Mackay Cay

78 things to do in school holidays with the kids

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We can almost hear the school bells ringing from here! School’s out and it’s time to figure out all the things to do in school holidays in Queensland.

From Tropical North Queensland to the Gold Coast and everywhere in between, make this your ultimate school holidays guide.

Tropical North Queensland

Fitzroy Island

1. Escape to a tropical island off the coast of Tropical North Queensland has to be up there with one of the best things to do in school holidays. From snorkelling the reef in search of Nemo and Dory to kayaking and stand-up paddling, Fitzroy Island has got your holiday activities sorted. Discover the island over 48 hours and find out why it’s one of the best islands to take the kids.

2. Combine your adrenaline and wildlife bucket list at Cairns ZOOM and Wildlife dome, where you can zip line over a crocodile as part of a wildlife-immersed high-ropes course. (Note: Children must be over 120cm tall to participate.)

3. Take a 35-minute spin around Trinity Inlet off Cairns in Bad Fishy – a Nemo-style jet boat with a speedy alter ego.

4. Get your nature fix at the Wildlife Habitat in Port Douglas, where the kids can become Junior Keepers for a day and experience what it’s like to care for all sorts of animals from kangaroos to crocodiles.

5. Let your kids run free (with their creativity) and release their inner artist at the Cairns Regional Art Gallery. Workshops on painting, pottery, jewellery making, are just some of the arty things to do in school holidays here. Spend the rest of the holidays discovering Cairns with this local guide.

6. Embark on an adventure to new heights with Skyrail in Cairns. Soar over the rainforest canopy of Barron Gorge National Park and learn about the World Heritage-listed natural wonder.

Townsville

The Strand, Townsville

7. Get up close and personal with Australian wildlife at Billabong Sanctuary in Townsville, where the kids can cuddle koalas, pat kangaroos, and play with wombats, just to name a few.

8. Have a healthy and active holiday with a walk up Castle Hill. There are over 10 different tracks to choose from, but one spectacular panoramic view of the town that makes them all worth it!

9. Get out on the water with Adrenalin Snorkel and Dive to explore the Great Barrier Reef. By the end of the day, the kids will be snorkelling and reef pros. Want to see more of the reef? Here are 10 ways to explore the underwater world off Townsville.

10. Dive deep under the sea at the Reef HQ Aquarium, where you can get mere metres from sharks, fish, manta rays, and loads of other marine life.

11. Scoot off the mainland with a short ferry ride to Magnetic Island, where the kids can slow down and switch to island time. Kayak around the island, explore the national park, or cruise along a scenic drive in a topless car.

12. The ultimate beach day is on offer at The Strand, with plenty of things to do in school holidays. The beachfront promenade is complete with a water park, swimming pool, rock pool, multiple playgrounds, picnic areas and plenty of grass to play on.

The Whitsundays

Sunset Whitsundays

13. Ensure the kids have an endless list of things to do in school holidays by checking into Big 4 Adventure Whitsunday Resort in Cannonvale (minutes from Airlie Beach), the areas most awarded resort holiday park. There’s a games room, lagoon pool, and 13 slide waterpark just to name a few, which will make leaving the resort the hardest decision all holidays.

14. A holiday to The Whitsundays isn’t complete without a trip to Whitehaven Beach, where the kids can play across the 7km of pristine coastline while you relax on the pure, white silica sand. Who said parents can’t enjoy a holiday too?

15. Hand over a snorkel mask and a paddle and let the kids wear themselves out with water activities like snorkelling, SUP, and kayaking. Surrounded by islands, the calm water conditions of the Whitsundays make for a fun and safe time on the water.

16. In Queensland, summer and mangoes go together like Nutella and bread, so stop in at Bowen to see the Big Mango and grab a few of the delicious fruit for the road. Spend the school holidays ticking off the other ‘big’ things in Queensland with this list.

17. With 74 islands at your disposal in the Whitsundays, the temptation to explore them all can be overwhelming. Start by visiting the classic Whitsunday Island (home to Whitehaven Beach), relaxing on Daydream, Hamilton, and Hayman Island, and camping on Molle Island.

18. Take the kids on the ultimate Pirates of the Caribbean adventure and sail around the Whitsunday islands.

Mackay

Finch Hatton Gorge

19. Explore Mackay’s best-kept secret, Finch Hatton Gorge. Discover the forest from 25m above the ground with Forest Flying, then relax amongst the nature at Ulysses Garden Café. (Note: Children must be over 18kg to participate in the Flying Fox.)

