Australia is on the destination list for many families. The culture, the beaches, the wildlife, and the friendly people are a universal draw for families looking to travel. Our family is lucky enough to travel to Australia every year and enjoy this amazing country. Family travel to Australia is rewarding with a huge array of possibilities.
How to get there:
We fly into Sydney via Chile as we complete what we call the Triangle of Awesome. We travel to Chile for work so our travel plans are a bit unique. Flying into SYD is relatively straight forward although it can be expensive. We use Google flight tracker to keep up on the cheapest fares. Find out how to use this great tool in our flight tracker post.
Rental cars can be quite expensive and if you plan to stay longer than a week I would highly recommend a peer to peer car sharing program called Drive My Car. You can save a boatload of money over regular rental rates.
Where to stay:
Depending on your goals and travel plans you have quite a few options for accommodations. We have always spent our time in Penrith as it is near the Penrith Whitewater Center where I train. In Australia real estate is very expensive creating a vibrant rental market. You can rent a house or condo by the week in most suburbs from a leasing agency or use AirBnB to find your pad. We have used both and find its a bit cheaper to rent by the week from a leasing agency. It can be expensive to find housing; for a 2 bedroom condo with a community pool and wifi we pay $1050AUD per week. We use Western Sydney Accommodation for our go to as you pay less fees than with AirBnB.
What do do:
Penrith is good sized town nestled between the Blue Mountains and Sydney giving you options to travel in either directions to find a vast array of experiences. Here is a few we enjoy:
Penrith Whitewater Stadium
For us this is a no brainer as my kayaking career keeps me at the whitewater center daily. They offer exciting rafting and kayaking trips most days of the week over the summer. It was the site of the 2000 Olympic Games for canoe slalom and is free to visit and watch the rafters and kayakers navigate the artificial whitewater channel.
Penrith Panthers Rugby
If you find yourself in Australia during rugby season (March-September) then lookup to see if you can watch a rugby game live. They are super fun to watch and enjoy the spectators. The games we have seen have always been packed of people and very exciting. If you get general admission and want to actually get a seat show up a few hours early as it fills fast. You are quite close to the field which gives you all the more appreciation for the intensity of the game of rugby!
Heading into the mountains from Penrith you quickly climb into the Blue Mountains. In this beautiful mountain range know for steep cliff, eucalyptus forests and waterfalls you can find vistas, hikes, and overlooks everywhere! Specifically we enjoy visiting the 3 Sisters and Wentworth Falls. There are hikes of various difficulties that your family can enjoy and see the Australian outback.
Featherdale Wildlife Park
My daughters favorite place in all of Australia. Featherdale Wildlife Park is a koala bear conservatory that is a small wildlife park that has a free range policy with their kangaroos and wallabies. You can get up close and personal with them which all the kids really enjoy. You also can get close to koalas, they used to allow you to take a picture nearby to one, but since have changed their policy requiring a fee to take a picture with the koalas. Its a pretty small park, but has a cool variety of animals including Tasmanian devils, wombats, echidnas, dingos, and kangaroos everywhere plus a huge variety of birds. Its a bit expensive for the size but the interaction with the critters makes it worth it for us every time we go to Australia we go visit at least once.
Beaches are EVERYWHERE and they are all incredible. You can find any number of them with variety. The beaches are sandy, clean, fun, and bountiful. They do a great job of having life guards and often will have a designated swimming zone that is watched by life guards that avoids dangerous rip tides. Depending on the season, wind, and tide there can be a lot of blue bottle jelly fish that wash up in the surf which can make swimming painful. When you arrive at the beach an easy way to tell if bluebottles are around is look for them on the beach washed up at the high water mark. If you see a ton of them swimming could be a bit more exciting as their sting is not dangerous but can be painful for the kids. Our favorite beach is Dee Why as it has a great parking, beautiful water, good surf for the kids, is less crowded, and a great burrito place just up the street.
Australia is a huge country/continent and there is MUCH more to do than listed above but if you are in or around the Sydney area this should give you an idea of where to start. If you and your family travel to Australia during the summer, our families favorite TV show called My Kitchen Rules starts in early Feb and we absolutely love it; imagine a US show like Master Chef with Aussie, Frenchy, and Irish judges.