Australia with Kids

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Australia with kids. What does it have to offer? Is it worth the mammoth flight to take your kids to Australia from the US, UK, or Europe for a family holiday? If you’re already in Australia, where are the best places to take kids? What should you see in Australia and what are the practicalities of visiting Australia with kids? We talk about some of the epic, unique, and awesome things your kids can experience in Australia. Australian fun things, educational things, and, are there any negatives other than drop bears?

Take kids to Australia Wildlife Birds
Reasons to visit Australia with kids, what about our wildlife? Australian wildlife, loved by kids, is special and much of it is unique.

Travelling Australia with kids is incredibly popular, plenty of families are on the road at any given time with camping set-ups doing a “big lap”. If time is limited, what does Australia offer in terms of vacation or holiday travel and things to do with kids that are fun and uniquely Australian?

Most overseas visitors stay in hotels and resorts, so where are the best child-friendly places to stay in Australia?

A lot of your choices in organising an Australia itinerary for your family will be based on your flights. More flights arrive in Sydney, The Gold Coast and Melbourne than in places like Cairns (Far North Queensland). There simply aren’t as many direct flights into the more out-of-the-way places and internal flights in Australia are long and expensive.

So where you can fly to, will be a big consideration in planning your family vacation.

It’s common to fly to Australia via Singapore. This is a good route and if you can, have a few days stop over to see Singapore, it’s small and doesn’t take long to see. We have a guide to Singapore with kids too.

The other big consideration is what do you want to see? Do you need to see The Great Barrier Reef? In which case you’ll likely need to fly to Cairns. Do you want to see Uluru? That’s an expensive flight into the heart of Australia. For Kakadu, you’ll need to get to Darwin.

Australia is a very big country, don’t underestimate the distances involved.

Our history of travel in Australia is as follows, just so you can be sure I know my topic. In 2001 I toured The Great Southern Land as a young (ish) backpacker on my first RTW.

It was an awesome experience, camping at Uluru, taking The Ghan, diving on The Great Barrier Reef, and patting my first kangaroo.

I made 2 more trips to Australia from the UK over the next few years, after I married the Aussie Chef.

When my first child, now a teenager, was born in London he had to go and see his relatives, so I made the trip to Australia with an 11-month-old baby.

Three years later we moved to Port Douglas, Australia with our second 11 month baby plus a toddler and spent 6 glorious years living in Oz with the kids. We later took off to travel the world for 6 years, before returning and buying 5 acres of tropical paradise in Far North Queensland. My husband works as crew on a Great Barrier Reef snorkelling boat, so reef visits and marine conservation are a major area of expertise for us.

Australia is a great place for kids and for families, so here are some reasons to visit Australia with kids. Maybe even reasons to consider moving to Australia with young kids.

Australia with Kids

australia with kids child throwing boomerang
Where else can you learn to throw a boomerang? Unique experiences for kids in Australia

Australia is a great place to take kids with plenty for them to see, do, and enjoy. However, Australia is expensive, there’s no real way to make it a budget destination, but we’ll try to help.

Australia is very child-friendly but you may find long distance drives between cities difficult with kids. Also, for overseas visitors, the flight is a long one, be prepared.

The Flight to Australia with Kids

I know everybody thinks flying for 24 hours plus is tough, but honestly, it’s not so bad flying with kids.

The flight is normally broken up into manageable chunks with a change in between.

We flew to Dubai on Emirates, that’s just under 7 hours, then carried on into Sydney that first time with baby D.

These international flights are really quite comfortable for me, they feed you well and the in-flight entertainment is fantastic. I would not be happy to take a budget airline on these routes, we’ve done it, many times, on Air Asia. Air Asia are great for short flight but these longer flight are hard with no comfort.

If your child is old enough to watch movies or read, you’re good, nothing to fear on long flights.

Hotels and Accommodation in Australia With Kids

Australia family resort
A typical Australian resort hotel, this one is owned by Sheraton, are great for families looking for a relaxed, fun, vacation. American-style hotels are common, plus more Australian offerings. There are also motels, bed and breakfasts and “backpackers” (hostels, some of which will have family rooms. Cabins on camp sites are also common and they’d be one of the cheaper options, but they won’t be luxury.

