5 Great Family Drives in Australia
One of the best ways to spend time together as a family is by going on a road trip to various parts of the continent.
A drive to the beach, park, or somewhere else is a great idea. It allows the whole family to see new sights and places. And enjoy some quality bonding moments as well.
However, a family drive isn't just about getting in the car and roaring away. It would be worthwhile if you could turn this trip into an educational one.
Let it be an eye-opening trip for the whole family to learn various histories and cultures. And not just of the destination but the places that you will pass by along the way.
And what better place can you find such knowledge other than a museum?
Museums have played an important role in mankind's existence because they connect us to our past and give us a glimpse of our future.
Each exhibit and artefact holds in it a story or a part of history so dear that they are considered to be unique and special.
So if you want to take your kid on a fun, exciting, and educational road trip, here are some suggestions and routes that you can take.
1. Melbourne to Torquay
Melbourne is a great place to start your road trip to the country's surfing capital - Torquay. Aside from that, there are so many museums along the way that the family will enjoy.
Upon leaving Melbourne going south, the first stop would be in Werribee, where there are two museums worth visiting: The RAAF Museum and the Werribee Historical Museum.
The RAAF Museum
It is a fun-filled place where kids can learn about flying and aviation in general.
There are interactive exhibits and flying displays that will surely spark your kids wish of being a pilot or a stewardess.
Be sure not to forget to drop by the gift shop and grab a souvenir or two as well.
The Werribee Historical Museum
On the other hand, the Werribee museum houses collections that tell about the local history of Werribee - complete with old photographs, documents as well as ancient clothing and artefacts.
National Wool Museum
Continue to Geelong and visit the National Wool Museum, where the family can get to learn all about wool.
A tour of the museum will show you how wool - one of Australia's most important product - is manufactured. Starting from the sheep's back to the weaving room and finally to the finished product.
Did you know that 70% of the world's wool comes from Australia? There are over 100,000,000 sheep in Australia, which if herded together will graze almost half of the continent's area.
Finally, drive to Torquay and pay the Surfworld Museum a visit. As the name suggests, the museum is all about surfing.
There are colourful exhibitions about the sport and documentaries about its history and how it helped to shape the surfing culture of Australia.
And since this is considered to be Australia's surfing capital, be sure not to miss riding the challenging waves. For beginners, there are always experts in Bell's Beach who are willing to teach you (for a fee of course).
Grumpy Kid Alert:
Kids easily get restless from sitting for long hours in the car. And sometimes it can result in a fight between siblings, snacks flying about, or whatnot.
Well, here is a cute infographic from GoalZero on how to survive a road trip with your kids. Hopefully, it can help you out.
2. Adelaide and Back
If you reside in Adelaide, then why not try this route that traverses the outside surroundings of the city?
Mt. Lofty and Cleland Wildlife Park
From Adelaide, drive to Mt. Lofty and Cleland Wildlife Park for a short nature trip. Climbing up Mt. Lofty will give you a fantastic view of the town centre.
Also, the Cleland Wildlife Park will provide the kids with a chance to feed kangaroos and carry koalas.
The museum trip starts in Hahndorf, a quaint and charming Germanic village where Prussian immigrants started their new life. There are two museums of note in the area.
The first is the Hahndorf Academy which is over 150 years old and the Cedars which houses the artistic creations of Sir Hans Heysen - a nine-time recipient of the Wynne Prize landscape painting.
The village is also brimming with cafés and restaurants that serve German meals, which makes for a good lunch after touring the place's museums, galleries, and gift shops.
FOR ADULTS ONLY: Hahndorf is also famous for its wines. You can have a sip of their famous wines in any of the cellar doors like Hahndorf Hill Winery and Nepenthe Wines to name a few.
After spending some time in Hahndorf, next stop is Gumeracha. Here, the kids will have loads of fun being amazed by an almost 20-metre high rocking horse and the toy factory.
The climb up the rocking horse gives a nice view of the surrounding areas. If the kids are afraid of heights then there is the toy factory nearby. The factory produces quality wooden toys which the kids will surely love.
This route is a nice way of treating your family to a relaxing trip on the countryside of Adelaide. A trip that provides relief from the hustle and bustle of city life.
Grumpy Kid Alert:
One way of keeping kids busy during the trip is by making sure that you have your iPads or tablets. And fill them with entertaining and child-friendly games and apps from the Apple App Store or Google Play Store.
You don't have to spend a lot on these since there are many good games that are free.
Also, be sure to bring chargers so you can charge them at the restaurant, fast food, or at the rest stop.
3. Canberra and the Southern Highlands
Charming and lovely gardens, heritage parks and colonial houses are what can be enjoyed on this road trip.
Leaving Canberra, the first stop is in Berrima, a beautiful village that is home to colonial Australia architecture and some of the world's most beautiful gardens.
Lest you forget, there are the Courthouse Museum and Surveyor's Inn that should be visited.
The Courthouse Museum houses collections and memories of almost two centuries. The famous Berrima Quilt, which was created in 2006 to celebrate the place's 175th year, is also on display here.
The Sir Donald Bradman Museum
The Sir Donald Bradman Museum in Bowral is a must see for all cricket enthusiasts, named after the legendary Sir Donald Bradman.
It contains many things about the legendary player and the cricket culture in Australia.
Fitzroy falls Centre
End the journey with a trip to the Fitzroy Falls Centre, where you and your family can get to view the majestic falls cascading to a valley of rainforest below.
The centre has over 6 kilometres of walking tracks and an educational room with exhibitions of the different flora and fauna found in the place.
Grumpy Kid Alert:
If the iPad or tablet runs out of batteries along the way, then it is best to have alternatives ready. For example, activity workbooks or printable worksheets like mazes, puzzles, hidden objects, among others.
