Are you looking for the best holiday destination in Australia for families? Can’t decide whether to take the kids to one of the gorgeous Aussie beaches, one of the lively cities which have loads of great attractions or perhaps a small town where you can get away from it all? If you need help deciding on where your next family trip will be, then you’re going to love this guide on the best holiday destinations Australia offer.
With the help of some great bloggers, I’ve compiled together this awesome guide on some of the best family holiday destinations in Australia. It includes some of the most popular holiday destinations in Australia such as Melbourne, Cairns and Sydney, some of the best beach holiday destinations including the Sunshine Coast, Port Stephens and Exmouth and the top holiday destinations in Australia where you can get away from it all such as The Grampians, Kakadu or Rottnest Island.
In this best family holiday destinations Australia guide, no matter what sort of travel your family is into, you will find some great suggestions.
- 1 Best holiday destinations in Australia for families
- 1.1 Hobart
- 1.2 The Tarkine
- 1.3 Melbourne
- 1.4 Echuca
- 1.5 Apollo Bay and The Otways
- 1.6 Anglesea
- 1.7 Gippsland
- 1.8 The Grampians
- 1.9 Canberra
- 1.10 Sydney
- 1.11 The Blue Mountains
- 1.12 Port Stephens
- 1.13 Byron Bay
- 1.14 The Gold Coast
- 1.15 Brisbane
- 1.16 Sunshine Coast
- 1.17 Bundaberg
- 1.18 Magnetic Island
- 1.19 Cairns
- 1.20 The Coonawarra
- 1.21 Streaky Bay
- 1.22 Coober Pedy
- 1.23 Alice Springs
- 1.24 Kakadu
- 1.25 Darwin
- 1.26 Perth
- 1.27 Rottnest Island
- 1.28 Kalbarri
- 1.29 Exmouth
- 1.30 Related posts:
Best holiday destinations in Australia for families
Hobart is not just the capital of Tasmania but one of the good holiday destinations in Australia for families. Compared to other Australian cities, the capital is small but it is very scenic and has plenty of great family friendly attractions.
While art museums aren’t always on the top of the list for families, MONA in Hobart is a must see! While mostly an adult museum, there is still plenty for the kids to see including a range of hands on exhibits. It even has an outdoor trampoline which creates music as the kids jump and both the kids and parents will no doubt love the Madoona Room where you can sing along to all your favourite tunes.
A favourite for families is always a trip up Mt Wellington (or just “the Mountain” to locals). Make sure you rug up warm and check that the road is safe if you are visiting in winter. It’s best on a clear day where you can get views all over Hobart and beyond.
Other places to visit in Hobart include the wharf area which has loads of seafood on offer, the historic town of Richmond, Salamanca Market and the Air Walk at Tahune. Also visit one of the wildlife parks such as Bonorong Wildlife Sanctuary so you can see a Tasmanian Devil.
If you’re in town for more than a few days there are also plenty of great day trips from Hobart.
So if you’re after one of the great holiday destinations in Australia, then do yourself a favour and consider Hobart.
Best Accommodation: Sullivans Cove Apartments Click here to see the latest prices.
Contributed by Sharon from Tasmania Explorer.
The ancient rainforests of north-western Tasmania’s Tarkine region (also known by its indigenous name, Takanya) would have to be one of the best family destinations in Australia for the families who love the great outdoors. The Tarkine is the southern hemisphere’s largest remaining tract of cool temperate rainforest. Considering that it’s under constant threat from logging, mining and misuse by visitors, it’s the kind of place you might want your kids to see before it’s gone.
There is no shortage of family-friendly outdoor adventures to be had in the Tarkine. The most accessible activities are centred around Corinna, a solar-powered eco-village perched at the junction of the Pieman and Whyte Rivers. Here you can hire kayaks to explore the rivers and their tributaries, hike the extensive network of trails, or even take a cruise to the mouth of the Pieman River on the Arcadia II – a historic ship crafted from Huon Pine. Wildlife spotting is guaranteed and if fishing is your thing, you’ll be in paradise. Our highlight was the Whyte River Walk – a one-hour circuit trail that takes in some of the most incredible forests I’ve ever experienced.
Corinna Wilderness Experience is the best place to stay in the region, whether it’s in one of their cosy Wilderness Retreat cabins or in the campground near the pub (The Tarkine Hotel). Wherever you stay, make sure you drop into the pub for a cheeky pint or a delicious feed on the deck overlooking the river, or by their fireplace if it’s cold out.
Corinna is accessible by car from both north and south but the northern route is most practical at 3 hours from Devonport or 4 hours from Launceston.
Whether you have younger children or are looking for the best teenage holiday destinations Australia has, the outdoorsy families will love Corinna.
Best Accommodation: Corinna Wilderness Experience Click here to see the latest prices.
Contributed by Niel Fahey from the Bushwalking Blog
Some of the best places to visit with family in Australia are the lively capital cities, like Melbourne. There are so many great attractions for the kids, plus it is easy to get around and there are some great family friendly accommodation options too.
In the centre of the city, there are some great family attractions. Start by checking out Federation Square which always seems to have something going on and then check out the Australian Centre for the Moving Image (currently closed for redevelopment) which has a range of great hands on exhibits for the kids. Also in the city centre is SeaLife, the Melbourne Museum and for a birds eye view of the city take a ride on the Melbourne Star Observation Wheel or go to the 88th floor of the Eureka Skydeck.
The ArtVo Trick Art Museum is always a lot of fun for the kids or even going in search of the colourful murals that are hidden in Melbourne’s narrow laneways. Be sure to stop at one of the many cafes or bars found throughout the laneways for a drink and a sweet treat for the kids. Speaking about food, don’t leave Melbourne without taking the kids to Queen Victoria Markets and try freshly cooked donuts as well as delicious cheeses, meats and more!
If you’re a sporting family, plan your visit so you can go and barrack for your favourite sporting team. Or perhaps you’re a family that enjoys going to the theatre- in which case check what shows are on as there are often some great family friendly productions to see.