Australia has a lot of resort-style hotels, near beaches, which are great for kids. Kids clubs aren’t as common as in Asia or Europe but you shouldn’t have too much trouble finding family rooms and family-friendly hotels. What might be difficult is finding cheap family hotels or accommodation. Even Airbnb can be very expensive in Australia. We found you a few kid-friendly options below.

  • Sydney. At the budget end the Sydney Central YHA has affordable family rooms and a superb location. Look here. Novotel (this chain is usually superb for families) also have a very well located Sydney property right on Darling Harbour with family rooms (the price isn’t bad!), check it out here. For a two-bedroom luxury family suite, this one fits the bill.
  • Brisbane. For a family apartment, with kitchen and laundry, right in the heart of Brisbane, don’t go past this one, Macarthur Chambers. This building has a very interesting history too. The other side of the river, closer to the very kid friendly pools and playgrounds, there is Rydges South Bank, with American style family rooms. For Brisbane on a budget, there is also a YHA with family rooms. That’s pretty much as cheap as you’ll get and they have private quad rooms.

Australian Wildlife and Nature Parks Kids Will Love

Australia with kids child pats a kangaroo
Most kids will enjoy meeting, and patting, some Australian wildlife. You’re likely to be able to pat and feed kangaroos, feed parrots, and touch koalas and most Australian zoos and wildlife parks.

You really can see kangaroos, cockatoos, galahs, possums, crocodiles and wallabies wild.

You’ll see them from your car, from the train, even in suburbia. I’ve been lucky enough to see wombats, echidnas, dingos and cassowaries on the road, too.

If time is short and the children want to get up close and personal with Australia’s fauna, there are wildlife parks and local zoos everywhere.

My personal favourite is the Wildlife Habitat in Port Douglas, my children used to go every week and never got tired of hand feeding the wallabies and lorikeets (top picture).

You will find wildlife parks like this all over Australia, plus there are several zoos that also have petting areas for native animals.

Taronga Zoo in Sydney, New South Wales, is a good one, as is Australia Zoo near Brisbane, Queensland.

Swimming and Snorkelling in Australia With Kids

kid australia snorkelling great barrier reef
Snorkelling on the Great Barrier Reef from Queensland Australia is a great thing to do with kids.

Australia is famous for beaches and surfing. and has miles and miles of glorious coastline. You will likely stay near a beach in Australia with your children.

Sydney has Bondi, plus some less famous beaches, The Gold Coast has miles of sand and surf, but usable beaches stretch all the way up the East Coast to Port Douglas in FNQ.

North of there the crocodiles get too bothersome.

The west coast, around Perth and further north also has swimming beaches.

But is it safe to swim on the beaches in Australia? Big surf can be dangerous for anyone, particularly kids.

There are sharks, jellyfish and various other marine creatures to worry about. In the north there are crocodiles. There are also lifeguards, netted swimming enclosures, shark protection devices and hundreds of other people swimming in the sea at any given time.

I’m not going to guarantee safety but my kids survived just fine.

The Great Barrier Reef is a must-see for many people and fleets of boats take visitors out to the marine park pretty much daily.

A big storm can cancel trips, but you can visit The Great Barrier Reef with kids year-round.

Barrier Reef Australia Kids
A beautiful day on the reef. That’s my kids snorkelling.

I’m not suggesting you take the kids scuba diving (my kids scuba dive, they had to wait until they were 12), but even young children can enjoy a day on the  Great Barrier Reef Marine Park.

They can snorkel and use flotation devices such as lifejackets and pool noodles, as can adults. You do not have to be a great swimmer to see the Great Barrier Reef for yourself.

My boys truly started snorkelling at 6 and 8 years old, but I know kids who started younger. Before that we still went, the big reef operators have mini-subs and underwater viewing areas that are great for kids. The boys would splash about on the sidelines and watch the huge maori wrasse coming for food.

