Adding a few younger members to your holiday clan doesn’t have to require a complete itinerary overhaul. If you’re hoping to take the family on a trip all ages can enjoy, start with these conveniently distracting, activity-heavy destinations.
Self-dubbed spa country may easily entice couples seeking solitude but the bucolic Victorian countryside is also perfectly suited to a similarly languid type of family fun. Though literary history may paint a more sinister picture of Hanging Rock reserve, exploration isn’t something that should be discouraged considering the amount of echidnas, wombats and extensive bird species that nest in the abundance of local gums. Close animal encounters can also take the form of a more hands-on approach: a stop in at Hanging Rock Llama Treks gives visitors the chance to meet, greet and even feed these furry, friendly lamoids and a few hours at Tuki Trout Farm could result in a spot of lunch (if any family member is lucky enough to catch a fish, your spoils can be cooked up on-site). There’s also a giant, whimsical hedge labyrinth at Maze House, where the smallest members can happily get lost for a few hours.
Blue Mountains, New South Wales
Swap screen time for scenery in the quaint surrounds of the Blue Mountains, around 120 kilometres west of Sydney. The verdant valley of the Blue Mountains National Park boasts a wealth of trails easily traversed by little legs (or longer, more impatient ones) and the lookout points that splay the staggeringly deep gorges in perfect detail are enough to impress even the surliest of teens. For distractions sake, there are also a number of activities the whole family can get stuck into: plunging off the cliffs on the wonderfully rickety Scenic Railway, picking apples or in-season stone fruit between December and April at Bilpin’s Pine Crest Orchard or simply treating the whole clan to a high tea at the Hydro Majestic.
This quietly cool city has plenty of oddities to tempt you away from boredom: the Saturday Salamanca markets spruik everything from sparkly jewellery to delicious gourmet goods to sample. Older kids will love the envelope-pushing Museum of Old and New (where every visitor is loaned an iPad for increased interaction) and younger ones will love taking a trip back in time (as well as yearning for some old-fashioned lollies at Sweets & Treats or Richmond Chocolate Shop) during a visit to the charming village of Richmond, twenty minutes’ drive from the capital. Mount Wellington, the towering peak that hovers over Hobart, also happens to be one of the Southern Hemisphere’s best places to catch aurora australis – the Down Under equivalent of the natural light show, aurora borealis. Try ascending the peak between late March and September, with a few thermos’ worth of hot chocolate in hand.
Darwin, Northern Territory
Forget crayons and colouring books – the natural hues of Australia’s top end seem to fall right off the standard colour wheel. It’s less than two hours’ drive from Darwin before you cross over into the depths of the ancient, natural expanse of Kakadu National Park where you can explore rock art, croc spotting and waterfall chasing. Back in town, weather will rarely plague your trip (outside of rainy season from November to April, that is) and Mindil Beach Sunset Markets, outdoor cinemas and a day trip to the fascinating outpost of the Tiwi Islands, just an hour ferry ride from Darwin harbour, gives kids access to a new melting pot of traditions and cultures on their very own doorstep.
Broome, Western Australia
Broome, on the southern lip of WA’s Dampier Peninsula, is the kind of place holiday memories are forever forged: careful sandcastle construction, a pink-hued sunset camel ride on nearby Cable Beach, chasing dreams of dinosaurs at low tide around the vermilion rocks of Gantheaume Point or watching the evening conjure a magical stairway into the galaxy with famed ‘Staircase to the Moon’ phenomenon just for starters. For accommodation that offers a similar magic touch, Cable Beach Club Resort & Spa works overtime with facilities so parents don’t have to. On-site, there’s a mini golf range, tennis courts, a dedicated family swimming pool that doesn’t clash with honeymooners, as well as a garden and water playground.