It’s famous for being the filming location of TV’s favourite soap Home And Away and, hard as it is to believe, Palm Beach on Sydney’s northern beaches is even better in real life. After a surf or dip in the ocean pool, hike up to Barrenjoey Lighthouse to take some great photos. See visitnsw.com.
2. Interact with impressive art, QLD
The always outstanding Queensland Art Gallery/Gallery of Modern Art on Brisbane’s South Bank is worthy of a family day trip all year round. Be sure to check out Art in Papua New Guinea 1966-2016, coming soon, and the superb contemporary indigenous Australian paintings and fibre works. Visit qagoma.qld.gov.au.
3. See the sea lions, WA
Travel 50km south of Perth, and you can snorkel among reefs and shipwrecks in Shoalwater Islands Marine Park. The area is a wildlife haven with sea lions, dolphins, seabirds and the aptly named Penguin Island and Seal Island. For more information, visit westernaustralia.com.
4. Go for a ride, SA
Be inspired by the country’s premier pro cycling event, Tour Down Under, which takes place in January. Cheer the expert cyclists as they zoom through city streets and around country South Australia. Then the whole family can try it, albeit at a more leisurely pace, by taking advantage of the free bicycle service from Adelaide Free Bikes. Check out bikesa.asn.au/adelaidefreebikes.
5. Stargaze the southern skies, VIC
It’s no secret that Port Campbell National Park offers fabulous vantage points to look at the 12 Apostles and the rugged coastline... But if you look up at the sky at night, you can view the southern stars with the free telescopes for loan from Port Campbell’s Visitor Information Centre. See visit 12apostles.com.au.
6. Have a family picnic, NSW
In an area renowned for spectacular scenery, the Blue Mountains town of Leura is particularly blessed. Not only is Leura Cascades a beautiful setting for a family picnic, after you’ve eaten you can take a hike to nearby waterfalls and lookouts. The picnic areas are sheltered and there’s a kids playground there too. See nationalparks.nsw.gov.au.
7. Fly high, VIC
The free Royal Australian Air Force Museum is a 25-minute drive south-west of Melbourne and offers a huge range of aircraft on display. Here you can see and learn about craft such as Tiger Moths. The museum also has the Heritage Gallery, with aviation artefacts to view. Check out airforce.gov.au/raafmuseum for details.
8. Adventure in the capital, ACT
Yes, the Canberra Centenary Trail is 140km, but you don’t need to hike the whole thing! There are many shorter, self-guided walks, where you can see everything from iconic sites to obscure treasures. Start a city walk at Parliament House or enjoy the countryside with the three-hour One Tree Hill hike, which has expansive views of the city. Head to canwalk.org.au/about.