A day on the GBR really is a day like no other.

Aboriginal Culture and History For Kids in Australia

I really think children should find out about Australia’s history and the incredible culture of the Aboriginal people.

If you can’t make it out to Uluru, which would be my choice, there are plenty of places to meet Aboriginal people and learn about their world.

Everything from the didgeridoo players at Sydney’s Circular Quay to ancient cave paintings, guided cultural walks and Aboriginal Culture Parks.

We had a wonderful day at Tjapukai, a culture park just outside Cairns, learning about dance, music, weapons and medicines. This park has now closed sadly, but nearby there are opportunities to interact with Australia’s original inhabitants through Dreamtime Tours at Mossman Gorge, part of The Daintree Rainforest.

Australian Museums, Zoos and Aquariums for Kids

As part of your Sydney itinerary, don’t miss Taronga Zoo.  Taking the ferry from Circular Quay across the harbour is an iconic trip. The water sparkles beneath the Harbour Bridge and you can see dolphins sometimes.

The zoo itself is excellent and has the best view of any zoo in the world, right across the harbour to the CBD. You’ll find Australian wildlife along with the usual zoo animals.

Canberra has Questacon, the National Science and Technology centre. It’s a full, hands-on day for curious little scientists.

Townsville, Perth, Sydney and now Cairns, have excellent aquariums, sorry if I missed out your favourite, these are the ones I know and highly recommend.

As you travel around the country you’ll find smaller, more quirky museums, like Herberton Historical Village on the Atherton Tablelands or the Old Melbourne Gaol. Ned Kelly was executed there.

There are still plenty of unique tourist attractions, restaurants, and sites to see aside from the smaller museums of Melbourne. If Melbourne seems like a place that you want to check out, then by all means you should try to visit at least once in your life. And it’s a great place to take the family, too!

Just Google museums and attractions for whatever part of Australia you’re visiting, there are some fascinating places to visit.

Australian Beaches with Kids

There are 11,011 beaches, in total in Australia.

Seek out the quiet calm beaches for smaller children, Australia can have some pretty powerful sea conditions.

Port Douglas‘s Four Mile Beach is sandy, gently sloping and calm and has a stinger net for the summer months.

You could check out iconic Bondi Beach in Sydney and see if you can spot the Bondi Rescue crew. Or head to The Gold Coast for Surfers Paradise.

There is a beach for every age group and every activity in Australia.

Swimming Pools and Water Parks for Kids in Australia

The Cairns Lagoon Australia
The Cairns lagoon in Queensland Australia offers safe swimming for kids and is totally free. If you visit Australia with kids it’s pretty easy to find similar water parks and playgrounds, often free.

Australia does water attractions really well. In Far North Queensland, where we have a few issues with stingers and crocodiles, there are plenty of places to take the kids for a swim or a splash around, best of all, they’re free.

Try The Lagoon or Muddies Playground in Cairns or the Esplanade in Townsville.

If you’re looking for big water parks, The Gold Coast has Whitewater World and Wet ‘n Wild. Perth has at least ten water parks, you’ll find them dotted all over the country.

What to Pack for Australia With Kids

A wide-brimmed sun hat is essential for your kids at any time of year. We have incredibly strong UV Downunder and you need to protect your children’s skin and stop them from getting heat stroke.

Most kids in Australia wear long-sleeved, long leg swim gear in Australia, it protects them from the sun and any possible jellyfish.

My son recently had heat stroke while wearing a hat on a beach conservation project. Keep your kids in the shade as much as you can.

Waterproof shoes, Crocs, or Flip Flops (thongs) are a good idea because your feet are likely to get wet. Also, bring comfortable shoes that you can walk in.

In winter don’t underestimate how cold southern and central Australia can get (winter being northern hemisphere summer, of course). Australian homes have aircon, but good heating is rare.

You’re very likely to be cold indoors down south. A good fleece should be all you need unless you are heading to the ski slopes.

Wet season in the tropical north can bring torrential downpours but it’s very rare that we wear a waterproof jacket, it’s too hot. Skin is waterproof.

