Family-friendly itineraries: Part 1

By: Emma Ryan


With a focus on less driving time and more quality time, these jam-packed family touring itineraries will give you more bang for your holiday buck.

People -kayaking -on -the -river

SYDNEY TO ARMIDALE, NSW

Stopovers: Barrington Tops, Walcha and Uralla

Itinerary length: 4 days

Travel time: 6 hours (480km)

Kids -walking -to -the -river

The drive between Sydney and Armidale along Thunderbolts Way is one of the prettiest in NSW, if not the country. It weaves through lush rolling farmland, across trickling rivers with lovely grassy campsites on their banks and high into the Great Dividing Range, before reaching the cool climate New England Tablelands at around 1000m altitude. Here you’ll find waterfalls to explore, subtropical rainforest that looks like a magical fairyland and dramatic gorges forested in prehistoric trees and ferns where you can easily imagine dinosaurs roaming. Add to the mix some great farmstays and campsites, and plenty of yummy food options to keep mum and dad happy, and you’ve got a great family holiday.

THE ITINERARY

People -at -a -campsite

Day 1: Sydney to Barrington Tops

Set up camp on the banks of one of many flowing rocky creeks

Visit Barrington Outdoor Adventure Centre in Gloucester to try whitewater kayaking, canyoning and other fun activities  

Day 2: Barrington Tops to Walcha

Visit Cheyenne Wilderness Retreat, a family-run farmstay on the cusp of the Oxley Wild Rivers NP where kids can join in the daily farm activities

Get a little closer to nature and take a hike in the national park

Day 3: Walcha to Uralla

Visit the McCrossin’s Mill Museum to learn about local bushranger Captain Thunderbolt

Take Tourist Drive 19 to see the beautiful vine-clad Gostwyck Chapel, a famous old woolshed, Dangar Falls and even a winery

Stay at Wayward Jerseys farmstay and enjoy the spooky ghost tour after dark

Day 4: New England National Park via Armidale

Climb Cathedral Rock and feel like you’re on top of the world

Visit Weeping Rock, a short walk through a magical moss-covered fairyland to an enormous rock face that spends its life crying. Listen out for lyrebirds!

Check out breathtaking Ebor and Wollomombi falls

Visit a working trout farm to meet the fish at LP Dutton Hatchery

ALICE SPRINGS TO ULURU, NT

Waterhole -in -Australia

Stopovers: West MacDonnell Ranges, Tnorala and Kings Canyon

Itinerary length: 5 days

Travel time: 9 hours (370km)

Although slap bang in the middle of the country, a trip to the Red Centre is in many ways the easiest way to introduce your kids to the romance of the outback. And what stunning outback it is: the escarpments of the West MacDonnell Ranges are as beautiful as those of the Kimberley, Tnorala is a fascinating window to our ancient past and Kings Canyon? Well how the bloody hell did that get there?! If you’re short on time fly into Alice Springs and hire a 4WD and camper trailer. That makes this memorable outback sojourn doable in just five days.

THE ITINERARY

People -walking -in -the -outback -at -Alice -Springs -Australia

Day 1: Alice Springs to Ormiston Gorge

Wander along the creek to admire Simpson Gap just outside Alice

Explore the incredible Standley Chasm, which is like an elaborate entryway to a giant’s lair

Watch the sunrise light up the golden escarpments of breathtaking Ormiston Gorge

Day 2: Ormiston Gorge to Redbank Gorge

Set up camp atop the escarpment at Redbank Gorge

Put the hiking boots on and explore

Splash in the waterhole at Redbank where native wildlife comes for a drink

Day 3: Redbank Gorge to Tnorala (Gosse Bluff)

Marvel at the geological behemoth that is Tnorala as you approach from miles away

Explore the incredible 150-million year old crater on foot

Learn about the Aboriginal dreaming story of Tnorala, interestingly also related to the stars

Day 4: Tnorala to Kings Canyon

Do the summit walk at Kings Canyon for amazing views

Set up camp at Kings Canyon Resort – the kids will love the facilities and playing with all the other littlies

