Things to do with the kids these school holidays
Looking for adventure these school holidays? You’ve come to the right place. From thrilling theme parks and interactive exhibits to unique cultural experiences and unforgettable animal encounters, we’ve got the little kids – and the big kids – in your life covered with these school holiday highlights from around Australia.
For the best deals on these school holiday favourites, be sure to book through Experience Oz when staying at Oaks Hotels, Resorts & Suites around Australia.
The Gold Coast is Australia’s playground, so it’s no surprise that it’s a school holiday hot spot. When you’re not enjoying the GC’s pristine beaches, world-class dining, and boutique and outlet shopping, make sure to find time for these kid-friendly experiences the whole family will enjoy.
A Gold Coast getaway practically demands a visit to four of Australia’s most popular theme parks – Dreamworld, Warner Bros. Movie World, Wet ‘n’ Wild, and Seaworld.
If you’re looking for white-knuckle thrills and spills, you can’t go past Dreamworld, which also has plenty of gentler rides, slides, shows and wildlife encounters for little ones who aren’t quite ready for rollercoasters. Movie World is also known for its high-octane thrill rides, and also provides kids with the opportunity to meet their favourite DC heroes and Looney Tunes characters.
If you want to cool off from the summer heat, head to Wet ‘n’ Wild, where the splash zone is unavoidable – just don’t forget your sunscreen. (Another popular water park, WhiteWater World, is co-located next to Dreamworld.)
And if you’re after both education and entertainment, look no further than Seaworld, where kids can see beautiful marine life up close and learn about the importance of conservation; and still enjoy a wide range of exciting rides and shows.
Local tip: You can usually score a deal and save on entry fees if you buy a pass in advance.
Come face to face with native Aussie mates at Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary
Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary is a much-loved animal conservation park that’s been a popular attraction on the Gold Coast for over 70 years. Home to a myriad of native animals, including mammals, reptiles, birdlife and amphibians, as well as some exotic species, it’s set across 27 hectares of natural bushland and rainforest.
You definitely don’t want to miss the wildlife shows and encounters at this heritage-listed institution – our favourites include the breakfast with the koalas, and the Twilight Tours that provide the opportunity to see the Sanctuary after hours. Oh, and be sure to pop by the Currumbin Wildlife Hospital to see the veterinary team and volunteers in action.
Feeding the rainbow lorikeets is also a popular activity – and better yet, you don’t even need to buy a pass for the Sanctuary to participate in that one.
Local tip: Pre-book the shows and encounters, as spots tend to fill up fast in peak periods.
Get lost (and found) at Infinity
Embark on a 30 minute journey through this funhouse attraction in Surfers Paradise and you’ll find yourself weaving through a futuristic, maze-like world. Infinity has 20 multi-sensory play environments to explore, each with unique special effects, tantalising aromas, immersive music, dynamic sound fields and mind-bending illusions. Brace yourself and the kids for an experience that transcends reality, and prepare to feel truly out of this world.
It isn’t a trip to the Sunshine State without making a trip to the Sunshine Coast. The Sunshine Coast tends to have a more laid back atmosphere than the Gold Coast, but still has the beaches, brunch spots and recreation you’ll need for a holiday sent straight from heaven.
Catch a wave with Coolum Surf School
Learning how to surf is an essential for any avid beach goer, and the Sunshine Coast is the ultimate classroom. Catering to everyone from young wanna-be surf groms all the way up to adventurous adults who are ready to tackle something new, and with both group and individual lessons, Coolum Surf School has you covered.
With some of the warmest waters in Australia, all you have to do is grab your board and dive right in.The Best Food in Melbourne
Visit the Irwins at Australia Zoo
A trip to Beerwah to visit Australia Zoo, spiritual home of the legendary Crocodile Hunter, has long been a rite of passage for every Australian. From the tiniest lizard to the tallest giraffe, there are over 1,200 animals to see, hailing from all corners of the world – and of course, all your Aussie favourites are there too. A day at Australia Zoo is a true voyage into the wild.
There are plenty of animal encounters and shows to choose from, including the perennially popular croc show. Better yet, you can even step your experience up a notch and sign the kids up to be zoo keepers for the day.
Dive into the underwater world of Sealife
Education meets pure delight at Sealife, a marine mammal park, oceanarium and wildlife sanctuary at Mooloolaba with 11 themed zones to explore.
The daily seal shows are a must-do if you want to get to know these charming and intelligent creatures, while the tidal touchpool is an immersive experience that gives kids the opportunity to interact directly with a range of sea creatures on a smaller scale. To truly immerse yourself in another world, go for a stroll through the 80 metre ocean tunnel, which brings the depths of the sea to you.
Local Tip: You can grab your tickets to both Australia Zoo and Sealife via ExperienceOz here.
Perhaps best known for its phenomenal coffee, graffitied laneways, striking architecture and sophisticated culture, Melbourne might not be the first place you think of for a family holiday. But this sprawling metropolis has so much to offer when you scratch beneath the ‘big city’ surface.
Get hands-on at Scienceworks
For those young explorers who are always looking for answers, Scienceworks in Spotswood is the place to find them.
It’s full of interactive exhibitions and experiences to challenge and extend inquisitive minds of all ages, from the electrifying Lightning Room to the awe-inspiring Melbourne Planetarium, which will leave kids starstruck with its full-dome video projection system.
Local tip: The exhibitions at Scienceworks are always changing, so make sure you check what’s on before you plan your visit.
