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TRAVEL & LEISURE

Ten Extraordinary Gifts for Parents in Need of a Getaway That Caters for Kids

Give your mates with children an adventure they can really enjoy while the little’uns run off holiday steam.
By Olivia Gee
November 22, 2021
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By Olivia Gee
November 22, 2021
  shares

TEN EXTRAORDINARY GIFTS FOR PARENTS IN NEED OF A GETAWAY THAT CATERS FOR KIDS

in partnership with

Give your mates with children an adventure they can really enjoy while the little’uns run off holiday steam.

If you've got friends or family members with kids, you may have some insight into the havoc that can arise when they get bored. And after almost two years of on-and-off homeschooling and lockdowns, we bet many of the courageous parents in your life are utterly exhausted. So, this holiday season, what better gift to bestow upon them than a proper getaway? Experiences are the new things, after all.

A family vacay needs to include a few key essentials: relaxation for the parents, opportunities for learning and active adventures that'll wear out small humans. To help you find travel adventures that hit the mark and make for ideal pressies, we've partnered with Tourism Australia to round up ten of the best family holiday experiences around the country that are a win for both parent and child.

  • 10
    Devils at Cradle

    While Tassie devils sound fearsome, these shy critters are not aggressive or devilish — although they do have mean chompers they’ll display when threatened. Whoever you gift this to can get to know this misunderstood and now endangered species (as well as their quoll cousins) when visiting Devils at Cradle sanctuary in the stunning wilderness of Tasmania’s Cradle Mountain.

    Devils are nocturnal carnivores, so a nighttime feeding tour is a great way to see them at their most active while learning about their biology, behaviour and the threats they face in the wild.

    Image: Laura Helle

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    Want to start building your ultimate Christmas Wishlist? Holiday Here This Year

    Start creating a personalised wishlist of top travel experiences — or add this to an existing list. Save it and share it with loved ones as a not-so-subtle hint for gift ideas.

  • 9
    Maruku Arts Tours & Workshops

    Not-for-profit art and craft organisation Maruku has been operating for 30 years in the heart of the Northern Territory. It’s owned and run by the Aṉangu people from the Western and Central Deserts of Australia, with a shop and gallery at Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park Cultural Centre and a market stall in the town square of Yulara (the township where you’ll find most of the accommodation near Uluru).

    Visitors can develop a deeper understanding of Aṉangu art and history at the Yulara dot painting workshops, which run twice daily. Your mates and their craft-loving kids will be led by an Aṉangu artist and interpreter to create a work using traditional techniques and be tutored in the meaning of ancient Indigenous symbols.

    Image: Tourism Australia

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  • 8

    The Great Barrier Reef is high on many family bucket lists and this adventure at the UNESCO World Heritage-listed site makes it all the more accessible. For an entirely unique experience, give the gift of a day with reef tour operators Great Adventures with an underwater scooter adventure.

    It’s the perfect option for less confident swimmers (as no swimming is actually involved!). They’ll be sitting comfortably with their head and shoulders safely enclosed in an astronaut-like dome supplying airflow and 180-degree sight lines while they cruise the reef. This experience is an optional tour extra ($175 for over 12s) on top of the snorkelling, underwater observatory viewing and catering that a standard tour ticket supplies.

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  • 7

    A zoo day is a family crowd-pleaser, but what about a zoo sleepover? Taronga Zoo’s Roar and Snore adventure starts in the evening as visitors get comfortable in their safari-style tents (complete with bathroom facilities) before snacks and drinks are served overlooking Taronga’s spectacular Sydney Harbour views. Before dinner, guests can get to know some of the zoo’s cuddlier residents, and afterwards they’ll be taken on an exclusive night tour of after-dark animal parties.

    Wake up call is early to make the most of more exclusive behind-the-scenes action, including animal feedings and touring enclosures. General admission is included with each Roar and Snore ticket, too, so they’ll get to wander through the grounds after breakfast.

