If ever we’ve made a great decision about family travel, it was our decision to spend 11 days in western Australia this October. Aside from its utterly phenomenal natural beauty and spectacular wonders (caves, beaches, vineyards), it was exactly what we needed after a year of domestic-only travel in Thailand. The kids ADORED it. To the point that Logan asks me almost every third night at bedtime if we can go back, stay there “forever and ever and ever.” The children were exposed to so many new things, and we’ve all made wonderful memories as a result. I hope many families follow in our footsteps (it just so happened we got the idea from family friends who had done the same trip in July), because it truly was a wonderful experience. In case you need more coaxing than the above, below, in my opinion, are the best reasons to visit (especially if you are coming from a big Asian city):
Beginning our Australian adventure in King’s Park, Perth
1. Green space, green space – everywhere: Oh my goodness the GREEN SPACE! Logan and Katelyn spent the entire 11 days (aside from the time on the plane) running around parks, playgrounds, farms, forests, vineyards, and beaches. They exhausted themselves physically. As a result, they ate like beasts (we could not get dinner on the table fast enough!) and slept like angels every night. They loved it. It was wonderful to see them so physically active.
Running through King’s Park in the center of Perth on a beautiful afternoon
Enjoying the popular dog beaches!
2. Playgrounds: There are playgrounds – good, safe, creative playgrounds – literally on every corner. On beaches, at breweries, at farm stays, in every town center – you can’t miss them. We would almost always couple a lunch or an activity with play time on a playground afterwards. And these playgrounds? They are designed in the form of things like pirate ships, they are well-maintained, they have toddler swings, they are safe even for little ones, and there are lots of kids enjoying them, so plenty of chances for parents and children to interact. Seriously, it was a novelty for us how fast time went by after the kids spent two hours playing at a playground after lunch or some time at the farm.
Enjoying time at a beach playground at Busselton Jetty
This was the coolest swing ever! It could go so high!
Just one example of an awesome playground at a brewery/winery
Getting properly dirty at a playground in Pemberton
3. Animals: Logan (now 3.5 years old) and Katleyn (now 1.5 years old) have always loved animals. In Thailand, we try to teach them a safe balance between liking animals, but being wary of soi dogs, cats, and monitor lizards. But in Australia, there is wonderful wildlife everywhere! At three of the four locations where we stayed, the children interacted with animals constantly. Two of these locations were farm stays with chickens (or “chooks” in Australian speak, as we learned), horses, sheep, donkeys, ducks, dogs, alpacas, emus — you name it. The third location was in the Margaret River Valley where wild kangaroos spent time right outside of our cabin. There were plenty of bush walks that we could go on throughout the day to see more! We had a bird feeder (and provided bird seed) on our front porch that the children could fill up and watch beautiful birds come by. Finally, we went to a Dolphin Discovery Center to see some aquatic life and an Animal Farm where you could see and feed all kinds of animals (think kangaroos, pigs, bunnies, chicks, etc.) It was really cool.
Want to feed an alpaca with a funky haircut? You got it.
When in Australia . . .
Feeding the horses at our Balingup Farm Stay
Feeding donkeys in Pemberton
Enjoying the animals at our farm stay in Pemberton
Kangaroo-spotting out back of our cabin in Margaret River
4. Activities: We had a nice full eleven days, but even this wasn’t enough time to do everything western Australia has to offer! We introduced the kids to the beautiful beaches (they especially loved the dog-friendly ones), spectacular caves, nature walks in Karri tree forests, the Busselton Jetty (and its train). Oh, there is so much to do!
Searching for marron on a nature walk in Pemberton
Nothing beats a trip to the Margaret River Chocolate Factory!
Clowning around on the Busselton Jetty Train
Discovering how wind works at the jetty
Exploring a local swimming hole near Balingup
5. Ease of cabin rentals/farm stays for larger families: Every location we rented was a home or a cabin with two or three bedrooms. Most of the cabins had bunk beds (you have four children? no problem!) and they all had living and dining areas, real wood fireplaces (this was a true highlight every night for us – chopping wood and lighting the fire), and great Aussie grills. So much better than renting two hotel rooms! The place is set up for family travel, I’m telling you.
Farm stay cottage in Pemberton
Starting our evening fire in Margaret River
6. “Short”, direct flight from Bangkok: This summer we opted out of the insufferable 24-hour journey back to the U.S. and instead opted for the 6.5 hour direct flight to Perth on Thai Airways. Great flight times (you leave around 8am and arrive around 3pm) and the icing on the cake? There is only a one hour time change! You – and the kids – won’t even notice the time difference = no time wasted!
Okay, so I have whetted your interest yet? In my next two posts, I’ll share our itinerary (details of the flight, car rental, locations we visited, places we stayed, and activities we did). Are you thinking about it? Don’t think too much, just do! It is a really wonderful way to spend a family vacation. I don’t think we’ve ever seen our children happier than they were running free in western Australia. Pure joy!