Western Australia offers family holidays to suit the whole family, from little kids to grandparents.
Many of us dream of igniting the flame for travel in our kids and grandkids, but we can sometimes forget that the simple things are often what captures the imagination rather than blockbuster big cities and huge theme parks.
Children find joy in building sandcastles at the beach, riding a bike around the caravan park and getting to choose a Bubble O’Bill or Freeza at the general store as bribery to go swimming in the freezing Southern Ocean (or was that just my childhood?).
And as all parents and grandparents know, sandcastles are cheaper than Disney princesses in California.
Western Australia’s caravan parks, with their chalet, caravan and camping options, have long been a popular pick for intergenerational groups and for good reason.
They are close, easy and usually cheaper. The accommodation and locations inspire the simple things — riding bikes, swimming, fishing and spending time together without the pressures of everyday life.
“The travel is much easier for the children and grandparents if it is just a short drive away. Travelling locally we feel safe, the kids can play happily down the beach without the worry or hassle, they can walk down to the shops and buy an ice cream or lollies. It’s an easy, beautiful time with us all together,” says Margaret Johnson, who not only heads to Coral Bay each year with three generations of her family, but has also seen many generations of families return over the years to Mandalay Holiday Resort in Busselton — run by three generations of her family for more than 60 years.
“The advantages of holidaying together is spending time without the hassle of work, the routines of everyday life, lying on the floor colouring-in with the kids, doing a jigsaw puzzle — all the things that being at home with other commitments often doesn’t allow for.”
Margaret says Mandalay has a long history of families holidaying together and that trend has been increasing. The Biason/Baxter family have holidayed at Mandalay for more than 60 years with three generations camping together and spending the days fishing, reading, swimming and enjoying quality family time.
“Recently (grandfather) Joe Biason passed away, and at his funeral we were humbled that some of his family’s dearest memories were the times they spent together at Mandalay with his children and grandchildren,” Margaret says. “His family recently came back to Mandalay and again continued the family tradition, shared memories of Joe together and undertook some of his favourite pastimes such as beach fishing and reading the morning newspaper.”
Like the villas and resorts offered overseas, there are also plenty of big properties for multi-generational families to rent across the State, offering a good opportunity to split costs and with the price of airfares removed from the equation.
Many luxury properties are situated around popular holidays towns within easy reach of Perth, including destinations such as Dunsborough, Eagle Bay and Yallingup, as well as further afield in Esperance, Bremer Bay’s Point Henry Peninsula and Albany.
Australia’s North West
Broome: There’s plenty in town to keep all members of the family happy. Take a camel ride on Cable Beach, watch feeding time at the crocodile park and learn about Broome’s pearling history and farming. Stay at Cable Beach Club Resort and Spa with options for a studio or private villa — or families can take advantage of interconnecting studios, bungalows or suites. There is an adult pool and a family pool, mini-golf, a playground and a water playground.
Australia’s Coral Coast
Port Denison: Right on the beach with endless ocean views, Dongara Tourist Park (with powered and non-powered sites and cabins) offers a range of accommodation. And the best part — the kids will just love the giant jumping pillow.
Kalbarri: At the waterfront, Kalbarri Seafront Villas is a good base from which to enjoy the national parks and fishing the area offers.
Mackerel Islands: Between Exmouth and Onslow, the Mackerel Islands are a perfect family holiday destination, full of fishing, swimming, walking and relaxing. And you can hire your own private island — Direction Island sleeps 10.
Australia’s South West
Pemberton: A forest getaway with spots that appeal to everyone. The adventurous can climb the Gloucester Tree while others picnic beneath. Stay at the Karri Valley Resort with its self-contained chalets and activities, all within walking distance of the Beedelup Falls.
Manjimup: Fonty’s Pool has been a drawcard for families for years. Stay at the caravan park, swim in the natural spring, visit the local farmer’s market and visit the Manjimup Timber and Heritage Park with its flying fox and museum.
Margaret River: For the family that loves horses, Jesters Flat offers horse riding tours and trails, a winery and camp site where all the generations can keep toasty warm by the camp fire.
Australia’s Golden Outback
Esperance: Snow-white beaches and national parks are perfect for the generations to indulge in nature. Plus there are charter flights over the pink lake on Middle Island, art and craft galleries and the Skylab display. Stay in town with the choice of caravan parks and beach houses or head out to Woody Island.
Goldfields: Hop in your vehicle and retrace gold rush history along the Golden Quest Discovery Trail. There are gold prospecting tours, the Super Pit or the 51 Antony Gormley Sculptures at Lake Ballard, near Menzies. All generations will enjoy wandering through the “real” ghost town in Gwalia. Kalgoorlie offers plenty of accommodation choices.
Wheatbelt: Grab the family for a weekend road trip to Wave Rock or travel one of the self-drive trails such as the Golden Pipeline Heritage Trail or the Granite Woodlands Discovery Trail. There is plenty of history with museums dedicated to agriculture, military, railway, and early pioneers. And for the kids there’s the earthquake simulator at Cunderdin Museum.
You may also like
Our World: Family holidays: Our guide to multi-generational travel
Whether it's time as a family or a better deal, the benefits of three or four generations travelling together are increasingly clear.
Summer lingers longer in Busselton
Travel Editor STEPHEN SCOURFIELD takes a fresh look at an old favourite
WA voyage of discovery aboard Vasco Da Gama
Boutique ship has the right blend of comfort and casual, writes MICHAEL FERRANTE