Take a Remarkable Journey in NSW... For Family Fun

Butterflies are fluttering in Coffs Harbour Butterfly House; the warm waters of the natural thermal pool at Yarrangobilly Caves in Kosciuszko National Park are perfect for swimming; seals await your arrival at Montague Island. New South Wales is full of family-friendly attractions. 

Animals – the majestic and the cute

Family Feeding a Giraffe Kids love animals, and New South Whales offers plenty. Four cheetah cubs are growing fast at Taronga Western Plains Zooin Dubbo. Two have been identified as the rare king cheetah, a colour variation that gives the animals darker spots, forming a stripe-like pattern.  Only 60 or so king cheetahs are thought to remain in the world.  The Children’s Zoo here offers kids close contact with wallabies, kangaroos, echidnas, hoofed stock and meerkats – plus a big walk-through aviary.

Mogo Zoo, on the South Coast, possesses the only white lions in Australia and there’s a knowledgeable keeper who is happy to answer endless questions from younger visitors. Kids can feed deer and red pandas in trees, their tails hanging down, are another hit.

A cruise to Montague Island, near Narooma, takes families to the world of Australian fur seals from late August to early December. If you’re feeling in a reptilian mood, Australian Reptile Park at Somersby near Gosford houses Australia’s largest collection of reptiles, plus Spider World and a unique venom-milking program.

At Port Macquarie there is an opportunity to gain insight into one of Australia’s wildlife icons. The world’s first Koala Hospital is dedicated to saving the lives of these creatures and you can hear the stories of these furry friends each afternoon at 3pm, where you can even‘adopt a koala’. Just north of Port Macquarie is Ricardo’s Tomatoes and Strawberries. You can have a look around this environmentally friendly farm and pick your own delicious selection from their eight varieties of tomatoes and five different types of strawberries.

The gentle world of the butterfly is on display at Coffs Harbour Butterfly House. Vivid and captivating, especially when they land on you!  Close by, kids can meet dolphins and seals, sea lions and penguins at the Pet Porpoise Pool.

Image of Dubbo - courtesy of Destination NSW. http://www.visitnsw.com/destinations/country-nsw/dubbo-area/dubbo

By the Beach

Family Fun at the BeachYou can’t beat the beach for a fun-filled family day out. Learning to surf is an achievement – for young and old. Central Coast Surf School holds learn-to-surf courses during the school holidays at Umina, Avoca and Terrigal Beaches.  In the state’s far north, Byron Bay Surf School and Kool Katz organise surf camps for kids. South of Kiama, at Seven Mile Beach, Land’s Edge Surf School runs a Surf Pipis program for children under eight.  A qualified instructor conducts this low-key, two-hour course – with bodyboards, surfboards and sunscreen for all.

Further north, dolphin-watching cruises depart from the Jervis Bay beachside town of Huskisson each day. Dolphins bring whoops of joy from kids, who compete to see who can spot them first. When whales surface (quite often, in season) the experience is awesome. The whoosh of their exhaled breath and their mighty tails leaves families spellbound.

In Eurobodalla, Broulee Island, a dedicated nature reserve, separates two surfing beaches. The north section of Broulee beach is perfect for young children with its shallow, safe waters making for much splashing fun.  The more advanced surfers head to nearby Pink Rocks which is not recommended for beginners but is considered one of the best breaks around.

Hook, Line and Sinker

“Gone fishing” can apply to the whole family. Many fishing clubs, like the one based at the Headlands Hotel at Coledale, are keen to recruit families. Batemans Bay offers prime fishing spots. The NSW Department of Primary Industries teaches kids to fish for just $40. The department’s regular ‘fishing for kids’ workshops are devised for children aged eight to 14.  Saltwater fishingworkshops take place at Coffs Harbour, Urunga, The Entrance, Lake Macquarie, Potonga, Narrabeen, Cronulla, Lake Illawarra, Narooma and Batemans Bay; and there are freshwater fishing workshops at the Gaden (Jindabyne), Dutton (Ebor), Narrandera and Grafton fish hatcheries.

Houseboats and River Fun

Boat and River Fun for the FamilyOn the Hawkesbury river system, in majestic Brisbane Waters National Park, there’s no need to own a boat – you just hire one. Relaxation Boat Hire at Akuna Bay hires out boats big enough for families and you don’t need a licence or any boating experience.

Other water-based options include hiring acanoe to explore the meandering ponds in the Hunter Wetlands at Shortland near Newcastle, exploring the many inlets of the Eurobodalla region, heading to Kangaroo Valley for canoeing on the idyllic Kangaroo River or swimming in the warm waters of the natural thermal pool at Yarrangobilly Caves in Kosciuszko National Park.  Follow the latter with a family tour of the spectacular limestone caverns.

In the far south, take to the Murray River aboard a paddle steamer, go kayaking or hire a houseboat in Moama.

Share the Thrills

From September to April, Jamberoo Action Park near Kiama, offers all sorts of rides and water fun. The Bobsled is aperennial favourite. Two tracks snake down the mountain – a green track for speedsters and a blue track for the more cautious. Be warned – if you try this you will almost certainly end up doing it again, often several times.

Not far away, the Illawarra Fly Tree top Walk gives the sort of panoramic outlook generally gained only from an aircraft or hot-air balloon. To add a bit of extra excitement to this bird’s-eye-viewwalk, there are two cantilevered arms that place you directly above the temperate rainforest, almost as if you were hovering there in a hang-glider.The cantilevers’ soft swaying in the breeze heightens the experience.

Roar & Snore, at Taronga Western Plains Zoo in Dubbo, is an exciting overnight program perfect for families with children aged over five. After an Outback dinner, participants hike through the zoo on a night safari led by a zoo educator. Roar & Snore campers sleep infour-person safari tents pitched under the stars, rising to the warbles,rumbles, squeaks, growls and roars of animals greeting the day.

Selwyn Snowfields is a Snowy Mountain’s skiresort dedicated to families. Selwyn has ten lifts, one snow tube lift just for fun, toboggans, ski school, snow play and the Snowgums Cafeteria. Best of all Selwyn’s one day terrain park pass will only set you back $20.

Hit the Road with the Kids

“Are we there yet?” Help avoid this call from the back of the car by choosing short drives with plenty of stops. Small things – a milkshake or a tree to climb – break a journey and keep young travellers happy. The Blue Mountains is studded with fun places to stop. The Greater Blue Mountains Drive includes the Zig Zag Railway. A Glow Worm Tunnel highlights the Newnes Plateau drive.

On the North Coast, the Pacific Coast Touring Route takes you on a journey from Sydney to the Queensland border.That’s quite a distance, so do it in stages. A few highlights: The Lakes; Myall Lakes National Park for sailing, kayaking, swimming and camping; Bellingen with its popular gelato bar and the nearby Skywalk in Dorrigo National Park and Tropical Fruit World in the Tweed Valley with its jungle river cruise, miniature train ride, cubby houses, games, giant ice-creams and plantation  safari.

Put the Kids to Work on a Bush Adventure

Parents enjoying a Bush Walk in NSWThis one will appeal to families with older teenagers and young adults who want to experience life on the land.  Hop in the car, head west and sign upfor the Jillaroo and Jackeroo School in Leconfield near the country music capital, Tamworth.  Get up early and learn all about shearing sheep, horse riding, whip cracking and lassoing the ones that get away.  If you want to sign the kids for an all-inclusive 5-day bush adventure on the Leconfield property, mum and dad can relax in Tamworth, enjoying the local cuisine, bush walking or the Tamworth monthly markets while they wait.


For more information go to sydney.com