By: Marie Nieves
With its majestic national parks, sun-drenched beaches, spectacular mountains, forested valleys, as well as the rich cultural heritage and unique flora and fauna, the Land Down Under definitely merits a visit. When a child-friendly atmosphere is added to the list, what you get is a real heaven on earth.
1. Sydney for Free
We all know that Sydney is brimming with fantastic places for adults, but did you know it also offers the most cost-effective entertainment for kids? With over 100 species of birds alone, Sydney’s Royal Botanic Garden is a great alternative to the zoo. If you happen to be in Sydney on Sunday, the National Gallery of Art organises an amazing kid-friendly programme. To end your day in this majestic city, head to vibrant Darling Harbour and the Circular Quay. Street performers, clowns, balloon-benders and stalls selling ice-cream will turn Sydney into a magical place for your child.
2. Fun on the Gold Coast
Another place where you can maximise family time for free is the Gold Coast. There, you can opt for numerous parks with lots of playground equipment. This way, you can relax and enjoy the fresh air, while your children play outdoors. Some of the best parks in this area are Laguna Park, Washington Waters Southport and Pratten Park. The Rockpools at Southport is another free destination offering a great way for your kids to cool off on a hot summer day. Or you can buy some tickets for DreamWorld and Pipeline Plunge – you won’t regret it!
3. In Search of the Tasmanian Devil
Outside of Hobart City, you will find Hastings Caves & Thermal Springs, an ideal location for a family-friendly outing. Go to the Visitor’s Centre, book a guided tour and enter the beautiful cave full of awe-inspiring stalagmite and stalactite formations. Afterwards, visit the Thermal pool, a naturally heated swimming pool. Your kids will have an adventure of their life in Tasmazia, a maze-inspired theme park specifically designed for younger children. Finally, the Tasmania Zoo is a cherry on top with its kangaroos, koalas, Tasmanian devils and a dinosaur walk track.
4. Incredible Kangaroo Island
Start with Seal Bay Conservation Park, where you can meet a wild colony of 1000 sea lions. Consider the two-hour Seal Bay Twilight Tour, during which you will be 10m away from these beautiful animals and guides will be explain their behaviour. On the next day, visit Flinders Chase National Park. Short walking tours lasting 10-30 minutes are perfect for kids. Your little ones can immerse themselves in the history of the island with the Lighthouse Heritage Walk, or they can watch the colony of fur seals in their natural habitat during the Admirals Arch Walk.
5. The Tropical Capital of Darwin
In Darwin, you will be as close to marine wildlife as you will ever get. The Aquascene with its fish-feeding ritual is a must-see for kids. Crocodylus Park is the best place to meet the largest reptiles on the planet face to face. Finally, the Indo Pacific Marine is a visitor education facility, where your kids can learn about the marine environment. Since Darwin can be really hot, you can always visit Darwin Recreation Park, which is free to use.
6. A Weekend (or more!) in Melbourne
From wildlife parks to interactive museums, Melbourne offers numerous family-friendly activities. Put simply, a weekend won’t be enough for you to explore this bustling city. Instead of spending money on expensive hotels, you can always find flatmates in Australia and share your lodging for several days. First of all, take a guided tour aboard the Polly Woodside, one of most iconic attractions of Melbourne’s South Wharf. For a captivating step back in time, choose the 18th century Cook’s cottage, shipped to Australia from England in 1934. Your children will especially love the cottage garden and volunteers dressed in costumes. When the night falls down, lantern-lit tours at Moonlit Sanctuary Wildlife Conservation Park offer an invaluable experience, where your child can meet the the endangered nocturnal animals of Australia.
7. Snorkelling the Great Barrier Reef & its Islands
Surrounded by shallow water, Green Island and Hamilton Island are perfect for families with young children. You can also try Fitzroy Island, where you will find a turtle rehabilitation centre. As far as family-friendly cruises are concerned, choose one of the following – Reef Magic cruises, Big Cat Green Island cruises or Passions of Paradise cruises, all departing from Cairns.
8. Family Fun in Canberra
Little scientists will love Questacon, the National Science and Technology Centre. Whether they want to fall down the slide, play air hockey with a robot or experience an earthquake, they will have an adventure of their life. You can also take them to the Zone3 and the Pod Playground for a dose of pure fun. The Australian Institute of Sport is not only a collection of sports memorabilia, but a place where your kids can try virtual downhill skiing, football penalty shootouts and rock climbing.
9. KidsFest in the Murray River Region
September is time for the annual Kidsfest in the Murray River Region. Entertaining and educational activities will make your child want to come back the next year. On the other hand, if you plan your holiday in July, consider the INSIDE the BRICK Shepparton LEGO Fan Expo. Your little ones can try to build a car and test their skills at various challenges. During the July school holidays, you can also take your kids to the cupcake decorating classes organised by the Kitchenware Queens.
10. Treasure Hunts & More in Western Australia
Go to Gnomesville to have your children participate in the Treasure Hunt Quest. As far as farm-friendly places are concerned, choose the Ferguson Farmstay, where your kids can feed animals and go for a pony ride. Head to Geographe Bay for an incredible experience of whale watching. And where there are whales, there are dolphins, too, so visit the Dolphin Discovery Centre in Bunbury to swim among these animals.
From the east to the west coast, from the Northern Territory to Tasmania, Australia hides numerous secrets waiting to be discovered by the family!
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