Alternatively, you can give the kids a travel journal. Let them write down the places you've passed and visited. And what they learned and enjoyed from there.
4. Brisbane to Gold Coast
One of the most frequented places in Australia is the Gold Coast.
If you live in Brisbane, that coastal paradise is just about two hours drive away. (Well, depending on road conditions, traffic -of course-, and how fast you drive.)
The city of Brisbane is famous for so many things.
Gallery of Modern Art
Before you head out though, be sure to stop by the Gallery of Modern Art which showcases an always updated exhibit. The building itself is a beautiful modern architecture with a restaurant and café nearby.
The Gallery of Modern Art is ranked #3 among the 122 attractions found in Brisbane according to TripAdvisor. About this fun fact, it changes based on tourist's reviews. Should this be revised?
After that side trip, get back on the car and head on to the Gold Coast.
Along the way are some great attractions like the Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary which was built in the year 1927.
Don't forget to pass by another great park, the Tamborine Mountain. This is a very famous place among many tourists as there are many things that you can do like nature trips and even educational activities like the cooking school and the wine distilleries.
Tamborine Mountain Heritage Centre and Museum
Of course not to be missed is the Tamborine Mountain Heritage Centre and Museum. The museum houses some authentic items which were used during the early pioneering days of the place and the country.
Finally, drive to the Gold Coast, which is famous for its beaches and the Aussie coastal lifestyle.
Drop off at the world famous Surfer's Paradise and get to enjoy lots of fun-filled activities.
There are more than 10 shopping centres and arcades in the place so you and the kids surely won't get bored.
There are also more than 100 market stalls lined for about half a kilometre where you can purchase almost anything from accessories, food, pieces of jewellery and more.
Kids and Road Emergencies:
In any case, it is best for you to train your kids to use the phones, just in case something goes wrong on the trip.
Put your relative or friends' numbers on speed dial and teach the kids how it works.
Also, take note of Australia's emergency number and how it can be used for emergencies.
5. Gold Coast to Sydney
After an overnight stay in the Gold coast you can either head back home to Brisbane, or continue on a road trip to Sydney.
If you do decide to continue your tour, then here are some places worth including in your itinerary.
First off, drive your family to Coffs Harbour. The kids will surely have fun at the Coffs Harbour Bunker Cartoon Gallery. It houses black and white cartoons or drawings and wood carvings.
There is also the Coffs Harbour City Gallery which houses historical and contemporary exhibitions and offers classes, lectures, and workshops about art as well.
Port Macquarie is the next stop in this trip. And highly recommended is the camel safaris in the Lighthouse beach.
There are also a lot of beaches here which makes for a good surfing activity.
Of course, there is the Port Macquarie Historical Society and Museum. It tells of the History of the place, from the first settlers known as the Birpai People until the British came in 1821.
There are various collections in the museums, from aboriginal artefacts to Wedgewood toilet bowls from 1840.
Newcastle is the next stop. And this bustling city is filled with so many things to do.
Of course, not to be missed is the Newcastle Museum. Here, you can see iconic objects like the old and rusty Model T Ford, one of the most (if not “the most”) important car of the century which was built around the 1920s.
There are other iconic items like the Dave Sand's (Australia's famous Boxer), shorts and shield, fossilised trees and so much more.
After that, drive to Sydney, probably the most well-known tourist attraction in Australia.
Aside from a visit to the world-famous Opera House and Harbour Bridge, there are many things to see and do in Sydney.
Centre for Contemporary Asian Art
There are countless museums and galleries in Sydney. Be sure to visit the 4A Centre for Contemporary Asian Art which aims to promote a better understanding of diversity in culture through arts.
Aboriginal Heritage Museum
There is also the Aboriginal Heritage Museum, which houses not only Australian aboriginal artefacts but historical European items as well. These are just two of the many museums and attractions that you can see in Sydney.
Road Trip Perks
- Educational: Making stops at historic sites and museums will let you and the kids learn new stuff on your trip.
- Kids learn to explore: A road trip means no racing to your destination. Instead, the kids get a chance to experience fun, interesting, and wacky things along the way.
- Saves you money: Campgrounds are cost-effective, unlike hotels. You get to cook your own meals. Plus, the cost of gas to airfare costs for the whole family
- You don't have to go far: The Australian continent has so much to offer. There are loads of fun unique activities and destinations if you prefer to stay local.
- You can alter plans mid-trip: A road trip is open to spontaneity. It is all up to you to decide the next trip course.
- You can bring the comforts of home: On a road trip, you get to bring along your favourite home stuff. A few more of this and that just for your comfort.
- Variety of things and place: Enroute to your destination you will discover sites along the way that you didn't know even existed.
Perhaps considering a stop overnight in one of these locations? You might need a trusty shelter when stopping by the side of the road.
Try a portable beach shelter for ultimate protection against harmful UV rays while at the beach.
And once you head to your campground, set up a portable gazebo to shelter you and your loved ones throughout the night.
Also, don't forget to cater to your pet's comfort needs (if they tag along). For instance, a dog bed will ensure that your dog sleeps comfortably.
Australia is a place filled with so many beautiful places to visit and fun things to do. Therefore, a family drive is a great way to educate the family about the history, culture, and lifestyle of this continent.
However, let us not forget that family drives aren't just about where you're headed. A great family drive is one that is filled with funny stories about the kid's school and plans for the future.
Also, about dad's day at work or what mom has prepared in the picnic basket. It should be about singing, laughing, telling stories, and so much more.
Again, a great family drive is not just about reaching a fabulous tourist destination - because equally important is the ride itself.
Want to know more? Visit our Ultimate Camping Guides to read our other articles, learn tips and discover more about our great outdoors!
Originally Published: March 2018
Updated October 2018: Added road trip perks section