With lots of sunshine, beaches and big open spaces, Western Australia (WA) is a wonderful destination for children of all ages. Australians are famously laid-back and their generally tolerant, 'no worries' attitude extends to children having a good time and perhaps being a little bit raucous.
Best Regions for Kids
- Broome & the Kimberley
While there's wildlife interaction like camel rides and crocodile-park tours, it's the camping, gorge swimming and Indigenous culture that kids will remember, particularly in the Dampier Peninsula and along the Gibb River Road.
- Ningaloo Coast & the Pilbara
Coral Bay has plenty of safe-water options and like-minded families.
- Margaret River & the Southwest Coast
Geographe Bay features family-friendly beaches, Yallingup has a surf school and Bunbury has the Dolphin Discovery Centre and Bunbury Wildlife Park. The region also features whale watching.
- Monkey Mia & the Central West
Visit the world-famous dolphins of Monkey Mia, feed the pelicans at Kalbarri or learn about Indigenous culture and 'Country' on a guided tour.
- Perth & Fremantle
Open spaces, beaches, kid-friendly museums, bike paths, playgrounds and festivals. Many major attractions – including the Aquarium of Western Australia, Perth Zoo, the Art Gallery of Western Australia and the Maritime Museum – have hands-on, kid-friendly exhibits.
West Coast Australia for Kids
Interacting with Australia's native fauna, either in the wild or in wildlife parks, will create lifetime memories for your kids. Australia's wildlife can be dangerous, but in reality you're extremely unlikely to strike any problems if you take sensible precautions.
The sun's harshness is more of a concern. Don't underestimate how quickly you and your kids can get sunburnt, even on overcast days. A standard routine for most Australian parents is to lather their kids in high-protection sunscreen (SPF 30-plus) before heading outside for the day. It's a habit worth adopting. Avoid going to the beach in the middle of the day. Head out in the morning or mid-afternoon instead.
On really hot days, dehydration can be a problem, especially for small children. Carry fluids with you, especially on long car journeys.
Many motels and larger caravan parks have playgrounds and swimming pools, and can supply cots and baby baths. Motels in touristy areas may have in-house children's videos and child-minding services. Top-end and midrange hotels usually welcome families with children, but some B&Bs market themselves as child-free havens.
WA is generally a safe place for women travellers, although the usual sensible precautions apply. Avoid walking alone late at night in major cities and towns, and always keep enough money aside for a taxi home. The same applies to outback and rural towns with unlit, semi-deserted streets between you and your temporary home. Lone women should be wary of staying in basic pub accommodation unless it appears safe and well managed.
Lone hitching is risky for everyone, but women especially should consider taking a male companion.
Eating Out with Children
Purchase memory cards and batteries in larger cities and towns, as they're cheaper than in remote areas. Most photo labs have self-service machines from which you can make your own prints and burn CDs and DVDs.
Babies & Toddlers
Perth and most major towns have public rooms where parents can nurse their baby or change nappies; check with the local visitor centre. While many Australians are relaxed about public breastfeeding or nappy changing, some aren't.
Many eateries lack a specialised children's menu, but others do have kids' meals or will provide smaller servings. Some supply high chairs.
Medical services and facilities are of a high standard, and baby food, formula and disposable nappies are widely available. Major car-hire companies will supply and fit booster seats for a fee.
The biggest challenge is a sudden attack of the 'are-we-there-yets?'. Adults – let alone kids – find the long drives tedious. Bring along books, computer games, iPads and child-friendly CDs. Consider hiring a car with a back-seat screen for playing DVDs.
Snacks are essential for journeys where shops might be 200km or further apart, and toilet paper is also a blessing.
Have a word to the kids about insects, snakes and spiders, stressing the need to keep their distance. This is particularly important for kids who like to prod things with sticks. While bushwalking, make sure they wear socks with shoes or boots.
Surfing & Swimming
Wildlife Parks & Zoos
- There are wildlife parks throughout WA, especially in tourist areas. Many have walk-in aviaries, so prepare for a freak-out when an over-friendly parrot lands on little Jimmy's shoulder. Watch out for emus: those beady eyes and pointy beaks are even more intimidating when they're attached to something that's double your height.
We’re Hungry, Mum
- Beaches are a big part of the WA experience. Ensure the kids swim between the flags, and ask the locals about the safer beaches.
Amusement Parks, Water Parks & Rides
- If you're on the right part of the coast at the right time of year, you'll definitely see whales from the shore.
- Organised whale-watching boat trips depart from Perth, Fremantle, Dunsborough, Augusta, Albany, Bremer Bay, Coral Bay, Broome, Kalbarri, Exmouth and the Dampier Peninsula.
- When booking accommodation and hire cars in advance, specify whether you need equipment such as cots, high chairs and car booster seats.
- If you're travelling with an infant, bring a mosquito net to drape over the cot.
- Bring rash shirts for the beach and warm clothes if you're travelling south in winter.
- Anything you forget can be easily purchased when you arrive.
- Child concessions (and family rates) often apply for accommodation, tours, admission fees, and air, bus and train transport.
- Babies and infants will often get into sights for free. Note that the definition of 'child' can vary from under 12 to under 18 years.
- Accommodation concessions generally apply to children under 12 years sharing the same room as adults.
- On major airlines, infants travel for free provided they don't occupy a seat – child fares usually apply between two and 11 years.