Travel with Children
If your children can survive travelling long distances by road, travelling in Australia will be a real delight. Lonely Planet's Travel with Children contains plenty of useful information on how to plan, pack and prepare for your big adventure.
Australia has high-standard medical services and facilities (make sure your insurance covers your whole family) and caters perfectly to children-specific needs from baby formula and disposable nappies to children's favourite food styles in most major towns.
Keeping Costs Down
Accommodation Many motels, hotels and the better-equipped holiday parks have playgrounds, swimming pools, and children-focussed activities to keep kids entertained without spending extra.
Car safety seats Ideally bring your own child safety seats rather than pay hire fees. You can pick up a secondhand one in Australia from reselling websites like eBay, but there are safety concerns (age or damage) to consider.
Concessions Child concessions (and family rates) often apply to accommodation, tours, admission fees and transport, with some discounts as high as 50% off the adult rate. However, the definition of 'child' varies from under five years, 12 years or 18 years so always check. Museums and art galleries are often free.
Eating out Most cafes, pubs and restaurants offer children's menus, or will provide a child-sized (entrée) portion for a smaller price on request. The best news for travelling families is the free or coin-operated barbecues in many public parks. Often outdoors dining is the best way forward with little ones.
Eating With Kids
Dining with children in Australia is relatively easy. At all but the flashiest places children are commonly seen dining out. Kids are usually more than welcome at cafes, while bistros and clubs often see families dining early. Fine-dining restaurants, however, discourage bringing babies or small children to appease other diners.
Kids’ menus often offer the same foods, straight from the deep fryer – crumbed chicken, battered fish and chips. It is possible to order from the broader menu and ask the kitchen to adapt the meal or size to your child’s needs.
Children Will Love
There’s no shortage of active, interesting or amusing things for children to experience in Australia. Plenty of museums, zoos, aquariums, interactive technology centres and pioneer villages have historical, natural or science-based exhibits to get kids thinking. And of course outdoor destinations are always a winner.
Victoria Wilsons Promontory National Park is a favourite family haunt and keeps knee-biters occupied with bushwalks, swimming, surfing and wildlife spotting. The Penguin Parade on Phillip Island is also a must for families.
New South Wales Surf schools run camps specifically for kids during school holidays. The Art Gallery of NSW runs the excellent GalleryKids program on Sundays.
Northern Territory Take kids wildlife spotting in the Territory Wildlife Park or Alice Springs Desert Park.
Queensland World-famous Australia Zoo and Gold Coast theme parks in Queensland are child pleasers.
Tasmania As haunting as it is, Port Arthur is a well-preserved historic site giving insight into Australia's colonial story. The ghost tours are good.
Western Australia Swimming with whale sharks, learning more about dolphins in Bunbury, and spotting humpacks at Albany. WA is the best option for ocean lovers avoiding the crowds.