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1 month in February in Australia with small kids

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Aug 26th, 2013, 04:36 PM
  #1
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1 month in February in Australia with small kids

My husband and I are planning on traveling in Australia for 4 weeks. Accompanying us will be our two children (3.5 & 5.5 years). Can you suggest itineraries will work well for all?
We will be flying from Canada into Sydney. My husband and I are experienced travelers.
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Aug 26th, 2013, 10:38 PM
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I don't think 4 weeks are enough!
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Aug 27th, 2013, 03:31 AM
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Four weeks is plenty if you don't want try and see the whole country in that time. Stick to 3-4 locations and pace yourself.

February will be hot to very hot. Up north mid thirties will be common. South they will occur but not as often. Having said that they are averages- we had 10 days over thirty this summer in a row, but it is not common.

What to do with the nippers?
Penguins at Philip Island would be good.
Sydney Zoo lets you get close but not hold a koala. Although it is expensive to get into the zoo - $44 for Adults plus about $20 to get close to a koala.
Lone Pine near Brisbane will let you hold one.
There are science places in Sydney, Melbourne and Canberra, that are hands on.
Luna Park in Sydney and Melbourne would be good. They are not major theme parks like the gold coast ones. They would be good for kids as well. The gold coast ones are bigger and more expensive but would be good.
The beaches will be good at that time of year.
The great barrier reef would be exciting with the fish and colours.

Holidays will be over so things will be quitter during the week. Still busy on weekends so pick an choose.

Most of the big tourist locations will have kids activities of some sort.

Two main routes would be north from Sydney doing Sydney the Blue Mountains and along the coast to Queensland.

Or south from Sydney and heading to Melbourne via the beaches and mountains.

What things do you like doing?
Give us some ideas and we can be more specific.
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Sep 8th, 2013, 06:10 PM
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Thanks for your ideas.
We like hiking (mild treks given the age of the kids), beaches, zoos, science centers and even theme parks in moderation.

We are thinking of renting a campervan to minimize the packing/unpacking and breakfasts at restaurants.
What about staying in Sydney for about 5 days without the campervan, then heading north gradually to Cairns, then flying back to Sydney? Not sure if this is too much, or too little. Also, not sure if there is an airport in Cairns...

A bit concerned about the campervan situation. Read some on-line reviews for Apollo and Britz which were down right terrible. KEA seems to have better reviews, but is more pricey, and has limited drop off locations.

Also a bit concerned about the box jelly fish at great barrier reef area. The kids will not be able to snorkle (at least not the youngest, and I am skeptical about the eldest). Perhaps not the best to spend too much time there?

Maybe a better itinerary would be to fly to Adelaide from Sydney, then head back to Sydney by campervan.....only problem is that KEA does not have pick-up at Adelaide.
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Sep 10th, 2013, 05:55 PM
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One possibility for visiting the reef is Heron Island (flight from Brisbane to Gladstone, then a ferry to the Island from there), there are no stingers on the island and it's turtle hatching season which would be great for children.

They also have organised activities for children on Heron during the school holidays--I'm not sure if that extends to February in Queensland.

If you were planning on 5 days in Sydney, you could add 4 days on Heron and perhaps 4 days in Brisbane on the way back. Another possibility would be Canberra, if you want to drive there from Sydney it's roughly a 3-4 hour drive.

Tasmania could also be another option for great hiking, that would be an ideal location to go touring with a campervan. You can pick up rental cars and vans in Hobart and then drop them off in Launceston.
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Sep 10th, 2013, 06:39 PM
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Thanks for your suggestions.
I think we are leaning towards spending a few days (maybe only 3) in Sydney, then heading to Blue Mountains and north to Cairns.
Hopefully we can make it work.
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Sep 15th, 2013, 12:35 AM
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Personally, I'd wait until the kids were a bit older. The flight to Australia is not exactly a cakewalk for adults. I can only imagine bored kids for 14-15 hours walking up and down the aisles and complaining. Your young one won't even remember the trip.

On the reef, I don't know if such young kids would be allowed to snorkel. Check that out if you plan to go to Cairns. Please note that Cairns is about 1500km from Brisbane. The distances in Australia are vast.

With 4 weeks and 2 small children I would concentrate on the Melbourne to Sydney area or do Tasmania. I actually like the Tasmania idea with small children (mostly because I love Tasmania and have had the good fortune to go there twice).

There are zoos all over Australia where you can have your photo taken with a koala and feed the kangaroos. Kids will enjoy that. They (and you) will just love the colorful (and noisy) birds and interesting plants.
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Sep 26th, 2013, 12:28 PM
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I understand your concerns re: the length of travel, but we are hoping that since the flights are over night, that the kids will sleep for at least part of the trip. I think we will survive it!