If you’ve got more than a few days in Melbourne there are some fun attraction just outside the city centre too. Go to Melbourne Zoo which is home to over 300 different species from all over the world, visit Sceinceworks, Collingwood Children’s Farm or head to Luna Park at St Kilda. If it’s warm bring your togs for a swim at the beach!
In terms of getting around the Melbourne CBD, with the free tram zone it’s super easy. Within the free tram zone, the City Circle trams will take you pretty much anywhere within the city centre completely free of charge. Even if you do need to go further afield the tram system is still really easy to use.
Melbourne would, without a doubt, have to be one of the top ten holiday destinations in Australia for families looking for a city escape.
Best Accommodation: BreakFree on Collins Click here to see the latest prices.
Contributed by Dave from Survey Dave
Our favourite family holiday spot in Australia is on the Murray River at Echuca. Only 215 kilometres from Melbourne and about 2.75 hours drive, Echuca is particularly a great choice of holiday destination in you live in Melbourne.
Echuca has an interesting history. The name “Echuca” is aboriginal and means “meeting of the rivers” as this is the spot where the Murray, the Goulburn and the Campaspe Rivers come together. Being on the Murray, it is also on the state borders of Victoria and New South Wales and in the 1800s, this was an important crossing point which meant plenty of trade and traffic especially during the Gold Rush.
It’s easy to discover the history of this area at the historic Echuca Port area. You can learn all about this time with many interesting exhibits at the Port of Echuca Discovery Centre including an old winch, an old train station and rail vans, sawmill, a blacksmith shop, working steam engines (and a chance to talk to their operators) and more.
Also not to be missed is a ride on one of Echuca’s famous paddlesteamers. Beyond the port itself, there are many more things to do with some low key museums, wineries and kid focused attractions such as TwistED Science science museum and play centres like Gravity Shack. It’s also worth taking a visit to Billabong Ranch which has both indoor and outdoor activities on a huge property. This is especially a good choice for keen horse riders.
If you want a great escape with kids which is easy and laid back with plenty to do and pretty scenery, Echuca is a great choice.
Best Accommodation: Perricoota Vines Retreat. Click here to see the latest prices.
Contributed by Sharon from Everywhere Australia
Apollo Bay and The Otways
When it comes to the top 10 holiday destinations in Australia, Apollo Bay and the surrounding Otways Ranges along Victoria’s Great Ocean Road truly have it all. A long sandy beach perfect for swimming, sunbaking and surfing is located right by Apollo Bay’s town centre. A selection of pubs, cafes, and restaurants along the main strip will keep the family fed while supporting local businesses.
If you are more into nature and hiking, then you’re in luck. The ancient rainforests of The Otways mountain ranges are just a short drive from town. There are countless waterfalls to explore in the region with Hopetoun Falls, Triplet Falls, Beauchamp Falls, and Stevenson’s Falls being a few of the most notable attractions. Walks are relatively short, none more than a few kilometres, making them easy for the entire family to enjoy.
Just a couple of kilometres out of town, Marengo Holiday Park offers some great waterfront accommodation for the whole family at affordable rates – perfect if you’re after cheap holiday destinations in Australia. Fully equipped cabins, powered, and unpowered camping sites are all available.
Apollo Bay is located midway along The Great Ocean Road with The Otways surrounding it virtually all directions. It is approximately 200 kilometres, roughly 2.5 hours drive, from Melbourne making it an easy weekend getaway and a perfect stop as part of a longer road trip.
Contributed by Josh Shephard from Lost in Victoria
Anglesea is one of the best holiday destinations with kids in Australia. Less than one hour from Avalon airport and 1.5 hours from Melbourne, Anglesea is the perfect destination for those wanting an escape from city life. Anglesea is nestled along the famous Great Ocean Road and makes a great overnight stop on your Australian road trip.
On your way to your accommodation, be sure to stop at IGA for some snacks! Families will enjoy the beach, playground and family-friendly restaurants. Anglesea is also home to many wild kangaroos and you are probably going to spot them just by driving around. If you want a guaranteed sighting, book a cheap kangaroo tour at the Anglesea Golf Club.
One of the biggest draws for families is the many family-friendly campgrounds, surrounded by wild kangaroos and nature. The Big 4 Anglesea Holiday Park is a perfect place to stay when visiting with kids. Families can bring their own tent, camper or rent one of the cabins. The park has many family-friendly attractions including an indoor heated pool, multiple playgrounds and activities to entertain kids throughout the day. It’s also a short walk from the beach, making it the perfect place to stay without having to drive anywhere.
If you’re looking for some of the relaxing holiday destinations Australia offers, look no further than Anglesea.
Best Accommodations: Big 4 Anglesea Holiday Park Click here to see the latest prices
Contributed by Maggie Alexander from Milana’s Travels
Mighty mountains, pristine beaches, untamed rivers, delicious food and diversity, Gippsland has it all making it one of the beautiful holiday destinations Australia offers families.
Even though Gippsland has one of the biggest areas in the State of Victoria that covers from the outskirts of Melbourne all the way to the New South Wales border not many people have even heard of it. It is one of the best-kept secrets in the state.
If you’re after one of the best Summer holiday destinations Australia offers, head to the Gippsland beaches. Popular beaches include the 90-mile beach and towns like Seaspray, Loch Sport, Mallacoota and Lakes Entrance to soak up the summer sun in the warmer months.
Alternatively, if you’re after one of the best winter holiday destinations Australia offers, then head to Mt Hotham, Mt Baw Baw and Dinner Plain, which are the go-to for ski lodges and Victorian snow.
For fishing, both freshwater and surf there are so many places you couldn’t name them all but popular places are the Wonangatta River, Snowy River, Cape Conran and Yanakie.
Our high country is one of the best spots for 4 wheels driving and freshwater fishing too. Our cattlemen stories are ones of legend.
Foodies spend their days going from cellar door to pick your own areas to take the loot home to share with friends marvelling at the freshness of what they have bought. Our local wines or beers are just as good.
