Family travel Australia: West coast vs East coast

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A trip across the Australian continent is like no other. From the vineyard of New South Wales and the rainforests to the barren landscape of the Outback, there is something for everyone. However, in order to survive (of course, not literally) such a long journey, it is preferable that you’re at least in your twenties. Once you get children, you cannot travel, can you? Well, you can but better stay on one coast. Most families are faced with a dilemma, is East Coast better than the West Coast for a family road trip with kids?

An East Coast classic: Sydney to Brisbane

It might seem like a huge distance to cover but the 1,000 kilometres or so from Sydney to Brisbane is the ideal route for families. Unlike the West, Australia’s biggest East coast cities are connected via the Pacific Highway that runs along the coast for most of the way. Once you navigate out of Sydney’s rush hour traffic jams, it’s smooth sailing all the way to Brisbane.

You will be passing next to Central Coast’s beaches, so a stop for the children to make a sandcastle and for you to get a refreshing (non-alcoholic) drink is mandatory. If you have a large enough trunk, you can back an umbrella and a beach bag and spend an entire day at the beach. There is affordable accommodation near all the key spots, like the Soldiers Beach at Norah Head.

The next day you can head inland to Hunter Valley that has been Australian numero uno vine region for centuries. Don’t miss the opportunity to sample Semillion and Shiraz wines in the wineries they are made in. The kids can run around freely as you take the rest of the day off to sober up, literally. Before you reach Newcastle, taste some local cheese and enjoy the rich cultural life of the seaside resorts.

The remainder of the route to Brisbane takes you through similar landscapes of alternating little towns, mesmerising beaches, and lovely seaside resort. All in all, the kids are probably going to enjoy more because they will be out in the open all day. Before you drive into Brisbane, you can make a quick stop in Gold Coast to try your luck in one of the casinos.


“Child on board”

Before we describe the drive along the West Coast, we must remind you that you are on a family trip. This means packing extra to facilitate the needs of your kids. A plastic shovel and a bucket for playing in the sand are not nearly enough. For pleasurable beach time, you have to pack a sunscreen with a high UV protection factor because the Aussie sun can be punishing. In fact, head to an online shop like Becalm Baby and buy everything you will need for your baby in a single go to. Finally, don’t forget to throw in a tablet to distract your kids on longer leg of the journey when you’re cruising down the highway.

Discovering the West: From Perth to Albany

Perth and Fremantle stand as the most important settlement on Australia’s West Coast. In fact, Perth is considered the most remote regional capital in the world. Needless to say, exploring the West will prove to be a challenge with your kids aboard but a great adventure as well.

The best route to take is the one from Perth to Albany, which is 645 kilometers long. Once you leave Perth you enter Bunbury, a port city teeming with life. Here you can make a stop to watch wild dolphins swimming not far from the coast. The Bussel Highway will take you further south to Margaret River which is a surfer’s paradise, one of many in the country. Here it is time for the parents to have some beach fun if you have attached the board to the top of the car. There are more than 40 locations where you can catch a wave here so visit at least one of them. They are scaled in difficulty so don’t worry if you’re a novice surfer. After all, we Aussies have board surging in our blood.


While in the region, take the family out for a dinner in any of the 100 wineries that offer great food deals as well, with kiddie menus included. At Cape Leeuwin, in the vicinity of Augusta, you can enjoy some whale-watching. This is actually the place where the Indian Ocean meets the Southern Ocean.

Both Australian Coasts do not lack breath-taking scenery. The end choice is really up to the preferences of your family members and especially the kids. Since they will enjoy the trip the most, ask them what they would like to see.

Posted by Mia Johnson

Mia Johnson

Mia is a freelance writer & fitness expert from Sydney, Australia

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