Australia’s Playground: A Family-Friendly Guide to QLD
Queensland’s unrivalled wonders ensure once-in-a-lifetime memories for the whole family — you just have to know where to look.
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Gold Coast: Free Experiences
Make a splash at Currumbin Rockpools
Skip the surf altogether and head out to the well-hidden, yet easy to access, Currumbin Rockpools. Once a secret swimming hole, this collection of pools is found along Currumbin Creek, running through the entire Currumbin Valley. Providing endless hours of holiday fun, with shallow sections perfect for little ones, Currumbin Rockpools is a safe haven for water babies. Clamber over the rocks and discover mini eco systems, before taking a quick dip in the refreshing rivulet.
Let it glow at Springbrook National Park
Pack your flashlight for a self-guided tour through Springbrook National Park, home to one of the largest clusters of bioluminescent larvae in Australia. Escape with the kids to the picturesque hinterland and be guided by thousands of magical glow worms through the winding, dense canopy to Natural Bridge, where a living constellation of nature’s most beautiful work is on display. Here, the kids will be spellbound by gorgeous blue light that speckle the rocky overhangs and ceilings, creating an alluring glow. It takes a little while for your eyes to adjust, but once they do, you’ll swear you’re staring up at the stars on a clear night!
Walk among giants at O’Reilly’s Tree Top Walk
Australia’s ancient lasndscape is host to some of the world’s tallest and oldest trees. Under most circumstances, they tower far above us – but at O’Reilly’s Tree Top Walk, the whole family can freely meander through the rustling boughs of these temperate-zone giants. Experience the magic of World Heritage-listed rainforest beneath your feet as you traverse a canopy of flowering and fruiting trees over nine suspension bridges, two observation decks and a 180m-long walkway suspended at 15m. Be sure to keep your eyes peeled for feathered friends, as over 160 species of subtropical birds inhabit the area.
Gold Coast: Affordable Experiences
The sky is the limit from SkyPoint Observation Deck
It takes just 42.7 seconds, on one of the fastest elevators in the world, to get to the top of the tallest building in Australia. SkyPoint Observation Deck is Gold Coast sightseeing at its tip-top finest. Watch the kids look around in breathtaking wonder as they shoot to the dizzying heights of the iconic Q1 building – a mammoth 270 metres above sea level – and enjoy the most spectacular floor-to-ceiling, 360-degree views over Surfers Paradise from the tallest man-made point in the country. With views from surf to the hinterland from Australia’s only beachside observation deck, the only word on the kid’s lips will be ‘wow!’
Hit the waves and learn to surf
From the glorious gold-sand beaches to its endless perfect point breaks, the Gold Coast’s 57km of spectacular coastline makes the perfect playground. The waves in Surfers Paradise and Rainbow are perfect for beginners, with waves that are patroslled most of the year. If you’d prefer a more hands-on approach, let your little surfers practise shredding the waves with a two-hour beginner lesson at Get Wet Surf School. You can put your feet up and enjoy a cocktail, while your little ones learn how to stand up on a board and fall safely on the shallows. Callabunga!
Puzzle your way out of Fusion Escape Rooms
A door slams shut behind you, you're locked in. The clock begins to tick. You’re not sure what will happen if you don’t get out in time. You and the kids are test subjects in a Fusion Laboratories Escape Trial and everything around you could be a clue. You’ll have 60 minutes to put your brains to the test as you riddle your way out of Fusion Escape Rooms — perfect for puzzlers who have a penchant for suspense (recommended for kids aged 10+).
Gold Coast: Lux Moments
Treat the family to a Village Roadshow Theme Parks Pass
Grab the whole family and come experience the Southern Hemisphere's biggest collection of rides, slides, shows and one-of-a-kind experiences with a Village Roadshow Theme Parks Pass. Meet your heroes at Warner Bros. Movie World, get up close with Sea World’s charming animals or splash into Wet’n’Wild, where summer is endless. For something more authentic, saddle up for a journey to the high country at the Australian Outback Spectacular or learn about Australian bush culture at Paradise Country.
Wow them with a scenic helicopter experience
Take to the skies and discover the Gold Coast’s picturesque landscapes, hidden wonders and beautiful weather from helicopter vantage point. Departing from Sea World heliport, you’ll soar across southeast Queensland’s towering hedonistic heart, gorgeous beaches and picturesque waterways in luxury. Grab the kids and curate your own experience, choosing the length of your flight and destination, or let the pilot make suggestions – after all, they’re the expert!
Join a Sea World whale watching cruise
There is nothing more magical than spotting a whale in its natural habitat; that first glimpse of vapour rocketing skyward or a tail whip through the azure waters. Over 2.5 hours, with guidance from savvy marine experts and naturalists, you and your little sailors will set out on an experience of a lifetime with Sea World Cruises as you track the majestic humpback whale during its annual migration (June to November). With around 60 per cent of the global whale population living in our Australian waters, your odds of spotting one (or two) aren't too shabby!