20. If you or the kids have a sweet tooth, this tour will be a treat. Head to the Sarina Sugar Shed to learn how sugar is grown in the cane-fields, processed, then delivered to you. Don’t forget to pick up some fairy floss before you leave!

21. Immerse the family in nature and embark on an adventure through Eungella National Park, where plenty of hiking trails lead you through rainforest, bushland, and freshwater creeks. Be sure to stop by the Broken River picnic area and try your luck spotting a platypus.

22. Pack the tent and sleeping bags; it’s time to get outdoors at one of these secret camping spots around Mackay. Not a camper? Spend the day exploring the town’s great outdoors.

23. Visit a real-life petting zoo at the Jarravale Alpacas and Miniature Animal Farm, located in the Pioneer Valley, only a half-hour drive out of Mackay. Learn about life on a real working farm while patting, feeding, and playing with adorable baby animals.

24. Spend your days splashing around at the Bluewater Lagoon, a waterpark complete with a waterfall and two giant pools, grassy areas, and picnic spots. The best part? It’s totally free!

Capricorn Region

Great Keppel Island

25. Grab your snorkel and flippers, the Great Barrier Reef is calling! Jump on board a cruise with Freedom Fast Cats to explore Great Keppel Island with a glass-bottom boat and an afternoon full of swimming with the fish. Discover more things to do in school holidays on GKI with this guide.

26. Make like a Kangaroo and hop from enclosure to enclosure at the Rockhampton Zoo, next to the Botanic Gardens.

27. Play cowboys for a night and head over to the Great Western Hotel for a tasty steak and a show, which happens to be raging bulls bucking their way around the arena. Think you can last the sought-after eight seconds? Try your skills on the mechanical bull.

28. Get snapping! Your camera that is, while your kids get hands-on experience holding baby crocs at the Koorana Crocodile Farm. Take a tour and meet the resident crocs, then sit down to lunch and order one off the menu.

29. Put those Indiana Jones fantasies into action and adventure deep into the Capricorn Caves, north of Rockhampton. Discover how the caves came to be, what the shapes and formations represent, and how scientists are using the caves to learn about climate change and the animals that once lived amongst the caves.

30. Help out the local wildlife by stopping by and giving the sick, injured, and orphaned animals a cuddle at the Cooberrie Park Wildlife Sanctuary.

Gladstone Region

Town of 1770

31. Make a splash at the Gladstone Aquatic Centre’s waterpark. Kids under 12 can play around with water slides, jets, sprays and the Big Tipper Bucket, while kids over 12 can test their balance on the giant inflatable obstacle course that the centre brings out every summer. The water fun can continue all year round with the heated pool offering an alternative in the cooler months.

32. Jump on board the 1770 Larc! Tours bright pink amphibious boat and spend the day exploring the beaches of Agnes Water and 1770.

33. Get the whole family out on the water for a morning or afternoon of kayaking around the calm waters of Agnes Water and 1770. Hire the kayaks or book a tour with 1770 Liquid Adventures and explore the natural wonders of Agnes Water and 1770.

34. Spend summer at the town’s latest kid-friendly addition, East Shores. Located on Flinders Parade, the parkland precinct encompasses playgrounds, picnic areas, grassy areas, and a waterpark. With a backdrop of the harbour, the Gladstone Marina, and Spinnaker Park, the precinct contains all the summer vibes you need. Discover other things to do in school holidays in Gladstone with this 48-hour guide.

35. Finding stuff to keep the kids occupied all summer holidays can prove to be difficult, but SUNFest in Gladstone is here to come to the rescue. Every January, SUNFest puts on a program of activities to suit any child’s interests – from arts and craft to cooking and rock climbing.

36. Explore the Southern Great Barrier Reef with a trip to Heron Island. Fill your time with snorkelling the reef, or adventuring through the World Heritage-listed national park to see why it’s one of the best islands on the Southern Great Barrier Reef.

Bundaberg North Burnett

Kids Swimming With Turtle

37. Beach hop your way along the coast of Bundaberg, stopping at Woodgate, Elliot Heads, Bargara, Mon Repos, and Burnett Heads. Each beach offers family-friendly fun in the sun, and plenty of fun things to do in school holidays, from swimming and building sandcastles to playing on the playgrounds.

38. Venture south of Childers to Snakes Down under Reptile Park and Zoo, for a day filled with scales, slinking, and slithering.

