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Australians have an easy-going attitude when it comes to travelling with kids, and in most places they are very welcome. Some smaller luxury hotels and upmarket restaurants may stipulate no under-12s, however you’ll find that most attractions, eateries, and lodgings will welcome tiny travellers.
With many beautiful beaches, parks and playgrounds, plus all sorts of wildlife to discover, it can be great fun planning a family holiday vacation in Australia.
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Many people fail to recognise just how big Australia is. If you’re planning a driving holiday, it’s worth double checking the distance, and if you’re flying, keeping an eye on the flight times. A road trip from Perth to Sydney would take over 41 hours, while it takes just under 5 hours to fly. Domestic airlines such as Qantas and Jetstar Airways might be your best bet for interstate travel, and some will offer discounts for children between 2 and 11 years of age. Small infants usually travel free, provided that they can rest on your lap.
Long distance bus travel is not for the faint of heart, nor is long distance train travel. The latter gives you the advantage of sleepers and more freedom of movement, however prices can be steep. Most interstate bus and rail operators offer discounts for under-14s, and on occasion, provide family fare deals. Alternatively, you can hire a car, provided that your license is recognised in Australia. Car rental is reasonably priced, and you also have the option of hiring a campervan or motorhome. Car and van rental companies provide child safety seats at a cost.
Within major cities, metropolitan buses and trains offer discounted child fares. These tickets tend to be half the price of full fare adult passes, and children under 4 can usually travel for free. Make sure you check before boarding, as fines can be costly for using public transport without a ticket or underpaying by selecting the wrong fare class.
Take the stress out of long haul travel with the Kooshion Kit, which can be inflated on the plane and used to create a flat but flexible surface between seats. This creates ample space for your little one to rest on, or even lay flat for a comfortable night's sleep. Created and sold by Kooshy Kids, an Australian owned company which produces innovative travel products for families, the Kooshion Kit is durable, lightweight, and comes with a convenient, waterproof drawstring backpack. Accepted by more than fifty major airlines, the Kooshion Kit is ideal for travel in planes, trains, buses, and cars. To find out more, visit the Kooshy Kids website.
While many hotels, resorts, and motels can and do offer child discounts and babysitting services, you may find it more convenient to stay in a self-catering facility during extended trips. Similarly, hostels tend to be suited more towards backpackers, which is not ideal for young children.
Aside from camping, one of the most economical ways to see more of Australia is through the country’s caravan parks. Most have on-site vans and/or self-contained cabins at reasonable family rates. You can then enjoy the benefits of having your own kitchen, lounge area and television, plus separate bedrooms and laundry facilities.
Children are generally welcome in all cafes, plus most restaurants and pubs. Many will have separate children’s menus. You’ll find various international dining options in all major cities, from British and Italian favourites, to Chinese and Thai cuisine, as well as Mexican eateries and burger joints.
If you’re keen to go to the pub, just be aware that kids are only allowed in the dining section. They won’t be able to enter the bar or gambling sections - for good reason! You can order typical British and local style pub food from 5.00 to 8.00pm. The more modern, bistro style pubs are probably your best bet when you have kids in tow, whereas you’ll need to use best judgement for some of the older, more rowdy establishments.
Most suburbs and country towns have an RSL club (Returned Servicemen’s League), which provides meals on the cheap. The standard menu is pub grub, and the standard clientele is older, or elderly males.
There are ample things to see and do in Australia. Your options are only limited by which states you are visiting and which activities best suit your children’s age group. You can visit parks, beaches, and many nature reserves free of charge, as well as popular landmarks. Museums, and theme parks usually charge entrance fees, alongside tours and river cruises.
The greatest difficulty you’ll experience is deciding where to go. This means juggling distance, money, and time. You could spend weeks driving around the outback, exploring the various national parks, hitting up Australia’s most famous beaches, or book a package holiday to visit all of the country’s must-sees. All of these options will give provide your kids with a thoroughly Australian experience, but you’ll still be left with the feeling of just having scraped the surface of this land.