Cairns: Free Experiences
Discover the real Jurassic Park in the UNESCO-listed Daintree Rainforest
What kids aren’t obsessed with dinosaurs? Pack the family in the car and take them on a journey into the heart of the real-life Jurassic Park. Estimated to be approximately 180 million years old, the UNESCO World Heritage-listed Daintree Rainforest is filled with lush mountain ranges, fast-flowing streams and waterfalls, deep gorges and dense rainforest vegetation that resemble the land of dinosaurs. Covering 1,200 square kilometres, the planet’s oldest tropical rainforest warmly invites the whole family to take their time exploring the plants, birds and animals that call the wilderness home.
Stop to smell the roses at Cairns Botanic Gardens
Nowhere does botanical better than the Cairns Botanic Gardens, which boasts one of the best exhibitions of tropical plants in Australia. A horticultural wonderland, the lush grounds are ripe with thick ferns, glorious foliage and an extensive orchid collection. Mile-high palms and towering shade trees provide the ideal peaceful retreat on hot Cairns days, and the area’s lush landscape offers the perfect backdrop for downtime. Home to more than 4,000 different species of flora, its compact size makes the gardens easy to navigate while keeping the whole family occupied for hours.
Cairns: Affordable Experiences
Immerse yourself in Australian beauty at Rainforestation Nature Park
Experience nature at its finest at the Rainforestation Nature Park, an eco-friendly, award-winning attraction set amid the World Heritage-listed Kuranda Rainforest. Located 30 minutes from Cairns, covering over 100 acres and consisting of three unique Australian experiences (rainforest tours, a Pamagirri Aboriginal Experience and wildlife park), this family-friendly haven provides native Australian wildlife, wonder and Aboriginal culture, all in one place. Let the kids run free (under your watchful eye) or join a guided group, just don’t forget to handfeed the kangaroos and wallabies before you leave.
Give your imagination wings at the Australian Butterfly Sanctuary
Surround yourself with over 1,500 free-flying, magnificent tropical butterflies — including the blue Ulysses and green Cairns Birdwing — at the Australian Butterfly Sanctuary, Australia’s largest butterfly flight aviary. Join a guided aviary tour to learn more or roam the enchanting all-weather rainforest at your own pace, spotting these elusive wonders of nature whenever possible. Be sure to dress the kids (and yourself) in white, red or pink to increase the chances of butterflies landing on you!
Get wild at Cairns ZOOM & Wildlife Dome
Fun, fauna and fitness are all on display at the Cairns ZOOM & Wildlife Dome, a spectacular all-weather, action-packed attraction. Encased in a 20-metre-high glass dome, the majestic enclosure is a completely immersive exhibit, where birds and many of the animals roam free within the confines of the large aviary (Goliath — the 4.5 metre Estuarine Crocodile — is thankfully protected). Challenging ropes and zipline courses intwine at different heights for an exhilarating experience suitable for both young and young at heart.
Cairns: Lux Moments
Plunge into a Dreamtime Dive & Snorkel Experience
If your kids think it’s magical on top of the water, just wait until they see what’s below. The Great Barrier Reef is home to unforgettable snorkelling spots and unimaginable coral compositions. With Dreamtime Dive & Snorkel, prepare to swim past schools of tropical fish, trail turtles and discover vivacious reefs while weaving your way through this living masterpiece. Choose to splash out with extra activities, or simply kick back on deck, letting the sun dry you. Suitable for all ages and experience levels, this the only cultural reef experience led by Indigenous sea rangers and great fun for the whole family.
Please note: operates every Wednesday and Sunday only with selected dates during School Holiday periods.
Wind through wilderness on the Kuranda Scenic Railway
Calling all little conductors – all aboard the Kuranda Scenic Railway for a truly unique journey, winding through jaw-dropping rainforest, gorges and waterfalls. Rising to 328 metres above sea level, this epic train ride meanders through picturesque scenery, past cascading waterfalls and through hand-hewn tunnels. Grab a few seats in one of the beautifully restored carriages and play ‘I Spy’ with over 1,200 species of flowering plants, as well as rainforest trees, strangler figs and exotic palms.
Brisbane: Free Experiences
Have a family picnic at Streets Beach
For something slower in pace, pack a picnic and head to Streets Beach on South Bank. Free to use and perfect for families, with lifeguards all year round, Australia’s only inner-city, man-made beach boasts a crystal-clear lagoon surrounded by soft white sand, sub-tropical plants, green lawns, BBQs and sheltered tables. A favourite with tourists and locals alike, this is the ultimate inner-city spot to soak up the sun with the kids.
Get to know Brisbane on a Greeters tour
There is nothing quite like discovering a city on foot. Whether you’re new to Brisbane or know the area well, delve beneath the surface of Queensland’s capital on a Brisbane Greeters tour. Get to know the real Brisbane through the eyes of a local and discover its hidden corners, street-art filled laneways and quirky history that gives the River City its laidback character. A leisurely walking pace and lots of fun facts from your friendly guide make this an activity suitable for all ages.
Excite young minds at Gallery of Modern Art and the Queensland Museum
Lifelong learnings begin at a young age – and museums and galleries are a great place to spark the kids’ interest in history, art and science. Located on the banks of the Brisbane River, in the heart of the Cultural Precinct, Queensland Museum and Queensland Art Gallery & Gallery of Modern Art offer a regularly changing program of Australian and international exhibitions and showcases. The gallery’s dedicated children’s section keeps younger minds busy, while older kids and adults will love the special exhibitions.
Please note: some exhibitions are ticketed and require entry fee.