39. Pack a picnic and head to the park – the Bundaberg Botanic Gardens and Playground, to be exact. Enjoy a relaxing afternoon of playing amongst the flowers, spotting a few of the 114 bird species residing in the gardens, and lazing on the grass.

40. Send the kids to the corner, the interactive Kidz Corner at the Bundaberg Regional Art Gallery. Fill the day with arts and craft activities that are self-guided and educational. Spend the rest of the day exploring the town with these kid-friendly activities.

41. A short ferry ride from Bundaberg is an underwater oasis, otherwise known as Lady Musgrave Island. The protected waters of its lagoons provide perfect conditions for marine life to thrive, and the kid-friendly snorkelling spot offers plenty of opportunities to swim alongside turtles, fish, and manta rays.

42. Meet Dude and Crush along with a sea of other baby turtles at the Mon Repos Turtle Experience. One of the best things to do in school holidays in the summer months, you can experience mother turtles nesting and the eggs hatching, spilling baby turtles scurrying towards the water.

Fraser Coast

Hervey Bay, Whale Watching

43. Step foot on the largest sand island in the world, Fraser Island. This natural playground is filled with fun activities for the whole family. From 4x4ing along 75 Mile Beach to relaxing by the crystal clear waters of Lake McKenzie, there’s an activity to suit every member of the family. Go for a quick 48 hours or do the entire island over nine days.

44. September school holidays mean one thing in Queensland – whale watching. From August to October the giant humpbacks glide along the east coast on their migration to the south, stopping for a play in Hervey Bay. The calm waters framed by Fraser Island make for perfect conditions to stay a while and raise the young whales. Find out which whale watching tour suits your family.

45. Sweeten up the holidays with a spoonful of sugar at the birthplace of Mary Poppins, Maryborough. Stop by and snap a picture with the statue of the famous nanny.

46. Looking for things to do in school holidays when it rains? Learn about the natural wonders of the Fraser Coast at the Discovery Sphere.

47. Pack the 4×4 and hit the road on a five-day trip along the Great Sandy National Park, swapping bitumen for the coloured sands of Rainbow Beach.

48. Take on the Cooloola Great Walk and immerse the family in bushland, rainforest, and the pristine coastline of the Great Sandy National Park.

Sunshine Coast

Main Beach, Noosa

49. Swap the phones for peaks and take on the mountains of the Sunshine Coast. Set a list to work through over the holidays, including the must-do Glass House Mountains. Keen to cool off after all the hiking? Chase these 5 waterfalls on the Sunshine Coast.

50. The Sunshine Coast means beach holiday, and a surf lesson or two is sure to get the kids squealing with excitement as they stand up on the board for the first time. Get the whole family involved, and find the right surf school to suit.

51. Get your strawberry kisses at Strawberry Fields, north-west of Caloundra. Open every day between June and November, you can explore the fields and fill up a basket or two with the juicy fruit to savour.

52. Become a Wildlife Warrior at Australia Zoo, watching action-packed shows and walking around the grounds to say hi to animals from all over the globe. Crikey!

53. Get active and have fun with the whole family with Blue Water Kayak Tours. Spend a half-day on the water, paddling around Bribie Island. If land activities are preferred, scale to new heights at The Rock Face, where the kids can exhaust their energy climbing to their heart’s content.

54. You don’t need to be on the Gold Coast to have some theme park fun, with Aussie World serving up the thrills on the Sunshine Coast. Follow this guide to make the most out of your day trip to Aussie World.

Brisbane

GOMA, Brisbane

55. Spend the school holidays strolling around South Bank Parklands, with never-ending fun on offer at Streets Beach (Australia’s only inner-city man-made beach), and its neighbouring water park, Aquativity.

56. Explore the cultural heart of Brisbane with visits to an exhibition at the Gallery of Modern Art (GOMA), catching a performance at the Queensland Performing Arts Centre (QPAC), learning about history and science at the Queensland Museum and Sciencentre, and being transported to different worlds at the State Library.

57. Treat the kids to a cuddle with a koala at Australia’s first and largest koala sanctuary, Lone Pine. Amongst the 130 koalas are kangaroos, a range of Australian birds, and a very special platypus exhibit.

58. Spend a day or weekend at Tangalooma Island Resort on Moreton Island, where dolphin feeding, snorkelling shipwrecks, quad-biking, and sand tobogganing are just some of the things to do in school holidays on the second-largest sand island in Australia.