SYDNEY TO FORSTER, NSW

Woman -sitting -on -a -rocky -beach

Stopovers: Myall Lakes and Seal Rocks

Itinerary length: 4 days

Travel time: 5.5 hours (360km)

The Mid North Coast is one of the prettiest destinations within a stone’s throw of Sydney and while Forster is its main tourist centre, there are some fabulous stops along the way. Kiddies will love splashing about in the calm, clear waters of Myall Lakes and there’s nothing quite like learning to surf on the gentle waves that peel away from the headland at Seal Rocks. Throw in a bunch of excellent waterfront camping spots, beach driving and subtropical rainforest to explore, and you’ve got an affordable holiday the family will remember.

THE ITINERARY

Caravan -setup -next -to -a -car -at -campsite -Yagoon

Day 1: Sydney to Myall Lakes

Heaps of great waterfront campsites

Safe, sheltered water ideal for kids to play

Pack the lilo, a SUP, kayak or tinnie

Day 2: Myall Lakes to Seal Rocks

Scenic drive along The Lakes Way

Bush or caravan park camping available at Seal Rocks

Day 3: Seal Rocks to Forster

Lunch at Boomerang Beach

Detour through the towering forests of Wallingat NP to the awesome Whoota Whoota Lookout

Have a dip at beautiful Elizabeth Beach

Day 4: Explore Forster/Tuncurry

Hire a SUP or kayak and explore the lake

Spot dolphins from the bridge or break wall

Eat fish and chips on the water at Tuncurry

ALBURY TO CANBERRA, NSW

Children -at -the -Campground -Click -Clack -caravan -park

Stopovers: Jingellic, Corryong

Itinerary length: 5 days

Travel time: 7.5 hours (615km)

Getting from the Victorian border to Canberra is really easy. Fuel up, thread your rig in between the lines of semi-trailers on the Hume Highway, and drive for three and a half hours. Done. But where’s the fun in that? Why not take the kids through iconic Australian High Country where they can see firsthand the places that have helped shape the nation? Take the backroad from Albury along the Lake Hume foreshore to Jingellic, then to Corryong before picking up the Alpine Way through Kosciuszko National Park to Jindabyne. Cruise into Canberra along the Monaro Highway. Not one for winter – but great the rest of the year.

THE ITINERARY

A-girl -is -fishing -at -the -Upper -Murray -near -Jingellic

Day 1: Albury to Jingellic

Establish camp at Jingellic on the Upper Murray for a relaxing day fishing

Day 2: Jingellic to Corryong

Cast an early morning fly in the Jingellic

Take the sealed bike path to Corryong

Inspect the Man from Snowy River Museum and Jack Riley grave site

Marvel at the amazing WWII Prisoner of War rug knitted out of unravelled sox and Dixie-pan handle knitting needles at the Historical Society

Camp at the beautiful Colac Colac (Click-Clack) Caravan Park

Day 3: Corryong to Geehi Hut, via Tintaldra Guesthouse Store and (best little) Tea Rooms

Wander the Snowy Hydro Power Station

Establish camp at Geehi Hut campground in Kosciuszko National Park next to the river

Day 4: Geehi Hut to Jindabyne via Thredbo

Ride the 1.8km chairlift up 560m and enjoy a hot chockie at the cafe at the chairlift terminal

Bobsled downhill 700m in a luge-style ride in summer, mountain biking, walking, while mum ducks off for a 10km detour to Wildbrumby Schnapps Distillery and Cafe

Day 5: Jindabyne to Canberra via Cooma

Park in town to stretch your legs at Cooma

Stop in for pancakes at Bredbo Pancake and Crepe

Check out the crazy big Christmas shop that looks like a fairy land for kids and the local cafe serving rabbit pie

Check out the article about Secrets to sucessful family vanning!

The full feature appeared in Caravan World #568. Subscribe today for the latest caravan reviews and news every month!