100 things to do with kids in Queensland before they grow up
Life is short. You don’t need a blog to tell you that! Even though it feels like an eternity during those years when the kids are small and keeping you up at night, terrorising your house… and car… and sanity, and asking you a million questions All. Day. Long.
Truth is, they’ll be grown before you know it and you’ll want to recapture the magic of their little personalities before all the eye-rolling began. Take this mama’s word for it and make the most of the years when hanging and travelling with the parents is still fun and you’re not at risk of wrecking their street cred.
Queensland is a playground of family activities that create memories you’ll want to re-live over and over again. Here we’ve rounded up 100 things to do with kids… before they grow up!
1. Pitch a tent and camp on World Heritage-listed Fraser Island (aka the largest sand island on the planet). Not only are there shipwrecks and dingoes to keep the kids ooo-ing and ahh-ing, but rainforest hikes, Caribbean-blue freshwater lakes and Champagne Rock Pools (not actually containing alcohol, just FYI).
2. Fly high at the Qantas Founders Museum in Longreach and see where the legacy of one of Australia’s greatest companies began.
3. Teach the kids to speak whale when you go whale watching in Hervey Bay. Don’t forget the camera because you’ll want to capture the smiles and tail slaps!
4. See dolphins fly (true story) at Sea World on the Gold Coast.
5. Follow in the footsteps of the prehistoric creatures that once inhabited Australia along Outback Queensland’s dinosaur trail.
6. No fruit sums up summer better than a juicy mango, and what better place to sink your teeth in than in Queensland’s mango capital.
7. Soar above the ancient Daintree Rainforest canopy when you go Jungle Surfing in Tropical North Queensland.
9. Ride the Ginger Train, eat freshly-churned ice-cream, learn the secrets of a beehive, and stock up on chocolate-coated ginger at the Ginger Factory in Yandina.
10. Witness the circle of life as thousands of baby turtles hatch and make their way to the water’s edge at the Mon Repos Turtle Centre in Bundaberg from November to March each year.
11. They say food tastes so much sweeter when you’ve worked for it – put that to the test picking your own apples in Stanthorpe.
12. Take your little sports fanatics to watch the State of Origin (or any game) at Suncorp Stadium.
13. Scratch the earth’s surface when fossicking for gems in the Sapphire Gemfields around Emerald.
14. Cuddle a koala at the largest koala sanctuary in the world. And if you’re here on the first or third Friday of the month, stick around for their local farmer’s markets and free outdoor cinema – BYO blankets, pillows and pooch (yep, dogs are welcome but must remain on their lead at all times).
15. Take to the treetops of Lamington National Park along O’Reilly’s Tree Top Walk.
16. Swim with seals and make friends with seahorses, sharks and other fishy creatures at SEA LIFE Sunshine Coast.
17. Stand-up paddle the still waters of the Mossman River in Tropical North Queensland. There’s no better place to learn for small beginners!
18. See some of the best-preserved remnants of ancient volcanoes at the Undara Lava Tubes.
19. Learn the history behind Banjo Patterson’s Waltzing Matilda in the town where it all started.
20. Snorkel right off the beach and watch the manta rays and turtles swim by at Lady Elliot Island on the Southern Great Barrier Reef.
21. Have breakfast with the wallabies on the beach at Cape Hillsborough near Mackay.
22. Say g’day to the resident dingoes at Fraser Coast Wildlife Sanctuary.
24. Browse local knick-knacks and original arts and crafts at the artisan Eumundi Markets on the Sunshine Coast.
25. Take a joy ride in one of the last remaining Cobb & Co. stagecoaches in Longreach.
26. Stop to smell the roses (and eat and drink some fine local nosh and tipple) at the annual Toowoomba Carnival of Flowers.
27. Discover the green behind the Gold Coast on a day-trip to the lush Mount Tamborine.
28. Ride the old steam train through World Heritage-listed rainforest, past steep ravines and over dramatic waterfalls on the Kuranda Scenic Rail.
29. Go wild and get a little (okay, a lot) wet when you go splashtastic at Wet ‘n’ Wild.
30. Hand-feed wild dolphins at Tangalooma on Moreton Island.
32. Taste-test more than 20 types of flavoured peanuts when you visit the Peanut Van in Kingaroy.
33. Take the best family selfie ever on Australia’s most beautiful beach in The Whitsundays.
34. Get a bird’s-eye view of the rainforest and Barron Gorge when you traverse between Cairns and Kuranda on the Skyrail Rainforest Cableway.
35. Tour the moss-covered castle ruins and the bamboo forest at Paronella Park.
36. Live the high-roller life when you cruise Hamilton Island in your own family buggy.
37. Milk the cows, feed the chickens, and enjoy some country quiet at these farm stays in Queensland.
39. Uncover sandstone cliffs, colourful gorges and ancient Aboriginal rock art on a camping trip to Queensland’s Green Canyon.
41. Take a bushwalk in the Glass House Mountains National Park for some epic scenery and fresh air.
42. Spend a day with the mighty crocs and meet the Irwin’s at Australia Zoo.
44. Go to town on rides, show bags and street eats (don’t forget the strawberry sundaes) at Brisbane’s Ekka.
45. Book a cabin for a long weekend in the Bunya Mountains and explore the eucalypt forests and woodlands, home to the largest forest of Bunya pines in the world.
