Whatever to wicked: teens' favourite destinations

Avoid a teen scene by discovering how generation next like to spend their time off, writes Fran Molloy.

Family holidays can take a temperamental turn when you're trying to entertain teenagers, notorious for being even more difficult to amuse than the average toddler. But the teen years don't have to mean the end of family bonding, as our expert adolescent advisers attest.

Our teenagers have nominated their favourite Australian destinations and their choices cover everything from Gold Coast theme parks to outback camping trips and plenty in between.

There's no single secret to a successful family holiday with teenagers, though if your budget and your patience run to allowing your child to invite a friend, this often has the ability to banish bad attitudes entirely.

Arranging a holiday with another family with children the same age can also be a hit (provided the teenagers like each other). Best to check that out early on.

Canberra, ACT

Thomas Green, 14

I know people think Canberra is boring, dry and full of government but I reckon it's a pretty wicked holiday place.

There's Questacon for the fun science stuff, there's the Australian War Memorial for the history nut and there's even a water park in Belconnen, called Big Splash, which is excellent.

Advertisement

My family goes there pretty often and from what I can tell, it's a total shindig 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Even fireworks are legal there (sort of).

The food at Kingsleys rocks. It's like McDonald's and KFC combined but better, with classic American crinkle-cut fries and awesome gravy. Canberra is a place rich in history, culture and awesome chips.

Parent There's no shortage of things to do together, such as the national museum (family-friendly and free to boot) and river swimming in summer in the cool fresh waters of the Murrumbidgee at Pine Island.

See visitcanberra.com.au.

Bawley Point, NSW

Clare Baxter, 15

Going to Bawley Point is the quintessential summer family holiday, with the pulsing surf, hot sand between the toes and the feeling of flying back to shore in the foam of a crashing wave. I look forward to being there all year.

Bawley is about five hours' drive south of Sydney, a sleepy village with just one cafe and a few shops. There's just the lazy walk to the beach in the morning whenever you feel like it, the nap after lunch and playing board games and reading books in the cosy living room in the afternoon.

Everything at Bawley is free, from the beach and algae-strewn lake to the bushwalks and exploring the rocks. There's always an adventure to embark on or some spluttering wave just asking to be ridden back to shore.

Parent Bawley Point is a great family destination because of what isn't there – no traffic, no noise. Just a beautiful empty beach.

See visitnsw.com.au.

Lightning Ridge, NSW

Maya Burton, 13

Lightning Ridge, at the border of NSW in the outback, was such a different experience, with mines, cactuses, hot springs, good food and lots of opals.

In summer there's a five-star swimming pool and water theme park, and in winter the natural artesian bore hot springs are supposedly healthy but also fun.

I really liked our accommodation, a farm-stay called Nomads Cryon in the middle of nowhere. The Bottle House Mining Museum in Lightning Ridge is amazing and most of the shops were based on opals.

The miner's cottage, built in 1916, was memorable and I thought the cactus farm was incredible, as was going into different mines so far down into the earth they were like another world. One even had its own art gallery sculptured into the wall.

Parent The long journey we had from Sydney was worthwhile for the unexpected adventures and discoveries we found along the way.

See lightningridgeinfo.com.au.

Gold Coast, QLD

Inez Coultan, 15

My favourite time of the year is the annual family trip to the Gold Coast, where we rent an apartment right on the water with only the sand dunes between us and the ocean. The flags are only about 100 metres away and the surf is beautiful.

Every morning we have our Coco Pops (a special treat for holidays) and head down to the beach, where the water is amazing. It's so warm and clear and the waves are perfect for body-boarding.

Endless time for reading, card games, crosswords, Sudoku and, though it may seem cheesy, family bonding.

Going to one of the theme parks is a requirement each year (Wet'n'Wild is our favourite), plus there's the tradition of mini-golf, restaurants and lots of shopping.

Parent When your 15-year-old daughter says it's about family bonding, something must be going right.

See verygoldcoast.com.au.

Corryong, VIC

Tom Falkner, 13

I thought the Man from Snowy River was made up until I saw him, or at least his gravestone. Jack Riley was his name.

Corryong is a beautiful little town in the shadow of the Snowy Mountains, just across the Victorian border, with heaps to do nearby.

Take your cossies to Kosciuszko and you can swim in the natural hot springs surrounded by bush, part of the Yarrangobilly Caves.

Nearby are the Mount Selwyn snowfields for skiing or just mucking around in the snow. We went up the mountains for a day and saw brumbies through the trees.

At Bluff Falls, just outside town, are wombat holes and the falls, of course. Peepin's is a great movie theatre that's also a restaurant, so you eat in comfy lounge chairs in front of a giant screen.

Parent The whole area is spectacular but the real standout was the 14-kilometre limestone Yarrangobilly Caves.

See visitvictoria.com.

El Questro, Kimberley, WA

Erin Park, 15

After many days travelling on dusty, dry and incredibly rough roads with a completely numb bum, it was a relief to arrive at El Questro, a massive property in the Kimberley, in the north-west corner of Australia.

The camping ground was right on the beautiful Pentecost River. Hot showers and a laundry were a welcome bonus to wash off the red dust, but even better were the natural hot baths at Zebedee Thermal Springs.

There are waterfalls and canyons to explore and there's even a mini-township that has a store and steakhouse restaurant, with good food and live entertainment.

Lots of celebrity spotting to do, too. Nicole and Keith are among the famous people who are regulars at the luxury resort nearby, where they pay thousands a night for the glorious views which we could see from our tent.

Parent El Questro is a million-acre resort with a million things to do – or not do.

See elquestro.com.au.

Thredbo, NSW

Jack Burney, 18

When I look back on past ski holidays, the ones I've enjoyed the most have been on the oft-slushy slopes of Thredbo.

Don't get me wrong. I love the place and when it receives good snow it is more than adequate to ski on. But ton my mind what separates Thredbo from other Australian ski resorts isn't the snow; it's the atmosphere. I've stayed in some less-than-stellar accommodation at the resort and I've experienced the luxury of staying at the Thredbo Alpine Hotel (its only fault being no ski-in, ski-out access), and I continue to return on a perennial basis.

Descending on the mountain with friends presents interesting opportunities to wreak havoc among its bustling nightlife.

Parent Thredbo is a terrific holiday resort both on and off the slopes, but particularly because there are apres ski activities to suit the whole family.

See thredbo.com.au.

Comments