The clock is counting down. The July school holidays will kick off in NSW this weekend. You’re either approaching next week with relief, or a bit of dread. With such a strange start to the term, it is a good idea to plan some family-friendly activities so everyone can unwind and have some fun over the break. Destination NSW have put together a list of national parks, beach towns and historical must-sees for bulking up your NSW itinerary. Explore Destination NSW’s top family regions and share the #LoveNSW these holidays.
Central West NSW
Treat the kids to Zoofari at Taronga Western Plains , Dubbo. It is an unforgettable safari experience where you’ll spend the night in an Animal View Lodge, situated on the edge of a vast savannah taking in the giraffes, zebras and rhinos as they roam. Hire bikes and enjoy the native bushlands of this incredible region. Then discover another world and take a step back in time at Old Dubbo Gaol. The State Heritage listed site, which remains intact and restored, comes to life during School Holidays, with characters in costume roaming the grounds. Be berated by one of the strict wardens, or pick-pocketed by their cunning prisoners!
Head towards the incredible Snowy Mountains and explore nature at one of NSW’s newly formed National Parks, Yanga National Park, taking in 170km of the Murrumbidgee River. Or spot koalas in the natural habitat at Narrandera Nature Reserve (referred to as Koala Reserve to locals). Test the family’s nerves at Australia’s Most Haunted House, Monte Cristo, which is an 1884-built homestead in Junee, then you can sweeten the experience with a visit to the Junee Liquorice Factory to pick up the ultimate treats. The Temora Aviation Museum is worth a look too. Home to an impressive collection of ex-military aircrafts, it serves as a historical reminder of the men and women who have fought to defend our country.
The coastal town of Narooma in the Eurobodalla region of the NSW South Coast is famous for its beautiful beaches, swimming, snorkelling and abundant local wildlife. Drive time from Sydney is five hours or catch a flight to nearby Moruya Airport. Stop by Bodalla Dairy for a delicious milkshake or sundae, and marvel at local sea life including seals and stingrays at Mill Bay Boardwalk. Don’t miss taking a scenic boat tour to Montague Island. Stay at Southbound Escape where every apartment has its own private balcony with stunning views over the Wagonga Inlet.
Around a 90min drive from Sydney and less than two hours from Canberra, the Southern Highlands is filled with old world charm. Family friendly activities include Fairy Bower Falls and Flour Salt and Water Bakery for a delicious sweet treat. Sport fans will want to take a tour of the Bradman Museum and Cricket Hall of Fame in historic Bowral. Stay at Rockwall in Bundanoon, a spacious modern property with room for the whole family and all the creature comforts you could hope for.
From camel rides at sunset to swimming with sea-life, Port Stephens, a short 2.5 hour drive from Sydney, is made for family breaks. Learn about local wildlife at Oakvale WIldlife Reserve, or go on a whale watching or dolphin Cruise. If you’re wanting something educational and fun, explore Worimi Conservation Lands on a Sand Dune Adventure Tour and learn about Aboriginal culture and history, local bush foods, medicines and the secrets of finding fresh water. Stay in a cabin at Middle Rock Holiday Resort with One Mile and Samurai Beaches at your doorstep.
Just 37km from Sydney’s CBD on the city’s northern beaches, Avalon is a beach destination that’s sure to please everyone. Active families can go stand up paddle boarding, kayaking in Pittwater with EcoTreasures or hike to Barrenjoey Lighthouse. Take the ferry to Mackerel Beach and explore Ku-ring-gai Chase National Park. Stay at Avalon Treehouse which offers beautiful district views with water glimpses and is just a few minutes’ drive to the vibrant Avalon shopping village.
There is so much to do in Port Macquarie, a four-hour drive from Sydney or one-hour flight, which is famous for whale watching and the Hastings River wine region. For some guaranteed family fun, visit Hydro Golf and Putt Putt, then enjoy an ice cream from Blue Cow Gelato. If you’re looking for something deliciously different to do, go fruit picking at Ricardoes Tomatoes and Strawberries Farm. Stay at Flynns Beach Resort which boasts two heated swimming pools, a playground and tennis courts.
Take the 200km road trip from Sydney to Bathurst, and explore a vibrant regional centre, with fascinating mining heritage and a huge food and wine scene. The whole family will enjoy a visit to the gold rush towns of Hill End and Sofala and the Bald Hill Tourist Mine. Kids will want to see the famous T-Rex at the Australian Fossil and Mineral Museum, and take a trip to the National Motor Racing Museum situated trackside at Mt Panorama. Stay at Amaroo Cottage Farmstay and get involved with the running of a 760-hectare farm.
The twin towns of Echuca Moama on the Murray River are renowned as the paddle steamer capital of Australia. Head out on a River Tour down the Murray or go camping, fishing, walking and boating in the Murray Valley Regional Park, and ride the Moama Five Mile Mountain Bike Trail. Stay at Moama on the Murray set on 82 acres of native Australian bushland on the Murray. Take an eight-hour road trip from Sydney, three-hour drive Melbourne or fly into nearby Albury Airport.