Australia is an immense and diverse country with endless possibilities. You can go from marveling at the dazzling coastline to exploring the Outback to hanging with some of the world’s most fascinating animals (we’re looking at you, echidnas) without leaving the country.
And if you’re headed to Oz with kids, you’re in luck: There are countless experiences that take advantage of the best Australia has to offer while remaining accessible for the smallest of travelers. You can meet real-life Tasmanian devils (not just the Looney Tunes kind, though he’s fun too) on the island of Tasmania. And young children can explore the Great Barrier Reef without even getting wet thanks to an underwater observatory.
Traveling with kids can bring the whole family together (plus, it can help them in school) — and arguably no destination does it better than the hands-on friendly land Down Under.
Try these nine kid-friendly experiences on your next trip to Australia for the chance to combine educational opportunities with straight-up fun.
Snooze With Animals
Head out on a night safari to see some of Taronga Zoo Sydney’s 4,000 animals from more than 350 species during their Roar and Snore program. You’ll help out during feeding time, get some up-close-and-personal encounters with the zoo’s animals, and enjoy incredible harbor views from the safari-style campsite (talk about glamping!).
The next day, you can see some of the zoo’s cutest furry residents by daylight — like the red kangaroos and koalas — with complimentary admission.
Find it: Roar and Snore at the Taronga Zoo Sydney; Sydney, New South Wales
See the Little Penguin Parade
Kids can watch these little penguins (they weigh just about two pounds and are about 13 inches tall) from eye-level when you book an underground viewing experience.
Find it: Phillip Island Nature Parks; Phillip Island, Victoria
Feed Wild Dolphins
You don’t often get the chance to be close to wild animals, let alone feed them. And while it is not advised to do that on your own, the Monkey Mia Reserve offers a program that allows visitors to get up close while ensuring the area’s bottlenose dolphins stay wild.
The dolphins at the reserve are free to come and go as they please (more than 3,000 live in the bay) and are offered food three times a day between 7:45 a.m. and noon. And you and your family could be the ones to feed them — a limited number of fish are handed out to people standing in the shallow water. The number of fish is limited because staff still want the dolphins to forage for a large amount of their food.
Find it: Monkey Mia Reserve; Denham, Western Australia
Hang Out at Bondi Beach
Heading to the beach is one Australian experience that’s hard to miss — the country has more than 31,000 miles of coastline. However, for younger swimmers (and older ones too, for that matter) rip currents are a legitimate fear.
Thanks to Bondi Icebergs Club — with two pools (one for adults and one for kids) — you can put safe swimming first without giving up great views of one of Australia’s most popular beaches. When you’re done swimming, head down to the beach for a little people watching on this iconic stretch of sand.
Find it: Bondi Icebergs Club; Sydney, New South Wales
Cuddle a Koala
There’s nothing as iconic as cuddling a cute koala in Australia — and there’s no better place to do it than the Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary (which opened in 1927 as a refuge for orphaned, sick, and injured koalas).
Kids can pet or hold the fuzzy animals — there’s around 130 of them — or check out one of the other 70-plus animal species living at the sanctuary (think kangaroos, platypuses, and dingos). Plan your visit around one of the hand-feeding times for the kangaroos, wallabies, and lorikeets for an extra dose of fun (and photo opportunities).
Find it: Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary; Fig Tree Pocket, Queensland
Get Up Close and Personal With Tasmanian Devils
Kids may know of the Tasmanian devil from the Looney Toons cartoon, but the real-life version is so much cooler (and cuter too). There are no cages and barriers at this “unzoo” which is focused on saving the devil, offering visitors “nose-to-nose” encounters, and the chance to feed wallabies and kangaroos.
After spending time with the animals, kids can play on the Little Devil’s Playground, which includes an interactive display about Tasmanian devils.
Find it: Tasmanian Devil Unzoo; Taranna, Tasmania
Experience Vintage Thrills
Modeled after Luna Park in Coney Island, this theme park first opened in 1935 and features the era’s vintage styling. Kids will love a spin around the hand-painted carousel that features 1,640 lights or the challenge of balancing their way through the Barrels of Fun feature. Later, take in the view of the harbor from the top of the ferris wheel and play some classic carnival games.
Find it: Luna Park Sydney; Sydney, New South Wales
Go Underwater at the Great Barrier Reef
No trip to Australia is complete without a visit to the awe-inspiring Great Barrier Reef. And while there are numerous ways to see the colorful coral, one of the best options for kids is from an activity platform. Hop aboard Quicksilver Cruises and travel to the Agincourt Reefs where kids will be able to snorkel (there’s small snorkels and masks for toddlers) from a submerged platform that helps them get into the water.
If your child can’t swim — or has had enough — there’s an underwater observatory where they can watch the fish without needing to get in the water. The company also has a submarine that ventures out to the reef’s lagoons for extra viewing opportunities.
Find it: Quicksilver Cruises; Port Douglas, Queensland
Learn About Australia’s Aboriginal Heritage
One of the best parts about traveling is learning about the cultures of the places you travel to. And one of the best places to do that in Australia is at the Tjapukai Aboriginal Cultural Park. Here, kids (and their parents) can take in the Aboriginal heritage through traditional dance and demonstrations like spear and boomerang throwing.
In the evening, participate in a night fire where you’ll get traditional face paint, learn Aboriginal songs, and watch the ceremonial fire light up.
Find it: Tjapukai Aboriginal Cultural Park; Smithfield, Queensland