    Image: Taronga Zoo via Destination NSW

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  • 6

    This horse riding tour in the Top End is not a standard pony club trot. The folks at Katherine Outback Experience have decades of equestrian knowledge and the property — which is a three-and-a-half hour drive from Darwin — looks as if it was plucked from the set of Baz Luhrmann’s Australia. Private or group horse riding lessons are available to riders of all experience levels, starting from $50 per person for a half-hour ride.

    You can add a farm animal meet-and-greet to the visit, or book in the kids for the Outback Show where Golden Guitar winner Tom Curtin (who runs the farm) demonstrates horse-starting, working dog demonstrations, and Tom performing his own tunes on horseback.

    Image: Stephanie Coombes Creative

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  • 5
    The Granite Belt Maze

    The Granite Belt region along the Great Dividing Range is known for its excellent wine and produce, yes, but it’s also home to a gigantic maze. The Granite Belt Maze in Glen Niven is just a ten-minute drive from the regional centre of Stanthorpe, which is less than three hours from Brisbane.

    The timber maze is an enjoyable problem-solving activity for the whole family and requires around 2.5-kilometres of wandering to complete. Once they finally make it out of the maze, they can challenge each other to a game of giant chess or mini golf, or wander through the gardens.

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  • 4

    With its smiling quokka population, white sand beaches and secluded coves, Rottnest Island is a fantastic family destination. Those who journey via the 25-minute ferry ride from Perth can join Sea Kayak Rottnest for a cruise in a kayak that will make for an ideal present for adventurous family crews.

    They’ll be paired up to helm glass-bottom solo or two-person sea kayaks for an hour tour, where they can take in aquatic life and coral beds right through the watercraft while enjoying views above the waterline.

    Image: Tourism Australia

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  • 3
    Cockington Green Gardens

    The detailed miniature village at Cockington Green Gardens is housed in one of the most impeccably kept gardens in the Canberra region. The grounds are an ode to the owners’ experiences in the UK, with the tiny replica cottages, villas, sporting grounds and painstakingly-maintained mini gardens based on English townships.

    Hundreds and sometimes thousands of hours of work goes into the construction and landscaping of each building, many of which have been standing for 40 years. But if you’re thinking it’s just for the Antique Roadshow set, the whole experience has been conceived with families in mind — including a miniature old-fashioned steam train that winds its way through the bucolic scenery — so there’s some tiny fun to delight everyone.

    Image: VisitCanberra

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  • 2

    This native animal menagerie sits in the Cleland Conservation Park, located 30 minutes from the centre of Adelaide. It offers everything from butterfly walks to echidna encounters and bird feeding over breakfast. But the koala is king here.

    Meeting the park’s most companionable koalas is included in the entry fee ($30 for adults, $15.50 for kids), but for an extra sum you can book in your mate’s kid to actually hold one. For an even more exclusive audience with a koala, book a hand-feeding on a private tour. Koala meetings are on a first-come first-see basis but, to hold them, bookings are essential — and that’s where you come in.

    Image: South Australian Tourism Commission/ Adam Bruzzone

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  • 1
    Kryal Castle Adventure Park

    Hear ye, hear ye, fantasy fans! A medieval castle full of family-friendly adventures awaits, just 90 minutes from Melbourne. Within its impressive replica medieval walls, Kryal Castle presents an historical showcase of cavalry skills, apothecary methods, falconry displays and joust tournaments. There are also courses in archery, axe throwing, pony riding and potion-making for folk who want to get their hands dirty, as well as royal feasts to be had at the ale house and tavern.

    Grab your mates a family day pass, which will give them access to the roster of shows and displays. There are also dedicated interactive packages, as well as accommodation in a luxe castle suite (with after-hours access to the grounds) or the budget-friendly adjoining barracks for larger families.

    Image: Visit Victoria

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Give the gift of travel this season and invite your mates, partners and parents to Holiday Here This Year (or in years to come). For more unforgettable gift inspiration, visit Australia.com.

Top image: Katherine Outback Experience, Stephanie Coombes Creative

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