As I am traveling with my children in Australia this month, it seems only appropriate to pass on a few tips for traveling with kids in the great southern land. If part of your trip here involves a visit to Queensland in the country's north to enjoy the year-round sunshine and fine white sand beaches then you may want to consider staying in one of the state's kid-friendly resorts. There a number to choose from and prices are particularly reasonable.
The three-and-a-half-star Paradise Resort Gold Coast (+61/7-5579-4444; www.paradiseresort.com.au) bills itself as heaven for kids and paradise for parents. It is located in central Surfers Paradise on Queensland's Gold Coast and is set on five acres of tropical gardens close to beaches and attractions. When I was growing up, we spent many a family vacation in Surfers Paradise and it seems that it is still the number one destination for families in Australia. Paradise Resort caters to children of all ages from infants to 12 year olds. Their "Zone 4 Kids" club is a mini fun park that divides children into different age groups over seven themed play areas to ensure age appropriate care and activities. Z4K features spaces such as Tiny Town with pedal powered cars and working traffic lights, Underwater World with submarines and slides, and Magic Garden with its colourful ball pit. All are fully supervised, plus there are four pools, a day spa, restaurants, bar, and a variety of free daily activities like sand wizard art, poolside BBQ's, climbing wall, magic shows, and karaoke.
Stay there through March 2009 and kids stay and play free with rooms priced from just $119 per night (including taxes) for two adults and two children. The price includes one free Zone 4 Kids session per child per day for zero to four year olds and two free sessions per child per day for children aged five to 12. Resort family rooms are priced from $215 per room per night for two adults and three children with a separate bedroom for the kids off the main room and the Junior Bunkhouse room, featuring marine themed bunk beds complete with televisions, Playstation II consoles and games, plus a queen-sized bed for adults is priced from $196 per room per night for two adults and two children. Interconnecting resort rooms cost $277 per room per night for four adults and four children. Adult rates apply for children aged above 13. Apart from the beautiful beaches located a few minutes walk from the resort, you can also entertain your children at SeaWorld (three miles away), MovieWorld and Wet N Wild (ten miles) and DreamWorld (12 miles).
The four-and-a-half star Novotel Twin Waters Resort (tel. +61/7-5448-8000; www.twinwatersresort.com.au) is situated on the beach on Queensland's Sunshine Coast. Set in tropical gardens with a private saltwater lagoon, the resort is a 90-minute drive from Brisbane or only five minutes drive from Sunshine Coast Airport -- which can be reached on non-stop flights from Melbourne, Sydney, and Adelaide. At Twin Waters, two children under the age of 16 can stay for free in the same room as two adults and can eat breakfast for free with their own menu when dining with adults. The resort has a choice of five dining options and two bars, and the kids are treated as VIPs rather than outcasts at the restaurants. The resort offers Club Dolfi for kids aged two to 12 years free of charge plus there is a games room but babysitting costs are additional. Free activities include kayaking, windsurfing, and sailing catamarans on the resort lagoon or the simpler pleasures of building sand castles with pails and shovels provided. Kids also have the use of free bikes and there's even a circus school. The Activity Central team is on hand to coordinate daily activities including beach volleyball and pelican feeding. Double rooms are priced from $139 per night and family rooms from $205. There are free in-room movies and Playstations, and suites have their own kitchenettes. For the grown-ups, there's the Lagoon Day Spa, swimming pool, 18-hole golf course, driving range, and floodlit tennis courts.
The current family package special includes accommodation in a King Spa suite for two adults and two children, full buffet breakfast for all and two x three hour Dolfi Club sessions. The package is valid until December 19, 2008 and is priced at $247 per night for stays Sunday to Friday or $286 for Saturday nights and school vacation periods. Steve Irwin's Australia Zoo (www.australiazoo.com.au), Underwater World, Big Cart Track, Ginger Factory and Aussie World are all located within a short distance of the resort.
The three-and-a-half-star Tangalooma Island Resort (tel. +61/7-3637-2000; www.tangalooma.com) is nestled on beautiful Moreton Island, a 75-minute high-speed catamaran ride across Moreton Bay from Brisbane ($67 for adults and $34 for children). Tangalooma has an international reputation as the home of bottlenose dolphins and the resort offers its guests the opportunity to hand feed them plus learn more about them at their Marine education and conservation centre. During the whale migration season from June to October, visitors to Tangalooma can take whale-watching tours and get close to the giant marine mammals. The island is known for its crystal clear waters and white sandy beaches plus its eco-friendly nature-based tours and activities. Go sand tobogganing down a 200-foot high sand dune doing up to 30 miles an hour on a Desert Safari tour, experience the wildlife on a Dugong (Australian Manatee) eco-cruise, get some air on a ATV quad bike tour, soar to new heights parasailing, or marvel at the diversity of marine life while snorkelling on local beaches.
Low season is from April 1 to December 19 and again from January 11 to March 31. A double room is priced from $205 including breakfast and dolphin feeding for two people and a deluxe beachcomber family resort unit from $363 for four people including breakfast and dolphin feeding. Children aged three to 14 years sharing with one or more adults pay $29 per night and infants are free. Kids aged five and up can join one of the resort's resident biologists for daily Eco Kids activities at a minimal cost of $7 or less. Activities include marine magnet making, a marine scavenger hunt, microscopic sea, Bush Tucker (learning how the Aboriginal people utilise the natural vegetation to survive), animal tracks plaster casts, marine mask-making and lessons on marine life. Outside the resort, local attractions include the Tangalooma Desert and shipwrecks, Moreton Island National Park, Cape Moreton Lighthouse and the Blue Lagoon.
The beachfront four-star Rydges Capricorn Resort (tel. +61/2-9261-4929; www.rydges.com/capricorn) is located in northern Queensland at Yeppoon, in an area known as the Capricorn Coast. It is accessible by direct flights from Brisbane, Sydney, and Melbourne to Rockhampton Airport. The resort sits in a 22,000-acre wildlife sanctuary and offers children and adults alike the opportunity to be immersed in this remote and stunning scenic landscape. There are children's camel rides through the resort, guided beach horse riding trips, wetlands tours, rainforest canoe tours and more than 25 free activities including one of the largest pools in the southern hemisphere with a water slide and man-made beach. The Kids' Kapers kids' club is available free each morning and caters for children from two to ten years.
Royal Building suites have one queen-sized bed and one single sofa bed in the spacious living area with one single bed in the back bedroom. A rollaway bed can be placed in the living area for a fifth occupant (for additional cost) and all suites feature a balcony and in-house movies. Current rates start from $164 per night for two adults and two children under 13 years of age. Resort suites with kitchenettes have a queen bed in a spacious living area, two singles beds in the back bedroom and a balcony and are priced from $193 per night for two adults and two children.
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