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.     

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.