On board and not bored

Places that chil­dren will re­ally love

The Weekend Australian - Travel - - DESTINATION AUSTRALIA - SALLY WEBB

PA­CIFIC PAR­ADISE There is no hol­i­day ex­pe­ri­ence in Aus­tralia quite l like Lord Howe Is­land, a UNESCO World Her­itage-listed won­der­land, with wildlife to ri­val the Gala­pa­gos, reefs to match West Pa­pua and a moun­tain ex­pe­ri­ence of the grandeur of French Poly­ne­sia’s Bora Bora — and all less than two hours by air from Bris­bane and slightly longer from Syd­ney. With its slow pace — there’s no mo­bile phone cov­er­age, ev­ery­one gets around on bi­cy­cles and no one wears shoes — it’s per­fect for fam­i­lies to (re)con­nect. And at Pine­trees Lodge there’s su­perb hos­pi­tal­ity and sim­ple but world-class food. Hand­feed mul­let and king­fish in the shal­lows at Ned’s Beach. Go for bush­walks, catch garfish off the jetty, swim at se­cluded beaches, spot green tur­tles from a glass-bot­tomed boat and snorkel over spec­tac­u­lar co­ral reefs full of manta rays and Gala­pa­gos sharks. Your only stress will be choos­ing which beach or pic­nic spot to visit each day. More: lord­howeis­land.info; pine­trees.com.au.

ATA THE HEART It’s dif­fi­cult to visit Uluru in the North­ern Ter­ri­tory and not feel a con­nec­tion to this very spir­i­tual place. With your own car you can DIY Uluru and Kata Tjuta; pay your park en­trance fees and the rest is ba­si­cally free. But kids in par­tic­u­lar will ben­e­fit from in­ter­ac­tion with lo­cal in­dige­nous peo­ple through ex­pe­ri­ences such as the guided Ay­ers Rock Re­sort’s Desert Awak­en­ings tour; ba­con and egg rolls might ri­val the sun­rise for at­ten­tion but ev­ery­thing is trumped by the sto­ries you hear of the desert and its an­cient land­marks. If you tire of look­ing at or walk­ing through or around rocks, take a boomerang and spear-throw­ing les­son, or do a fam­ily as­tron­omy tour to learn about the night sky. And from April 2016, the Field of Light art in­stal­la­tion will be an ad­di­tional, spec­tac­u­lar at­trac­tion. More: trav­elnt.com; ay­er­srock­re­sort.com.au.

CAP­I­TAL IDEA Blame it on the politi­cians, but Can­berra is of­ten over­looked as a hol­i­day desti­na­tion, yet it’s clean, easy to nav­i­gate, has great food and plenty of fam­i­lyfriendly ac­com­mo­da­tion. Vis­it­ing Par­lia­ment House is a must, and it’s free — but it’s worth shelling out for a tour that ex­plores in de­tail the build­ing, its peo­ple and their sto­ries. View the Na­tional Gallery’s world-class col­lec­tion, par­tic­u­larly strong on Aus­tralian and Abo­rig­i­nal art, and see im­ages of the peo­ple who have shaped the na­tion at the Na­tional Por­trait Gallery next door. Visit the Aus­tralian War Me­mo­rial to learn about the na­tion’s ex­pe­ri­ence of war and its en­dur­ing im­pact on our so­ci­ety. Among the mov­ing and truly en­gag­ing dis­plays are recre­ated World War I trenches and the peren­ni­ally pop­u­lar “G for Ge­orge”, a 1942 Avro Lan­caster B1 bomber, the his­tory of which is recre­ated in a bril­liant sound and light show. More: vis­it­can­berra.com.au.