This is where waterproof footwear is essential.

Also don’t underestimate how hot Australia can get in summer. The heat may force you to take part in activities early or late, full afternoon sun can be too much.

Bring whatever clothes you and your kids feel comfortable in. I wear jeans and running tights, others prefer shorts and dresses. It’s really up to you. There’s no pressure to be “dressed up” in Australia but some establishments have dress rules, for instance, no baseball caps, no shirtless men, no singlets (vests) for men and no bare feet.

Yes, Australians do go barefoot in the supermarket sometimes, and on the street.

Swim shorts are common for women, as are bikinis. A long-sleeved rashie (rash vest or swim shirt) to keep the sun off is a very good idea.

Bucket List of Things To Do in Australia With Kids

You won’t be able to fit all of these into your vacation, but here are some of the best things to do in Australia with kids and for families:

  • Pat a kangaroo, cuddle a koala.
  • Learn to surf.
  • Snorkel on the Great Barrier Reef.
  • See Uluru.
  • See as many of Australia’s “Big Things” as possible.
  • Go to Bondi Beach and see the guys from Bondi Rescue.
  • Go camping in the bush and admire the Milky Way.
  • Ski
  • Swim with wild dolphins
  • Visit Australia’s Gold Coast theme parks.
  • See wild crocodiles and visit a crocodile show.
  • Visit Australia Zoo, Steve Irwin’s legacy to all kids.
  • Visit Questacon Science Museum in Canberra.
  • Visit a sheep station and see shearing.
  • Attend one of Australia’s iconic local “shows”.
  • Play the didgeridoo and throw a boomerang.
  • Pan for gold.
  • Walk in the world’s oldest rainforest. (The Daintree Rainforest)

There are many more things to do in Australia that kids would love, what would you add?

Australia With Kids – Practicalities

Australian English is spoken in Australia, it has similarities with both American English and British English.

The currency in Australia is the Australian dollar. Australian money is waterproof, which is handy at the beach.

The American dollar is not accepted in Australia although American visitors do tip in US dollars sometimes, these notes then have to be exchanged for Australian currency.

Tipping is not expected, as it is in the US, but it’s nice to reward good food and service where you receive it. Tips are normally split fairly between all staff at the restaurant, it’s not for the server. The chefs deserve praise too!

Don’t forget a power adaptor or two for Australia, electrical sockets are different. This is an international adapter for Australian sockets.

Food in Australia for Kids

Australia with kids food

Australian cuisine is very Western, expect all the usual burgers, fries, pizzas, salads and ice creams.

A few unique Australian dishes may include local wildlife like kangaroo, crocodile, camel and emu.

You can dine in Australian pubs with kids, in restaurants, cafes and bakeries.

Australia is famous for the Aussie meat pie, and these come in many flavours. It’s traditional to put a dollop of ketchup on the top.

Australia is also very fond of barramundi (Asian sea bass) and reef fish like coral trout and snapper.

Prawns (they’re not shrimp) are often served cooked (boiled or steamed) and cold, with mayo of some kind.

My kids’ favourite foods in Australia are chicken parmie and fish and chips. Alcoholic beverages are only for big kids over 18 in Australia.

Do try some Australian grass-fed beef, it’s good. I’ve also just been told that Tasmania is the only place where they produce grass-fed wagyu beef.

You can also find Indian food, Thai, Mexican, Vietnamese, and just about any country’s cuisine, represented in Australia.

More Reasons to Love Australia for Kids

australia kids swim in water hole
Your kids can swim in a freshwater stream deep in a rainforest in Australia. Crocodile-free, hopefully.

How am I doing? Is that enough reasons?

Do I need to mention the climate, you’ll always find somewhere that’s just the right temperature for you.

You can enjoy just about any sport or activity you like, including skiing, or sample the incredible food and wines Australia produces.

The children should enjoy Australia’s chocolate, tropical fruits and dairy products, some of them will enjoy the fantastic seafood.

