You can’t imagine bundling up your entire family for a trip to Australia? Well consider this, a destination offering educational programs, fun activities and the cutest koala bears. Australia is the complete package for families especially with young children. I can tell you some amazing stories about living in Australia and what an amazing place it is to visit, however don’t take my word for it, here are some of the reasons you and the kids will love touring Australia together.
You'll need an Australian visa
Firstly, you will need a visa for each member of the family – unless you are a citizen of New Zealand, then you can travel to Australia visa-free under the Trans-Tasman Travel Arrangement. In order to obtain your visa in time, you can apply online or have a travel agent apply for it on your behalf.
An Australian tourist visa allows visitors to stay and/or live in Australia for a continuous duration of 3 months. Since the visa is valid for 12 months, this allows visitors re-entry over this period, provided that their passport remains valid and they are able to provide proof they can support themselves while onshore.
While visitors can apply for either the ETA visa for Australia or the eVisitor visa for Australia the difference is in the eligibility of country of citizenship. The eVisitor visa for Australia supports applications from 35 countries versus 9 countries for the ETA for Australia. Eligible countries include Brunei, Canada, Hong Kong, Japan, Malaysia, Singapore, South Korea, United States and those Kiwi’s make 9.
Managing long flights with kids
Although flying for long periods at a time is considered hell by most people, there are plenty of tips and information online for helping kids manage this stressful situation. Flying with young kids will never be perfect but there are ways to minimise their discomfort and enhance your own experience.
Tell anyone that you will be on a 24 hour flight and they immediately start relaying all the awful experiences they have had, from cramped seating, people reclining their seats the minute you take off and lets not mention the dodgy airline food. Lets not start on the degree of jet lag you will experience when travelling to Australia which is on a time zone of their own!
What they don’t remember is the bonding time you’ll have with the kids watching movies and reading books together. If you are travelling a full service airline they usually provide kids with some kiddy focused activity books to occupy their time on board.
Meet some of our iconic aussie animals
Many animals are only seen in movies and cartoons until you get to Australia. Your kids will have the opportunity to see galahs, cockatoos, kangaroos, crocodiles, wallabies and possums in their natural habitat.
There are a number of places around the country where you can experience animal encounters in safe and controlled environments and if you’re watching careful you might just see them from your train or car window as they cruise around in their natural habitat. Never approach any animals in the wild, as they are still wild animals and consider you a threat and will defend themselves, this many result in injury to yourself or children.
If you do not have a lot of time to see them in the wild, consider taking the kids to any of the numerous zoos and wildlife parks around the country. I highly recommend Taronga Park Zoo in Sydney, Australia Zoo in Queensland and Melbourne Zoo or Healesville Wildlife Park in Victoria. These are just a few of my favourites.
Explore Australia's amazing beaches
It is not too early to have your kids exploring the life and creatures that live at the very bottom of the sea. Australia is famous for amazing beaches and sea life, this is definitely an experience kids will love.
Scuba diving is an amazing experience however only available for kids over 12 years old. Kids younger than 12 years will have a wonderful time snorkelling and its a great introduction into the underwater world us Australians love. Kids as young as 5 will love snorkelling especially in the temperate waters in the northern of Australia.
I highly recommend snorkelling around the Moreton Island – Tangalooma Shipwrecks, if you’re really lucky you might even see a turtle, I can tell you the kids will really love that. Many Australian beaches offer surfing lessons, is there an any more Australian experience than taking a surfing lesson? Your friends will be impressed when you catch your first wave and upload it to Facebook for all at home to see.
Some kids are not overly confident in the ocean, if your kids would prefer a large water park experience, there are plenty to enjoy including Wet ‘n Wild and Whitewater World on the Gold Coast, or Wet n’ Wild in Sydney and Gumbuya World in Melbourne.
Experience Australian history & culture
When kids are taught about the history and culture of people other than themselves, they begin to appreciate the differences that exist in the human race. This is not only fun but fosters tolerance and mutual respect. The Aboriginal people of Australia are the indigenous people of this region and have inhabited this large island continent for over 40,000 years.
Australian history is entirely different to other continents and the kids will love to see how our traditional Aboriginal tribes dress, hunt for food from the land, make intricate artworks and view artwork in the outback dating back to the Dreamtime which is well recorded in history books. The best places to have these experiences in the Northern Territory, especially at Uluru and Kakadu National Park.
Especially for those kids who have not had a life outside the city they live in, the ancient dance moves, music, medicines and weapons will leave them intrigued about our native ancestors.
Port Arthur in Tasmania tells the amazing story of the First Fleet and Australia’s first penal colony. Many of the building are still partly intact and if your game there is even an evening ghost tour and it is widely believed that the ghost of many of the prisoners are still there today.
Explore our big Australian cities
No visit to Australia is complete without visiting Sydney and of course the amazing Sydney Harbour. It can’t be denied that Sydney is one of the most picturesque cities in the world with the Sydney Harbour Bridge and the Sydney Opera House. The best way to see it is from the water so buy yourself a ferry ticket to Manly and experience the best view in town.
Let’s not forget Melbourne though, voted the world’s most liveable city for 14 consecutive years. The home of Australian Rules Football, if you’re here for footy season you have to go to a game. Needless to say if you’re here in summer you can watch a game of cricket at the world renowned Melbourne Cricket Ground (MCG). There’s always a sport to be watched here whether is be the Australian Open Tennis, the F1 Grand Prix, the Melbourne Cup Spring Horse Racing Carnival there’s always something sporting happening in Melbourne.
Have I convinced you yet?
Well, Australia has a lot to offer, all that has been mentioned above and other things such as a hot and dry climate, world class sporting activities, amazing local produce and some of the world’s best known vineyards and wines. The kids will have fun sampling the chocolates, dairy foods, seafood and tropical fruits.
Australian’s love camping, its another popular family activity you can enjoy in Australia. With free camping facilities in many some places, all you’ll need is a swag for an experience of a lifetime. Get yourself out to Australia, you wont be sorry.
Safe travels and see you out here.
Sal, Craig & Our3kids