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Winter school holiday ideas:

Get out and explore our own backyard these winter school holidays. Discover the huge range of family-friendly destinations and experiences that will be sure to bring a smile to those precious little faces - and yours too!
By Motherpedia
Date: June 15 2012
Editor Rating:

The upcoming school holidays shouldn’t mean staying cooped up inside playing video games or watching DVDs; nor should parents have to break the bank with an expensive overseas holiday.

With locations and activities for every budget, Australia is the ultimate family holiday destination all year round.

Whether you embrace the winter in the snowfields, escape North to feel the warmth of the sun on your skin again, or simply explore your home-state – Australia is the perfect winter school holiday destination offering world-class theme parks, breathtaking natural landscapes and unique wildlife, unspoilt beaches and impressive marine life, an ancient Indigenous culture and colourful history along with loads of fun winter indoor and outdoor sport and recreational activities.

Here are some top winter school holiday destinations and activities available in each state:


Family Snow Camps

Explore the NSW countryside and visit some of the States most picturesque and historical towns such as Berry, Tamworth and Orange. Affordable accommodation, and sport and recreational activities are available for families and kids at seven sport and recreation centers located across the state. The Jindabyne Centre, for example, offers two and five day Family Snow Sport Camps - perfect for the winter months. The Family package includes motel style accommodation, equipment hire, professional skiing lessons at Perisher and evening activities. Separate five-day kids only camps are also available for 10 -16 year olds.

Outdoor Adventures

Only a 3 hour drive north of Sydney, surrounded by breathtaking mountain peaks and ranges, is the Barrington Outdoor Adventure Centre (BOAC) offering white water kayaking, canoeing and downhill mountain biking for kids (and adults) of all ages, fitness levels and abilities. Accommodation is available at The Steps of Girrba Riverside Camping Retreat or at Riverview Cottage nearby. The BOAC team can tailor a family adventure package to suit your budget, so pack the winter woolies and your swag to share some healthy outdoor fun with the kids these winter school holidays.


Perth is Australia’s sunniest capital city and full of kid-friendly activities, making it the perfect winter school holiday getaway. Popular attractions include the Perth Mint, featuring one of the biggest gold nuggets on earth, Whiteman Park set in beautiful bushland and offering train rides, camel rides and sheep shearing. Perth is also the perfect base from which to explore some the West’s best beaches and Islands:

Rottnest Island

The ever popular Rottnest Island will be sure to give the kids something to gloat about at ‘Show and Tell’. Just a short ferry ride from the suburb of Freemantle, Rottnest Island offers a wide range of family accommodation options for all budgets, along with some of the world finest beaches including 63 secluded beaches and 20 bays. The Rottnest Island Authority also provides special school holiday activities and tours suitable for kids of all ages.


Swim with Dolphins

Monkey Miais a great escape for families with its crystal clear waters, pristine white shell beaches and daily Dolphins visits. Located in the heart of Western Australia’s Shark Bay World Heritage Area, Monkey Mia is one of the world’s premier natural dolphin sighting areas; a destination that the kids will be sure to love and remember for many years. But dolphins are just the beginning; Monkey Mia has the perfect blend of onshore and offshore activities to keep the whole family happy including daily cruises or sailing the crystal clear water. Kids will also love the Ocean Park aquarium, Aboriginal Cultural Walk and camel rides.


South Australia is home to long summers, mild winters, and stunning beaches and is the gateway to the unique landscapes of the Flinders Ranges and iconic Kangaroo Island.

Wild about wildlife

Adelaide is perfect for kids who are wild about all creatures great and small, with numerous zoos and wildlife parks located nearby. Right in the heart of the city is Adelaide Zoo, home to 1,800 animals including the only giant Pandas in the Southern Hemisphere. Kids will love getting to the zoo on the Popeye riverboat from Elder Park and the Botanic Gardens are also walking distance from the zoo. Monarto Zoo a 1,000 hectare open range zoo, offering memorable safari experiences is one hour drive from Adelaide - kids can see lions, cheetahs, elephants and rare animals like the black rhinoceros. Also just a short drive away is the Cleland Wildlife Park, Warrawong Wildlife Sanctuary, Gorge Wildlife Park and Urimbirra Wildlife Park plus lots more!

