Long Beach, Robe, South Australia © South Australian Tourism Commission/Adam Bruzzone
How to plan a family road trip in Australia
A definitive guide to anything and everything you need to know about road tripping with kids Down Under.
By Lee Atkinson
Australia is a great place to take a road trip with kids, whatever their age. Australians love hitting the road, so doing it with kids here is easy and affordable. Caravan and holiday parks are so prolific – there’s one or more in almost every town – and are not just for those travelling in a campervan. They also have good-value cabins with kitchens and separate bedrooms, and there’s usually a coin-operated laundry, too. An added bonus is that many parks also have resort-style facilities like swimming pools, playgrounds and games rooms, making them perfect for families to either relax and recoup, be active – or both. Read on to discover our top tips for a family road trip.
Make plenty of stops along the way
When it comes to road tripping with kids in Australia, your best bet is to plan ahead and avoid travelling too far in one day; try to stop at least every two hours at towns along the way. You’ll find pleasant parks and playgrounds in many regional towns where the kids can burn off some energy (and take a toilet break). Pack a ball or frisbee for the kids to play with while you unpack a picnic lunch. In summer, a visit to the town’s public swimming pool (which might be an ocean pool) or a quick dip or surf at the beach is a great way to keep everyone happy.
Know the rules of the road
There are a few safety requirements to be aware of while planning your dream family road trip. Firstly, all children under the age of seven must be in an approved car seat or restraint – although this is determined by size, not age; adult seatbelts are designed for a minimum height of 145 centimetres (57 inches). Most car hire companies will have baby seats/boosters/capsules for hire, but make sure you ask for one when you book, rather than when you pick up your vehicle. Children under the age of four must travel in the back seat.
Also keep in mind that the driving age for teenagers varies from state to state – in Victoria the minimum unsupervised driving age is 18, it’s 16 years and six months in the Northern Territory, and 17 years in all other states. All drivers will need an International Driving Permit (IDP) unless your drivers licence is in English – check the fine print of your car hire agreement as many insist that all drivers be over 21.
Get the kids involved
Get the kids involved with planning your trip and let them pick a couple of things they’d like to see and do along the way; Explore Australia: the Kids Edition has lots of good ideas. School-age kids can follow a map during the journey and decorate it with drawings or stickers of what they see as they go: Journeyjottings.com has some great pictorial maps of Australia that are perfect for this. Create a treasure list of things to see or find during the day.
Another fun way to pass the time is to collect postcards at each town you drive through. Buy a book of stamps before you hit the road and the kids can post them to friends and family at home on the spot.
Discover Australia's best family road trips
From leisurely coastal drives to action-packed outback adventures, Australia has plenty of road trips perfect for families. Here are just a few popular itineraries to fuel your wanderlust: