Blog contribution by Jennifer Adams, presenter of the popular TV travel series Places We Go.
Queensland has long been a favourite destination for Australian families. There just doesn’t seem to be a limit on the fun that can be had in the Sunshine State; from thousands of kilometres of spectacular coastline to theme parks, World Heritage rainforest, reef, and, of course, the weather – beautiful one day, perfect the next.
I have to admit, Queensland is probably my go-to state for our family holidays. Noosa is a perennial favourite but we have explored the entire coast and found treasures along the whole stretch that we would return to time and time again. We can trust the weather at all times of the year, we love the fresh seafood, and nothing beats the world-class sea and sand.
From the bottom all the way up to the top, the perfect family adventure awaits, and Queensland has that touch of magic that makes us (from the southern states anyway) believe we are almost in another world.
There is the Great Barrier Reef – world renowned and a bucket list experience, yet so accessible from many parts of Queensland. And then there’s the rainforest: ancient jungles that contain so many treasures and adventures that the kids will want to explore it time and time again.
And every holiday needs a great base, right? Here are my favourite family-friendly holiday parks in Queensland where the accommodation is just as much of an experience as the destination. These are parks that are so well thought out you might just have some difficulty getting the kids to leave…
BIG4 Capricorn Palms Holiday Village, Yeppoon
I love uncovering destinations that are a little less well-known and discovering their hidden treasures. Recently, we visited the Southern Great Barrier Reef and, basing ourselves at BIG4 Capricorn Palms Holiday Village in Yeppoon, found a destination rich in beauty and adventure, and a little more off the beaten tourist track than some other Queensland resorts.
Just 45 minutes from Rockhampton, Yeppoon is the gateway to the Southern Great Barrier Reef. It has a beautiful, tropical location and a revitalised foreshore that is perfect for the kids with a water park, picnic grounds, and outdoor stage.
While we were there, we boarded Keppel Konnections, a ferry that took us to Great Keppel Island in 30 minutes, and before we knew it, we were kayaking and snorkelling our way around the Great Barrier Reef and checking out secluded and stunning beaches and islands. It’s as easy as that.
Back at the park, the fun continued with resort pools, a cracking double loop waterslide, a huge outdoor movie theatre (with popcorn), pedal cars, and a jumping pillow. The family can also meander the 300m to nearby Mulambin Beach for sand and surf.
The campsites here are huge, so you are not breathing down the neck of your fellow campers. There are plenty of facilities for picnics or barbecues, or you can just relax on the verandah of your cabin or villa and enjoy a drink, watching the kids play in the park before you.
BIG4 Beachcomber Coconut Caravan Village, Mission Beach
Sandwiched between the Great Barrier Reef and World Heritage-listed wet tropical rainforest, the relaxed beach village of Mission Beach is situated along 14km of golden sand and offers families the best of both worlds.
On the absolute doorstep of this incredible beach is BIG4 Beachcomber Coconut Caravan Village. With direct beach frontage, guests have one of the best views in the country as they enjoy the many facilities of the park. These include pools for young and old, a playground, outdoor movies, games room, a tennis court, and villas, cabins (some beachfront), and powered and non-powered camp sites.
Step from the park directly onto the sand, or divide your time between the Coral Sea and the new, award-winning resort pool with waterslide, waterfall, and Balinese huts. If you’re feeling active, you can hire kayaks, canoes, and paddle boats. Not surprisingly, one of the favourite activities for all guests in this neck of the woods is to jump on a boat and head out to the reef for snorkelling or swimming. You can even visit nearby Dunk Island.
Had enough of the water? Head inland on one of the rainforest walking tracks that starts at BIG4 Beachcomber Coconut, and you can be exploring the verdant jungle, spotting wildlife, and experiencing World Heritage wilderness whenever you have the urge.
One of the biggest challenges of any family holiday is keeping the kids entertained. This is why a holiday park that has this much going for it is the perfect choice. The kids all meet and mingle with each other, and there is so much to see and do both in the park and directly around it that you might find you actually never even get into a car the entire trip.
BIG4 Adventure Whitsunday Resort, Airlie Beach
The gateway to Queensland’s truly magnificent Whitsunday Islands and the Great Barrier Reef, Airlie Beach is an old favourite of ours. Each time we have been there we have managed to mix the best of both worlds; enjoying the resort town (and the prawns on the barbie as the palm trees sway in the wind!) and sailing adventures on the islands (we have been both with and without kids, and it’s been brilliant each time).
One of our most memorable holidays at Airlie was when a group of eight of us based ourselves at BIG4 Adventure Whitsunday Resort for a week. I must admit, we spent most of the time lazing around in the enormous lagoon-size pool with our daughter who was only two at the time, followed by long seafood barbies and some wonderful nights under the stars watching the outdoor movie sessions held at the holiday park.
The holiday park has been operating for more than 40 years, so it’s extremely well-established and appointed with all the mod-cons you would expect from one of Australia’s leading parks (they have all the tourism awards to prove it!).
Alongside the incredible pool (yes, with slides), there are 26 acres of botanic-like gardens and landscapes, so you can easily enjoy the shade from the tropical heat under the many palm trees.
We lured ourselves away to go sailing for a couple of nights with a friend, Jesse Martin, who was the youngest person to sail around the world unassisted at the time (yes, we were pretty spoilt!). While we had expertise on board for that trip, we have also done it alone – the sailing charters are simple to organise, with sea cruises departing from the Port of Airlie, Abell Point Marina, and Shute Harbour.
If you haven’t been, I would definitely be putting this place on your list for a wonderful family-friendly holiday – the adventures here are limitless!
BIG4 Gold Coast Holiday Park, Helensvale
The Gold Coast: one of the top family holiday destinations in the country. And with good reason. This region in Southern Queensland attracts families like moths to a flame for its spectacular beaches, theme parks, weather, and accessibility. And we recently visited the ‘Goldie’ and found so much more.
There are amazing animal parks the kids will adore, such as Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary, bush walking in national parks, whale watching, and so much more. You couldn’t possibly run out of things to do here, if you find time to leave BIG4 Gold Coast Holiday Park that is.
For starters, this is a dog-friendly holiday park, so literally the whole family is welcome. Pack Rover into the car or plane and bring him along.
Whoever you choose to bring will enjoy 32 acres of nature and fun in this family oasis. From luxury villas to waterfront campsites, all accommodation options have been thought of, and you just need to relax and enjoy the experience.
In this day and age, good coffee is on the list for a great holiday and the on-site licensed restaurant in the park gives that a big tick!
The kids will love the resort pool and monster waterslide, and once they have a taste for adventure you can all literally walk across the road and continue the fun at the famous Gold Coast theme parks that are situated directly opposite!
Back at the park, with 16 acres of grassland, a BMX track, tennis, outdoor movies, a jumping pillow, and pedal cars, even the most energetic family members will be worn out on on this holiday!
BIG4 Port Douglas Glengarry Holiday Park, Port Douglas
Port Douglas has something for everyone. Top-shelf restaurants and boutiques, trips to the spectacular outer Great Barrier Reef, famous Four Mile Beach, magical Mossman Gorge, and much more.
Fancy a holiday that combines some of the best snorkelling in the world with a croc-spotting adventure? When in this part of the world, your kids could be swimming in the Coral Sea one day and in the lush gorges of the Daintree the next.
Or try ‘breakfasting with the birds’ – an incredible experience at the Port Douglas Wildlife Habitat. This immerses the whole family in a wetlands experience first thing in the morning with a tropical breakfast among freely wandering native wildlife.
There is no limit to the fun a family can have in Far North Queensland, and BIG4 Port Douglas Glengarry Holiday Park, just 7km from Port Douglas in the beautiful Mowbray Valley, is perfectly positioned to experience it all.
This is a park that has thought of both adults and children, with a lagoon-style pool surrounded by lush tropical gardens that is perfect for the grown ups, and a huge water playground and jumping pillow for the kids.
It is also one of those parks that truly reflects its environment. Surrounded by tropical landscaping – which is a nod to the neighbouring Daintree – and with native birds wandering the grounds, you are always reminded of your stunning location. This is something I love when I’m on holidays.
Villas, ensuite cabins, ensuite campsites, barbecues, pedal cars and a playground are all available for the perfect family stay, as well as easy scenic walks from the park to explore the valley, taking in sugar cane fields and giant rain trees.
And you are so close to one of Australia’s most beloved holiday resorts, Port Douglas. Check out the weekend market, take a cruise up the Daintree River and spot the local ‘residents’, have a hit of golf on one of the world-class courses, soak up the sun on Four Mile Beach, have an ice cream on Macrossan Street, or head out on a fishing or snorkelling adventure from the Mirage. Every day can be filled with new adventures and experiences.
I hope you found some of my favourite spots helpful. I would love to know yours, so please leave a comment below.
You can find more travel inspiration at www.placeswego.com