Adelaide Zoo -

Monarto Zoo -

Cleland Wildlife Park -

Warrawong Wildlife Sanctuary -

Gorge Wildlife Park -

Urimbirra Wildlife Park -

Kangaroo Island

Stay a few days at Kangaroo Island, one of Australia's greatest wilderness destinations. Best known for its magnificent coastal views, unique landscapes, uncrowded beaches and fascinating wildlife including Australian sea-lions, New Zealand fur seals, penguins, kangaroos, wallabies and koalas KI is accessible by ferry. Accommodation includes, 3 and 4 star hotels, inns and private villas, or you can stay atStranraer Homestead: a working sheep farm which has been in the Wheaton family for generations.


A family holiday to Australia’s Red Centre is more than a getaway; it's a journey of discovery into the ancient culture and landscape of Uluru (Ayers Rock) and Kata Tjuta (Olgas). There are free ranger guided walks daily along the base of Uluru, where you’ll see rock art and hear dreamtime stories and learn about the local history and traditions. Take the two hour sunset camel tour across the outback later in the day, leaving the whole family captivated as the landscape turns from day to dusk. Kids can taste a selection of the local bush foods, grind native seeds and learn how the local people lived on the Bush Tucker Tour, and they’ll also love the Indigenous Art classes: learning traditional Aboriginal painting methods using paper canvases, boomerangs and rocks to create their own artwork.



Kids will get into the winter spirit right in the heart of Melbourne with a range of events and activities at the Medibank Icehouse, starting with family happy hour and skating sessions every Saturday and Sunday and a different theme night, including music and free beginner lessons each weeknight. But the highlight is set to be the school holiday feature performance: ICE AGE @ ICEHOUSE with three shows daily starring characters from ICE AGE 4 and a troupe of 8 figure skaters. Shows are free with admission, and kids can meet the characters and have their photos taken. The winter fun continues across the road at Harbour Town with a new snow play area and ICE AGE 4 craft workshop and don’t miss the fastest game on earth, with a two Australian Ice Hockey League 2012 games scheduled during the upcoming school holidays.

A real-life March of the Penguins

Phillip Islandis less than two hours from Melbourne, and is best known for its Penguin Parade experience: as the sun fades the little penguins waddle up the beach to the safety of their homes in the sand dunes. Seal tours to the Nobbies are also available through Wildlife Coast Cruises and you can help with the daily pelican feeding at San Remo. There’s a range of walks established around the island and Churchill Island, accessed by a bridge from Phillip Island, is a working farm with cattle, sheep, ducks, chickens and horses. Other attractions include A Maze N Thing’s illusion room with puzzles, anti-gravity room, maze and mini golf. Phillip Island Wildlife Park is another must-do for kids to feed the wallabies, and see the snakes, koalas and native animals and birds.


Education can be fun too!

Canberra is packed full of child-friendly places to visit during the winter months including Questacon, the National Science and Technology Centre with its hands-on exhibits and earthquake experience, and the Australian Institute of Sports’ Sportex centre where you can kick a goal in a Rugby or AFL simulation, challenge a friend to a simulated mountain bike race or have a go at wheelchair basketball.  For more educational adventures don’t forget to check out Parliament House, the National Museum of Australia, Australian War Memorial and the CSIRO Discovery Centre.

Questcon -

AIS, Sportex - - tours run four times day at 10.00am, 11.30am, 1.00pm and 2.30pm and run for 90 minutes.

