Australia is a stretch over fourteen hour flight from LAX, so let’s just get the only negative about travelling there out of the way! One way to finesse that flight, though, is to do a layover in Hawaii, which my family did last December. It was great breaking the trip with a swim in the warm Hawaiian waters before a sunset dinner at Duke’s in Waikiki. The next day after a few more hours of flight, we landed “down under” and soon fell in love with the down-to Earth, friendly Aussies and their adventure loving spirit.
Australia, slightly smaller than the lower 48 States, is too big to take on in one family winter break! However, a few days in North Queensland and Sydney can round out a fantastic family vacation, loaded with fun activities for the whole family, while saving the rest of the country for another excuse to go back!
The Great Barrier Reef draws water lovers to swim, snorkel or dive in the breathtaking beauty of the world’s largest coral reef. Staying in Cairns gives access to several dive operators and plenty of action-packed water sports (the bumper tube rides and parasailing were my boys’ favorites!). A few hours drive north lies one of the oldest rainforest in the world, the Daintree Rainforest, a World Heritage Site where hiking and zip-lining can be enjoyed while looking out for prehistoric animals (we stumbled on a “cassowary,” one of the largest flightless birds in the world with only 1,200 remaining)!
The obvious bonus to visiting Sydney in December is to be part of the New Years’ festivities, however the real family fun is in the meandering bike rides around downtown, the bird’s eye view of the city and the bay while climbing on the Harbor Bridge and boarding a tall ship to usher out the mass exodus of yachts during The Sydney to Hobart Boxing Day (December 26th) yacht race. Climbing up the mast adds another element to the thrill of being on the water amongst the hundreds of yachts jockeying for position before the start line.
If the crowds and heat during the December break don’t appeal to you, another ideal window of travel opportunity is to experience “Vivid,” Sydney’s Festival of Light, Music and Ideas, which transforms the city into the most exciting public exhibition in the southern hemisphere (the 2015 dates are May 22nd-June 8th). Because Sydney’s sunlight averages 6 hours during their winter, artists and performers use light as their medium and Sydney becomes an urban art gallery.
Australia is so much more than Sydney and the Great Barrier Reef, but it sure is a great place to start and your family will enjoy the adventure and fun, no matter the season!