How to Choose the Best Cruise for a Family Holiday

Photo courtesy of https://www.flickr.com/photos/46157135@N06/

Photo courtesy of https://www.flickr.com/photos/46157135@N06/

More and more Australians are spending their holiday aboard a cruise ship, but how much fun can the little ones have on this type of trip? (The answer is lots, with a bit of forward planning)

Take a look at these top tips for keeping the kids happy on a family cruise holiday:

Choose the Right Ship

Photo courtesy of https://www.flickr.com/photos/pikmin/

Photo courtesy of https://www.flickr.com/photos/pikmin/

You’ll be spending a significant amount of time on-board, so it’s important you find a child-friendly liner with plenty of activities and fun things to do. Fortunately for families, cruise companies are paying more attention to younger passengers than ever. From rope courses suspended 150ft in the air to special DreamWorks Experiences, there’s a growing choice of things to do for kids of all ages.

Many parents will understand the frustration of getting a child to try new food, so consider the restaurant options on board the ships. Many liners will have upwards of 10 complimentary eateries on board so it shouldn’t be too difficult to find something they’ll like but aim for a little variety so they’re not eating beef burgers every day for two weeks.

Pack in Plenty of Excursions
Many cruises offer daily excursions, giving the kids chance to run around explore new places. From city breaks to beach days, there are a wide range of different experiences available aboard the world’s top cruise itineraries.

Many of these excursions also offer kids the opportunity to absorb new cultures and countries. Furthermore, there are a range of activities to be enjoyed on the excursions from scuba diving to mountain biking.

Introduce them to New Friends
Almost all child-friendly cruises will have kids clubs operating throughout the holiday, kicked off with a first night party. This is a great chance for kids to meet new friends for the duration of the holiday. After making friends, kids will have the choice of sticking to the itineraries set by the kids club or just hanging out with their new mates. This can give you and the other half a little private time as well to enjoy the cruise in peace.

Even if they are a little apprehensive and nervous on the first night, gently nudge them towards the club. Unsurprisingly, the likes of Disney Cruises have incredibly comprehensive on-board kids clubs.

Find the Best Deals
Cruising can be an incredibly cost effective holiday option for families, especially given the all-inclusive food and drink options. Due to the time-specific nature of cruise holidays, last minute deals in particular can grant families huge savings. Check out sites like Cruise1st for last-minute summer holiday deals.

Visiting many countries in one trip also offers great value for families, effectively fitting numerous holidays into one trip and one price.

Image courtesy of https://www.flickr.com/photos/dansapples/

Image courtesy of https://www.flickr.com/photos/dansapples/

Don’t go into hibernation this winter – 4 wonderful winter escapes for families close to Sydney

In winter it’s tempting to hide away inside the warmth of our own home but getting out in the fresh air can really awaken the senses. Some of the best holidays happen in the colder months when the crowds of summer and the high-season prices disappear. Keeping the kids outside and active in winter also helps them to build immunity to fight off the nasty bugs that seem to go around at this time of the year.

Here are four great trips to consider for the winter holidays, perfect for families and within easy reach of Sydney.

Jenolan Caves

Jenolan Caves

Blue Mountains

Don’t run away from the cold, embrace it. The cool climate of the Blue Mountains is perfect for adventure with many children’s activities on offer that you can enjoy too.

Jenolan Caves showcases some of the most spectacular caves in Australia. Dramatically lit and expertly guided daily tours will have the kids feeling like they’ve entered another world. For older kids, check out Trees Adventure at Grose River Park. Climbing, swinging and leaping through the trees will release their inner Tarzan or Jane and burn off loads of energy.

On cool sunny days, there are number of amazing bush tracks to explore but make sure you take some extra water, warm clothes and let someone know where you are going. Or rest your legs and view the mountains from a different angle as you ride the scenic railway, the steepest passenger railway in the world. Get up close and personal with the native animals at Featherdale Wildlife Park.  In rainy weather, the Leuralla Toy and Railway Museum can be educational and fun at the same time.

