The natural beauty of Australia has inspired no shortage of travellers, poets and artists, young and old, famous and not-so-famous (think scribbled in a colourful scrapbook with crayons in the Kids’ Corner as Mum and Dad take a coffee break). School holidays are just around the corner, and with many border closures lifted across the country, it’s time to explore our enormous backyard. Further, with international tourism still out of the picture at the time of writing, there’s never been a better time to realise how much wonder we have right at home, and share with our kids one of the reasons why Australia is called the Lucky Country: we’re so lucky to live somewhere so beautiful!
So with that in mind, here’s a taster of some of Australia’s most naturally gorgeous kid-friendly places, state by state; and since we’re talking about the whole country, this is really just an appetizer for your Aussie travel bug! Make sure you head over to australia.com and our respective state and territory tourist websites; and for more expert advice that’s specifically tailored to your family’s wants and needs, get in touch with an ATAS-accredited travel agent!
Want more Aussie travel tips? You’re in luck – we’ve been running a whole series of Aussie destination-focused posts on exploring the best of our Great Southern Land – check out our recent spotlights on Perth, Hobart and SA for more!
The World Heritage listed Blue Mountains are one of Australia’s most popular natural destinations. There’s even more there than the stunning Three Sisters: the Jenolan Caves are a must-do: these limestone caves are filled with stunning natural geological forms like stalactites and stalagmites that look absolutely otherworldly. There’s also the beautiful Blue Lake, where if you’re lucky you might see some frolicking platypuses. Check out Scenic World for an easier way to enjoy the panoramic views, including a cable car and descending railway that are perfect for little legs.
Tourism Australia also has a great sample itinerary of things to do with family in the NSW South Coast; this area is a firm favourite among holidaymaking families, and perfect for that school holidays road trip. You’ll find gorgeous unspoiled coastline, pristine white beaches, and top spots for water sports, as well as rolling hills, and native bushland. You won’t want to miss the Kiama Blowhole – always a favourite with the kids!
Head to Visit Melbourne’s guide to parks and gardens to start your itinerary planning off on the right foot with gorgeous natural displays in and around the city. Next stop, Puffing Billy: this amazingly well-preserved scenic tourist steam railway is one of the world’s most popular, and has been a favourite for generations for both its heritage value and its incredible vistas of the Dandenong Ranges.
The Great Ocean Road is an iconic Aussie road trip destination; in fact, it’s the second-most road trip location in the entire world, next to the famous American Route 66. With stunning ocean and coastal views to one side, towering cliffs and dense forest on the other, you’ll find yourself humbled by the stark wonders of nature. On your way, don’t miss the incredible Great Otway National Park: described as a land where ancient giants meet ferocious waters, this is nature at its finest.
Queensland is a hugely popular destination for families, with many heading straight to the theme parks, the glitz of the Gold Coast and the urban delights of Brisbane: but for a truly relaxing, get-back-to-nature holiday, there’s nothing like Tropical North Queensland. If you’ve found yourself staring longingly at pictures of places like Airlie Beach and the Whitsunday Islands, you’re not alone: tucking your feet into the beach and enjoying those stunning coastal views feels like a perfect getaway in its own right.
Of course, there’s plenty more to do in Tropical North Queensland than experiencing those perfect beaches. The extraordinary Cape Tribulation, Daintree Rainforest and Port Douglas are postcard-perfect, and Cairns is a super family friendly place to stay and play. And who could forget the Great Barrier Reef, the world’s largest coral reef? Gorgeous, colourful and brimming with marine life, it’s a fantastic underwater adventure that’s great for kids of all ages; Queensland.com has a feature on visiting the Reef with kids, with plenty of great ideas.
Holidaying closer to the Gold Coast? You’re in luck: Lamington National Park, Springbrook National Park and Tamborine National Park are all a stone’s throw away. O’Reilly’s Rainforest Retreat is a highlight for families; it’s recognised as one of Australia’s best birdwatching location. Tamborine National Park is full of lush greenery, lively waterfalls, swimming holes, as well as delish food (and thankfully plenty of playgrounds so the kids can blow off steam while the adults relax and unwind). Springbrook National Park is fabulous too, with stunning waterfalls, panoramic lookouts, and – by night – some seriously exciting glow-worms. Don’t miss the iconic Natural Bridge, a perfect backdrop for some family photos.