Parliament House -

National Museum of Australia -

Australian War Memorial -

CSIRO Discovery Centre -

Calling all snow bunnies

Once you’ve fed their minds, it’s time to exert some energy! Canberra may not be the first destination you think of for your next family ski trip but there are a number of Snowy Mountain family packages departing from the nation’s capital. Regular coaches head to ski resorts like Charlotte Pass, Jindabyne, Perisher and Thredbo daily – all offering a good selection of affordable family accommodation and ski activities. Whether you go for the day or the whole weekend, Canberra is the perfect base to explore the best Australian ski resorts.

Snoexpress -

Murrays, Snow Service -

Charlotte Pass ski resort-


Theme Park Heaven

Escape to the milder winter climate, the pristine beaches of Queensland’s Gold Coast and visit some of the most exciting theme parks in the country – Dreamworld, White Water World, Sea World, Warner Bros. Movie World and Wet n Wild Water World.

Dreamworld features some the tallest and fastest rides in the world, including the ‘Cyclone RollerCoaster’ and ‘Tower of Terror’, and offers something for everyone including Wiggles World for the littlies and the Australian Wildlife Experience for the nature lovers. Dreamworld has also launched some exciting new attractions including new thrill ride ‘Buzzsaw’ and adventure ride ‘Shockwave’.

White Water World (for those warmer winter days!) is located next door to Dream World and  features five of the hottest waterslides on the planet, as well as mini-slides and water activities at Wiggle Bay for the under 5’s.

  • For under $300 the Holiday World Pass provides a family of four with entry to Dreamworld and WhiteWater World as often as they like over 21 days – so you don’t have to rush around and do it all in one day!

Sea World Resort and Water Park

Sea World is a marine park, Oceanarium and theme park all in one. It includes rides, animal exhibits and other attractions, and promotes conservation through education and the rescue and rehabilitation of sick, injured or orphaned wildlife.

Sea World has just launched its Jet Stunt Extreme Show featuring some of the world’s best jet-ski stunt performers, and opened a new SpongeBob SquarePants and Dora the Explorer Aquatic Adventure Zone.

Warner Bros. Movie World features a range of movie themed rides and attractions, like the Green Lantern Coaster and the Batwing Spaceshot. Roving costumed performers help bring the kids’ favourite movie and cartoon character to life and a range of live shows, including Hollywood Stunt Driving will keep the whole family entertained.

Wet n Wild Water World (for those warmer winter days!)

Wet n Wild Water World combines the latest water slides and leisure pools with a shaded twenty acre subtropical garden. Whether you choose to laze in the shallows of the Wave Pool or plunge down a sheer drop on Kamikaze, Wet n Wild is sure to provide the whole family with a ‘splashtacular’ day!

Combo ticket deals are available to visit Sea World, Warner Bros. Movie World, and Wet'n'Wild Water World!


A Sweet Treat

Give the kids a sweet treat this winter, with a visit to the Cadbury Factory located 25 minutes from Hobart.Tour the factory to discover Cadbury’s chocolate making secrets and sample some of the raw materials along the way.

Little Agrarians

The Agrarian Kitchen, Tasmania’s first hands-on farm-based cooking school is now offering “the little agrarian” cooking classes for children aged 6 to 11 years. The classes are held in a 19th century schoolhouse in Lachlan, in the Derwent Valley just outside of Hobart.Set on five acres, The Agrarian Kitchen is a working farm and incorporates an extensive vegetable garden, orchard, berry patch and herb garden, all grown using organic principles. Also in residence are Wessex saddleback pigs, Barnevelder chickens, two British Alpine goats and a flock of geese.


Get lost in Tasmazia, near Cradle Mountain National Park, with eight remarkable mazes including the Great Maze, reputedly the worlds’ largest, a Yellow Brick Road maze and a cage maze.Tasmazia also features the Village of Lower Crackpot – a miniature village with 1/5 scale models of houses, churches, pubs, banks and even a disco. While primarily aimed at children, Tasmazia is also loved by adults who marvel at the level of effort and intricacy.

Here are some holiday ideas we recommend. We'd love to hear yours. Tell us below....

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