At Our Whole Village, we plan meaningful vacations for families who want to create lifelong memories and show their kids the world in a more conscious and intentional manner.
We help families take meaningful vacations so that they can escape everyday life, show their kids the world and make lifelong memories - with care, confidence and peace of mind.
Your (free) guide to the top travel destinations for families with babies, teens and everyone in between.
Nothing beats a trip “Down Under” to explore one of the most rugged, beautiful, and mystical lands on the planet. Australia is both a nation and continent, and you might be surprised to learn that its landmass easily rivals that of the United States’ lower 48. In fact, Australia remains just 27 percent smaller, making it the largest island in the world. Another thing you might not know about Australia is that the nation includes the island of Tasmania as well as a handful of other smaller islands, including the Whitsundays.
We recommend setting aside two weeks for your Australia with kids itinerary, providing you with a chance to savor the nation and its diverse geographies and activities. Australia is a center for countless fun: surfing, snorkeling, hiking, biking, wildlife observation, and so much more.
Keep reading for everything you need to know to make the most of your next family vacation.
After you’ve blocked out how much time you can spend on your Aussie vacation, it’s time to decide the number of moves you feel comfortable making. This will depend on the ages of your children as well as your preferred travel style.
Next, make a list of your top must-see destinations. This will likely include an exciting combination of sophisticated cities, rugged outback adventures, and downtime along Australia’s world-renowned coastline.
Fortunately, you can work beach, bush, and city into the same vacation with ease. We recommend doing this by making Sydney, the Great Barrier Reef, and the Outback or bushland the pillars around which you structure your itinerary.
While this approach will provide you with optimal chances to explore three sides of Australia’s character, it’s an approach that requires more travel and less leisure time. So, you’ll want to discuss your perfect family travel pace with a trusted travel advisor before finalizing plans.
When it comes to the Outback versus “the bush,” you’ll want to know the difference before you start planning your vacation. While the Outback refers to the most remote areas of the “Land Down Under,” the bush describes Australia’s hinterlands, just removed from the heavily populated coastal regions.
The bush encompasses incredible biodiversity, from idyllic countryside to lush rainforests, and towering mountain ranges. As a result, it makes for a fantastic way to see the wild side of Australia without the inconveniences of heading into the Outback. That said, if you’re jonesing to see Uluru, the Outback is the better option.
Sydney’s waterfront invites families to head out on water-based adventures. That said, choose your experience wisely. Many of Sydney Harbor cruises last for two or more hours, which can lead to antsy kids. But you can enjoy the best of both worlds by taking the Circular Quay ferry to Manly, a half-hour long trip.
On Manly, explore three beautiful beaches: the main surf beach, the small harbor beach, and Shelley Beach. Shelley Beach sits at the end of a short though stunning walk from the southern end of Manly. After exploring the beach options, Hugo is the perfect location to catch a meal and do a little window shopping. Many of Hugo’s delicious restaurants overlook the wharf, inviting your family to watch the ferries go by as you savor a family meal.
Sydney comes with many incredible ways to experience Aussie culture. Must-see activities include checking out the iconic Sydney Opera House, a surprisingly kid-friendly attraction. Your family will enjoy snapping pictures and selfies in front of this world-recognized building, which sits on the banks of Sydney Harbor. One of the most distinctive and famous architectural feats on the planet, the building was inaugurated and opened by Queen Elizabeth II in October of 1973.
It occupies all of Bennelong Point, between Sydney Cove and Farm Cove, and sits next to the central business district. The Opera House includes multiple performance venues and offers 1,500 performances per year, attracting 1.2 million attendees. In 2007, UNESCO named the Opera House a World Heritage Site, and it was a finalist in the New 7 Wonders of the World campaign, too.
But how do you make your visit family-friendly? The Sydney Opera House schedules regular “Kids at the House” performances to help families make the most of their visit. Visit the Opera House’s website and calendar where you can check “Kids & Families” to find the best upcoming programs for your crew. You’ll get to see the Sydney Opera House in action while making memorable family experiences.
After checking out the Opera House, walk next door to the Royal Botanic Gardens. These incredible grounds will leave you and your kids in wonder. The gardens feature Australia’s indigenous plants and trees along with Australian White Ibises, which freely roam the grounds. In the trees, scope out sleeping fruit bats, snuggled up until evening when they rouse to head out hunting.
The gardens are also an excellent place for kids to run around and blow off a little steam before moving on to your next adventure. The Royal Botanic Gardens offer regular tours that vary by season. Some are geared specifically to school-aged children and others cover themes such as nature therapy, Aboriginal bush tours, and various holiday specials throughout the year.
Be sure to visit their website before making your trip. That way, you can take full advantage of everything this incredible place has to offer. Their team of experienced educators will ensure your family’s visit is both educational and memorable, highlighting spectacular exhibitions such as The Calyx.
