Australia’s South West named in the Top 10 Family Friendly Destinations by Lonely Planet. Travelling to Western Australia with kids is renowned for its big blue skies, mild weather, stunning natural scenery and friendly local folk. But did you know that it is specifically the south west of the state that is a favourite for visitors from all over the globe? From the biggest free playground in the southern hemisphere to its glorious beaches, here are the top 10 reasons why Australia’s South West is a must visit family holiday destination in Western Australia for kids.
1. Swim With Dolphins in Western Australia With Kids
Now’s the time when all those swimming lessons will have paid off as you can take the kids swimming with wild bottle nosed dolphins in Koombana Bay. At the Dolphin Discovery Centre in Bunbury they run tours where a marine biologist will take you out to snorkel in the dolphins’ home. If that seems a bit too intimidating, the centre also has a more passive interaction zone where you can wade in off the beach and stand in knee high water and watch the dolphins come and swim right in front of you. Although this occurs year round, October to April are more reliable months for dolphin sightings.
[For more family travel tips on snorkeling with kids, see the suitcases&strollers story here.]
2. Climb Giant Trees & Do the World’s Longest Treetop Walk
The Valley of the Giants in Walpole is home to the magnificent tingle trees of Western Australia.
It is here you can do the Treetop Walk at 40 metres above the forest canopy.
Nearby in the Southern Forests there are humongous karri trees to admire and there are even three that you can climb to a height of up to 75 metres for truly spectacular views and brilliant family travel photos.
[For more family travel tips on getting the best travel photos, see the suitcases&strollers interview with a professional photographer here.]
3. Farm Stays in Western Australia For Kids
Kids in the city often don’t get to interact with animals outside the zoo so a farm stay for kids is an easy way to give them interaction with animals and exposure to a different lifestyle while still being relaxing for parents. There are plenty of farm stays for kids around Australia’s South West, it’s just a matter of choosing the one that suits you.
Opting for family friendly accommodation on a farm stay in Western Australia means that your kids will get to participate in all the fun bits of being on a working farm – collecting the eggs from the chooks, feeding the baby lambs, riding the horses – while you can sit back on your balcony with a glass of wine and just chill.
4. Explore 350,000 Year Old Caves in Western Australia With Kids
If you’re on family holidays in Margaret River with kids, don’t miss the Leeuwin-Naturaliste Ridge where there are over 150 limestone caves and 8 that you can take the children to visit. Go hiking with kids on your own or otherwise book in a guided tour to walk along the boardwalks of Ngilgi, Mammoth, Lake, Jewel and Moondyne. Don’t forget your torches to do the more adventurous caves with the older kids – Calgardup (with its impressive water reflections) and Giants Cave (a through cave where you enter at one point and exit at another).
5. Ride the Train Along Busselton Jetty
One of the most beloved and famed attractions for kids in Australia’s South West is the 1.8 kilometre long, timbre piled Busselton Jetty.
Start at the foreshore with its barbeque area and new playground and then board the very cute jetty train to the Underwater Observatory with its gorgeous artificial reef. Here you can get up close and personal with the local fish and coral at 9 metres under the ocean without getting your feet wet. Both the train and the Underwater Observatory are stroller friendly.
6. Plan A Family Beach Holiday in Western Australia With Kids
WA is famed for its glorious picturesque beaches and some of the best are in the South West. Think beautiful white sands, crystal clear waters, big blue skies and (for the older kids) waves that surfers travel around the world to experience. Check out Margaret River Mouth and Yallingup Beach for some of the best beginner surf beaches in the region.
The best beaches for little kids with the calmest waters are Greens Pool near Denmark, Little Beach near Albany, Peaceful Bay, Hamelin Bay near Augusta, Busselton, Jetty Baths in Bunbury and Meelup Beach near Dunsborough.
Remember the Aussie sun can be hot, even on the most overcast days, so always bring sun protection and water to avoid dehydration. [For more family beach safety tips, see the suitcases&strollers interview with the team from Bondi Rescue.]
7. Hang On The Beedelup Swing Bridge
At Beedelup National Park the forest of giant karri, marri and jarrah trees continues. It is here you can visit the pretty cascading Beedelup Falls (the best flow is from winter to mid spring) and then hike with kids to the suspension bridge which will give hair raising views over Beedelup Brooke that will thrill and excite.
8. Go Fishing in Western Australia With Kids
Australia’s South West has great fishing spots to rival anywhere in Australia and fishing as a sport is a great way to be in the great outdoors with the kids but still be relaxed. All along the coast there are opportunities to try to snare some marron, crayfish, dhufish or nannygai in places such as the Busselton Jetty, Middleton Beach, Augusta or Walpole Inlet. If you’re a little impatient, check out the fishing farms where you are guaranteed to be taking something home for dinner. Ask at the local visitor centres for the best places to go fishing or fishing farms.
Do note that there are strict guidelines about fishing in Western Australia including how much you can catch and whether you need a fishing licence. For more details go to the Department of Fisheries Western Australia official website.
9. Visit Gnomesville
Situated in the middle of a traffic roundabout in the Ferguson Valley is Gnomesville, a delightful collection of over 3,000 gnomes who live in their own little village.
The site is maintained by local volunteer Peter Terren who patiently oversees the gnomes conducting population censuses, documenting personal histories and even running the gnome hospital for urgent cosmetic repairs! You can bring your own gnome to join the community, go on a guided gnome tour or sponsor a gnome too.
10. Play at the Biggest Free Playground in Australia
Apple FunPark in Donnybrook caters to kids of all ages and is the perfect place to let the children run around and burn some energy. The playground is completely fenced in – so you don’t have to worry about letting the kids run wild – and there is equipment to cater to toddlers right through to teens including ride on animals, climbing walls, flying fox and giant tube slides. There is even gym exercise equipment if you want to break a sweat too!
There are plenty of free playgrounds all over Australia’s South West. For instance, if you are in Margaret River with kids, opt for the wineries that have playgrounds so you can wine taste at your leisure while the kids play.
[To read more about family friendly wineries in Margaret River with kids, see the suitcases&strollers story here.]
This story is sponsored by Australia’s South West; Images: Elements Margaret River, www.margaretriver.com, Nic Duncan