59. Island-hop from Moreton to North Stradbroke Island for a beach camping holiday filled with chilled vibes and good times. Wake up to views from your tent of dolphins splashing in the water, spend days walking between the beach and the ice-cream shop, and fill the nights with games around the campsite. Ahh, the serenity.

60. See the city from a different perspective with CityCycle, the bicycle initiative that makes exploring the city fun and active. Ride along the South Bank boardwalk for great views of the city, through the Brisbane City Botanic Gardens, and along the Riverwalk for the perfect spot to capture the Story Bridge.

Gold Coast

Warner Bros. Movie World

61. School holidays at the Gold Coast aren’t complete without a trip to a theme park or four. Looking for some fun relief on a hot summer’s day? Wet ‘n’ Wild and White Water World have you covered. Got a couple of movie buffs in the family? Movie World brings your favourites to life. For the adrenaline junkies, Dream World is the number one pick. Still not sure where to go first? Discover which theme park is for you with this guide.

62. Looking for indoor things to do in school holidays? Go from sky high to out of this world at Infinity in Surfers Paradise, an interactive maze filled with glow in the dark rooms, mirrors, and your imagination.

63. Set a challenge for your little monkeys at the Tree Top Challenge at the Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary. Visit the sanctuary afterwards for a reward of cuddles with a koala.

64. Beat the heat and the crowds and relax by the Currumbin Rock Pools, one of the Gold Coast’s best-kept secrets.

65. Create the ideal family holiday with a picnic in Burleigh Heads National Park, where rainforest walking trails meet with views overlooking the beach.

66. There’s nothing quite like a classic beach day, and with 57km of pristine coastline, the Gold Coast has no shortage of spots to build a sandcastle or two. Discover other things to do in school holidays on the Gold Coast with this guide.

Southern Queensland Country

Toowoomba Carnival of Flowers

67. Embrace the colours of spring during the September school holidays at the Toowoomba Carnival of Flowers, where the kids can roam amongst the perfectly pruned gardens, make flower crowns in the dedicated kid’s section, and enjoy the rides at the carnival.

68. While in Toowoomba, stop by the Cobb & Co Museum for some old-fashioned fun, stepping back in time as you jump onboard a historic horse-drawn carriage and learn about the history of transport and life in Toowoomba.

69. Learn about paddock to plate with a farm stay, where the kids can experience life on a real working farm, helping out with managing, feeding, and cleaning the animals and their enclosures while you sit back and enjoy the view of the rolling hills of Southern Queensland Country. Choose the right farm stay for your family with this guide.

70. Take the kids to a farm of a different kind with a visit to see thousands of sunflowers in bloom during the peak season of summer. Need more convincing? Check out these spectacular sunflower shots.

71. Explore the natural wonder that is the Bunya Mountains. Not sure where to start? Check out this 48-hour guide.

72. Spot Pride Rock at Darling Downs Zoo, where the only pride of African lions in Queensland reside. Located on the outskirts of Toowoomba, the zoo also has the largest herd of zebras and giant tortoises in the state.

Outback Queensland

Winton

73. Spark the kids’ interest in astronomy with a visit to a star-studded show at the Cosmos Centre and Observatory in Charleville. Search the night sky for falling stars, constellations, planets, and much more through impressive Meade telescopes.

74. While in Charleville, spot an adorable bilby at the Save the Bilby Fund. Learn about and support the protection of the endangered species and get up close to the cute animals that call Outback Queensland home.

75. This has to be one of the coolest things to do in school holidays. Follow the dinosaur trail through Outback Queensland, stopping at Flinders Discovery Centre in Hughenden, Kronosaurus Korner in Richmond, and the Australian Age of Dinosaurs in Winton.

76. Treat your cowboys and cowgirls to a knee-slapping good time at the Mount Isa Mines Rotary Rodeo, where bulls, buckles, and boots are all part of the fun. Plan your trip with this guide to Queensland’s wild west.

77. Give the kids a special toy to cuddle on the road – a Tambo Teddy. These adorable teddies are made from 100% natural wool from local farms, and all are named after the specific farm their wool is from.

78. Take the holiday to new heights with a one-of-a-kind experience at the QANTAS Founders Museum in Longreach. Not everyone can say they have walked along the wing of a plane now, can they?

What are some of your fave things to do in school holidays? Tell us in the comments below.




  • Together we roam

    What a crazy good list. It’s right up my alley with so many fun suggestions.