Hunter Valley Wildlife

Hunter Valley Wildlife

Hunter Valley

Hunter Valley Gardens are stroller friendly and the little ones will love finding their favourite fairy-tale characters in the Storybook Garden. There is also horse riding, Hunter Valley Zoo, Richmond Vale Railway Museum and even hot air ballooning to try. Get back to nature at the Hunter Wetlands Centre with trail walking, canoeing and a children’s discovery playground. You can even warm up on a cold day with a tour of the chocolate factory.

Choose an accommodation option that is close to all the attractions and offers family friendly accommodation facilities and packages such as Crowne Plaza Hunter Valley Resort.

Pacific Coast Drive

If you have a bit of time up your sleeve why not take a few days, the car and the kids, and experience the legendary Pacific Coast Drive from Sydney to Brisbane.

Make your first stop off at Australian Reptile Park in Gosford where the kids can make new friends, of the scaly and furry variety. By Port Stephens you will all be in the holiday mood. During the cooler months of June and July you can spot the annual whale migration and pods of bottlenose dolphins here.

Port Stephens

Port Stephens

Then you’ve got a continuous line of surf beaches, national parks and rolling green hills to explore up the coast. Highlights here include a visit to Ellenborough Falls near Taree and of course The Big Banana on your way through Coffs Harbour. Byron Bay has a chilled out beach vibe and in winter there are less backpackers and more families. Be sure to take the kids on a walk to the lighthouse.

Queensland – Gold Coast

Add on an extra week after your Pacific Coast Drive and take some time to relax and explore the Gold Coast. Or fast track your trip, skip the drive and pick up some cheap airfares to the winter warmth of Queensland.

With the fun of the theme parks and myriad coastal activities, the Gold Coast is the ultimate family destination. Even in winter it’s warm enough for the kids to run wild on the coast and play in the sea. Be sure to check out Drax for Kids, if they are old enough to visit this gothic park without having nightmares. Glow Worm Caves are amazing and instructive too. Then experience dinner with a unique show the whole family will love at The Outback Spectacular. For a better deal on your family theme park packages visit themeparks.com.au

Instead of moping about the place waiting for summer to show its face make the most of the cooler months and your next holiday. Keep a lookout for the special deals advertised to pull in tourists at this, off peak, time of year and make the most of them. Winter is the time for serious family fun; so pack your bags, strap on some boots, pull on your hats and coats and get out there.

This post was provided by Anna Johnson, a busy mum of 2 boys, a freelance travel writer who still enjoys spending her time-off travelling with her family and loves sharing her experiences with others. Follow Anna on G+: https://plus.google.com/u/0/+AnnaJohnsonOToole

Rome with Kids: 5 Fun Things to Do

Visiting the Eternal City is one of the biggest dreams of many travelers all around the world. Rome is a vibrant city and there is always something one can see or do, such as visiting the ruins of the Roman Empire, or an art exhibition in one of the many galleries studding the city. But if you are traveling with kids, would they enjoy all this as much as adults? Here is a list of 5 fun things to do in Rome that will keep you and your kids entertained.

The Colosseum

The Colosseum

1. Discover the Colosseum

When you arrive at one of Rome’s airports, or to the Civitavecchia port, get to the Rome city center, you can easily do so by taking advantage of Cabs4Rome Civitavecchia shuttle express, for example.

The first thing you should do when you get to Rome is to visit the Colosseum. It is probably the most famous landmark of the city and it tells the history of the Ancient Rome. Hire a tour guide or join a group tour at the entrance to learn all about gladiatorial fights, sea battles and animal hunts. Afterwards head outside and take fun pictures of your kids with Roman gladiators!

The Bioparco in Villa Borghese

The Bioparco in Villa Borghese

2. Visit the Bioparco in Villa Borghese

Take your kids to Villa Borghese, the second largest park in Rome, and have a stroll around these enchanting gardens while eating delicious gelato of different tastes. Then visit the Bioparco, which is located right in the Villa Borghese park. There are more than thousand different animals like turtles, bears, vultures and crocodiles that will surely catch your kids’ attention.

the Explora Children’s Museum

The Explora Children’s Museum

3. Head to the Explora Children’s Museum

In Rome, there is also a museum dedicated to kids. Explora interactive museum is built to child-scale and children can play and pretend to be adults in different settings such as supermarkets, a TV studio, a real kitchen and even a fireman truck!