Camping is immensely popular, in a tent or a mobile home, facilities are great. You can even find free camping and public gas barbecues are everywhere, often in the many kids’ playgrounds.

I hope I’ve convinced you, go on, take your kids to Australia, click “like” if you want to go! Want more info on Australia with kids – head to our main Australia Travel Blog page and start planning your itinerary and figuring out the logistics. If you haven’t booked flights yet, open our Skyscanner post here and use our tips to find the best route. Also, ask me anything in the comments, I’m here to help you organise your dream family trip to Australia.

If you'd like to hire a car during your stay, use this car rental comparison tool to find the best deal!

We also suggest you take a look at this company to get a quote for all kinds of the more tricky adventure or extended travel insurance.

Try Stayz / VRBO for an alternative way to find rentals on homes/apartments/condos in any country!

About the author
Alyson Long
Alyson Long is a British medical scientist who jumped ship to chase dreams. A former Chief Biomedical Scientist at London's West Middlesex Hospital she started in website creation and travel writing in 2011. Alyson is a full-time blogger and travel writer, a published author, and owns several websites. World Travel Family is the biggest. A lifetime of wanderlust and over 6 years of full-time travel, plus a separate 12 month gap year, has given Alyson and the family some travel expert smarts to share with you on this world travel site. Today Alyson still travels extensively to update this site and continue her mission to visit every country, but she's often at home on her farm in Australia.

29 thoughts on “Australia with Kids”

  1. Australia was one of my favorite trips! When we travel as a family, I love to find engaging books for the kids to read before and during the trip.

    • That’s something we always did when they were small, too. I have my own list and collection! As they get older we dive into history and culture, more adult topics, but we live in Australia so we reached full immersion!

  2. Hey Alyson,

    Your arktickles are so great! They are helping me a lot to organize and have a courage to travel the world with our three kids ๐Ÿ˜‰ we are planning a trip to Australia, we will travel in campervan but i am little bit nervous of all the wilde side of Australia ( of cours snakes, spiders, scorpions ๐Ÿ˜ฌ๐Ÿซฃ)do You have any advice for traveling safety with kids around this beautiful country? Thx a lot! Mirka

    • HI Mirka, well we live with them, so yes! My biggest fear in a camper van would be the heat though. Don’t even think of being in the hot parts in summer. We’ve done Far North Queensland in a camper van in February – don’t even think about it! So now we live in the countryside on 5 acres, we see A LOT of snakes. Mostly tree snakes and pythons arnd they are totally harmless to us really. Although we’ve had pythons take guinea fowl and even adult geese. In cities and busy camp sites you’re very unlikely to see one at all. We do have taipans and eastern browns in our area, but I’ve only seen one or two on the road, not on our land, ever. But we just try to remember there always could be a snake if we have to go anywhere overgrown or not on the lawn, sort of thing. Now I’m an arachnaphobe, I really hate spiders. I’ve seen two huntsman spiders in Australia – EVER! The spiders in the UK are way, way, worse. I think because we have a lot of chickens, they take care of them for us, but in and around cities people use surface spray and get their homes treated so that the spiders just die. We don’t have redbacks up here, they do down south, but I’ve never seen one. There are scorpions, but again, you never see them. The only time I’ve seen scorpions is when we go out in the dark with a blue light and shine it around rocky walls with cracks, they’ll be in the cracks and they glow in the dark. We do have various tarantulas, I’ve seen 2, both times cats had got them. Be aware there could be crocodiles in any body of water up north. They say to keep 10m from the edge of rivers etc. And also be aware of marine stingers. Drop bears aren’t real. And while you’re not going into overgrown / bush areas because of snakes, you’ll also be avoiding gympie gympie, stinging plant. We do have a post called stinging plant and other dangers of Queensland on here somewhere. We’ve had gympie gympie on our farm, it’s quite common on rainforest areas. We take campers here sometimes, give us a shout when you’re up this way. Personally I just supervised the heck out of my kids for their own safety. Ticks can also be a problem, and leaches. On the whole though, we very rarely even think about any of those things, but I totally get why you’re worrying because I used to be the same. Once you’re here and see for yourself you’ll be good. I do make my husband check public bathrooms in bush – like areas for spiders before I’ll go in though ๐Ÿ™‚ And always keep all doors and windows closed. Windows have screens here, so you can open them for air and not let anything unwanted in. You’ll see lots of people and kids barefoot, that’s something I’d never do.