Heritage towns like Licola, Dargo and Walhalla are also fantastic places to see how wild the Australian bush can be and learn about our Colonial Era.
You can visit places like the Den of Nargun, Wilsons Promontory or the Krowathunkooloong Keeping Place to learn about Gippsland’s first people the Gunaikurnai, the traditional custodians of this land.
Our National Parks are untouched and brimming with wildlife.
It does not matter where you pick to visit Gippsland you will definitely be in for a treat when you do. It certainly is a wonderful option if you’re after one of the best holiday destinations in Australia with kids.
Contributed by Bec Wyld from Travels in Gippsland
The Grampians National Park is one of the great family holiday destinations Australia offers families who enjoy the great outdoors. Spread across hundreds of square kilometres of rolling green forests and rocky mountain ranges there’s plenty to keep kids of all ages entertained.
The main draw is the Grampians’ outstanding natural beauty. Throughout the sprawling national park are numerous hiking trails, spectacular waterfalls, and a number of scenic lakes all waiting to be explored.
There are plenty of easy trails throughout the Grampians that show off the national park’s gorgeous scenery. Just outside Halls Gap are trails to the Venus Baths, the picturesque Splitter Falls and the spectacular MacKenzie Falls.
For the more active the stunning view from the peak of The Pinnacle is a wonderful reward for the steep trek. If you’re travelling with younger kids who are not quite ready for hiking then head to Reeds Lookout and Boroka Lookout for equally magnificent views right next to the roadside.
For kids interested in history The Grampians is also home to a vast array of Aboriginal rock art sites that are around 20,000 years old. Five rock art sites are open to the public and can easily be reached by car.
Cute kangaroos, cockatoos and emus patrol most of Halls Gap and there are even more animals to see at Halls Gap Zoo. The zoo has a huge collection of animals, from cute critters like meerkats, wallabies and a red panda to much wilder beasts, such as cheetahs, bison and a rhino.
The Grampians is an easy three hour drive from Melbourne or five hours from Adelaide. One of the best accommodation options for families is NRMA Halls Gap Holiday Park, which offers a range of cabins and villas plus swimming and paddling pools as well as tennis courts on site.
Best Accommodations: NRMA Halls Gap Holiday Park Click here to see the latest prices.
Contributed by James Davies from Where You’re Between
Canberra is one of the best holiday destinations around Australia for families. An easy 3 hour drive from Sydney, with direct domestic flights from Sydney and Melbourne, and direct international flights from Singapore. You can also arrive via coach from Sydney and Melbourne.
In terms of places to visit in Australia with kids, there is so much to do in Canberra whether you are travelling with a baby and toddler or older children. Top things for families to do in Canberra include hiking the Mount Ainslie Summit Trail, and the bridge to bridge walk around Lake Burley Griffin. Both will offer spectacular views of Canberra.
Questacon, the National and Science Technology Centre, is fantastic for the whole family with over 200 engaging science exhibits across eight interactive galleries, suitable from babies to all ages.
The Australian War Memorial commemorates the sacrifice of those Australians who have died in war or operational service. There are galleries to take you through the two world wars, and other conflicts, as well as a commemorative area.
The National Zoo and Aquarium is a lot of fun with a wide range of animals and sea life to see, and opportunities for close encounters with the animals, including staying overnight in the luxury award-winning Jamala Wildlife Lodge. One of the best attractions of the zoo is the awesome playground, suitable from babies to older children.
The Novotel Hotel is a favourite hotel for families due to its central location in the Canberra CBD, proximity to central tram and bus stops, and the Canberra coach terminal. When visiting Canberra, key attractions are accessible by public transport; a car is a more convenient option. Traffic is fairly good, even in peak hour. Canberra is a great family destination.
Best Accommodation: The Novotel Hotel Click here to see the latest prices.
Contributed by Clara from Petite Capsule
Sydney might not be the first place that pops into mind when you think family holiday. It’s considered an expensive option, and it can be in high season; however, there is lots of free and low-cost family fun to be had here. It also has some stunning beaches making it great for families after Australia beach holiday destinations.
My favourite wallet-friendly things for families to do in Sydney are:
- Walk across the Harbour Bridge and visit the Pylon lookout.
- Visit the Opera House – you can walk right around it, get up close and touch the tiles, there are also exclusive kids tours and performances in school holiday periods.
- Ride the ferry to Manly and then walk around to Shelly Beach, one of the city’s most family-friendly beaches.
- Visit the fantastic playground at Darling Harbour – your kids won’t want to leave.
- Pop into the free Rocks Discovery museum and learn more about Sydney’s history before you wander the areas cobblestone streets.
- Book a free Sydney Greeter – a local who will help your family uncover some of the best, hidden sites.
I highly recommend doing some reading about the Opal Card, Sydney’s public transport scheme. While adults can use credit cards to tap on public transport, kids will need a physical card. These can be picked up at supermarkets and convenience stores. The card itself is free, you only pay for the credit. The biggest benefit is all-day travel on Sunday’s for just $2,70.
When it comes to choosing your accommodation, choose one with outdoor space nearby. Hotels near Hyde Park, Darling Harbour and Barangaroo work best. The Hyde Park Inn has large family rooms at very reasonable rates. The Swissotel has some specially designed child-friendly rooms that include books and toys.
On a longer visit, Airbnb is also plentiful in Sydney. Be sure to find one near public transport. Manly is a top pick and a smooth 30-minute ferry ride to the city. Balmain and Milsons Point are also good choices.
Contributed by Paula Moragan from Sydney Expert
The Blue Mountains
The Blue Mountains is one of the top family holiday destinations in Australia with plenty of family friendly fun activities including spectacular bushwalks, panoramic valley views, magnificent waterfall lookouts, unique scenic ride attractions, a toy museum, the best old fashioned lolly shop, creative galleries, delicious cafes and much more.
Travelling to the Blue Mountains from Sydney is easy whether you want to travel by car, bus or train. It is a comfortable 90 minute drive from Sydney to Katoomba, or a 2 hour train trip from Sydney’s Central Station with trains to the Blue Mountains departing every hour.
