Australian adventures for the family

There’s so much to do, you will need this guide to plan your holiday

Follow the animal prints

The capital of Queensland, Brisbane is an important art and cultural centre in Australia. It hosts a number of jazz and film festivals that attract people from across the continent. However, what draws people the most are the national parks and zoos. There’s the Australia Zoo in Beerwah, a few miles outside the city that was set up by Steve Irwin. More importantly there are the Daisy Hill Koala Centre and the Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary – both spaces where you can cuddle up with koalas.

Howzat for Instagram opportunities

Cricket lovers should head for the Mecca here – the Melbourne Cricket Ground, where tours let you relive the highlights of its sporting history. The rest can meanwhile head to the Phillip Island Penguin Parade – where you can watch baby penguins have their evening meal and take some shaky steps to and from the ocean and land. If you’re going towards Victoria, don’t miss the 12 apostles on the Great Ocean Road, sublime free-standing cliffs that seem to float on the surf.

How to chase sharks and glow worms – safely

Sixty kilometres of beach, 100,000 hectares of forests and reserves, 40 golf courses, and 5 theme parks – a family vacation in Gold Coast is a no brainer. Beach lounging aside, you should head to Sea World. The theme park draws in hordes during shark feeding sessions. There’s also the Glow Worm Caves, a man made structure, complete with stalagmites and stalactites with millions of arachnocampa flava, or glow worms that surreally light up as you shine a red light on them.

Have a whale of a time

Waterways along Gold Coast are known as whale alleys, which should give you an idea of just how imperative it is you sign up for a whale watching tour. The best viewing times are between end May and early November where you can catch a glimpse of the three stars – humpback (they migrate to the temperate waters between May and October to give birth), southern right whales and orcas. You can also add dolphins to the mix; they become fairly commonplace after a while.

In the animal kingdom

Turtle spotting, unravelling the story of creation via holograms and dance theatres, boomerang bashes and spear throwing contests – just some of the many marvels at the Tjapukai Cultural Park. It’s best to reserve at least half a day for this indigenously designed spot, possibly to be followed by visits either to the Cairns Tropical Zoo (you can tuck into barbecue dinners here), or feed crocs (Hartley’s Crocodile Adventures even have ‘crocodile attack’ shows). End with a spot of minjin (strap on a harness and swing between trees).

Follow the rainbow under the sea

Cairns is usually the starting point for a visit to the Great Barrier Reef. There’s even the Reef Teach, an exhaustive info centre that preps you. Follow that with a 90-minute boat ride for a day trip into the reef. Besides the obvious allures of day and night dives, you can also spend the night in floating boutique hotels where you spend your stay surrounded by the pristine waters and unimaginably colourful coral. For a bird’s eye view (remember the reef is also visible from the moon), you can even sign up for a helicopter ride.

The air, river and tram rides through a city

Hot air balloon rides, river cruises, free tram rides to explore the city, Masterchef guides to restaurants and meals – Melbourne is bustling with fun things to do. Aussie cities might be young compared to European ones, but they make up with enthusiastic schedules of exploring a vibrant city and its equally exciting surroundings. There’s literally something for everyone. Tandem sky dives are in high demand, just as much as aboriginal heritage walks. And the Yarra river hosts kayaking for beginners and experts, while the sea offers windsurfing classes.

The wildlife down under

t’s very easy to get lost in Sydney – purely because you’re attracted by so many sights and sounds – they tug at your interests and you’re suddenly left with just one day and a million different activities that you must do. The showboat harbour cruise for example, or the Australian Museum with a live terrarium of snakes, the Taronga Zoo full of koalas and kangaroos, or the Ku-ring-gai Chase National Park with aboriginal cave and rock paintings. And that’s just the first morning you’re here.

Water, helicopter and bicycle crusies

Don’t diss the prospect of city tours – Sydney is vast and a mega tourist hotspot, so it’s best to spend a day with a guided tour. It helps to get the bearing of the city so you can decide which parts you want to concentrate on for the remaining days. You can choose from water cruises to helicopter rides, bicycle guided tours to architecture walks, photography tours to pub tours. Our pick would be a scuba tour – sign up for a day class and submerge yourself in traffic down under.

The hills are alive with ancient history

Besides the Opera House, Harbour Bridge, and even a Madame Tussaud’s, there are some Sydney gems that should also feature on your must-visit list. There’s Bondi Beach of course, great beach and equally awesome food, music and vibe. And then there are the Blue Mountains, a sandstone stretch of gorges, plateaus and cliffs that is home to seven national parks and a reserve. Besides the awesome vista it creates, there’s also the fact that it’s the site of ancient aboriginal settlements, evidence of which date back almost 22,000 years.