47. Get up close and personal to marine life at one of the world’s largest man-made living coral reef lagoons at Daydream Island in the Whitsundays. (Eds note: currently closed for refurbishment, re-opening to guests from September 2018.)
48. Meet a bilby in Charleville.
49. Take your little gems to dig for their own in the opal fields of Yowah.
50. Take a river tour of Brisbane on a CityCat, or better yet, hop on and off the CityHopper for FREE.
51. Meet Mary Poppins in Maryborough – the birthplace of famed author P.L. Travers.
52. Safari through Tiger Island at Dreamworld on the Gold Coast.
53. Treat your kids to a cold one… of ginger beer that is. You can sample a whopping 14 varieties at Bundaberg Ginger Beer’s Bundy Barrel.
54. Visit the Ipswich Rail Museum for a constant schedule of kid-friendly activities.
55. Culture your kids at GOMA’s Children’s Art Centre in Brisbane.
56. Thrill yourselves silly on simulators, slides, bumps and coasters at Aussie World on the Sunshine Coast.
57. Chase waterfalls in Tropical North Queensland (you can bet the stunner Crystal Cascades and Stoney Creek Falls are on the bucket list).
58. Grab the bikes and start a playground crawl along the Oceanway, Gold Coast’s 36km network of pathways that hug the shoreline.
59. Go green at Brisbane’s Mount Coot-tha Botanic Gardens.
60. Feed rainbow lorikeets and meet Blinky Bill at the Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary.
61. Hike the Granite Arch Circuit at Girraween National Park. The easy trail is perfect for little legs.
62. Take a wheely fun ride – with views to match – on the Wheel of Brisbane.
63. Top up the learning tanks at the Queensland Museum and Sciencecentre, part of the cultural district at South Bank.
64. Head for the hills! Castle Hill in Townsville, that is, and be rewarded with 360-degree views over the city when you reach the top.
66. Take a hike to the Natural Bridge at Springbrook National Park – you can even spot glow worms after dark!
67. Be entertained by amazing animal stars, death-defying stunts and stunning aerial performances at Outback Spectacular on the Gold Coast.
68. Introduce the kids to the rich and ancient Indigenous culture of Tropical North Queensland at Tjapukai Aboriginal Cultural Park.
69. Do some beachcombing in the rock pools of Mooloolaba.
71. Watch fireworks explode over Brisbane at Riverfire – the culmination of a month of Brisbane Festival-ing.
72. Watch out for snappers on a crocodile safari along the Proserpine River.
73. Picnic and play on the river at the picturesque New Farm Park in Brisbane, and in summer, catch a flick at their seasonal Moonlight Cinema.
76. Visit the Mystery Craters, located halfway between Bundaberg and Gin Gin, and debate what created the baffling earth formations.
77. Ride the ferry from Brisbane over to North Stradbroke Island for a relaxing weekend of sun, surf and sand.
78. Watch little jaws drop at the longest single-drop waterfall in Australia – Wallaman Falls.
79. Play ‘I spy’ cassowary spotting at the coastal villages of Mission Beach.
81. Thrill your big kids on one of the Gold Coast theme park roller coasters.
84. Visit the only African lion pride in Queensland at the Darling Downs Zoo in Toowoomba.
85. Pick your own strawberries at any one of the many PYO spots in South-East Queensland.
86. Ride around in a topless car on the only Great Barrier Reef island with its own postcode.
87. Grab fish and chips for a picnic lunch or dinner on one of Queensland’s famous beaches.
88. Book a houseboat and cruise the kids around Queensland’s waterways at your own pace.
89. Does ice-cream count for dinner? Treat your picky eaters to their choice of meals at Brisbane’s Eat Street Markets, where there’s literally something for everyone (even pooches!).
90. Discover the secrets of the deep at Reef HQ Great Barrier Reef Aquarium in Townsville.
91. Show your kids exactly where their food comes when you meet the local producers on the Sunshine Coast.
92. Pack your babies and your fur babies in the car and head to one of Queensland’s dog-friendly beaches.
93. Delve deep into the earth when you uncover the ancient Capricorn Caves.
94. Get messy with some melon on your melon at the Chinchilla Melon Festival. Melon skiing, melon bungee and pip spitting are all on the cards.
95. Party with the little pints at Queensland’s most family-friendly festival, Woodford Folk Festival.
97. Feel the magic of the Great Barrier Reef; hop on a big cruiser out to a pontoon for creature-comfort ease, or take a thrilling ocean rafter to a more secluded spot. Either way, you’ll never forget your experience at one of the greatest natural wonders of this world.
98. Get dirty at the natural spring mud baths at Eulo. It does wonders for the skin!
99. Stock up on sweet treats at the chocolate and candy shops while you stroll along Montville‘s main street.
100. Play backseat bingo on a road trip with this ‘big things in Queensland’ bucket list.
How many of these kid-tastic activities has your family ticked off? (For the record, my family is at 49.) Let’s compare notes in the comments!
*This post was originally published in 2016 and updated in March 2018.