  3. I would like to visit Australia with my kids . my kids re very young , pls where can we visit nd av much fun

    • Well it depends what your kids find fun. Do they like beaches, would they like to meet Australian wildlife? Are you more interested in attractions like theme parks? Sydney, The Gold Coast, Cairns or north Queensland for snorkelling on the reef.

  4. Hey, Alyson
    What a fantastic Post! This is so chock full of useful information, most concise step-by-step guide, I was looking for some places around Australia, and your blog really helped me. Thanks for sharing the information.

  5. We have set the goal of visiting in March 2020. Our twin boys will have just turned 5. Travelling from England seems a bit daunting – we will have 4 weeks. We love taking our children on holiday with us – its amazing how much they remember…. I’m conscious of wanting to see and do so much – but not wanting to rush the kids around so they dont have time to just be – and enjoy. Being in England, i need to get my head around how long it will take and the best ways to travel from one place to the next in Australia. Do you have any recommendations for sites or companies who can help with planning. Its been such a huge dream for me – i really want to make sure i get it as right as i possible can for our family. Thanks so much for your words of wisdom.

    • No, but what do you want to see in 4 weeks? In 3 months we only did the East Coast, Uluru ad the famous train journeys up the middle, how far do you plan to get? I’d say that in 4 weeks…presuming you’re flying into Sydney, you’d want maybe 4 days in Sydney, then what? will you fly? Or are you planning on bus / train / hired vehicle? These are the sort of posts I’m working towards creating now, as we’re actually based up in Queensland again for a while. You managed to find a very old post!

      • Well… Google found the post for me – and I’m greatful for that. I’d love to take a train, and travel in an RV, camping for a little bit, if that’s possible. We want to do Sydney but thinking of flying to Perth as we have a friend there. Apart from that we love nature, culture and beaches. I’ve only just started the journey to research exactly what and how so all suggestions greatly received.
        Many Thanks….

          • I would defiantly prefer a camper van – I love the idea of driving and stopping at different places and staying wherever you want to. But in England your not allowed to just park and camp anywhere so I’m not sure if that’s possible.
            Also not sure on dear laws for the kids ext…. so much to look into.

            • Dear laws? You can’t just park anywhere, it’s against the law, but there are free camps and some people just do it anyway and get away with it. But I know the cops here in Port check because we’ve historically had a big problem with this around town.

              • Oops.. sorry. Car Seat laws for chilren.
                Good to know camper vanning isn’t like in the movies – lol. Same as the UK.

                • They’re pretty tight. We brought our UK car seats over and used those, or you can hire one with the car. You’d need to check weights and heights.

  6. Yes, Australia is the best place for the kids, also it has some amazing local playground which is best for the kids to play in free time

  7. I want to bring the kids to visit Brisbane.. any suggestion to plan to routes.. First time trying to worldschool the kids

  8. I think you forgot one BIG reason-the oz people!
    I traveled in Australia many years ago and i promised to come back with my family.hopefully it will happen soon LOVE AUSTRALIA

  9. Wish I had taken them years ago. My daughter went before we did and loved it especially Sydney. I ache to go back with the now grown up kids. ๐Ÿ™‚ We fell in love with Melbourne. If I went with kids I would take them out of school for a year and they would learn more in a year there than they would at school.

  10. Australia is a great country in many aspects, culture, beer, history, landscape and not least cricket. So would love to visit Australia with my kids. The under sea life something that my kids would like.

    • I forgot to mention cricket! I have to say, I’m not a fan of Australian beers at all Shalu, I’ll get in trouble for saying that. Thanks for commenting and I just followed you on FB and Twitter, India is very special to me, we’ll be there next year.


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