South Australia packs a whole lot of natural beauty into the one state: from the rugged Outback landscapes of the Flinders Ranges, to the lush greenery of Mount Gambier. Some highlights include (but certainly are not limited to!) the beautifully manicured Mount Lofty Botanical Garden and Adelaide Botanic Garden; Monarto Safari Park (the largest open-range zoo in the world); the scenic walking trails of Cleland Conservation Park; the stunning historic sunken garden at the Umpherston Sinkhole; and the enormous volcanic rock formations at Gawler Ranges National Park. You can also travel into prehistory with one of the world’s best fossil sites at Naracoorte Caves National Park. For more ideas, check out Tourism SA’s guide to things to do with family and kids in South Australia.
Sunny WA is a great place for nature-loving kids to holiday! The famous Bibbulmun Track starts in the eastern suburbs of Perth and spans a thousand km all the way to Albany, but the good news is there’s plenty of entrances and exits so you can hop in and on where you like, and there’s plenty of kid-friendly hiking areas.
The 4km Butterflies, Birds and Bridges Trail is home to almost 100 bird species in a variety of terrains. WA’s oldest national park John Forrest National Park has plenty to discover, including the meandering horizontal waterfalls of Hovea Falls.
Further afield, the astonishing Margaret River caves have a great self-guided audio tour to inspire your budding geologists, and the coastal holiday favourite of Kalbarri National Park has beautiful rock formations including rock pools, towering cliffs and scenic gorges. Don’t miss the Kalbarri Skywalk, an easy walk with extraordinary views that’s sure to be a favourite, and the friendly pelican colony who come to the beach each morning for a feed.
Tasmania is renowned as a natural wonderland, with incredibly lush landscapes ranging from alpine ranges to temperate rainforests and more. It’s hard to even start to pick favourites, but Qantas & Tourism Australia have helped narrow it down a bit with their fabulous article on 22 of the Most Beautiful Natural Wonders to See in Tasmania: from the legendary Bay of Fires to the absolutely Instagrammable Tessellated Pavement at Eaglehawk Neck, the almost Game of Thrones-like stone columns of Cape Raoul; Styx Valley, which looks just like the backdrop of a fairytale; and of course the iconic Cradle Mountain and Lake St Clair. They’re all kid-friendly, so nature-loving families, you’re in for a treat!
From arid Outback landscapes to lush tropics, the red ochre of Uluru to the swimming holes of Katherine and the absolutely bucket-listable Kakadu National Park, there’s so much for families to enjoy in the NT.
Let’s start with the Red Centre, which was named one of the top 10 regions to travel in the world in 2019 by Lonely Planet. It’s on many a bucket list, for good reason, but you might not think about it as kid-friendly; if so, you’re in for a pleasant surprise! Tourism NT has compiled a one-week sample itinerary for a Red Centre road trip the whole family will enjoy, driving from Alice Springs to Uluru via the scenic Red Centre Way, through the West MacDonnell Ranges and via the extraordinary Kings Canyon. This area feels as Outback as it gets, and a perfect trip to make family memories that’ll last a lifetime.
Katherine feels like a whole different world from the Red Centre, filled with flowing waterfalls, relaxing thermal springs, gorgeous gorges and much more. Cruise along the Katherine Gorge in the Nitmiluk National Park; follow in the footsteps of generations of Jawoyn travellers as you hike the 62km Jatbula Trail; soak away your worries (or your sore post-hike muscles) in thermal springs in the Elsey National Park or the Tjuwaliyn (Douglas) Hot Springs Park; explore the natural wonders of the magnificent Judburra Gregory National Park, and be awestruck by the natural geological formations of the Gulf Region.
Of course, the best of NT nature wouldn’t be complete without the largest national park in the country, Kakadu National Park. This UNESCO World Heritage listed national park boast a whopping 20,000 sqkm land area, with extraordinary landscapes, pristine waterfalls, stunning rainforests and wetlands, and flora and fauna galore. Find out more about Kakakdu’s nature courtesy of the experts at Parks Australia.
It’s not just politics and museums (although those are great too!): ACT has plenty of nature packed into a small space. Over half of the land area of ACT is comprised of a total of 46 protected conversation areas, most of which are neatly grouped under the name of Canberra Nature Park. The Park ranges from bushland to grasslands, mountains to valleys and more; and the park is so large and spread out that most people in Canberra live a comfortable walk away from this slice of paradise on the edge of suburbia. According to Visit Canberra, some notable reserves in the Park include Jerrabomberra Wetlands, Pinnacle Nature Trail, Remembrance Nature Park, Black Mountain, Mulligans Flat, Urambi Hills Nature Trail, Mt Ainslie, The Pinnacle and Cooleman Ridge. Perfect for easy or more challenging walks with the kids, picnics after a spot of gourmet shopping at one of Canberra’s fantastic markets.