At Explora, children can also learn many things by attending educational events and workshops that are held at the first floor of the building, situated near Piazza del Popolo.

the Largo di Torre Argentina Cat Sanctuary

the Largo di Torre Argentina Cat Sanctuary

4. Pet cats in the Largo di Torre Argentina Cat Sanctuary

It seems that even cats are fascinated by the history of Rome and many of them have been living on the ruins amongst its oldest temples in Torre Argentina, since the site was uncovered in 1929.

Today Torre Argentina is home for more than 250 cats that are all vaccinated, fed and cleaned by a non-profit organization of volunteers. If your kids love animals, you can also decide to adopt one at distance or buy gifts for your friends in the Cat shop.

The Burattini del Gianicolo

The Burattini del Gianicolo

5. See the Burattini del Gianicolo

Climb the Janiculum Hill with your family and then stop to watch a show at the most famous and authentic puppet theatre in Rome. Although all the shows are in Italian, your kids will be enchanted by these traditional hand-crafter puppets, called burattini and their funny antics will keep them entertained. The shows are held every Sunday morning.

These are only a few of the things one can do in Rome with kids, so don’t waste your time and organize a trip to Rome that will amuse and cheer up not only you, but also your kids.

Not the high-life, but you come out on tops for kids at Mt Baw Baw – Review

First Tracks at Mt Baw Baw

“I hope Baw Baw isn’t like it sounds” my eight year old giggles in the back seat of the car as we wind our way up the mountain of the closest downhill ski resort to Melbourne.

“It better not be” my husband replies.

I know what he’s thinking.  Skiing after-all isn’t a cheap exercise and he found the receipt and said something I can’t repeat about the $980 I paid for two nights in an en-suite cabin with one bedroom.

Then there was the $110 ski clothing hire (and $90 for gloves I bought), $30 ski and boot hire, $90 ski lesson for the eight year old, $60 ski lesson for the four year old, $60 for chains and $42 we were about to pay (daily) for parking.

Cascade Apartments

We stayed at Cascades Apartments http://www.cascadeapartments.com.au (apartment seven).  Our room had a fire, kitchenette, a lounge with two couches which fold out to beds and a small bedroom with a Queen bed and a large bunk overhead. Think old brick ski lodge – fairly dated, but clean and very comfortable.

The proximity is what won the kids over.  There was literally snow at the door, and you can don your ski gear and within a five-minute walk be tobogganing on the slopes.

There are a few dining options on the restaurant, but having your own food, particularly for breakfast, snacks and lunch is definitely worthwhile.

The Village Restaurant had a set menu of $40 per adult, while the Alpine Bar was ‘A la carte’ with typical pub style food, large portions and a relaxed atmosphere.

Kelly’s café is a great spot to grab some hot fast food (although the service wasn’t so fast  – 35 minutes for a couple of lamb wraps and some hot chips) but it’s conveniently located right near the Frosti Hollow Toboggan Park.

This is the only ‘dedicated’ toboggan area, but take a short walk around the village area and there are plenty of other areas to be found.

Great tobogganing for the kids Unfortunately 2013 didn’t turn out to be a great year for snow-fall, but it didn’t stop us spending hours tobogganing down the slopes until the snow turned to slush and mud – and then we kept going.

The ski instructors were fantastic and the kids were skiing with no poles down the small slopes within an hour.  There is a carpet tow lift, which gives the children a fantastic introduction to using a proper ski tow.

I think the reaction from my four year old, who had to be physically removed from the slopes, is testament to how much the children enjoyed it.

Being school holidays there were some great other activities too – face painting, cooking marshmallows over an open fire, a small circus style trampoline for the kids to do some flips, and fireworks.

The little village has a great feel to it, and even without the holiday activities, as a first time ski/snow introduction to kids, I’d think it’d be hard to beat.

So it’s an eight out of ten by us Baw Baw, and you certainly aren’t anything like your namesake.

