yTravel’s 5 School Holidays Ideas in NSW

29 March 2017

Caz & Craig Makepeace are the founders of ytravelblog.com, one of the world’s biggest travel blogs and have been featured by notable brands such as Virgin Australia, Expedia, and Lonely Planet. When not traveling and writing about it, you can find them swinging in a beach hammock at sunset to the tunes of Jack Johnson, or screaming in the stands of their favourite sporting match. Connect with them on Facebook, Instagram and Pinterest. 


With two weeks of holidays during Easter, autumn is a great time to get away with the kids.

On warmer days you can still enjoy the beaches and play in the surf with your kids, particularly up on the North Coast, or it’s an ideal time to take a road trip to Country NSW and see the picturesque towns and autumnal leaves.

Whether you want to relax in a coastal town, or get active and adventurous, make it a fun family adventure. Below are five destinations in NSW we believe are ideal for the Easter school holiday period.

Explore the Greater Port Macquarie Region

Greater Port Macquarie Region, North Coast

Greater Port Macquarie Region, North Coast. Image credit: yTravel

Caz grew up holidaying in Port Macquarie on her annual family holiday and we were fortunate enough to return recently with our own kids. We always recommend Port Macquarie to other families for its relaxed vibe, excellent beaches, outdoor adventures, wildlife encounters, and natural beauty.

For animal lovers, the Billabong Koala Wildlife Park is a world-renowned breeding centre for koalas and offers the chance to get up close with Aussie wildlife including kangaroos, wallabies, and meet Shrek the giant croc. There are even exotic animals like Snow Leopards and Red Pandas. The Koala Hospital is a must-see and conducts daily tours.

For swimming, surfing and spectacular sunrises take your pick between 18 sandy beaches in the region. Town Beach claims to be the boogie board capital of Australia and is home to a skate park and playground, Flynn’s is ideal for learn-to-surfers, and at Lighthouse Beach enjoy a unique experience on a camel safari.

There are family-friendly short walks near town. Enjoy a stroll from Town Green to Town Beach along the iconic break wall and check out all the brightly painted rocks (cool artwork from locals and visitors alike), and if you’re lucky you might spot dolphins playing in the Hastings River.

The 9km Coastal Walk is spectacular and peaceful. Start from Town Beach and head south to Tacking Point Lighthouse and incorporate the Sea Acres Rainforest Boardwalk.

Other family activities in the region include the Bago Maze – the largest hedge maze in NSW with 2,000 metres of pathways. Mum and dad can also enjoy a cheese plate and a glass of wine under the pergola overlooking the valley below. And Ricardoes Tomatoes is fun for strawberry picking – have Roma tomatoes on toast in the cafe then pick your own strawberries for later.

For scenic drives, take the Ocean Drive and Grand Pacific Drive route along the coast and check out the region’s best beaches via Bonnie Hills and Lake Cathie. Drive up to Laurieton Lookout on North Brother Mountain which provides stunning views over Queens Lake and the seaside towns of Laurieton, North Haven and Dunbogan.

And drive across the spectacular hinterland ranges via the towns of Lorne and Kendall, with Ellenborough Falls and Rawson Falls being the stars of the show when flowing.

Kingscliff

Kingscliff, North Coast

Kingscliff, North Coast. Image credit: yTravel

Many people head to Byron Bay (with good reason) but if that is too much for you, consider staying at the tranquil coastal town of Kingscliff for a quieter option.

Kingscliff is one of the best locations in Australia, and from here you can easily explore the stunning NSW North Coast. Byron Bay is only 40 minutes away and you’re a short scenic drive to Bangalow, Cabaritta, Fingal Head, Pottsville and World Heritage-listed Wollumbin-Mount Warning National Park which offers hiking and waterfall experiences.

Kingscliff is one of those great small beach towns with a relaxed vibe that’s just enough off the beaten track. The beach is stunning and the bustling main street has many cafes and restaurants.

For drinks and nibbles, Kingscliff also offers plenty of choice for families including the Surf Club, Bowling Club, and the recently refurbished Kingscliff Hotel – it has a fantastic beer garden, live music, a kid’s play area!

Cudgen Creek is a top spot to spend a relaxing day and the water is crystal clear making it perfect for the kids to enjoy water activities such as snorkelling, stand-up paddle boarding, and kayaking.

The local beach will keep the surfers in the family happy with a reef break on the southern edge, and you don’t have to venture too far in this region to ride some of the best waves on the Australian East Coast.

