Going away with the family can be expensive; flights, hotels and attractions can quickly rack up hundreds or even thousands of dollars, leaving nothing left for the little things.

Luckily, Australia’s east coast is packed with incredible destinations that make for great escapes a little closer to home. While prices in the major cities and tourist hot spots may be sky high, there are plenty of great gems up and down the coast filled with activities that won’t break the bank.

Here are a few great spots for little kids and big kids alike, all year round:

Townsville, Queensland

Townsville in North Queensland is a great place to explore the Great Barrier Reef. Take in some great views in the national parks, get up close to marine creatures at Reef HQ, feed a croc at Billabong Sanctuary or make like the local kids and hang out at The Strand – a long strip of parkland and beaches right in the city with a great rock pool for cooling off on hot days.

Hervey Bay, Queensland

Hervey Bay is the whale watching capital of Australia, with a huge number of humpbacks using the area as a sanctuary from July through to November. When it isn’t whale watching season, Hervey Bay offers beautiful beaches, a vibrant esplanade of shops and cafes, historic villages, shipwrecks, Botanic Gardens and year round aquatic sports in warm, stinger-free water.

Noosa, Queensland

Noosa is an outdoor kind of town with golden beaches, stunning national parks, great surf conditions and warm sunny days to enjoy them – all of which are perfect for families on a budget. Bush walk through Noosa National Park, look out for dolphins and whales as you sea kayak around crystal clear bays or visit the vibrant shops and restaurants along Hastings Street.

Newcastle, New South Wales

Australia’s second oldest city is just a couple of hours from Sydney and only a fraction of the price. The area is packed with activities like surfing the waves at Merewether, discovering the city’s history in the Newcastle Museum, climbing up to Nobbys lighthouse or exploring the waters at the Hunter Wetlands.

Geelong, Victoria

Geelong is Victoria’s second largest city and the gateway to the Great Ocean Road. For culture enjoy the city’s museums, galleries, the Old Geelong Gaol and the Botanic Gardens, or you could head to Australia’s surfing haven Torquay which has some of the most iconic surfing history and breaks in the world.

Do you have any other great places to add to the list? Please share in the comments below.

  • Can definitely recommend Geelong! So family friendly. But a bit surprised the south east coast of NSW didn’t make the list. Eden and Merimbula etc. They are all fantastic places to go!


  • I think Geelong is a beautiful spot, a nice relaxed lifestyle.


  • Always Geelong and its vast surrounds – Torquay, Ocean Grove, Barwon Heads. All great for sun, cafes, shopping, surf, relaxed lifestyle.


  • We have been to Geelong many times and always enjoy the scenery, foods and people there.


  • I haven’t been to any of these places yet ! Think we need to put on our travel shoes upcoming holiday.


  • Have been to all these places and will do so again – they are special places and children really enjoy them.


  • Thanks for this, been a while since i went to Newcastle. Thanks for the reminder.


  • Thanks for the Aussie holiday tips, & yeah for Newcastle making the list. It is a great place & has so much to do. We love to just head to the beach to explore.


  • i like the sound of Nadine Hill’s squeaky beach.


  • I would have to add the theme parks in gold coast but buying the vip passes if it is available for tourists

    • If you are a member of some of the motoring organizations such as RAA in SA you can pre-purchase tickets at a discounted rate and save quite a lot of money.
      For accomodation some of the smaller motels in smaller towns were a lot cheaper than in the main towns. As long as we had clean rooms, comfortable beds, a little fridge, tea & coffee making facilities and hopefully a toaster we were happy. It may not be easy with a family but we used to take our own breakfast gear and food, store the food in the fridge overnight and saved a considerable amount of money on breakfast to spend on other things. We carried snacks, bottled water and flasks of hot water to make tea & coffee. That way we didn’t have to be in a town. Some towns are a long way apart and food shops of your choice aren’t always open. That proved very frustrating.


  • Squeaky Beach at Wilsons Prom in Victoria is a stunning place to visit. Miles of white, dry sand that actually does squeak when you walk on it; rock formations that create a maze of passages for exploring and one of the best places in Australia to see wombats in the wild!


  • It’s nice to have a list of spots to keep your eye on for holiday deals.


  • Geelong is nice, not sure on the other places


  • In NSW I would add the Hunter Valley. Maybe a self-contained accommodation and, if you are lucky, you will have kangaroos hopping around your garden early in the morning and at sunset. :-)


  • Thank you – always good to have some ideas.


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