We know that probably both kids won't remember it, but we are unlikely to get this opportunity again through work (partly a paid vacation), so we want to enjoy it regardless.
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Sep 27th, 2013, 10:15 AM
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Personally, I think people who bring preschoolers on a trip like that are nuts unless it's a family obligation (e.g., visiting grandma). It was tough enough to survive a plane flight from DC to Florida to visit grandma at that age.

But, if it is partially a paid holiday, I can see how you would want to take advantage of it. Running around all over in the car will, however, exhaust you. With 2 small children, why not just rent a place at a beach for at least 2 weeks? Australia certainly has enough beaches.
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Sep 29th, 2013, 05:13 AM
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Just like babies/kids like to play with boxes instead of the expensive toy that was inside it, they'll be excited by many things we overlook. A pool, the beach or the swirling fountain thing or playground at Darling Harbour. Other fun hands on things for kids are Scienceworks (Melb), Powerhouse Museum (Sydney), Sydney Aquarium, Manly Ferry....

http://www.au.timeout.com/sydney/kids
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Sep 29th, 2013, 08:01 AM
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These kids are even too young for some of the sights you mentioned--especially the 3 1/2 year old. Certainly the young one will have no memory of the trip and the older one's memory will be hazy. If you can leave them home, take a shorter trip for just the two of you.
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Sep 29th, 2013, 07:57 PM
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i disagree with everything you say, the places suggested above are great for children of this age group. My son who is now 8 can still remember a lot of the things he did at those places at their age

Travelling long distances with kids can be unpredictable, but my son did Europe to Australia 6 times before he hit 2 years old, and millions of other Australians have been doing it successfully for years. As a parent I could never imagine giving advice to another family by saying leave the kids at home.
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Sep 29th, 2013, 08:21 PM
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The issue is not that others who live in the locations take trips in those places. Of course they do. I would never recommend that Aussies or Europeans schlep preschoolers to the US even though US kids visit beaches in the US. Taking kids to historical sites/long distance vacations at 3 1/2 and 5 1/2 is mostly pointless; they run around a statue and you take photos and you are done. They are better off at a playground or beach and you don't have to schlep them halfway around the world--with all the stress that involves--to find one.

PS I did some shorter vacations when I had preschoolers where we either hired a professional baby sitter or left them with grandma. There is nothing wrong with "big people" taking a break. In fact, when they were a bit older, mine would go to sleep away camp for a month and, the day after they were on their kid holiday, we went somewhere without them. It is not a mortal sin to take a vacation without your kids. The kids absolutely loved sleep away camp. We had a better time without them and they had had an age appropriate vacation at camp. The camp always knew where we were in case of emergency (which fortunately never happened).

When they got a bit older--and more portable--we took them longer distances (First within the US and then later to Europe at ages 8 & 10). You build up to doing longer distance trips as the kids get older. I would have never attempted Australia with preschoolers because I live on the East Coast US. I would have been one of those parents trying to cope with cranky jet lagged kids on the airplane. It does take, by the way, to get over jet lag going halfway around the world. I wouldn't have liked the stress on the plane and I don't suppose those sitting on the plane within shouting distance would have liked it either. You have all sat next to cranky preschoolers on planes, right? You wait until they can handle it somewhere usually between 6-8 years old. When you can talk to them about how long it will take and they have some understanding, they can tolerate the long flights better. Babies and preschoolers just really do not understand and hate being confined with messed up body clocks.

When you have children, you make sacrifices. Unless you are going to totally stress yourself out, you give up long distance vacations for a few years.

The original posters may or may not take this vacation. I sure would like to hear their views after returning with their koala photos.
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Sep 30th, 2013, 10:24 AM
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First, the original poster didn't ask for opinions on whether or not one should travel with your kids, but rather on itinerary advice.

Second, as a parent who travels frequently with a small child - including currently planning a trip to Australia - I am fed up with unsolicited lectures on the merits of traveling with my children. You don't know my family. You have no idea what my child enjoys or can tolerate. If you choose certain kinds of trips for your family, that is your right and privilege, but it is not up to you to try to dictate what kinds of destinations are appropriate for other people's kids.

Traveling internationally with my son has totally changed the way we travel, generally for the better. Do we have every experience we might have had when we were a couple traveling alone? No, of course not. But we also experience adventures and experiences we would never have had as adults traveling alone. We meet fellow parents, we appreciate the simple joys of a local park, we slow our pace and enjoy sites in a less hectic fashion. My son may not remember it, but I certainly will remember being there with him, and I will always treasure those memories. And he loves looking at pictures of himself in far away places. It's giving him an appreciation of geography, as well as cultures and the world beyond his own backyard, which I think are invaluable lessons that shape him as a human being.

