For many parents with newborns, the thought of going on holiday is enough to stress them out. Planning a trip with a baby can often feel like a hindrance, leading many parents to avoid or cancel plans altogether. But, you don’t have to wait until your child turns 18 years of age before you can go on a holiday!
Although there is a little more planning to carry out than if you didn’t have a baby, having a successful and enjoyable family holiday is possible. Many airlines are very family-friendly and often have special measures in place such as welcome packs for kids, play areas in lounges, and child-friendly family first check-ins.
If you’re thinking of travelling domestically, there are many locations across Australia that have realised that catering to the needs of families is a win-win situation for everyone. Before you give up planning a family holiday with a baby completely, consider some of these great destinations that are child-friendly.
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Located on the Pacific Highway almost halfway between Sydney and Brisbane lies the small beach town of Coffs Harbour. The area has grown in recent years and development has improved to cater for families on holidays. Coffs Harbour is home to The Big Banana, which now features a number of activities such as ice skating, mini golf, toboggan rides, and a large water park.
For something a little more laid-back, Dolphin Marine Magic is a fantastic place for the kids to enjoy seeing dolphins, seals and other marine life up close. Young children can learn more about marine life and parents with babies can sit and enjoy the marine show. You can also get a kiss from a dolphin or seal before the show. Or for something a little more low key, spend the morning inside an indoor subtropical rainforest at the Butterfly House.
There is a wide range of accommodation options across the Coffs Coast. There are a number of large resorts in Coffs Harbour that all have their own list of facilities on site. But, you may also want to consider a holiday rental option in the area of Sawtell. Sawtell is less than a 15-minute drive from the centre of Coffs Harbour and is home to beautiful beaches and family-friendly cafes and restaurants. Sawtells’ main street also boasts boutique shops and the Sawtell R.S.L Club. If you’re not visiting The Big Banana or any of the other great attractions in Coffs Harbour, you can also take a break and relax on the many stunning beaches the area has to offer.
It’s a highly popular tourist destination and for good reason. The Gold Coast has plenty to offer, especially to families. Without a doubt, one of the biggest reasons families visit the Gold Coast is for the theme parks – Dreamworld, Sea World, Movie World, Wet ‘n’ Wild and WhiteWater World.
Each theme park has a different feel so some will be more appropriate than others depending on the age of your children. Dreamworld is great for older kids and teenagers. There are a number of thrill rides to keep them happy, but there are also some great areas for younger children. The Tiger Island experience allows families to see tigers up close and the ABC Kids World is great for toddlers to meet Giggle and Hoot and other ABC characters.
Sea World is home to many rides, as well as the opportunity to see marine life. Younger children will enjoy meeting and greeting their favourite Nickelodeon characters at Nickelodeon Land. For a relaxing change, be sure to watch the polar bears via underwater viewing windows as they swim gracefully and play.
Movie World has many thrill rides for older children and adults but is also a wonderful place to visit to get up close and personal with Superman, Scooby-Doo or even Marilyn Monroe.
Both Wet ‘n’ Wild and WhiteWater World offer the latest and greatest in water-park fun. With huge slides, pools and thrill rides, they’re both excellent parks to visit on a hot day on the Gold Coast. There are also smaller paddling pools for young children to enjoy the water with parents.
There is a huge amount of accommodation options on the Gold Coast, including theme park options. Due to popularity, it’s advised to book as early as possible to avoid disappointment. If possible, visit the Gold Coast outside of school holiday periods. These times often mean extremely long wait times for rides at the theme parks, higher accommodation costs and the need to pre-book a lot of activities (as they are all booked early by other holidaymakers). There is a lot to see and do on the Gold Coast, including the famous beach, Surfers Paradise, which is a definite must-see if heading here.
Phillip Island is a wonderful place for the whole family to visit. Whether you want a lot to do or you want to sit back and relax, it’s all possible here.
One of the most popular attractions on Phillip Island is the nightly penguin parade. Hundreds of small penguins come in from the surf and make their way up to the sand dunes every evening. From the viewing stands and boardwalks, you can watch the penguins in their natural habitat. For a closer experience, you can see the penguin parade from the world-first underground viewing facility. This area gives you the chance to see the penguins at eye level and the area is limited to only 70 people. It’s also an ideal place to view the parade as it is out of the elements and the family can watch in comfort.
If you love animals and want to see more, Phillip Island is also home to the Koala Conservation Centre. It is home to unique treetop boardwalks so you can almost be face-to-face with koalas as they sit in the Eucalyptus trees. If you’re keen to learn more about koalas, you can opt to take part in a ranger-led ‘Koala Eco-Explorer Tour’, which gives you and your family further insight into these beautiful creatures.
