My wife and I have had the good fortune to be able to take family trips each year since 2004 with our four kids (now aged 25 to 31), and the world map hanging in our hallway with coloured stick pins in it to show where each of us has visited is a wonderful reminder of how much of the world we have seen, but also how much of it there is still to see. 

Australia was always one of those places that we wanted to visit, but it seemed so far away down by itself on that map. With our younger daughter qualifying for the World Triathlon event held in Gold Coast, all the other reasons not to go fell away and we travelled as a family once again. 

Family travel can be daunting, but once you figure out the formula it rewards you with the most wonderful family time with your kids. Start with good hotels and good food paid for by Mom and Dad, plan a range of activities that are age-appropriate with a mix of history, culture, exercise and doing nothing together, and remember to give everyone their own time and space. Australia held the promise of all of this for us. 

Most people will begin their trip in Sydney, and Sydney is all about the harbour. See the city by water: a private sailing tour, by one of the many ferries that crisscross the bay, or simply by water taxi. If you hike from Watson’s Bay to Rose Bay, you will see a side of Sydney that most tourists would not even think about. End your tour at the wonderful maritime museum and you will understand what Sydney is all about. Of course, you can’t stop taking pictures of the iconic Opera House, even if the pictures will not do it justice. Book a dinner and concert there if you can; the inside is as lovely as the outside. 

An easy day trip from Sydney will take you to the Blue Mountains, an area of tall forests, sandstone cliffs and waterfalls where the scenery is amazing and where the hiking is even better. It might even be worth staying a few days here if you and your kids like hiking.   

The Daintree Forest is a very nice two-hour drive along the coast from Cairns in north-east Australia. Once there you will be rewarded with the sights, sounds and smells of the rainforest. The Mossman Gorge hike with a local and knowledgeable guide is both beautiful and informative, and Cape Tribulation, named by Captain James Cook (“because here began all our troubles”) and where Cook’s ship Endeavour got stuck on a coral reef, reminds you of early travel to this continent.   

Lizard Island is near the remote northerly section of the Great Barrier Reef, and if you choose to stay there you will feel like you have your own private beach and cottage, with great access to diving and snorkeling near the reef. You can’t get much closer to the world’s largest coral reef system. A hike up Cook’s Look on Lizard Island will not only reward you with fantastic views of the reef, but will also show you how Captain Cook found his way out of the reef. 

The reason for our trip took us to Gold Coast, just south of Brisbane. This area is a cross between Miami Beach and Santa Monica, with a great long beach that is very developed.  Biking, surfing and theme parks provide all hours of entertainment for the family.  Our daughter was very grateful to have family cheering for her halfway around the world during the triathlon. 

After cosmopolitan Gold Coast, you might want to escape to the night skies and tranquility of Ayers Rock, known as Uluru to the indigenous people there. Note that this is in the middle of Australia and quite a hike from the east coast. Consider it your walkabout. Dinner under the stars in the desert is spellbinding. 

Despite its size, Australia is manageable and rewarding for family travel with a bit of good planning. If Cook can do it in an old wooden ship, surely it’s no problem for us to get there! 

— The Kanko Family

Lewie spent a decade in Australia and knows the country from the coast to the interior.
Get in touch to plan your Australia adventure.