Last-minute getaways under $1500

When school holidays are fast approaching and you’re stuck for things to do with the kids, booking a last-minute getaway can be a really affordable way to fill in a few days.

Here are a few ideas on where to take the kids for less than $1,500.

 

Blue Mountains , NSW

The Three Sister on the left with a view of the blue mountains behind
People travel from all over the world to see a view like this. Aren’t we lucky? Photo: Shutterstock

Getting there

A stone’s throw from Sydney, the Blue Mountains is an old faithful for families in NSW.

A worthwhile road trip from surrounding states, this World Heritage-listed national park is the perfect place to spend a few days with the kids.

The entrance to the Blue Mountains is at Glenbrook, roughly 50 minutes from Sydney CBD via the M4 motorway. If you’re travelling from the west, the drive through Victoria Pass is a nice, scenic option. Those without a car can still venture into the mountains with dozens of towns such as Glenbrook, Katoomba and Lithgow right on the train line.

Staying there

The national park covers a huge area with tonnes of accommodation throughout. A quick search on AirBnB will reveal hundreds of charming cottages perfect for families. Make sure you pick one with a fireplace for those cold winter nights.

A 3-night stay during the school holidays can cost as little as $500 for a beautiful 3-bedroom cottage.

B&Bs and inns are also plentiful in the area. Places like Bilpin Country Lodge and Silvermere Bed & Breakfast are family friendly and great value. Prices start around $250 per night for a family room.

Sign at Blue Mountains lookout, people in background
Lace up your joggers and explore the hiking trails of the Blue Mountains. Photo: Bound Round

Playing there

Bushwalking trails, horse riding, mountain biking and other awesome outdoor activities abound, but if the chill of winter has you keen to stay indoors, the quirky shops and cosy cafes of the region’s historic towns will keep you warm. A visit to Jenolan Caves and the Three Sisters are essential for any Blue Mountains getaway.

 

Kangaroo Valley , NSW

Scenery shot of a farm in Kangaroo Valley
Get a feel for life on the farm in Kangaroo Valley. Photo: Shutterstock

Getting there

When the stresses of school pile up and the kids are in need of a digital detox, an escape to the countryside is just what the doctor ordered. A two-hour drive from Sydney and Canberra, Kangaroo Valley is an awesome spot for families to spend a few days getting back to nature.

Staying there

Self-catering cabins are popular among families. You’ll find plenty of options of HomeAway, the new home of Stayz. But a farm stay is definitely something to look into. Don’t worry, you won’t be shovelling cow poo. You can participate as much or as little as you like.

Farm stays give you a taste of life on the farm where you can meet chickens, alpacas, goats and all your other farm favourites.

Hampden Bridge in Kangaroo Valley
Check out the medieval turrets of Hampden Bridge. Photo: Shutterstock

Playing there

There are plenty of walking trails to wander, rivers to row and historic sights to see. The Kangaroo Valley market on the second Sunday of every month is a hit with families, offering delicious local produce, hand-made goodies and live music from local musos.

 

Fraser Island , QLD

4x4 driving along beach at Fraser Island
No 4WD? No worries. There are plenty of 4×4 tours available on the island. Photo: Shutterstock

Getting there

Who says you have to save your island getaway for summer? Take advantage of Fraser Island’s off-peak prices and book a few days on Australia’s favourite family-friendly island.

The ferry to Fraser Island costs $50 for adults and $25 for children. If you’re taking your 4WD over, it’s $175 for a driver and three passengers. Don’t forget, you’ll need a Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service permit if you plan on driving or camping on the island.

Staying there

Resorts are the most popular form of accommodation on Fraser. Kingfisher Bay Resort has family rooms for $289 a night and they’ll throw in your return ferry transfers for free. There are also self-catering options available through HomeAway.com.au. Beachside villas and forest-bound cabins begin from $200 a night for families.