———————

A few tips – buy chains for the car, check the ski report, take food so you can prepare meals as you wish, take cash (the power went out three times during our stay).

Accommodation options: http://mountbawbaw.com.au/accomodation/on-mountain/

Tobogganning Fun

Cascade’s is listed separately and isn’t part of the Mount Baw Baw accommodation offering as it’s just outside of the main gates of the mountain.

It takes about 2.5 hours to get to Mt Baw Baw from Melbourne.

Great tips for firs timers to Baw Baw: http://mountbawbaw.com.au/plan-your-trip/first-timers-info/

This blog post  is courtesy of Kirstie Bedford. Kirstie started her career as a journalist covering hard news, but always had a yearning to travel.

Working for Tourism New Zealand in her 20s she was lucky to visit some of the most remote and remarkable parts of her own country, hosting international media to many destinations only accessible by helicopter or boat.

When she got married, it was only fitting that instead of a beach resort, her and husband Dave spent five weeks trekking around Europe.

They returned to New Zealand and several years later moved to Australia, where they’ve been living for seven years, and where Kirstie works as a PR consultant focusing on the food, wine/beverage and tourism sectors.

Kirstie is also a committee member of the International Food Wine Travel Writers Association – Australasia.

With two young boys her travels are a bit closer to home these days, but her bucket list grows by the day and she hopes to one day cross them all off the list – sharing her experiences as she goes.

LinkedIn: http://au.linkedin.com/in/kirstiebedford
Twitter: @kirstiebedford
Blog: https://foodwinetraveltips.wordpress.com/author/kdjm/

Tangalooma Island Resort Review – beyond the beauty

Amazing sunset at Tangalooma Island

I have to say when I first booked Tangalooma Island Resort on Moreton Island, 40 kilometres off the coast of Brisbane, I had some reservations.

Sure the website looks fantastic, with a plethora of activities and breathtaking scenery, but some of the feedback online wasn’t so flattering.

After travelling twice a year with our two children since my eldest was born eight years ago, and visiting all manner of family resorts only to often leave feeling disheartened – I had some trepidation; but within a matter of hours Tangalooma had won us over.

From three years old to 15 years old, there is simply so much for children to do – they will be begging you to take them back to the roomy villa for a break.

Tangalooma Island Beach

Most people are aware that you can feed the dolphins, but oh Tangalooma, you are so much more.

Whale watching (we saw 26 whales), sand surfing (kids can ride on mum or dad’s back), Quad bike tours, helicopter rides, kayaking, boat hire and fish feeding .. are just a few of the paid activities.

As for free activities – there’s a tennis court, swimming pools, eco walks, pelican and kookaburra feeding and movie nights – to name but a few. See the full list  of free activities here.

While at many resorts you’re limited to one restaurant, Tangalooma has a beach café, with just a narrow pathway separating you and the beach, so you can order all manner of things – including restaurant quality specials of Mexican, Italian or Indian, and the classics – fish and chips.  There are also two other restaurants and a coffee shop.

There are lots of accommodation options, but we choose the beachfront villa, which are two bedroom, two level townhouses with incredible views – and back a little bit from the hustle and bustle of the main dining and shopping area of the resort.

Quad Biking

They also have a full kitchen, and being so close to Brisbane, you can just fill up an esky and bring it with you on the ferry (alcohol isn’t permitted, but can be purchased on the island).

So if you’re after an packed holiday with what feels like an endless array of activities – this is the place for you.

Get on the beach, on the water, in the air or on the sand desert – and at the end of the day you can sit outside at the beach café with a glass of whatever takes your fancy and watch the sunset, while the kids play right in front of you on the soft sandy beach.

Tip: Take a pram if you have very young children because it is quite a walk from one end of the resort to the other.

What a view

This blog post  is courtesy of Kirstie Bedford. Kirstie started her career as a journalist covering hard news, but always had a yearning to travel.

Working for Tourism New Zealand in her 20s she was lucky to visit some of the most remote and remarkable parts of her own country, hosting international media to many destinations only accessible by helicopter or boat.

When she got married, it was only fitting that instead of a beach resort, her and husband Dave spent five weeks trekking around Europe.

