Australia has been on my wish list for as long as I can remember so I'm pleased to have a guest post by Melissa of Thrifty Family Travels recommending fun things to do in the state of Queensland, Australia with kids. Queensland, in the northeast, includes spots such as capital city Brisbane, the Great Barrier Reef and the beaches of the Gold and Sunshine Coasts. Melissa, a mom who has always lived in the state, provides us with the inside scoop on the best family attractions and activities in Queensland.
Most trips to Queensland are likely to start in it’s capital city of Brisbane. Brisbane is my home town, I was born here and have lived here my entire life. Whilst I wouldn’t want to live anywhere else, I don’t rate it as one of the must-see cities of Queensland. However, it is a great gateway to the gorgeous beaches of the Sunshine Coast (see below) and the Gold Coast as well as gorgeous hinterlands (Mount Tambourine) and of course the famous Gold Coast theme parks (Dreamward, SeaWorld, Wet and Wild, Movie World and White-Water World).
One of the advantages of a few days in the Brisbane CBD, is a lot of the main tourist attractions for kids are completely free! You can visit museums, art galleries, cruise the river, swim, take guided tours as well as get around the city completely free of charge. Everywhere is completely child friendly too, you will find even cafes and restaurants are all well set up to cater for families.
The must-see attraction in Brisbane is the South Bank Parklands. You could easily spend 2 entire days here with the kids exploring all its free attractions. If you are visiting in the warmer months the kids will absolutely love the Streets Beach which is a man-made beach. There are also lagoon style swimming pools, rock pools and an interactive water play area all fully patrolled by life savers.
Queensland is well known as having some of the best beaches in Australia and I would even argue that we have some of the best beaches in the world! Most people know about the glitzy Gold Coast, but in my view the Sunshine Coast is where you will find the best beaches and the best areas for family holidays.
The Sunshine Coast is made up of a variety of little beach suburbs like Caloundra, Mooloolaba, Coolum and Noosa. Hands down my favourite area to holiday with the kids is Noosa - this place is absolute paradise and has the best beaches for families.
There are so many options for families in Noosa. You can stay along the Noosa River in Noosaville, along the tourist strip of Hastings Street or the area of Noosa Heads surrounding the lush Noosa National Park.
The river is probably the best area for families as here you will find great priced self-contained accommodation, plenty of cafes and of course the stunning Noosa River. When I say river, I am not referring to a brown ugly body of water, the Noosa River is pristine with crystal clear calm warm water, and sandy banks just perfect for little ones. Along the Noosa River you can also hire kayaks, SUP boards and boats.
The Noosa National Park is also an amazing place to explore. Here you will find the most beautiful beaches in the world! The beaches are situated in little coves dotted around the park and the water here is calm (some with small gentle waves), crystal clear and full of fish. The ocean is surrounded by lush trees - easily the most picturesque beaches I have ever come across.
Apart from beaches, the Sunshine Coast also has some great family attractions. Check out SeaLife, the famous Australia Zoo, Eumundi Markets, The Ginger Factory and lovely the hinterland.
Whilst Bundaberg is not usually on most people’s list when visiting Queensland - if you like quiet little beach towns with amazingly friendly people than it should be! I particularly recommend a few days in Bundaberg if you are doing a road trip from Brisbane to Far North Queensland.
Bundaberg is located 4.5 hours drive north of Brisbane and is a lovely rural area. Bundaberg is very famous for a few things - Bundaberg Rum, the Mon Repos turtles and being the start of the southern end of the Great Barrier Reef.
I highly recommend you visit Bundaberg with the kids during the turtle season which is from November to March. During this time, you will have the opportunity to witness Loggerhead turtles come to the beach and lay their eggs as well as see the baby turtles hatch and scamper down to the ocean. The area of Mon Repos is in fact the largest Loggerhead turtle conversation rookery in the southern hemisphere!
I also recommend you take the kids out see the Great Barrier Reef. The best way is to take a day trip to Lady Musgrave Island. Here as well as getting up close and personal with the reef, you will get the opportunity to see fish, turtles, dolphins and manta rays. If you are lucky enough you may even spot them whilst you are snorkeling in the water.
Bundaberg also has some stunning beaches, with the most popular being Bargara Beach. However in my view the best beach is Elliott Heads - it is absolutely stunning. Elliott Heads is a little isolated though with no accommodation or shops, so best for a day trip. Bargara has plenty of accommodation, playgrounds and cafes, so is the ideal spot to base yourself.
Far North Queensland
Queensland’s star attraction is the stunning region of Far North Queensland. This is the area where most people come to experience the Great Barrier Reef. However the region is so much more than just the reef.
When visiting the area, most people first come to Cairns. There is nothing special about Cairns itself, but it is the perfect place to base yourself to explore all the wonderful attractions of Far North Queensland.
Of course, you must do a day trip to explore the Great Barrier Reef. There are a variety of options here. You can just spend the day snorkeling the reef, some tours will take you to a pontoon stationed out in the reef where you can join in glass bottom boat rides as well as snorkeling. Other options are to join a tour which combines a snorkeling trip with some time on one of the stunning islands.
My top tip for visiting Cairns with the kids is to take the historic Kuranda Scenic Railway up to the picturesque mountain village of Kuranda. I have fond memories of taking this train ride through the mountains as a small child and now have wonderful memories of taking my own daughter.
Once in Kuranda there are a variety of attractions to visit including the Butterfly Sanctuary, the Rainforestation Nature Park, the Australian Venom Zoo, Kuranda River Cruises as well as simply to explore the quaint little village.
If you can I also highly recommend you hire a car for at least a day or two to explore the are called the Daintree. The Daintree region covers almost 900, 000 hectares of tropical north Queensland and is home to the World Heritage listed Daintree National Park. Here you will find lush dense rainforest, crocodile infested waters, cool fresh water streams, pristine beaches as well as the Great Barrier Reef.
Whilst visiting the Daintree I highly recommend you visit the Mossman Gorge, take a Daintree River Cruise to see crocodiles and other wildlife, the Daintree Discovery Centre and one of the gorgeous Daintree Rainforest Beaches.
Melissa is the creator and writer for the Thrifty Family Travels website; which details her family’s travels both locally and across the globe. Together they travel the world, experience new cultures, indulge in local delicacies, and explore every corner of our beautiful earth, navigating their way around the world. Thrifty Family Travels hope to inspire other families to travel and to show them all the fantastic places the world has to explore. Follow Melissa and her family on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.