Five escapades everyone in the family will love in NSW
Give even the most cynical family members goosebumps with one of these all-ages experiences. Meet wild animals on sea and land, soar among trees or hang on tight while testing a jetboat’s speed.
Want to give the little adventurers such a ridiculously fun day out that they’ll be talking about it for years to come? NSW offers a huge range of all-ages fun that will enthral kids both big (like you) and small. Spend a night sleeping with the wild things at a zoo, test one of the thrilling new amusement park rides, head out on an extreme jet-boat jaunt, make like a bird in the treetops or go to sea to spot whales, dolphins, turtles and seals.
Join the zoo
Show the kids where the wild things are by spending a goosebump-inducing night at a zoo. At Taronga Zoo Sydney, fall asleep to the sound of animals trumpeting, chirruping and growling during the safari-style Roar and Snore experience (children must be at least five years old).
In late 2019, the zoo also opened a luxe accommodation option. Wildlife Retreat at Taronga is a designer sanctuary set in serene bushland. The Family Escape package, catering for two adults and two children in interconnected Bushland or Animal View rooms (overlooking a sanctuary for favourite Australian animals), is available during school holidays and from Thursday to Saturday during school terms.
At Taronga Western Plains Zoo, Dubbo in Country NSW, check into one of the all-ages Zoofari lodges or Savannah cabins (with access to a playground) or glamp at Billabong Camp (kids must be at least five years old).
On the NSW South Coast between Batemans Bay and Moruya, Mogo Wildlife Park offers a camping adventure that includes breakfast overlooking the Sumatran tigers and a giraffe-feeding experience.
Thrilled to be here
Behind that famous grin fronting Luna Park Sydney at Milsons Point in Sydney's North are a whole lot of thrilling changes that will bring a smile to everyone’s dial. As part of a $30 million overhaul during 2021, the park will showcase nine new rides, including the state-of-the-art new Big Dipper rollercoaster (with a hair-raising top speed of 72km/h) and six children’s rides. Don’t worry – the cute-as-a-button Wild Mouse ride is still there.
Between Wollongong and Kiama is Jamberoo Action Park, which is also upping the excitement factor. Its new water-ride precinct, Velocity Falls, promises volumes of water, racing at speed and the experience of zero gravity. When you need to calm down, clamber into a doughnut ring for a lazy float along the Rapid River.
Further down the South Coast, Magic Mountain amusement park in Merimbula is also sporting a new ride – the Crazy Car allows the family to pile in and go for a spin.
Feel the speed
Buzz about Sydney Harbour on an extreme jet-boat jaunt. Check off the architectural icons – Sydney Opera House, Sydney Harbour Bridge and the toothy Luna Park grin – while holding on as the driver executes spins, power-braking and other manoeuvres. One thing’s for sure – the waterproofs probably won’t keep you completely dry but you’ll be too busy smiling to notice. Head out for a thrill ride with Oz Jet Boating (with its smiling red shark boats), Harbour Jet or Thunder Jet Boat.
In Port Macquarie on the Mid North Coast, take to the high seas on Port Jet Cruise Adventures’ Ocean Blast experience, billed as “the ultimate coastal fun ride” in one of the state’s fastest commercial boats.
Land-based speedsters can hit the track at one of Go Karts Go’s four locations: the Hunter Valley Mega Centre near Cessnock; the Broadmeadow and Go Kart World Cameron Park tracks near Newcastle; and the Nelson Bay outpost.
Hit the heights
With five locations (Central Coast, Newcastle, Coffs Harbour and two in Sydney – Western Sydney Parklands and Cumberland State Forest), TreeTops Adventure offers one of the state’s most accessible gravity-defying, up-in-the-air experiences. Take your pick of rollercoaster zip-lines, flying foxes, suspension bridges, cargo nets, tightropes, gigantic inflatable balls and more.
Illawarra Fly Treetop Adventures, in the hinterland behind Jamberoo Action Park, is home to Australia’s highest zip-line tour (for those aged four and over). A calmer option is the treetop walk that allows you to stroll right through rainforest canopy to a spiral tower offering distant ocean views.
Head to Jervis Bay, famous for sand so white it makes your eyes squint, and go in search of whales (during the May to November season) or the year-round friendly dolphins. You can spot whales from several headlands that offer a great vantage point or opt for a cruise with the likes of Jervis Bay Wild or Dolphin Watch Cruises, departing from Huskisson.
For more dolphin dalliances, head north to Port Stephens. With over 140 bottlenose dolphins calling the region home, it’s no wonder these friendly locals are sighted so often. Dolphin Swim Australia allows you to swim alongside a dolphin pod, while Moonshadow – TQC Cruises and Imagine Cruises also offer up-close marine experiences.
Off the coast near Narooma is Montague Island – home to fur seals, thousands of little penguins and more than 90 bird species. The only way to visit this extraordinary nature haven is by taking a guided tour or staying in the accommodation. Book a snorkelling trip and you’ll not only eyeball playful seals but see the underwater kelp forest.
Need to build up a little snorkelling confidence first? Explore Cabbage Tree Bay Aquatic Reserve at Manly in Sydney with an EcoTreasures guide. You’ll learn tips from the experts so your family can be snorkelling like professionals within minutes, spotting fish, sea dragons, turtles and more.