Australia is perhaps not the easiest place to get to with a young family if you are traveling from the Northern Hemisphere. Still, long haul journeys are becoming more family friendly – and the effort is more than worth it. Australia has vastly diverse landscapes, yet the majority of the population live in the contemporary beautiful coastal cities and wake to surf, great coffee, and new world culture. Due to the size and sprawl of the country, getting from one point to another can be timely, so plan wisely. Australia has a diverse range of activities to entertain the family: from the Great Barrier Reef, jungle trekking, learning about the aboriginal culture, to camping under the vast outback sky.
Here’s a few of our favorites.
Editor’s note: These spots are all taken directly from travelstoke®, a new app from Matador that connects you with fellow travelers and locals, and helps you build trip itineraries with spots that integrate seamlessly into Google Maps and Uber. Download the app to add any of the spots below directly to your future trips.
Enjoy an afternoon on the water at Sydney Harbour
It’s worth taking a cruise around the harbor but if you are pushed for time, hop the ferry to the northern beaches and you’ll experience the harbor and the suburb of Manly. Before getting onto the water, take a short walk to the botanical gardens and tuck into a picnic lunch.
Located in Cradle Mountain — Lake St. Claire National Park, the mountain of the same name couldn’t look less like somewhere you’d want to lay a baby down. But it is dramatic, craggy, capped with an imposing peak, and begging to be photographed. It’s home to ancient rainforests and a hotbed for unique flora and fauna, including the ever-famous Tasmanian Devil. It’s also the start to a famous six day trek, the Overland Hike, which takes hikers on a Tasmanian alpine trek through the mountains, and includes many sites just as impressive as Cradle Mountain.
While parks, hike, and waterfalls are numerous in Tasmania, so is the coastline. Making a beeline for the ocean is a surefire way to be wholly refreshed, whether the start of end of a long day. It’s easy to catch a sunrise or a sunset depending on which coast you’re near — or both if you’re making good time across the island.
It takes about two hours to reach Leura, Katoomba, and Blackheath — the main bases for exploring the Blue Mountains — from Sydney via the Great Western Highway. Leura’s streets are lined with coffee shops, wine bars, tourist shops, and restaurants.
However, to really experience the Blue Mountains, you should leave the main roads and villages. Govett’s Leap, near Blackheath, is a popular look-out point. From here you have cliff-edge views of Bridal Veil Falls cascading down the bowl and disappearing into the green below.
Taronga zoo offers the chance to camp overnight, wake with the lions, feed giraffes, and hang out with the zoo keepers.
Find Nemo at the Great Barrier Reef
Known as the world’s largest coral-reef system and the most popular diving location on the planet, the Great Barrier Reef is submerged in clear, blue water. Thanks to this clarity, the reef can be seen from space.
Photo: Scott Sporleder
The Great Reef, a natural wonder of the world, stretching more than 1,600 miles is heavily under threat and is dying quickly. You might have your family’s last chance to experience the world’s largest organically formed living structure.
Hit up at least one of the parks on the Gold Coast
Western Australia is five times the area of Texas, but is home to just 2.2 million people. That’s a lot of room to move. Hire a 4WD, pick up a cheap Ford wagon, or climb aboard one of the hop-on-hop-off buses running up and down the coast.
Karijini is a national park 1400 kilometres from Perth. The park is filled with gorges, waterfalls and swimming holes. It is best explored during the cooler months of April through to September.
18kms off the coast of Perth is Rotto. One of the islands inhabitants is the world’s happiest animal, the Quokka. They are very friendly and curious, and will often wander up close to groups of people to see what they are doing.