I recommend starting your Blue Mountains family holiday with a visit to Echo Point for panoramic views of Jamison Valley and the unique Three Sisters rock formation. Children will be fascinated by the story of the Three Sisters and there are numerous bushwalks of various lengths and degrees of difficulty starting from this location including a walk to the base of the Three Sisters.
Another top attraction for families is visiting Scenic World Blue Mountains. Here you can ride on the world’s steepest incline railway down to the valley and do an easy 2.4 kilometre stroll along a boardwalk exploring the ancient rainforest. The level of difficulty of this walk is suitable for young children.
An awesome way to view Jamison Valley is to glide between the clifftops in the glass-floored Skyway 270 metres above the valley floor. There is also a cable car ride you can take. Scenic World can get very busy with lots of tourists so my best tip is to visit there early in the morning before the day trippers from Sydney arrive.
There are many little villages dotted throughout the Blue Mountains region but my favourite is Leura for leisurely wandering around the shops and finding a cosy cafe for brunching in. Children will love the Candy Shop in Leura which is full of floor to ceiling old fashioned lolly jars with lollies originating from all around the world. Sweet toothed adults will love Josophan’s Fine Chocolates in Leura. There really is no better chocolate store in Australia!
Leura Cascades is also a must see natural attraction that will fascinate the kids.
Any time of year is suitable for visiting the Blue Mountains with different benefits for visiting each season. Beware however that in Winter it does get very cold in the mountains.
There are loads of different accommodation options available depending on your budget and needs. Our family usually stays at The Fairmont Resort in Leura which is very popular with kids due to its KidZone, outdoor and heated indoor pools.
Best Accommodations: Fairmont Resort Click here to see the latest prices
Contributed by Ingrid from Fabulous and Fun Life
Port Stephens in NSW is a fantastic holiday destination for the whole family, and it’s just a three hour drive north of Sydney. There are so many things to do in Port Stephens for families, you’ll have an action packed getaway.
Firstly, Port Stephens Harbour is twice the size of Sydney Harbour and it’s home to at least 165 dolphins. And you can actually go swimming with dolphins, the only place in NSW you can tick off this bucket list item!
So, what else is there to do in Port Stephens for the family? You’ll find the largest sand dunes in the Southern Hemisphere at Stockton Beach Sand Dunes. And, there’s loads of activities to keep the whole family entertained! Expect tours around the dunes, sandboarding, quad biking, camel rides and horse rides along the beach.
There’s also a Toboggan Run at the Toboggan Hill Park, as well as an opportunity to swim with sharks and stingrays at the Irukandji Shark And Ray Centre at Bob’s Farm.
Go on a family hike to the top of Mount Tomaree which has incredible views overlooking the many beaches of Port Stephens. Don’t worry though, it’s not as hard as it looks and kids should be able to make it up there in about 20 minutes or so.
Then spend the day at one of the many beaches to explore in Port Stephens, especially Fingal Bay and Zenith Beach. Best of all, Shoal Bay is a fantastic beach for families because it has flat shallow water for the kids to splash around in.
Eat at Little Nel Café and order the pancakes – you won’t regret it!
And stay at the Ramada Resort by Wyndham in Shoal Bay which is situated right on the beach, complete with a swimming pool.
Best Accommodation: Ramada Resort by Wyndham Click here to see the latest prices.
Contributed by Annie Symonds from Londoner In Sydney
There are dozens of great beach destinations in Australia, but one of the most stunning is Byron Bay. Australia’s most easterly point, Byron Bay is located on the far north coast of New South Wales and is one of the most popular family holiday destinations in Australia.
With the perfect blend of gorgeous beaches, a temperate climate, casual vibe and lush surrounding hinterland, there is plenty to do in Byron Bay with kids.
If you can drag yourself away from the main beach, other great things to do include a walk through the bush up to Cape Byron Lighthouse. With sweeping views back over Wategos Beach and the main beach, it is worth the effort. Keep an eye out for dolphins and whales too.
Older kids will love the chance to take a surf lesson at the iconic Byron beach and everyone will find something to take home at the Community Market held beachside one Sunday a month.
If you have younger kids, a trip to Macadamia Castle animal park is a fun day out. Another great option is The Farm – a working farm with family-friendly tours and a great onsite restaurant.
There are plenty of things to see in the surrounding area too. Take a drive into the surrounding hinterland, explore Minyon Falls, or for the ultimate challenge, take a sunrise hike up Mt Warning.
Byron Bay is accessible from Byron Bay Ballina airport just 20 minutes away and is just one hour from the Gold Coast.
For the ultimate Byron Beach experience, the best place to stay is by the beach. Outrigger Bay is a great option for families – with 2 bedroom apartments, a saltwater pool and walking distance to the beach and town, it is the perfect place to relax.
Best Accommodation: Outrigger Bay Click here to see the latest prices.
Contributed by Rachel Rodda from Coffee Wise
The Gold Coast
After years of holidaying on the Gold Coast, myself, my partner and our two young kids are now lucky enough to call it home! We’re your typical “beach bum” family and you’ll find us strolling along the sand, building sandcastles, or swimming in the surf pretty much every single day (some days even twice).
The Gold Coast is in South East Queensland (aptly named the “sunshine state”) and about an hour’s drive south of Brisbane. The Gold Coast airport is pretty central or there is a direct train from Brisbane airport so it’s super easy to access from pretty much anywhere in Australia. The Gold Coast is a long sprawling beach city with the more touristy Surfers Paradise to the north and some quieter and trendy suburbs to the south.
It’s more than just some of the most beautiful beaches in Australia though. There’s tons of family friendly things to see and do up and down the coast. Take a trip to the theme parks and waterpark with slightly older kids, toddlers will love the Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary, or why not try your hand at learning to surf?!
If you’re looking for somewhere to stay outside of the tourist traps, we love the suburb of Miami where we currently live. The beach here is much less touristy but just as beautiful and there are some real hidden gems like the amazing mini street food market – Miami Marketta.
