Australia's top 10 family holiday destinations

One of the most entertaining and – admittedly – dangerous games to play with family members is Who Inherited What.

I'm not talking sheep stations. This is all about "Grandma Georgina's nose" in the case of Gracie, or "Mum's feet, like slabs of meat" if it's Taj.

Something else we tend to pass on to our children is a case of cultural cringe. A holiday in "Straya" seems to have a tinny ring, and not only because of the beer. Going overseas seems more glamorous and sophisticated.

On our national day, let's revel in the marvels of this sapphire-ringed land. Holidaying at home ensures our children truly understand Australia, from its rich Indigenous history to the waves of migration and the (relatively) cohesive society we live in today.

Here are my top spots for families to celebrate this diverse nation: 

1 Uluru

It's an obvious choice, but how many of us have seen the country's red heart? The rock considered a "church" by the Anangu people? The desert traversed by the Afghan cameleers?

2 Palm Cove

This is closer to Cairns than Port Douglas, which makes it easier when travelling with children. Take the boat trip to Green Island to see the colourful coral before it's catastrophically affected by climate change.

3 Broome

From above, the red soil, white sand and turquoise waters are reminiscent of Le Tricolore. But this is as "fair dinkum" as it gets, from the early Chinese and Japanese pearlers to the crocs roaming Cable Beach.

4 The Great Ocean Road

Stay at the ghostly Cape Otway Lightstation to discover the spooky history of this stretch of coast. Sure, the children might never forgive you, but it's fun scaring the living daylights out of them.


5 Main Beach, Gold Coast

Sure, there's a stellar strip of cafes, but our pick is the nearby Southport Surf Lifesaving Club, which serves everything from burgers to barramundi in the Pavilion, mere steps from the sand. 

6 Barossa Valley

Yes, you can go wining without the whining. Many cellar doors are family-friendly with sand pits, cubby houses, and lawns to roll down (or is that just me...?). Stay at Discovery Parks near Tanunda, to test the new 500-square-metre waterpark.

7 Seal Rocks

Dive with the grey nurse sharks, paddleboard to Flat Rock, or watch the whales migrating. Camp at the North Coast Holiday Park for a retro holiday experience.

8 Tasmania

Do one of the Great Walks of Australia, such as a four-day trek through Maria Island. The final night is spent in a historical house in Darlington, a UNESCO World Heritage Site that was once a penal settlement.

9 Hamilton Island

The locals call it "hamo" but it's increasingly fancy-pants. The Yacht Club Villas are world-class and self-contained, so you can cook family meals.

10 Rainbow Beach

They're calling it the new Noosa, with a thriving locavore culture. The coloured sands are simply stunning, but the best entertainment is watching dim-witted drivers becoming bogged in the soft sands, before featuring on the Wall of Shame at the local pub.

Happy Australia Day.