There’s a wide range of accommodation options, whether you’re looking to indulge in a bit of luxury or you’re watching your wallet a little closer. There are self-contained apartment options or resort options, which may be perfect for a family holiday.
Taking a short flight from Adelaide or a ferry from Cape Jervis and you find yourself at the stunning location of Kangaroo Island. Known for its incredible wildlife, remote landscapes and picturesque beaches, families love spending time here.
For the parents, it’s home to some of the best food and wine in the country. There are a number of cellar doors to visit, but you can experience some of the amazing local produce at many restaurants and cafes. The fresh and tasty foods and wines will certainly have you coming back for more. Head to Reflections Restaurant for a dining experience that is complemented by a wide range of Kangaroo Island wines, beers and spirits.
Older kids will enjoy the many adventures to be had here. Quad bike tours are a big favourite with children and they get the opportunity to see some wonderful landscapes, as well as koalas, goannas and echidnas. For a slower-paced activity, there are plenty of hikes, walks, and sights to see. Whether you prefer a guided hike or just want to stroll along a beach with the family, it can all be done here.
There are many accommodation options, but for a home-away-from-home with a touch of luxury, Kangaroo Beach Lodges are the perfect option. These family-friendly lodges have large family and dining areas and are designed specifically so guests can get unobstructed views of Kangaroo Beach cove where you can take in the cliffs, white sands and clear blue waters. When the kids are asleep, the lodge makes for a perfect romantic getaway.
By car, Denmark is approximately four and a half hours from Perth. For a family with a baby or young children, this may be a hard task to get through. In order to get to Denmark quicker and to avoid lengthy car trips, flights from Perth to Albany airport are available daily. From Albany, Denmark is a 40-minute drive, making it a lot easier on your baby or young children. Once you’re there, you will have plenty to see and do as a family.
There are great cycle trails around Denmark to keep the family busy, as well as a number of playgrounds around the centre of town to keep the kids happy. But, if you’re a bit of a nature lover, between May and December it is whale watching season. There are a number of tours that can take you and the family out on the water to see the magnificent whales in their natural habitat.
There are also a number of attractions to visit such as Denmark Dinosaur World and Valley of the Giants Tree Top Walk. Denmark Dinosaur World is home to permanent dinosaur skeleton exhibitions, including the only T-Rex in Australia. Here, kids can learn more about their favourite dinosaurs and experience a hands-on adventure that will have them talking about it for months.
The Valley of the Giants Tree Top Walk is a suspension bridge towering 40 metres above the tingle tree foliage. There are free guided tours every day and you can experience and see the wonderful landscape from a whole new perspective here.
Whether it’s a family trip or not, seeing Uluru in person is a must-do on everyone’s list. There are many flights available if driving isn’t a viable option for your young family. Once you arrive, car hire is the best way to get around and discover Uluru at your own pace. There are a number of car rental operations so there shouldn’t be any issues if booked in advance.
There are a number of ways to experience Uluru such as guided base walks, sunrise and sunset viewings or even take to the sky for an air adventure and see Uluru from a whole new perspective. Families can also enjoy Family Astro Tours that take place after sunset. The outback sky is a fantastic place to explore the stars and this astronomy tour is both interesting and exciting for people of all ages. Best of all, children 15 years and under are free.
The best place to stay if discovering Uluru is at Ayers Rock Resort. Located in the township of Yulara, approximately 910 staff run the resort. The resort has worked hard to source water and generate electricity locally and it has now helped Yulara to grow and become the fourth largest town in the Northern Territory. If visiting with young children, the resort runs a daycare centre so there is an opportunity for parents to have some child-free time.
Tasmania in general is often forgotten about when families think and plan for an Australian holiday. But, Tasmania and therefore Hobart, make a great holiday option for those looking for a change of pace and scenery. Taking it slow is the name of the game here and you will be able to find more time for your baby and exploring places in your own time.
A lot of attractions in and around Hobart are nature-based experiences, meaning your baby can see wildlife up close as well as getting some fresh air. Bonorong Wildlife Sanctuary is the perfect place for this. Here, you can see kangaroos, Tasmanian devils, wombats, koalas, and a number of other beautiful wildlife. Or, take a drive up Mount Wellington for 360 degree views of Hobart and the eastern coast of Tasmania. Make sure you don’t miss the Salamanca Markets where there is plenty of food, produce, craft and local wares to buy – it’s pram friendly!
It may seem daunting, but with the right planning and the right choice of location, you’ll be having a wonderful family holiday. Another aspect of the family holiday that often leaves parents anxious is the thought of packing all the right things. Of course, packing almost everything means you’re prepared, but you don’t want to pack more than you need as you may have weight restrictions if you’re flying to your destination.