Best Holiday Places in Australia
We’ve all done it – headed off on an exciting family trip to find the destination just plain unsuitable for kids.
So whether you want water parks, native wildlife or safe beaches, try these top family State-by-State holiday destinations:
Best (free) water park holiday – Leanyer Water Park, Leanyer, Darwin, Northern Territory
Forget Wet ‘n’ Wild, Leanyer Water Park rates as one of the best water parks in Australia – because it doesn’t cost a cent. An outdoor playground cum water park, Leanyer has three giant water slides, a large toddler pool and all types of gadgets designed to get you (and them) very wet – kids of every age will love the giant bucket that tips over them from a great height, comical yellow umbrellas with water streaming out, water pistols, water pipes and squirty plastic sprinklers. With plenty of shade, Leanyer Water Park is a welcome respite from the NT heat, especially as you can’t swim in the ocean or local rivers. And did we mention that it’s free?
Best animal spotting holiday – Kangaroo Island, South Australia
Your kids will be wowed by the wildlife on Kangaroo Island, getting to stand just metres from snorting sea lions on a specially built boardwalk. The island is also choc-full of koalas, goannas, echidnas, brushtail possums, swamp rats and bandicoots, along with six species of frog and six species of bat. Phew! In fact, with many animals nocturnal, it’s the perfect excuse to let your kids stay up late (so pack your torch). The beaches are also first rate, with Vivonne Bay declared Australia’s top beach by Sydney University when rated on water clarity and cleanliness. At $5 per person Vivonne Bay camping ground won’t break your budget and there are also rustic log cabins at Western Kangaroo Island Caravan Park where you can watch koalas, kangaroos and wallabies from your verandah.
Best beach holiday – Patonga, New South Wales
If you’re looking for a beach holiday of yore, head to sleepy Patonga, seemingly stuck in 1970s Australia, and beloved for its old-fashioned vibe, almost car-free streets and riverside fun. Timber rental cottages sit on a sandbar, with a creek on one side (perfect for canoeing or fishing on an old tinnie), and calm surf the other. The odd car crawls through the village (meaning ultra safe roads and the uplifting feeling of being able to walk everywhere), doors are left open, kids play on the grass as dusk beckons and feeding the pelicans is the favoured evening activity. Even the trip to Patonga is idyllic, with Sydneysiders driving to Palm Beach in under an hour and catching a ferry to Patonga. Pure bliss.
Best island holiday – Rottnest Island, Western Australia
For a break that combines pristine beaches, quirky wildlife, incidental exercise and the great outdoors, look no further than Rottnest Island, just 18km off the coast of Perth, and a kid-friendly 25 minute ferry trip. You’ll be spoilt for choice on the beach front, with 63 white sandy stretches and 20 bays to choose from (travel guide Explore Australia 2007 voted Rottnest as having Australia’s best patches of sand). Your kids will also love quokka spotting, a cute native marsupial that grazes near pathways in the late afternoon. Oh, and the incidental exercise is because cars aren’t allowed on the island and everyone gets about on bike or on foot. Gotta love an island break that whittles down your waistline too!