The Gold Coast is one of the popular December holiday destinations Australia offers, so if you prefer to holiday outside of peak season, do keep this in mind. It can also get particularly hot during the Summer months, so if this doesn’t sound like you, perhaps consider it as one of the best easter holiday destinations in Australia.
Contributed by Sophie Frame –Australian Coffee Lovers
If you are looking for the ultimate family friendly holiday destination offering almost year round perfect weather, outdoor activities and wildlife experiences then head to sunny Brisbane.
Basing yourself in the Brisbane CBD means you will be close to a variety of child friendly activities most within walking distance. Enjoy a coffee in the Brisbane City Botanic Gardens and let the kids run wild on the colourful playground. You can jump aboard a citycat and head along the river to New Farm Park for a picnic and play in the ancient fig trees.
Just across the river from the Brisbane CBD is South Bank Parklands with its man-made beach and lagoon, multi storey playground and Brisbane Wheel. The kids will also enjoy The Queensland Museum with its dinosaur garden and The Gallery of Modern Art, both located just a short walk away from South Bank. Both the museum and gallery offer free entry and feature a range of interactive exhibits designed especially to keep kids engaged and entertained. Finally, depending on the time of your visit, you might also be able to catch a popular kids show at QPAC or QUT Gardens Theatre.
Brisbane has a variety of affordable inner-city accommodation choices with plenty of three-bedroom apartment style hotels for larger families. Recommendations include Arise Soda Apartments, Meriton Suites and Bridgewater Apartments. The Brisbane CBD is only 30 minutes from the airport by rail or by car.
You can get around Brisbane by public transport but your options will open even further if you hire a car. Brisbane is within easy driving distance to several wildlife parks including Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary, Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary and Australia Zoo. The beaches of the Gold Coast and Sunshine Coast are also less than an hour away. If rainforests are more to your liking you can reach Springbrook National Park in just over an hour and explore a heritage listed Gondwana Rainforest.
Brisbane really is the perfect holiday base for families looking for a range of different experiences.
Contributed by Ngaire Stirling from Brisbane Kids
One of the best tropical holiday destinations Australia offers families is the Queensland Sunshine Coast. With it’s laid back vibe, stunning beaches and some great family friendly attractions, it is the perfect place to spend a few days to a few weeks.
The Sunshine Coast has numerous amazing beaches to choose from as a base. There is Caloundra, Mooloolaba, Coolum, Maroochydore and my personal favourite Noosa. Families can choose from beaches with calm water which is perfect for little ones, or surf beaches for those that love the waves.
Steve Irwin’s world famous Australia Zoo is located on the Sunshine Coast and is an awesome day trip for the family. Other popular family friendly attractions on the Sunshine Coast include Sea Life, Aussie World, the Ginger Factory as well as a range of walks through the stunning Sunshine Coast Hinterland.
In my view, the best time to visit the Sunshine Coast is during the Summer months so you can make the most of the beaches. However it does get super hot, so if you don’t do hot weather well, I’d recommend coming in either the Spring or Autumn months. And if you’re not that fussed about swimming, then winter is also the perfect time too.
While the Sunshine Coast does have its own airport, most people arrive in South East Queensland via the Brisbane Airport. From here I recommend you hire a car, as you’ll find it near impossible to get around without a car. Depending upon where you stay on the Sunshine Coast, it’s just a 1-2 hour drive from the Brisbane Airport to the Sunshine Coast.
While I say Noosa is my favourite Sunshine Coast spot, if you’re wanting somewhere with awesome facilities for the kids, I’d recommend you stay at Oaks Caloundra. This place has a huge waterpark and loads of other great facilities for the kids. There are some great places to campsites on the Sunshine Coast as well.
Contributed by Melissa from Queensland Camping
When looking for the best holiday destination in Australia for families you cannot go past Bundaberg in Queensland. Bundaberg is a four hour drive (360km) North of Brisbane and is the gateway to the Southern Great Barrier Reef.
The region would have to have one of the best climates in the world. Hot summers and mild winters welcome families to the Bundaberg beaches for year round sun filled holidays.
While here the kids can swim safely at the Basin in Bargara, sip Bundaberg Ginger Beer at the Bundaberg Barrel or try the glider simulator at the Hinkler Hall of Aviation. There is so much to do and see in Bundaberg. Here is our best choice for the top family things to do in Bundaberg.
Visit the Mon Repos Turtle Centre
Mon Repos Beach is a 15 minute drive from Bundaberg CBD. Each year between November and March the beach becomes the nesting and hatching ground of the largest marine turtle population in the Southern Hemisphere.
The Mon Repos Turtle Centre is a fabulous place for the kids to learn more about turtle conservation and education. Each night during turtle season families can join park rangers on a Turtle Encounter tour. The tour takes you down to the beach to watch for turtles.
It is a fabulous experience, there is nothing more exciting or magical than watching a mother turtle lay her eggs or seeing baby turtles dig their way out of the sand and make their way to the ocean. An adventure that will have the kids’ faces lighting up with wonder.
Where to Stay in Bundaberg
When visiting Bundaberg, the best place to stay is at the beach at Bargara. The Point Resort Bargara has a range of family apartments which are perfect for a beach holiday. The Point Resort Bargara is a 2 minute walk to the family friendly swimming waters of The Basin on Kelly’s Beach.
Contributed by Ros Cuthbertson from Frequent Traveller
If you’re looking to spend a relaxing family holiday in Australia, then Magnetic Island in North Queensland is the place to go.
Townsville is the closest town to Magnetic Island and is serviced by most east-coast air carriers, excepting Tiger Air. By road it is 1335 km north of Brisbane and 347 km south of Cairns and is a stop on the Brisbane to Cairns train line.
Once in Townsville the island is a short 15 minute ferry ride or slightly longer Car/Passenger barge trip away. Both services arrive at Nelly Bay Marina, which has facilities like cafes, supermarket, bus terminal and holiday rentals.