SURF AND TURF A jewel of trop­i­cal Queens­land, and just an hour’s (spec­tac­u­lar) drive north of Cairns, Port Dou­glas is a gate­way to both the Great Bar­rier Reef and the Dain­tree Rain­for­est. The pop­u­lar re­sort town boasts pris­tine Four Mile Beach and is brim­ming with good restau­rants and fam­ily-friendly ac­com­mo­da­tion. Sail on a cata­ma­ran to the Low Isles or take a larger ves­sel for a day trip to the Outer Reef for snorkelling and div­ing un­par­al­leled any­where in the world. Swim in crys­tal-clear wa­ter­holes at Moss­man Gorge or, for cul­tural im­mer­sion with the area’s in­dige­nous his­tory, take a Dream­time Walk from the in­dige­nous-run Moss­man Gorge Cen­tre con­ducted by a lo­cal tribal el­der. Drive to Cape Tribu­la­tion, where the rain­for­est lit­er­ally meets the reef, and the whole fam­ily can share the adrenalin rush as you jun­gle surf be­tween the trees. More: vis­it­port­dou­glas­dain­tree.com.au; moss­man­gorge.com.au. ROLLING ON THE RIVER With spec­tac­u­lar views, rich Abo­rig­i­nal his­tory, se­cluded beaches and sand­stone bluffs, the Hawkes­bury River and Kur­ing-gai Chase Na­tional Park are right on Syd­ney’s north­ern doorstep. The best way to ex­plore is by boat, with ves­sels rang­ing from tin­nies for day use to house­boats, well-ap­pointed clip­pers and lux­ury yachts avail­able for hire from Brook­lyn (on the Hawkes­bury), New­port or Church Point (on Pittwa­ter). Chug around the es­tu­ar­ies by day and moor in shel­tered coves overnight; swim, go fish­ing, take to a pad­dle board or kayak, cook bar­bies on board, and an­chor at strate­gic spots for fish and chips or some­thing fancier. More: hawkes­bury­tourism.com.au; na­tion­al­parks.nsw.gov.au; omega­clip­per34.com.au; hawkes­buryafloat.com.au.

SOUTH­ERNS SPEC­TA­CLE Blessed with green spa­ces that most cities only d dream of, vi­brant cul­tural in­sti­tu­tions geared for kids and the best cafe and food scene in the coun­try, Mel­bourne is fab­u­lous for fam­i­lies. Ex­plore the stun­ning Royal Botanic Gar­dens and the Chil­dren’s Gar­den at its edge, com­plete with bam­boo for­est, wet­land and tree tower. Try your hand at a spot of ur­ban farm­ing at the ac­claimed Colling­wood Chil­dren’s Farm or head to Wer­ribee Open Range Zoo for a sa­fari-style ex­pe­ri­ence just 30km from the city. De­pend­ing on the sea­son you can catch a game of AFL or test cricket at the MCG, or see the world’s best ten­nis play­ers and fastest F1 driv­ers in ac­tion. Visit the Queen Vic­to­ria Mar­ket for sup­plies then head to Heide (about 20 min­utes from the CBD) to en­joy a pic­nic. Once the home of art pa­trons John and Sun­day Reed, Heide is now a su­perb small mod­ern art gallery and sculp­ture gar­den. More: vis­it­mel­bourne.com.

WILDW WON­DERS With its trop­i­cal rain­forests, moun­tain­ous ranges, stun­ning wa­ter­falls and deep gorges, El Que­stro is a unique com­bi­na­tion of wilder­ness park and out­back sta­tion cov­er­ing more than 400,000ha of Kim­ber­ley land in Western Aus­tralia. There are plenty of op­por­tu­ni­ties for self-guided hik­ing and 4WD ad­ven­tures, while or­gan­ised ac­tiv­i­ties in­clude horse rid­ing, barramundi fish­ing and a full-day 4WD cir­cuit around the Cock­burn Range. A Ju­nior Rangers pro­gram teaches younger ad­ven­tur­ers about bush tucker and sur­vival plus snake and crocodile safety. A high­light is see­ing the out­back land­scape from above and scenic flights from El Que­stro’s airstrip can take you in one di­rec­tion to the Kim­ber­ley coast and Mitchell Falls and in an­other to the World Her­itage-listed Bun­gle Bun­gles, the state’s most iconic ge­o­log­i­cal for­ma­tion, over Lake Ar­gyle and the huge Ar­gyle Di­a­mond Mine. Un­for­get­table. More: elque­stro.com.au.

Clock­wise from main, young swim­mers on Fraser Is­land, Queens­land; Aus­tralian War Me­mo­rial, Can­berra; Sov­er­eign Hill, Bal­larat; ju­nior ad­ven­turer at Uluru; Colling­wood Chil­dren’s Farm, Mel­bourne

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Australia

© PressReader. All rights reserved.