A 20-minute walk from town brings you to Salt Beach which is a little more lux and where you’ll find the Peppers and Mantra resorts who offer great amenities for families.

Take a road trip to Country NSW

Dubbo Zoo, Country NSW

Dubbo Zoo, Country NSW. Image credit: yTravel

For those looking to get away from Sydney and explore the countryside, how about a loop road trip taking in the country towns of Bathurst, Dubbo, and Mudgee.

Bathurst is not just a town for motor racing enthusiasts, or for university students, it’s possibly the perfect country getaway. An easy three-hour drive from Sydney rewards you with a charming city centre and stunning autumn colours.

A visit to Bathurst is not complete without doing a lap of the iconic Mount Panorama Motor Racing Circuit. The 6.2 kilometre circuit is a public road out of race day, and be sure to stop in at the National Motor Racing Museum.

Other great places in Bathurst include Annie’s Ice cream Parlour, the Hub Cafe, Church Bar + Woodfire Pizza, and the Adventure Playground within Victoria Park.

Feel like going on a real African safari? Dubbo is home to the famous Taronga Western Plains Zoo where you can self-drive or cycle within the zoo grounds as a way to see the animals. You’ll love the freedom of cycling around the zoo and it really adds to the fun family adventure experience.

You can also stay overnight within the zoo at Zoofari Lodge – one of the benefits is a behind-the-scenes tour with the animals. You’ll also wake up and feed the giraffe’s breakfast and take a night time game drive.

If you’re into heritage buildings, wide streets, parks and country charm you’ll appreciate Mudgee. And for those who love wine regions, it’s a great alternative to the Hunter Valley.
Mudgee is growing in popularity and one great experience you must do is cycling between the wineries. As they’re close in proximity to each other, and the terrain is generally flat, it makes for a great family day out and puts a fun twist on the experience with kids.

Back in town, check out the family friendly Mudgee brewery and grab dinner at the Lawson Park Hotel (kids eat free).

Jervis Bay

Jervis Bay, South Coast

Jervis Bay, South Coast. Image credit: yTravel

Take the scenic three-hour drive south of Sydney and you’ll arrive in Jervis Bay, a region that boasts some of the best beaches in NSW, if not Australia!

The beaches are protected by National Parks and marine parks, meaning they are pristine, natural and unspoilt. Choose between Green Patch Beach, Murrays Beach, Greenfield Beach, and Chinaman’s – swim, picnic, BBQ and play!

The great thing about Jervis Bay is that it’s very natural, no high rises, and the sand is white and pure.

Jervis Bay is also a popular spot for kayaking, canoeing, and walks – the 6km return White Sands Walk is spectacular and family friendly with the perfect combination of Aussie bush and stunning ocean views.

Spend a day, or a few nights, in Booderee National Park. It’s on a peninsula so you are absolutely spoilt with more white sand, turquoise water, pristine locations such as Green Patch Beach. If you camp, possums may forage around your tent at night, and kangaroos bounce around to greet you in the morning.

In the town of Huskisson, the Husky Bakery & Cafe is famous for pies, and The Husky Pub has a huge beer garden with views out over the bay.

For scenic drives and nearby historic country villages, explore the Shoalhaven region and the towns of Milton, Berry, and Kangaroo Valley.

Central Coast

Central Coast, NSW

Central Coast, NSW. Image credit: yTravel

One hour north of Sydney is the scenic Central Coast, we believe it’s well worth adding this as one of the fun family school holiday destinations.

Popular spots include Terrigal which is a trendy and upmarket beach area with many cafes and restaurants, fishing, diving, and whale watching (in season) activities.

Other beaches include Avoca Beach (a great rock pool area here for the kids), MacMasters Beach, Copacabana Beach, Soldiers Beach, Shelly Beach and Toowoon Bay.

For the nature buffs, don’t miss a walk in Bouddi National Park which has dramatic coastal views as well as secluded beaches and camping opportunities.

The Central Coast has two great wildlife parks. The Reptile Park is an Australian icon with plenty of wildlife shows and chances to interact with the animals. And the Australian Wildlife Park, a little more personal and interactive.

For action and adventure, head to Glenworth Valley for horse riding, abseiling, kayaking and quad biking. Or swing through the trees at TreeTop Adventure Park – four courses available for children as young as three! Or enjoy a day of farm life and fun at Amazement Farm and Fun Park.

If you are just day tripping from Sydney, consider jumping on the ferry from Palm Beach to Ettalong. It only takes 20 minutes and the scenery is really beautiful.