The island bus service is good, but I suggest either bringing your own vehicle or renting one on the island. With a family along it is worth the expense and will take your island experience to another level. Passenger fares are included in the cost of the car barge making it affordable.
There are four major bays to explore all of which have National Park walking tracks. The Forts Walk, which explores forts from WWII is a well known place to find koalas in the wild.
Bungalow Bay backpackers accommodation in Horseshoe Bay has it’s own wildlife park where guests and visitors alike can be photographed holding a koala/baby crocodile.
With mild temperatures and rain unlikely, the Australian winter is a good time to visit Magnetic Island. Marine stingers should be anticipated in Summer, but several bays have stinger nets deployed for summer swimming and most accommodation choices have swimming pools.
An excellent place to eat (May/Oct) is Scallywags pirate themed pop up restaurant opposite Nelly Bay Marina. It’s fun for all the family, in an outdoorsy but undercover space with an in-restaurant playground, theatrical pirate staff and best of all excellent food.
To relax island style I suggest renting a holiday home like Whispering Palms Nelly Bay, which is air-conditioned with a pool and deck.
Pack snorkel and goggles, beach towels and books and prepare to de-stress beach side on Magnetic Island.
Best Accommodations: Bungalow Bay backpackers Click here to see the latest prices
Contributed by Jan Robinson from Budget Travel Talk
Cairns is the destination where the rainforest meets the reef. First on your list should be a relaxing day cruise to Green Island. It’s one of the Natural wonders of the world with white sandy beaches where you can get up close to the marine life with snorkelling or observing in the glass bottom boats. You can also enjoy the island by taking a leisurely rainforest walk.
We like to stay at the Waters Edge apartments in the centre of Cairns. Being right in the centre means there are so many things to do with kids within a short stroll including the local lagoon, aquarium and muddies playground. The pier, night markets, and many fantastic local restaurants are also close by offering a great variety of dining options.
The Kuranda Train and Skyrail tour is a fantastic way to enjoy the rainforest with many different options available. The Kuranda train brings back so many childhood memories for me. It is one of the most breathtaking rail journeys in Australia where you feel immersed in the rainforest. Once up in Kuranda, we casually stroll around the Heritage markets and even make a stop at the Butterfly Sanctuary. If time permits the Tjapukai Aboriginal Cultural Park is a must. To end the day catching the Skyrail from Kuranda to Cairns allows for a different experience into one of the oldest rainforests.
If you have the chance to hire a car just outside of Cairns there are many great places to swim from the pristine beaches that extend from Mission Beach right up to Port Douglas, or freshwater swimming holes located at Crystal Cascade and Babinda Boulders. I also recommend a drive up to explore the Atherton Tablelands.
Keep a lookout as cheap flights are regularly advertised to visit Cairns.
Best Accommodations: Waters Edge Apartments Click here to see the latest prices
Contributed by Daneen Klein from Queensland Camping
The Coonawarra is a remarkable wine region in South Australia, most famous for being the home to Australia’s best cabernet sauvignon. Located halfway between Adelaide and Melbourne, the Coonawarra region is a great location for families to explore.
For wine lovers, be sure to visit some of the great family friendly wineries along the Riddoch Highway; three top picks are Raidis Estate, Brand’s Laira and Bellwether Wines. Raidis has a great cellar door and a fenced in outdoor area, with indoor and outdoor activities for children to enjoy. Brand’s also boast a lovely cellar door, child-friendly dining in Eric’s original cellar, BBQ and picnic area outside for visitors. Bellwether offers rustic charm, set in an old stone shearing shed, on a nice day, it is a great cellar door to taste some wine while the kids run around outside. Alternatively, you can book a family friendly wine tour with local specialists.
The historic town of Penola is the closest town to the Coonawarra cellar doors and is therefore the best place to stay for easy access to all you need. Penola has several eateries, a supermarket, playground, skate park and swimming pool. Sotto Il Noce is a great Airbnb property for a family stay in Penola.
From Penola, you can also visit the Limestone Coast and Naracoorte Caves.
Contributed by Erin Parker, from Love To Travel, Stay-Eat-Do
Sometimes the best family holidays are the ones that take you to a completely different environment. Streaky Bay on the West Coast of South Australia has a fantastic range of family activities in a remote and beautiful part of Australia.
There is no hiding it, getting to Streaky Bay is a bit of a drive. It is 700 kilometres west of Adelaide on South Australia’s Eyre Peninsula. You can get there in a day from Adelaide but that’s a long time in the car. If you want to break the trip up, we like to stop in Whyalla. Our kids love watching the local dolphins follow the fishing boats into the marina.
One of the best things about Streaky Bay is the accommodation. The Streaky Bay Foreshore Caravan Park is right on the water. There is a playground and bouncy pillow but with the protected bay at your doorstep, you will likely be spending a lot of time there.
Besides the well-located park, Streaky is also a great family holiday destination for its many nature play activities. Our family’s top picks are the granite boulders at Murphy’s Haystacks, the blowhole, and Whistle Rock on the Cape Bauer Loop drive and Talia Caves.
Talia Caves is 30 minutes away. It is on the coast and there is a cave you can walk into and some fantastic rocks pools to explore. If your children are confident in the water you can also try swimming with the seals at Baird Bay.
Streaky Bay is a popular spot over summer so book in advance if you are travelling then. Streaky is also a great base for exploring other towns like Venus Bay and Ceduna. If spectacular coastline and beautiful beaches are your thing, this unspoilt location is the ultimate family holiday destination.
Best Accommodation: Streaky Bay Foreshore Caravan Park Click here to see the latest prices
Contributed by Natalie & Steve from Curious Campers
Coober Pedy is an outback town in South Australia which is a popular stop for families on a road trip between Adelaide and Uluru. This town in the middle of the desert, is a fascinating town, particularly given most of the population here live underground. Certainly one of the more unique holiday destinations Australia offers.
