on a South Coast road trip. The park boasts an epic waterpark, complete with three waterslides, a giant tipping bucket and an ocean-themed splash pad with interactive features, as well as a pool complex, a shaded jumping pillow, a play corner and games room, and an all-important kids’ activity program that runs throughout the school holidays.
The wildlife encounter
Notwithstanding the challenges, the magic of parenthood knows no bounds, and watching your kids’ curious eyes widen with delight must be one of the greatest perks of the job. And there is arguably nowhere more likely to entice such bright-eyed delight than in the animal kingdom.
Nurture your mini-Attenboroughs with a visit to Sea World Resort Gold Coast, where they can get up close and personal with seals, dolphins, polar bears, turtles, penguins and more. Along with unlimited access to Sea World, some package options will also grant you entry to Warner Bros. Movie World, Wet ‘n’ Wild Gold Coast and Paradise Country. Get a peek into farm life at the latter with lambs, foals, calves and piglets among the adorable residents. Proximity to the Gold Coast’s famous beaches makes this a sweet two-for-one holiday option.