In fact, I love this quote from a recent Huffington Post piece on why you SHOULD travel with young children: " And so, while you may not be strapping your backpack on your back anymore, you can, and you should, strap your kids on your back. For them to live among other places, even for a week or two, seeing you work your way through a foreign culture, and then letting them help you decode subway ticket machines and maps, seeing you thrive in the joys of that foreign-ness, that sense of being lost and not caring, that sense of adventure, and spirit, offers more than any school lesson can impart.Seeing the world cements your entire family's connection to the world."

I have no objection to taking vacations without my children. But I also believe there's great value in taking trips as a family. I'm not dragging my kid along to places I want to go; I'm exploring places with my family, in a way we can all experience together.

Believe it or not, kids can eat foods that are not chicken nuggets and have a lot of fun at places that are not just beaches.

And seriously, traveling on a long plane trip with small children is not much worse than being trapped in the house with them on a rainy day. There's a ton of information out there on tips to entertain your kids on long flights, and we've never had any issues with it. In our experience, my son handles jet lag and time changes, even within the continental U.S., better than we do. He is the most adaptable and least cranky when the plane hits the ground.

So if you want to limit your kids world to east coast beaches, more power to you; they're your kids, maybe that's what they can handle. But spare me and other parents the unsolicited advice on how it's a mistake to travel with children.

On the other hand, specific advice, such as "I think that place might be unsuitable for a 3 year old because of X, Y, Z..." or "We went there and my daughter hated it because..." are always welcome!

lprice4, for whatever it's worth, our trip will include Sydney, Tasmania (we hike a lot, so we're going to explore Cradle Mountain Park), and Adelaide, with a jaunt to Kangaroo Island. We've had a lot of great advice from Australian friends in choosing those destinations, and are finding lots of great family-friendly activities in all of them.
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Sep 30th, 2013, 01:44 PM
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It may be more difficult than being trapped in the house on a rainy day for people sitting next to you on the plane.
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Oct 11th, 2013, 09:41 AM
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It it the responsibility of every one on the plane to act in a manner that doesn't impede on the people around them as much as possible. Including the responsibility of parents to make sure their kids do that as well. My child, even at his wiggliest, is much better and less disruptive company than many, many obnoxious adults who I've been forced to share plane rides with.

There are lots of reasons for small children to take long plane rides. Sometimes it's family vacations, sometimes it's to visit overseas relatives, sometimes it might be because a family is relocating.

The fact that you seem to assume just being in the vicinity of a child you've never met will somehow be unpleasant for no other reason than they're a child speaks to pretty wholesale discrimination against children. If you can't handle being on a place with an entire category of humans, perhaps you should consider private charter?
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Oct 11th, 2013, 11:18 AM
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Parents taking kids to visit relatives or relocating are obviously doing it because they have to. Parents schlepping toddlers on an unnecessary long haul trip are doing it for themselves.

Yes, I have sat next to many obnoxious adults on planes, but some of the most obnoxious self entitled people I have met right here on fodors.

If the shoe fits, wear it.

For the record, I have two adult children and, yes, I schlepped them on planes when they were little and hated every moment of it. Where were they going? From DC to Florida to visit grandma.

I would have never considered inflicting my children on passengers on a long haul flight for a discretionary vacation until they were 4-6 years old and could be prepared for what was going to happen. When they are old enough to understand where they are going (I used a globe), how long the plane flight will be and that the time will change--and their bodies will feel badly for a day or two once they get to their destination--then you can take them on a discretionary vacation without disturbing everyone on the plane and stressing out yourself dealing with them.

That is my view.
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Nov 1st, 2013, 04:21 PM
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My husband and I are also planning on taking our 5 yr old to Australia in Jan. for 2 weeks. We are going in Jan to spend 1-2 days at the Australian Open in Melbourne. So, besides Sydney and Melbourne, should we add on one more location or just base our time doing trips around Sydney and Melbourne:like Phillip Island to see penguins, the Great Ocean Road, and possibly a day trip to the wine region. Is the wine region closer to Sydney or Melbourne? I know that we won't be able to do as much traveling and need to be more flexible with a 5yr.
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Nov 1st, 2013, 10:45 PM
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There are wineries all over Australia. In Melbourne you can find them both north and south of the city and in Sydney you can find them in the Hunter Valley. Personally, I do not spend more than one day doing that sort of thing. While the wines are different in each place, it is sort of the same thing over and over again ("Look at our barrels over there."). Some of them have restaurants but not all. I went to a nice one south of Melbourne on the Mornington Peninsula when I home exchanged there. I think your child would be more interested in the zoos (all over Australia but the big ones are very expensive) and riding the ferries in Sydney harbor. The Great Ocean Road (to go back and forth to Melbourne in the same day) is a very long day out.
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Nov 6th, 2013, 06:11 AM
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Thanks Lauren. We plan to only do 1 day traveling around the wine region. Do you recommend the Mornington Peninsula or the Yarra Valley more? We plan to spend 2 nights along the Great Ocean Road. Looks like there are some nice walks and activities of interest to our family.
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