It’s been a long year, Australia, and we think it’s time you take a well-deserved break. Pack your bags, gather the kids and hit the road for a family-friendly adventure that embraces the best of the great outdoors. From calm coastal hamlets to lush tropical rainforests, experience what you’ve been missing with one these getaways from Sydney.
South West Rocks
Five hours (455km) from Sydney
Searching for a quintessential Aussie family holiday spot? Look no further than South West Rocks. Situated on the banks of Trial Bay, The Rocks is a sleepy seaside village home to towering Norfolk pines, beautiful sandy beaches and the picturesque Macleay River Estuary. While it’s known for diving and fishing, The Rocks is also a great place to explore with the kids. Discover its colonial heritage at the historic Trail Bay Goal, which you’ll find perched at the tip of Arakoon National Park. While you’re there, stretch big and little legs along the 1.4km Monument Hill walking track, which ends at the picturesque Little Bay picnic area. Hankering for a swim? Try stand-up paddle boarding at Back Creek, or head to Horseshoe Bay for a safe and sheltered beach ideal for the kids. After a quick dip, buy a holiday keepsake at the Beachside Markets, held adjacent to the beach every second Saturday of the month.
Where to stay
NRMA South West Rocks Holiday Resort
Whether you want to camp, caravan or prefer a no-fuss holiday cabin you’ll find the perfect home-away-from-home for you and the family at the NRMA South West Rocks Holiday Resort. Located along Trial Bay (which can be accessed from a track directly opposite reception), the resort is a mecca for kids, featuring a Shipwreck Island waterpark, pedal go-karts, mini golf and a kids club during school holidays.
Five and a half hours (527km) from Sydney
The Coffs Coast encompasses the best of forest and sea in one easy, convenient destination. Renowned for its banana plantations, ancient rainforest and larger-than-life attractions, this coastal-hugging location is primed for families looking for a tropical retreat. The kids certainly won’t be bored with a visit to the Big Banana Fun Park, where you’ll find The Big Banana (a photo in front of this giant fruit is a must), a waterpark, mini golf course, laser tag arena and more. Try spotting dolphins, turtles, tropical fish and migrating whales from the Solitary Islands Coastal Walk, which stretches along the Solitary Islands Marine Park, or embark on a rainforest walk from Sealy Lookout. Do visit the Coffs Harbour Butterfly House, where you can hang out with hundreds of Australian butterflies, or chase waterfalls in the Dorrigo National Park, where you’ll be greeted by ancient trees and magical cascades.
Where to stay
NRMA Darlington Beach Holiday Resort
For an eco-friendly family escape, try NRMA’s Darlington Beach Holiday Resort. Surrounded by 110 acres of lush coastal forest, the Holiday Resort features a range of villas, ensuite caravan and powered and unpowered camping sites available just a hop, skip and jump away from the beach. Need to keep the kids entertained? The resort has you covered with a golf course, archery range, pump track and plenty of kid-friendly activities all year ‘round.
Four hours and 10 minutes (386km) from Sydney
Port Macquarie is arguably one of the best family getaways from Sydney, with beaches, outdoor attractions and fun parks right on its doorstep and a lush hinterland located in its backyard. Begin your Port Macquarie adventure with a stroll along its vast coastline. We suggest picking a portion of the 9.1km track that starts at Town Green foreshore and finishes at Tacking Point Lighthouse (or vice versa). If your little ones enjoy surfing they’ll be spoilt for choice with fine surf breaks. Flynn’s Beach is the town’s most popular surfing spot, or take a drive 40 minutes north to Crescent Head for some serious wave riding action. Step back in time at Timbertown, where you can ride a heritage steam train, pan for gold and learn about the history of the timber-producing town of Wauchope, located inland of Port Macquarie, then meet quirky koalas and other native Australian animals at the Billabong Zoo. Need to quench your thirst? There are heaps of family-friendly wineries in the region that accommodate for children while allowing you to enjoy a drop (or two) of wine.
Where to stay
NRMA Port Macquarie Breakwall Holiday Park
For a central base close to the best that Port Macquarie has to offer, book NRMA Port Macquarie Breakwall Holiday Park. This waterfront park boasts breathtaking views of Hastings River and Port Macquarie from its cabins, and spacious caravan and camping sites that allow you to enjoy the park’s coastal setting. The best bit? With a playground, swimming pool and skatepark close by, you can enjoy a little peace and quiet while the kids keep occupied.
Five hours and 40 minutes (525km) from Sydney
If your family love all things aqua, you’ll have a whale-y good time in Merimbula. This whale watching hotspot is bordered by the Merimbula Lake, Black Lake and the South Pacific Ocean – perfect for families looking for adventure on, in and around water. The lakes are popular for sailing, kayaking and stand-up paddle boarding, while the sea is frequented by two-legged land dwellers and marine animals alike. Merimbula Main Beach features a sandbank surf break, while prime views of migrating whales (from August through to November) are best at Short Point. If you can’t find any sea critters when you snorkel at Bar Beach, you’ll definitely spot some near Merimbula Bridge and at the Merimbula Aquarium, or head to wildlife sanctuary Potoroo Palace to interact with furry wombats, kangaroos and other native Aussie animals.
Where to stay
NRMA Merimbula Beach Holiday Resort
You can’t get much closer to the coast than at NRMA Merimbula Beach Holiday Resort, located right on the point of Merimbula. There are plenty of accommodation options available at this seaside resort, including comfy cabins, a fully equipped glamping safari tent or caravan and camping sites. Let the kids wreak havoc in the resort’s waterpark and swimming pool, on its sandy volleyball court and on its bouncing pillow while you sit back, relax and soak in the sun and salty sea breeze.
Three hours and 45 minutes (276km) from Sydney
Surrounded by the vast Murramarang National Park, South Durras is a quaint coastal village made for those who love to camp and fish. If you’ve got little explorers they’ll love picking from a plethora of outdoor adventure options, including bushwalking, cycling, fishing, swimming, surfing and kayaking. Strap on your hiking boots and embark on the Durras Lake Discovery Trail, a picturesque walking trail that winds through lush natural rainforest and past the Durras Lake. The kids will have plenty of fun seeing if they can spot wallabies, goannas, parrots, cockatoos and other wildlife along the way. Packed your fishing gear? The lake’s full of whiting, bream, flatheads and other fish so try your luck at snagging dinner.
Where to stay
NRMA Murramarang Beachfront Holiday Resort
For your very own slice of paradise, look no further than NRMA Murramarang Beachfront Holiday Resort. Only 14 minutes from Batemans Bay, Murramarang is one of those places reminiscent of past family getaways. From Sydney, follow the Princes Highway along the coast until you reach the resort’s tranquil grounds. Unpowered sites through to two-bedroom beach houses overlook South Durras’s Mill Beach, giving you plenty of options to suit your needs and budget. With a waterpark, pedal go karts and a swimming pool on site, plus beach bike hire, there’s plenty for the kids to do, too.