Shipwreck on beach
Maheno Shipwreck on 75 Mile Beach. Photo: Shutterstock

Playing there

The best way to see the island is by going off-road. Book a 4×4 tour and discover the most remote and rugged parts of the island or rent a 4WD and do it yourself. Although it might be a bit cool for a swim, it’s definitely worth dipping your toes in Lake McKenzie. The crystal clear water and white sand make an awesome backdrop for a family photo. Make sure you check out the Maheno shipwreck on 75 mile beach.

 

Springbrook, QLD

waterfall in national park
Rainbow Falls in Springbrook National Park. Photo: Shutterstock

Getting there

In the heart of the Gold Coast Hinterland, the beautiful town of Springbrook has plenty of fun activities for families. 45 minutes from the coast and 1.5 hours from Brisbane, you’ll have nature walks, waterfalls and wildlife at your fingertips.

Staying there

Mountain chalets and self-contained cottages provide the perfect rainforest retreat for families. A 4-day jaunt will cost between $500-$1,200 for a family of four to six. Check out Springbrook’s official website for the best places to stay. Otherwise, hit up AirBnB for some great 2+ bedroom holiday homes in the local area.

If you can’t find anything in Springbrook, broaden your search to Numinbah Valley, Beechmont and Neranwood.

Woman walking through rainforest with back pack on getaway
Exploring the rainforest in the national park. Photo: Peter Lik, Tourism and Events Queensland

Playing there

You’ll want to check out the ‘Best of All’ lookout, appropriately named for it’s incredible view of the hinterland area. While you’re out and about, be sure to wander the walking trails that will take you past dozens of waterfalls and natural pools. If exploring on horseback is more your style, see the folks at Numinbah Valley Adventure Trails for an awesome day out in the Aussie bush.

 

Flinders Ranges, SA

Emus roaming around outback setting with tourists in background
Emus roaming around Wilpena Pound Resort. Photo: Shutterstock

Getting there

Just 400km from Adelaide, Flinders Ranges National Park is a breathtaking outback landscape with incredible scenery at every turn. If you’ve got a few extra days to play with, stop in at Barossa or Clare Valley for some world-class wine tasting.

Staying there

Rawnsley Park Station and Wilpena Pound Resort are great options for families. Most places are equipped with BBQ facilities, campfire pits and even swimming pools for those brave enough to take a dip in winter. Roasting marshmallows over the fire will have the kids smiling from ear to ear. Expect to pay between $600-$900 for a 3-night stay during school holidays.

Stars in the night sky
The lack of light pollution makes for an awesome stargazing session. Photo: Shutterstock

Playing there

A whopping 540 million years old, Flinders Ranges is home to thousands of emus, kangaroos and wedge tail eagles. There are also many places of Indigenous significance, dotted with rock engravings that hold the secrets to thousands of years of dreamtime stories.

When the sun goes down, the night sky puts on an incredible show. On a clear night, the best way to spend the evening is a picnic dinner under the stars.

 

Yarra Valley, VIC

Young boy leans over fence in front of vineyard
The Yarra Valley region has plenty of family-friendly wineries to check out. Photo: Shutterstock

Getting there

The Yarra Valley is full of ‘W’s. For the kids, wombats, wallabies and other wonderful wildlife. For the adults, wine! Take a road trip out of Melbourne and explore Victoria’s premier wine region. 50kms east of Melbourne along the Eastern Freeway, the Yarra Valley begins to unfold. You can then take one of three routes: the Maroondah, Melba or Warburton Highway. Each offer beautiful scenery and cruisey driving through popular townships like Healesville, Warburton and Yarra Glen.

Staying there

Families will find plenty of accommodation in Healesville, Mount Evelyn and Yarra Glen. Bed & Breakfasts are quite popular among families with average nightly rates between $150-$300. Private holiday homes and apartments are also a good option if privacy is what you’re after. Prices are slightly higher through, with 2-bedroom cottages beginning at around $300 a night for the school holidays. Our favourite in the area is Leafield Cottages who have a mid-week deal for a 2-night stay and daily breakfast for just $305 per family. Check out the offer here.