Let imaginations roam free at the Legoland Discovery Centre
Australia might not have a full-sized Legoland just yet, but you can still treat the pint-sized Lego lovers in your life to a day at the Legoland Discovery Centre in Chadstone. With 10 Lego build-and-play zones to get motor skills and imaginations going, as well as two rides, a 4D cinema and over two million Lego bricks on-site, it sure beats stepping on Legos barefoot at home.
Learn the art of play at the Museum of Play and Art
A whole museum dedicated to play and art? It’s a yes from us. From the immersive exhibits to the interactive art experiences, get ready for a super-fun day out in a space that’s been designed for kids to play, create and learn together. The Museum of Play and Art (MoPA) is designed for kids aged from 12 months old and upwards, meaning even the littlest of littlies will get something out of the experience.
Local tip: Tickets to MoPA must be pre-booked.
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Located just north of Newcastle, an easy 2.5 hour drive from Sydney, Port Stephens is jam packed with activities for kids who love the outdoors.
Hit the sandy slopes
Who needs snow when riding down sand dune slopes is a year-round activity at Port Stephens? The famous Stockton Bight sand dunes reach heights of over 30 metres with slopes of up to 60 degrees, making them perfect for sandboarding. Challenge accepted.
Local tip: You’ll need a 4WD to get to the dunes, so we recommend booking a tour with transfers included.
Get over the hump with a camel ride
At Port Stephens, Hump Day can be any day of the week, with camel rides available at Birubi Beach in Anna Bay. It’s not often you get the opportunity to take a beach-front camel ride! Your relaxing ride will also take you past the famous sand dunes, giving a desert safari feel to your coast trip.
For those looking for something a little more traditional, horseback riding is also available.
Local tip: Book at dusk for an even more magical experience.
Flip out over dolphins
Dolphins are much loved residents of Port Stephens. With over 140 bottlenose dolphins calling the area home, there’s a good chance you’ll catch a glimpse of these friendly locals while you’re in town.
Book a spot on the Dolphin Watching and Sailing Cruise tour and watch these majestic animals go about their day-to-day lives, dancing and twirling on the waves in their natural habitat. It’s fin-tastic!
Local tip: If a cruise isn’t your style, the rocky coastal headlands and long white beaches of Port Stephens provide a superior vantage point for watching dolphins from the shore.
Hervey Bay’s calm and pristine waters make it the ideal spot for a family vacation, and while it’s best known as the stepping stone to K’gari, it definitely deserves its own spot on your holiday list.
Hang shell with turtles
Hervey Bay is probably best known for its seasonal whale watching tours. Turtle tours, on the other hand, operate year-round in the crystal clear waters surrounding Hervey Bay, and are equally impressive.
Most boats used for these tours have glass bottoms, making the ocean your own personal fishbowl. This means you won’t be limited to just turtles, and will get to see a range of the fascinating friends the ocean has to offer.
Take up a watersport or two
Those calm, pristine waters we mentioned? They offer the perfect conditions for your kids to unleash their aquatic energy and pick up a watersport in a safe environment.
Jet skiing is one of the most popular options when it comes to in-water activities, but kayaking, hover boarding, stand up paddle boarding and boating are all on the table. At Hervey Bay, it's never just a day at the beach.
Hop over to K’gari
While Hervey Bay is enough of an attraction itself, you’d be remiss not to take up the opportunity for a day trip to the neighbouring K’gari (formerly known as Fraser Island). It’s the world’s largest sand island, and with an abundance of natural beauty and a long list of tourist attractions, it’s sure to be an unforgettable day for the whole family.
Lake Mackenzie is the ultimate K’gari hot spot. This perched lake with white sands and crystal clear blue waters is one of favourite places to explore, and the mostly shallow waters make it an ideal aquatic playground for kids.
Hanging out to visit Hervey Bay? Stay at Oaks Hervey Bay Resort and Spa.
Tropical North Queensland
With two World Heritage-listed sites – the Great Barrier Reef and Wet Tropics rainforest – accessible from the one location, adding Tropical North Queensland to your school holiday bucket list is a no-brainer.
Take to the skies with the Skyrail Rainforest Cableway
Only 15 minutes out of Cairns and 50 minutes from Port Douglas, the Skyrail Rainforest Cableway will help you unlock the secrets of the world’s oldest tropical rainforest. You’ll get to enjoy a unique perspective of this ancient landscape by gliding metres above the jungle canopy, before descending to explore the rainforest up close and personal.
Local tip: Go beyond the gondola and explore the rainforest by foot. Red Peak and Barron Falls are must-dos if you want to get the full experience of the ancient rainforest.
Explore the Great Barrier Reef
The Great Barrier Reef has been crowned as one of the Seven Natural Wonders of the World – so how could you go to Tropical North Queensland without paying it a visit?
Book a snorkelling tour from either Cairns or Port Douglas and take in all the beauty and colour that comes together to form the most famous coral reef in the world. You’ll be swimming amongst the thousands of beautiful sea animals that call this reef home – the kids might even spot Nemo!
Spot a croc
The saltwater crocodile is the largest living reptile and the largest terrestrial predator on the planet. Terrifying? Yes. Fascinating? Double yes.
This enchanting animal has chosen Tropical North Queensland to set up residence. The easiest way to spot one (especially in the warmer months, when many crocs choose to cool down by submerging themselves) is to book the Ultimate Wildlife Experience Cruise in Port Douglas or visit Hartleys Crocodile Adventures in Cairns.
Local tip: Tropical North Queensland is the heart of crocodile country, so be croc-wise. Look for the warning signs, but remember they may still be present in un-signposted areas.
Wherever you choose to take the kids these school holidays, you’re guaranteed to give them an experience to remember at any of these iconic destinations around Australia!