Transform your whipper snappers from back seat naggers to happy campers with our top five holiday destinations for children.
Turu rounds up some great travel ideas for some family holiday fun in the sun. Build sandcastles, splash about in the shallows or take a walk in the bush. Kids will love these outdoor holiday destinations just as much as the growns ups.
Looking for family-friendly holiday ideas? You have come to the right place.
Explore holiday destinations that the kids will love:
At the small enclave of Coral Bay, the sandy beach sweeps around a low point and shelves gently into a metre or so of water. The fish flash by while coral clumps just a short distance from the beach add colour to the underwater scene.
It’s hard to beat shallow warm protected water alive with fish life to entertain the kids for an hour, a day, or a week. WA’s Coral Coast offers this and much more.
Further north along the coast is Turquoise Bay, well known for its fabulous snorkelling. Generally there is a little bit of a current flowing here which you can use to good effect as it runs parallel to the coast, but the deeper water makes it unsuitable for very young children.
Further off the beach the Ningaloo Reef acts as a barrier to the giant Indian Ocean swells and for those with a boat or enough dollars to go on a dive or snorkel trip there are many more attractions. These include the world-famous and very placid whale sharks.
From Coral Bay you can also snorkel with manta rays (large but harmless) which are generally found close to shore where the surf churns the water ensuring a ready supply of plankton. While a patchwork of sanctuaries and ‘No fishing’ zones lie along this coast there are a number of opportunities for the kids to throw in a line.
Then there’s Yardie Creek to enjoy and explore. In the rugged Cape Range you can easily paddle a canoe on the protected waters or walk along the cliffs spying shy and reclusive rock wallabies.
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This is an adventure playground for kids; a theme park of the natural variety. Any grommet who gets bored here doesn’t have an imagination.
The ‘Prom’, as it’s affectionately known is 200km south-east of Melbourne via Foster on the South Gippsland Highway. It’s been a favourite family holiday destination for many generations of Melbournians, and with good reason.
The main beach of Norman Bay is flanked by beautiful granite headlands and its wide expanse of sand stretches for a few kilometres. It’s perfect for beach cricket and Frisbees, and is considered safe for surfing and swimming. For the youngsters, the gentle shallows of Tidal River are perfect to paddle and splash.
There are kids’ activities aplenty: besides the beach, there are many great walking tracks beginning at Tidal River. The walk to Squeaky Beach with its pure white quartz sand is a favourite. As the name suggests, the sand squeaks under foot which can keep youngsters amused for hours as they stomp around giggling.
Keen young eyes can also spot some of the vast assortment of native birds and animals here, including kangaroos, wallabies, emus, koalas and wombats by day. Spotlighting with a torch at night for more secretive creatures is also great fun.
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Located 42km north of Coffs Harbour, the park features seven distinct camping areas.
Most of the areas have composting pit toilets, drinking water, picnic tables, BBQs and firewood supplied, so you don’t have to worry about the little things. It’s worth checking ahead, because a couple of the campgrounds, like Pebbly Beach and Station Creek require you to bring your own water.
While unpatrolled, there are plenty of beach swimming locations within the park, but the Illaroo and Sandon campground beaches are considered the safest for swimming with children.
There are plenty of canoeing opportunities spread out through the park’s creeks and lakes, and of course there’s the fishing. Around 388 species of animal have been spotted in the park by rangers, so keep your eyes peeled because you never know when a feathertail glider will whiz past or a quoll with scurry through the underbrush.
Remember too that in the summer months there is always the possibility of restricted or total fire bans. When that happens, all the cursing in the world won’t cook your steak dinner, so it's helpful to carry a few cans of Spam or other ‘any-temperature’ dinners in the boot.
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The joined national parks of Wadbilliga and Deua in south-east NSW offer weeks of 4WD touring, but a Bendethera weekend is a great starting point.
Now incorporated into a national park, Bendethera Station was established on the Deua River in the 1880s as a half-way resting place for cattle being driven from the Monaro region south of Canberra to Bega, on the coast.
The former property is located in a fertile valley, but today the well-watered pastures are cropped by kangaroos, not cattle. Remains of the homestead horse yards, bakery and a gravesite are well preserved. The grazing areas and tree-lined river banks make ideal camping spots and there’s room for many visitors.
Bendethera Caves is a limestone cave site that’s accessible via a walking track that starts at the upper end of the property.
Bendethera is situated in Deua National Park, which is no easy 4WD destination, although a return run into Bendethera from Moruya is relatively uncomplicated.
If you’re towing a trailer, softroaders (4WDs without low range) aren’t recommended because some of the grades are very steep and high ground clearance is necessary when negotiating numerous drainage humps on the fire trails and fording several water crossings. Overnight rainfall can lift creek levels rapidly.
For a weekend jaunt from Sydney take in the Dry Creek Fire Trail, Merricumbene Fire Trail, Bendethera Fire Trail and Little Sugarloaf Road. This itinerary takes in only the top half of Deua National Park, but allows plenty of time for relaxing and exploring on the second morning, before starting the return journey to Sydney.
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Long favoured as a holiday destination for Melbournites, the Mornington Peninsula on the east side of Port Phillip Bay has a number of great beaches. Among them is Point Leo on the Westernport Bay side of the peninsula.
It's not really one beach but is divided into several zones, and thus provides a water environment for everyone to enjoy.
Toddlers and weak swimmers can splash about in the sheltered northern part, while surfers from grommets to experienced board riders can find plenty of action on the southern section with its reefs and breaks. A surf school also operates at the beach.
There is plenty to see and do around the peninsula, and in the summer holidays there's a really beachy atmosphere throughout the area. Wineries, restaurants and natural beauty are among the attractions for the grown ups.
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