Coober Pedy was first put on the map due to the discovery of opals. You can even take the kids fossicking for their own opals which is always a lot of fun. If you don’t get lucky fossicking for opals you can always go and check them out at the Umoona Opal Mine and Museum. Here you can learn about Coober Pedy’s mining history, see an actual mine and walk through an example house.
If you’re planning to spend more than a stopover in town you can also explore the Kanku Breakaways Conservation Park. Across 15,000 hectares you can see the gorgeous sandstone tablelands as well as a range of native flora and fauna. The park is best experienced via tour or you’ll need to get a permit to go exploring yourself.
Before you leave, you’ll also no doubt want to check out some of Coober Pedy’s underground buildings. There are homes, churches even hotels which are underground. When do you ever get the chance to stay in an underground hotel? The kids will no doubt love the novelty of this too.
Best Accommodation: Comfort Inn Click here to see the latest prices.
Contributed by Suzi from Survey Suzi
Alice Springs completely surprised us as a terrific family travel destination. As the regional hub of central Australia, there are many interesting things to do with kids. From exploring the flora and fauna of the Outback to the indigenous culture, to the services in this remote part of the country, you want to make sure you include a few days of your Northern Territory itinerary in Alice.
A great place to start is the Alice Springs Desert Park, a wonderful place to learn about the desert animals that live in this harsh climate. Arrive early to beat the heat and don’t miss the free-flying bird show.
The Alice Springs Telegraph Station is really interesting because it was the birthplace of the Alice Springs township and provided the link for communication between England and Australia. It was what brought European settlement to the area, forever changing the lives of indigenous people in the Outback.
Another fascinating place to visit is the Royal Flying Doctors Service, where you learn about how medical services are delivered to the people of the Outback. There are many interesting artifacts in the tourist facility, but kids will most enjoy getting to board a full-size replica airplane with hospital equipment.
The best time of year to visit Alice Springs is in the spring or autumn when temperatures are more moderate. Summer in Alice brings temperatures into the 40s and winter sees nighttime lows of zero.
Be prepared to encounter poverty in Alice Springs. You can’t help but see evidence of the effects of colonization and the current challenges in the Northern Territory on your visit. I think visiting Alice can be a great opportunity to begin a dialogue with children of any age about these current issues. We did feel perfectly safe in Alice Springs, but visitors should be aware of what they will see when visiting.
Contributed by Dawn from 5 Lost Together
Kakadu National Park is situated around 250km from Darwin in the Northern Territory. It’s worthwhile remembering that Kakadu is remote, so it’s a good idea to take supplies with you, including, insect repellant, water and food if you’re camping. There is a range of accommodation options available from resorts through to free camping and a fully equipped caravan park, but be sure to book ahead. There are also restaurants for eating out.
The road into Kakadu is a major, fully sealed road so it’s easily accessible although some areas within the park do require a 4wd to gain access.
The National Park is vast and there are cultural experiences available, along with walks and information sessions, private tours, self-led tours and so much nature to soak in. Have respect around the water’s edge (crocodiles are lurking, just follow the signs to be safe), there are so many amazing spots to see but here are some top sights to enjoy with kids.
- Mamukala Wetlands on the drive into Kakadu offers a great view of the wetlands and birdlife and is a beautiful introduction into what is to come further on in the park.
- Bowali Visitor Centre: A wealth of information about what to do while you’re in Kakadu as well as advice suited to the current season and climate, with lots of fun things to look at too.
- Ubirr Rock Art Site: One of the greatest attractions and most popular tourist sites in Kakadu. Guided tours are available but the area is beautifully signed to explain Dreamtime teachings relating to the rock art so self-guided tours are great too. A wheelchair-accessible route is also available. Watch the sunset from the top of Nadab Lookout for a truly unforgettable life moment. This is a rocky climb and a high escarpment, we took young children but it’s really important they are well supervised at every moment.
- Yellow Water (Ngurrungurrudjba): Perfect for families to experience the vast wildlife of Kakadu. The Yellow Water Cruise is highly recommended, offering the chance to see crocodiles sunning along the shoreline, birdlife and other wetland fauna and flora. Hear about the history and culture of Kakadu from Indigenous guides for a truly unforgettable experience.
Contributed by Loreena Walsh from Little Aussie Travellers
Darwin is known as the “real” outback Australia! The city is located in the Northern Territory and is home to authentic indigenous culture, crocodiles, stunning national parks, and that laid-back Aussie lifestyle. For families, it’s the perfect place to catch a break from the big cities.
The best part though is that there’s so much to do in and around Darwin to keep the whole family entertained. One of the best activities is the Adelaide River jumping crocs. From the safety of a boat and with a professional guide, you can see these massive creatures in their natural habitat leap from the water. The kids will be able to learn all about the crocodiles in Australia and see first-hand how large they actually are!
Other things to do that are a must include trips to the Litchfield National Park, Kakadu National Park, and Nitmiluk National Park (where the Katherine Gorge is.) All parks are filled with stunning waterfalls, rock formations, and of course, aboriginal culture. Kakadu is actually home to some of Australia’s oldest aboriginal paintings dating back over 40,000 years!
Darwin is an easy city in Australia to explore too. Simply get yourself a great centrally located hotel like Alatai Holiday Apartments, rent a car, and head off and explore. The best part is that you don’t have to do tours in Darwin to see the best attractions. Most of the best things to do in Darwin are free and for families, that’s great to know!
Darwin is a tropical place so they have a wet and dry season. For venturing out to the parks and to avoid the extreme heat and cyclones, you need to visit Darwin during the dry season. This runs from May to October with the best months being June to August.
Flights to Darwin leave from all major cities in Australia, or if you have more time, why not make it a family road trip and rent a campervan or motorhome? This is a great way to explore Australia’s top-end! Regardless of how you choose to get there, Darwin is unlike any other city in Australia and a great holiday destination in Australia for families!
When it comes to getting a true sense of Australia’s ancient history, breathtaking landscape, respect for nature and a deeper understanding of indigenous culture, Kakadu is the place to visit.