For families who decide the Outback is a must, make Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park your next stop after Sydney. A three-hour flight will bring you to the Northern Territory where you’ll head out on an excursion to see Uluru (a.k.a. Ayers Rock). The celebrated red monolith rises 1,142 feet from the desert plains below and measures 5.8 miles in circumference.
It has acted as a significant landmark to Aboriginal people, particularly the local Pitjantjatjara tribe, and been visited since time immemorial. They believe this sacred site was carved by ancestral beings during the mythical Dreamtime. Due to its religious significance, visitors are not permitted to climb Uluru. Yet, you’ll still enjoy a breathtaking experience, walking the same pathways Aboriginal ancestors once did.
For families that prefer to stick closer to the comforts of bigger cities while still getting a taste for rural Australia, the Blue Mountains are your go-to destination. A two-hour drive from Sydney, the Blue Mountains are a UNESCO World Heritage Site you won’t want to miss. The Blue Mountains are characterized by soaring sandstone ridges surrounded by blankets of native bushland.
Walking tracks abound, affording you access to craggy cliffs and scenic emerald valleys. Depending on the time of day, the landscapes of this region may be veiled in a sea of clouds or glowing in graduated shades of amber and copper at sunset. At dusk, head outdoors to look for fireflies and glow worms. You’ll see fireflies in various locations throughout the Blue Mountains, but the best place hands-down is Mt. Wilson, especially in Cathedral Reserve near the creek line. As for glow worms, they can be a little tougher to find. They live in tunnels and caves, but if you’re lucky, you may also see them on rock walls located near waterfalls. Glow worms use sticky drops of liquid to craft web-like threads and then use their bioluminescent rear ends to attract insect prey to them to these “webs.”
One of the highlights of the Blue Mountains remains hopping on the Scenic Railway, the steepest incline railway in the world. And you won’t want to miss out on the Scenic Skyway, which contains a sky tram with a glass bottom, providing unbelievable views of Jamison Valley, Wentworth Falls, and the Three Sisters.
As you’ve probably already noticed, Australia contains plenty of UNESCO World Heritage Sites, and they all prove stunning and unique in their own rights. Another worth checking off also gives you an inside glimpse into Australia’s rainforests. In fact, Daintree Rainforest boasts the oldest rainforest on the globe! How old is it? According to scientists, the forest dates to more than 135 million years ago. Located in North Queensland, it’s also the biggest rainforest in Australia, measuring 460 square miles and welcoming many species of plants and animals not found in any other location in the world.
Start your exploration of this magical location at the Daintree Discovery Center where you and your kids will learn about the region. The Center contains elevated boardwalks and scenic views of the canopy tower that will take your breath away. If you decide to lodge in Port Douglas, put the Wildlife Habitat at the top of your list. Not only does this location let you scope out koalas, kangaroos, and colorful birds in their natural habitat, but you can enjoy breakfast while doing so.
The family adventures don’t end there. Depending on the ages and interests of your children, consider a tour that includes horseback riding, off-roading, or ziplining. For some of the best views the area affords, consider a river cruise on the Daintree River. Keep your eyes peeled for kingfishers, great-billed herons, cassowaries, possums, tree kangaroos, and goannas. The banks of the river and mangroves also offer refuge to saltwater crocodiles.
A visit to Daintree Rainforest puts you in the ideal vicinity to check out the Great Barrier Reef.
Two communities provide access to the islands: Cairns and Port Douglas. Both are excellent stop-off points although Port Douglas is distinguished by its more laidback vibe and thinner crowds. Both destinations represent gateways to the Whitsunday Islands.
This breathtaking group of islands are accessible via boat launches and infrequent flights and are well worth the added travel effort. Work with a travel advisor to find the most expedient route to the Whitsunday Islands and the best deals for local kid-friendly resorts. The Whitsundays contain white sand beaches and incredible resorts near the reef. Activities abound, from kayaking to snorkeling, sailing, and scuba diving.
Families on the go will especially love the kid-friendly island resorts of Daydream and Hamilton, where you’ll have your pick of hotels, restaurants, and pools. Hamilton Island also has its own airport and marina. Daily cruises transport visitors to the reef where watersports abound. Daydream Island is another fantastic option that has a living reef within its grounds. This means you’ll enjoy daily access to stingray, shark, and fish feeding sessions conducted by marine biologists.
On a trip to Australia with kids, you’ll never run out of memorable and engaging activities, whether you opt for a snorkeling adventure to the Great Barrier Reef, catching a family-friendly show at Sydney Opera House, or saving breakfast in the Daintree Rainforest. In Australia, enjoy opportunities to explore different cultures, learn about history, interact with locals, and get to know the “Land Down Under.” We can help you create the perfect travel itinerary for your family.
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