They returned to New Zealand and several years later moved to Australia, where they’ve been living for seven years, and where Kirstie works as a PR consultant focusing on the food, wine/beverage and tourism sectors.

Kirstie is also a committee member of the International Food Wine Travel Writers Association – Australasia.

With two young boys her travels are a bit closer to home these days, but her bucket list grows by the day and she hopes to one day cross them all off the list – sharing her experiences as she goes.

LinkedIn: http://au.linkedin.com/in/kirstiebedford
Twitter: @kirstiebedford
Blog: https://foodwinetraveltips.wordpress.com/author/kdjm/

The Resort from above

WIN an iPad Mini from Haggus and Stookles!

WIN an iPad Mini from Haggus and Stookles

Thank you to everyone for their fantastic feedback. Congratulations to Annabelle who has WON an iPad Mini for her great feedback.

Enter our competition for your chance to WIN an iPad Mini from Haggus and Stookles!

Haggus and Stookles has a simple purpose, to make life easier for parents with small children, reduce their stress and allow them to spend more time with their children. To help make the online shopping experience that bit easier for parents, we are looking for lots and lots of product feedback to add to our website haggusandstookles.com.au.

As you know when you can’t touch or see a product it is harder to make an informed decision. But real feedback from people who use a product makes it that bit easier!

We therefore would love to hear your feedback on the products we sell. Everyone that submits some product feedback between the 4th and 31st July 2013 will be entered in the competition to win an iPad Mini Wifi 16GB ($369 value) from Haggus and Stookles! The competition is based on skill and the creativity of your feedback, we would love to hear how you use the product and why it helps to make life easier for you as a parent. Note you can provide feedback on more than one product, the more you do the better chance you have to WIN!

To enter:
1.    If you have one of the products we sell at https://haggusandstookles.com.au/ (either bought from us or elsewhere), provide us with your feedback about the product in your entry. Make sure you include the name of the product with your comments! :) Tell us how you use the product and how it helps to make life easier for you as a parent.
2. The competition is open until 3pm Wednesday 31st July and will be decided at 9am Monday 1st August.
3. Entry can be made by either commenting below – either login with your Facebook login or by simply entering your name and email address below. You can also simply comment below this blog post if you prefer.

See following a link to the Competition Terms and Conditions.

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10 Places to Take the Kids in the Second Half of 2013

Now that the first half of 2013 has passed (and how fast did it go?!), it’s time to start thinking about where you can take the kids on holiday in the second half of the year. Have you been on holiday already this year? If so, perhaps something relatively local will appeal. If you are yet to take a break, maybe something a little further from home is on the agenda. Regardless of the type of holiday you’re looking for, here are 10 great places to take the kids on holiday for the rest of 2013.

The Great Barrier Reef

1. The Great Barrier Reef
The large majority of kids have the same thing in common: they love swimming and they love wildlife! Where is the best to combine the two? The Great Barrier Reef. Known for its colourful coral and abundant wildlife, this is one of the most spectacular natural attractions on the planet. This is a great place for your first scuba lesson, and the kids will have great opportunities to learn such as those at Green Island. June to December is also the peak time for whale watching!

2. Magnetic Island
Magnetic Island rests just offshore of North Queensland and is a popular holiday destination because of its natural beauty, entertaining things to do, and picture-perfect weather – escape the cold! Besides the sailing, fishing, walking & water sports that you and the family can enjoy, the kids will especially love swimming in the sheltered waters of Horseshoe Bay. You won’t be able to wipe the smile off the kids’ faces!

3. Melbourne
Although it is winter in Melbourne, the city is at its vibrant best during this time of year. The AFL season is in full swing, with blockbuster games being held at the MCG every week. If the kids are new to the sport, they’ll be amazed at the huge crowds that gather every weekend. Head to Luna Park for a day of thrills, and be sure to catch the fireworks in the Docklands precinct that happen at 7:00pm every Friday night in July!