Best Accommodation: Alatai Holiday Apartments Click here to see the latest prices
Contributed by Daniel from Destinationless Travel
Perth is one of the best holiday destinations for families in Australia; think year round sunny weather, stunning beaches and plenty to do and see. Combined with the laid back Western Australian attitude, sometimes I think that a trip to the West Coast of Australia is so refreshing it feels like another country.
In Perth you must visit spend a day at the beach; two of the most iconic are Cottlesloe and Scarborough. Alternatively, plan to head out to Rottnest Island for a day trip, to get a selfie with a quokka. Rotto is even better an overnight stay.
There is a range of other exciting things to do in Perth; on the top of the list is Kings Park one of the world’s largest inner city parks. Not only does it has great views of Perth city, Botanic Gardens it has some really awesome playgrounds which kids love. We’d also recommend spending an afternoon around Elizabeth Quay and head to Caversham Wildlife Park.
As Perth is quite a spread out city, I’d hire a car for ease of getting around the varied attractions. Also keep in mind that visits during the Australia summer, from December through February Perth can be scorching hot and you would be grateful to get away from the heat. We like staying at the Scarborough Beach’s Rendezvous Observation City when in Perth.
Contributed by Ariana from World of Travels with Kids
If you’re on the west coast, then Rottnest Island is definitely one of the best family destinations in Western Australia. The adventure starts with the 30-minute ferry trip to this little island paradise off the coast of Perth. Once on the island, you’re greeted to some of Australia’s most incredible beaches, turquoise waters, and coastal scenery.
For kids though, the major drawcard of the island is the quokka. This cute, little marsupial animal that only exists on Rottnest is declared the world’s friendliest animal thanks to its happy demeanour and the countless quokka selfies made famous by the likes of Roger Federer, Chris Hemsworth, and Margot Robbie.
Rottnest Island is car-free which makes it an ideal Australian family destination. Kids will love exploring the island by bike without the hassle of worrying about traffic. Other things to do with kids on Rottnest Island include Aqua World (summer months only), snorkelling the snorkel trails, a trip on the Subsea Explorer as well as the many kid activities that are on offer during the school holidays.
The easiest way to get to Rottnest Island is to take the ferry from the B-Shed in Fremantle. Most ferry companies offer free travel for kids so make sure you check this before you book the tickets. If you’re planning on staying on the island there are several accommodation options for Rottnest Island including self-contained apartments, hotel, and an old fashioned campground. Our top pick though is the family-friendly eco-tents at Discovery Parks Rottnest Island.
Best Accommodation: Discovery Parks Rottnest Island Click here to see the latest prices.
Contributed by Nina from West Australian Explorer
If you venture around 6 hours north of Perth, you’ll find the gorgeous town of Kalbarri. It’s one of the best family holiday destinations in Western Australia, as it has an absolute abundance of things for families to do.
While you can fly to Kalbarri from Perth, most opt for the scenic drive. With a couple of stops to stretch your legs and have a bite to eat, it will normally take you around 7 hours to get there from Perth. Jurien Bay and Geraldton are ideal stops as it’s around 2 hours for each leg of the journey if you stop at them.
Set at the mouth of the Murchison River, Kalbarri has a plethora of water activities to keep young and old busy. Fishing in the river, snorkelling at Blue Holes, kayaking down the Murchison or in the national park, and taking a wildlife cruise along the river are just a few options. Quad bike tours and horse riding on the beach with Big River Ranch are also popular activities.
Venture a little further out of town, and you’ll discover Kalbarri National Park, home to Nature’s Window. This stunning natural rock formation is a must for your Australian bucket list. But get there early to avoid the crowds (and flies!), otherwise you might end up queuing for an hour or longer. There are heaps more places to see in the park so don’t just go here. The Kalbarri Skywalk is opening later this year and promises to deliver spectacular views across the gorges.
We stayed in the Murchison River Caravan Park which was centrally located with super facilities. It’s also across the road from the river and the daily pelican feeding – don’t miss that!
Contributed by Reeva Cutting from Proudly South African in Perth
Exmouth is situated around 1250kms north of Perth on the North West Cape in the Ningaloo region, considered a dream destination in Western Australia and one of the most unique, unspoiled and remote landscapes in the world.
Exmouth is a small town, with good holiday accommodation ranging from luxury, such as Mantaray’s Ningaloo Beach Resort, to budget lodgings and campsites.
It’s mostly known as a great stepping off point for fabulous beaches and the renowned Ningaloo Reef.
The 300km expanse of Ningaloo Reef stretches from Bundegi Reef near the town of Exmouth, north to Carnarvon. It’s one of the world’s closest coral reefs to land, and in some places it’s really near the shore, making it easy to access for families with children.
In some places, you can just step off the rocks or wade into shallow waters, where you can be swimming amongst an amazing variety of marine life and coral.
Exmouth is a great place if you enjoy water activities; fishing, diving, snorkelling, whale watching, surfing, kayaking and most notably swimming with the largest mammals of the ocean – whale sharks. You can book a whale watching cruise and go swimming with whale sharks between March and mid-August.
From June to November humpback whales can be seen travelling along the Ningaloo Coast and the Ningaloo Coast World Heritage Area is a major breeding ground for sea turtles – visit from November to March if you want to see them. But year round you could be snorkelling with loggerhead and hawksbill turtles which are a common sight in the Ningaloo Reef Lagoon.
For anyone not wanting extreme experiences then book a glass bottom boat or eco tour in the area, or find a guided snorkelling excursion.
You’ll find the Ningaloo Visitor Centre conveniently located on the main road into Exmouth where you can book a variety of trips and excursions and find out more about the area.
Best Accommodations: Ningaloo Beach Resort Click here to see the latest prices
Contributed by Johanna Castro from Zigazag
I hope you found this guide to the best holiday destinations in Australia for families helpful. If you’re interested in other Australian destinations check out our review of the Paradise Resort on the Gold Coast here or all about visiting Mount Donna Buang in winter here. You can find all our Australian travel guides here.