If you can survive the long-haul distances between cities, travelling around Queensland with the kids can be a real delight. There's oodles of interesting stuff to see and do, both indoors and out, including beaches, zoos, theme parks and adventures on the Great Barrier Reef.
Lonely Planet’s Travel with Children contains buckets of useful information for travel with little 'uns.
Best Regions for Kids
- Brisbane & Around
Big-city kiddie adventures: ferry rides, an artificial riverside swimming beach, hands-on museums and galleries, and a koala sanctuary.
- The Gold Coast
The beaches here are beaut, and there are five massive roller-coaster-wrapped theme parks just north of Surfers Paradise.
- Noosa & the Sunshine Coast
Don't miss Noosa National Park, the native critters at Australia Zoo, and a visit to Mooloolaba’s bedazzling Underwater World.
- Fraser Island & the Fraser Coast
Check out the colourful sand cliffs at Rainbow Beach, or careen around the sand in a 4WD on Fraser Island.
- Cairns & the Daintree Forest
Rainforest walks, a swimming lagoon, playgrounds and boat trips to the reef or islands. Don't miss the scenic railway to Kuranda in the hinterland.
Queensland for Kids
Many Queensland motels and the better-equipped caravan parks have playgrounds and swimming pools, and can supply cots and baby baths − some motels also have in-house children’s movies and child-minding services.
Top-end hotels and many (but not all) midrange hotels are well versed in the needs of guests with children. B&Bs and some exclusive resorts, on the other hand, often market themselves as child-free. Check when you book.
Some of Queensland’s licensed child-care agencies have places set aside for casual care: phone local councils for a list of child-care providers. Avoid unlicensed operators.
Day-care or babysitting options with rates starting at around $25 per hour include the following:
Babysitters R Us Brisbane, Gold Coast, Caboolture and Noosa.
Busy Bees Babysitting Gold Coast, Cairns, Palm Cove and Port Douglas.
Dial an Angel Brisbane.
Change Facilities & Breastfeeding
Queenslanders are relaxed about breastfeeding and nappy (diaper) changing in public. All cities and most major towns also have centrally located public rooms (often in shopping centres) where parents can go to nurse their baby or change a nappy; check with the local tourist office.
Child concessions (and family rates) often apply to accommodation, tours, admission fees and transport around the state, with some discounts as high as 50% of the adult rate. However, the definition of ‘child’ varies from under-fives to under 18 years. Accommodation concessions generally apply to children under 12 years sharing the same room as adults. Kids under two years old receive discounts on many flights across Australia (they are seat-belted on to a parent's lap and thus don't occupy a seat).
Many cafes, restaurants, surf clubs and pubs around Queensland offer kids’ meals, or will provide small serves from the main menu. Some also supply high chairs. Many fine-dining restaurants, however, don’t welcome small children. If all else fails, grab some fish and chips and head for the beach. There are also plenty of free or coin-operated barbecues in parks around the state.
- Queensland has high-standard medical services and facilities, and items such as baby formula and disposable nappies are widely available.
- Major hire-car companies will supply and fit child-safety seats, charging a one-off fee of around $25. Taxi companies aren’t legally required to supply child seats, but may be able to organise one if you call in advance.
- Braving the roller coasters, IMAX movies and Bengal tigers: Dreamworld is hard to beat!
- Hitting Warner Bros Movie World for movie-themed rides and wandering VIP cartoon characters.
- Flinging yourself into pools, down slides and into aquatic mayhem: it's wet, it's wild, it's Wet'n'Wild.
- Cooling off on a humid Gold Coast afternoon at WhiteWater World.
- Talking with the animals at Australia Zoo – OK, so it's not technically a theme park, but the kids will love it just as much.
- Exploring museums and galleries in Brisbane: the hands-on Queensland Museum & Sciencentre; the Queensland Maritime Museum, where you can clamber through the corridors of a Navy frigate; and the kids' galleries and installations at the Gallery of Modern Art.
- Watching sharks, seals and other marine life at Underwater World – Sea Life Mooloolaba on the Sunshine Coast.
- Visiting Townsville’s Reef HQ Aquarium for a look at the wonders of the Great Barrier Reef.
- Riding the zipline and clambering over obstacle courses inside the recreated rainforest at the indoor Cairns Zoom & Wildlife Dome, complete with resident crocs and koalas.
Mum, We’re Hungry
When to Go
- The southeast (Brisbane, Gold Coast, Sunshine Coast) can be great fun any time of year, though it does get a little chilly during the winter (June to August), making for unpredictable beach days.
- Winter, on the other hand, is the best (but busiest) time to visit tropical Far North Queensland, with clear nights, stinger-free beaches and an absence of summer's oppressive heat, humidity and monsoonal downpours.
- Travelling during school holidays can be maddening and expensive – particularly on the Gold Coast and Sunshine Coast.