4. Surfers Paradise
Yes, it’s an oldie but a goodie! If you can manage to take the kids out of the school holidays period, then you’ll find the usual hustle & bustle of Surfers Paradise to be less than usual and far more relaxing. Clearly, the big drawcards for kids are the themeparks – Dreamworld, Seaworld, Movieworld and Wet’n’Wild. During peak periods, the lines to get into these parks can be enormous – head there during the quieter periods and spend the day laughing your way through the rides all day with the kids!

5. Ayers Rock
Locals in Alice Springs say that the best time to visit Ayers Rock is during September. Take the kids to see this natural wonder (the largest free standing monolith in the world!) and it will be sure to take their breath away. Make sure you climb Ayers Rock with them and when you get to the top, call someone special. Grandma would love a call from her grandkids while standing on top of Australia’s most iconic attraction!

6.  Mt Buller
Not fussed about the cold? Think the kids can handle it? Then why not take them to one of Victoria’s best ski resorts for families – Mt Buller. With over 300 hectares of ski fields and a huge variety of beginner trails, it is the perfect place to introduce the younger ones to the thrill of skiing or snowboarding. You’ll have them asking to come back every year!

7. Phillip Island
This popular tourist destination just 90 minutes from Melbourne is choc-full of kid’s activities! The big one is the Penguin Parade, where you can sit and watch hundreds of fairy penguins waddle their way up the beach to their sand burrows. A guaranteed kid-pleaser! Phillip Island also boasts a wildlife sanctuary, as well as a well renowned maze that will keep the kids busy trying to find a way out! Mini golf is also available with the maze

Dolphin at Monkey Mia

8. Monkey Mia
This world famous attraction in Western Australia should be high on the list of places to take the kids. It is famous for its dolphin interaction experience, where you get the chance to get up close and personal with wild dolphins. If you’re lucky your child will be picked to feed the dolphins as they come up into the shallow waters. An unforgettable experience that they will remember the res t of their lives!

9. Sydney
If you’re stuck for ideas and you want somewhere easy to visit, Sydney is the answer. Australia’s most popular tourist destination has an amazing variety of activities to keep the kids entertained. The Sydney Observatory will take your children on a journey to the moon and back, while the Sydney Aquarium features all-Australia sea life that will have them fascinated for hours. If your littlies have a favourite celebrity, visit Madame Tussauds and see a perfect wax version of their idol!

10. Port Arthur
Port Arthur in Tasmania is an historic site and is an important part of Australia’s history. Educate the kids with the amazing stories & events that have taken place here. A kids activity book is provided for the young ‘uns on arrival, to help them understand what has happened in the past and how it affects them today. There are many displays that allow children to interact – their knowledge of Australian history will double after a day at Port Arthur.

Authors note:
Matt Pruys manages the Holiday Ideas section for HomeAway.com.au, the world’s leading online holiday rental accommodation network.     

A Trip to NSW’s Snowy Mountains Might Be Just the Thing for the Kids this Winter

A trip to NSW’s Snowy Mountains might be just the thing for the kids this winter.  Here are five things we think they will love about the Snowies:

Racing downhill really fast

By which we mean, of course, they’ll have a wealth of cool snow-related sports activities to choose from. If they’re a little too young to ski – and if you’re not keen on seeing them speeding down the slopes on a snowboard (just yet) – there’s always the option of tobogganing or tubing.  Perisher’s “Tubetown”, for example, offers a safe, well-organised environment for families to enjoy some fun in the snow.

Of the four main Snowy Mountains Winter Resorts, however, the Selwyn Snowfields actively caters for families. It offers gentler slopes, family-friendly holiday packages, and a Snow Sports School which caters for children as young as 18 months. It’s also the perfect place to start skiing if you’re a parent who’s just as new to it as your kids!

Trekking

If you’re looking for some quality family time away from the hectic pace of the Ski-Resorts, trekking in specially-made “snow-shoes” is a great alternative. They’ll get some fresh air and fitness while discovering the beauty of the snowy wilderness.

You’ll find a variety of guided snow-shoeing family adventures out there and – unlike skiing – they don’t require any previous skill or experience.  And, of course, like most snow-related activities it’s a terrific way to wear them out really quickly!

