Every year, millions of Aussies head abroad to discover new and interesting destinations. Overseas adventures never fall short of eye-opening and educational cultural experiences but if you want to take the whole family along the reality is they can get a little pricey. The good news is there are a tonne of world-class activities and landmarks that Aussie families can discover downunder, without even having to visit the international terminal.
Give your kids the holiday of a lifetime and satisfy your wanderlust at the same time with these home-grown experiences from travel search engine KAYAK.com.au. There’s something for everyone and no need to pack a passport or deal with visas.
Old Melbourne Gaol, Victoria instead of Alcatraz, California
Australian gaols have held some of the world’s most renowned criminals, including the one and only Ned Kelly. Families looking for a taste of history can save themselves a ticket to Alcatraz and head to the Old Melbourne Gaol instead. Travel back in time as they wander through the cells and yards that have housed Australia’s most feared and dangerous characters. If you’ve got teens who are keen for something a little more sinister, opt for the night tour - a guided ghost tour that dives into the stories of the prisoners and the gaol’s grim history.
Where to stay: Stay in Melbourne at the Rendezvous Hotel Melbourne, starting from $150*
How to get there: Flights to Melbourne from $69**
Magnetic Island, Queensland instead of Ko Samui in Thailand
Families wanting to flee the busy city for an island getaway don’t need to head to the Isles in Asia: an Instagram-worthy island escape awaits at Magnetic Island, just off the coast of North Queensland. Relax at one of many beautiful beaches, partake in water activities such as kayaking or stand up paddle boarding, or soak up the native flora and fauna on a scenic walk through the national park. Richly embedded in Australia’s history, Magnetic Island earned its name after Captain Cook noticed that his ship’s compasses ‘would not travis well’ as he sailed past in 1770.
Where to stay: Stay on Magnetic Island at the Peppers Blue on Blue, starting from $155*
How to get there: Flights to Townsville from $153**
Three Capes Walk, Tasmania instead of Peru
If you have an adventurous family that loves the challenge of a trek, a trip to the Inca Trails of Peru needn’t be necessary. Tasmania is a destination ripe for exploring, with fantastic hiking experiences in all corners of the state. Whether you’re looking for an easy stroll or a more challenging cross-country trek, Tasmania offers 60 Great Short Walks, from Cradle Mountain’s stunning Dove Lake Circuit to the recently unveiled Three Capes Track. With magnificent scenery aplenty, you and your family can venture through landscapes of amazing glacially-carved valleys, ancient rainforests, mesmerising eucalyptus forests, moorlands and beautiful meadows. Take your pick!
Where to stay: Stay in Cradle Mountain at the Cradle Mountain Wilderness Village, starting from $171*
How to get there: Flights to Launceston from $73**
Great Barrier Reef, Queensland instead of the Coral Reef in Hawaii, US
Those with the seven natural wonders of the world on their bucket list can make a start with the stunning Great Barrier Reef; a destination for the entire family. With more than 3,000 individual reefs and coral cays, the world’s largest reef system offers visitors unique underwater experiences, from snorkeling to world-class diving. Bask on on one of the picturesque tropical islands, or try activities like reef cruises, whale watching or helicopter tours.
Where to stay: Stay in Cairns at the Pacific Hotel Cairns, starting from $155*
How to get there: Flights to Cairns from $163**
Blue Mountains, New South Wales instead of Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming
Sure, the mountains of Yellowstone National Park have breathtaking views, fresh mountain air and vast walking trails, but so do the The Blue Mountains. Just a short drive from Sydney, the mountains are lovely all year-round and the perfect destination for a family road-trip. This is an ideal spot to experience native Australian flora, fauna and wildlife - you might even catch some snow if it’s cold enough! While there, take the kids to see the Three Sisters, one of Australia’s most spectacular natural landmarks, or marvel in the beauty of Katoomba Falls.
Where to stay: Stay in Katoomba at the Lilianfels Blue Mountains Resort & Spa, starting from $209*
How to get there: Flights to Sydney from $163**
Barossa Valley, South Australia instead of Bordeaux, France
For parents looking for a romantic child-free break, there’s no need to jetset to the French region of Bordeaux. South Australia’s Barossa Valley offers luxury stays amongst the vines along with fine wine, picturesque scenery, rolling hills and delicious locally-sourced food. The best part? It’s only an hour’s drive from Adelaide. Considered the gourmet capital of South Australia, the Barossa is a true sensory experience that won’t disappoint. Visitors are guaranteed to be mesmerised by the region's beauty and rich heritage, and can make the most of their trip by taking a vineyard tour or cooking class. For a great scenic drive, check out the Barossa Butcher, Baker, Winemaker trail.
Where to stay: Stay in Tanunda at the Novotel Barossa Valley Resort, starting from $160*
How to get there: Flights to Adelaide from $108**
Debby Soo, KAYAK Vice President, APAC said, “ At KAYAK we want to show Australians the incredible beauty that sits right on their doorstep. We also want to help travellers discover, identify and research local destinations and activities best suited for their budget through our site, which can be done using our Explore Tool.”