Older man holding young girl with grapes and mother to left of frame
Put your little ones to work and pick some fruit at one of the many produce farms in the region. Photo: Shutterstock

Playing there

From fruit picking to wine tasting, cycling trails to chasing tails, there’s tonnes of awesome activities for families. Cherryhill Orchards & Sanders Apples are great places to pick your own produce. Rochford, De Bortoli and Helen’s Hill have the family-friendly tick of approval, equipped with kid’s menus, playgrounds and sports gear to keep them busy while parents conduct the serious business of, you know, drinking wine.

 

Rottnest Island, WA

Cute quokka smiles for photo
These little guys are oh so photogenic. photo: Shutterstock

Getting there

There are 3 ferry operators that run from various ports on the mainland to Rottnest multiple times a day. From Fremantle (Rous Head & Victoria Quay), its a 25 minute journey to Rottnest. From Hillarys Boat Harbour, it’ll take around 45 minutes and from Perth’s Barrack Street Jetty, 90 minutes. A return journey for adults starts at around $60 with discounts for kids and concessions. When you buy your ferry tickets, you’ll be charged a ‘landing fee’ to visit the island. For a family, it costs $54 for an extended stay which goes towards conservation, wildlife protection and general maintenance of the island.

Staying there

Karma Rottnest is a favourite of ours. A 3-night stay in a deluxe room starts around the $530 mark, but it’s worth paying a little extra to upgrade to a lakeside room.

For a more affordable, no-frills option, there are plenty of cabins and campgrounds on the island. 6-bed cabins start at $91/night during school holidays and campsites can be snatched up for just $38/night.

People cycling along pathway on Rottnest Island
No cars are allowed on the island so it’s a cyclist haven. Photo: Shutterstock

Playing there

Exploring by bike is by far the most fun way to see the island. Bikes can be hired on arrival or organised through your accommodation for around $30 a day, or $56 for 3 days. Keep in mind there are no cars on the island so if you’re hoping to cover a lot of ground, you might want to hang on to those bikes for the duration of your stay.

No trip to Rottnest Island is complete without snapping a selfie with a quokka. These little guys can be found all over the island. While they are very friendly and usually don’t mind posing for a photo, avoid getting too close and scaring them off. Quokkas have feelings too.

 

Busselton, WA

Sunset at Busselton Jetty
No filter needed. Photo: Busselton Jetty

Getting there

Just 2.5 hours from Perth, Busselton is the charming seaside town famous for its 1.8km jetty. Wow, a long boardwalk, how exciting… Don’t be so quick to judge, Busselton is one of the most popular quick getaways from the big smoke. The South Western Highway is the most direct route but it’s worth taking a detour through Harvey and Ferguson Valley. It’ll add a couple of extra hours to your journey but cute cafes, rolling vineyards and beautiful scenery will make it worth your while.

Staying there

Busselton has tonnes of accommodation to suit all styles and budgets, from hotels and resorts to self-catered apartments and holiday parks. Resorts such as Cape View, Aqua and The Sebel have family rooms between $200-$400 per night. For somewhere that is slightly kinder on the bank account, check out Busselton’s BIG4 Holiday Park or Mandalay Holiday Resort.

Busselton Jetty Tram driving past with passengers
Kids will love riding the Busselton Jetty Tram. Photo: Shutterstock

Playing there

Wake up those legs after sitting in the car all day with a stroll on Busselton Jetty. There’s an awesome underwater observatory at the end. If you’re feeling particularly lazy, the Jetty Train is a more relaxing way to make the 1.8km journey out to sea. A return ticket costs $13.50 for adults (15+) and $6.75 for kids. Back on dry land, there are plenty of bike paths to walk, cycle or skate along.

 

READ MORE

School holidays on a shoe-string

Family road trips to Dubbo Zoo

How to camp for under $300

  • Latest story

  • Related Things To Do

    Fashion Valley Simon Shopping Destinations

    Simon Shopping Destinations

    When you’re traveling in the US, there’s no better destination for shopping, dining and activities than Simon Shopping Destinations. Great deals can be had at the Simon Premium Outlet malls with popular designer and brands at slashed prices and for active kids there's no end to entertainment at Simon Mills with skate parks, water parks and high rope courses on offer.