Australia family holidays
Treat the family to an adventure Down Under
HomeAway travel expert
The lure of Australia isn't difficult to fathom. Large swathes of unspoiled terrain, rugged outback, trendy cosmopolitan cities, unforgettable national parks, and endless stretches of coastline provide just a few of the reasons holidaymakers return Down Under year after year. And without a language barrier to overcome, it makes an optimal destination for the whole family. Under the wide-open skies, in the searing heat, you’ll find there’s plenty to do: from festivals and events to treks, tours, and watersports. If you like the idea of exploring a tropical rainforest, spotting kangaroos on a drive through the dusty frontier, or relaxing on a beach in the dreamy Whitsunday Islands, you’ll find Australia ticks all the right boxes.
Australia is a distinctive land. While its cities are thoroughly modern, offering innumerable options for dining and culture, much of the country is composed of remote landscapes; expansive, red sandstone frontiers, dense bushland, granite ridges, and buttongrass plains. The activities, as such, present once-in-a-lifetime opportunities. Enjoy an Australian safari in the Northern Territory, a jungle trek in Cairns, or a whale watching boat trip in the waters of Ningaloo Reef. Whichever region you find yourself in, a great way to soak up the atmosphere is by renting a HomeAway property. Enjoy home comforts while on the move: with a gamut of city apartments and rural cottages, you’re certain to find accommodation that caters for your requirements.
Top five destinations for Australia family holidays
With its wild tropical setting, abundance of wildlife, and truly Great Barrier Reef, Cairns, in Queensland’s Far North, should not be missing from your holiday itinerary. Visit the reef by boat: it’s up to you whether you snorkel, dive, swim, or enjoy the coral’s luminescence and teeming marine life from the comfort of a glass-bottomed vessel. Alternatively, see the reef from a different vantage by taking a helicopter tour! Away from the coral, there’s no shortage of things to do in the city, from basking in the saltwater lagoon pool to viewing indigenous art in the Regional Gallery. At the day’s conclusion, pick up some souvenirs at the night market on the Esplanade.
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Australia’s oldest and largest city really does have something to satisfy everyone. Backpackers pass through for its array of bars and clubs, but families will find satisfaction in other highlights; its impressive combination of surf and sea, for one, and its glorious weather. Sydney is also famed for first-class shopping, while its world-famous Harbour and Bridge are must-sees. Watch a play or concert at the Opera House, top up the tan on Bondi or Coogee Beach, or hit the walking trail to see Aboriginal engravings in Sydney Harbour National Park. For the kids, sights such as Sydney Aquarium, Oceanworld and Luna Park provide a wealth of entertainment!
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The Gold Coast often draws comparisons with Miami or LA and it’s not difficult to see why. This glitzy stretch of coastline, home to sky-scraping apartment blocks, super-sized shopping malls and world-class theme parks, is about as far from the outback’s dust and isolation as you’re likely to get. Spend a day in the densely-forested national parks of Lamington and Springbrook, and have a go on a boogie board at Surfers Paradise, the epitome of Gold Coast beach life. The theme parks, meanwhile - Dreamworld, Sea World, and Warner Bros Movie World to name just a few - make for an unforgettable afternoon-out for the whole family.
Whether it’s a better city than Sydney is a debate you shouldn’t engage in: you’ll no doubt get a chance to make your own mind up! Melbourne is a sophisticated city known for its leafy boulevards and contemporary squares, as well as for a packed year-round programme of cultural and sporting events. Some of the best shopping of Australia can be done in the streets around Federation Square, while a picnic among the herb gardens and cockatoos in the Royal Botanic Gardens, by Yarra River, is the perfect way to unwind. If sport is your thing, the Australian Open tennis grand slam takes place here in January, and you catch an Aussie-rules footy match at the 100,000-capacity Melbourne Cricket Ground. The seaside suburb of St. Kilda is ideal for a day-trip, while Elwood is a renowned hotspot for kite- and windsurfing.
It’s easy to unwind in the turquoise waterways of the Whitsunday Islands. This charming archipelago falls within the Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Area, and as such you can expect to be bowled over by a combination of shimmering coral, fascinating marine life and gorgeous beaches. Sailing trips are popular here - there are more than 90 islands, most of them uninhabited - but there’s a gamut of marinas, shops, restaurants, bars and activities to keep you busy on dry land. The rainforest on Long Island is like something from Robinson Crusoe, while Hook Island is blessed with blissful golden beaches and some of the finest snorkelling locations in the Whitsundays. The largest island in the chain, Whitsunday Island, boasts perhaps the greatest beach in the whole country - the 6km long Whitehaven Beach has white-hot sand and pristine aquamarine water. What more could you wish for?