Getting warm

Spent a big tiring day on the slopes? Well, the Snowy Mountains offers plenty of accommodation to rest weary legs. And there’s nothing better than coming in from the cold and kicking back in front of an open log fire or enjoying a hearty meal.

If the big resorts don’t take your fancy then you might choose to rent out a self-contained holiday house, cottage or cabin for an unforgettable family holiday experience. Your options are easily accessed on-line – those looking for accommodation with access to the Selwyn Snowfields, for example, should visit the Snowy Mountains Holiday Centre.

Learning

Okay, in theory “education” is probably not the way to get the kids excited about their holiday – but in practice there’s plenty of scope for fun in the Snowies where they’ll be able to learn stuff.

Aside from gaining confidence and skills on the snow-fields through the various ski-schools on offer, you will also be able to check out one of the great engineering marvels of the world – the Snowy Hydro-Electric Scheme. They’ll find the scale of it (seven power stations, two of which are underground, 16 major dams and over 140 kilometres of trans-mountain tunnels) really cool – and the stories behind this incredible exercise in national building very inspiring. Check out the Snowy Hydro Discovery Centre in Cooma for a state-of-the-art learning experience.

Adventure

You can promise them ADVENTURE to be had in the Snowies – and plenty of it.  Of course, strapping on the skis for the first time and taking off down the slopes is an obvious way to get the ol’ adrenaline charged, but there’s an ample amount of other cool stuff on offer. From riding horses to riding segways, cross-country skiing through a pristine snowy world, or just taking off on a chairlift up the side of a mountain – there are loads of mind-blowingly new experiences to give them. Or, if they prefer, they can just play in the snow!

Head over to VisitNSW.com for more great tips on the Snowy Mountains including great tips on what to do and where to stay in Thredbo and Perisher.

Canberra’s best educational travel destinations for Kids

As the Australian capital city and home to the Australian Government, Canberra has many national attractions as well as local exhibitions and activities to suit people of all ages. This year Canberra is celebrating its 100th anniversary, so there are added special events and exhibitions for this occasion too. There is plenty of accommodation in Canberra for all budget levels, varying from five star and heritage-listed hotels to serviced apartments and camping options; many offer special packages and deals for short breaks for families throughout the year. Plus there’s no shortage of child-friendly dining.

The city itself is spacious and easy to get around. It is one of the few ‘planned cities’ in the world, and bush and parkland feature heavily – so much so it’s often referred to as ‘the city in the park’. There are lots of walking trails and cycle paths around the city and lake, but if you’re after something a little less energetic, and want to learn something about Australian culture and heritage, take a look at some of these attractions:

Royal Australian Mint Ever been floored when your child asked you how coins were made and who or what was on an Australian coin? A visit to the Royal Australian Mint will answer just about every question there is! You can see coins being made in a production factory and kids will love minting their own $1 coin. As well as housing a collection of national coins, (the Australian Mint keeps two of everything it makes) there are also exhibits of rare and historically significant coins. Kids and adults alike will also enjoy the exhibit of rare mistakes – next time you find an odd coin in your pocket, it might be worth checking to see if it’s worth a few thousand dollars!

New Parliament House Home to the Australian Government, a visit to Canberra isn’t complete unless you visit New Parliament House. Here you can actually see democracy in progress by viewing proceedings from the public galleries of both the House of Representatives and the Senate whenever the Houses are in session.

The building itself is an impressive sight, and once inside (you will need to enter via a security screen) you can either walk through the public areas on your own or take a guided tour and view historic documents such as the Magna Carta. Also of interest is The Parliament House Art Collection which consists of several thousand art and craft works, including one of the world’s largest tapestries hanging in the Great Hall.

National Museum of Australia The galleries at the National Museum of Australia have a lot to offer to keep the kids entertained as well as teaching them about Australia’s social history. Kids will love learning about some of Australia’s unique animals as well as seeing the Wiggles t-shirts and the Playschool flower clock. They can even audition as a volunteer announcer at the Goolarri interactive radio recording studio.

Throughout the holidays, the museum has special children-orientated programs where they can have fun participating in, themed art, craft and other activities.