The country’s biggest natural attractions are the Great Barrier Reef off the coast of Queensland, and Uluru (Ayers Rock) in the Northern Territory. At the same time, the cities such as Sydney and Melbourne are surprisingly cosmopolitan. You’ll find equally as rewarding sights and opportunities by exploring these areas.
Each Australian state has its own capital with its own personality. You could plan your family vacation to Sydney, home to the famous Opera House and the Harbour Bridge, or to the sophisticated cultural capital of Melbourne in Victoria, or even the lively and social hub of Brisbane in Queensland. Though often overlooked in the past, Tasmania is worth the trip across the Bass Strait. Your kids will love exploring the vast tracts of wilderness and wealth of scenery, seeing Australia's unique wildlife, as well as the ever popular weekend food markets.
Our top ten things to do in Australia with kids are:
A visit to Cairns and tropical north Queensland is ideal for families who enjoy sun, sand, and surf. From snorkelling along the Great Barrier Reef to a day trip through the Daintree, it’s an eye-opening and educational experience that offers endless fun. Since it’s warm all year round in northern Queensland, this trip fits in well with the school holiday periods.
You’ll find sun and pristine sea at the Gold Coast’s Surfers Paradise, alongside plenty of theme parks. There’s Dreamworld, Movie World, WhiteWater Word, Sea World, and Wet n’ Wild to keep the kids entertained all holiday long.
Perfect for wildlife encounters, Kangaroo Island is a short flight from Adelaide or a short and scenic ferry ride away from Cape Jervis. You’ll find native wildlife, power soft sand, marine-watching, quad bike and boat tours, and plenty more to keep the kids entertained.
A laid back city break for adults, and the perfect educational escape for children. You can visit the War Memorial, Parliament House, the National Gallery, Questacon, and then grab a bite at the Old Bus Depot Markets. Canberra is also a great getaway during winter months, as it’s close ski resorts like Thredbo and Perisher.
A relaxed coastal escape in New South Wales, you can reach Coffs Harbour by driving from either Sydney, Newcastle, or Brisbane. The kids can encounter sea lions and dolphins at the marine park, and spend the rest of the day playing along the beach.
Why not head over to the big city and visit Australia’s most popular icons? There are always child-friendly activities in Sydney, especially during the school holidays. If you’re travelling around Easter time, the Easter Show is a must visit.
The kids will love visiting one of Australia’s many ski resorts. Alongside Jindabyne, Perisher, and Thredbo, Mount Hotham is a child-friendly resort ideal for anyone travelling from Melbourne. There are family activities planned all year round, with the DP Tube Park being a particular favourite over Easter.
For a trip out of the ordinary, consider renting a car or campervan and driving around Tasmania. Hobart is an ideal starting point, as the city has many historic landmarks, food markets, and spooky ghost tours. You can venture further to see Port Arthur, and then hike through the bushland around Cradle Mountain, Freycinet National, or Tahune Forest.
Alternatively, head inland for a historical and cultural adventure through Kakadu National Park. Start your trip in Darwin and then make your way down to explore the unique outback landscape. It’s warm all year round, but you can take well-deserved pit stop at Leanyer Water Park.
If you’re planning to see more of Western Australia, Rottnest Island makes for a great family-friendly adventure. It’s teeming with marine life and water activities, so the kids can splash around at one of the 65 pristine beaches, or hop in a kayak and paddle along the shoreline
If you’re eager to find out more about family travel in Australia, why not hear from those that have already visited? There are plenty of parenting blogs out there about travelling around Australia with kids, however our favourites are Little Aussie Travellers, Caravanning with Kids, and yTravel. Find out more about their trips to Oz, and the activities they recommended for kids, by clicking on the links. Expert advice is only a page away.
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We are Jacob and Taylor. Travel is our passion and we love sharing our experiences here at The Travelling Souk. Our hope is that you would be inspired by this little blog to try something new, embrace an adventure, and live life to the fullest.