Nothing owns the description “once in a lifetime” like a family vacation to Australia.
Australia – Family Vacation Guide
It’s an immense country with every climate from Mediterranean to dry desert, many of the world’s last true wilderness landscapes and vast stretches of completely empty space.
Dipping into the outback with older kids is a thrilling experience, younger children will probably prefer beachy cities and smaller national parks.
But wherever you’re going and however long you’re staying, this is one family adventure that definitely needs a clear plan from the very start.
Room to Explore
The world’s sixth largest country with a population of only 24 million in an area of almost 5,000,000 miles².
December, January and February are the hottest months of the year with temperatures in Sydney in the high 70s.
Australia has been inhabited for over 50,000 years making its living indigenous culture the oldest on earth.
Over 15,000 miles of coastline with several of the world’s top 20 most beautiful beaches including: Rainbow Beach, Queensland; Whitehaven Beach, Whitsunday Island; Margaret River, Western Australia.
More than 4 million Australians live in Sydney alone, it’s one of the world’s most multi-cultural cities and ranks in the top 10 most liveable.
World-Famous Natural Beauty
Australia has 500 National Parks, 19 World Heritage sites, 28 million hectares of protected land and Wallandra Lakes in New South Wales is the country’s indigenous core dating back more than 40,000 years.
The "Red Centre"
Uluru sits in the Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park in Northern Territory, the most deserted Australian state.
Variety of Family Accommodations
From stunning beach resorts and city centre luxury hotels in Sydney to guesthouses in Alice Springs, Australia has family holiday accommodation of every type, there’s even a subterranean motel at Cobber Pedy in Southern Australia where above ground temperatures in February can rise to over 100 degrees.
Where to Go
Sydney’s the capital of New South Wales, the temperate southern state which dates its history of human habitation back over 40,000 years. The most visited city in Australia and great fun for kids, it’s packed with iconic sights from the famous Opera House to Bondi Beach and a good base for visiting the Blue Mountains, exploring Botany Bay or just staying put for the zoos, aquariums, wildlife parks, museums, galleries and some of the country’s best surf schools.
New South Wales is the state for: Mungo National Park, Wallandra Lakes, Byron Bay, the New England Highway and Hunter Valley vineyards.
In Sydney don’t miss: Darling Harbour, Featherdale Wildlife Park, Sydney Aquarium, Luna Park and the Australian Museum.
Visit in winter for sunshine and Sydney’s legendary New Year celebrations.
Sunny Queensland is home to the Great Barrier Reef and Australia’s holiday heartland, the Gold Coast. The capital, Brisbane, is the country’s third largest city and one of the friendliest with a laid-back beachy atmosphere, lots of green space and some of the most spectacular national parks within driving distance.
Queensland is the state for: sub-tropical D’Aguilar National Park, Mount Tamborine, Moogerah Peaks, Gondwana rainforest and Elebana Falls.
Islands are a great Queensland adventure: try neighbouring Moreton Island and North Stradbroke (known as My Mother Earth by the Quandamooka people).
Brisbane Greeters will take you on a three hour themed tour of the city for free – several kid-friendly themes to choose from.
Average temperatures of 70˚F from November to April.
The largest Australian state is also the driest, least populated and where to explore bits of the outback with older kids. The coastline here is wildly beautiful and the climate from north to south varies from tropical to temperate. The state capital, Perth, is in the south where beaches rule. Base a holiday here and you’re within reach of Margaret River and some of the country’s best water sports and wildest national parks.
Western Australia is almost the same size as India and the state for: Broome Port, outback road trips, the lush wilderness of Denmark and iconic wine trails on the south coast.
December to March temperatures upwards of 80˚F in Perth.
The dramatic state where you’ll find Uluru, Alice Springs and a 2000km highway from north to south. The capital, Darwin, is closer to Indonesia than Sydney, sits on the Timor Sea and is Australia’s only tropical city.
Northern Territory is where the Flying Doctor’s service was founded.
It’s the state for: Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park, Litchfield National Park, the Tiwi Islands and the nearly 300,000-miles² Katherine Region.
The Ghan train crosses Northern Territory from end to end and is one of the world’s greatest rail journeys – if you’re really keen, you can climb aboard in Adelaide.
Year round temperatures in Darwin are between 80 to 95˚F.
Pleasant and mild Adelaide on the coast couldn’t be more different from the rugged interior of South Australia. No surprise to find that the outback here is famed for opal mines and enormous stretches of sand. Stick to the seaside and it’s the state for Barossa vineyards, beaches and pretty islands. Head inland for grand national parks and indigenous heritage.
South Australia’s the state for: the Sands of Coorong, Nullarbor Plain, Dalhousie Hot Springs and Flinders Ranges.
Temperatures inland can reach over 100˚F in February, a complete contrast to Adelaide’s year-round Mediterranean climate.
What to Do
Wet ‘n’ Wild, Brisbane
Queensland’s Gold Coast is theme-park heaven for kids and this is one of the most amazing waterparks.
Australia Zoo, Queensland
In a country filled with astonishing wildlife parks, Steve Irwin’s Australia Zoo stands out for its ongoing commitment to conservation.
Sydney Sea Life Aquarium
Even if kids go no further than the city boundaries, Sydney’s fabulous aquarium brings every Australian underwater creature to them.
Wallandra Lakes, New South Wales
The ancient heartland of Australia’s native people where history spans 50,000 years of human habitation.
Valley of the Giants, Western Australia
A vast 600m walk around the tops of prehistoric looking Tingle Trees – part of the remarkable Walpole Wilderness Area.
Kamay Botany Bay, Sydney
Botany Bay is where Captain Cooke first made landfall in Australia, now a fantastic coastal national park not far from the centre of Sydney.
Australian Museum, Sydney
Australia’s first natural history museum is a good place to start exploring the country’s unique environment and the world’s oldest living indigenous culture.
Luna Park, Sydney
A fun theme park close to Sydney Harbour Bridge – the views from the top of the Ferris Wheel are sensational.
One of the country’s most exciting Aboriginal arts centres with a year-round programme of exhibitions, theatre and performance.
Holmes Jungle Nature Park, Darwin
Australia has some of the world’s oldest tropical rainforest, this accessible park on the edge of Darwin is wonderful for wildlife, birds and spectacular vegetation.
Educational Value for kids
Uluru isn’t a day-trip but it is unforgettable with older kids and can be seen as part of a tour. If the operator is offering an opportunity to walk on Uluru, move on. This is a sacred site and climbing the rock is both disrespectful and potentially dangerous.
Australia’s 500 national parks are each an entire holiday in themselves and most have excellent educational resources for kids.
This is surfing country and there isn’t a coast without water sports and qualified instructors.
Huge Australia is covered in railway tracks and has some of earth’s greatest journeys, both short and very, very long.
Look out for free guided city tours in the state capitals, they’re entertaining, informative and many are designed just for kids.
Visit the Darling Quarter in Sydney where younger kids can run wild in the playground and older ones can enjoy everything from art classes to local theatre.
The more kids know about what to expect, the more fun they’ll have, so get to grips with whichever part of this immense country you’re visiting before you head off.
Getting Around with Kids in Australia
It goes without saying, Australia’s enormous. Planes here are used like buses and flights across every state are frequent and reasonably priced. If you want to explore outside cities, a car is essential: be aware of exact distances, road conditions and weather before you leave. Thousands of family tour packages are available to explore more remote regions, national parks and places like the Great Barrier Reef and Uluru. Don’t drive in cities if you can help it, public transport is always a better option.