National Capital Exhibition This exhibition is a fascinating insight behind Canberra’s development. It explains just about everything and everybody who contributed to it: the people, events, history and design.

There’s a scale model with the Canberra Sound and Light show and you can also learn about the Indigenous people of the Canberra area.

Australian Institute of Sport (AIS) What child wouldn’t get inspired when they see where Australia’s sporting champions live and train? A visit to the AIS will give your children some insight into how hard Australia’s top athletes train to be the best. The behind-the-scenes tour is guided by an elite athlete, so there’s plenty of opportunity to ask questions and to learn what it’s like to being at the top.

The tour takes you through the world-class sporting precinct, and you may see some of Australia’s top athletes in training. There is also Sportex, an interactive sports experience, where you can give a whole range of sports a go, including rock climbing, football penalty shoot-outs, and winter sports.

Carla C. Burton is a self-employed Travel and Hospitality writer with a BBA in Business Administration from Bond University.  Although a Gold Coast native, Carla moved to Melbourne in 2008 to further her writing career in the Travel industry.  Carla has become a top contributor to many Travel blogs world-wide and thoroughly enjoys the freedom that self-employment has provided her.  To find out more about Carla or to follow her other posts, follow her on Twitter @CarlaCBurton.

 

3 Incredible Family Friendly Destinations in WA You’ve Probably Never Been

Sadly this list isn’t even that difficult to create as so many people living in Australia have never been over to the far West of this beautiful country. It’s such a shame as the scenery over there on that Indian Ocean will take your breath away. Almost every overseas traveller I’ve ever met that has been to WA as part of their Australia trip rates WA as their favourite part of AUS so that’s really saying something. So once you get yourself out of Perth and Freemantle why don’t you check out these few places.

Exmouth

Whale Shark Image courtesy of Flickr member NeilsPhotography

 Lovely little Exmouth is situated between a marine park and a national park. Not bad. Not bad at all. Mother Nature has left you quite spoiled for choice in this divine little part of the world. The marine park is at the northern end of Ningaloo Reef where at certain times of year you can actually swim with whale sharks! Yikes! There are tour operators who welcome kids on these trips and have their boats set up especially to accommodate them so they can see the whale sharks too. Imagine how exhilarating it would be as a tiny kid to see a living thing up to 12m long?!  Incredible and not an experience you are likely ever to forget. If you are snorkelling you will also see dugongs, turtles and manta rays. It’s a real treat in this part of the world! There are a bunch of other fun beachy and wildlife related things for the kids to experience in the area so go and check it out.

Esperance

Ah Esperance. The name alone conjures up feelings of tranquillity. Once upon a time no one had even heard of this place. You can’t really say as much now but given that it’s a good 700kms Southeast of Perth I’m going to tip that you probably haven’t been there. It is a lovely coastal village with what is commonly known as one of the whitest beaches around located at Lucky Bay. If you are lucky you will also see the kangaroos sunning themselves on the beach. It is a sight to behold! The whole area is very family friendly. If you are sick of the beach and swimming you can take the kids for a day trip to Cape le Grand National Park. If you’d rather stick closer to town then visit the The Bird and Animal Park, Adventureland Park or Amberland (water slides – yay!).

Broome

Sunset at Broome Image by Flickr Member Eulinky

Sunset at Broome Image by Flickr Member Eulinky

Did you know that Broome hosts the world’s largest population of wild camels? I bet you thought it was Egypt. So did I! So we were both wrong. You probably don’t want to go racing up to the wild ones but the kids will love a camel ride (on tame ones of course) along Cable Beach at sunset.  Anyone who has been to Broome will tell you that the sunsets are among the most magical in the world. Broome has long been a well known resort town but given its proximity to, well, nothing, not many people manage to get there which is such a shame as it is absolutely beautiful. The region has some great options for kids including a water park, a wilderness park and really fossilized dinosaur footprints! It’s enough to make a kid’s heart skip a beat!

Kristy is a freelance travel writer for HotelClub Sydney and mum of three energetic kids who love exploring new destinations. Her favourite experience in Western Australia was swimming with the enormous whale sharks off the coast of Exmouth.