Hiking is a healthy and active way to get back in touch with nature, says Bindi Irwin. But to make it a successful family holiday activity, there are a few essentials you’ll need. In January the 15-year-old little crocodile hunter and her mum, Terri Irwin, and brother, Robert (10), left their home at Australia Zoo for some time in one of Queensland and Australia’s most beautiful national parks. Here are her tips for how to hike with kids.  

Lamington National Park… being an Australian and loving lamington cake so much, the name does make me a little hungry! However, contradictory to what the name suggests, this national park is not filled with fun desserts but some true Australian treats of wildlife and stunning Aussie bush.

This summer was the perfect time to visit and we had an absolute blast.

Staying at O’Reilly’s Rainforest Retreat was fabulous; the villas are breathtaking and overlook views like no other. Waking up and having a cup of tea on the veranda looking out at spectacular rainforest; that is my idea of perfect.

However, my brother thought that the room was perfect because of all the places he could go when playing hide and seek. We found him curled away in the cupboard where the toaster was kept…mum and I still have no idea how he fitted in there!

The food at O’Reilly’s is incredible; Mum called our amazing meals “adventure eating” which in some ways I think they were. After going on a 23-kilometre hike and packing lunch with us, we certainly felt like adventure eaters! The Border Track was our great hike through the rainforest and we loved every minute of it. Robert was our designated photographer and video cinematographer which kept him occupied the entire hike (and it turns out he is actually very good at it).

The only problem with going on this giant hike was the fact that I forgot to pack hiking shoes, which meant I hiked for 23 kilometres wearing Converse. Woops. Luckily Mum brought enough Band-Aids and I wrapped my feet up with them to avoid too many blisters. I learned two lessons with that:

1)  Always bring hiking shoes;

2)  Carry Band-Aids at all times…you just never know when you’ll need them.

Mum was also very clever to bring a backpack when we decided to come to Lamington National Park which came in handy. O’Reilly’s packed up a lunch for us to take with us on the day hike and we popped it in Mum’s backpack for the walk. My best advice to any parent out there is to bring a backpack if you ever go hiking or walking with kids. They are honestly so handy and you never know when you might need a backpack, especially if you are anything like us and decide to go on an all-day hike in halfway through your trip. Plus, if Robert got tired of carrying the camera Mum was able to pop it in the backpack with no worries.

Despite the fact that all of the hikes we went on were so much fun, Robert’s favourite part of the trip was zip-lining. It is fantastic and, before coming to an abrupt stop, you feel like you’re effortlessly flying above the trees like a bird. Young kids and adults were all trying the zip-line. One girl (who was slightly afraid of heights) faced her fears and conquered the zip-line and loved it. It is an experience which you just have to try once and I guarantee you’ll enjoy it. 

Bird feeding was at the top of the [trip’s] highlights list as well. Each of us got a little bowl of bird seed and fed the exquisite king parrots and cute crimson rosellas. I am so glad that we had a video camera with us to capture each funny moment between Robert and his temporary Rosella friend which he named “Fergus”. Yes, that’s right. Fergus. 

OK, here’s the thing. If you have read about all this excitement and now want to go experience Lamington National Park for yourself, you must do one thing. You have to go and see the glowworm tour. My favourite part of the entire trip was seeing the glowworms. They are such extraordinary and bright little creatures. We took a short night time bush walk to a creek where hundreds of these glowworms were perched on an embankment. When we sat down to admire their twinkling lights it was if I was staring at the starry night sky. I could’ve sat there the entire night.  Utterly breathtaking. 

Even if you don’t go stay at O’Reilly’s and see Lamington National Park though, on your next family holiday please do be sure to take a video camera with you. It captures memories forever and, if a picture is worth a thousand words, a video is worth a million. Also, make sure you all take a second pair of shoes, some Band-Aids and a backpack! Trust me…it’s helpful!

To read more about hiking with kids, see the story of one suitcases&strollers' dad's experience here.
By Bindi Irwin; Images: Tourism and Events Queensland

Bindi Irwin is a regular contributor to suitcases&strollers. To read more of her thoughts on travel, type her name into the Search bar on the suitcases&strollers website.