Family travel snap: LP’s Product Director of guidebooks & ebooks, Darren O’Connell

Based in Lonely Planet’s Melbourne office, Darren considers himself lucky enough to have explored the world with his six children (ranging from 16 years old to nine months).

While Disney World and New York City rank among his children’s highlights, Darren believes there’s something to be said for exploring your own backyard. Darren and his children are big fans of Alison Lester’s children’s books (, their favourite of which is Are We There Yet?, a wonderful story about one family’s epic road trip around Australia.


What’s the story behind this photo?

Our five-year-old daughters are tearing around Squeaky Beach in Wilsons Promontory National Park, which we visited early this (Australian) summer. They had been warned not to get too wet as we were all out of dry clothes but, of course, they ignored these warnings and got soaked to the bone – and had a marvellous time doing it! It was their baby sister’s first time at the beach, so she’s out of the frame exploring the sand.

Earlier we had gone on a short hike through wildflowers to a hill overlooking the main accommodation area in the park, Tidal River. We love visiting the Prom – the scenery is spectacular, the wildlife is accessible (if you’ve never seen a wombat in the wild, head here) and it’s well set-up for exploring with kids. You can see from this photo how much the girls enjoyed being here.

Kid’s Perspective

‘When we woke up we went searching for the wombat living under our house. He was scratching, scratching, scratching all night and was making so much noise. And then we went for a walk.’ Maggie (5)

Darren’s tips for visiting Wilsons Promontory with kids

1) Go midweek and during school terms if you can: it’s almost impossible to book a cabin at any other time and avoiding the crowds is well worth it.

2) Pop a couple of sweaters in alongside the hats and sunscreen – it can get quite chilly in the early mornings and evenings, even in summer.

3) Make a stop at Fish Creek, which has a couple of cafes, a pub and an entire bookshop devoted to the children’s author Alison Lester.

Where’s next on your family travel bucket list?

Lauren and our three daughters are going on an ‘adventure’ (road trip) to Adelaide to visit Lauren’s extended family. They’ve booked a cabin in a conservation park in the Adelaide Hills and are looking forward to trying geocaching.

Lastly, complete the sentence:

When we shut the front door ready to go and travel as a family, we always…

…make sure we have everyone. With six kids, it is easy to nearly leave one behind!

Related content